Week 14

Week 14: Kiwi? In Wisconsin?!

This is what it looks like in the kitchen on packing day for the CSA. Yep, everything is just this Instagramable...

We're in the same boat as last week in terms of the quantities of veggies, so once again, we'd like to ask you to fill out the preferred veggie form letting us know which options you'd be happy with (knowing that you won't get some of everything). If you don't fill out the form, you'll get whatever we give you from the options, which we'll try to keep as fair as possible.

We’re sorry to report that our sick chicken from last week’s newsletter didn’t make it. But life goes on for the rest of us, and she is back on a different level of the food chain now, providing a wide variety of species life-giving nutrition in her new resting spot.

Sunset on the chicken tractor and coop.

The garden seems to have weathered the literal storms of late and is still giving out a large amount of tomatoes, which have given us plenty of canning material. We feel like squirrels storing acorns, or perhaps pioneers who have put away enough food to survive the winter when we do our canning, and it’s a very satisfying feeling.

Brad diced up this rainbow of tomatoes in preparation for canning.

On the friends with unusual fruits front, we spent an enjoyable day Saturday at Hilltop Community Farm helping Erin and Rob harvest their hardy kiwis. Hardy kiwis look like green grapes, but taste just like regular kiwis. They grow on vines that can get absolutely massive, as you can see in the photo below. Unfortunately for us (and you!) it takes at least ten years for a hardy kiwi vine to grow big and strong enough to produce fruit, so growing these little beauties is still a ways out for us. However, to our CSA members, we’re including a few little kiwi fruit to sample from the "rejects" we received from Hilltop (similar to the apples before, these have non-harmful, cosmetic blemishes). Leave them out on the counter until they’re soft and a little squishy, then pop them in your mouth, skin and all! And let us know what you think!

Yes, that whole wall of greenery is hardy kiwi. And from only two plants!

In the Box

As mentioned above, we have a wide variety, but somewhat limited quantities of several veggie options this week. Adding back beets as an option and welcoming eggplant for the first time. If you want eggplant and don't end up getting one this week, no worries, there appear to be more on the way! We also have three Emerald Gem Melons, so first come first serve with those (unfortunately our melon and winter squash crops didn't do as great as we were hoping; still holding out hope for some of the winter squash though!). Fill out the preferred veggie form for more information.

  • Apples
  • Tomatoes*
  • Salad Mix
  • Peppers (Jalapeños and/or Bangles Blend sweet peppers)
  • Kale*
  • Basil*
  • Cilantro (upon request!)
  • Carrots (possibly no tops, but tops available upon request)
  • Summer Squash (Costata Romanesco Zucchini, Bennings Green Tint Scallop Squash, or Yellow Crookneck Squash; fill out a preferred veggie form if you have a preference between these varieties!)
  • Ground cherries
  • Broccoli
  • Kohlrabi
  • Beans (the same as previous weeks, Dragon Tongue and Red Swan Beans)
  • Mother's Mary Pie Melon
  • Beets
  • A taste of hardy kiwi
  • Eggplant
  • Emerald Gem Melon
  • Eggs (for some)

*We have lots of this! Want only purple basil? Only Thai basil? Double the kale? Just let us know on the preferred veggie form!


Eggplant Bacon

This is a trick we learned when the CSA we volunteered at gave us some eggplants and we didn't know what to do with these underappreciated things. I don't think we had ever even considered cooking with them before. This approach, however, has changed that (for Brad at least)!

1 Eggplant

1/4 cup brown sugar (and/or tablespoon or two of molasses)

2-4 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or other vinegar)

2-4 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

1-3 tsp Smoked Paprika

1-3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1-3 tsp garlic powder

1-3 tsp black pepper

2-4 tbsp maple syrup

1-3 tsp cayenne

2-4 tbsp bbq sauce

Olive oil

1. Cut the eggplant up in bacon sized strips

2. Whisk all your marinating ingredients together (everything between eggplant and olive oil above). You of course could use all of the ones listed, but really the beauty of this is in how much you can adjust and tailor it to what you have available and what your unique taste buds find pleasing!

3. Soak the eggplant slices in the marinade for several minutes to several hours.

4. Place eggplant strips on a well-oiled pan and bake at 250 degrees for 35 minutes (if you're not making a big batch, you can always just bake this in the toaster oven).

5. Brush each strip with any left over marinade you have and flip them over.

6. Bake for 15 minutes more and then check periodically.

7. When finished, take out and enjoy with some eggs, or perhaps as an "ELT" sandwich!

Brad's Food Philosophy Corner

Brad shares his reasons for farming, one per week!

Being Outside

Very few jobs nowadays involve being outside at all. It wasn’t like this was deliberately decided – as if we considered the benefits of being outside and determined that the benefits of indoor work were better. It is, rather, like a lot of things, a tag-along side effect to a more digital, office-oriented economy. It is worth asking, then, is this side effect worth it? Part of the impetus for this farm adventure was us answering "no" to that question and trying to find a way to interact more with the outdoors, even if one or both of us ultimately keeps bringing in off-farm income with an indoor job.

Alas, though it can be hard to find outdoor work that is fulfilling and pays well, it is worth being aware of how even small “doses” can be beneficial. As part of my indoor office job, I’ve learned how views of the outdoors has been widely recognized as an important part of treating patients (and is now required for all inpatient rooms). Studies have even been done to show patients actually recover faster from surgery when given views of the outdoors. Beyond healthcare, several studies show how just viewing nature or landscape imagery can make you healthier and less stressed. Ultimately, though, you don’t need science on a day like today to realize how nice it is to spend time outside.

So, I know I can’t put pictures of bees in flowers in every newsletter, but look at this one! It’s a twofer! Two bees in one squash flower!