Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Honey Brook Organic Farm CSA: Week 7 Pennington Premium Boxed Share

Yup.  That's it.  Kale, cabbage, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, parsley, cilantro, basil, two peppers and a tiny melon.  My onions are missing.  It kinda looked like someone was in my box.  Maybe they swapped out their smaller things for my bigger stuff?  Maybe they stole my onions?

I'll have to get there earlier.  I feel like the other boxes are worth what I was paying.  
This box....not so much.  This box looks more like a personal share than a premium share.  Other CSA's post pics of what they're putting out that week.  I wish they did that here.  I'll try to get there earlier next week.  Hopefully, my box won't be so lame.

Also, this might be my last getting a CSA box from Honey Brook anyway.  One of the primary reasons I chose this farm was because they didn't support any animal agriculture.  They now apparently have a beekeeper who's selling honey and beeswax.  Seriously?  Bleh.

What's my issue with honey?  Way back when, honey did have a lot of amazing properties.  It was also a seasonal item sold in limited quantities.  Now it's being mass produced year round, with bees being fed a constant fast food diet of sugar water (not good for you, not good for them) and constantly terrorized with billowing smoke.  Now, if someone consistently made you think your house was on fire, so they could steal all your stuff, would you be happy and calm or living in a constant state of fear?  I don't believe the honey being produced today in the current "traditional" method is producing anything that resembles the honey that used to be good for you.  I want no part of that crap, so I'm going to start looking into different CSA's for next year.  I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Honey Brook Organic Farm CSA: Week 6 Pennington Premium Boxed Share

You know who's always excited by our CSA box?  Chloe.  As soon as I bring it inside and lay everything out, she hops ignores that fact that this is the one counter she's not allowed on.

Looks around it.  Walks around it.

And then the inspection begins.  She loves to smell everything.  So bizarre.

This week we got the usual lettuce mix, cilantro and basil, chard, cabbage, onions, corn, kale, summer squash, peppers and a melon.

The summer squash looks a little sad and I've never seen a cabbage with such a point head...but otherwise all seems good.  I've been letting the basil and cilantro go to waste, I don't know why.  I'm going to make sure they get used up, or at least frozen.  Otherwise, I have continued to be on top of the veggie usage.  I plan on doing some kind of quick pickle for the onion tops.  I've only used about half before they'd dry up.  I think pickling them will let me use them well into the fall.  I'll keep you posted if I come up with a good recipe.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What to do With Too Many Overgrown Overripe Large Yellow Cucumbers

I have a live and let live policy in my garden.  If you want to grow, then I will not stop you.  Even if you're a tomato plant (my "wild" cherry tomatoes grow about 6 foot tall) who decided to grow right in front of my garden door.  Or if you're a multitude of cucumbers that decided to grow in my strawberry boxes where pumpkins decided to grow last year, I will let you.  Which is how I wound up with this insanity.  Mind you, I planted additional cucumbers thinking these were pumpkin plants.

These plants are much, much bigger now.
Everyone loves a cucumber for all it's like, crunchy, awesomeness.  Some people love them more as pickles.  So what happens when you wind up with this many cucumber plants?  (Let's be honest, even if you only have a few plants.)  You will miss a few that are hiding, and they will grow into immensely large yellow cucumbers, with thick skins and large seeds.  The only thing they're really good for is compost or senfgurken (a German pickle made out of overgrown cucumbers).  

That is until now. 

My friends, and blog passerbys, I have discovered a better use for these cucumbers that certainly would prefer to be eaten than to left to rot in a compost bin. 


I know, smoothies?!  Have I lost my mind?  Nope.  Stick with me here.  First, I thought, I'd juice them, but honestly, cucumber juice didn't sound appealing.  Then I thought, cucumbers are more than 95% water, so they'd probably freeze really well.  And instead of adding ice or extra liquid to my smoothie, why not some frozen cucumbers?  (How many people do you think are going to suddenly post this on their page like it was their idea?  Link stuff back, people.  Don't be a jackass.  I always feel bad for Somar McCowan who created an awesome vegan mozzarella and then everyone on the internet stole it, pretended it was theirs and never linked back to her.  Well, not everyone, but a lot of people.  Don't do shady stuff people.  It will bite you in the ass.  Karma.)

Cucumbers are water and fiber rich, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and they reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.  Go Google it, you'll be surprised how amazing the simple little cucumber is.

All you have to do is peel, seed and cut up the cucumbers.  Now, I try to avoid plastic all I can, but I had no choice but to swipe some of my daughter's storage bags to put my cucumbers in.  Freezing them in glass jars is unrealistic...for me anyway.

I stick these bags in the freezer and use my no longer used meat mallet to pound on the bag and loosen up the cucumber pieces.  Then I replace ice in the recipe I'm using at a 1 to 1 ratio.  Or I just add whatever I think will work when I'm winging a smoothie.

My current weekday morning smoothie, for anyone interested goes like this:

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk
1 TBS flax seeds
1 TBS chia seeds
1/3 cup oats
2 TBS sweetener
1-2 bananas (optional)
2 handfuls of frozen spinach
2-3 cups of frozen cucumbers
1 1/2 cups of frozen berries.

Pop everything in your blender (I have a Vitamix and I think it's well worth the investment). Initially, this turns into more of a sorbet, so I let it sit and re-blend when it's defrosted a bit.  If it's not thin enough, feel free to add less cucumbers or more non-dairy milk.  For my sweetener, I use maple syrup, agave, vegan honey or even sugar.  I remember to add bananas about half the time.

Hope this helps some of my gardening friends out there.  And if it does, pop back over here and say hi or thanks or you suck, this didn't work...either way, I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Honey Brook Organic Farm CSA: Week 5 (Plus Week 4's PYO) Pennington Premium Boxed Share

Let's start with Week 4's PYO.  On their web page, they list the current day's PYO status.  Consistently, the people coming on weekends (I'm betting most of whom are boxed share members.  If you had the time to go during the week, you'd pick up your box at the farm, right?) get less PYO than the people coming during the week.  That's annoying.  

What's more annoying is that this is the second time the site lists a certain amount we can pick, in this case 1 1/2 pints of blueberries; but, when you get there they tell you a lesser amount.  Hence my pint of blueberries and not a pint and a half.  I know you're thinking it's only a half pint, but it's the point.  If you went grocery shopping and the circular said 10 ears of corn for a $1 and you get there and they'll only let you take 8 ears for a $1...well, first that's false advertising, but also it's annoying.

 And for the record, there were a ton of ripe berries waiting to be picked.  I think in their effort to make sure everyone gets some, they are stingy with the amounts.  Then a lot of it winds up going bad, the strawberries are an easy example.  They didn't respond to my Facebook message, but I emailed today and got an immediate response:

We update the 'This Week' page on our website about 3 times a week. Office staff is split between the two farm locations and cannot update by the hour. Sometimes the PYO quantities can change due to the need for additional ripening or low quantities. What is posted online is a guideline for members to plan ahead but also comes with the understanding that these quantities may increase or decrease occasionally.
Our PYO attendants are following the Farm Manager's instructions and are not responsible for those decisions.

My question still stands, what's the point of that page is the information is immediately inaccurate?  Wouldn't the farm manager and the person updating the page be working together to post accurate information?  If I get a response to that, then I will let you know.  None the less, we picked our pint of blueberries, plus some beans and herbs.

That brings us to our Week 5 boxed share.  We got red onions, carrots, basil, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, kale, salad greens, and corn.  They were selling the GMO-free corn for $1.25 an ear for members, I didn't buy any at that price, so it was nice it's in our box.  

This was dinner last night, with some vegan cheese sauce (recipe from Veganize It!) on the side. 

The downside to the kale...I'm already growing a million pounds of kale in my yard.  Oh well, I guess I'll be baking more kale chips.  I'm not sure what I want to do with the carrot tops.  They used to say they were toxic, somehow now it's not.  Who knows.  I think with fewer greens, we'll definitely get through this box without anything going to waste.  

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

New Jersey Zone 7 Garden Tour: July 4, 2017

Why haven't I posted a garden tour sooner?  Because the weather in this part of Jersey has been insane.  It's been cold longer than usual and we've had a ton of rain.  Only now is it more like normal summer weather.  Amidst the cold, nothing was really growing.  It was all thriving outside, but not growing.  I've basically had seedlings outside for weeks.  

The carrots have really taken off.  The peas are pretty much gone thanks to my bunny friends.

The beets are also growing nicely.

As usual, we have 500 pounds of mint growing.

The tomato plants are flowering.

My 100 pounds of cilantro, that grows by itself, I never plant them, are now all going to seed.  I have to get out there, cut them down and collect all those seeds.

Stupid moths are eating my broccoli and cabbage.  I have to spray them!  I asked my husband to bring my industrial sprayer down from the attic.  I'll talk more about that later.  (Ignore my ugly old sneaker in the picture.  My garden boots were in my car.)

My extra large kale bush finally died, and in its wake, it left behind several baby plants.  Now I have four extremely large kale bushes that I really need to start eating...

Here is the fourth and largest of the group.  GMO free and organic.  I should start selling it.

The zucchini are starting to flower.

The peppers and eggplant are still small, and yes, I know I need to weed.

My pole beans have finally sprung from the ground.

My original cucumber seedlings died, so I put more seeds in the ground.

They're about a foot tall now.

Unbeknownst to me, what I thought were pumpkin plants...which would make sense since that's where the pumpkins were last year and some were eaten and rotted away in those boxes.  But nope...they are not pumpkins, they are cucumbers.  How?  I have no idea.

The Hubby thinks it's from the compost, but how did they survive the heat in the composter?  And then why wouldn't I have a bunch of things growing out of the compost.  I'm not buying it.

Strawberry box #1.  Overrun with cucumbers and a random tomato plant.

Strawberry box #2, also overrun with cucumbers.  What are those white flowers?

A leftover carrot from last season (something tunneled under, ate all the carrots and left me the green tops) over-wintered and produced these beautiful flowers.  I'm waiting for them to go to seed so I can save the seeds and plant them next year.

The cucumbers in Strawberry box #3 have already begun its ascent to the top of the garden fence.

I'll take better pictures next week.  I'm going to make sure I get on top of the weeding over the weekend.  I picked 12 pounds of cucumbers yesterday, so I'll be busy making some pickles today.