Thursday, August 21, 2008

Newsletter #13

Red Springs Family Farm
August 21, 2008, Week #13

This week:
Cantaloupe or Watermelon
Cucumbers Summer Squashes
Tomatoes Lettuce
Peppers Green Beans
Corn Cilantro
Parsley Basil
Green Onions

Ah, now this is more like August!

We are ready for a rain again, and inspired to spread more compost. Our homestead was steadily abused for many years, then neglected for many more. The ground is hard, but has responded well to care, and each time we till in a cover crop or layer on some compost, the softness of the ground increases. The surface is dusty and dry right now, and even hard and cracking in some places, but the arugula, buckwheat, beans, and peas are sprouting out of the dust. When we take a shovel to the soil, it’s always amazing to see how much moisture is being held in the cool dark under-ground.

This will be the last of the sweet corn – enjoy!

We’ve learned so much about scale this year. The parsley and basil rows have been perfect. The cucumbers are beyond the beyond, but we could stand to have about twice as many pepper plants as we do, especially these sweet long red Carmens. They are an Italian bull-horn style pepper, a pleasure to grow and joy to behold in their ripeness. Also, the Golden Treasures – long thin yellow peppers – have proven to be keepers as well. The Goldens didn’t germinate so well so we’re just enjoying what we get. There’s no heat in them, and they sauté so sweetly with summer squash and onion! Others in our selection are mildly hot – banana peppers of course, and then the lovely Mariachi – yellow bell-looking peppers with just a little bite to their flavor. A nice soaking rain would give the peppers (and eggplant, and melons) the boost they need to set another round of fruit.

A couple of you might receive a bonus melon – the Thai Round melon is yellow and orange striped, a real beauty. Its vines have spread all over the new test plot this year, and there are bushels of un-ripe fruit out there. We’ve only tried to eat one – and frankly, we weren’t sure what to make of it. It’s sort of like a melon that wanted to be a banana. Maybe it could be mixed in a smoothie? Maybe they make a wonderful decoration! It is certainly a unique melon. Let us know what you think.

In other news, the butternuts are looking nutty and there are acorn and carnival squashes bursting into color all over the garden. The deep glossy green of the hills in summer has slightly faded now. The St. John’s Wort has stopped blooming and there are sometimes brown leaves floating in the creek after a strong wind. Summer does fly.

FYI – Glutathione is a tripeptide – a substance composed of three amino acids. It acts as an antioxidant and can inactivate cancer-causing agents that may damage cells. It also seems to neutralize rancid, oxidized fats that initiate the artery-clogging process. Green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, parsley and spinach, are rich sources of glutathione – yet another reason to eat your greens. From 30-60% of glutathione is lost during cooking, and up to 100% in canning. Raw parsley is probably the best source of glutathione as raw spinach has substances that block calcium absorption, and raw broccoli contains goitrogens, substances that block thyroid function.

Just a little watermelon suggestion: fresh lime juice and salt. Very refreshing.

To dry extra herbs ~~~ Either: spread them on a tray and place it in the oven at its lowest setting (gas oven pilot lights are perfect) with the door ajar. Stir the herbs periodically. When the leaves crumble when pinched, they are dried. OR: you can hang bouquets of fresh herbs to dry. Puncture a large paper bag with holes. Tie the stalks of herbs in to skimpy bunches upside down in the bag. Tie the neck of the bag tightly and hang it with the leaves facing down in a warm, ventilated place. Check the herbs daily until they dry, about two weeks. When the herbs crumble when pinched, remove the stems and store the leaves in a sealed glass jar – away from heat and light – for up to a year. Crush them just before using.

Parsley Butter Sauce, from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
(makes about 1 cup)
3 Tablespoons minced green onions 2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
¼ cup dry white wine 1 cup of stock
½ cup crème fraiche (soft cream cheese will do) 3 Tablespoons softened butter
1 Tablespoon coarse mustard 2 Tablespoons fine chopped parsley

Combine green onions, vinegar, wine, stock and cream in a pan, bring to boil and reduce to about half, or until sauce thickens slightly. Reduce hat and whisk in butter and mustard. Season to taste. Just before serving, stir in the parsley.

Spiced Raita
3 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeds, removed, coarsely grated
½ tsp. cumin seeds ½ tsp. coriander seeds
2 cups plain yogurt 1 medium tomato, cut into thin strips
1 green chile pepper, seeds removed, cut into thin strips (optional)
½ cup finely chopped scallions or green onions 1/8 tsp. ground white pepper
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro (as a garnish)

1. Place a large strainer over a bowl or pot. Put the grated cucumber in the strainer; set aside to drain for 30 minutes.
2. Place a dry, heavy skillet (cast iron preferred) over medium heat. Add cumin and coriander seeds and stir constantly until toasted and fragrant, 3-5 minutes. Immediately transfer to a mortar and pestle and grind. (Freshly ground spices makes it sing, but pre-ground works fine.)
3. Pour the yogurt into a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Set aside for 10 minutes to drain.
4. Remove the drained, grated cucumber from the strainer with your hands and gently squeeze out the excess moisture. Spread the grated cucumber on clean dish towels and pat it dry. (Personally I think this is a little excessive, but I’m sure it helps.)
5. In a medium bowl, gently combine all ingredients. Garnish with cilantro. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for 1 hour.

We love cucumber salad. Cukes get sliced, sometimes along with some perfectly ripe tomatoes, and tossed with olive oil, salt, balsamic vinegar, feta cheese, and fresh basil. So simple. So good.

Thank you all for your support. Enjoy those veggies!

Paul, Coree, and Lulah Entwistle

“Husbandry is the name of all the practices that sustain life by connecting us conservingly to our places and our world; it is the art of keeping tied all the strands in the living network that sustains us.- Wendell Berry from his essay Renewing Husbandry.

Red Springs Family Farm, PO Box 351 Red Boiling Springs TN 37150 ~

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