Current Newsletters

Posted 10/2/2015 3:08pm by Don Kretschmann.

Sept. 8, 2015

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,   

Hope you enjoy the tender green beans. We’ve been watching them grow so nicely for the last month, only to be picking them yesterday under a little duress. Without moisture, there are definitely less than usual. Normally we pick a bean field over a two week period. While picking, we noticed that plants were keeling over and seeds were rapidly developing because of drought. We decided to pick nearly 2/3 and not risk so many getting “beany” and tough. The remaining 1/3 was more of an acceptable gamble. The expected rain could nicely fill out the many tiny beans, or it could cause the weak plants to fall over. Monday we had just adjusted the picker so it scooped up many more of the downer plants when things got even more complicated. After picking four rows, Angel noticed we had a hissing tire on the picker. By the time we turned the machine around it was completely flat, off the rim, and in need of a new tire. Normally we’d just take it off and over to Skander’s for a new one. But Monday was Labor Day. With the push to harvest before losing beans, we just had to give a shot at fixing the biggest farm tire I can ever remember repairing. Luckily there was a tube, which made the basic repair not much harder than a bicycle tire. Getting it off and back on the rim was a struggle-with only crow bars. Then there was creatively repairing a badly dryrotted sidewall with a piece of bicycle tire held in place on the inside with a plug for a tubeless flat tire. Hey, it held OK and we picked the beans. Another day of farming…    It looks like there’s an intense area of rain making a beeline straight for us and it couldn’t be more welcome. The farm has gotten downright droughty over the last several weeks. We been waiting for a little moisture in the soil before planting many of the last crops. Turnips, radishes, and all the fall mesclun greens will pop right out of a moist seedbed in a day or two—faster than the weeds which will never catch them. We could use another batch of lettuce in the ground as well.   

Enjoying the waning summer, awaiting a good rain, we are sincerely,                                             Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

Tip: If ripe tomatoes are accumulating, you can easily just put them in a plastic bag and freeze them for later use in sauce or soups. No processing required at all. Veggie IDs: Apples are Primas this week. We’ll be on to the main season Jonafrees and Liberties in a week or two. Apple topped “Bread Puddings”: Heat ½ c. sugar in saucepan until it melts, add ¼ c. butter and 4 large diced apples and simmer until apples are cooked, then add ½ c raisins and ½ c. cider. Simmer 5 min. add dash vanilla set aside and cool. (this next part is kind of like a rich French toast) Beat together 2 eggs, ½ c. milk (or for a treat--cream), 3 tsp. sugar, ¼ tsp vanilla, ¼ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp cardoman. Cut your favorite hearty bread into small squares—about 4/slice. (This can also be stale leftover bread as well) Soak bread pieces in pudding mix about half a minute or until it’s well saturated. Fry these in 2 tbs butter. Top each bread piece with apple mixture. Accumulating a number of apples in the fridg? Apple crisp: Slice or coarsely dice 2# apples (we never peel our apples), mix well with ¼ c. brown sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and juice from small lemon. Place in buttered 9 x 13 pan. Mix in bowl, 1/2 c. wholewheat flour, 1 c. brown sugar, 1 c. rolled oats, optional 1/2 c. nuts and mix well. Cut 1/2 c. butter (one stick) into chunks and scatter over mixture then using your hands or pastry cutter squeeze and mix until everything is mixed well and crumbly. Drop topping onto apples and bake @ 375 deg. 35 min. Broiled Tomatoes: Arrange 1 tomato per person, sliced in half or 3/4" thick, on oiled cookie sheet or low rack. Brush with olive oil or melted butter. Broil until the tops are browned but not burned, and the tomatoes are heated all the way through. Many variations! Herbs and Spices: Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of garlic, thyme, oregano, rosemary, coriander, parlsey, dill, chives, cumin, basil, tarragon,chile or curry powder on each tomato before broiling. Breadings: Sprinkle bread crumbs or wheat germ on top before broiling. (or breading and cheese) Cheeses: Sprinkle any cheese you have on hand on top before broiling. Sour cream topping: Broil tomatoes until heated. Combine 2 tsp. sour cream and 2 tsp. mustard and spread on to of tomatoes and broil until topping is bubbly. Garbanzo Bean Salad. Combine 1 1/2c. cooked garbanzo beans, 1 c. chopped tomato, 1/2 c. black olives, 1 c. slivered onions, and 1/2 c. Italian dressing. You can add chopped cilantro or parsley also. The garbanzos (chick peas) are easy to make in a crock pot as they take a long time to cook. The rest is quick and easy. Tomato Bruschetta: Dice up tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Mix with shredded basil or oregano. Salt and pepper to taste. Toast your favorite bread or ideally, French baguette, rub with garlic and top with mix

Posted 10/2/2015 3:00pm by Don Kretschmann.

Sept. 1, 2015

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,   

Big full moon Saturday peeking out behind the clouds seemed so odd somehow with the sweltering humidity. September’s arrival well in advance of Labor day with a week in the high 80’s also seems out of bounds.  But every time we round the end of the orchard and look at the Jonafrees just loaded with red apples, we know we’re on the cusp of the fall season.  After finishing picking the Primas, we’re very glad to have just completed a new and much larger apple cooler—quite a crop.  And we’re now picking the Priscillas—best crop of those ever—to be followed shortly by our most plentiful apple, Liberty.  A separate cooler for apples is necessary because they give off ethylene which causes many vegetables to deteriorate rapidly.     Please bear with us as we overload your box at this time of the season.  It’s very difficult to choose what to leave out.  Some things just won’t store long; others we’ve been holding back on because more perishable items have taken precedance.  We hate to wait so we’re just loading you up so you can enjoy what and when you will.    We’ve included a little salsa pak with cilantro, a jalapeno or two...  Make a green salsa (below), or combine with tomatoes for a red salsa.    There’s lots of broccoli planted for the fall, just waiting for cool weather and moisture.  Coming Soon:  Green beans, winter squashes, roma tomatoes.   

Enjoying the waning summer, awaiting a good rain, we are sincerely,                                             Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

P.S. Tuesday standard and plus sizes—we had some red romaine left over last week and added that to your box just to get it out the door.

Veggie IDs/tips:  The little bag of greens with small thick leaves on succulent stems is purslane.  Purslane has the highest content of Omega-3 fatty acids of any plant. It’s essential to metabolism, builds the immune system, and acts as a deterrent to heart disease.  It’s eaten all over the world.  Our Mexican helpers call it verdolaga and laugh that only the poor eat it in Mexico. Tips: Potatoes and beets will hold well for many weeks unrefrigerated in a cool place with good humidity like a basement. Carrots hold for months under refrigeration.   Tomatoes should never be refrigerated--55 deg. is ideal for them.    Purslane Potato Salad:  Boil 5 c. chopped potatoes until just barely tender.  Drain and cool.  Chop 2 c. purslane leaving out the tougher lower parts of stems.  Slice 1 c. sweet onions thinly.  Mix 1 c. mayonnaise, 1 tsp. celery seed and ½ tsp. salt with all ingredients until well mixed   Purslane Fritters:  Mix 1c. minced purslane sprigs, 1c. fine fresh bread crumbs, 2 tbs. currants, 1tbs. ground ginger, 1/2 tbs. black pepper, 1/2 t. salt.  Beat 3 eggs well and add dry ingredients.  Mold into about 15 fritters and fry until golden brown.   Salsa Verde Raul:  Boil 1-2 hot peppers in water 5 min.  Add 5-6 tomatillos and continue to cook until tender.  Mash slightly.  Add 2 tbs finely chopped cilantro and 1-2 minced small onions, 1 clove minced garlic and salt.  (you can also add a few tbs sour cream and mashed avocado to the dip.)   Turkish salad--Mix chopped purslane with slivered onions and peppers.  Dressing:1/2 tsp pomegranate molasses, 1/4 tsp crushed garlic, 1 tbs olive oil, 1 tsp lemon juice.  Top with tomato cubes.   Rice Noodles with Diablo Sauce and Greens:  Saute 3 c.cloves minced garlic, 3 tsp. minced ginger, ½ minced jalepeno, and ½ c. chopped onions in 4 tbs. sesame oil.  Add 3 c. chopped tomatoes, stir until they begin to cook. Add 2 tbs. honey and 4 tbs. lemon juice.   Cover and allow to simmer 2-3 min.  Add 6 c. chopped chard and cook another 5 min. until tender.  Meanwhile in large pot of boiling water add 12 oz. soba noodles and a tiny bit of oil. Cook until al dente-5 min.-drain.  Serve greens and sauce over the noodles.

Posted 10/2/2015 2:46pm by Don Kretschmann.

Aug. 25, 2015

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,   

We spent a weekend with my siblings moving my 94 year old mom. We arrived to find her with a recently broken arm. She’d climbed on top of a piece of furniture to take down drapes and was jumping over to a chair when she fell. Hmm. Someone needs to keep an eye on that youngster. She was my first gardening mentor. We children took buckets of kitchen trimmings out to the garden to spade them in so they could compost and add to the richness of the soil. I can still picture our back yard when dad lost his job and she had it plowed by a local farmer—fencepost to fencepost. Our playhouse was an oasis in the middle of one giant vegetable garden. Despite the rough times, we were well nourished.   

In addition to the waves of tomatoes, we’ve been picking apples with a vengeance. It’s the “on” year for Primas. These are comparable to a Summer Rambo—slightly tart, red, and crisp. In addition to snacks, they make great deserts.

Coming Soon: Salsa pak-tomatillos, cilantro, jalapeno, cider, winter squashes, roma tomatoes.    Enjoying the waning summer, we are sincerely,                                             Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

If you haven’t noticed, this is tomato season! Enjoy cooking with fresh ripe tomatoes. There’s nothing simpler (nor more tasty). 

Tomato Brushetta (“Italian salsa”): Dice up tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Mix with shredded basil or oregano. Salt and pepper to taste. Toast your favorite bread, focaccia, or French baguette, rub with garlic. Scoop, top, or mix. Make it really festive with different colors of tomatoes—red, yellow, pink, green. Now’s the season!

Rosemary Focaccia with Garlic and Onions: Saute 1 med. coarsely chopped onion and 2-4 cloves finely chopped garlic in 2 tbs olive oil until tender and golden. Set aside. Make recipe of your favorite bread proportioned to use 1 c. liquid. When preparing the liquid ingredients add the sauted onions and garlic and 1 tbs. finely minced rosemary. Add the flour, knead and raise the first time. Punch down and roll into a flat rectangular shape. Oil a large baking sheet and dust with cornmeal. Lift focaccia onto sheet and press dough out to cover. Allow to rise again, and before baking (400 deg) press a number of indentations in the top with your fingers. Brush with 2 tbs. olive oil and sprinkle with another tbs finely minced rosemary and grated Parmesan cheese. Bake approx 20 min until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped. Serve hot! Note: Easy bread recipe is Don's basic 1-1-1 in the breadmaker. 1 c. water 1 tbs honey, 1 tsp salt in first. Then 1 c. white and 1 c. whole wheat bread flour with 1 tbs dry yeast in a cavity on top of the flour. Put it on the dough cycle. Turn out when done onto floured surface and knead in a little extra flour if too sticky. Tomato yums:

Panzanella: Toss cubed bread w/ olive oil, salt, and parsley. Toast in oven on cookie sheet until browned. Remove and cool. Chop tomatoes, fresh basil, sweet onion, and mix with croutons. Dress w/ vinegrette of extra virgin olive oil, and vinegar of your choice.

BLT—yes! With a REAL tomato.

Apple Cake: Combine 2# tart, cut up apples with 1 1/2 c. sugar and set aside 15 min. Meanwhile sift 2 1/2 c. flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 Tbs. baking powder, 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp each ginger, nutmeg and mace. Mix 2 eggs, 1/4 c. oil, 1/2 c. buttermilk, 2 tsp. vanilla, and 1/2 c. raisins or currents. (option-1/2 c chopped walnuts) Add apples to the dry ingredients, then stir in the liquid mixture. Pour into oiled 9x13 baking pan. Bake @ 350 deg. 45-50 min until toothpick comes out clean.

Oven roasted Tomato sauce: Coat a shallow baking pan with olive oil.(9x13 or a turkey roasting pan are good). Cut up ripe tomatoes into chunks removing the cores to fill the pan. Bake slowly @300deg. turning when the tops of the tomatoes look a little browned. Continue until it’s thick enough for you. You can use as-is or strain out skins and seeds through a Squeezo, or Folley mill. Roasting imparts an almost carmelized sweetness to the sauce and darkens it a bit. As Italian as you can get…

Pappa al Pomodoro- Heat oil in skillet,add garlic and saute,stir in 1 T. tomato paste, then add qt. chicken broth, 3# diced tomatoes, Simmer 20 min. Then add herbs, pepper & salt to taste and 1# diced bread. Let stand 1 hr. Stir before serving hot or cold. Drizzle with olive oil before serving. (I guess I'm not a purest. Simplicity is more important for me. I skipped the tomato paste-only had fresh ones, didn't peel or seed my tomatoes. I used only 4c. chicken bullion instead, because of more juice from the tomatoes, and I used whole wheat bread--and it was great!)

Posted 10/2/2015 2:32pm by Don Kretschmann.

Aug. 18, 2015

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,   

It’s getting downright dry, but on the other hand this is precisely the type of weather one wants in the heart of the tomato season.  Heat brings them on, and dryness keeps the plants from developing late blight which can end the season in a week.  With irrigation, we can optimize the water and keep the splitting of the fruit to a minimum.  Moisture we can’t control, like rain, is often problematic.   

We spent a good bit of the last week harvesting our early potato crop—and it’s a great one!  All those June rains pushed the yield to the max.  We’re so thankful that disease didn’t take hold.  Not so, though, with the carrots.  We’ve yet to dig them all, but at least one variety (Nelson) struggled all year with green leaves constantly dying off with a leaf blight.  The Yaya’s seem to have fared better, but we’ll see when we dig them this week.   

It appears we’ll have some serious “holes” in our season.  We normally purchase outstanding conventionally grown sweet corn from one of our neighbors.  But this year his low lying ground was so flooded early in the season that there’s not much excess to sell.  We’ve managed to get other corn from a nearby farmer.     

Our normal conventional peach supplier was devastated by extreme cold weather last January.  Hundreds of trees were killed and the survivors’ yield is down.  We have managed to get some peaches from our strawberry supplier, but we won’t be able to offer pecks of them as in past years.     

Sweltering, but enjoying summer, we are sincerely,                                             Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

ID: Tomatoes—a rundown with some heirlooms.  Italian Gold, Arkansas Traveler (one of our favorite pinks), Green Zebra.  Those really yummy sweet tiny plums are Blush.  Other plums types- Juliet and San Marzano Then we have our own saved variety we call Big Pink.  Very dark ones are Black Velvet.  One we call Golden yellow.  And somewhere out there we’ve got a sweet striped yellow/red called Pineapple.  There’s several paste/roma types—Plum Regal, Tiren, andFolia.  Sometimes we have a hard time keeping track of them all.   

Special Orders: Tomatoes: $20 half bushel; Seven grain bread @$4/loaf; various cheeses; ground and whole bean coffee. Easy to freeze for the winter: Collards, kale, Swiss chard—12 bunch box $20.  We generally have lots of different herbs on hand—rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, dill w/heads.  If you have need of some for a special recipe, just let us know.   

Stuffed Tomatoes: Cut tops off 4 large firm tomatoes and scoop out insides.  Mix ¼ c. dry bread crumbs 1 beaten egg, 1 diced onion, 1/3 c grated parmesan cheese, 1 tbs basil, 2 cloves minced garlic, ½ c. shredded mozzarella cheese, 1 tbs parsley, salt pepper to taste. Pack tomatoes tightly, top with shredded mozzarella, bread crumbs, butter, and bake uncovered 25-30 min. @ 350 deg.

Dilly Slaw: Slice up red cabbage and 1 onion to thickness of a nickle.  Finely chop 2-4 tbs tender dill leaves. Toss with 1/3 c. mayonnaise, ¼ c. cider vinegar, ½ tsp. salt, 1 T honey.  Allow to marinate 10 min.  Variations/addition: add some finely shredded carrots, a tbs. of chopped parsley, and tbs. mustard.  Or go Greek-- substitute lemon juice and olive oil for mayo and vinegar; add crumbled feta cheese. Absolutely as good as it gets with a fresh tomato sauce…

Pasta a la Georgina:  Saute 2 lg. cloves chopped garlic and about an equal amount of finely diced fresh ginger in 2 T oil.  Add about 1# fresh ripe tomatoes, cut in chunks, and simmer.  (15 min+-)  Cook pasta, drain.  Add 1 c. chopped fresh basil to tomatoes just before serving.  Sprinkle pasta servings with grated mozzarella cheese and top with sauce.  A great 20 minute meal!

Posted 10/2/2015 2:28pm by Don Kretschmann.

Aug. 11, 2015

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,   

Taking it up a notch. After digging carrots in the morning, Saturday, we loaded up with boxes and began picking the main tomato field. We’d been picking the upper half of the field for several weeks. These were the early ones—Valley Girls and Defiants. But Saturday, the Mountain Freshes, just below, were turning red too! By 5:00 the truck was full, we’d completed only 2/3 of the field, and we decided to wash and sort before picking yet more. The barn’s full of these delicious seasonal favorites. “Tomatogeddon” is coming. Enjoy fresh made sauce, or enjoy them fresh. Gorge.   

If you’ve had an orchard or if you’ve planted an apple tree in the yard and watched it grow, you know the upbeat glow you have admiring the fruit as it reaches maturity. With a small orchard, it’s really fun to pick apples. No bending over, you climb, reach for the biggest and best, find ones to munch on, and the view from atop is magnificent. But on the other hand, once picked, there’s no more admiring all those red orbs decorating row after row. It appears we will have one of the best apple crops in many years. There’s several varieties which we will have for the first time to give to customers. It’s the “on” year for the biennial Primas and the hard pruning over the last two winters seems to have rejuvenated many of the Liberties. Cross our fingers it all pans out.   

If you have others picking up your veggies for you, be sure to tell them to only take the box with your name on it. We had a number of subscribers saying they arrived to find their box already emptied. We’re not totally sure, but in vacation season we think many folks tell a friend or neighbor to claim the box. We surmise they arrive and just take any box without looking for a name. Also, if this happens to your veggies, please let the stop host know, so if there’s a box left at the end of the evening, you can claim the box which would be left over.

Coming Soon: Lots of heirloom tomatoes, more potatoes, carrots, beets, red cabbage, peppers—hot and not.

In the heart of summer, enjoying, we are sincerely,                                            

Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

ID: If you got apples this week, they are Redfrees and Daytons. Both have a nice sweetness and color for an early apple.

Notes: We’ll gladly take clean pints returned from the blueberries (sorry, no other sizes or types)  

Special Orders: Tomatoes: $20 half bushel; Seven grain bread @$4/loaf; various cheeses; ground and whole bean coffee. Easy to freeze for the winter: Collards, kale, Swiss chard—12 bunch box $20. Imperfect veggies: We often have lots of things that we just can’t bear to toss. There’s always more veggies of this sort on the barn checkout table than we could ever eat. Boxes and binsful. We’ve been harvesting eggplant and there are any number of these which have one spot on them, or a sunburn; we’ve still got lots of “pie apples”; and we’ve got many onions in need of a paring knife. All this should be used rather quickly and we’ll get it to you free of charge. We generally have lots of different herbs on hand—rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, dill w/heads. If you have need of some for a special recipe, just let us know.  

Roasted Tomato Pizza: Brush a cookie sheet with oil. Lay tomatoes sliced 3/8-1/2" thick on the cookie sheet. Brush with olive oil and dust with garlic powder and bake about 1/2 hr at 350 deg. until they start to dry out a little. When the pizza crusts are ready, carefully move the tomato slices with a pancake flipper and arrange to nearly cover the pizza. Sprinkle a small amount of grated mozzarella on top and then top with vegetables sauted slightly in olive oil with garlic (suggestions: peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, and onions).  

Waldorf Salad: Cut up 3-4 apples into chunks. Add several grated carrots&raisins to taste. Dress with mayonaise, or yogurt and mayo 2:1.  

German Potato Salad: Cook potatoes until tender, but firm. Cool and chop into bite sized pieces--cubes or slices. Fry and crumble up 4 slices of bacon. To the bacon fat add 2 tbs sugar, 1/3 c. water, 1/4 c. vinegar, and 1 tbs. flour. Cook until thickened, then add 1/2 c. chopped onions, and toss with potatoes. Allow about an hour to cool and flavors to blend. Then add 4 tbs. chopped parsley.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Posted 10/2/2015 2:26pm by Don Kretschmann.

Aug. 4, 2015

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,   

Farmers are invariably students of the weather. We’re always checking the weather report and watching the sky. We correlate this with our own memory and experience. In weekly and daily plans of work, expectations of the weather figure large. Over the last two weeks, it’s been getting downright droughty. We’d reset to our usual summer routine of irrigation. Generally, every other day a crop gets 4 hours of drip irrigation. We alternate the two fields of peppers, tomatoes…herbs, eggplant, and move the drip tapes between alternate rows of lettuce, “uno si, otro no.” Monday was to be one of two days this week with rain predicted—but only 30-40%. Dry as it’s been and cool, that didn’t sound like much more than a sprinkle was coming. Nonetheless, we got parsley, apples, peppers, tomatoes picked and potatoes dug early in the day—just in case it would rain. We’d been waiting for a chance to plant lettuce, so mid-afternoon as it began to cloud over slightly (but still patches of blue visible), I tilled the field and Angel, Maria, and Todd started planting. When it was going well, I took off to brushhog a field near the potatoes and beans. I could see clouds thickening to the south and thought nothing of it, because weather usually comes from the west. A little sprinkle and it stopped. With one more pass to finish mowing, the real rain commenced. Quick decision was: go for it. Once up and down the field, the trip in high gear up Ziegler Rd., and into the barn was more than sufficient to justify a complete change of clothes and to realize the only thing waterproof was the farmer’s skin. Lettuce got planted amidst everything, and later the heavier downpours of the evening washed it all in and serenaded us to sleep.       

The cuc patch has pretty much come to an end. The zucchinis are pretty close to demise as well. It was a great run of them which we hope you enjoyed.   

If you have others picking up your veggies for you, be sure to tell them to only take the box with your name on it. We had a number of subscribers saying they arrived to find their box already emptied. We’re not totally sure, but in vacation season we think many folks tell a friend or neighbor to claim the box. We surmise they arrive and just take any box without looking for a name. Also, if this happens to your veggies, please let the stop host know, so if there’s a box left at the end of the evening, you can claim the box which would be left over.

Coming Soon: Lots of field tomatoes, more potatoes, carrots, beets, red cabbage, variety of apples, peppers—hot and not.

Enjoying the rain, the sun, and all such, we are sincerely,                                             Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

ID: If y

ou got apples this week, they are Redfrees. A nice sweetness and color for an early apple. Notes: We’ll gladly take clean pints returned from the blueberries (sorry, no other sizes or types)

Special Orders: Basil: half bushel/$17; Seven grain bread @$4/loaf; various cheeses; ground and whole bean coffee. Easy to freeze for the winter: Collards, kale, Swiss chard—12 bunch box $20. Imperfect veggies: We often have lots of things that we just can’t bear to toss. There’s always more veggies of this sort on the barn checkout table than we could ever eat. Boxes and binsful. We’ve been harvesting eggplant and there are any number of these which have one spot on them, or a sunburn; we’ve still got lots of “pie apples”; and we’ve got many onions in need of a paring knife. All this should be used rather quickly and we’ll get it to you free of charge.  

Moussaka: Slice eggplant about 1/2" thick and place on will oiled cookie sheets. Brush the top generously with more olive oil. Bake at 350 deg until slightly cooked (abut 20 min). (Alternate method is to cut eggplant, freeze in plastic bags, defrost and allow to drain, then brush with oil) Meanwhile fry 1# ground lamb (or beef), 2 finely chopped onions (green are fine too), and 2 cloves garlic. Add 1/2 C chopped parsley, 1 c tomato sauce and 1/2 c wine. Oil casserole dish, place one layer of eggplant, then the meat mix, then the other layer of potatoes.   Blend 2 c. milk, 2T cornstarch or flour, 1/2 t salt, and 4 eggs. Pour over casserole. Top with 1 c grated cheese (Kefaloteri or Parmesan) and sprinkle with 1/4 t cinnamon. Bake at 325 deg for 45 min. Can be made with potatoes as well or alternate layers. Since this recipe is for 9x13" pan, if there doesn't seem to be enough, one can cut the amounts of other ingredients in half and make a 9x9 pan.

Caprese Salad: Slice fresh tomatoes and arrange on platter with fresh mozzarella sliced ¼” thick. Place pieces of fresh basil leaves all around. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on top. Fresh pepper to taste. Key is fresh mozzarella and basil. Easy and addictive.

Barbecue Potatoes: Mix well- 1/3 c. oil, ¼ c. catsup, 2 tsp dry mustard, ½ tsp paprika, and ½ tsp. salt. Cut 6 med. Potatoes into 4 wedges each. Or use whole potatoes 1-1 ½ in diameter. Then slit potatoes with knife every ¼”. Brush potatoes with half of mixture and bake @425 deg. 35 min. until tender, brushing occasionally with remaining mixture.  

Posted 10/2/2015 2:25pm by Don Kretschmann.

July 28, 2015

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,

   In a “normal” year, about this time we’re taking the measure of our pond as we realize we’ve been irrigating to beat the band.  The level might be down a yard or so, which one quickly realizes is a large proportion of the available water.  But this season we only began last week to irrigate regularly.  We haven’t even finished laying the drip lines in all the valuable tomato fields, much less laid the temporary lines in our lettuce successions.  Incredibly, we never even watered the early cucs and zucs—and they’re nearly done!  Knock on wood, but western PA is faring far better than the big produce areas of the country in the West and Northwest. 

  The potatoes have greatly benefited from all the rain.  We can’t easily irrigate these and usually we figure they need one good rain after they bloom to size up the tubers.  Since we’ve gotten many rains after bloom, there’s a good chance this will be a banner harvest when all is said and done.   

   Your box this week is a little overloaded because we are replacing one of our coolers.  We figured we could send off some of the produce and not need to store it while this is happening.

   It appears we’ll have quite a number of the various early apples, starting with Pristines, then Williams Pride, then Redfree, then Primas, then Priscilla. We’ve got smaller numbers of all of these so generally you won’t get some of each except for the Primas.

Coming Soon: Lots of field tomatoes, more new potatoes; eggplant; early apples, green peppers.

Enjoying the sunshine (even the heat as it lights a fire under our tomatoes), we are sincerely,

                                            Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

Notes: We’ll gladly take clean pints returned from the blueberries (sorry, no other sizes or types)  Early potatoes have thin or no skins.  They blacken easily and should be refrigerated until you use them. 

Note to Light Shares: You might see others sizes have blueberries, which you don’t have.  This is because if we were to give you a pint each week, the box would cost considerably more.  So we gave lights a pint last week and none this week. 

Special Orders: Basil: half bushel/$17; Seven grain bread @$4/loaf; various cheeses; ground and whole bean coffee. Easy to freeze for the winter: Collards, kale, Swiss chard—12 bunch box $20. Blueberries: 12 pt. flat $58

 

Fresh Salsa:  4 tomatoes, 1 bunch cilantro, about 1 green onion (or 1 medium sized dry onion or a small bunch of chives)--chop all these very finely.  Add salt, 4T lemon or lime juice, dash of garlic powder and if you like, about 1 tsp. of finely chopped hot pepper—go easy because they are hotter fresh.  Mix and enjoy with chips or other Mexican fare.  You can also add chopped cucumber, bell pepper, or corn. 

New Potatoes Baked on a Cookie Sheet:  Make sure all potatoes are about the same size—usually about the size of the smaller ones.  Cut larger ones in half.  Drizzle about 2 tbs. oil on a quart of potatoes.  Salt.  Sprinkle with your choice of paprika, thyme and rosemary, onion soup powder, cayenne pepper, or all of the above.  Toss until coated well and place on oiled cookie sheet.  Bake @ 350 deg. About 20 min. until tender.

If you still have a little fresh dill in the fridg…

Dilly Beans: Cook or steam trimmed beans 3-5 min.  Drain when beans are still bright green and just tender.  Stir 2 Tbs. fresh chopped dill into warm beans.  Combine 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, 1/3 c. cider vinegar, 2 lg. cloves pressed garlic, and  1/2 tsp honey in saucepan and bring quickly to boil.  Pour over green beans and mix well.  Add 1 tbs oil if desired.  Serve hot or chilled.

Greek Cabbage Salad: Cut 1 cabbage into "slaw" style strips.  Dice 1 small onion to desired consistency. (you can also sliver scallions as well)  Mix with 4 oz. crumbled feta cheese, ¼ c. raisins, ½ c. toasted walnuts, 1/8 c. sesame oil, and 2 tbs. lemon juice and salt to taste.  Add a little chopped parsley for a nice addition too!

Posted 10/2/2015 2:23pm by Don Kretschmann.

July 21, 2015

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,   

Last week we finally we put together a few days without rain and made a good start at catching up with plantings for the fall. Usually, just after July 4th we start these plantings. With totally saturated soil, it took an unusually long time to dry sufficiently so as not to till and create little lumps of mud and ruin the tilth for multiple seasons. Patience is key. Even waiting, on Friday when the carrot/beet field finally seemed dry enough to till, turning the tractor on Zeigler Road left a muddy residue as is generally only seen in early April or May! With rain predicted again, timing was critical. I was reminded of an elderly farmer in our neighborhood, Gene Graham, who was notorious for reading the vapors well and never missing those weather windows to allow him to have the earliest plantings in the spring. This would always stand him in good stead to reap a great crop.  

Saturday we planted fall broccoli and cauliflower. Cabbage is yet to go, then the cold frame logjam should be over.   

We’re harvesting the best bulb onion crop we’ve ever had. The first to go in your box will be mild white onions and those which don’t have a lot of “paper” (onion skin) on the outside. We know that many of these won’t store very well so they must be used sooner. Later will be Candy and the red ones.   

By now, you might be seeing how the garden grows. Despite our attempts to even out the stream of produce, there are lean times and fat times. Right now we’re pretty long on quite a variety of produce. We’re in a jam even to get it all in our coolers. In times like these we up the ante in the boxes. When this happens, please understand that we’d rather you have it--to eat, preserve, give away, or toss. So, one shouldn’t necessarily judge by what’s in your box right now that the box will always be thus full. That’s part of the beauty of eating locally—we glut on what’s here in prime season, and then pine for that taste when it’s gone.    It appears we’ll have quite a number of the various early apples, starting with Pristines, then Williams Pride, then Redfree, then Primas, then Priscilla. We’ve got smaller numbers of all of these so generally you won’t get some of each except for the Primas. C

oming Soon: Field tomatoes, New potatoes; eggplant; early apples, more green beans. Enjoying the sunshine (even the heat as it lights a fire under our tomatoes), we are sincerely,                                             Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

Notes: We’ll gladly take clean pints returned from the blueberries (sorry, no other sizes or types)

Special Orders: Seven grain bread @$4/loaf; various cheeses; ground and whole bean coffee. Easy to freeze for the winter: Collards, kale, Swiss chard—12 bunch box $20. Blueberries!!!: 12 pt. flat $58

Zucchini Asiago Waffles: Heat up and oil the waffle iron. Shred 1# zucchini, then toss with 1/2 c. flour. Shred 1 c. Asiago cheese. Wisk 2 eggs, 1 ½ c. buttermilk, ½ c. oil. Sift 1 ¼ c. flour, 2 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp. baking soda, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp salt. Mix wet ingredients into the dry until well blended, then mix in cheese and zucchini. Cook on waffle iron until crisp and browned. Serve with eggs, lightly buttered, pepper/salt.Thanks Kathy &Tara

Greek Cucumber-Dill-Yogurt Dip: Seed and grate 2 cucumbers mix with 1 tsp salt, cover and chill 3 hrs. or also overnight. Drain cucumber well. Mix 2 c yogurt, ½ c. sour cream, 2 tbs. lemon juice, 2 tbs. minced fresh dill, 1 clove minced garlic. Mix cucumber into yogurt. Chill and dip with pita bread wedges brushed with olive oil and baked until crisp.

Zuccanoes: Scoop out several large zucchinis leaving about 1/4" shell. Finely mince the insides. Saute one onion minced onion and two cloves garlic per zuc in olive oil 5 min., add minced zucchini, and 1/4# mushrooms and saute another 8 min. Mix 1 c. rice with the sauted veggies, add 1 tbs lemon juice, salt, pepper, and herbs to taste (parsley, thyme, basil..). One can also add 1/2 minced almonds, sunflower seeds, or other nuts if you like a little crunchy texture. Top with grated swiss cheese. Bake @350 deg. 40 min Collards are one of the healthiest foods there is. Packed with Vitamin K, A, C, calcium and many hearth healthy, cancer fighting properties.

Collards: Slice up leaves into ½ “ ribbons. Cut stems to ¼” Boil or steam 5 minutes. Salt and balsamic vinegar to taste. Or toss these with garlicy cheesy pasta. Traditional “southern” style collards are cooked with smoked meats or beans and perhaps a dash of hot pepper. They tend to soak up the flavor of the meats.

Posted 10/2/2015 2:21pm by Don Kretschmann.

July 14, 2015

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,   

Was just getting the newsletter in order when farming interfered—the air/reserve tank for the springhouse pump sprung a big leak. So donned my “plumbers hat”, grabbed a few pipe wrenches, pulled the old rusted tank out, and put a shiny new one in. My dad used to fear that as a farmer I would be a jack of all trades, but master of none. But master or not the water is running.

We were amazed at the quantity of beans in a very weedy bean patch. The abundant rain more than made up for the competition. But all that moisture made it a little challenging picking them on the steep south sloping field. Little in the way of a recipe is an improvement over simply steaming or boiling fresh green beans until just tender and a tad of salt to taste.

Coming Soon: New potatoes; blueberries; eggplant.

Keeping a step ahead of the rain, we are sincerely,                                             Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

Special Orders: Seven grain bread @$4/loaf; various cheeses; ground and whole bean coffee. Easy to freeze for the winter! Collards, kale, Swiss chard—12 bunch box $20. Blueberries!!!: 12 pt. flat $58 These berries clearly stand out because Rich Hunter waits until they are sweet! Fresh Dill Pickle Spears: Slice 1 or 2 cucumbers into spears and place in a glass quart jar with a few sprigs of fresh dill.   Then heat 1/8 c salt, 1/4 c vinegar, and 2 c water to boiling with a cut-up clove of garlic. Pour this over the cukes and when it cools, refrigerate. (To avoid breaking the jar with the boiling water, run hot tap water on the outside of the jar just before pouring the boiling liquid in.)

Old Fashioned Summer Cucumbers Cut 3-4 cucumbers, a medium onion, 1 tsp finely chopped dill into a large bowl. In a sauce pan place 1 vinegar, 1 cup of sugar, ½ cup of water, 2 tsp. of salt.  Heat until the mixture comes to a boil stirring often.  Pour over cucumbers and onions.  When cooled I place in a large 1 ½ quart jar and place in the frig.  Will keep for about 2 weeks. After you finish the first batch you can still use the liquid for another time.

Zucchini with Sour Cream and Dill—Stir until well combined: ¾ c. sour cream, ½ c. thinly sliced onion, 1 tbs fresh dill leaves, 1 tsp sugar. Cut up 2 medium zucchinis into bite-sized1/8 inch thick slices and toss with marinade and salt to taste. Chill 1 to 8 hrs. Easy to make without a lot of bother. The secret is: don’t cook the pasta.

Zucchini Lasagna: Preheat your favorite tomato sauce. Slice zucchinis 1/4” thick in rounds or lengthwise. Mix 1# ricotta cheese with 1/2c minced parsley. Brush bottom of baking dish with olive oil. (9x13” is our favorite size) Spread layer of tomato sauce on bottom of pan, then add first layer of uncooked lasagna. Spread layer of zucchini, then layer of ricotta, and then a more tomato sauce. Repeat the process until the pan is full and top with grated mozzarella. Bake covered at 325 deg. until pasta is cooked, then remove cover and bake another 10 min.

Kale Sri Lankan: Wash, remove stems, and chop 1 bunch kale. Slice one med. onion into rings. Saute onion in 2 tbs olive oil until softened, add kale and ½ tsp tumeric and sauté a few minutes longer. Cover tightly, turn down heat and continue to cook 10 min longer until kale is softened. Remove from heat and mix in 2 tbs. dessicated or flaked unsweetened coconut. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Posted 10/2/2015 2:15pm by Don Kretschmann.

July 7, 2015 Greetings from the Kretschmanns,   

Just returned (Becky to follow at week’s end) from a weeklong trip to the tiny village in Central /Eastern Slovakia where Becky’s grandparents came from. There were so many old themes—lack of opportunity and flight of youth to the cities. In the 100 odd years since they emigrated, Becky had visited in 1969 and her sister and mother in 1982, but after mom died no one could communicate and thus contact had been lost. Welcomed warmly by the mayor and committee, it quickly became a hunt through old photos for all to reconnect with the American “descendents”.   

We stayed in a simple rural “Pension” and were thrilled to find our meals were home cooked at least partially with veggies grown in the owner’s son’s organic home garden. Bonding was immediate when I walked out at dusk to help put the sheep and goats inside for the night (to ensure wolves wouldn’t eat them!) and to check up on apparently escaped cows on the far hillside. We were inspired to see the sophistication of the local environmental awareness, and were treated to a surprise concert by a troupe of young musicians (in the middle of a national park with the ranger leading!) For more, see “farmers’ observations…”   

We might be overloading on the herbs, but with all the rain, they seem to be growing better than normally and we always like to get everything to you in its prime. Broccoli leaves and stems are prime and very edible.    

Coming Soon: green beans, sweet bulb onions, new potatoes. Next week is chicken week.

Glad to be back to our own bit of Eden, we are sincerely,                                             Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

P.S. Rainfall tally:13.4” in the last month!!! Triple the normal average!

ID: The herbs are Italian parsley, basil, and spearmint   T

abouleh:to 1c. cooked bulgur (cracked) wheat, add 1/2 c olive oil, 1/2 c lemon juice, 1 bunch finely chopped scallions, lg bunch finely chopped parsley. Salt to taste. (Cucumbers, tomatoes, and celery can also be finely chopped and added.) In this case, one can put all ingredients in a ceramic or glass crock (wheat uncooked) with the tomatoes and cucumbers on top and refrigerate for at least 1 day, and up to two weeks. Another refreshing addition is a little finely chopped fresh mint.

Coleslaw:   At home as a child, we used to make coleslaw by putting cabbage, carrots, and a little onion through a meat/nut grinder. The dressing was mayonaise, vinegar, sugar and salt. Now we just slice with a knife or grater, about as thick as a nickel. If you add the salt when slicing the cabbage, one draws out the natural juice of the cabbage. This then mixes with the other dressing ingredients to marinate the slaw. Low-cal dressing is simple--just vinegar, salt, and honey. (Or if you're out of mayo) Approximate proportions for a dressing are 1/2 c. mayonaise, 2 tbs. vinegar or lemon juice, 2 tbs. honey, and 1/2 tsp salt. Or make an Asian type dressing: 1T soy sauce, 1 T vinegar, 2 T sesame oil, 2 t. minced ginger, ½ c creamy peanut butter, 1 t. honey, dash hot pepper. Add a little chopped parsley, and green onion rings. Mix it up, taste, and adjust as you like.

Beet Green Omlette: Cut up about 2 c leafy portion of beet greens into small pieces. Separately dice about 1/2c. redish thick parts of the stems. Slice about ½ c chives or green onions into little rings. Shred ½ c. cheddar, or cheese of your choice. Saute beet stems in olive oil 3 min. then add beet greens and continue to sauté until they begin to wilt and cook. Remove greens from pan, add a little more oil and heat pan. Pour in 6 beaten eggs, turn down heat and cover tightly, When edges just begin to cook, add beet greens then cheese and cover tightly again and cook until egg firms up Serve topped with a few chives or green onion rings. Haluske: Saute a shredded cabbage and several sliced onions in oil or butter. Add a pound or so of your favorite pasta. Noodles or spaghetti work well. Salt to taste. We had a tasty variation on this in Slovakia—dressing the whole dish with sour cream!