Cucumber Limeade – We’re going crazy!

This week we are going crazy!  Cucumbers have been producing in huge quantities and we need to move beyond just eating them, so we thought we might drink them!!

This might be the most refreshing drink ever made. It kind of tastes like spa water and lemonade got married.. in my mouth!  So I thought I would enlist the help of the little people in my house.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 4 to 6 cups water
  • 1 cucumber sliced
  • ice

Directions

1. Pour boiling water over sugar and stir until it sugar completely dissolves to make a simple syrup.
2. Combine syrup, lime juice and cool water to taste.
3. Add cucumber slices and chill in fridge.
4. Pour over ice to serve.

Cucumber Limeade

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Week 8 of Pekarek’s Produce CSA

Dobry Den!

July is a balancing act on the farm.  Each week our harvests become a bit more time demanding, yet we still have a lot of energy focused on planting and caring for the long season and fall crops.  Although the heat has slowed both us and the crops down, we have been pacing ourselves with plenty of transplanting, harvesting, and weeding among other demands.

This week we thought we were going to have our broccoli, cabbage, and kohlrabi plants transplanted.  While we were planning on waiting for the cooler weather (mid-90s instead of 105 +), there is something else we did not plan on….Monday morning we woke up to zero water.  Sometime during the night, there was a problem with the well and because the compressor of the ice machine is water cooled, it used what little water pressure that might have remained.

So we called the well company who arrived Monday morning.  And although there are some fun details to share with you all, the long and the short of it is that we are drilling a new well (the second one in under a year).

Luckily, the neighbor has loaned us a tank we can use to water transplants while we wait for the well to be completed and we picked up a bit more sprinkler pipe Monday afternoon.  We hope to be up and running by Friday.

What’s in today’s bag:

This week’s full share has:

  • Eggplant, Yellow Onions, Slicing Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Sweet Corn

This week’s partial share has:

  • Eggplant, Yellow Onions, Slicing Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Sweet Corn

Recipe Suggestions

Be sure to check out this week’s recipe for eggplant parmesan and our and CSA Member Guest Post!  If you have a recipe to share, email it to pekareksproduce@hotmail.com or include it in the comments section.

As always, if you have any questions, concerns or suggestions send us an email or give us a jingle and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Your Farmers,

Ryan, Katie, and Crew

 

Eggplant Parmesan

If you’ve eaten eggplant before, there’s a good chance you’ve had it in the form of eggplant parmesan.  This recipe sounds fancy and difficult, but don’t sweat the recipe – ‘sweat’ the eggplant.

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggplants (I cut up two of the big purple ones, and didn’t even use all those)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 c flour
  • 4 c seasoned Italian bread crumbs
  • Large jar (3 lbs.) of your favorite spaghetti sauce (I used Prego mushroom)
  • 16 oz. mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 T fresh basil

Directions

1. Sweat the eggplant. “Sweating” an eggplant means to get out any bitterness that may have developed by making it sweat. Begin by slicing the eggplants into 1/4 inch thick slices.   Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of salt over all of the slices of eggplant – be sure to salt both sides. Set the salted, sliced eggplant into a colander and let it rest for about 30 minutes.After 30 minutes, the eggplant should begin to sweat (droplets of moisture being extracted by salt).  Remove the eggplant from the colander and place the slices on a paper towel.  Place a second paper towel on top to reomove all the excess moisture that has formed.

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2. Preheat oven to 350.
3. Put the eggplant slices in a bag with the flour and shake until the eggplant are coated.
3. One at a time, dip eggplant slices in egg then coat in bread crumbs.  Place in a single layer on baking sheets and bake 10 minutes on each side.  My eggplant don’t often make it past this point because they get eaten!
4. In a 9×13 baking dish, spread spaghetti sauce to cover bottom.  Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce.  Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.  Repeat these 3 layers until all eggplant used up, ending with cheese on top.  Sprinkle basil over the cheese.
5. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until golden brown.

Cabbage and Potato Bake – CSA Member Guest Post

We are so excited this week to have a guest post from JB Dixon.  He is what I call a “foodie” and creates some delicious meals…….

Greetings,  Pekarek’s Produce fans!  While the brutal hot & dry Summer drags on, I know that if you’re reading this, you’ll agree that it’s so great to be supporting all of the hard work of the Pekarek family by turning their great vegetables into satisfying meals for our families.  A couple of weeks ago, our full share CSA bag included a beautiful head of green cabbage, a bag of Yukon Gold potatoes, and a few gorgeous onions.  I knew I had to make a family favorite, even though the temperature was soaring outside. While this particular recipe screams for the Mid-March chill of St. Patrick’s Day, I have no problem making this particular recipe any time of year.
Cabbage & Potato Bake has all of the ingredients that remind me of the smells and flavors of my Granny Ocle’s* cooking growing up in Southwest Iowa (*pronounced “Oh-Suhl”….a good German name!), even though I don’t recall this particular dish ever being made by her.  Before she and her sister (Aunt Bernice) passed away a few years ago, I had the opportunity to make this delicious, satisfying dish for them, honoring them in a way.  It warmed me when they gave me their seal of approval; they loved it.
This is a hearty, savory, almost stew-like dish that stands on its own, with the sweetness of the onion and the smokiness of bacon becoming a match made in heaven. (I’ve often said that my own personal Yankee Candle scent would be “Bacon & Onions in a Cast Iron Skillet”… They’re made for one another) I could easily envision a few Seward County German riffs on this that would include a bit of sugar, and that would work fine.  Try it this way first, and see what you think.  Leftovers will freeze up to one month.
CABBAGE AND POTATO BAKE
1 cabbage, about 2 1/2 lbs.
5-6 Yukon Gold or red potatoes, peeled and cut in half or lengthwise, about 2 1/2 lbs
12-16 oz lean smoked bacon, cut to 1/2 in. dice
2 cups white or yellow onions, peeled and sliced lengthwise
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2-3 cups homemade chicken stock, or canned chicken stock or broth.
Preheat the oven to 375 Degrees.
Rinse the cabbage and remove the first layer of outer leaves.  Cut the cabbage in half and remove the hard core.  Cut the cabbage halves into thirds or quarters and place, rounded side down into a large roasting pan.
Peel and cut the potatoes, and arrange in the roasting pan, alternating with the cabbage pieces.
Fry the bacon in a medium skillet for 7 minutes, or just before it’s crispy, but do not drain.
Add the sliced onions (pause to take in how amazing that smells) salt & black pepper and cook until soft, about 5-6 minutes.
Evenly distribute the bacon mixture and pan drippings over the vegetables, then pour the chicken stock into the pan.  Tightly cover the roasting pan with aluminum foil or a lid and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow to sit, covered, for 15 minutes before serving.  Serve the vegetables with the bacon & broth spooned over them.  Give thanks. Enjoy.  Repeat.

Week 7 of Pekarek’s Produce CSA

Dobry Den!

As seems to be the norm, it’s been another hot and dry week here at Pekarek’s Produce.  The work day starts in the 6 o’clock hour these days in hopes of being done in the field by noon.  Some days this works – and some days it doesn’t.

So what gets done after noon?  A lot!  After everything gets picked, weeded and watered, it has to be washed, weighed, bagged, packaged and put into the cooler.  And what about that cooler?  Pekarek’s Produce began in 2004 and during that year, we didn’t have any refrigeration.  In 2005, we built a small portable cooler.  It was built portable because at the time our location seemed less than permanent.  The small portable cooler is 8’ X 10’, built by Ryan and his father, and still working today.  The refrigeration unit is from an old beer cooler.  This was farmer ingenuity at its finest.

In 2011, we built a brand new packing shed and as part of this, a new cooler.

 

The new cooler is 13’ X 22’ – a significant size increase.  The cooler officially got its first test in June and has been working its magic since.

 

Did you know that the cooler is not the end of what we do to keep our produce cool and fresh?  As part of the new packing shed we also installed a new ice machine.  This machine will produce 800 pounds of ice per day which is used to cool a huge variety of vegetables.  It especially makes an improvement on market days.  If only this could keep the workers cool during the long heat of the summer.

What’s in today’s bag:

This week’s full share has:

  • Yellow Squash
  • Slicing Cucumbers
  • Beets
  • Red Onions
  • Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • Green Beans

This week’s partial share has:

  • Yellow Squash
  • Slicing Cucumbers
  • Beets
  • Red Onions
  • Yukon Gold Potatoes

Recipe Suggestions

Be sure to check out this week’s recipe and CSA Member Guest Post for Cabbage and Potato Bake!  If you have a recipe to share, email it to pekareksproduce@hotmail.com or include it in the comments section.

As always, if you have any questions, concerns or suggestions send us an email or give us a jingle and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Your Farmers,

Ryan, Katie, and Crew

 

Week 5 of Pekarek’s Produce CSA

Dobry Den!

It’s the 4th of July (almost) and things are in full swing at Pekarek’s Produce.  The field crops and high tunnel are looking good, even as hot as it has been. Night time temperatures during the month of June were running about 10 degrees above average and we have been watering on almost a daily basis.

How does this effect sweet corn? Sweet corn is pollinated by wind. This occurs when pollen from the male part of the plant falls onto the wispy immature heads of the corncobs. Unfortunately, the heat also impacts how well sweet corn pollinates.  So when you see a kernel here or there that did not develop, you know why.

What wonderful timing the sweet corn has this year – just in time for Independence Day!  Now we all have our own ways of cooking corn, but the biggest issues with sweet corn is that we let it get too warm before we cook it (like letting it sit in your car) or we cook it too long.   This week try grilling your sweet corn in the husk.  Place the corn in their husks on a hot grill (Direct heat is fine). Cover. Turn the corn occasionally, until the husks are charred on all sides, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Let sit for 5 minutes and enjoy!

What’s in today’s bag:

This week’s full share has:

  • Broccoli
  • Beets
  • Slicing Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Corn

This week’s partial share has:

  • Broccoli
  • Slicing cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Corn
  • Yellow Squash

Recipe Suggestions

If you have a recipe to share, email it to pekareksproduce@hotmail.com or include it in the comments section.

As always, if you have any questions, concerns or suggestions send us an email or give us a jingle and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Your Farmers,

Ryan, Katie, and Crew

Happy 4th of July!!