Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Newsletter July 24-08, week #9

Red Springs Family Farm
July 24, 2008, Week #9

This week:
Green Beans Cucumber
Summer Squashes Peppers
Tomatoes Lettuce
Tomatillos Carrots
Sorrel Eggplant
Green Onion Celery
Parsley Basil

What a hot and sweaty week it’s been! We were so happy to sleep under a blanket last night and wear more clothes for early harvest this morning. It’s a pleasant reprieve. The rain has missed us again for now, but it looks like folks nearby got some pretty good showers. The gardens are in full swing. It’s a beautiful, busy, and productive time.

Lulah calls tomatoes “good-maybos”. We agree. Most of the tomatoes we offer are heirloom varieties. What you receive this week could be any of the following: Mule Team, Tappy’s Heritage, Paul Robeson, Black Russian, Woodle’s Orange, or Jet Star. Jet Star is a hybrid variety – the rest are heirloom. There’s an element of chance when working with heirloom seeds. We love to try new varieties, and the Black Russian paste tomato sounded great. However, every single fruit we’ve harvested has been split down the side so far, too damaged to bring to town. Woodle’s Orange has proved itself a keeper, though, and we hope to be sending you a great deal more of them from our late season tomato row. One of our personal favorite heirloom tomatoes is Paul Robeson. If you find a dark golden, almost striped, dark orange tomato with green shoulders, that’s a Robeson. We think their flavor is completely extraordinary. The green shoulders don’t need to be pared down too much – it’s all edible.

What a thrill to see the first eggplants hanging on the bushes. We hope that by picking these first fruits, the next flower buds will be encouraged to swell and MAKE MORE! If your eggplant is an apple green color, that’s just exactly perfect. One variety, Applegreen, is mature when green!

Since lettuce is slightly less abundant this week, we’ve combined your herb and lettuce bag. Basil is getting chowed by the Japanese Beetles, but there’s still plenty. You might also find some dark purple ruffled leaves in your herb sack – this is ruffled basil – it’s so shiny and luscious. Smells more like licorice than basil and has a deep complex flavor.

Allow these vegetables to speak for themselves in your kitchen. Try everything raw. Keep it simple. Don’t store your tomatoes or eggplants in the fridge; trust them to the counter top. Parsley is not a garnish – it’s a superfood – chop it into salads and sauces, or blend it into dips – it’s even a pleasant tea!

Here’s a few recipes from Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food.

Tomato Confit
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and core:
4 medium tomatoes
In the bottom of a baking dish just large enough to hold the tomatoes snugly, scatter:
A few sprigs of basil
Arrange the tomatoes core side down on top of the basil. Sprinkle with salt, then add:
About ½ cup olive oil. (continued on back)
Bake for about 50 minutes. The tomatoes are done when lightly browned on top and completely tender. Remove them carefully when serving. Te oil left behind can be saved to add to a vinaigrette or other sauce. Delicious.

The flavor of this dish increases with time – leftovers will taste even better – if there are any!
Cut into ½ inch cubes: 1 medium eggplant
Toss with salt. Set the cubes in a colander to drain for about 20 minutes.
Heat in a heavy bottomed pot: 2 Tbsp. olive oil
Pat the eggplant dry, add to the pan, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden. Add a bit more oil if the eggplant absorbs all the oil and sticks to the bottom of the pan. Remove the eggplant when done and set aside. Pour in: 2 Tbsp. olive oil,
then add: 2 medium onions, cut into ½ inch dice
Cook about seven minutes, until soft and translucent. Add:
4-6 garlic cloves, chopped ½ bunch basil, tied in a bouquet with kitchen twine
Salt A pinch of dried chile flakes
Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, then stir in: 2 sweet peppers, cut into ½ inch dice
Cook for a few minutes, then add: 3 medium summer squash, cut into ½ inch dice
Cook for a few more minutes, then stir in: 3 ripe medium tomatoes, cut into ½ inch dice
Cook for 10 minutes longer, then stir in the eggplant and cook for 10 to 15 minutes more, until all the vegetables are soft. Remove the bouquet of basil, pressing on it to extract all its flavors, and adjust the seasoning with salt. Stir in: 6 basil leaves, chopped, and extra-virgin olive oil.
Serve warm or cold.

Green Beans with Toasted Almonds and Lemon
Trim the stem end from:
1 pound green beans
Melt, in a heavy pan, over medium heat:
3 Tbsp. butter
When the foam has begun to subside, add:
¼ cup sliced almonds (pecans or hazelnuts work as well)
Cook, stirring fairly often, until the almonds begin to brown. Turn off heat and add:
Juice of ½ lemon
Cook the beans until tender in salted boiling water. Drain well and toss with the almonds and butter. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.

That should do! Enjoy it all. We look forward to seeing you next week.

Thank you for your support,
Paul, Coree, and Lulah Entwistle

“It is a question whether the time at which tender plants shall go into the ground is a matter of prudence or of courage.” ~ Ida D. Bennett, The Vegetable Garden

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