Monday, August 25, 2008

Week 16, CSA News

News from the Farm
We do need to give you a more detailed picture of the dry conditions we are facing now at the farm. Although discussions of rainfall are bantered about, we have not had close to the average amount for this August. In fact, it is on track to be one of the four or five most dry Augusts since they started keeping records in this area. Last season’s summer drought finally had a little bit of reprieve beginning in August 2007 – this year we are experiencing the opposite: spring and early summer rains as expected, but hot and dry for the past 6 weeks. Maybe this week will bring rain.

Several of the bean crops reflect the dry conditions. Only 15% of the edamame was harvestable as it dried up over a three day period last week – we planned on more for you this week also. The snap and runner beans have shucky pods, and while edible, are not the quality desired. Once the pod is set and the beans begin to fill out, irrigation cannot battle against the hot, dry air conditions and high humidity. We do have several dry bean varieties planted that we hope can be harvested in the next few weeks. Since they will be shelled out, the dry pod is not as big of a problem as with a snap bean.

We are continuing irrigation on most summer vegetables, including the tomatoes, squashes, and eggplant. The night temperatures into the 50s in early August did slow some ripening and plant growth on the current crops. However, fall tomatoes and cucumbers look good and should set fruit in September. We have been running the irrigation pump nonstop the last 9-10 days to support successful germination of the fall greens and root veggies. A good rainfall this week is needed to get them off to a good start and help the transplants get established. We also set up an overhead irrigation gun in order to dig potatoes. The late sweet corn is dependent on rain this week to get a harvestable crop.

We are using forks and shovels to dig the root crops, and are pleased their growth has continued. One benefit of dry conditions is that natural sugars are concentrated resulting in a sweeter fruit or vegetable.

In Your Share
Share contents may vary depending on the harvest day and share size. Every share may not have every item listed below.

Beets, Red – organic
You may want to use your beet greens fairly soon, but the roots will store for several weeks if desired. Recent news stories are reporting on the exceptional health benefits of beets with loads of anti-oxidants and few calories. Find a new recipe below using the whole beet.

Carrots, Golden – organic
This week’s carrots offer a little more sweetness than earlier plantings due to dry soil conditions. High in beta carotene and Vit. A, carrots can be eaten raw or cooked. A small thin fresh carrot should be eaten soon and will not store as long as the thick types.

Hard Neck Garlic – organic

Leeks – organic – new this week!
Another vegetable full of minerals (calcium and phosphorus) and Vit. A, leeks are low in calories. Use the lower green part along with the white stalk and be sure to wash well as soil may hide inside the fan leaves. Slice lengthwise if desired rather than across. Leeks often partner with potatoes in soups or in egg dishes. Store refrigerated up to 2 weeks or more. Find a new recipe below.

Okra - organic

Sweet Onion – organic

Bell Pepper, Sweet – organic
Some green peppers will turn red, some yellow, some orange depending on what variety is planted. As it turns color, the flavor is less tart and sweeter. The long time it takes to do this & the halting of growth of more peppers by the plant are some reasons why sweet color bells are so costly. The purple and chocolate bells grow as such colors and will be sweet, but not as sweet as a yellow, orange, or red pepper that started out green. You can use the different color peppers interchangeably in recipes calling for green bell or red bell. Store refrigerated.

Pepper, Hot - organic
We are finding that many of the long red chiles are just not that hot right now. However, the variety usually is medium heat, so don’t assume they all are sweet like bell peppers. The green chiles do have heat.

Potatoes – organic
This week’s potato is the Rote Erstling variety, a creamy mid-dry potato. The rosy skin covers a yellowy gold flesh that can be used for all purposes, however, it is best when steamed, baked or in creamy soups.

Spaghetti Squash – new this week!
Store this hard-skinned squash in a cool, dry place with good ventilation (does not need to be refrigerated). It will keep for a month or more. This yellowy-orange squash will have flesh similar to spaghetti pasta once cooked. Find details on preparing below. Once baked, you can serve with butter, or pesto, or any favorite sauce.

Red or Heirloom Slicing or Salad Tomato – organic

Yellow Squash and Green Zucchini

Watermelon, Seedless – new this week!

For those picking up at the farm this week --
Specialty Melon, the variety a mystery . . .
Help in a farm research project with the University of Kentucky and Elmwood. Several different melons are planted in a trial that measures both production qualities such as disease resistance and yield, and marketability qualities such as flavor, taste and storage attributes. If you want to give us feedback on your melon, just send an email describing the rind outside color, flesh color inside, and size (like a grapefruit or a softball, bigger than our watermelon this week, looks just like a traditional cantaloupe). We can identify it from there. Share your comments on taste and flavor -- positive or not. So far we have a favorite or two, and a couple of so-so’s, but we welcome your opinions too.

Recipes to Enjoy

Spaghetti Squash with Sausage
adapted from recipe originally in Bon Appetite, Sept 1998; can be adjusted for different size squashes, this recipe makes 4 servings.

1 spaghetti squash (3-4 lb), halved lengthwise, seeded
1 pound sausage (spicy or sweet, or use ground beef, or ground turkey; use mushrooms or eggplant rather than meat if desired)
1 C chopped bell pepper
1 C chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1½ C marinara sauce
½ C grated Parmesan cheese

Place squash halves face down in ovenproof baking dish, add a little water to keep from sticking and bake at 375 F for 45-60 minutes until done.

Meanwhile, sauté sausage, pepper, onion and garlic in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until sausage browns and vegetables are tender, breaking up sausage with back of spoon, about 12 minutes. Mix in marinara sauce.
Using fork, pull out squash strands from shells. Mix squash strands into sausage mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover; refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange mixture in ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake uncovered until heated through, about 20-25 minutes (30 minutes if previously chilled).
Original recipe suggested putting mixture back into squash shells before baking which makes for a nice presentation, but usually they tend to fall apart.

Two Way Street Beets
Recipe from From Asparagus to Zucchini; can be easily adjusted for smaller number of servings.

2 bunches small beets
juice of 1 orange
1 T butter, softened
1 tsp peanut oil
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1 tsp hot chili oil
1-2 T soy sauce

Cut beets off stems. Gently scrub beets. Wash the greens. Cut stems into 3 inch pieces and coarsely chop the greens; set aside stems and greens in separate piles. Steam beets until tender, 20 –30 minutes. Cool briefly, slip off skins, and cut into wedges. Toss with orange juice, butter and pepper to taste; cover and keep warm. Meanwhile, heat heavy skillet over medium flame. Add oils. Add stems; sauté 2-3 minutes. Add greens; cook, tossing often, until limp. Toss in soy sauce and pepper to taste. Arrange beets over greens on platter. Makes 6 servings.

Savory Goat Cheese Tart with Leeks
From Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors

1 9-inch prebaked Tart Shell
6 slender leeks (or less larger ones)
1 T unsalted butter
6 ounces goat cheese
1 large egg
½ C crème fraiche
½ C milk
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tsp chopped thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 400 F. keep the prebaked tart shell on its baking dish. Slice the leeks into thin rounds, separate them, and wash them well in a bowl of water. Lift them into a strainer. Melt the butter in a medium skillet, add the leeks with any water clinging to them, and cook over medium heat until tender, 10-12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Beat the goat cheese with the egg until fairly smooth, then stir in the milk, crème fraiche, pinch of salt, and a little pepper. Pour the custard into the shell and bake until golden and puffed, about 30 minutes. Scatter the thyme leaves over the top. Remove the tart from the pan and transfer to a serving platter. Serve warm.

Double Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Recipe from From Asparagus to Zucchini

¾ C oil
1 ¼ C sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 C grated zucchini
½ C sour milk or buttermilk
3 T cocoa
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp each cinnamon and cloves
2 ½ C flour
small bag of chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees F; grease a 9 x 13 inch pan. Mix all ingredients and bake 30-35 minutes. Makes 16 servings.