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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Big Red Farmstand, WEDNESDAY ONLY, Sept. 18, 1pm to 5pm

Hello friends,

A reminder that the farmstand will be closed this Saturday, September 21.  We'll see you again next Wednesday, same time, same station.
Goodbye till next year...

We report with mixed feelings that this is the end of the road for the tomatoes.  Late blight finally reared its ugly head earlier this month, and we managed to squeeze a couple extra weeks out of the beleaguered plants, but it's time to call it a day.  The wet summer and its attendant disease pressures (we actually had very few insect pest problems in our tomatoes) certainly shortened our season, but nonetheless we harvested about 215 pints of cherry tomatoes, 210 quarts of Juliet mini-plum tomatoes, 425 lbs of slicing tomatoes, 405 lbs of Roma tomatoes, and 350 lbs of heirloom tomatoes, and that, folks, ain't nothing.

Our feelings are mixed because while we, of course, love summer tomatoes as much as the next guy, a huge portion of our time in July, August and September is given over to harvesting and caring for them, so it's hard not to be a little relieved when tomato season is over.  We will have a few cherry tomatoes on Wednesday, along with anything else left over that looks good, but next week we'll be ripping out the plants.

We're also saying goodbye to scallions this week, but we're saying hello to a few other kinds of onions -- yellow, white, and red -- in addition to the Tropeas we've been seeing for the past few weeks.  These assorted onions are pretty much all in the more pungent, "cooking" category, rather than sweet.  This will also be the last week for tomatillos, so if you've been waiting around to make salsa, now's your chance!  Onions and hot peppers obviously belong in there too...


ON THE FARM: Bees on the move!

On my way home from the farm Tuesday morning, I noticed an odd bulge on one of the supports in the corner of the upper field deer fence.  Upon closer inspection, it proved to be thousands of honeybees!
Honeybee swarm

If you've never seen a swarm of honeybees, it's a pretty cool sight.  Swarming is the natural process by which bees form a new colony; the queen decides to leave her current colony and takes up to 60% of that colony's worker bees with her.  The swarm sends out scouts to find a good location for the new colony, and when they find one, off goes the swarm.  While they're waiting for the scouts to agree on a location (isn't this completely fascinating?  They're tiny insects!), the swarm hangs out, on a tree branch or something similar (say, a deer fence corner support), with the workers completely surrounding and protecting the queen.  This is the stage that I observed.

Since that's the corner of the field where the Big Red Farm's two beehives are located, we assumed one of our hives had cast the swarm, so we got in touch with our beekeeper, Rudi Mayr.  Rudi immediately left work in New York to come catch the swarm before it left for its new nest site, which he and Jake successfully managed to do (see video below).  As it turns out, it doesn't appear to have come from one of our hives; it could be a wild swarm, or have come from someone else's hive nearby.  So, if anyone's looking for their bees, we might have them!
video

However, assuming no one shows up to claim them, the Big Red Farm now has three hives.  More honey for us!  We're hoping to harvest honey in 2014.


RECIPES:

It's eggplant week!  With the cooler weather, both the eggplants and peppers are ripening more slowly, but the plants look healthy and happy, and I hope they'll go on a bit longer, which is excellent news, since there are so many delicious fall dishes out there that feature them!
Skinny eggplant

Eggplant in particular can have a cosy, roasty, smoky flavor that's perfect for chilly evenings.  It's my belief, and you don't have to agree with me, that many people who don't care for eggplant have never had it prepared properly.  It's so often undercooked, with an unpleasant spongey texture, or smothered in breadcrumbs, grease, and second-rate mozzarella to the point that you may as well be eating Cardboard Parmesan.
Stripey eggplant

Well, I am on a one-woman crusade to promote the delicious, nutritious, properly-cooked eggplant.  From crispy eggplant "fries" to creamy, smoky Baba Ghanouj, it's hard to find a more versatile vegetable, and isn't there some thing about purple veggies and how good they are for you?  Here are two recipes that also feature the season's last fresh tomatoes; one a bruschetta appetizer without the bread, and the other a nourishing baked pasta dish.  (Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes and Mint)  (Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella)


AT THE FARMSTAND:

This week, we hope to have the following available on Wednesday only, in front of Edith Chapel, from 1pm to 5pm:


  • Baby Lettuce Mix - $2.50 bag
  • Chard - $2.50 bunch
  • Sweet Corn from Village Farms - $0.50 ear
  • Eggplant - $3.00 lb
  • Eggs - $5.00 dozen (limit 1 dozen per customer, very limited quantity)
  • Flowers - $2.50 bouquet
  • Okra - $2.50 pint
  • Assorted Onions - $2.50 lb
  • Colored Peppers - $4.00 lb
  • Green Peppers - $0.75 each
  • Hot Peppers - 2 for $1.00
  • Summer Squash - $2.00 lb
  • Tomatillos - $2.00 pint
  • Cherry Tomatoes - $3.50 pint
  • Assorted Tomatoes - $3.00 lb

HOW TO FIND US:

The Big Red Farmstand will be on the Lawrenceville Campus for the fall.  Right now we're located in front of Edith Chapel.  Enter campus by the main gate on Route 206 (opposite the Lawrenceville Post Office and Craven Lane), and bear right into the circle.  The Chapel is about halfway around the circle, and you'll see our sign.  Don't forget your shopping bags!

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