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Welcome to our farm’s blog and website! To find out more information about our farm, follow the header bar links above. To read about our latest happenings, scroll down for recent blog entries*.

* Why are the “Full Diet” entries password protected? They contain very specific logistical information for our current Full Diet CSA members — not terribly applicable to anyone else. All our newsy entries and photos are public for anyone to view!

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Finding fall

The sun shone on our farm walk at the open house this weekend!

Ah, after a beautiful (and at times maddeningly) warm and dry early October, fall made its presence known on the farm this last week. Last Wednesday was the wettest day of the year with two inches of precipitation falling here. Bare spots on the farm (roadways, edges) went from dry packed dirt to mud in just a few days. We had to navigate our farm anew, avoiding certain roadways for fear of getting stuck (and on Wednesday, several vehicles did almost get stuck!). Fall is here!

It turns out, however, that said mud was very welcome at our Sunday Pumpkin Patch Open House. Welcome mud? Yes! What a surprise! Leading up to the event, we were worried that we’d be rained out (since it was all in all a very stormy weekend around here). But, just as we were setting up the band (Awaken Jane — so very lovely!), the clouds parted, and the sun shone down on the farm. Yes, the sun! (Of course, how funny is it to rejoice so fully about the sun just a week after its departure!)

Awaken Jane — this awesome trio really brought some class to our humble farm porch ... and good music too!

And so, folks came. We drank hot chocolate (prepared when we thought we’d all be hiding under cover, but still delicious!), tasted different varieties of peppers, picked out pumpkins, walked the farm, listened to good music (Awaken Jane — so very lovely!), and played in the mud. One parent joked later if there was going to be a contest for the dirtiest child. It would have been a tough contest, as some kids get really into the mud puddle adventures, ditching their shoes and socks to squish their toes through all that organic goodness. What a joy it was to watch that fun exploration!

Thanks to all of you who came out and helped a Sunday afternoon turn into a bit of farm community magic. And, if you missed it this year, hopefully you can make it next year! We’ll have to find another good musical act (have I mentioned yet that Awaken Jane was lovely?).

For now, we’re starting to really feel that “hunker down” energy of fall. The rainy days had the kids and me scurrying to the art store for all kinds of painting and drawing supplies (which have been the main interest around the house of late), and the crew is enjoying a slightly later start time in the morning. Casey is already asleep on the couch as I write this, because of course it’s fully dark outside. It is here and building — that quiet fullness of late fall. Welcome!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Kohlrabi
  • Chard — To me, chard feels like a very unique cooking green. So many cooking greens in the fields are of the brassica or cole family — kale, mustards, collards, cabbage. But then there is chard, which is a beta, putting it in a completely different family of plants (the chenopods, a family that also includes spinach and beets). In fact, the plants we grow as “chard” are technically the same species as beets! I suppose through selection and breeding, chard has become a leafier plant and beets have become a “rootier” plant (although chard also grows a big bulbous root too! and beet leaves are delicious to eat!). Anyhow, I always marvel in the kitchen at how chard brings us a novel cooking green experience. And chard itself can be cooked in different ways to achieve different results. My preferred way to cook it is to chop and saute in lots of fat (butter is my favorite) until the leaves and stems are soft and wilted. In my experience, using just fat for cooking leaves quite a bit of body in the leaves, which I enjoy. However this takes a while to do, and some people prefer chard that tastes more like spinach. To achieve that result, add some liquid during the cooking process (we like to use broth) and put a lid on the pan. The chard will cook more quickly and achieve a texture very similar to cooked spinach (which it seems people either love or hate). I also really love adding chopped chard to broth soups — in that scenario it achieves a texture very similar to seaweed (such as you might find in miso soup). Casey also wanted to point out that this particular harvest of chard is very heavy in stem. Chard stems are the overlooked awesomeness of chard when it comes to American cooking. Some people even go so far as the strip the leaves off the stem and send the stem to the compost! We have heard that in France and Italy, the stem is the vegetable and the leaves are torn off and discarded (which also seems like a waste). That stem can be chopped and cooked as a vegetable — it’s especially delightful in omelets or gratins. Of course, I like to use stem and leaf together. I generally just add the chopped stems first since they do require slightly longer cooking time.
  • Parsnips — Tonight we roasted up our first batch of parsnips of the season. I am always amazed by this root vegetable and its complex flavor — I find myself tasting all kinds of hints of spices (cinnamon? what is that flavor?). We generally peel then chop our parsnips into bite sized pieces for roasting until soft inside and crispy outside.
  • Beets
  • Green & sweet peppers — At our open house this Sunday, we presented several different peppers for taste testing. This has become a tradition for our fall open house — to offer different varieties of one food for comparison. Even as farmers, I love the opportunity it presents, because we so rarely take the time to savor the diversity of vegetables in quite that way. In this case, tasting the peppers one-by-one, I was really struck by the variance in sweetness and the different textures of the walls. Our “lipstick” peppers offered very thick juicy flesh in their walls, while the “Jimmy Nordellos” were sweet and had much thinner walls. Always interesting! We’ll have to think of what to compare next year!
  • Summer squash & zucchini
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
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How to avoid GM foods now

Non-GMO corn drying in our hot house right now! We know it is non-GMO because we bought seed that was specially bred for organic growers to prevent cross-pollination with GM varieties that might be growing nearby . Healthy deliciousness for humans and animals!

In our upcoming mid-term election, citizens here in Oregon are being asked to vote on Measure 92, which if passed would require the labeling of genetically modified foods sold here in Oregon. A similar measure is on the ballot in Colorado right now as well.

Perhaps it comes as no surprise to learn that folks have been asking Casey and me for our opinions on this measure. We are farmers after all, so we think about such things, and theoretically this measure could affect us too as farmers as well as consumers. Generally speaking, I prefer to keep my voting choices private, and I really don’t feel confident anymore in encouraging others to vote one way or another (perhaps I was “cured” of that confidence after campaigning so enthusiastically for Ralph Nader back in 2000 — that election didn’t go how I expected it to!). Especially with complex, far-reaching legislation, I feel quite nervous about accurately predicting the future impacts and significance. So, in spite of many requests, we have decided to not express a public opinion in regards to Measure 92. I encourage people to read the materials available and listen to the voices from people who are confident in giving voting advice.

If everything that contains GMOs really does get labeled accurately, it will be quite the wake up call for some consumers. Because, if you haven’t realized it yet, the bulk of the processed foods available contain genetically modified ingredients. If a food contains soy, canola, corn, or beet sugar and is not labeled “no GMOs” or “organic,” that food product contains genetically modified ingredients.

Perhaps part of my hesitancy in whole-heartedly endorsing Measure 92 resides in this: after reading the legislation thoroughly, I do not believe it would change how I shop. I believe that I would still seek out foods labeled as “Non-GMO” and “Organic,” and I would not trust an unlabeled food to necessarily be safe. There’s quite a lot of wiggle room in the legislation, not quite a lot of teeth, and some significant foods that will be untouched (for example, animal products from animals that have been fed GM-feeds will not require labels, and for me, this is a critical place to have knowledge when making my food choices). Folks, I want to be damned sure the food I am eating is not genetically modified. Someday, when I have not just quit drinking coffee at the same time that I have a teething toddler, I want to spend more time here talking about why avoiding genetically modified foods is so important to us as farmers and eaters. But tonight my brain is a bit fried, and all this political talk has me feel itchy (can you tell that I am not in my element when it comes to politics?).

But, back to my own purchasing choices: Having been through the organic certification process on our farm six times, I can tell you firsthand that it is a rigorous process. Knowing that GM seeds and GM feed are strictly prohibited from any organic foods (and that this prohibition is followed up with careful paperwork and inspection) is the confidence that I need when choosing foods at the store. When purchasing from other farmers, I trust their due diligence and open communication on the topic.

So, I suppose some of my ambivalence about this particular measure relate to its gaps and a concern that the passage of such a labeling law could give false confidence. A consumer who starts seeing “genetically modified ingredients” at the store would naturally assume anything unlabeled is free, and from what I read in the measure, I do not believe this will be the case. I think that many products will fall through the cracks, and animal products as a whole will not reflect the nature of their feed. Folks, with animal products, you are eating what they are eating. I understand why this was left out of the proposed law, because it would be incredibly huge and expensive to accurately label products from animals being fed GM-crops. But, to me, it is a very significant gap and one that, again, could create some false confidence. (Oh, and by the way, once again if an animal product doesn’t make the claim of “no-GMO feed,” the animal has most likely been fed genetically modified crops by way of GM corn, soy or alfalfa.)

To be clear, I’m not saying any of this to suggest you should vote “no,” for it also seems possible that the law could have all the positive ramifications proposed by its proponents! This law could pass and become the first important victory in Monsanto’s future downfall! Oh, how wonderful that would be! If you believe that to be the case, then please vote for the measure!!! In fact, if I think of Measure 92 purely in terms of a battle against Monsanto, then I think, “oh yes, let’s do it!” But if I think of it from the perspective of a future consumer looking for 100% accurate information about food in the stores, then I feel less sure that the measure will provide quite the total transparency it claims. Like I said above, predicting the future implications of something so complicated makes me feel nervous. And itchy.

I think people should know what they are eating, for sure. Yes, yes, yes. And, I feel confident today that I have choices for healthy clean food. And that is the good news I wanted to share with you. I wanted to remind you that the USDA organic label really does mean something, in spite of criticisms that get lobbed at it by folks who want it to “mean more.” With each passing year (and as more genetically modified crops are approved for use), I am so grateful to have that label as a consumer. I am also grateful for all the direct-marketing farmers like ourselves who do all the due diligence to grow healthy non-GM crops without the use of synthetic chemicals. I am especially grateful for those local farmers, because from them we can learn even more about our food: how the farmers prevent erosion; how they treat their workers; how they contribute to their wider community. These things matter to me too. At the end of the day, the how on the farm is what matters. But that organic label is still mighty useful when at a store.

Whew, am I done yet? This felt like a requisite newsletter, but can I go back to waxing poetic about vegetables and the season now? I hope so! (For what it’s worth, my 20-something self would have had no problem writing this newsletter, but the longer I live, the less sure I become of my own opinions! Experience is humbling!)

Wishing you a clear and thoughtful mind as you approach you ballot in coming weeks. For now, savor some non-GM goodness, and enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Pumpkin Patch Open House this weekend!!!! Sunday, 2 -4 pm

Our fall CSA Open House is coming up this weekend! Please join us for a fun afternoon. The festivities include:

  • Pumpkin picking!
  • Live music by a new local trio, Awaken Jane (I am so excited to hear them play!!!)
  • Farm tour by Farmer Casey (starting at 3 pm)
  • Pepper variety tasting

Directions to the farm: Take HWY-18 to the Dayton exit. Drive through Dayton and head south on Wallace Rd / HWY 221. Stay on that road for about seven miles. Turn LEFT onto Grand Island Rd (you’ll see signs for Heiser’s Farm, which is also on the island). Go over the big bridge onto Grand Island. At the first intersection on the island, keep going straight. You’ll go over another small bridge. After that bridge, turn RIGHT onto the gravel driveway (there’s a Carlton Plants sign at the road). Follow the gravel driveway until it ends at our farm! Parking will be along the gravel, so when you start to see cars, park and then walk the rest of the way in.

Let’s all keep our fingers crossed for fine weather! Some years we’re basking in sunshine at our pumpkin patch open house, and other years it’s been a deluge. So it goes! Join us either way!

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Salad mix
  • Pears
  • Brussels sprouts — We almost always cook our Brussels sprouts the same way. It’s a real winner in our house with everyone, including the kiddos. First, clean and trim the Brussels sprouts. Use a paring knife to trim off the butt and then throw them in some water to soak and rinse. Some of the outer leaves will generally float off in the process. Then slice each sprout in half (maybe quarters for the biggest ones) and add to a pan with butter and sauteed onions/garlic. Saute over medium heat until the sprouts are cooked through and beginning to caramelize (covering the pan with a lid for a period of time will help in the cooking process). Simple and so good.
  • Pie pumpkins — We love baking with the flesh from pie pumpkins! If you’re new to pumpkin-not-from-a-can, it’s super easy. Place pumpkin on a pan and poke the top a couple times with a knife. Then bake at 350° until soft all the way through (it will likely deflate a bit in the process!). Pull it out and cut it in half to let it cool. Once it’s cool enough to touch, gentle scoop out the seeds and stringy bits with a spoon. Then scoop the remaining flesh away from the skin. You can use this cooked pumpkin in place of canned pumpkin in any recipe. Our favorite is this delicious grain-free pumpkin muffin recipe (I use half the amount of honey she calls for, and it’s perfect). If I have leftover cooked pumpkin and am tired of baking, I will heat it up in a pan with lots of butter and salt and then puree it with my hand blender. Makes a great side dish!
  • Sweet peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Summer squash & zucchini
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Picking corn & other news

Mist is such a staple part of fall and winter mornings here on the farm. It has returned.

In spite of the return of our morning mists, this week mostly just felt like a post-script from summer. Oh, the dry and the warmth have continued! Casey keeps telling me about summer crops in the field that are putting on new growth and setting new fruit — seemingly freakish sights for October. But the forecast is for a deluge to begin any minute now, so I suppose fall really is here.

As one of our many big fall harvests, corn has been on our mind. We grew a patch of field corn this year that is quite large for our standards and extremely small by the standards of most conventional growers. Also, we grew field corn (dry corn for animal and human food rather than for silage or sweet corn), which is not really something farmers can reliably grow here in the valley, our summers generally being much cooler than those in the midwest. Nonetheless, we have these goals of feeding folks from this place, so corn we will grow.

Our neighbor began harvesting it for us tonight actually, and the ears are beautiful. It’s quite a sight to see ear after ear after ear just sliding off the conveyer of the picker. He quit before finishing and will return tomorrow, after which we will scramble to pick up all that corn and get it dried for the winter. Scurry, scurry, scurry. We feel kinship with all the squirrels this time of year as we race to make best use of all the crops we grew this summer. Many of the vegetables will over-winter in the fields, but all the grains, nuts, and storage veggies need to come in. So, we scurry.

This newsletter also contains loads of newsy bits, so I’m going to end this now and leave you with some fun photos of the corn picking that happened earlier this evening:

You can't really get a good sense of the scale in this photo, but this is a full size corn picker working through a relatively miniature four and a half acre corn field. Look at all those ears!

To get a better view of the picking, the family climbed to the top of our farm pick-up truck's cab.

Please do take a moment to read through all of this week’s little updates and news. A lot is going on in our farm community this month! And, enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Pumpkin Patch CSA Open House, Sunday October 26, 2 – 4 pm

Our fall CSA Open House is coming up! Please join us for a fun afternoon. The festivities include:

  • Pumpkin picking!
  • Live music by a new local trio, Awaken Jane (I am so excited to hear them play!!!)
  • Farm tour by Farmer Casey (starting at 3 pm)
  • Pepper variety tasting

Directions to the farm: Take HWY-18 to the Dayton exit. Drive through Dayton and head south on Wallace Rd / HWY 221. Stay on that road for about seven miles. Turn LEFT onto Grand Island Rd (you’ll see signs for Heiser’s Farm, which is also on the island). Go over the big bridge onto Grand Island. At the first intersection on the island, keep going straight. You’ll go over another small bridge. After that bridge, turn RIGHT onto the gravel driveway (there’s a Carlton Plants sign at the road). Follow the gravel driveway until it ends at our farm! Parking will be along the gravel, so when you start to see cars, park and then walk the rest of the way in.

Let’s all keep our fingers crossed for fine weather! Some years we’re basking in sunshine at our pumpkin patch open house, and other years it’s been a deluge. So it goes! Join us either way!

~ ~ ~

Cookbook updates/clarifications!

I’ve already heard back from many people with recipe and servings ideas for the forthcoming farm cookbook! Hoorah! There have also been a few common questions, so I thought I’d address those now:

  1. No name? Really? I love my recipe and want credit! Yes! I hear you folks! I underestimated the deep level of pride people would have for their favorite recipes! Therefore, I have decided to include contributor names unless someone specifies otherwise (I figure someone out there might not want to be named). If I have some overlap, I’ll give credit in a way that makes sense.
  2. My recipe is more of a real recipe. Do you still want it? Ha ha — YES! It sounds like I perhaps over-emphasized that it was ok to submit simple serving suggestions. Real “recipe-like” recipes are also welcome, but please keep in mind these things: I cannot publish recipes that are taken straight out of another publications. Your recipe needs to be your own or somewhat altered/modified from the original source. Also, if the recipe calls for multiple vegetable ingredients, please be sure they are seasonally compatible! And, finally, please know that I will likely edit recipes a bit to create some consistency throughout the cookbook — but I will not alter the content in any way that would affect the heart of the recipe itself!
  3. Will I be able to buy a copy or extra copies? Yes! The first recipients of the cookbook will be our 2015 CSA members, but we will also make the cookbook available for purchase too so that folks can buy extras as gifts or so that other people in the community can enjoy these efforts. Since this book will be quite a collaboration, we have decided to donate any proceeds from possible cookbook sales to a local charity.

Please let me know if you have any other questions! Direct recipes and servings ideas to our email farm (at) oakhillorganics (dot) org. Your responses so far have been wonderfully inspiring!!!!

~ ~ ~

2015 sign ups? Oh my, I have already had people ask me about 2015 sign-ups. I still feel like summer is winding down, and yet another year is starting to show up at our doorstep in so many ways! I just wanted to let people know that we will have all the forms and info ready by early November so that you can sign up before finishing out the 2014 season (I know many of you like to get your paperwork done early so you can forget about it later!). Soon, folks! Soon! And, thanks for your eagerness.

~ ~ ~

About Delicata squash!

Our winter squash harvest matured early this year (along with so many other crops). We actually brought it into storage many weeks ago, but it seemed premature to start giving it out when we were still in the thick of all the summer goodness. We decided we’d at least wait until the summer squash was finally done. This week is that week! So, in spite of the continued warm, sunny summer-y weather (which we hear will end tonight), consider this the true beginning of fall!

These squash may be new to some folks, so I’d like to introduce you to one of our CSA’s favorite fall foods: Delicata winter squash. Delicata squash are a cinch to cook and so very delicious. Here are two simple cooking suggestions:

First, wash your squash with running water. I like to do this, because the skin on a delicata is thin enough that you can eat it once the squash is cooked, so it’s nice to make sure it’s free of any dirt from the field. Next, you can chop off the stem and cut the squash in half length-wise. Scoop out the seeds and place the squash cut-side down on a baking pan. I like to rub the skin with some olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Then bake at 375-400° until the squash is tender and the cut edge is caramelizing. We call these “delicata boats,” because they make a great vessel for holding all kinds of other dishes, turning simple food into something rather special. Here are some ideas for filling your “boats”: browned ground beef, cooked kale, cauliflower rice, roasted sweet peppers, etc etc etc. You can also just serve them as is (not filled). Again, you can eat the whole thing, so it’s easy to just cut with your fork and eat!

The second idea begins the same way: wash your squash and cut off the stem. This time, however, carefully cut through the squash to make 1/2 inch (or so) thick “rings.” Each ring will contain seeds, which are easy to scoop out with a butter knife. Lay these rings on a baking pan with a bit of butter or oil. Sprinkle with salt and roast at 425° until slightly browned on both sides and tender (flip halfway through). “Delicata rings” are a favorite in our house, because they are especially fun to little hands to pick up and eat.

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Delicata winter squash — See above for more info about this wonderful fall food!
  • Sweet peppers
  • Hot peppers — I think folks have given these peppers a try and found that they are awesomely delicious and not too hot. So, we thought we’d keep going with them while they are in their peak season. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed with the quantity (because, really, not every household can consume lots of hot peppers in one week), these are super easy to put up. Just pop whole peppers in a freezer bag and place them in the freezer. You can pull them out as you need them in the winter and let them thaw for a bit on the counter before removing seeds and chopping. We always freeze lots of hot peppers for use in chilis and other dishes through the winter. It’s amazing how good a hot pepper can taste in February.
  • Tomatoes — The same method works for tomatoes too. We like to can tomatoes for sauce, but we also make sure we put a few bags in the freezer too, since it’s so easy and we love adding tomatoes to winter and spring dishes.
  • Cauliflower
  • Kohlrabi — Here’s a vegetable that many people still find challenging. We understand. Part of the challenge is that sometimes kohlrabi (especially certain varieties) can get woody and eating a woody kohlrabi sort of defeats the point of kohlrabi. The point of kohlrabi is that it’s like eating a delicious, smooth/crispy, sweet broccoli stem. We eat most of our kohlrabi raw — we simply peel and slice it and use it for dipping in all kids of good things (squash-a-ganouj, for example). Or we’ll even just eat it plain. Now, it’s not really a vegetable that lends itself well to a veggie peeler. I prefer to use a paring knife, because the skin is rather thick. I usually begin by chopping off the top and bottom, so that I have a flat surface to work with. Then I set that flat surface firmly down on my cutting board and carefully peel down with my paring knife. We also like adding finely chopped kohlrabi to winter salads, such as slaws (it makes a great slaw all its own too!).
  • Collard greens
  • Potatoes
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Calling all cooks!

Dearest Oakhill CSA members, both past and present —

If you haven’t read the news on our blog yet, 2015 is our tenth season as a CSA farm here in Yamhill County! Where does the time go?

To celebrate, I am going to create a project that has been a long-time coming: a farm cookbook! Most of the text will be written by me, inspired by our household’s culinary philosophy of simple, easy, delicious seasonal cooking. I’m thinking of this cookbook as almost the “anti-cookbook” — rather than listing lots of complex recipes with very specific measured out ingredients, our cookbook will be chock full of information about different seasonal vegetables (helping folks really understand the nature of each veggie) and offering very flexible, easy-to-follow serving suggestions that can make best use of CSA-style seasonal veggie eating (or garden eating, or whatnot!).

I thought it’d be fun to also include ideas from our CSA members too (past and present!). Over the years, folks have often shared their favorite ideas with me, and our own cooking has been inspired by those suggestions. I bet our community of eaters has lots of awesome ideas. I’m looking for your “go to” preparation methods — those dishes that you might make mid-week because they are easy and your whole family loves them. Send us your favorite one or two such dishes! I’m especially looking for ideas for those “harder-to-love” veggies (such as beets, fennel, cauliflower, kohlrabi, etc.), since those are often where people need the most help. Or, maybe your idea isn’t even for a vegetable itself but for an item that goes with veggies (such as a favorite salad dressing). Remember to consider veggies available in all the seasons! We’re in fall now, but this cookbook will be useful in winter, spring, and summer too …

Given that it’s possible we’ll have some overlap in ideas, it’s likely I will edit text a bit, and I’ve decided not to include specific names of contributors. But you’ll see your contributions there nonetheless!

As part of our celebration, all 2015 CSA members will receive a free copy of the cookbook as part of their share price! Hoorah!

So, take a few days to think of your favorite dishes and then share your ideas with me via email! And don’t worry if your favorite “dish” seems too simple to be included — that’s the best kind of idea for someone who needs help! I want to write a cookbook that will be fun to read and help every person grow in their love of vegetables!!!

Hope you are enjoying these early fall days. And thank you!

Best,
Katie

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Hot October

Rusty told me today that he is a farmer. He DID grow a lot of pumpkins in the garden this year. He and Casey harvested them this weekend.

Most weeks, I sit down to write our newsletter with a head full of ideas. This week, I mostly just feel hot, which feels like a big fogginess instead of clarity in that place where my ideas come from.

What is this heat? One thermometer this afternoon read 87° … on October 6! I had packed away so many of our warm weather clothes, but here we are back in shorts. And, Casey is back moving pipe through our pastures too, because we might as well make the best use of this warm weather that we can! Presumably it will end.

Beautiful deadly poisonous mushrooms found growing in our yard.

Nonetheless, fall exists in this warm time too. Leaves are changing color on the trees, bringing even more golden beauty into these golden sunny days. Today, the kids and I rode bikes and walked to our neighbor Heiser Farms for pumpkin patch extravaganza (and this weekend, Casey and Rusty harvested the many pumpkins that grew in Rusty’s garden). The tractor has been busy working in fields and preparing them for cover crops and over-wintered grain plantings. And, even further proof that fall is here: we are mushroom hunting again! Last weekend we found our first tasty morsel, a beautiful patch of oyster mushrooms. We’ve found many more since, but not so much edible. More soon, I am sure.

Finally, Casey has returned to project mode. Certainly our weeks contain plenty of ongoing field and harvest work, but there is room in the schedule for him to ponder new projects. On the list for this fall are some fun things, including a new pick-up space for the Full Diet here on the farm, a greenhouse, and possibly goats (?). It’s fun for us farmers to to get a bit of extra time and energy for such new endeavors. Improving our farm and its systems is so very satisfying. We love the daydream and planning, the different kinds of work (Casey poured a concrete floor today!), and the resulting increase in efficiency or quality. Hoorah for seasons that allow us to breathe and step back and reconsider how we do things (and then act on those observations too!).

Anyhow, I think my heat-addled brain really needs a refreshing shower and to be sent to bed early. But before I go, I have three newsy reminders for you:

  • First, if you haven’t paid the remainder of your 2014 balance yet, please do so ASAP! Email me if you need a reminder of your balance due.
  • Secondly, a reminder that our own pumpkin patch fun is coming up on Sunday afternoon, October 26. More details to come!
  • Finally, yes a cookbook is still in the works! I’ve been crafting an email to send out regarding submissions, and for some reason it has taken longer than I expected, but you will hear from me shortly. Hoorah!

The only remaining thing to say tonight is: Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Sweet peppers
  • Hot peppers — Casey will provide clear markings to distinguish the peppers at pick-up, but if you forget when you get home, the small purple/black peppers are the hot ones! They’re not flaming hot — just about as hot as a good jalapeño (with similar yummy taste too). I’m pretty sensitive to heat, so I like these. If Casey or I put one in a dish (without seeds), it provides a perfect amount of heat without being overwhelming (heat lovers should add more, with caution!).
  • Tomatoes
  • Beets — Some people struggle with beets. I understand. I used to be rather ambivalent or even a bit scared myself. But our whole family loves loves loves beets now. The kids are happy to eat them as regularly as I am willing to cook them! My only challenge is making sure I start them cooking early enough, because, folks, if you don’t know: beets take a long time to cook. I am convinced that this is the reason many folks think they don’t like beets’ “earthy” flavor. The secret is that the do not have an earthy/dirt flavor if they’ve been cooked long enough. To give you an idea of how long to cook, I usually estimate at least twice as long as for potatoes of equivalent size. I generally do not peel my beets ahead of time but just scrub them clean and then chop. To speed up the cooking process, I almost always chop our beets into small bite sized pieces for roasting. We love how the edges will get sweetly caramelized when roasted in butter. But there are many other wonderful ways to eat beets — I hope to include lots of ideas in the cookbook, since this is a challenging vegetable still for many people.
  • Chard
  • Kale
  • Cut lettuce
  • Potatoes
  • Summer squash & zucchini — As I mentioned last week, I know that some of these summer fruits are feeling all too familiar at this point in the season. Seriously, try to savor the summer squash and zucchini (along with the tomatoes), because they will end. Over the last few years, we have eaten so much summer squash and zucchini when it is in season that I really do mourn its absence when it finally finishes for the season. Just tonight we ate a summer-y stew with summer squash as the base. I sauteed onions and peppers in garlic, then added chopped zucchini/squash and tomatoes (along with plenty of butter) and let it cook (with regular stirring) for about an hour. At the end, I threw in some beef and pork that had cooked in the slow cooker today, and we enjoyed a truly delicious and simple dinner.
  • Garlic
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