Thursday, October 9, 2008

Newsletter Week #20

Red Springs Family Farm
October 9, 2008, Week #20
Wow - 20 weeks!

This week:
Lettuce Fun-Jen, Chinese Cabbage
Tomatoes Peppers Garlic
Basil Arugula Parsley
Radishes Green Onions
Winter Squash Shell Beans, Myrtle cowpeas

(photo credit to Cella! Beautiful!)

Thank you all for accompanying us on this journey through the main growing season! We think it’s been a great year, and hope you feel the same. We’re very excited to be taking a break this next week – NO VEGGIES for OCTOBER 16 – returning to schedule for October 23. We are looking forward to bringing you a nice selection of Fall greens and goodies upon our return.

Two very beautiful inches of rain has fallen on the gardens and the depths of our gratitude is nearly unspeakable. There is no comparing the benefit of rain to the benefit of irrigation. Overnight, the garden seems to have come back to full vitality. Greens look as if they have doubled in size. Paul spent the first couple hours of sprinkling weather running from field to field throwing cover crops on all open ground. Next year’s garlic is safely planted and mulched. We are blessed beyond measure.

It is a strange feeling for us to be leaving home, going on “vacation”. We are well habituated to our little place in the hollow, and rather in love with our chickens, turkeys, and kitty friend Wowee. Nonetheless, we will be glad to see new places and visit family and old friends up north. If Lulah allows us much daytime travel, the promise of the Autumn colors is enticing.

We have picked the tomatoes and peppers pretty hard. Coming into the middle of October, there is a chance that when we return there will be no more tomatoes or peppers. Of course, there’s also a chance that there will still be LOTS of tomatoes and peppers, and we really hope that’s the case. We’d love to send you true green tomatoes for frying and pickling. Some of the tomatoes you get today will be green, but should redden if left on a sunny windowsill. Should the frost come, we will endure and enjoy with kohlrabi and baby bok choys to come.

Speaking of cabbages, these Fun-Jens are also called Lettuce Leaf Cabbage for their light green and frilly foliage. They’re taste is so mild that they work well in salads, if salad is your favorite thing. If you prefer stir fried foods, these are suitable for wok cooking, as well. If I were you, I would cook onions, ginger root, and sweet red peppers first, then throw in the garlic and thinly sliced cabbage last, cooking just until the leaves are well wilted. Dress with tamari and toasted sesame oil. Yummmy!

The shell beans are from seed that we’ve been saving for several years now. We like these beans a bunch. They’re called Myrtles, after the lady up in Kentucky who saved them for many years before us. We don’t know Myrtle, but appreciate her taste. We’re sending these beans before they dry out. We grow cowpeas and black beans for our own use, and have a rather labor intensive system of shelling and cleaning them for storage. You’re welcome to come out to the farm and work on the beans with us sometime if you’re interested. As it is, we’re sending these in the shell, so you can appreciate their beauty and freshness in your own hands. Some of these beans will be slightly further along than others – they turn a nice tan brown as they dry. They are delicious either way, and being fresh from the shell, you will find that they don’t take long to cook up. Recipe tips to follow.

Here’s what Alice Waters has to say about this week’s specials…

From Chez Panisse Vegetables:

Oven Roasted Squash with Garlic and Parsley
Choose as favorite winter squash – any one will do – and peel and seed it. Cut into 1-inch chunks and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the chunks evenly on a baking sheet and roast at 375 for 40 minutes, until tender throughout and lightly browned, stirring occasionally with a spatula to prevent burning.
Peel and chop very fine a few cloves of garlic and sauté in olive oil for just a minute, being careful not to brown. Toss the squash with the garlic and a handful of chopped parsley, taste and adjust the seasoning, and serve.

From The Art of Simple Food:

Shell Beans
I cook shell beans in different ways: sometimes plain, with rosemary, garlic, and olive oil; sometimes in soup, alone or with other vegetables, pureed or not; other times in gratins, under crunchy breadcrumbs. Beans can be cooked in advance, and they keep well for a day or two, refrigerated in their cooking liquid, to be reheated and served plain or incorporated into any number of dishes. What’s more, beans are extremely nutritious and affordable compared to other sources of protein; and, perhaps best of all, little kids love them.
Today it’s easy to find many different fresh and dried beans in farmers’ markets and good grocery stores. Spring is the season for fresh fava beans. In late summer, from August through September, I look for the many varieties of fresh ripe shell beans that may be fleetingly available. They are a real treasure of the late summer and early fall. Unlike their dried counterparts, fresh shell beans do not need to be soaked and they cook quite quickly.
All over the world, beans are traditionally cooked in earthenware pots (and for some reason they seem to taste better when they are), but any heavy non-reactive pot will do. Try to choose a wide pot so the layer of beans isn’t too deep; otherwise the beans are hard to stir and the ones on the bottom of the pot get crushed. Be sure to use enough water that stirring them is easy; the water level should always be an inch or so above the level of the beans. IF the water is too low, the beans will be crowded and will tend to fall apart when stirred. Worst of all they might start to stick and burn on the bottom of the pot.
When cooking fresh shell beans there is no need to soak them. Just pop them out of their shells and put them in a pot. Cover with water by no more than about 1 ½ inches: the beans will not absorb much water. Add the salt at the beginning and begin testing for doneness after about 10 minutes. Depending on the variety, the beans may take as long as an hour to cook, but usually they are done is much less time.
Beans can be flavored at the end of their cooking and served right away; or once cooked, they can be cooled, flavored or not, refrigerated (or frozen) in their liquid, and used later.

We hope you all have a wonderful two weeks ahead!

Your Gardeners,
Paul, Coree and Lulah

“…farming is not just a business like any other profit-making business, but a pre-condition of all human life on earth, and a precondition of all economic activity. As such, farming is everyone’s responsibility, and has likewise to be accessible for everyone.” – Trauger Groh & Steven McFadden, Farms of Tomorrow Revisited

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