Salamander Springs Farm/Permaculture Organics

  (Berea, Kentucky)
Permaculture in Practice: Shopper's Basket CSA
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August 20 CSA & Prayers for my Father (a note from Susana)

BEETS are back!  See the Beet Borscht Soup recipe below--also uses potatoes, apples & other veggies as you like. Beets will keep 1-2 weeks--cut off the greens and put in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.  Use the beet greens in a stir fry or soup stock.
STIR FRY MIX this week is packed with a variety of tasty nutritious greens:  sweet potato greens, kale, bok choy, beet greens & chard, "perpetual beet spinach"...  Our Kale & leafy greens are free of the toxic pesticides that placed them in the “Dirty Dozen:” the most pesticide-laden fruits & veggies when conventionally-grown (see August 6 post)!

SWEET BELL GREEN PEPPERS with the cool rainy weather this year, we’ve waited longer than usual for sweet peppers!  Conventionally-grown supermarket peppers are also on the toxic “Dirty Dozen” list, but you can enjoy these with confidence!

TOMATOES - HEIRLOOMS, PLUMS, CHERRIES:  choose 1.5# of your favorites - or try a new one!  Ask us about the different varieties at the market: from the yellow-gold Pineapple or Garden Peach, German Pink or Pink Plop Plum, to the dark purple Cherokee Purple or Black Krim (to name just a few).  Sometimes wild looking, their flavor is so much richer than the uniform standard red.  Many old-time heirloom tomatoes have “green shoulders” and a larger core when ripe (which was bred out of standard industry tomatoes.  You’ll also see Italian plum tomatoes, the ones we use for sun-dried tomatoes in our solar dehydrator.   Find our summer salad and natural homemade ketchup recipes in earlier postings. 
If you wonder if it is important to choose organically grown tomatoes, take a look at the “Dirty Dozen” list of most pesticide-laden fruits & veggies below.  I personally experienced extreme nausea after 10 minutes in the greenhouse of a local grower, shortly after the commonly-recommended fungicides were applied.  Do not refrigerate tomatoes--it nullifies tomato flavor and turns the flesh mealy.  Keep them on your counter with stem-side down, covered with a cloth.  Use according to ripeness--within a few days to a week.  To ripen further, leave in a sunny windowsill (covered with a cloth).   Remember if you want to process (freeze, can, make ketchup or juice), our CSA members can purchase additional tomatoes at the market at a discount ($1.50 lb).

GREEN BEANS - take your pick again this week of 1.5# of three local heirloom pole beans (Half Runner, Elkins, or Preacher/Rattlesnake Pole) or stringless snap beans.
-Heirloom pole beans have a heartier, sweeter flavor than stringless snap beans.  More than a vegetable, they provide a substantial amount of protein as well.  Harvested when the inner bean seeds have started to fill out, they can be a meal in themselves!  The larger beans need “stringing” before cooking (pull off the string along each seam from each end of the bean).  Cook about 12-15 minutes (the fatter the bean, the longer the cook time).  Heirloom beans with a pot of potatoes, pearl onions, butter & salt makes a simple, hearty meal with unmatched flavor!   Heirloom pole beans were also traditionally eaten at the “shucky bean” stage--harvested after the beans in the pod fill out and the pod yellows on the vine--and shelled out for soup beans.  Crucial to sustaining pioneer families through the winter, the rich flavor of heirloom pole beans is still treasured by their ancestors.  See the fascinating story of the Elkins Bean in August 6 post.
-Stringless SNAP BEANS are picked when the inner bean seeds have not had a chance to form, they need little cooking nor stringing.  Eat raw in dips, put into stir-fries, egg dishes, steam or cook with butter & salt. 
Additional beans for freezing or canning:   if you want to process green beans for winter, use our CSA member discount of $1.50 lb.  Ask us for processing tips. 
APPLES or ASIAN PEARS - select a few at the market.  We eat both fresh and make into delicious apple or pear crisp (see post for Susana’s family recipe).  Apples also give a nice sweetness to the Beet Borscht recipe below.  Don’t be fooled by the hard & firm exterior of the Asian Pears--they are sweet and juicy when you bite into them.  “Liberty” is a smaller, old time heirloom apple that stands up to many of the pest & disease problems here in the east--without any pesticides or fungicides, ever.  They have a thick green yellow skin, but are surprisingly sweet and crisp.   Like the peaches, the plum curculio has bored into some fruit but the rest of the fruit is delicious.  Not cosmetically perfect means safe to eat!   If you think you’d rather have a cosmetically perfect apple without plum curculio, it may change your mind to see the top of last week’s “Dirty Dozen” list of most toxic, pesticide-laden fruits & veggies.

POTATOES, Kennebecs are a favorite all-purpose white potato that Maine folk love for home-fries.  We are sad that we lost some of them to the flooding rain and frosts in May.  We also have All-Blue "Magic Mollies" and Purple Vikings, a white potato with splashed pink-purple skin which are also very versatile, with a texture like the Kennebec--for colored home-fries!  With the unprecedented rains this season, we have found the potatoes (which survived standing water & a late frost) to be more watery than normal and may not store as long.

SWEET CANDY YELLOW ONIONS (both small & large, for different recipes).  Very mild and sweet, they don’t make you cry because they contain less sulfur than winter storage onions (which is why they don’t store as long).  We’ll give you sweet onions now and storage onions in the fall, unless you prefer otherwise.  Let us know how many you can use each week.  Good Foods Coop and Stella’s Deli in Lexington have bought all of our red, white & pearl onions, so we are now out of those.

SUMMER SQUASH  Would you like to eat safe & nutritious Salamander Springs Farm summer squash this winter?  Processing to freeze is easy--some simple instructions online are at:    Freezing summer squash now means you can use the recipes we've posted this season during the winter without buying supermarket conventionally-grown squash...on the 2012 “Dirty Dozen” list because they are “commonly contaminated with pesticides exceptionally toxic to the nervous system.”    

For your taste buds, the recipes and your health...
Tasty additions to the Borscht soup recipe below, or the pesto, sauces, salad & veggie recipes in our earlier posts.  Look back to see why these herbs & greens are so good to include in your diet.

and last but not least...

FRESH BAKED BREAD & SPECIAL TREATS from Drew & Lindsey at Clementine’s Bakery! ?

Last week to come pick blueberries!  Give a call 893-3360 to let us know when you’d like to come and bring a bucket.

September 14-15 Permaculture in Practice Workshop at Salamander Springs Farm is FULL.   However, we have on-farm workshops every year and Susana teaches workshops in many regions--if your friends or family would like to learn more about growing food & living sustainably by cycling resources, nutrients, & energy, have them email us via the farm website and ask be on our "workshop notification list. " 

Monthly farm tour is also Saturday, September 14 -the time has changed to 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. because of the on-farm workshop schedule that weekend.  NO charge for our CSA members!  If you have not had a chance to visit the farm yet this season, please join us.  Email us if you need directions--Google maps will send you to the moon or even Mars.


BEET & POTATO BORSCHT SOUP!   (6 servings)
Basic traditional ingredients:
4 cups (well-made & seasoned) veggie or chicken stock
3- 4 beets -sliced, chopped or whole (see below)
3-4 potatoes -sliced, chopped or whole (see below)
salt & black pepper to taste
Simmer the beets & potatoes in the stock until soft.  For a thicker soup, slice half of them remove and puree whole beets & potatoes (slice the rest).  Mix into the broth and serve. 

For a Borscht with more flair, oven-roast the beets & potatoes first, about 45 minutes at 400 degrees, after coating with olive oil, thyme, salt & pepper. When they are cool, chop them up.
In the bottom of your soup pot, saute for 5-8 minutes:
1 small-medium onion
1 carrot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped

1-2 apples, peeled & chopped
1 T apple cider vinegar + 1  T honey
Add the soup stock, the roasted beets & potatoes and simmer 20 minutes.   Put everything in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  If you like some chunkiness, puree only part of it to thicken the soup.
Borscht is good both hot and cold. Garnish with sour cream or plain yogurt and dill or parsley!

Time, Matter...and Reality      -a note from Susana

It is a difficult time.  My father struggles to be present to the last stages of life, and I feel helpless against time, matter and the fragility of life.

At just the right time, my friend Douglas DeCandia (NY farmer, former Salamander Springs wwoofer) sent the touching poem below,  A Fig Tree.   Today I will also be thankful to time and matter for being lenient...and for our fig trees at Salamander Springs Farm!  

I want to send out appreciation for Mirra, Kayla & Richard, our young Salamander Springs Farmers--please give them a hug this week and let them know how much you appreciate their hard work and dedication to providing healthy, nutritious food for our community!  

Hope to see you next week..   -Susana

P.S.  If you didn’t see it last week, check out Doug’s beautiful poem, Autumn, in the August 13 post.

There is a way about some things
that brings us to question
time and matter and
what is real.
Pop loved figs.
He and Nana kept a tree at their home in Brooklyn,
and brought it with them,
in a pot, when they moved upstate.

They were his favorite thing to eat, he would say
that the small tender fruits reminded him
of a gentleness and generosity of life in the old country.
He lived and shared that gentleness and generosity with us.
I am thankful to
time and matter
for being lenient when it comes
to the memories of the heart.

I am thankful to
time and reality for being imperfect;
for not moving in the straight lines that
our clocks and calendars tell us to.

I am thankful
because today I sat with my grandfather,
under the fig tree
that we planted;

and that someday
my own son may taste the tender fruits of this earth
and know his great-grandfather
as I do.

********************NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION*****************************
See the August 6 post for the “The Dirty Dozen” conventionally-grown fruits & veggies found most laden with toxic pesticides (2012 results of Environmental Working Group annual testing of pesticide levels in fruits & vegetables).
See past blog posts for nutritional benefits of this week’s fruits and veggies.

Bees are essential for one out of every three bites of food we eat, but are being wiped out by the indiscriminant use of bee-toxic pesticides called neonicotinoids, or “neonics”  which are found everywhere in commercial agriculture, the shelf of your garden stores, and in nursery plants & seeds--with no warning to the consumer! 

Many “bee friendly” home garden plants sold at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other leading garden centers have been pre-treated with pesticides shown to harm and kill bees, according to a new, first-of-its-kind pilot study released this week.   Garden stores in Europe have taken neonics off the shelves–it’s time for us to do the same!  Tell Home Depot and Lowe’s to rid their stores of bee-toxic pesticides, seeds and garden plants!  

For more info, go to (in Washington D.C.).


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