Archive for the ‘CSA News 2008’ Category

CSA Newsletter: Volume 4, Issue 24

Flying Tomato Farms News

A newsletter for members of Flying Tomato Farms C.S.A.

Vol. 4, Issue 24


I’ve taken down some of the trellising, and Harry has been changing around the electric fencing wires to protect his grapes through the winter. There has been a young deer in the garden nibbling on the tops of the grapes and leeks.

I’ve heard we could have the first few flakes of snow this week! Can’t believe how fast the season has gone.

Thank you so much for your patronage this season! The members are the core of a CSA, and I appreciate your welcoming my produce into your homes each week.


Is a beauty of the fall harvest: sweet peppers, kale, apples, butternut squash, leeks, and daikon radish.

All of the peppers you’re getting this week are from the final harvest before I pulled the plants. They’re either red-ripe or getting there.

The kale is from the wild garden kales patch, and is amazing in a light stir-fry with garlic and soy sauce. Or you could try it in a traditional Italian zuppa of potatoes, leeks, sausage, and kale. These kales are a little hardier in flavor than your run-of-the-mill curly kale from the grocery store. They should last about a week (maybe two) in your refrigerator crisper drawer. I’ve kept home-grown kale longer than that, but the flavor isn’t as good after long storage.

Both the apples are butternut squash were grown organically here in Vermillion by Dean Spader. While the apples aren’t perfect, their flavor is fabulous.

Try them in this super-easy apple cake recipe, that I always used to make when my ex-husband and I had people working on our teaching housing unit in Mission, on the Rosebud Reservation. I was home with Martin in the months after he was born, I knew those fix-it guys were always backed-up with work, so I’d make sure to have some kind of treat baking when they did come, so they’d want to come back when we had another problem! It’s originally from the Lutheran Ladies’ Desserts cookbook, but this is my version.

Montana Apple Cake

1/4c butter

½ c white sugar

½ c brown sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 c flour

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

a little clove or allspice

½ c nuts (optional)

3 small or 2 med apples, diced

Cream butter and sugar, add eggs. Sift dry ingredients, add to sugar mixture. Add apples and nuts, put in a square baking pan (or high-sided pie pan). Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve plain, or with whipped cream or ice cream.

My mother always used to peel and cube winter squash and boil it before mashing it to serve for dinner. But I usually just cut the stem and blossom end off, then cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. I set it in a roasting pan, sometimes with a little cider in the bottom of the pan, then roast, covered with tinfoil, at 350 degrees until the squash is tender. Then I can just scoop it out of its shell, and it’s less watery than if I had boiled it. Once it’s done this way, you can serve it directly, or use it in a soup, or freeze it for later use.

Here’s a recipe for daikon radish from the Angelic Organics Kitchen (those who brought you the film The Real Dirt on Farmer John).

Daikon in Plum Sauce

3 TB soy sauce

2 TB rice vinegar

1 tsp cornstarch

2 TB plum sauce

1 TB minced scallion

3 TB peanut oil

1 daikon (probably use both of yours as they’re on the small size) peeled, cut into matchstick-sized strips

2 TB water

Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, and cornstarch in a small bowl; stir until cornstarch dissolves. Stir in the plum sauce and scallions.

Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Swirl the oil around the wok so that it covers the cooking area, then add the daikon; cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.

Add the water, cover. Cook until the daikon is tender, 1-2 minutes.

Add the soy sauce mixture and continue cooking, stirring vigorously, until the sauce has thickened, 2-3 minutes.

Mark your calendars for the Vermillion Area Farmers Market’s Harvest Soup Supper on November 1st from 5:30-7:30pm at the Extension Building on High Street! Interested in making a soup (with an emphasis on local ingredients)? Contact me! Soup-makers get into the event for free.

Remember to


Last CSA Delivery of the Season!

I’ve got much of the delivery already at home–the apples, sweet peppers, and butternut squash.  But it’s going to be a rather miserable day for harvesting what’s still in the field–kale, leeks, daikon radish.

It’s cold, rainy, and miserable out there.  Not that I haven’t harvested in these conditions before, but it’ll be interesting to see how much mud I can track into the house from those root crops!  Maybe I can leave them outside for awhile to let the rainwater rinse them?

Still, that’ll give me a good excuse to say it’s finally time to give the floors a good cleaning–most of the season I simply sweep.  Now the scrub brush can come out and the fall cleaning can begin in earnest.

It’s always a reflective time of year for me–to look back over the season and think about what I’ve accomplished (and what I didn’t) over the months since I started planting out in late March.

While the delivery season starts in mid-May and lasts for five and a half months or so, the logistics are a year ’round process.  If you think of the actual outdoor work, the season stretches seven months–if you think of the season as beginning when the first seed is planted under lights in mid-February, then it’s eight and a half months of planting, tending, transplanting, and weeding.

Well, enough tallying of the months of labor.  It’s time to get wet and muddy!

Bad Farmer! No Tomato!

Sorry about all the CSA Newsletter piled on top of each other on my main page.  I’ve been a bit behind on posting those in the last few weeks.

Next Tuesday is the last delivery of the season for the Community Supported Agriculture component of the farm, and I’ll try to get that newsletter up right away.

CSA Newsletter: Volume 4, Issue 23

Flying Tomato Farms News

A newsletter for members of Flying Tomato Farms C.S.A.

Vol. 4, Issue 23


I ran out this morning in my robe and fuzzy pink slippers to check on the temperature. There was a bit of frost on the windshield of my truck, but the plantings around the house were not affected. The gardens in the country did sustain some frost damage—a few tomatoes and peppers in the lowest areas have gone down, and the tops of all the sweet basil plants were looking sodden. They weren’t entirely killed, though, so I lopped off all the damaged parts to see if they’ll re-grow. I’m not that hopeful about a big basil comeback—it is getting colder—but who knows? I did go out yesterday afternoon and fill my 102-quart marine coolers full of green tomatoes and peppers, plus collected a bucket full of chili peppers to ripen indoors.

Next week is the final delivery! Please make sure to return all extra bags this week and next. Next week’s final delivery bag is yours to keep if you like, or you can drop it off at my house anytime: 117 Forest Avenue.

Now is the time to be stocking your pantry with local produce for the winter months. There should be a few vendors at the farmers market for the next couple of weeks, weather permitting, and Morse’s Market (down Dakota Street hill and across the Vermillion River bridge) has some good prices on long-keeping squash. There are lots of apple trees heavy with fruit in the area—you might ask a landowner with a particularly productive fruit tree if you can share some of their bounty.

I’m guessing next week’s delivery will include a little kale, some tomatoes and peppers, leeks, and maybe a surprise or two from my gardens or the gardens of my other farmer friends.

Speaking of farmer friends, I have been talking to some of them about the possibility of doing a collective CSA next year, with several local farmers contributing produce toward the shares. I have gotten to the point that I can’t do the whole thing myself, but there are a few other local farmers who are interested in getting in on the act. Patti Bancroft (whose red onions grace this delivery as well as gracing last week’s) has indicated she’d like to supply potatoes, eggplant, onions, and possibly garlic for a collective CSA. I will be talking to other local farmers (especially those with an emphasis on organic and/or sustainable methods) to see if we can get something together that allows us to share the burden of production while sharing the bounty with the community.

At this point, if the collective comes together (and we can get forty or fifty members committed in late winter or early spring), my interest would be in providing spring and fall greens for shares—including the Goddess salad mix, nettles, stir-fry greens, chard, kale, arugula, bok choy, broccoli raab, and possibly romaine lettuce. That would help justify my keeping one of my prize garden tools—the humungous orange five-gallon salad spinner!

Please let me know if you are interested in being contacted about a collective CSA, and I will keep you informed of the planning progress.


Mixed stir-fry greens (with nettles!), red onions, sweet peppers, hot peppers, and tomatoes.

The mixed greens are a blend of arugula, tatsoi, Osaka purple mustard, mizuna, spinach, red Russian kale and other mixed kale varieties, multi-colored chard, and stinging nettles. Handle with care! This mix should be lightly stir-fried or braised until the greens are just wilted (unless you feel comfortable identifying nettles and removing them from the mix before eating the other ingredients raw). I’d go for cooking myself—these wild kales are a little rugged in their raw state. You could also roughly chop these greens and use them to top a homemade pizza.

These “Mars” red onions are again from certified organic grower Patti Bancroft. Some of these have formed double bulbs, and will not keep as well as last week’s onion—so try to use them up within a week or two. Here’s a good way to do just that:

Balsamic-Roasted Red Onions

Adapted from Fields of Greens

By Annie Sommerville

2 big red onions

olive or grapeseed oil

salt and pepper

½ cup water

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

sprig of rosemary (optional)

Cut the ends off the onions and peel off the papery layers. Rub each onion with oil and salt and pepper it. Roast them whole at 375 degrees in a small pan until absolutely tender. Remove from oven, and remove onions from the pan. Add water to the pan and scrape to remove drippings. Pour drippings into a small saucepan and add balsamic vinegar. Reduce liquid by half over medium heat.

Cut onions in quarters or eighths and place in serving dish. Drizzle with balsamic reduction, salt and pepper to taste, and serve warm or hot. Leftovers are great as a pizza topping, in omelets, or on salads. You can snip a little fresh rosemary over the onions if you have it.

The little green chili peppers in your delivery are Bulgarian Carrot peppers. They will most likely turn orange (ripe) sitting on your counter, but you can use them green, too. They’re very hot! You can tame them a little but cutting them open and removing the seeds and white membranes, but exercise caution nonetheless.

Don’t forget the Vermillion Area Farmers Market’s Harvest Soup Supper on November 1st from 5:30-7:30pm at the Extension Building on High Street! Interested in making a soup (with an emphasis on local ingredients)? Contact me! Soup-makers get into the event for free.


CSA Newsletter: Volume 4, Issue 22

Flying Tomato Farms News

A newsletter for members of Flying Tomato Farms C.S.A.

Vol. 4, Issue 22


I’m pleased to report that I’m back in action—though a little slower than before. My neck pain finally cleared up this weekend, and I was able to spend a little more time in the gardens.

Mostly I’m doing clean-up at this point—trying to get the tall weeds mowed down. I’ll be deconstructing some of the long trellis on the east side of the garden once frost hits and the tomatoes succumb.

I can’t believe we’ve only had that one frost advisory so far—the tomatoes keep coming and, unfortunately, so do the grasshoppers.

Remember the Vermillion Area Arts Councils Annual Chili Blues Event is this Saturday (Dakota Days!). I am not planning on making a chili this year—we’ll have an out-of-town guest coming and Martin will be here too for the parade on Saturday morning.

Don’t forget to return your produce bags each week—I’d like to make sure they all get re-printed by the end of the season. I will take the plastic clamshell boxes back from each week’s deliveries as well—I know a number of you have been doing this already. Please don’t include plastic boxes with detachable lids though, as they are hard to keep track of in the overwhelming overload that is my basement this time of the year!


Red onions, winter squash, tomatoes, peppers, daikon radish.

The red onion is called “Red Mars” and comes from Patti Bancroft at Evergreen Farms Certified Organic Produce out on Highway 19 north of Vermillion.

The buttercup squash is not organic, but it is local—from grower Gary Bye. Both Patti and Gary have been selling their produce at the Vermillion Area Farmers Market. This week is the last (official) week of the market, so if you want to stock your winter pantry, you may want to come down this week. We are going to seek permission from the Fair Board to extend the market another week or two for those with lots of produce still left in the field.

The pretty dappled “Carnival” squash is grown by Mitchell Morse down at Morse’s Market. Mitchell tells me their location on Dakota Street (down the hill and just across the Vermillion River bridge) has been doing well with the daily Nebraska-South Dakota commuters. This squash is also not organic. The reason it’s hard to find organic winter squash—well, they’re hard to grow organically on a large scale because squash bugs are hard to kill, as my numerous failures illustrate!

The buttercup squash will keep longer than the Carnival squash. Buttercup’s dry, sweet orange flesh is great for the hearty soups and stews of fall and winter. Be careful cutting it open though—they are notoriously difficult to get a knife through. Carnival is fun for a “squash on a half-shell” meal—cut in half, scoop out the seeds, and dab with butter and brown sugar. Place in a roasting pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the squash is tender.

Need to use up a few more of those peppers and tomatoes?

Easy! Quick! Tasty!

Black Bean Soup

Oil for the pan

½ large red onion

2-3 sweet peppers (add a hot pepper too, if you like)

1 ½ cups chopped tomato

2 cans organic black beans

cumin seed


chipotle powder (optional)

Heat oil (I used peanut) in a soup kettle and add red onion and peppers, chopped. Saute over medium heat until they’re tender—add 1 TB crushed cumin seed and 1 tsp dried oregano leaves. Add a couple pinches of chipotle powder if you have it. Cook 1-2 more minutes, then add black beans (undrained) plus 1-2 cans water (use water from rinsing the cans). Heat to a simmer and cook for about fifteen minutes—then add tomatoes and simmer five to ten more minutes. Serve with tortilla chips and cheese or over cornbread with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro and a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream.

These are actually small daikon radishes thinned from the garden to allow some of the others to reach their monster potential (you may be getting more in the last delivery). Daikon can be eaten raw in a grated slaw, or sliced, cubed, or grated into a stir-fry. Its greens are also edible—a little hot like arugula, and best added toward the end of a stir-fry or other hot dish and slightly wilted before serving. My Asian customers at the farmers market are always excited to see daikon with greens attached—it’s hard to get daikon with greens in the grocery stores!

Don’t forget the Vermillion Area Farmers Market’s Harvest Soup Supper on November 1st from 5:30-7:30pm at the Extension Building on High Street!

Remember to


CSA Newsletter: Volume 4, Issue 21

Flying Tomato Farms News

A newsletter for members of Flying Tomato Farms C.S.A.

Vol. 4, Issue 21


The garden has pretty much been on its own this week, as a neck injury I sustained a couple of weeks ago got much worse, forcing me to spend most of my time laid up or at chiropractor and massage therapy appointments. I did manage to get out and pick tomatoes (very slowly!) on Saturday, and was able to harvest for today’s deliveries with the help of a good friend.

Three more deliveries after this one, for a total of twenty-four weeks in all. I hope you have enjoyed the season. If you have extra bags lying around, please get them to me as soon as possible—especially if they are the faded-out ones. Susan is re-printing them all for me, and I’d like to get the rest of them to her as soon as possible. My plan is to deliver the final delivery in one of the re-printed bags, so that each member can have one to keep for their grocery/farmers market runs.

On that note—mark your calendars for Saturday, November 1st, 5:30-7:30pm for the Farmers Market Harvest Soup Supper at the Extension Building on High Street. We’ll have a number of soups and desserts with an emphasis on locally-grown ingredients, plus cheese, bread, non-alcoholic drinks, and some live music as well.

If by chance you’d like a clump of green onions to grow in your own garden, please let me know, and I will dig one out and bring it to you. They are perennials, and will continue to divide into an even larger clump that you can either dig up or clip the tops off of for green onions virtually year-round. The flowers (should you let them bloom) are attractive to bees and butterflies.


Tomatoes, sweet peppers, green onions, basil, mixed greens.

I ran out of big boxes for tomatoes, so I’ve included both a box and a bag. They are mostly slicer and salad types this week, since I went heavy on the paste and sauce types last week. There’s Black from Tula, Zapotec Pleated, Nebraska Wedding, Red Zebras, Yellow Perfections, and a few Hillbilly Potato Leaf. The smaller red types in the box with the “nipple” at the end are Principe Borghese.

I wanted to include basil again as well—there cannot be too many weeks before frost, and basil is one of the first things to go. I stuffed enough in each bag for a pesto meal, or you can puree it with oil and stick it in the freezer for a bit of fresh basil flavor all winter.

The mixed greens are hardy cooking greens of fall. The rainbow chard is the mildest, followed by the wild garden kale mix, and the smallest lobed leaves are mature (hot!) arugula. A light saute over medium-high heat with a little garlic just until they wilt is a good way to serve them—festoon with a little chopped tomato for added sweetness.

I will try to get you a slightly longer newsletter with more recipes next week, when I can spend more time sitting without pain!

Remember to


CSA Newsletter: Volume 4, Issue 20

Flying Tomato Farms News

A newsletter for members of Flying Tomato Farms C.S.A.

Vol. 4, Issue 20


Lots of stuff going downhill in the gardens—a few tomato plants have stopped producing, the beans have gotten spotty and brown—a general sense of decay. But there’s still a few things going strong—you’ll notice lots of peppers again this week.

I will likely be buying winter squash from another local farmer for a delivery or two next month. My winter squash once again did not make it—except for one odd specimen of Neck Pumpkin with one big fruit on it that is approaching two-and-a-half feet long and ten pounds! For some reason, the huge weird varieties I grow seem to do better than the smaller, more delivery-friendly squashes.

Four more deliveries to go after this one—I haven’t seen any indication of frost too soon, either—projected lows for the next several nights are in the fifties.


A box of tomatoes, several sweet peppers, a couple of Bulgarian Carrot (hot) peppers, leeks, and a summer squash. A few who haven’t yet will get eggplant.

Many of the old-timers I know like a sauté of summer squash and tomatoes. Use a little butter and/or olive oil for the pan, add some sliced onion (or leek!) and cook until it turns transparent. Then add bite-sized chunks of summer squash. Cook until just tender, then add chunks of tomato and heat through. Salt and pepper to taste. I think a tiny pinch of nutmeg is good in this as well.

The summer squash are from the overwhelmingly productive patch of Drs. Amy and Will Schweinle.

I’ve noticed that these Bulgarian peppers have more leathery skins than the yellow Hot Wax peppers. You can roast and peel these peppers if you don’t want that tough skin—either in a pan in the oven, or spitted on a fork over a flame. They also dry well—you can likely just dry them on a plate on top of your refrigerator.

Don’t forget either that all peppers freeze easily without blanching—so if you can’t use them all, just chop them and toss them in a freezer bag or box for winter use.

The darker green leek tops are also good to stow in the freezer to use in making soup stock. Make sure to split the bottoms of the leeks lengthwise to rinse all the grit out of their layers.

Remember to