Thursday, July 16, 2009

Newsletter week #8

Red Springs Family Farm
July 16, 2009, Week #8

Vegetable medley:
Tomatoes Lettuce Green Beans
Patty Pan/Zucchini Green Pepper
Swiss Chard Garlic
Herb bag: Basil Sorrel Tulsi

The weather! What can we say? Wow. Wednesday night rains make for muddy Thursday veggies. Wash them well and pour the nutrient rich organic rinse water on your houseplants.

Sunday’s rain was most welcome, but the wind preceding it was abit much. We’re conjecturing that we had something like a “micro-burst” in our hollow. It was dark dusk when the wind came, and we could barely see the corn twisting in the field. The gust was sudden and strange, and we knew that the corn had fallen. Often, corn gets blown down, but gradually stands back up again after a windy storm. This was not the case. This storm flattened about 2/3 of the Indian corn patch, leaving the remaining 1/3, and its sweet corn neighbor, nearly untouched. It looked like someone dropped a pick up truck in the middle of the corn patch, then drove away without leaving tracks. Fortunately, we had a very good crop of Indian field corn last year, so we’re not crushed by the loss. The unfortunate consequence of this weather event is that we won’t likely want to sell any cornmeal this year.

Most of you will be receiving a Paul Robeson tomato today. This is one of our all time favorite heirlooms. It’s technically called a black tomato – coloration being a stripey dark orange with green shoulders – deep red inside. Paul Robeson was an athlete (15 varsity letters at Rutgers), actor (played Othello in the longest running Shakespearian production in Broadway history), singer (world famous for his vibrant baritone renditions of Negro spirituals), orator, cultural scholar and linguist (fluent in at least 15 languages). He was blacklisted during the McCarthy Era, and in his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee on June 12, 1956, when asked by one senator why he hadn’t remained in the Soviet Union, Robeson said, “Because my father was a slave, and my people died to build this country, and I am going to stay right here and have a part of it just like you. And no fascist-minded people will dry me from it. Is that clear?” An extraordinary tomato for an extraordinary man.

Most of you are receiving 1 ½ lbs of green beans this week. Larger bags are about 3 lbs each. If you want to freeze a couple bags, just wash and trim the beans, then submerge in boiling water for 4 minutes. Quickly cool them in ice water, drain, and bag them up for the winter. Here’s a creative use, with gratitude to Barbara Kingsolver’s excellent book on local food, Animal Vegetable Miracle.

½ lb. trimmed green beans Steam until tender
1 coarsely chopped onion 1 tbs. olive oil
Sautee onions over medium heat until they become slightly transparent.
3 hard boiled eggs 2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 tbs. lemon juice (optional)
Combine beans, cooked onions, eggs, basil and lemon juice in food processor and blend into a coarse puree.
Mayonnaise or yogurt Salt and pepper
Remove puree to a bowl and combine with enough mayonnaise or yogurt to hold mixture together. Add salt and pepper to taste. This spread is fantastic served on crusty bread, crackers, or rice cakes.

The basil is really popping out now. The day is coming when we may have some extra to sell. We’ll keep you posted. This week, here’s a little pesto recipe:

1 bunch of basil, to yield about a cup of lightly packed leaves
In a mortar and pestle, pound to a paste:
1 garlic clove, peeled, and salt
Add and continue to pound:
¼ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
Add: ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese.
Transfer this mixture to a bowl. Coarsely chop the basil leaves and put them in the mortar. Pound the leaves to a paste. Return the pounded pine nut mixture to the mortar. Pound the leaves and pine nut mixture together. Continue pounding as you gradually pour in:
½ cup cup extra virgin olive oil
Taste for salt and adjust if necessary.

Now, all of this can be done in a food processor as well, and much more quickly, but the sensory experience of pounding your own pesto may be worth it from time to time. Also, you could pick the leaves of the entire content of your herb sack this week and make a mixy pesto. You could also substitute walnuts for pine nuts, if it suits you.

This Swiss Chard is standing thigh-high in the field. It desperately needed chopping back. Some of the leaves are speckled. The damage is purely aesthetic. We hope you will enjoy it anyway. It’s re-growth will be more beautiful. Here’s another idea, from the same source as the pesto recipe above, Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food.

Chard with Parmesan
Pull the leaves from the ribs of one or more bunches of chard. Discard the ribs (or save them for another dish), wash the leaves, and cook until tender in abundant salted boiling water, 4 minutes or so. Drain the leaves, cool, squeeze out most of their excess water, and chop coarse. For every bunch of chard, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a heavy pan over medium heat. Add the chopped chard and salt to taste. Heat through, and for each bunch of chard stir in a generous handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Remove from the heat and serve.

The corn is tassling now, a mouthwatering sight. We’re waiting for the ground to dry so we can mulch the late season tomatoes. The next planting of squash looks promising, and the cukes are blooming nicely. Lulah swears there are watermelons ready to be picked, but we’re holding off, just to be sure.

Next week, more tomatoes, beets, fennel, and maybe some new potatoes on the way.

Thanks for sharing our harvest.

Your gardeners,

Paul, Coree, and Lulah Entwistle

“When you see that you’re making the other things feel good, it gives you a good feeling, too.
Opening a barn door for the sheep standing out in a cold rain, or throwing a few grains of corn to the chickens are small things, but these little things add up, and you can begin to understand that you’re important. You may not be real important like people who do great things that you read about in the newspaper, but you begin to feel that you’re important to the life around you. Nobody else knows of cares too much about what you do, but if you get a good feeling inside about what you do, then it doesn’t matter if nobody else knows.
~Terry Cummins, Feed My Sheep

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