What is a Community Supported Agriculture & How do I find one?

Ol’ man Simon, planted a diamond. Grew hisself a garden the likes of none. Sprouts all growin’ comin’ up glowin’ Fruit of jewels all shinin’ in the sun. Colors of the rainbow. See the sun and the rain grow sapphires and rubies on ivory vines, Grapes of jade, just ripenin’ in the shade, just ready for the squeezin’ into green jade wine.” -Shel Silverstein

As many of you may remember, my past life as an Organic Farmer was filled with busy days in the greenhouses, gardens, and with the animals. There is part of me that misses it all… yet there is another part of me that is simply grateful for the experience and lessons it taught me.

One of the things I loved most about my farm was our Community Supported Agriculture program AKA CSA. This is the time of year that many people begin looking for a CSA program for next year. That may seem strange to some… thinking about getting next summer’s produce, but from a farmer’s point of view, now’s the time.

I thought now would be a great time to share some tips on choosing a CSA, and what to look for when hunting down the perfect farm for you!

Many seed, greenhouse supply and agricultural companies offer substantial discounts to farmers for getting their orders in before the end of the year. This can mean substantial savings to farmers, especially beginning farmers. Not only that, but meat and dairy producers are looking at feed costs and amounts of livestock needed for the following season.

DPP_0034

Most farmers plan & place seed orders by the end of November. Plans for ordering next year’s Thanksgiving turkeys are being thought out right now as well. How many meat birds and laying hens will be needed to supply the demand the following year. Quantities of feed they’ll need to secure for their livestock is also a consideration. These are all important factors being considered by farmers as I write this. 

1. Types of CSA’s. Determine what you’re looking for before you go on the hunt. This will allow you to do custom Google searches. Here are a few of the more common types you may consider when starting your search.

There are many types of CSA’s including the typical veggies but some farms have what are referred to ‘add-on’s’. These can include fruit, flower, egg, meat, milk & dairy, and even coffee! Our farm offered a Spring, Summer, and Winter share with all of the above options with the exception of coffee.

2. Questions you will need to consider when deciding on the perfect CSA program for you. Does the farm meet your individual/family needs?

  1. Do you want organic products or is that not relevant to you? Does Organic certification make a difference?
    Pro Tip: My personal note here is, that it is important to know your farmer/producer. Organic certification is not geared to small, family run farms and can be very cost prohibitive to them.
  2. Do you want home delivery? Do you want to pick up at your local farmers market?
  3. What are all the delivery options?
  4. Does the potential farm have multiple share size options to fit your individual/family size? For example: full or half share, senior or single options.
  5. Do you want to participate in a work share program if that’s an opportunity? This would entail doing labor on the farm or market location in exchange for the food or discount off the share.

DPP_0008

6. Do you want to help support a small-family run farm, or a large multi-member farm?
7. Does the farm allow installment, accept credit card, offer discounts for full pay or an early bird discount?
8. How many share members does the potential farm allow each season? When is the cut off date? 9. Does the farm have a web site to view their products, farm photo’s, etc.?
10. Does it have a Facebook page where members can communicate between each other and their farmers?
11. Are you picky eaters? Do you cook? Do you ‘want’ to cook?

12. Does the farm have ‘customizable’ share options? Will you be able to swap out things you don’t care for?
13. Is it a pre-pack (shares packed and ready for pick up) or a U-Pack (You get to choose between specific items for your share)?
14. Does the potential farm have an on site farm stand?
15. Does the farm allow for visits? does it have a ‘field day’ where members are invited to attend?

With regards to this last item, I’d like to defend some farmers stand on this… being I was a farmer for almost 15 years.
Farmer’s have families and lives outside of their business life and it’s not always convenient to have people ‘popping’ in. I always suggested to the ‘curious’ potential members if they allowed their clients or customers to just pop into their homes unannounced? Suddenly the reality of the request became a little bit more realistic.  Most farmers aren’t trying to ‘hide’ anything, it’s simply a matter of privacy and having a life of their own. Also, many people don’t understand the dangers on a farm, especially around equipment and with children.  Additional insurance is required when allowing people to come onto the farm. So please don’t judge a farmer harshly just because they don’t offer ‘unannounced pop-ins’.

DPP_0175

3. Sources to find CSA programs. Here are a few reliable sources to begin your research.

http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

http://www.localdirt.com/

http://www.ecovian.com/csa

http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/csa/csa.shtml

If you have the opportunity to visit the potential farm/er at a local farmers market they participate in, I suggest you go early in the morning. Most members try to pick up their shares earlier and this would give you an opportunity to see how the farmers relate to their members. You’d also have the chance to talk to other members, which the farmers usually love. The members will be able to give you an actual ‘review’ of how they like the share and the farm/er.  You would be able to see the produce available and the additional things they offer, like meat, eggs, flowers, etc.

Finding a Community Supported Agriculture program that will fit your families or individual needs can be a challenge, but if you go on the hunt prepared and understanding what you’re looking for, it won’t be so daunting.

If you enjoyed this blog , please LIKE, Follow, Share & leave me a comment! I love your feedback!

If you aren’t following me on Facebook, go on over & give a LIKE & Follow me for daily tips & tricks for your home & garden! https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100049613212778

Happy Day,
Jean

Copyright Policy

All text and images on this site are copyright of For Dragonflies And Me. Unless otherwise noted, you may not use this content without written permission.

Dave’s Delish Bourbon Chicken

“There is no spectacle on earth more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves.”― Thomas Wolfe

Last week I shared my Roasted Root Vegetables with Balsamic Glaze recipe and promised this one would be coming next… so here it is!!! You will not be disappointed!!! This is one of Dave’s recipe and our family just loves it served on a bed of Basmati rice with my veggies! Just in case you missed it, here is the link!

Farmers markets are abounding with fresh produce, farm fresh eggs, honey, maple syrup, flowers, and of course delicious grass fed meats. I like to get my meat from several farmers who participate at the markets I frequent. These delicious & meaty thighs were purchased from Vestergarrd Farms located in Ann Arbor, Michigan! They participate in the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, which is where we go most frequently due to it’s location.

Now lets get into this super yummy recipe you will all just love!

Our Favorite Recipes

Ingredients:
8 boneless chicken thighs

Marinade:
¼ cup Soy Sauce- I use Braggs
¾ cup light brown sugar
½ cup Jim Beam Bourbon
2 TBSP fresh minced red onion
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp herb garlic salt or regular garlic salt 
***You can use garlic powder in exchange for salt if you’d like
½ tsp pink Himalayan salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper

Farm raised meats are so wonderfully delicious & fresh. However if you purchase your meat from a grocer, you are still supporting local!

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a gallon size Ziploc bag combine all marinade ingredients; mix until well blended & set aside.

3. Take chicken thighs and cut into 1” strips leaving most of the skin on; put strips in the bag of marinade and place in the fridge for at least 5 hours or overnight if you want to plan ahead.

4. Pour both marinade and chicken strips into a 9” x 13” x 2” baking dish; cook uncovered for 1 ½ hours stirring occasionally.

This is delicious served on a bed of Basmati rice and my Roasted Root Vegetables with Balsamic Glaze.

If you enjoyed this recipe post, please LIKE, share, & of course follow me to receive notifications on all my posts. 

Follow me on Facebook for daily inspirations, & more tips and tricks for your garden & home!
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100049613212778

Added bonus: You can go to my blog at www.fordragonfliesandme.com to purchase my original cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats and Treats. The cookbook has almost 1000 recipes on almost 500 pages! Check out the Cookbook Testimonials while you’re there!

Happy day,
Jean

How-to preserve your herbs, & bonus recipes!

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking, you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

– Julia Child

My freshly dried basil

Growing your own veggies & herbs is a such blessing! Although having the ability to preserve them is a wonderful use of what you’ve grown & harvested. It helps save a ton of money as herbs can be very expensive, especially organic brands. Whether or not you garden organically, your home grown herbs will taste remarkably richer than any purchased from the store.

The following how-to can be used with just about any herbs you grow. Here are a few processes I want to share with all of you.

Pro tip: You don’t have to wait until the fall to preserve your delicious herbs, you can start early in the spring and work at it all season long! 

As I mentioned there are a few ways to dry your herbs. Let’s look at each one.

Pro tip: You can have herbs all year in cold weather states. In the spring when you are purchasing your seeds, save a few to plant in late summer in pots. You can keep these in your kitchen all winter long.

Pro Tip: De-stemming your herb leaves from the stem is essential for the highest quality finished product. You can see in these photo’s the original stem of basil, then plucking each leaf off. The stems will not dry well and are often times stringy.

For recipes using all your wonderful dried herbs, check out my blog post here: https://wordpress.com/post/fordragonfliesandme.com/2829

https://wordpress.com/post/fordragonfliesandme.com/2324

https://wordpress.com/post/fordragonfliesandme.com/1429

Some seeds do not have a long shelf life when kept at room temperature. If you keep the seeds in your freezer they will have a better chance of germinating. 

1. Using a dehydrator. Your dehydrator will come with instructions and is very easy to use. You can use a dehydrator for all types of herbs as well as fruit! You can even make fruit roll ups! 

2. Place herbs on a cookie sheet and dry in your oven. After you’ve de-stemmed the leaves, place them on a cookie sheet and bake in a 250 degree oven until dry. The length of time will be determined by the size of the leaves.
For example, thyme and oregano leaves will be quicker than basil or parsley as their leaves are larger

Place leaves in a single layer on the cookie sheet so they are not overlapping each other. You do not need to turn the leaves. Check every 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Hanging your herbs to dry in a shady spot works too! You can bundle your herbs with a rubber band and hang them to dry. This generally takes a bit longer to dry as the herbs are more densely packed.

This photo was taken at
Greenfield Village

Pro tip: Don’t hang these in a sunny window as the sun will fade the color of the leaves.

Once the leaves are crumbly to the touch, remove them from the cookie sheet into a shallow bowl; gently crumble the leaves, do not crumble so hard that they become dusty. Think about how herbs look purchased from the store.


4. Besides drying your herbs, you can also freeze some of them. I have found that chives and parsley both freeze well. Most others will turn black and slimy.


Storage: Once you have dried your herbs, you can store them in glass jars with tight fitting lids, freezer storage bags or I like to use half pint jars with cute labels.

Other tips!

Freeze your pesto for use year round! We use pesto for so many recipes. I will make a large batch when my basil and parsley are at their best and then freeze them in half pint jars as these are equivalent to 1 cup which most recipes call for. You can also freeze them in ice cube trays and toss in a freezer bag.

Pro tip: Remember to leave at least an inch headspace when freezing!

Herb infused oils can be rather expensive even though they are so easy to make! Simply pack 2 cups of most any fresh culinary herb with 1/2 cup canola or safflower oil.

Pro tip: Olive oil can have a strong taste so I generally only use a few herbs with it. Basil, Thyme, & oregano. I also love to add fresh minced garlic with these. Soooo yummy!

Bonus Herb Salt & Salt Free Recipes

Here are some of my yummy herb salts-less recipes!
If you are trying to watch your salt intake, here a some great salt substitutes that the whole family will enjoy and they won’t even miss the salt!

For each recipe, combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly I even use a mini food processor. Once blended, store each one in a separate airtight container; shake before using, contents will probably settle.

Salt-less Herb Blend

5 tsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Combine all and store in an airtight container. Great on fish & chicken!

I had to use this pic of Aaron back on the farm after he harvested these onions!!

Italian Blend

1 Tbsp. garlic powder
5 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper

Combine all and store in an airtight container. Great in ground beef when making goulash!

Basic Herb Salt

1 cup sea salt
1 Tbsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. rosemary
2 Tbsp. thyme
1/4 cup parsley
2 Tbsp. tarragon
2 Tbsp. dill week
2 Tbsp. paprika
1/4 cup basil

Blend together in a food processor; store in an airtight container. Great for grilling or putting on pork or beef roasts!

All of these are great Great sprinkled on burger patties before grilling and really adds something special to ground beef when fried.

If you enjoyed this blog & bonus recipes, please LIKE, Follow & of course Share! Let me know what you think ! I love your feedback! If you aren’t following me on Facebook go on over & give it a like & follow me for daily tips & tricks for the home and garden! https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100049613212778

Happy Day,
Jean

Preserving Your Fall Pumpkins!

“… Just for one’s health… it is very necessary to work in the garden and to see the flowers growing.”
Vincent Gogh

If you’re like me, you want pumpkins from September through Thanksgiving! But how do we keep them from rotting prematurely & preventing little critters (AKA squirrels & others) from chewing them to pieces you ask? Well there are a few ways to stop them.

I’m going to discuss both a natural & chemical way to preserve your pumpkins. You choose the path you feel most comfortable with.

The natural way to deter critters from gnawing away at your beautiful pumpkins is by using cayenne pepper!

Please note, if you accidently purchase a pumpkin with any cuts, scratches, deep wounds, or if the stem is broken off this alternative will not work. The cayenne pepper will simply deter insects & critters from attempting to eat them, it will not prevent rotting.

Using Cayenne pepper is a natural alternative to chemical means. It is very easy & inexpensive, however you will need to reapply the pepper after each rain.

Rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks will take one taste & quickly scurry away!

It’s cute, but it will destroy your beautiful pumpkins!

The not so natural way.

An alternative way to keep those critters at bay is to simply coat each of your pumpkins, gourds & even your Indian corn with clear acrylic spray. This is also an inexpensive way to protect them, however you do not want to toss these pumpkins into your garden as compost. I happen to live on seven acres with five of those being woods. We generally toss our corn stalks, pumpkins, Christmas trees &  any other live garlands into our woods. They naturally compost, act as habitat for the wild life, and of course food for the animals as well.

Depending on how many pumpkins & gourds you have purchase 2 to 3 cans of clear acrylic spray.

Taking a damp rag or paper towel wipe down any debris and moisture on your pumpkin or gourd.

Watch my video on how to appropriately spray your pumpkin with clear acrylic spray!

How to pick the perfect pumpkins!

I wanted to share a few tips & tricks on choosing the perfect pumpkin. 

First, be sure the pumpkin or gourd has a securely connected stem. If it is loose at all, or even worse broken off DON’T buy it… no matter how cute it is, no matter how perfect it is, walk away. It will rot and attract insects & critters that will be happy to chew away at it.

This pumpkin has a securely attached stem and no wounds or knicks.

The stem of this pumpkin is broken off. It will rot much more quickly as well as attract insects & critters.

Secondly, be sure there are no cuts or wounds on your pumpkins.
Unfortunately even with our best attempts to be cautious, we can miss them. A perfect example is the pumpkin I used in my video. In this case the price tag was covering the large wound & I had no idea until I took it home and removed the sticker. I was so thankful I did as this allowed me to take care of it.

This is a very deep wound, so as you saw in the video I sprayed a lot of acrylic spray into it.

With this wound using cayenne pepper unfortunately would not work.

Lastly, support your local farmers & farmers markets with the purchase of your pumpkins and other holiday decorations. As we continue to spend our dollars locally, it naturally benefits our community.

If you enjoyed this post, please Like, Share, & of course follow me here and at my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100049613212778.

Happy Day,
Jean

My Top 5 Reasons to Support Local Farmers Markets

The Ann Arbor Farmers Market https://bit.ly/3AHViQd

One of my favorite things to do is attend area farmers markets. Whenever I travel I immediately look up any surrounding farmers markets, and you better believe if we can attend, we do! 

Here are my Top 5 reasons to support our local farmers markets.

1. Support your local economy by supporting your local farmers & entrepreneurs! 

As educated consumers we want to know where our food is coming from. We’re tired of food being mass produced on assembly lines with labels sporting names of ingredients that can’t even be pronounced. We
want clean & healthy food locally sourced & grown.
Where do you get this great stuff you ask? You get it at your local farmers market!


The Ann Arbor Farmers Market https://bit.ly/3AHViQd

According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Agricultural Statistics Board, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)  Released August 17, 2020,
“On an average market day, 916 households shopped across markets in the U.S. and spent $14,547 per farmers market. Farmers Market Managers served as paid employees in 4,321 markets, while in 3,162 they served as volunteers. On average, the paid Farmers Market Managers earned $18.40 per hour. Managers worked an average of 19.4 hours per week. “
Taken from https://downloads.usda.library.cornell.edu/usda-esmis/files/pz50hd694/gx41n598k/jd473j98z/nfar0820.pdf

2. Support your local farmers & entrepreneurs!

Direct marketing of farm products through farmers markets continues to be an important sales outlet for agricultural producers nationwide. Small businesses can get their product out to a fresh target market at a very reasonable cost. Markets can eliminate the need for a brick and mortar facility and all the expenses associated with it. Most importantly, it allows customers to build relationships with producers. You can see the positive impact of supporting local from this infographic for the Kalamazoo Michigan Farmers Market. 

Kalamazoo Farmers Market Metrics http://pfcmarkets.com/

3. Explore new varieties of fresh fruits & veggies, & other healthy foods!

I’ve often been asked, “What’s an Heirloom?” or told  “I’ve never seen a purple carrot!!!” Well, you’ll find a plethora of Heirloom varieties including purple carrots at most farmers markets! 

Tomatoes are by far the hottest item in the Heirloom market, but there are several varieties of eggplant, squash, carrots, beans, and so much more. 

Besides  providing a wide range of fresh fruit and veggies, you’ll be dazzled by a slew of delicious baked goods, dairy, egg and meat products, honey and maple syrup, body care products, both fresh and dried herbs, along with all types of artisan products. Some of these include handcrafted baskets, wooden bowls and cutting boards, as well as beautiful pottery, jewelry and several forms of art media. Pricing is typically very reasonable when compared to brick and mortar stores. Everything at the market is fresh from that day or the day before, unlike grocery store produce which has been shipped and transported for days.

4. Education- Kids programs, Cooking demos, & More!

Many markets incorporate kid’s programming, cooking demos, health fairs, & live music, to name just a few! The reason is simple: it is every market’s mission to provide healthy, nutritious, reasonably priced food to all people.

The farmers market is an ideal project for every community to incorporate. It promotes healthy eating, and enables community members to build relationships with their local producers.

One incredible program many farmers markets offer is The Power of Produce Club (POP Club). The POP Club provides both an educational & entertaining opportunity for children to engage in their market with the opportunity to discuss produce with the market farmers while exposing them to new & unique fruits and vegetables. ” In addition to participating in educational activities, POP Club kids receive vouchers to spend at the market, allowing them to make their own shopping decisions at the market.”

Ask your farmers market manager if this is available, if not tell them how to participate!

5. Connect with your community!

Farmers markets provide a place where the community can come together, meet and shop locally. The market is a gathering place for friends and family.  Markets offer fresh products locally produced, face-to-face interaction with producers and artisans, live entertainment, family activities, all the while supporting the local economy. 

Infographic taken from Farmers Market Coalition

Check out this great video https://youtu.be/uUm6coaRKBQ

“According to the USDA, Farmers Markets are an integral part of the urban/farm linkage and have continued to rise in popularity, mostly due to the growing consumer interest in obtaining fresh products directly from the farm. Farmers markets allow consumers to have access to locally grown, farm fresh produce, enables farmers the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with their customers, and cultivate consumer loyalty with the farmers who grow the produce.

Direct marketing of farm products through farmers markets continues to be an important sales outlet for agricultural producers nationwide. USDA celebrates National Farmers Market Week, view the Proclamation (pdf), (the first full week in August) each year and as of 2019 estimates, there are 8,140 farmers markets in the US.” Taken from https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/local-regional/research-publications

Dave & I at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market!

Thanks for taking the time to read my article. Please like it & leave me a comment!
Let me know what your favorite farmers market is, and where it’s located! I’d love to visit if I’m ever in the area! Maybe we can meet up for a coffee!

Please share this blog if you found it informative, and follow me on Facebook for fun & informative content!
Happy day,
Jean!

Spring To-do List, Using Old Ladders In Our Gardens, Yummy Soft Boiled Eggs in a ‘Green’ Nest

Spring is a time of new birth and rejuvenation. It’s when we look around and simply stand in awe at the beauty surrounding us… forsythias vibrant yellow… the sweet aroma of apple and cherry blossoms… lavender lilac bouncing in the breeze carrying the scents through the open windows… searching out the first tips of rhubarb and asparagus.

This is a hedge of 'Miss. Kim' lilacs we planted in our front yard three years ago.

This is a hedge of ‘Miss. Kim’ lilacs we planted in our front yard three years ago.

Spring… there isn’t quite anything as perfect in my mind.

Yesterday I was walking to the greenhouse when my feet went ‘squishhhh’ in the mud… I loved it, especially wearing flip-flops. Yes, I know it was cold, but it was almost 85 degrees in the greenhouse when the sun was shining! Neil was helping me and his feelings were a tad bit different… more of exasperation from the heat- he likes the cold. I’ll take the heat and a sweaty brow any day of the week over bundling up to keep warm.

Spring is also a time ‘to-do’ lots of stuff! As most of my dragonfly readers can testify, I strongly encourage lists- for everything! Garden and yard projects are no exception. I love the feeling of making the list and scratching off each item as it’s accomplished. I’m a visual person and I think that’s why lists make so much sense to me… plus they keep me on track.

This photo is of my chalkboard in my office where I keep my 'daily' lists.  I add sticky notes below as things need to be done.

This photo is of my chalkboard in my office where I keep my ‘daily’ lists. I add sticky notes below as things need to be done.

Scanning through my yard and gardens I’m seeing the multitude of things I need and want to get accomplished this season. I have a couple windows of opportunity before and after my ‘busy’ times, so I must utilize that time wisely. I thought it would be interesting to share this years list with all my dragonfly friends… now don’t be alarmed when you see it… I have lots of helping hands around our farm!

My list of outside jobs to do this year…
Painting:

back of garage
potting shed
front of greenhouse
back of hoop house
repaint back door where dog scratched

2. Fix arbor in front of hoop house- put new lattice on sides and top
3. Put post up at small herb bed for wisteria
4. Move raised beds from beside hoop house to cut flower raised bed garden
5. New flower bed around potting shed

6. Plant:

Pink climbing roses at back corners of potting shed
Rose of Sharon at back corner of house in back yard
Rose trellis on front of house at living room window

7. Finish Patio:

planters
floor and sides

8. Ladder trellis on side of garage over tea bed in Potager

Here is the photo I mentioned a few blog posts back. I got a photo of it the other day.  I'm so excited to do this on my garage this summer!  Can't you just see it covered with pink roses!

Here is the photo I mentioned a few blog posts back. I got a photo of it the other day. I’m so excited to do this on my garage this summer! Can’t you just see it covered with pink roses!

Number eight is one of the topics of this post. I often talk about my love for garden junque, it’s one of my favorite things about cottage gardening. I love being able to artfully incorporate what I absolutely adore, even though some people consider it trash. There are oodles of items that can be used, but lets look at old wooden ladders today.

A few posts ago I mentioned this ladder trellis- well I stopped the other day and took a photo of it… not the greatest, but you get the idea. I plan on doing this on the side of my garage over the tea bed in our Potager and planting… you guessed it, a climbing rose… but first I have to find them! So if you read my guest post at Flea Market Gardening ( http://www.fleamarketgardening.org/2013/04/04/flea-market-windows-how-to-make-a-decorative-mini-greenhouse/ ) you’ll understand how patient I can be!

Uses for ladders…
*Ladders can also be used in your flower beds to put potted plants on (see photo).

This is a really cool old ladder that I picked up at a garage sale for a couple bucks... so cut with pots!

This is a really cool old ladder that I picked up at a garage sale for a couple bucks… so cut with pots!

*I also have a ladder on one of the columns on our front porch that a climbing rose uses.
*Lattice/ trellis- I have a few ladders that go across the top of my pergola for the vines.

To many they are just something to climb up, but on my list, they have a much higher calling 😉

Spring is here and greens are coming in abundantly… and so are the eggs! Here’s a yummy recipe to use what you have- Enjoy friends!
Soft Boiled Eggs in a ‘Green’ Nest

Farm fresh eggs just laid in one of our farms many nesting boxes!

Farm fresh eggs just laid in one of our farms many nesting boxes!

1 Bunch of Chard, Kale or Spinach, stems and ribs discarded
1 1/2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Red Pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 Eggs

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Chop your greens into bite size pieces and toss in the oil and seasoning to coat evenly. Spread evenly in the bottom of a 10″x10″ glass baking dish and bake for about 30-40 minutes, till crisp. Remove from oven and divide into 2 bowls and create a ‘nest’ with a hole in the center.
2. While greens are baking, bring a 2 quart pot of water to a rolling boil and gently lower eggs into water, turn off heat and cover. Let eggs sit in water for 6 1/2 minutes for soft boiled eggs.
3. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water and let sit for about 1/2 minute. Working carefully and quickly, peel eggs, and place in center of nests. Season and serve immediately.

Be sure to come on over to Dragonflies Facebook for lots more photo’s and extra info plus tons of great links to other interesting sites. Hope to see you there…
https://www.facebook.com/pages/For-Dragonflies-And-Me/550000798362651?ref=stream
Happy Day,
Jean

Supporting Local: How Can I Do This?, 3/50 Project and Yummy Tuscan Soup & Onion Recipes!

Local is an important thing to many people, not just to the businesses but also to the consumer.  I remember when I was a young girl growing up in Windsor, Ontario and going to ‘town’ with my grandma… the little downtown and the “five & dime” shops. I remember the ‘big’ store downtown where grandma use to do a lot of the domestic shopping… it had a little cafe in there that we would always get a bite to eat… my favorite- french fries and gravy, yeah that’s a Canadian thing!  Well anyway, I use to love to go to the little hardware store that she would by her canning jars and lids at, the Chinese food restaurant that we would patronize on grandpa’s pay day… memories of a small town… a lot of children in today’s society won’t know that as a regular experience.  It will more likely be a ‘vacation’ memory. So many of us want to know who grew those tomatoes, or who raised that sheep to produce the fiber that made those lovely mittens, or shake the hand with the farmer that milked that cow that you now can get fresh raw milk from.  It is a good feeling to ‘know your farmer’… it is good feeling to talk to Mary when you purchase that jar of cherry preserves she made… it is rewarding to hand your hard earned money over to a person that worked hard to provide you with something essential.  It is a win-win situation for all involved.

Many small towns of today have the big bad ‘W’ store along with others that have killed the mom & pop shops. It’s so sad really, but we can help keep things local by just doing a few small things: Shop in town, close to town and at least within your own state.  Local by most definitions allows a 100 mile radius from your home- that gives you a lot of options if you think about it!  Many of us are going to make New Years resolutions tomorrow… let at least one be to make a conscious effort to support your local community this year!

I thought it would be interesting to put some tips on how to buy local, support local and live local!
~Buy direct from the producer as often as possible. By doing this you can recompense them fairly for their work.  The best way to do this is to shop as locally as you can!  Find locally owned businesses in your area, go to the Farmers Market, check sites like Local Harvest, Local Dirt and Slow Food for producers around you! 
~Join a CSA.  Shares of seasonally grown vegetables, fruit, meat & eggs, dairy can be sent directly to your door or picked up at local Farmers Markets or area businesses.  Emphasis is always on local & fresh.
~Shop your local Farmers Markets. There are gobs of Summer and Winter farmers markets all around.  They not only provide you with a great selection of local products, you get to meet the producers first hand. 
~Shop small specialty shops.  These independent shops provide a more pleasurable shopping experience than the big box stores or super markets could ever offer.  They will even want to learn your first name!
~When you dine out, eat at a local restaurant that buys at least some of their menu ingredients from local producers/resources.  You’ll be surprised at how many restaurants are doing this. 
    
There are ton’s of great Local minded groups out there that are great resources for all of us- again both producer and consumer.  One that has a really good mission is the 3/50 Project   http://www.the350project.net

They encourage us to think of three businesses you’d hate to see disappear, pop in and say hello once a month; the goal is to spend $50 between those three businesses.  That really is not a lot when you look at where you spend your money in a month.

Their Mission:
• To promote and strengthen independent brick and mortar businesses owned by people in the community

• To thank consumers for their patronage

• To expand local revenue streams by showing how a small dollar amount can translate into enormous financial stability

• To shine a light on the stark contrast between what an independent, locally owned brick and mortar business contributes to the local economy versus the significantly lower amount big boxes, franchises, chains, and internet purchases return

• To save the local economy…three businesses at a time
Be sure to check out their Facebook and website for lots more details I don’t have time to put here.

 
Other great Local Resources:~Edible WOW Magazine: This is one of the best resources out there for Southwest Michigan www.ediblewow.com
~Edible Communities: web site to direct you to an Edible publication in your area
www.ediblecommunities.com

~Local Harvest: list of producers in every state www.localharvest.org
~Google Farmers Markets to find local ones in your area
~Local Dirt: listing for producers
www.localdirt.com
There are gobs more out there and thanks to the internet you can find just about anything you want LOCALLY!

What to do with onions? There are lots of great things other than just throwing them on top of a salad. Here are a couple yummy recipes to expand your horizons. I threw in a yummy Tuscan Soup recipe for all the fresh Kale you are enjoying right now…Enjoy friends!

Sweet Onion and Sausage Spaghetti

6 oz uncooked Spaghetti
3/4 pound Italian Sausage Links, casings removed
2 tsp Olive Oil
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 c loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 c half & half cream
Shaved Parmesan cheese, optional

Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet over med. Heat, cook sausage in oil for 5 minutes.   Add onion; cook 8-10 min.s longer or until meat is no longer pink and onion is tender.
Stir in tomatoes & basil; heat through.  Add ream; bring to a boil.  Drain spaghetti; toss with sausage mix.  Garnish with cheese if desired.

 
Baked Onion Cheese Dip
2 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 c shredded pepper Jack cheese
1/4 c cream cheese, cubed
1/2 c mayonnaise
1/4 tsp fresh thyme
2 c chopped sweet onions, divided
Assorted crackers

1.  in a food processor, combine the cheeses, mayo, thyme & 1 c onions; cover 7 process until blended.  Stir in remaining onions.
Transfer to a greased 3 c baking dish.  Baked, uncovered at 375 degrees for 20 –25 minutes or until bubbly.  Serve with crackers.

Tuscan Soup
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 medium potatoes
1 ob. Spicy Italian Sausage
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups chopped kale

Brown Sausage; cool.
Combine the broth and cream in a sauce pan; slice the unpeeled potato into 1/4 inch slices; add the browned sausage; add the kale.
Add the spices and let soup simmer for about 2 hours. Stir occasionally.

Happy Day,
Jean

 
 
 


 



 
 

 

Eating Locally ‘In Season’ In Michigan Year Round, Some Meat Recipes for a change~ Rabbit In Sour Cream and Chicken Tagin

Eating locally is a way of life... a mind set… a position in the community… a thought process… You either believe it is better for you and your family or you don’t.  For Localvors and Foodies…  you get it… that is the best way I can describe you…  We are not grocery store shoppers loading our carts with packages filled with chemical processes that ‘they’ call food! This is a subject that is continually attracting more and more attention from the media and concerned people who are being daily poisoned by the garbage on the grocery store shelves… pink slime anyone?  People are trying to take back their natural right to eat ‘real food’! I often refer in my blogs on how to grow and raise your own food, but I realize and am utterly aware that this is just not a possibility for all of you reading this… my heart aches because of that. I also realize that not everyone really wants to do it themselves but loves the sheer fact they can support some of us who do… and with that I say ‘thanks’.  Over the next few blog posts I am going to touch base on how to practice, support and incorporate this into your life from both perspectives… thanks for joining me!
     



Happy Galvanting Chickens at our farm!

So what does it mean to eat seasonally you may be wondering. You get the locally part… even though we still eat banana’s~ yes I do too… but seasonally, now that can be a challenge.  Many simply don’t have the ability to grow & raise their own. So what do you do then? Well again, support your local farmers markets. In most major cities there are year round farmers market. Our farm started The Old Winery Farmers Market two years ago in Farmington, Michigan. Farmington already had a wonderful and vibrant May through November market, which we have been vendors at for the last five years. Yet it  lacked the much desired Winter Market… so was born The Old Winery (see our web site). We are not the only winter market in the metro Detroit area, not at all. Michigan can boast of two of the oldest markets, Eastern Market, Detroit and Royal Oak Farmers Market, Royal Oak and ours of course, The Old Winery Farmer’s Market to name just a few!  Although TOWFM is not as old, our building is, we are located in Farmington’s Historic Old Winery building.

Lettuces and Tomatoes growing in one of
our hoop houses.

With so much study on Season Extension growing methods, much done by Michigan State University, including heated and unheated high tunnels (green houses) we here in Michigan and in other Northern climates can grow fresh salad greens, spinach, lettuces along with carrots & beets to name a few. We have the ability to store Root Storage crops like apples, onions, cabbage, winter squash, rutabaga, carrots, celery, Brussels sprouts, pumpkins, even tomatoes for a certain amount of time… (lots more on this in a couple months).  We have the ability to store grains, make home made pasta and bread from those grains. Seriously, this is such a huge topic, I couldn’t do it justice in the small amount of time I have here. Personal research is key to any type of learning process… so research!

With all this we should take into consideration that there is no reason why we can’t eat seasonally to some degree.
So, what to do then…
*If it’s an option grow and raise as much as you can on your own and then what you can’t, find local farmers/producers who can.
*Shop local at the Farmer’s Market in your community.
*Find a Winter Farmer’s Market near you and shop there.
*Join a CSA~ many have summer and winter share options.
*Find a Co-op~ they will have access to seasonally produced goods.
*Know your farmer/ producer… shake their hands and talk awhile.
*Search the web for farmers/ producers in your area if you don’t know any, and then, get to know them. Let them be your farmers.
…so that tells you who to go to, but what about what to eat… next time we will discuss that! Keep posted for more!


A regular market friend gave me these two recipes… she is an incredible cook I believe… enjoy from me & Mary Margaret!

(Rabbit Russian style)  Rabbit in Sour Cream adapted from RusCuisine.com

Time: approx. 1 1/2 hours

1 3-5 lb rabbit, cut into 10-12 pieces
1 medium onion, coarse chopped
2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 TBS brandy
3 TBS unsalted butter, melted
2 bay leaves
pinch nutmeg
salt (to taste)
ground black pepper (to taste)

1. Brown the rabbit. Either saute in the butter or bush pieces with butter and
broil until light brown.
2. Place pieces in bottom of a warm Dutch oven or heavy casserole.
3. Saute onion in remaining butter until golden, about 10 minutes.
4. Drain the onions then add to the rabbit.
5. Whisk together sour cream, wine and brandy. Pour over the rabbit and onion.
6. Bring to simmer, add nutmeg, salt (can omit), pepper and bay leaf.
7. Cover and simmer over low heat, or if broiled, place in 350-degree oven for
45 minutes.
 

Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon, Green Olives and Thyme from Tagines &
Couscous by Ghillie Bashan


Time: 2 hours plus 2 hours marinating

1 7-lb chicken or 8-10 thighs
2 TBS olive oil plus pat of unsalted butter
2 preserved lemons (NOT fresh lemons)*
6-7 oz cracked green Greek olives (NOT pimento-stuffed cocktail olives)
1-2 tsp dried thyme

FOR THE MARINADE:
1 large onion, grated or minced fine
3-5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated leaves from 1 small bunch
cilantro, minced pinch of saffron threads
1 fresh lemon, juiced
1 tsp coarse sea salt
3-4 TBS olive oil
black pepper

1. Make the marinade by mixing ingredients in a small bowl.
2. Cut up the chicken into serving pieces if not using thighs, remove skin and place in shallow flat-bottom pan.
3. Coat pieces with the marinade, loosely cover with foil and refrigerate at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
4.Heat the olive oil with butter, remove chicken from marinade (reserve marinade) and either

(1) saute chicken in a heavy casserole or tagine or (2) place pieces in a jelly roll or shallow metal pan, brush pieces then broil till lightly brown.
1. If broiled, place chicken in heavy casserole, dutch oven or tagine** with reserved marinade. Add just enough water or stock to come halfway up the chicken.
2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes. Turn pieces from time to time.
3. Slice the preserved lemons into strips. Rinse and drain the olives if packed in liquid. Add to the tagine with half the thyme.
4. Recover and simmer 20 minutes more, then salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle remaining thyme on top before serving.
Serve with plain couscous.

*Preserved lemons are available in Zingerman's of Ann Arbor and many Middle Eastern groceries. They are better homemade, but only if you use them frequently enough to be worthwhile.

**Tagines (ta-ZHEENs) are conical North African pots, either earthenware or heavy metal. While a cast iron Dutch oven works fine, presentation is more authentic with a tagine. Many cookware shops carry them or can order one for you.
Notes: I prefer to brown meats under the broiler to reduce fat and
spatter/mess. I also either eliminate salt or use next to none. Herbs and
spices taste better anyway. If you don't know how to butcher a chicken (for
2d recipe), Mark Bittman's method on the New York Times website is very
quick and easy to do.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/magazine/mag-13eat-t-000.html?_r=4&emc=tnt
&tntemail1=y



Happy Day,
Jean


     

More on Organization: Working on Menu Planning & Grocery Lists, The Organized Home Makers 10 Commandments (adapted from the FlyLady!) & More Yummy Market Fresh Recipes!

I don’t mind cooking, it’s not my favorite thing to do, but we gotta eat right?  Taylor is the one who is in love with being in the kitchen. It’s funny though… she firsts loves to bake~ that is my least favorite; she likes to cook and I don’t mind, especially with garden fresh goodies; she doesn’t mind canning, but I love it and we are both OK with yeast baking stuff~ although I will say, I like that a bit more than her… but neither one of us can make a pie crust to save our lives~ honestly… we just have never been able to master that! Taylor would be happy to sit in a rocking chair with a pile of cookbooks and cooking mag’s where I would be there with my gardening ones!  We balance each other out I guess…
Anyway lets head into the last of this series on Organization with Menu Planning and Grocery Lists… be sure to check out my blog spots & web site for lots of great photo’s to go along with the post!

NEXT SERIES of blog posts will focus on Eating In Season. It will be based on some great ideas from another one of my favorite books, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”, by Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L Hopp and Camille Kingsolver.  this book gives a journal of this families life when they made a decision to eat locally and seasonally. We have tried to incorporate this into our families life… 
   
*Menu Planning~
(see a sample of a weekly menu attached!) I love to make my life simpler in the way of the everyday stuff that needs to be done… like preparing meals for my family.  I would rather take a day and sit down with a few of my favorite cookbooks and make a couple months worth of menus so I don’t have to think about what to make!  Taylor & I do run out of ideas and our meals can quickly fall into a rut of the same stuff over and over again!  “What’s for supper tonight?” can quick become spaghetti all too often without menus!  I am sure many of us can relate to that!  Here are a few tips in menu planning:
*First take 1-3 of your favorite cookbooks and 2 blank monthly calenders and a PENCIL! Don’t take more than this… you will get side tracked!
*Be sure when you start you take into consideration what days off children might have from school, regular extra curricular activities happening, each family members day’s off for whoever may work outside the home. (Don’t plan a favorite meal for someone when they won’t even be home for it!)
*Before you even go into the cookbooks, fill in a few of the day’s with some meals that you know each family member enjoys… think about the groceries each meal will take beforehand.  Fill in one breakfast, lunch and supper for each family member with their favorite thing over the two weeks of menus- don’t duplicate any meal and don’t include any deserts… YET.
*Now that you have several of the days & meals filled in decide if your family wants to have a ‘night out’ meal… jot in in the appropriate box. 
*Next, decide how often you want to have desert with meals… fill in accordingly.
*Now go to the cookbooks… I encourage you to try at least one new recipe each day that you have an opening.  This will be fun and will help you & your family make new favorites.  It will also help you from getting in a rut of the same old thing.

~Some extra tips when planning your menu: *Do you have a garden? Do you shop primarily at the Farmers Market during the season?  Do you have any of your own live stock that you raise? Do you have your own chickens for eggs? These should all play a factor in your menu planning.
*Take into consideration what season you are in… spring will hold more salads if you have a garden; summer will be the mother load of produce and will eliminate much grocery shopping for fresh produce, so incorporate meals that save you from buying ‘stuff’; fall will give you more root crops and squashes as well as it being butcher time- plan accordingly.  
*Once your menus are done, you will see how easy it is. 
*Have your family members help when doing the menu.  This can be a fun family activity and sharing time of who liked and didn’t like what!
*You now have two whole months planned out, and it was so much fun and so easy. If you feel adventurous try doing another month and plan it out seasonally. 
*Include this job in your control journal in one of your desk day jobs.
~Grocery Lists: … are really not that complicated and won’t take up too much time here.  Here are some tips from The Flylady and me!
*First thing I recommend is keeping a magnetic note pad or grocery list right on the front or at least the side of your fridge! Each time you run out of something jot it down or tick it off the pre-made list.
… Google ‘grocery list’ and you will be able to download anything you want!  Keep a master in your control journal and make a copy for each week, unless you have a pre-printed note pad.  Here are a few sites to try…

http://www.workingmom.com/grocerylist.htm 

www.practicalspreadsheets.com/GroceryList-Template.html

*You will need to go over your menu for the next week and shop accordingly.
*As I mentioned you can save a lot of money when you grow your own or at least eat seasonally. But if that is not an option for you shop the farmers market, which is the next best thing.  There are many winter farmers market as well that you can shop & support and still eat seasonally with root crops, storage crops and fresh greens. I will go into that more this fall!
*Stick to the list when you go to the grocery store.  I am sure most of you shop at several stores for different items. As I mentioned earlier I do the majority of grocery shopping at two stores, one being a local bulk food store.  I do some of the house hold shopping for toiletries at yet another.  Have a list for each store and coupons/ ad’s to go with each.
*
I always make sure I have my grocery list, coupons and shopper bags ready to go.
*If you have empties to return, be sure they are ready to go and in the trunk.
*Don’t go shopping when you are hungry… you WILL buy things you normally don’t because ‘they look good’ at the time!

~To end our organization series I would like to incorporate my version of  The Organized Homemakers 10 Commandments adapted by me from the FlyLady’s!
1. Thou shalt start your day with meditation and prayer-fulness to get it off on the right foot.
2. Thou shalt keep your sink clean and shiny and your counters free of dirty and clean dishes.

3. Thou shalt get fully dressed and wear shoes… this I agree with the FlyLady wholeheartedly!
4. Thou shalt stick to your daily routines by using your control journal faithfully.
5. Thou shalt not get side tracked by the computer or anything else… stay focused.
6. Thou shalt pick up after yourself… put everything in its place as soon as you are done with it… set the example!
7. Thou Shalt stick to one project at a time and use the P.M.S. guild faithfully!
8. Thou shalt do something everyday for someone else as well as your self!
9. Thou shalt smile when you don’t feel like it because it is contagious and remember to be happy!
10. Thou shalt end your day the way you started it… or at least the way you should have started it (see #1).

~Here are some easy recipe’s to use up all that great garden produce that is piling in right now… or that you picked up at the Farmers Market! Enjoy friends!

 Italian Garden Frittata
6 egg whites
4 eggs
1/2 c grated Romano cheese, divided
1 tsp minced fresh sage
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp olive oil
1 tomato thinly sliced

1. in a large bowl, whisk the egg whites, eggs, 1/4 c Romano cheese, sage salt & pepper; set aside.
2. In a 10 inch over proof skillet coated with cooking spray, sauté zucchini and onions in oil for 2 minutes.  Add egg mixture, cover & cook for 4-6 minutes or until eggs are nearly set.
Uncover; top with tomato slices & remaining cheese.  Broil 3-4 in. from the heat for 2-3 minutes or until eggs are completely set.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Cut into wedges.

Veggie Stuffed Eggplant
1 medium eggplant
1/2 c chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c each chopped fresh mushrooms, chopped zucchini & chopped sweet bell pepper
3/4 c chopped tomatoes
1/4 c toasted wheat germ
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp each salt 7 pepper
Dash crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

1. cut eggplant in half lengthwise; remove pulp, leaving a 1/4 in. thick shell.  Cube pulp; set shells & pulp aside.
2. In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, sauté onion & garlic until onion is tender.  Add the mushrooms, zucchini, bell pepper & eggplant pulp;  sauté for 4-6 minutes or until vegetable are crisp tender.  Stir in the tomatoes, wheat germ, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper & pepper flakes; cool for 1 minute.
3. Divide mixture evenly between the eggplant shells; sprinkle with cheese,  place on a baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25minutes or until shells are tender.

Happy Day,
Jean
www.fordragonfliesandme.blogspot.com
www.wreninthewillow.blogspot.com
www.farmgirlwisdom.blogspot.com
     

Market Day At The Garden Gate Farm, Plant Tags, Plant Growing File & more yummy Market Fresh Recipe’s!

We have been busy… I thought today along with the normal fun stuff I like to share I would give a journal entry of “A Day In The Life…” at our farm on Friday while we get ready for market… so here it is… enjoy!

Here was our day last Friday…  it was 97 degrees with a heat index of 103 degrees…
“We take so much care in what we do because we do it for you!” Jean Smith

Friday is market morning… everyone gets out of bed starting around 6am through till about 9am~ those sleepy heads are typically the little guys!  We have a simple breakfast of cereal and fruit, clean up… I can’t stand dirty dishes on the counter~ especially when I know I will be working in there later!  Do a simple walk through the house, throw a load of laundry in and do everyone’s lists for the day… get the CSA list done…
~ Taylor is our runner on Fridays… off she goes to the butcher shop to pick up the animals that need to be processed for Saturday if they were not done on Thursday… later she will go and get all the produce and eggs that we purchase from our co-op of farmers… 
~ Our farmer friends the Bechtels have been in their field for some time already I am sure… one of their 20 acres of produce is dedicated to green beans… they are busily picking for us and their markets right now, as we are getting our day started…
~ Ryan is typically our ‘greens’ man… he does a really good job at diligently cutting the chard that he planted earlier this spring… with knife in one hand and crate in other he heads out in the already 85 degree day… as he brings me the crates of chard with sweat dripping off his young brow, I work at sorting baby leaves from large, purging any yucky ones and then rinsing & finish by bagging… about 2 hours later off to the cooler! 
~Kyle is our go to man and he is busy harvesting scallions (green onions), he very carefully looks at each stem so as not to pick them too young.  After he harvests about 200 or so… off to hose them done with cold water so they don’t wilt… as he rinses them he carefully gets all the dirt out of the roots that he will hand trim with a pair of scissors shortly… then take off the outer leaves so they look white and clean… bunching and bagging time… about 2 hours later he is off into the cooler to put his wares in a safe place. 
~Our Amish friends, the Millers are busy in their field picking those beautiful heads of cauliflower that will adorn your shares tomorrow along with our market tables… Broccoli is another story though… over 5000 heads and because of the very unusual heat that June has given, close to half the heads have bolted… what a lose! Yet they are diligently out there harvesting what they can and breaking off the bolts hoping for side shoots…
~Ethan is probably tilling in the dry, hot field with dust blowing up into his face as he walks behind the tiller where the tractor laid the plastic rows too close and now the tractor with pull behind tiller doesn’t fit… luckily there are only a half dozen or so… but it must be done.
~ In the mean time our hired girl Eva has arrived and she starts picking the beets that are on the list next… off goes Eva to pick, wash and sort… she needs about 300 or so to fill all the needs of our CSA and market friends… carefully going through and picking she carries each crate over to the wash & pack station and gives the beets to Kyle who will lay them all out and wash them with fresh, cold water to make sure they stay hard and beautiful for tomorrow… next he sorts them out by size and puts in the crates accordingly for Eva… who when done harvesting will take any yucky leaves off, bunch for the market tables and CSA… about 2 1/2 hours later then move on…

~The tomatoes were harvested on Thursday by the Yoder family and packed and ready for pick up… absolutely perfect in size and shape… all to please our CSA members and market friends…
~ next the herbs are cut and bagged… kale and any other greens… they must be first because the heat cannot get into the leaves…
~Kyle moves onto the potatoes… he needs to dig at least 3 bushels full to fill all the CSA shares and have enough to sell… down the hot rows he goes with potato fork in hand… digging away.  After he is done, about hour or so, off to the wash station… potatoes are fairly simple to clean… hose off in the crates and let air dry in the shade… package and off for lunch and then produce pick up…
~The heat is on and the cucumbers and squash must be picked before the heat gets into them… off go the Kempf’s, soft gloves on to be sure no scratches happen to the delicate squash… going into the prickly leaves, arms being scratched they pick bushels upon bushels in their fields…. cucumbers are beautiful…
~Lunch time… sandwiches and cold refreshing fruit and lots of cold, cold water, lemonade or garden tea…


~ Back at it… We need to get any other produce picked, washed and packed before Taylor & Kyle get back with the rest of the produce…
~ After they arrive we sort through all the beautiful produce our dear farmer friends have been spending the morning doing as we were. Eva works on all the produce that we will sell at market while I work at all the CSA stuff…
Kyle is cleaning out and loading everything we need for market and carrying all the heavy crates and boxes down to the cooler…Several hours later it is finally supper time and if everything is done we can go take cold showers and go to bed… oh but wait… I still need to do the inventory lists for the two CSA groups and email them… check the email… OK… 10:30 or so I can hit the sack
2am… Neil is up with the boys and loading all the meat into the freezer… there they go into the basement cooler and are going to haul up all the produce up and load into the trailer…
3am… Jean & Taylor’s alarms go off… up we go… check the email just in case before we are out… get my coffee…
4am… crank the engine and off we go to market on the wings of prayer!
… see you there!

Plant Tags... A market friend of mine taught me this nifty trick some years ago and I loved the idea as soon as I heard it.  We all have those old plastic vertical blind’s that have been bent and just jammed into the closet.  Well drag em’ out and put them to work!  Simply cut them to the length you need according to the height of the pot you wish to mark; next use a permanent marker and write the plant name on it!  Now there’s recycling at it’s best.

Plant Growing File’s
are nifty and quite handy.  To create an indispensable reference guide to your garden, staple seed packets to index cards and organize them in a recipe box. Staple only one edge of a packet, so you can flip it over to see instructions for growing. On the lined side, note when the seeds were sown, when they sprouted, and any other dates you might need for future seasons.  After the harvest be sure to add if you like the variety, any tips for a better harvest next year or any other pertinent info that you will want to remember for next year!

BBQ Station… A lattice panel is more than just a pretty backdrop. When hung near your grill on a section of your fencing or railing, it provides square upon square from which to hang your basic BBQ supplies: brushes, pot holders, and more. Use metal ‘S’ hooks to hang anything with a built-in loop, as well as bins, racks, and grill baskets. Corral small tools, such as basting brushes and meat thermometers, in stainless steel perforated bins and wire racks, which resist rust and won’t collect rainwater… go to the web site to see photo!

Some More Yummy Market Fresh Recipes…

Creamy Cucumber Crunch Salad

Yummy dressing and the crunch of garden fresh cucumbers, this salad will be hit with both family & friends!

8 cucumbers
1 tsp. salt
6 scallions, thinly sliced
6 radishes, thinly sliced
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup fresh dill,chopped and loosely packed
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

1. Peel cucumbers; cut lengthwise & scoop seeds out with the small end of a melon baller; slice into 1/4 inch slices.
2. Toss cucumbers with salt in a large bowl, then cover with cold water; set aside in fridge for half hour; drain all but about 2 tbsp. of the water.
3. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl, mix well; add to the drained cucumbers.
4. Cover with plastic wrap and chill fro at least one hour and up to overnight before serving.

Herb Roasted New Potatoes

… we had this for supper tonight… so yummy!

2 quarts new red skin baby potatoes
1 cup sweet onion, halved then sliced
1/2 cup thyme infused olive oil OR 1/2 cup olive oil and 2 tbsp.s fresh thyme leaves
4 tbsp. butter
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese plus all juice
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

1. Put potatoes and onions in a deep dish 9″x13″ baker; pour oil over; toss to coat evenly. 
2. Sprinkle with salt & pepper; dollop with butter; sprinkle crumbled feta cheese evenly over top
; pour the juice over top.
3. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 35-45 minutes; stir potatoes to mix cheese in and coat  all potatoes with oil; bake for 15 to 20 more minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.

Happy Day,
Jean