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5K Fun Run & Squash Fest

This is going to be a crazy week. We are in the full swing of getting ready to host a 5K Fun Run on the farm and at the same time open up for the Harvest Jubilee farm tours.

First, the 5K Fun Run. Jess Grant, for his Eagle Scout project, has been doing an amazing job of organizing this event. The logistics and thought that goes into a 5K is daunting to even the most seasoned event organizer, but to his credit, he started early and by all indications he will have a strong finish. Jess set a bold goal for this event: he wants to raise $10,000 to drill a well in Ukundu Town, Kenya with Crossway International.

The Klesick family and our farm have been longtime supporters of Crossway International. I could hardly resist the opportunity of hosting a fun run for our local community and at the same time blessing another local community in Africa. 

Jess is really close to reaching his goal. If you would like to join us on this amazing adventure of good, come out to the farm and run or walk the race or donate online. Every dollar donated goes towards drilling this well. To register or donate, visit www.harvest5k.org.

Secondly, we will also be open for a fun U-pick/We-pick event this weekend during the Harvest Jubilee farm tours. 

This year, I really over did it—I planted an acre of potatoes and an acre of winter squash. With the incredible spring and summer weather, it is a bumper crop and has to get in the barn. So, we will be harvesting potatoes all day Saturday and we invite you to harvest some for yourself and to help us harvest our own. Grab your farmer, boots and camera, and join us for some harvest fun during the Harvest Jubilee farm tours this weekend. Visit www.harvestjubilee.org for tour information.

Klesick Family Farm will be open for the Harvest Jubilee farm tours: 

Friday, September 27: 1:00-5:00 p.m., U-pick

Saturday, September 28: 7:30 a.m., 5K Registration  9:00 a.m., 5K Fun Run 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., U-pick

Lastly, for the month of September, Klesick Family Farm will donate 50% of the value of new customer orders and 50% of the value of your next order if you refer a new customer, toward efforts for GMO labeling in the U.S.*

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*Valid only for box of good orders (meat and non-food orders excluded). New/referred customers must receive their first delivery between 9/1/2013 and 9/30/2013. $5,000 maximum KFF donation.

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We’re Digging September!

This week we started the fall farm harvests. Back in December, I made a conscious decision to focus on four main crops this year. It has worked out really well for the farm, but more importantly, it has worked well for our family. In previous years we have grown 25 to 30 different vegetables and the management and harvesting schedules made for ultra-busy summers. And now that I have children leaving the nest, I look back and think, “We should have played more”. 

So with that in mind, I switched my focus to fewer crops, crops that provided a little breathing room to go to the beach or on a hike or plan for a farm wedding. So this year I decided to grow winter squash (lots of it), green beans, sugar snap peas and potatoes. My thinking was that we would have big planting days in the spring, spend the summer harvesting peas and beans and then the fall harvesting winter squash and potatoes. This week you are eating the potatoes. The skins might be a little loose still and the potatoes a little dirty, but they are freshly dug and super tasty.

I have had several new people that I have met this year ask the age old question, “What do you do for a living?” I find it ironic that I say, “I am a farmer that grows potatoes, winter squash, beans and peas.” But if truth be known, I also grow things like chives, zucchini, flowers, greenhouse tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. Not to mention apples, pears, plums, strawberries, raspberries (fall and summer varieties), kiwi berries and concord grapes. Lest I forget, I also raise grass-fed beef. 

But for some reason, I find myself gravitating, towards potatoes, winter squash, beans and peas as my label—as my moniker—for a farmer. I wonder why that is? When I used to grow spinach, dill, lettuce, beets, chard, parsley, cilantro, garlic, pickling cucumbers, plus the other crops listed above, I just referred to myself as vegetable farmer, but in reality I grew fruit and raised beef cows, too. 

As I write, there really isn’t an easy way to describe what I do.  “Farmer” is too generic. When I really think hard about what I do, when I boil it down, I start to smile. What I really am, is a husband that loves his wife and together we raise local children, on a local family farm that raises a whole bunch of healthy, nutritionally rich food for our local community. Yep, that about sums it up!

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How to Make Roasted Jam

Cut fruit gets tossed with sugar, a squeeze of lemon
and a vanilla bean for good measure.

~ by Ashley Rodriguez

This time around, I used just over a pound scarlet-fleshed pluots. I tossed the fruit with 3/4 cup (you could use 1/2 cup) sugar, the juice from half of a plump lemon along with a couple strips of the lemon’s peel and a vanilla bean that I sliced in half and scraped out the seeds.

I slid the dish into a moderate oven and not-so-patiently waited for nearly an hour. Every once in a while I’d peer in on the fruit, watching as they loosened to the heat. The sugar turned liquid and then mingled with the released juices from the fruit and bubbled up into a sweet syrupy liquid. With each peering I’d give the mix a gentle stir.

It’s those bubbles that tell when the jam is done. They form around the edges of the pan and pop in a way that is relaxed and methodical. Their formation and burst slow as the juice turns more jam-like. When the bubbles looked a bit like honey and my patience could no longer hold out, I pulled the pan from the oven, while at the same time putting a piece of bread in the toaster to enjoy with the jam.

I keep whatever jam is left after our snack in a well-sealed jar in the fridge for about two weeks or go through the process of canning, so I can keep it through the winter. It’s a bit of a loose jam, but that’s really how I prefer it.

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Preserving Summer with Roasted Fruit Jams

roasted JamI thought I would; but suddenly, I don’t mind the touch of chill in the air, the softer, golden-tint to the light and the mention of pumpkins, apples and squash. Last week, I wasn’t ready for summer to end. I wasn’t ready for back-to-school shopping and admitting defeat on all the items yet to be crossed off the summer to-do list. But then it hit me, as it always does. Suddenly, the gray is like a comforting blanket—familiar and welcomed. 

But I know better to assume that I’ll always feel this way about the cold, gray skies. So I’m pre-empting the February woes and preserving the last bit of summer’s bounty and squirreling away a jar or two of pickles and jams. I’m not much of a canner, but this year I’ve found the ease of roasted jams, which has helped to alleviate any excuse  I have for not being able to save at least one jar of sweet, sticky summer fruit. The trick is trying to keep it around until the winter.

We’ve talked about the benefits of roasting here, but let’s refresh our memory. When food meets a hot oven, the results are nothing short of magic. Carrots unfurl an unprecedented sweetness as their skins curl and crisp under the heat, their moisture scatters and their natural sugars intensify. A roast of meat does the same—crisp edges, tender and juicy meat that practically bows down to the weight of the fork. And fruit is no different. The shock of dry heat causes the cut edges to deeply caramelize, most of the moisture evaporates and the sweetness already present in the fruit condenses and somehow turns whatever is roasting into its best self. Whatever you love about, say an apricot for example, is punctuated when that apricot spends an hour or so slowly roasting in an oven. In fact, it’s with apricots or even rhubarb that roasting is most magical. I find apricots eaten fresh to be a bit bland, one-note and just sort of blah. And rhubarb, well I don’t even attempt to gnaw on raw rhubarb. But after time spent in an oven, they become utterly transformed into a completely new taste—one of my favorite tastes, in fact.     

With my passion for roasting well established, I took that idea and turned it into jam—roasted jam. Not only does the fruit take on a deeply caramelized and well developed flavor when roasted, the process is actually quite a bit easier, as there is no need to stand over a hot pot stirring continually until the ache in your arm overshadows the joy of jam. In the summer, when the jam-making season is at its peak, I’d do just about anything to avoid standing over a hot stove. So, check out my recipe for roasted jam here.

Enjoy!

by Ashley Rodriguez
food blogger
www.notwithoutsalt.com