Monthly Archives: August 2012

Busy Bee on the Farm: Week #13

It’s been a busy busy week on the farm! The rain we’ve been having has put me a little behind schedule, but I am not complaining! So this week we’ve been running around transplanting lettuce, broccoli, and cabbage. Plus I’ve been hopping on the tractor any chance I get to do more tilling. Saturday was a long day since I had tilling and seeding to do on the tractor. But thankfully I was able to get it all done. Not to mention I had a class to prep for too. Whew!

Speaking of class prep, Sunday night found me sorting through my worm compost pulling out worms for class. I’ve got a worm bin of red wiggler worms that eat my kitchen scraps. It’s been fun to see them eat up the bits of veggies and turn them into worm castings (a fun way of saying worm poop!). These casting are great for putting on house plants or garden plants. I sometimes use them on my transplants before they go out into the field.

I was sorting through them Sunday night because this week’s class is all about making compost. The students have put together a few different types of worm bins, from the fancy store bought kind, to the scrounge around and find something that works kind. I have to admit the sorting was not fun. I think it was one of the most tedious things I have done in my life. It took me four hours to come up with a pound of worms! I hope those students appreciate my dedication!

Enjoy the box!

What’s in the Box:

Arugula– The first of the greens to return! And it’s some of the best looking arugula this season too! Try a beet and arugula salad, the flavors are amazing together.

Beets– Have you tried roasting these on the grill yet? Just wrap them up in foil with some olive oil and you have got yourself a yummy side dish.

Garlic– Did you know you can roast garlic? Cut the tops off and drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over the whole head. Roast at 325 for 45 minutes and then spread on a baguette. So good!

Kale– Thanks to the cooler weather earlier this month the kale is really looking good. Try the kale chips (recipe below), they’re so good!

Parsley– More than a breath freshener parsley has a lot of vitamin C and adds a nice fresh flavor to any dish.

Peppers– You’ll get a mix of sweet peppers in the box this week. Enjoy the colors.

Scallions– These are zesty little onions if I do say so. We started tearing up at the end of harvesting them. They a packed with great flavor!

Tomatoes– Enjoy the colorful and flavorful tomatoes! This week you’ll get two kinds of heirlooms; Black Prince (a mahogany color) and Rose de Berne (a pink color). They’re two of my favorites. Enjoy!


Baked Kale Chips– from

Sauteed Kale– from

Arugula Salad with Beets and Goat Cheese– from

Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Chimichurri Sauce– from This is a blog with pictures and the full recipe at the end.

Surpise! It’s School Time! Week # 12

It has been an exciting weekend and early in the  week. The farm itself is plodding along. We got quite a bit of rain yesterday, which was a surprise! The tomatoes are growing, the kale looks good again, we’re transplanting and seeding in the fields, and the weeds are continuing to try and take over the farm. You know, the usual.

The excitement started Friday afternoon, between my market in Lake Bluff and the CSA pickup in the afternoon. As I was taking time to catch my breath and eat a little I got a call from the Horticulture Department Chair at the College of Lake County. Turns out they are a little short staffed this fall semester and she was wondering if I would be available to teach a class on Organic Growing and Sustainable Methods in Horticulture, and by the way the class starts this Monday. Holy Smokes!

So after a crash course on the previous instructor’s plans, I have set out to teach a semester class on organics and sustainability at the local community college. I have to say I am very excited, scared, but excited. This will be a new experience! How do you like that? Your farmer just became an adjunct faculty member at CLC!

Enjoy the box!

What’s in the Box

Green Beans– once again we are getting green beans from the Learning Farm at Prairie Crossing. I don’t know how they did it, but they are having a bumper crop!

Italian Sweet Peppers-These are the long red peppers in this week’s box. They’re sweet!! Not hot at all! I have been waiting and waiting for these peppers to be ready. Now, they’re here!! They are by far my favorites. Enjoy

Shallots– These petite teardrop shaped bulbs pack in a whole lot of flavor. Shallots are often characterized as a cross between garlic and onion. They have a smooth delicious flavor that takes any dish to the next level!

Cucumbers– These veggies always have a refreshing effect on me. I love them, even when it isn’t 100 degrees outside.

Celery– This vegetable adds such a bright and fresh flavor to salads, soups, and stir fries. Though the stalks are small, they pack a punch. You’ll never want celery from the store again.

Potato– Another round of these tasty spuds!

Purslane– Remember this crazy green from two weeks ago? It has reddish stems with rounded green leaves. It’s high in beta carotene and omega 3 fatty acids. Chop it up into a salad or just lightly saute it. It can substitute for spinach in a recipe too.

Sweet Onion– I love these versatile onions. Sometimes I carmelize them, sometimes I roast them, sometimes I chop them raw into a dish.

Tomato– More tomatoes! Yay! Remember to store them stem side down on the counter. Enjoy the different colors!

Thyme– This is one of my all time favorite herbs, and it’s not just because the name lends itself to a world of puns. I love thyme in my soups, in potatoes, salad dressings and tomato dishes. It’s a major part of Italian seasonings. Nothing beats fresh thyme!


Grilled Shrimp with Shallots and Fresh Thyme- from

Gazpacho Recipe– from

Tomato, Cucumber, Purslane Salad– from

Green Bean and Celery Salad– from

Roasted Thyme Potato Slices– from

Tomato Season: Week #11

Well, shoot! I can’t complain about the weather anymore. We’ve had rain and it’s cooled off. What in the world am I going to write about this week now?

The tomatoes are definitely taking over the daily tasks now. If we’re not harvesting them, then we are tying them up onto their stakes, weeding the walking aisles or I’m spraying them with some deliciously smelly organic fertilizer made of ground up fish parts. (The tomatoes love it, I do not.) The tomato plants are already 5 ft tall and are promising to grow even more. It’s an amazing sight, especially since last year my tomato plants struggled so much. Last year we had a huge rain in July and I had standing water in my tomato field. That resulted in either dead tomato plants or stunted ones. Well, that was last year. This year the tomato plants look fabulous and they are keeping us very busy.

Of course we  only work in the tomato field after 10 am. We do this to avoid working among the plants when they might be wet still from the morning dew. We don’t work in the tomatoes when they are wet. That way we avoid transmitting possible diseases from plant to plant. Tomatoes are susceptible to many diseases in the midwest so we do our best to limit their exposure. They’re just to precious! Thankfully in dry summers like we’re having diseases are a minimal risk. Still, it’s good to be careful!

Enjoy the box!!

What’s in the Box:

Cabbage– great tasting, smaller heads of cabbage.

Yellow Potatoes– creamy tomatoes that are wonderful mashed with a little butter and garlic

Beets– delicious red beets. Excellent with goat cheese!

Celery– fresh, flavorful celery goes well in almost anything. Check out the awesome tomato basil bisque recipe below. One of the secret ingredients= celery!

Tomatoes– another mix of colorful tomatoes. Remember to store them stem side down and keep them out of the fridge and on the counter if you can. They keep their flavor better that way.

Sweet Onions– these onions are wonderful in any dish. Use them raw or carmelize them on the stove. I just can’t get enough of them.

Garlic– another round of this great tasting garlic! Have I mentioned how much I love garlic?

Confetti Basil– this week’s basil bunch is a mix of my red and green varieties. The red basil has a great basil flavor with a little peppery finish. I love the colors together. They will make any dish stand out!


Chunky Tomato Basil Bisque– from, I used fresh tomatoes (about 8) and omitted the tomato paste and red bell pepper. It was awesome!

Italian Peasant Soup with Cabbage, Beans and Cheese– from Time to celebrate the cool weather with this hearty soup!

Creamy Cabbage and Potato– from A wonderful take on the Irish dish colcannon. Very simple and very tasty.

Beet and Goat Cheese Crostini- from You can wrap the beets in foil and roast on a tray instead of in a covered dish. Soooo yummy.

Livin’ On a Prayer (We’re Halfway There) Week #10

This week we hit the halfway mark in the CSA! Can you believe it? We’ve had ten weeks of veggies now and we’ve got ten more weeks ahead of us. Are you humming a certain Bon Jovi song now? Well I hope some of you are, because I certainly am. And yes, I definitely feel like the farm is living on a prayer. But so far, so good. Plus, the tomatoes are ripening, so life is good!

This week the CSA is getting a little assist from the Learning Farm at Prairie Crossing. There are multiple farms all inside Prairie Crossing, including Wild Goose Farm. One is an education-based nonprofit that works with elementary through high school students. This summer they are having a bumper bean crop, so I am taking advantage! This week we’ll have green beans supplied by the Learning Farm.

It’s been great farming next to a bunch of other organic vegetable farms. We can commiserate about the weather and bugs, share little tricks we’ve learned over the season, strategize on common problems, compare notes and just have a good laugh. At times we’re able to help out one another with crop shortages too. I’ve really enjoyed the other farmers around me through the years. We’re great people, if I do say so myself. 🙂

Enjoy the box this week!

What’s in the Box:

Green Beans– Thanks to the Learning Farm we get this summer favorite. I love them steamed with a little butter and salt.

Purslane-This succulent green is high in omega 3 fatty acids and beta carotene! You can use it fresh in salads, add it to your taco fillings or lightly cook like spinach. You won’t even realize you’re eating weeds from the farm!

Celery– Ever had fresh celery before? This will put the grocery store version to shame. It actually has flavor!

Carrots- I hope you enjoy the funny shapes of these carrots as much as I do. They will store better if you remove the greens.

Potatoes– These yellow potatoes are incredibly creamy. I don’t even bother peeling them since the skin is so thin. They’re my favorite kind of potatoes.

Sweet Onions– More of these awesomely versatile onions!

Juliet Tomatoes– These tomatoes look like a mini plum tomato and are absolutely wonderful. They have their own distinct tomato flavor with less juice and more meat. They are wonderful in salads, just like the recipe below!

Slicing Tomatoes– Enjoy the mix of colors, sizes and shapes. Remember that tomatoes are ready to eat if they give slightly when you squeeze them gently. Store on the counter with the stem side down.

Garlic-You can store this garlic either in the fridge or on the counter.

Parsley– This herb is super high in vitamin C and adds a bright and fresh flavor to any dish.


Purslane Potato Salad– from another CSA farm, Hidden Villa

Huevos con Verdolagas (Eggs with Purslane)– from, a great new egg dish

Fancy Green Beans– from Paula Deen at, guess what, it’s got bacon!

Flank Steak with Bloody Mary Tomato Salad– from, use the juliet tomatoes in this week’s box instead of the cherry tomatoes. I just love the idea of this dish!