Monday, August 13, 2007

Farm News

It seems lately we get more inquiries and surprise when people learn that we grow garlic along with our other produce items. Although we had to set up irrigation several times this spring and summer for the garlic field, this season was sure a tough one for the garlic due to the region’s continued drought – and the lack of papery skin covering the cloves sure shows it.In the fall, we prepare our fields for planting. Garlic cloves are separated from the bulb and planted one at a time in rows or beds. We mulch the plantings with organic straw or hay to moderate the soil conditions. In spring, we pull back the mulch to allow plant growth without smothering. We weed, fertilize, weed, irrigate, weed, break off the flower top (garlic scape), and eventually hand harvest the entire plant. We lay out the garlic in one of the greenhouses to cure. We then clean off the dirt and outer skin, cut the stalk necks, and separate into quality grades. Some is saved for the coming fall to plant for next year’s crop. Most are stored for baskets and sales. And the farm chef uses the heads that come apart when cleaning in our crew lunches. One reason many farms do not attempt a garlic crop is the commitment it takes: your crop field is tied up for 9 months including over the winter, which makes it difficult to get a cover crop in; weed management is necessary at several points during the growth cycle and entails much hand weeding work; and although all of your effort is required up front, you don’t know what you have until you harvest. But, we enjoy fresh garlic as a companion to many other veggies, so it is well worth the work!

In Your Basket

Spaghetti Squash – new this week!
This orange-skinned variety of spaghetti squash is a fun treat for those new to it. Oven roast or boil in water for about 45 minutes until fork tender, or the outer skin cracks. Once cooled, cut in half length-wise and remove seeds. Using a fork, scrape the strands of squash onto a bowl or plate separating into pasta-like strands. Serve with butter, olive oil, or sauce. Store your spaghetti squash in a cool, dry place (not refrigerated) for up to a month or more.

Sweet Basil – organic-new this week!
We harvest mostly the top leaves of our basil in order to lessen the stems you have to deal with. We have found that keeping the basil in a double container allows you to store it in the refrigerator without the leaves turning dark. Put your sealed plastic bag into another sealed bag or a Tupperware-type sealed container. The pocket of air helps to buffer the cold air from the leaf surface of your basil. To dry, lay out in a single layer at room temperature.Find a basil pesto recipe below using your basil and garlic. Serve over your spaghetti squash for a filling, fresh meal.

Hard Neck Garlic – organic
This is our fourth variety of garlic we produced this year. It should store for you longer than other types, but you should have more later on also.

Swiss Chard – organic
Sometimes it seems we just crave the taste of a leafy green. Your rainbow Swiss chard is holding up well in the heat and can be sautéed with a little olive oil and garlic for an easy side dish.

Green Beans– organic
These stringless green beans do not take a lot of time in preparation for cooking. Just snap the ends, if desired, and blanch, steam, or sauté for fresh and crisp bean flavor. These small, tender beans are often referred to as haricot vertes and desired by chefs for their flavor, color and versatility.

Summer Squash
Enjoy steamed, grilled, oven roasted, or stuffed. Find a recipe below.

This late cucumber planting is a new variety that you have not seen yet this season. It has a little thicker skin that you may want to peel. It will also keep longer for you refrigerated.

Your eggplant this week is a traditional shaped variety. You may have heard of peeling and slicing your eggplant, salting the slices and laying out on paper towels to drain out any bitter flavor. Usually a farm-fresh eggplant will not have bitterness, but if you store it for a week or more, the salting step might enhance the texture when ready to prepare it. It is best stored refrigerated.

EXTRA Basket:
Hot Peppers
Jalapeño, Serrano, Hot Banana and Poblano hot peppers to choose from this week.

Roma Tomatoes – organic
We intentionally have fewer tomatoes ready this time of the year. Our experience shows that most home gardens, neighbors’ or relatives’ gardens, and all farmers markets offer an abundance of tomatoes during the dog days of August. We don’t want to overload you and take away from the other seasonal items ready for your baskets. We have plenty on hand though, so we offer them as an extra to add to your baskets this week. The roma is best for sauce, salsa, pizza topping, oven drying, roasting, and mighty tasty for fresh eating as well!

Recipes to Enjoy

Grilled Summer Squash Salad
recipe from Harmony Valley Farm Kitchen

2 summer squash, halved lengthwise
1 T balsamic vinegar
2 T olive oil
2 T Parmesan grated
2 T fresh finely chopped herbs of your liking
1 T green onion, chopped

Lightly oil squash and place on medium hot grill, cooking all sides until tender. (Browning will occur but avoid burning.) Remove from grill and allow to cool. Dice into bite-sized pieces. In bowl, mix remaining ingredients and toss with squash to coat. Serve cooled.

Easy Pesto Sauce

1 ½ C lightly packed fresh basil leaves (approx. 3 ounces)
2 minced garlic cloves
3 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
¼ C olive oil
Puree all ingredients in food processor, adding more olive oil if necessary for proper blending. Serve tossed with fresh hot pasta, and topped with grated Parmesan cheese. (If desired, pine nuts or walnuts can be added during processing).

Baba Ganoush - Eggplant Dip

1 ½ pound eggplant
olive oil
¼ C tahini
¼ C juice of fresh lemon
½ tsp salt
2 cloves fresh garlic

Slice eggplant lengthwise in half. Roast face down in olive oil in baking dish in oven for 20 - 30 minutes at 350 degrees until soft. Scoop cooked eggplant out away from skin with spoon. Process with tahini, lemon juice, salt, and garlic until well mixed. Serve at room temperature as dip for fresh vegetables or wedges of pita bread.

Roasted Tomato Basil Pesto
recipe adapted from Seed Savers Calendar, 1998

2 tomatoes, pre-roasted
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled, halved
3 T pine nuts
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 C fresh whole basil leaves
½ C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 T butter, softened
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine tomatoes, garlic, pine nuts, and oil in a processor until combined. Add a handful of basil and process briefly. Continue until all basil is combined. Stir in the cheese and butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Use on pasta, on pizzas, over grilled vegetables, or on a sandwich or wrap.