Monday, August 3, 2009

CSA News Week 13

In Your Share . . .
Items may vary depending on your share size and day of harvest. Each share may not have each item listed below.

Celery – organic
We are excited to have the celery ready for harvest this week – its fresh vibrant taste puts to shame the more bland supermarket celery that has traveled cross-country to reach us in Kentucky. West coast celery plants are hilled with soil, blanching the stalks white, while local celery is grown without the hilling – it results in a more green and flavorful vegetable. Taste it when preparing to realize you may not need as much in some recipes to get an excellent flavorful result. It really adds to tuna, egg, or chicken salads when used raw – use the more tender inner stalks, and save the outer stalks for your cooked recipes, oven roasted with meats, braised as a side dish (see Joy of Cooking), or cream of celery soup (see the index at right, 8-27-07, for wonderful soup recipe). Leaves can be chopped for use as a fresh herb (see the herb dressing recipe below). Store refrigerated and it will keep for up to two weeks.

Swiss Chard – organic
The Rainbow Swiss Chard is still yummy this time of the year. Use as you would spinach in quiches, pies, lasagna, for wraps, or in soups. You can also sauté with your fresh onions for a quick and easy side dish.

Several new types of eggplant are ready this week along with the traditional type. Larger shares may have a solid white or purple and white stripe. Store and prepare as you would the dark purple eggplant. Large eggplant will store up to a week, smaller ones less time.

Fresh Herb Bundle – Rosemary, Sage, and Thyme – organic
Store refrigerated or in a water vase like flowers to keep fresh. Can be left out at room temperature to dry (put inside paper bag to keep herb leaves dust-free).

Specialty Melon
We have several varieties ready for harvest right now. Two are Pixie and Sensation. They both will not be as dark orange as commercial cantaloupes and have a thinner rind. You may have cracking at one end (which in a drier season indicates perfect ripeness for these types of melons, and actually ones with cracks are the first choice of restaurant chefs who realize the difference). Sometimes cracking is caused by lots of rain where the fruit retains its moisture and the inside of the melon grows faster than the outside skin. Store refrigerated.

We have a greenish melon ready for harvest right now called Napoli. Although similar in appearance to a honeydew this is an Asian melon with a different flavor – it also can keep several days for you before using unlike some types of cantaloupe. The Asian melons also experience the cracking indicating either sweetness or possibly due to the fast absorption of water. Also store refrigerated after cutting.

Sweet Onions – organic
The sweet onions do not store for you as long as regular yellow onions. And, with this season’s rain, onions will store even less time than last year. This means you should use them within two to three weeks rather than storing them for fall or winter use. You can store in your pantry or on the counter, but once cut, store refrigerated.

Green Bell Pepper
It’s the season for stuffed peppers – find a new recipe below. Peppers have high nutrition in Vits. A, C & E.

Potatoes – organic
This week’s potato is the red skinned, white flesh variety called Sangre, a little larger size potatoes than last week. You can use as a baking potato, or for most all purposes as they will hold their shape. Remember to store organic potatoes refrigerated and covered from light to prevent the skins from greening.

Radishes – organic
Your handful of summer radishes can be enjoyed raw or cooked. Thinly slice and add to a sandwich or wrap or salad. To cook, cube and oven roast with potatoes or other root vegetables, add to a stir-fry, or steam and enjoy with an Asian style vinegar-soy-sesame dressing. When cooked, the radish loses a little of its bite.
Store refrigerated.

Tomatoes, Red – organic
You may have seen or heard a recent news story about the presence of late blight in this area – including Kentucky. We are experiencing early blight on some of the tomatoes, which kills the plant, leaves and exposes the fruit to the potential of sunburn. If late blight settles in, we will lose the entire plant including all fruit within a matter of days. There are fungicides to try to combat, but not any we would want to use and not any for organic production. So far, no late blight found close by – let’s hope it misses us this season!

The dark green melons should have a red flesh and are said to be seed-less. Seedless melons will have small white seeds that are edible and from time to time they will have regular black seeds like a traditional watermelon. The striped skin melons have a yellow flesh, and you should have one or the other. Some of this season’s melons may have a little hollow spot in the middle – we see this more in rainy years.

Recipes to Enjoy . . .

Braised Celery with Vermouth-Butter Glaze
Recipe from Perfect Vegetables, a best recipe classic authored by editors of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine

½ C dry vermouth
3 T unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp celery seeds
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 head celery, leaves trimmed and reserved; stalks separated, rinsed, and outer fibers removed with a vegetable peeler; each stalk halved lengthwise and cut on the bias into 2 inch lengths
2 T minced celery leaves
2 T minced fresh parsley leaves (optional)

Bring 1 C water, the vermouth, butter, salt, celery seeds, pepper, and celery to a boil in a medium sauté pan. The liquid should come about three quarters of the way up the celery pieces. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer, stirring several times, until the celery is tender but not mushy, 15 to 20 minutes. Uncover and stir in the celery leaves. Continue to simmer until the broth reduces to a light glaze, 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley, if using, adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4.

Stuffed Peppers
Recipe from From Asparagus to Zucchini, makes 8-9 peppers; double, halve or quarter ingredients depending on how many or few peppers you want to stuff

Your favorite oil for sautéing
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 onions, chopped
3 C raw brown rice6 C water, chicken or vegetable stock (or tomato juice½ tsp allspice
½ C almonds, chopped
1 C chopped tomatoes
¾ pound cheese, cheddar (or your favorite), grated
salt and pepper
8-9 large peppers, tops cut off, seeds removed

Heat oil in large skillet, add and sauté garlic and onions. Add rice and brown about 5 minutes. Add desired liquid and allspice. Cover and cook until rice id done, about 40 minutes. Toast almonds in dry skillet or hot oven several minutes, tossing often. Stir in tomatoes, cheese, almonds, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook peppers in boiling water 2 minutes. Drain and stuff peppers with rice mixture. (Can be frozen at this stage). Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Fresh Herb Vinaigrette
Adapted from a Sally Fallon recipe. Use this all-purpose vinaigrette as a salad dressing for lettuces, bean salads, potato salads, or as a marinade for grilled vegetables.

1 tsp Dijon-type mustard
½ tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 T + 1 tsp red wine vinegar
½ C olive oil
½ tsp fresh thyme
½ tsp fresh rosemary
½ tsp fresh sage
1 tsp fresh parsley or basil or celery leaf

Chop all herbs until fine, either by hand or in food processor. In smallish bowl, whisk together mustard, salt, pepper, and vinegar. Pour in oil and whisk until combined. Add chopped herbs, makes about ¾ cup. Store in a jar or bottle in refrigerator up to 2 weeks, bring to room temperature to allow oil to reblend, and shake when ready to use.