Monday, August 13, 2012

Week 15, CSA

Save Some Summer for Winter

While we are welcoming some cooler weather and it feels like an early fall day, don’t miss an opportunity to capture the abundance of summer vegetables and preserve them for winter meals. There is nothing like making a batch of ratatouille or pot of chili with snow on the ground and be able to tell your family and friends that all this came from “my farm”. We have an abundance of canner tomatoes and freezer sweet corn this week, so stop by the market and load up. Greens will be thriving again shortly, onions will be dug soon, and broccoli will be back. Freezing these vegetables is easy and very rewarding. Assemble your stock pots for boiling some water, purchase heavy zip-lock freezer bags, get some friends or loved ones together and put summer in the freezer. A few tips:
  1. Blanch (drop in boiling water for a minute) vegetables to arrest enzymatic activity, which preserves freshness. In the case of greens it reduces volume tremendously.
  2. Place tomatoes in ice water out of the blanching pot, the skins will easily peel.
  3. Cut corn off the cob to save space. It’s better cooked this way anyway.
  4. Cut peppers into slivers, lie out on a cookie sheet and place in freezer. When frozen hard, then bag them, so individual pieces can be taken out later.
  5. Remove as much air as possible before sealing. There are some good sealing systems available if you get serious. Be sure to label with name and date.
  6. The faster things freeze the better. Flatten bags, place loosely in the freezer to quick freeze, then box or organize later.
  7. Make a note on your calendar of how many of each item you prepared.
If you come to the market to purchase items for freezing or for those things not in your share on a given week, here are some tips on how to be a good market customer. We want CSA members to help us educate the un-indoctrinated.

Tomatoesyou will notice all the tomatoes are stem side down. This is the best way to spread the weight of the fruit on the tray to prevent them from rolling around and minimizes bruising from travel. So please place them back this way if you decide not to purchase one you pick up. We hope you never ever use your thumb to test firmness. Lots of perfect tomatoes are ruined by shoppers “thumbing them”. They, for sure, will then have a soft spot there. Instead, place your entire palm over the fruit and feel the firmness over a larger area of your hand, just watch out to avoid finger-nailing adjoining ones. Lastly, don’t be too picky. Many blemishes are only skin deep, others around the stem will have little impact on edible yield when you core them out. Many of the heirloom varieties have green shoulders or larger cores. That’s the way it is, part of the deal to get really great tasting tomatoes. Be sure to sample all the colors and shapes available these days.
Sweet corn – Feel don’t peel. The tip of the ear tapers down where the silks emerge from the husk. There are several things that cause the tip of the ear to have issues. Birds can tatter the ends trying to get in. Often the kernels don’t pollinate at the tip. Insects can burrow in here. The ear sometimes outgrows the husk. We manage production to minimize these problems, but sometimes they are hard to detect, and organic corn “with issues” is still better than no corn. We can demonstrate how to feel through the husk, how well-filled-out the ear is, or if there are issues with the tip. Each patch is different, but we will know all this by the time you get to market. People that peel back the husk are worried they are not getting their money’s worth if they have to remove the very tip of the ear. The tip represents a very small percent of the total. When they peel it and toss it back, it now looks worse than anything nature would do to it. 

Cucumber, squash, eggplant, pepper, etc. Look for a shiny, firm fruit. Again, don’t be too picky about shape and blemishes, unless it is part of the presentation like stuffed peppers.

We strive to only include the highest quality produce in your share, and likewise to sendto market, though the CSA shares get organized first. Sometimes other issues compromise the appearance of the produce. If so, blanch it and put in the freezer. 

Let us know if you want a “canner box” of tomatoes or some “#2” sweet corn for your freezer, the time is right now.

In Your Share

Green Beans- organic
Beets – organic
Sweet Corn - organic
Green Onion -organic
Sweet Pepper -organic

Heirloom & Hybrid Tomatoes – organic
Brussels Sprouts-organic

Recipes to Enjoy

Sweet Corn Ice Cream, adapted from Vegetarian Times magazine

4 C fresh corn kernels
1 C cashews, unsalted
½ C agave syrup
1 T lime zest
1T lime juice
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt

1. Puree 2 C corn, ½ C cashews, and 1 C water in food processor until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl.  Repeat with remaining corn, cashews and another 1 C water.

2. Strain corn puree through mesh sieve into a bowl.  Discard the solids.

3. Whisk together agave syrup, lime zest, lime juice, vanilla extract and salt.  Whisk mixture into strained corn puree.

4. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Browned Brussels Sprouts in Parmesan Crust, recipe from Farmer John’s Cookbook

½ lb Brussels sprouts (peel any loose leaves, cut away large stems, or cut an X at the bottom of a small stem)
½ C olive oil
1 C seasoned dry bread crumbs
¼ C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper

Bring 2 C of water to a boil in a large skillet.  Add the sprouts and a large pinch of salt; cook until bright green and just tender-crisp, 5 to 7 minutes depending on size.  Drain; briefly rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot, but not smoking.  Add the sprouts, cook, stirring occasion-ally, until they begin to brown, 10 to 12 minutes.  Add the bread crumbs and slowly roll the sprouts around until they are complete covered.  Continue cooking until the bread crumbs are brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sprouts to a serving platter and immediately sprinkle with Parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

The following recipes shared from Waltham Fields Community Farm.

Greek-Style One-Dish Meal
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 C beef broth
1 ½ C whole wheat penne pasta (or similar)
2 diced tomatoes
2 C cut green beans
2 T tomato paste
2 tsp oregano
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 C feta cheese

In heavy pan, brown beef with onion and garlic.  Add broth and bring to a boil.

Add pasta and return to a boil.

Stir in all ingredients except feta cheese. Return to a boil. Add ½ C feta cheese. Simmer until sauce thickens (7 to 10 minutes). Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Asian Marinated String Beans

Steam string beans until they’re bright green and al dente but cooked through. While they’re hot, pour a vinaigrette over them made from a little bit of each of the following, and serve them hot.

olive oil
lemon juice
soy sauce
garlic powder
sesame oil

Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce

1 to 1-1/2 lb ripe tomatoes, about 3 large tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, peeled
3 T olive oil
1/4 C chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
black pepper, to taste

If desired, peel tomatoes by cutting a small "x" in the base and dropping into boiling water for 20 seconds (use the pasta water before adding the pasta).  Use a slotted spoon to remove from the water as soon as you see the skin curling up. Then just pull off the skin!

In a food processor, combine garlic, tomatoes with juice, 3 T olive oil, and basil.  Pulse quickly to chop roughly.  Pulse more for a smoother sauce.

Transfer to a bowl, add salt and pepper and add to hot pasta. If needed, heat it through in a pan. Top with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Tomato Soup with Indian Spices

8 medium tomatoes
3 ½ C water
1/2 tsp butter
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground ginger (or minced fresh ginger)
1/4 tsp garlic powder (or minced fresh garlic)
salt to taste
plain yogurt, for garnish

Cut the tomatoes into quarters. Cover with water. Bring to a boil. Cook until tomatoes are tender. Add other ingredients. Mash tomatoes as needed. Serve hot. Garnish with yogurt.  That's it! Simple and tasty. If you are a purist, you can strain to remove tomato skins and seeds.