Monday, July 19, 2010

CSA News, Week 11

From the Farm . . .

With this being the eleventh week of our harvest and distribution for the summer season, you are halfway through the 22 weeks. Compared to other recent growing seasons, this first half has been as good as one could ask with plenty of sunshine, rainfall, and mostly healthy plants. We are seeing things ripening earlier than ever, plants growing faster then normal due to long hot days. High temperatures during the night increase plant growth as well. Some plants are not setting very many blooms due to the high heat resulting in not enough harvestable fruits (specialty peppers and green beans come to mind).

As is necessary when attempting to grow vegetables, we run irrigation to many of the crops which requires monitoring on the amount of water the plants receive, switching from one block of rows to the next after the appropriate amount of time, cleaning filters, and trying to not let the pipes and water lines get run over with the mower. We have only had to irrigate a couple of fields with the overhead traveling gun irrigator in order to get seeds to germinate on some of your later season root crops; we are seeding some of the fall crops in the greenhouse as transplants are a better way to ensure plant viability and establishment - just much more time consuming and costly to produce than direct seeding. But, we can get a head start on the weeds and a larger plant can better protect itself against strong predatory insect populations or wind-blown plant diseases that are both prevalent this time of the summer.

Everyone is putting in long days right now with all of the harvesting and a little planting and weeding. We are well fed at noon each day, and we appreciate knowing that the items we grow are being eaten and enjoyed by lots of you – thank you for your feedback in the email comments and conversations from time to time at the farmers markets.

NOTE: If you are interested in a box of “canning” tomatoes to can, make salsa, put into the freezer, tomato juice, etc. please let us know soon. We have the #2 tomatoes with nicks, cracks, and a spot here or there that we can make ready for you. You will want to get them right before you are ready to process, so call or email and we can set you up.

In Your Share . . .
Items in the shares may vary depending on your share size and harvest day. Each share may not have every item listed below.

Blackberries – organic
The berries are very ripe and ready to enjoy either with your breakfast, for a snack, or possibly in a cobbler tonight! Store refrigerated and rinse prior to eating.

To freeze, wash and let dry on a paper towel. Lay out on a baking sheet and put the entire pan in your freezer. Once the berries are frozen, gather them up into a container or bag – later on you can remove only the amount you need as they are individually frozen rather than in one mass.

Cauliflower - organic
The last few heads of the season, remove the outer leaves, obviously sunburned by the hot temperatures. Refrigerate until ready to use, and as we told you before – the creamy color is from sunshine and high heat, fall cauliflower will be whiter when the days and nights are cooler.

Sweet Corn



We have several varieties of melons planted, and they seem to be ripening a little at a time. Today’s harvest includes Pixie, Sugar Baby, and Napoli – some similar to canteloupes others are water melons. Flavor is tasty, but not as sweet as a really dry year (the wonderful rainfall over the past week directly affects melon sweetness).

Red Onion - organic

Green Bell Pepper

Raspberries – organic
Store refrigerated and rinse prior to eating. We should tell you that the red raspberries grown at Elmwood are the fall-bearing varieties. We expect them to begin production late August and continue until frost. This hot year, we see that some berry plants have already begun ripening – not having seen this before, we do not know if the plants will continue the rest of the summer, or stop early since they started early. For now, enjoy and we’ll keep you posted on production.

Retono de Repollo – organic
A new item this year, you can prepare as you might Brussel Sprouts or cooked cabbage. These baby cabbage heads are tender and sweet – find a recipe below.

Tomatoes, Red Slicing - organic
We really sorted through our red tomatoes to try to only include good ones in the shares. With the early blight set into the plants, the leaves have shriveled up resulting in more of the tomatoes being exposed to the sun. This causes sunburn and uneven ripening, both of which result in tomatoes with yellowng, or that will be whitish and unripe inside. We tried to cull those out during our harvest, and find that most of the better quality tomatoes are just not super ripe and ready to eat today. We did inlcude those as they will be really nice tomatoes, but be sure to let them ripen out at room temperature for a day or two prior to use. Try to not ever store your tomatoes in the refrigerator if possible.

Tomatoes, Heirloom – organic
Your share includes some more of the small salad varieties: Tigrella and BlackPlum. Also find some of the sweetest tomatoes on the farm – Sungold. And one or two of the large heirloom slicing tomatoes – varieties right now include Cherokee Purple, Pink Rose, or Arkansas Traveler. These are all quite fragile and will ripen up for you. In general they have less acidity than red tomatoes, wonderful flavor, and often will become your favorite for just slicing and eating.

Stringless Green Beans
We have a handful ready today though many of the beans are still flowering and just producing tiny little beans, another week or so before the full bean set is ready to harvest. These stringless snap beans only need the ends removed, then either use whole or break into bite sized pieces prior to cooking. Refrigerate to store.

Recipes to Enjoy . . .

Summer Panzanella
Thanks to a CSA member for sharing one of her favorite summer recipes. Found on Smittenkitchen dot com, she says, “I leave out the capers, I like the beer bread from Liquor Barn, and I usually use apple cider vinegar instead of champagne vinegar. It’s really good!”

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (I like to use a combination of purple or yellow or orange, to nicely colorize the dish)
1/2 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained

For the vinaigrette :
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/3 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

2. For the vinaigrette, whisk together the ingredients.

3. In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

4. Serve immediately, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Green Bean Pate’

½ lb fresh green beans, trimmed
1 T oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
3 hard boiled eggs
3 TBS finely chopped basil
1 tsp lemon rind
Seasoned salt and pepper

Cook beans until tender by boiling or steaming them. In skillet, heat oil. Add onion and sauté until softened. Cool.

In a food processor grind green beans, eggs, onions, lemon rind and basil until roughly pureed. Remove from bowl and add enough mayo to hold mixture together. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Chill and serve with Melba toast or crackers.

Cucumber Salad

3 medium cucumbers
1 tsp salt
2/3 C white vinegar
½ C sugar
1 tsp dill or chervil
1/8 tsp pepper

Salt thinly sliced cucumbers and let stand at least 1 hour with a weight to release liquid. Pour on vinegar and seasonings.

Tomatoes: Peeled, Seeded, and Juiced – Fresh Tomato Pulp
from Julia Child

To peel tomatoes, drop them into a large pan of rapidly boiling water and time the boil for exactly 10 seconds. Cut out the core, then peel then skin down from it. To seed and juice them, halve crosswise and gently squeeze to dislodge jelly and juice, poking out remaining seeds with your fingers. They are then usually chopped or diced into “fresh tomato pulp.”

Fresh Tomato Sauce
Julia Child

For about 2 ½ C, sauté ½ C minced onions in 2 T olive oil, and when tender stir in 4 C fresh tomato pulp (see above) or half fresh and half canned Italian plum tomatoes. Season with a pinch of thyme, a bay leaf, 2 large cloves of pureed garlic, and if you wish, both a pinch of saffron threads and ¼ tsp dried orange peel. Salt lightly and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.

Retono de Repollo with Tomato and Onion

Caramelize 2 small onions and keep warm in a pan.

Cut baby cabbages in half and using another pan, quickly fry in sesame oil - should only take a minute! Take cabbage out and put on top of onions.

Add a bit more oil to your open pan and throw in 6-8 of your black plum and/or tigerella tomatoes (halved or quartered) and stir-fry quickly. Add to onion-cabbage mixture. Add a bit of salt and top with soy sauce. Serve warm.