Monday, July 7, 2008

Saving Our Seeds

CSA, Week 9

With so much discussion around us on worldwide climate change, it is no surprise that some folks are putting big bucks into thinking about the future of mankind on the planet, especially relating to our food production and the seeds necessary to grow crops.

In an isolated sea, near the Arctic Ocean, a cave has been carved out of a moun-tain on Spitsburgen Island, one in a chain of islands belonging to the country of Norway. In a partnership with several seed giant companies, the government of Norway, and other foundations, Bill Gates has invested over $30 million to create a protected seed vault. It will house over three million varieties of seeds to “conserve crop diversity for the future.” The odd partnership of seed companies who hold patents on GMO seed and private foundations who work to protect trad-itional seed saving in third-world African nations is curious. The irony comes to light when we realize the companies who hold patents on “terminator genes” (when inserted in a seed, the plant only grows one season and cannot reproduce itself requiring the grower to purchase new seed each year) are the same companies investing in a seed depository to protect our food supply for the future. Another confounding issue about GMO genes in plants is that once plants are out in the countryside, they cross-pollinate with native plants, resulting in new, non-native species.

The huge seed vault in the frozen north may be of vital interest in the future to researchers, plant breeders, food growers, and even policymakers as we learn more about food growing around the world.

In Your Share . . .
As always, items in your share may vary depending on your harvest day and share size. Each item below may not be ready for harvest every day and may not be in each share.

Sweet Basil – organic – new this week!
So far you have had fresh cilantro and fennel leaf to use as cut herbs. Find a nice bunch of Sweet Basil in your share this week. Make a quick pesto to enjoy as a sauce for pasta, to lightly sauté your squashes, for a sandwich spread, or to pop in the freezer for use later in the year. Fresh basil also is a great companion for sliced tomatoes and mozzarella drizzled with your favorite dressing.

Beets – organic
The beets are really enjoying our weather patterns these days and are some of the best tasting we have had from the farm. Use the leaves as you would spinach, chard, or other greens – they pack a punch with Vit. C, calcium and iron.
With loads of natural sugar, beets will sweeten significantly when oven-roasted in foil; you owe it to yourself to try them again if you haven’t since childhood. They can also be pickled, boiled, baked, or added to soups. Leave some stem when remov-ing the leaves to lessen the bleeding of the beet. Peeling after cooking is easier; make sure they are cooled first.

Broccoli – organic
Our last broccoli planting for spring harvest is now coming on ready to go. The organic varieties come from European types. They are not as dense or domelike heads that we are used to seeing in our California super-market broccoli. The color also varies from a bluish-green to more of a sea-green. Use as you would any broccoli, and be sure to wash carefully. If you plan to eat it raw, you can soak the heads a little bit in light soapy water to remove any loopers. They are very difficult to control in cole crops (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower) this late in the season. Find a recipe below.

Cauliflower - organic


Eggplant – new this week!
A late edition to your share, find a dark purple or black globe eggplant. Store refrigerated before using. We’ll include a recipe or two next time!

Fresh Cooking Onion – organic–new this week!
Some of the onions harvested this week are included in your share now (as a fresh onion) rather than later after they have cured and dried for longer storage. Keep refrigerated, as you would green onions and use soon. There may be a smallish core in the center of some of them. It is perfectly edible, just a little tough, and can be removed if desired. This core development is why we choose to eat these onions fresh now rather than letting them cure for later use. There are over 70 varie-ties of items in the onion family grown in our region including onion, scallion, shallot, leek, and garlic. Some are so similar, and others have different flavor, so consider interchanging them in recipes; don’t be afraid to experiment a little.

Fresh Green Onion - organic
These green onions should be stored in the refrigerator and you can use as much of the green part as you desire. Along with a fresh herb, it makes a nice pesto.

Yellow Squash

Summer Squash Medley
This week’s share has a little of several types of summer squash: yellow straight-neck, green zucchini, round eight-ball zucchini, and the scalloped edge patty-pan squashes in varied colors. Use all in any squash recipe, keeping in mind that zucchini contains a little more water than squashes. The patty pans hold their shape and are nice to oven-roast whole or use in kabobs on the grill. Sauté all of it with olive oil or butter or in your pesto!

Green Tomatoes – new this week!
Have you had fried green tomatoes lately? You can make your own batter, use a fish batter, or even try an oven-baked recipe. Serve with dipping sauce or Worstershire; or use as the tomato layer on sandwiches.

Red Slicing Tomato – new this week!
We are beginning to harvest our field grown red tomatoes. Some may need to ripen a little more in your kitchen before using.

Zucchini Squash

Heirloom Tomato – organic – new this week!
More explanation on varieties another week, but know that the heirlooms offer the most intense and wonderful flavor, have a thinner skin and are delicate to handle, will ripen quicker than hybrids, and come in all shapes and sizes. These are best for eating fresh.

Yellow Slicing Tomato – organic – new this week!
This yellow tomato has less acid than red tomatoes and is best used fresh rather than in sauces.

Recipes to Enjoy . . .

Easy Basil Pesto Sauce
this recipe is very forgiving and can be adjusted for more or less basil, depending what you have on hand – be sure to remove the stems

1 ½ C lightly packed fresh basil leaves (approx. 3 ounces)
2 minced garlic cloves (try using finely chopped scapes)
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).

Broccoli with Orange Sauce

this recipe shared by a friend of the farm, from Virginia Celebrates

1 lb fresh broccoli
¼ C water
1 navel orange, peeled and sectioned or 1 small can mandarin oranges, drained

Cut broccoli florets off stems. Put in microwave casserole, add water, cover and cook on high for 3 minutes. Add orange sections to broccoli and microwave for additional 2-2 ½ minutes. Let stand, covered, until ready to serve.

Orange Sauce – pour over broccoli and orange sections when ready to serve
1/3 C orange juice
½ T sugar
½ T cornstarch
dash of ginger

Measure orange juice into glass measuring cup. Add sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Microwave this mixture on high until thickened, about 1 ½ minutes.

Summer Squash Casserole

from Southern Living Magazine, May 2008 thanks to a CSA member for recommending this good veggie casserole

1 ½ pound yellow squash
1 pound zucchini
1 small sweet onion, chopped
2 ½ tsp salt, divided
1 C grated carrots
1 (10 ¾ oz) can cream of chicken soup
1 (8 oz) container sour cream
1 (8 oz) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 (8 oz) package herb-seasoned stuffing
½ C butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut squash and zucchini into ¼ inch thick slices; place in a Dutch oven. Add chopped onion, 2 tsp salt, and water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook 5 minutes; drain well.
Stir together 1 C grated carrots, next 3 ingredients, and remaining ½ tsp salt in a large bowl; fold in squash mixture. Stir together stuffing and ½ C melted butter, and spoon half of stuffing mixture in bottom of a lightly greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Spoon squash mixture over stuffing mixture, and top with remaining stuffing mixture.
Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown, shielding with aluminum foil after 20 to 25 minutes to prevent excessive browning, if necessary. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.