Thursday, June 24, 2010

Week #5

Red Springs Family Farm
June 24, 2010 week 5

Lettuces Green Beans Yellow Squash
Cucumber Fresh Garlic Beets and Carrots
Fennel the first tiny red tomatoes
Herb bag: Basil & Dill Thyme a couple Green Onions

We’re ready for another rain, to cool and wet the soil, the plants, and us. What a scorcher of a week!

It seemed, at the end of last week, that we had too many bags of basil left over. If you got home without one, we’re sorry. It was a more hectic pick up than usual, with Coree’s sprained ankle (much improved this week, thanks), and the rest of our lives running at full tilt, too. If ever you find you’ve not gotten a desirable veggie in your basket, please let us know. We’ll try to make it up for you the next week.

What a basket this one is! We’re into roots, with beets, carrots, fennel bulbs, AND fruits with green beans, cucumbers and summer squash. The Yellow Crookneck summer squash is courtesy of our good friends up at Bugtussle Farm. We’ll be in patty pans soon. We wanted to send more Yokatta Na around this time, but the heat has taken a toll on that tender green, so we’ll have to wait for autumn to try again. Dill is a good companion flavor to both cucumber and beet. We’re entering into a richer salad season – more crispy!

If fennel is new to you, we’ll share some basics with you… the sweet, delicate anise flavor, can be used much like celery in soups, salads, stir-fries, and other dishes. When used raw, its distinct taste shines through. When cooked, it imparts a subtle but delicious quality to the finished dish.

Cut off the stalks where they emerge from the bulb. To use the feathery foliage as an herb, place the dry stalks upright in a glass filled with two inches of water, cover the glass loosely with a plastic bag, and store in the refrigerator for up to five days. The unwashed bulb will keep in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for at least a week. When you’re ready to use the fennel, remove any damaged spots or layers. Cut the bulb in half lengthwise and check the inner core. If it’s tough, remove it with a paring knife. Fennel should be washed carefully, because dirt can lodge between the layers of the bulb. Chop or mince the leaves for salads.

Here’s a nice simple recipe: Fennel and Potato Gratin Serves 4 to 6

1-2 medium fennel bulb, cut crosswise into 1/8-inch slices (about 2 cups)
2 cups thinly sliced Yukon gold potatoes (about 2 large potatoes)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 cups half-and-half 2 tablespoons butter

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly coat a shallow 2-quart baking dish with butter.
2. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a layer of fennel slices. Cover with half of the potato slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Repeat layers until you’ve used up slices.
3. Bring the half-and-half to a gentle boil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Pour it over the fennel and potato.
(Replace the half-and-half with whole milk for a less rich dish.)

We were pleased to complete the garlic harvest this week. One of the first hot days of this official summer-time was spent in the shade of our yard braiding fifty bulbs to a braid. We tied them over a strong sweet gum beam in the barn shed to cure and will be bringing them out from there to share with you. The leastest garlic must be shared first. There will be more, different varieties with slight variations of flavor and color, to be enjoyed as the season progresses. Though we recommend eating these fresh bulbs sooner rather than later, garlic stores extremely well. Keep the bulbs in a dark, dry, well-ventilated place at a cool room temperature. Most garlic will keep for several months this way. We will share more keeping tips through the season.

Garlic is one of our favorite medicines. Its anti-bacterial properties are documented, and it is in its most potent form when fresh, not dried, encapsulated, or un-smelly. We sometimes chop it fine and put a pinch on nice salty corn chips to get it down. It’s also extremely tolerable in the raw form in salad dressings and in guacamole (we really wish we could grow avocados here!). For a truly unusual and strangely delectable medicine, try boiling 3-4 cloves in 2 ½ cups veggie stock or water; simmer for 10 minutes (if you have an upset stomach, add a few slices of fresh ginger to the pot). Turn off the heat and add 2 Tbsp honey and 1 tsp miso. Drink this hot at the first sign of cold or sore throat.

And carrots – yum. Since the blight hasn’t damped down their greens, here’s a fancy festive variation on carrots soup for you, and check the blog for a neat link:
Cream of Carrot Top Soup

1 lg yellow onion, diced 3 mashed cloves of fresh peeled garlic
2 Tbsp butter 1 tsp thyme leaves
4 cups stock or broth 6 large carrots, coarsely chopped
2 med potatoes, chopped 1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt ½ tsp ground black or white pepper
About 1 cup milk or ½ & ½ 2 Tbsp softened butter
2 Tbsp chopped parsley 2 cups young carrots greens
1 quart boiling water 2 tsp. salt
1 ½ cups lightly whipped cream

Saute onion and garlic in butter until golden. Add thyme and cook one more minute. Add stock, carrots, potatoes, bay leaf, salt and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf and put mixture through a food processor or blender by batches. Puree to desired consistency.
Return puree to soup pot. Thin to consistency with milk or half and half, and bring soup to simmer. Stir in the softened butter by bits, and chopped parsley. Keep warm, don’t boil.
Pick over carrots tops, removing hard stems or yellow leaves. Plunge greens into the boiling water and when the water reboils add the salt. Remove from heat, drain, and puree greens in the blender or food processor with 2 cups of the pureed carrot soup.
To serve the soup, fill soup bowls 2/3 full with orange carrot soup. Ladle green carrot soup in the middle of soup bowl to fill it. Top soup with dollops of whipped cream, and enjoy!

If ever you feel lost with a vegetable, please feel free to email or call us with questions. We’re glad to help. We may begin posting extra recipes on the blog site or facebook. Please share your own favorites with us, and each other.

Next week – MORE – including blueberries and cheese!

Yours from the garden, the Entwistles

Be like the flower, turn your face to the sun. -- Kahlil Gibran

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