Thursday, September 4, 2008

Newsletter for week #15

Red Springs Family Farm
September 4, 2008, Week #15

This week:
Cantaloupe or Watermelon
Cucumbers Summer Squashes Tomatoes Lettuce
Peppers Beans (wax or roma) Carrots Sorrel
Cilantro Parsley Basil Green Onions Tulsi

It seems so much longer than a week ago that we made the last delivery. This time, the weather hasn’t changed, but the garden sure has! Those of you who pick up regularly will notice the decline in tomato sizes – the main season tomatoes are wearing thin. Squashes took a dive this week as well. Summer is coming to a close, and Autumn will be arriving soon.

There may be a break in our tomato-share, but we do hope to be able to give you some more before the frosts come. We have a second planting growing strong with large green fruits in abundance. Hang in there – more tasty tomatoes are on the way!

Some of you may actually be glad to see the decline of the summer squash. In some ways we wish we had another planting started, but mostly, we view summer squashes as a seasonal delight that can make way for different delicacies as we continue our annual journey around the sun.

Besides the joy of seeing the multitude of seedling bursting from their trays move to be multitudes of seedlings bedded into moist rows of soil, we also celebrate our Entwistle anniversary and Paul’s birthday this week. Being laborers, many important things happen to us around the time of Labor Day!

Special request – a couple weeks in advance – on Thursday, September 18th, Paul will not be able to accompany our weekly delivery! We’d love someone with a strong-enough back to volunteer to arrive 15-20 minutes early (3:40 pm) to help Coree unload the coolers from the roof of the car. Just drop us a line if this is a possibility for you. We’d be grateful for your help.

Tulsi, or Holy Basil, is a very close relative to sweet basil. This variety is a new tea herb. It’s got the long flowering seed heads, and to me is smells like a cool wind on a hot day. Just throw a sprig of this herb into boiling hot water and cover it to steep for a few minutes. Stir in a dab of honey. In India, basil is regarded as a holy plant to be kept in every household. It is said to open the heart and mind, strengthening faith, compassion and clarity. Medicinally it is recommended for sinus congestion, colds and coughs, headaches, arthritis, fevers, and abdominal distention. We hope you will use it to ease the physical stress of the season’s change.

Seeking basil-ish information in our library, I ran across this recipe, which seems rather irresistible!

Basil Cheesecake (from The Real Dirt on Vegetables by John Peterson) serves 10-12

1 ½ cups crushed vanilla wafers or graham crackers 6 Tbsp. melted butter, divided
¾ cup + 1 Tbsp sugar, divided 2 lb. Cream cheese, softened
Pinch salt 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 egg yolks, room temp, lightly beaten 1 cup finely sliced basil
1 cup sour cream 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 ½ tsp. vanilla
Fresh basil leaves for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 325.
2. Mix crumbs with 5 Tbsp. melted butter and 1 Tbsp. sugar in a small bowl.
3. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with remaining butter. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan and press with the bottom of a glass to forma solid, tight crust.
4. Bake until light brown (10 minutes). Remove the pan from the oven and raise temp to 450.
5. Put the cream cheese in a food processor in half pound batches; process at low speed to break it up (electric mixer in a large bowl works well, too). When all the cream cheese has been processed, add a pinch of salt and process for a few seconds more. Add the eggs and egg yolks, basil, sour cream, remaining ¾ cup sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and vanilla; process on low speed just until thoroughly combined.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared crust. Bake the cheesecake until it is set and slightly puffed around the edges, but still slightly moist and jiggly in a 3-inch circle at the center (30-40 min.). The cake will continue to cook and set after you remove it from the oven. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a rack to cool for 30 minutes.
7. Carefully run a knife around the outside of the partially cooled cake to loosen it from the sides of the pan. Leave the cake in a pan, on the rack, to cool completely, about 1 hour. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
8. At least 1 hour before serving, remove the cake from the refrigerator. While it is still cold, carefully and gently remove the sides of the springform pan. With a sharp knife dipped in hot water and dried, or with a long strange of waxed dental floss, divide the cake into 10-12 wedges. Garnish with a fresh basil leaf.

A few of us have had conversations about crock pickles, and so finally I’m sending these instructions – Mason Jar Crock Pickles – adapted from Sandor Katz’s Wild Fermentation.

1 Prepare a wide mouthed Mason Jar and a Pint jar – clean, inside and out.
2 Rinse cucumbers. If they are not processed the same day as received, soak them in very cold water for a couple hours to refresh them. Slice the cukes to your preferred thickness.
3 Dissolve 2 Tbsp. salt (I use sea salt) in 4 cups of water (you won’t need this much, but...)
4 Place a couple grape leaves, a couple cloves of garlic, and a teaspoon or two of fresh or dried dill leaves or seeds. Dried peppercorns, hot peppers, and sliced onion can also be added.
5 Place cucumbers in the jar.
6 Pour brine over the cukes. Fill the pint jar with water and then place it in the wide mouth jar so that it pushes the cucumbers beneath the brine. Add more brine if necessary.
7 Cover the jar with a dish towel or cheesecloth to keep out dust and flies. Store in a cool place.
8 Taste the pickles in a few days – within a week they should be tasty brined pickles. A white filmy substance may form in the brine exposed to air – just skim it off – everything submerged in the salt water should be safely fermented. When the pickles are done to your taste you can just cap the jar and keep it in the fridge for as long as you like.

This is a tasty and very healthy way to keep enjoying your cukes when you’re tired of cucumber salads (and when cucumber season ends!).

Next week, look for eggplants and cooking greens again! It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?

We wish you a wonderful weekend, the Entwistles

“The work of adaptation must go on because the world changes; our places change and we change; we change our places and our places change us. The science of adaptation, then, is unending. Anybody who undertakes to adapt agriculture to a place – … to fit the farming to the farm – will never run out of problems or want for intellectual stimulation.”
– Wendell Berry in his essay Agriculture from the Roots Up.

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