Monday, July 21, 2008

CSA, Week 11

News from the farm . . .
This week brings the halfway point in the season. It really seems like the first half has flown by from the farm perspective. We all seem to stay so busy this time of year – still planting for fall while cultivating and harvesting all the summer crops also. Lots of things are ready to harvest and the challenge is to not give you too much food in your share that may go to waste. We try to stick with the most requested items of corn, beans, tomatoes, peppers right now and will add in more specialty items as the season moves on. We are starting to see the soil and some plants drying as the hot wind and high temperature take a toll; so far the pop-up rains have missed us. We are pleased to have the irrigation set up on most crops we harvest right now and will keep you posted on how moisture affects the veggies. July is one of the driest months in our region, so this type of weather is not unexpected.

In your share . . .

As harvest days and share sizes vary, each share may not have each item listed; and smaller shares may not have the same items as larger shares.

Broccoli – organic

Green Beans - organic - new this week!
This week’s harvest brings the first green snap beans of the year. Just snip the ends and break into bite-sized pieces before putting on the stove to cook in some water. Simmer until beans are tender and cooked through. Be sure to add enough water to not let your pan get dry and burn your beans (and your pan!). Popular seasonings are just one of the following items: onion, bell pepper, hot pepper, pork fat, bacon grease, or just salt and black pepper. Store your beans refrigerated until ready to prepare.

Bell Pepper – organic – new this week!
This week’s harvest also includes the first mild bell peppers – either a green bell or the lavender sweet bell. Either one should be stored refrigerated and can be used in any recipe calling for a green bell, red bell, or mild bell pepper. The sweet red and yellow bells do not ripen locally until later in August.

Sweet Corn
The white kernel sweet corn continues to be ready for harvest. Enjoy this freshly boiled, grilled, or add to your freezer for a nice winter treat!

Eggplant is low in calories, high in fiber, and is often prepared with other foods. It tastes best fresh and will store for up to a week refrigerated. It can be peeled, but is not necessary. Depending on your recipe, eggplant slices can be salted while sitting in a colander or out on paper towels to remove excess moisture. This prevents the taking up of extra oil and salt in your recipe. You can steam, sauté, or bake.

Specialty Melon – new this week!
We have only a few types of melons in an early planting that are ready to harvest. The bright yellow skin one is a Canary melon with a greenish interior similar to a honeydew-type. The one with orangey color is a Sensation melon having a whitish interior, cousin to a cantaloupe. Chefs and food publications often refer to these varieties as “dessert melons.”

Sweet Mild Onion – organic
This week’s sweet onion is the Walla Walla variety. We start organic seeds in our greenhouse in the fall; transplant the slow growing onion plants out to over winter in the field. Once they grow large enough in the spring, we harvest, cut the tops, arrange in a forced air-drying system, and then store in our cooler. The sweet onions will keep for a little while in your refrigerator, but should be used within a month or so. Later on, we will have some storage type onion that can be kept longer. People often ask why more farms don’t grow onions in our area. Our growing season in KY is not as long as places south like Georgia; there is a long commitment of your fields; and it is a challenge to dry them properly in such high humidity. The sweet onion is known for many health benefits, and anti-oxidants are higher when raw before cooking. Store refrigerated if possible.

Flat Leaf Parsley – organic – new this week!
This fresh cut herb can be stored refrigerated, either in a sealed container with a paper towel to absorb moisture, or standing the ends in a jar of water, then covering loosely with plastic wrap. When using the flat-leaf (or Italian) parsley, realize that 1 T fresh is equivalent to 1 tsp dried in your recipes.

You can dry your fresh bunch by lying out on a flat pan in the oven at the lowest setting, or put into a paper bag and air dry. Store away from heat and light in a sealed jar and crush before using.To freeze, rinse, remove the stems, and chop coarsely. Put about 1 T into each cell of an ice tray, add a little water to each cell, and put into the freezer. Remove when frozen and store in a sealed container. Later when using, the water will evaporate when cooking.

Summer Squash Medley
Enjoy a summer squash medley this week. The round or scalloped edge patty pans will hold their shape and are nice to oven-roast whole or use in kabobs on the grill. Sauté all of it in oil or butter with fresh parsley!

Heirloom Slicing Tomato and Heirloom Salad Tomatoes – organic
Several varieties of red, black, gold, and plum heirloom tomatoes are mixed in your share this week. They make a nice snack for the kids, can be used with dips, or added to a pasta, lettuce or marinated salad.

Red Slicing Tomato - organic

Purple Topped Turnips – organic
We are told the turnip is making a comeback! It is a very popular item at our farmers market booth. Offering nutrition, good storability, and acting as a nice complement to other vegetables, purple-topped turnips are nice to have in your crisper. It is believed they prevent cancer, and are a good source of Vit. C, potassium, and calcium. Enjoy raw or cooked.

Recipes to enjoy . . .

Braised Turnips with Poppy-Seed Bread Crumbs
recipe from February 2008 Gourmet

3 T unsalted butter
2 lb medium turnips, peeled, cut into 1” thick wedges
1 ½ C water
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 C fine fresh bread crumbs from a baguette
1 T poppy seeds
1 T chopped flat-leaf parsley

Melt butter in a 12” heavy skillet over medium heat, then add turnips, water, lemon juice, and ½ tsp salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 30 minutes. Increase heat to medium and stir turnips, then briskly simmer, uncovered, until all of liquid has evaporated and turnips are glazed and just tender, 20 to 35 minutes (they should be cooked through but still retain their shape).

While turnips cook, heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat until it simmers, then cook garlic, stirring, until pale golden, about 1 minute. Add bread crumbs and poppy seeds and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in parsley and salt to taste. Just before serving, sprinkle bread crumbs over turnips.

Note: Turnips can be braised 1 day ahead and chilled, uncovered, until cool, then covered. Reheat with a little water before serving. Bread-crumb mixture, without parsley, can be made 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature. Stir in parsley before using.

Excellent Parsley Salad

adapted from a recipe from From Asparagus to Zucchini

Fresh parsley
Very thinly sliced onion

Chopped hard-cooked eggs
Cooked chick-peas or other beans
Garlic chives (optional)
Olive oil
Fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Clean and cut up lots of parsley, as much as you have on hand. Combine with onion, egg, chick-peas, and chives, if using. Shake oil and lemon juice together (2 parts oil to 1 part lemon juice). Toss salad with dressing, salt and lots of pepper. Makes any number of servings.

Parmesan-Stuffed Tomatoes
recipe shared by a friend of the farm

4 medium tomatoes (2 ½ lbs)
3 tbsp chopped green onions
2 tbsp chopped green pepper
1 tsp butter, melted
¼ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/8 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
1/8 tsp pepper
cooking spray
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese

1. Slice off top of each tomato and carefully scoop out pulp. Set tomato shells and pulp aside.
2. Cook onions and green pepper in butter in large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until tender.
3. Remove from heat and stir in tomato pulp, breadcrumbs, and next 4 ingredients.
4. Spoon into shells and place in 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray.
5. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
6. Sprinkle with cheese and broil 5 inches from heat for about 3 minutes.