Friday, July 31, 2009

Newsletter week #10

Red Springs Family Farm
July 30, 2009, Week #10

Vegetable medley:
Tomatoes Lettuce Beets & Carrots
Patty Pan Squash Green Pepper Cucumber
Garlic Watermelon Sweet Corn
Herb bag: Basil Celery Sorrel

We’re half way through the main season. It’s so hard to believe. So, we’re celebrating the mid-point with watermelons and sweet corn. It was a shock to us to find the melons ripe in the fields. A couple of them burst after the last rains. We weren’t sure we’d have enough for everyone this week, but as we thumped our way through the patch, relocating the ambitious butternut squash branches back to their row, peering through the dark jungle of vines, the melon pile grew to an astounding degree. If we hadn’t pulled these ones when we did, the winter squashes might have just dug in with their tendrils and eaten them instead.

Most of the melons we’re bringing this week are called Cream of Saskatchewan. Their flesh is crisp and white. They will be lovely cubed and sprinkled with cinnamon. Or tossed in a simple fruit salad with blueberries and lemon juice, maybe?

Sweet corn this week is Ambrosia. Please, try to eat it tonight. There’s not too much, so we’re pretty sure you can manage. Next week, there will be quite a lot more. Dessa handed down a good tip for sweet corn last year – cook it the first night, then refrigerate or freeze it, on the cob if you’d like, for later use. The natural sugar in corn changes very quickly to starch. We notice the different within a few hours. Cooking it fresh helps hold the flavor. We pick your corn the day you receive it – as late as we possibly can – in the hopes that you will enjoy the authentic sweet corn experience.

Tomato blight is eating our tomato plants from the ground up. It’s particularly bad this year, we suspect because of the moisture and temperature fluctuations. The tomatoes are hanging in there, and we’re working to keep them afloat as long as possible.

Finally, cucumbers this week! Next week there will be many more. If you have a funny looking white egg shaped-something-or-nother in your basket, it’s a Dragon’s Egg cucumber. We took a chance on them from one of our favorite heirloom seed catalogs, and so far they are proving out to be a winner – so tender, and burpless, to boot! The long, sometimes curvy cucumbers are called Suhyo Long – a Japanese heirloom, one of our long time favorites. You may not see as many of these this year as last, and that’s because we’re saving seed from them.

We save as many of our own seeds as possible. Those of you with gardens of your own may have noticed the price of seeds skyrocketing in the past couple years. We’re at a good scale now to have the genetic diversity we need to get a good set of seeds from several of our favorite plants. This season we’re selecting several lettuce varieties, a favorite kale, a brilliant yellow sweet pepper, Suhyo cucumbers, a special dry shelling bean, and of course, butternut squashes. We even grew our own seed potatos this year, which is truly an experiment. We have yet to dig (it will have to dry out abit), but we’re very curious to see how the spuds turn out. It has been our experience in the past five years that the more we carefully select seed from our own plants, the greater their vitality and yield from year to year. Just like gathering our electricity from the sun instead of the grid, it is such a wonderful feeling to create abundance from the resources at hand, and untie ourselves from the grip of the Monsanto/Seminis seedhouses.

This celery needed thinning, so here it is. It’s not the sort of celery to eat by the stalk with peanut butter. We love it in soups, stocks, and stuffings. It is full of flavor – use the leaves too. To your good health!

Oh well, this is not the year of the carrot. We have one more summer planting to pull, so we’re still hopeful to find some nice long straight carrots under here somewhere, but not this week. What they lack in beauty they make up for in character, and intensity of carrot flavor.

Beets are not so prone to misshapen-ness, and we’re so glad. Here’s a nice simple recipe if you’re wondering what to do with them. Most likely this treatment would work with carrots as well.

Sweet Steamed Beets (from The Ayurvedic Cookbook) serves 4-6

4 cups raw beets (5-6 medium beets) 2 Tbsp. butter or ghee
2 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice 1 Tbsp. coriander powder
Wash and slice beets to 1/8 to ¼ inch slices. Steam until tender (20 minutes or so). Drain.
Melt the ghee or butter in a small pan. Put steamed beets into a serving bowl and drizzle the ghee or butter and lemon juice over them. Add the coriander powder and stir well. Serve and enjoy.

I’ve heard some folks wanting help with the use of basil. Oh my. We put basil in almost everything these days. We chop the leaves fine for salad. We use them to season stir fries. Of course, there’s pizza, and one wonderful way to use, and store, basil, is to make pesto. I threw a pesto recipe into a newsletter a few weeks ago – scroll back through the blog to find it. Easy to make in a food processor, and freezes with ease for fresh basil taste all winter.

For a simple pizza:

1 heaping Tbsp active dry yeast 1 ¼ cups warm water
Stir together in a large bowl until yeast is dissolved.

2 cups flour 1 cup whole wheat flour 1 tsp salt
Add enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl, turn to grease both sides, cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45-55 minutes. Generously grease pizza stone or baking sheet with olive oil. Roll of press dough onto pan.

Make pesto, then spread it on the pizza crust. Top with sliced tomatoes and a couple cups of shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake in a hot oven for 5-8 minutes and there’s one easy way to use up a lot of basil. Yummmmmmmmmm.

What a basket this week. We hope you will pile through with gusto and enjoy every bite.

Thanks for sharing our harvest. So far, so good.

Next week – eggplants!

Paul, Coree, and Lulah Entwistle

"The ambition for broad acres leads to poor farming, even with men of energy. I scarcely ever knew a mammoth farm to sustain itself; much less to return a profit upon the outlay. I have more than once known a man to spend a respectable fortune upon one; fail and leave it; and then some man of more modest aims, get a small fraction of the ground, and make a good living upon it. Mammoth farms are like tools or weapons, which are too heavy to be handled. Ere long they are thrown aside, at a great loss."
Source: Abraham Lincoln, Sept 30, 1859, Wisconsin State Fair

1 comment:

cella said...

what a lovely, almost foggy photo of paul and lulah! corn was luscious, even though we waited til friday night. we like beets boiled, cooled, sliced and dressed with oil and vinegar and a little sliced onion. funny, yours are nothing like the canned ones :-) i'll do an anti-rain dance for you and your farm! love ~ cella