Thursday, July 8, 2010

And week 7

Red Springs Family Farm
July 7, 2010 week 7

Tomatoes Lettuces Cucumbers
Garlic Fennel Summer Squash
Onion Carrots & Beets
Herb bag: Basil Parsley Dill

Oh dear, it’s hot! I guess it IS July and all, but we’re ready for a “cold snap” and some beautiful rain. Who knew how much we would come to appreciate rain again after such a wet spring, but there’s no substitute for balanced weather. Drip tape is laid down in many rows now, and there’s nothing in the garden that wouldn’t benefit from a good soaker now.

So, the lettuce is suffering in the heat and dry. These beautiful red heads are, by most standards, pretty bitter. We recommend dressing them with a sweet or fruity dressing (blueberry vinaigrette anyone?), and if that doesn’t work, just use those beautiful leaves as a garnish for the very yummy tomatoes. Next week’s lettuce is looking better, and after that we’re relying on the graces of the weather.

Yes! Tomatoes! And there will be more, so many more! The very firm small, round ones are Early Girls, which didn’t turn out to be quite so early, since we planted them down in the bottom, but it was worth a try, and they’re lovely, right on time. The first time we tried an Early Girl, we thought “oh no, it’s so hard it won’t taste good”, but we were wrong. Their flavor is very good, and they don’t bruise as easily as our favorite Paul Robesons. The Robesons are worth the trouble to keep bruise-free. We’ll try to keep you informed about other tomato varieties as the season progresses. There are so many kinds, and they are great fun to eat!

Your carrots and beets may look a little smaller this week. They are. We’re thinning a new bed, hoping for the rain to swell the ones left behind into nice juicy roots. You’ll likely find a few unusual beets in your bag. Those are Chioggia beets, striped on the inside. It’s an old heirloom variety from Italy. We grew a few to see how they performed and have been impressed. Let us know what you think!

It’s my guess that any Italian immigrants who settled Tennessee and tried to grow their heirloom seeds soon figured out that fennel is finicky in the humidity. They probably resorted to great tomatoes, basil, garlic, zucchini, and maybe some Chioggia beets pretty quick. Fennel grows wild by the side of the road in places like northern California. Not here. So, here’s the last of it for this season. I think it would be yummy to slice the fennel, carrots and beets, throw in some whole peeled garlic cloves and toss it all with plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast that combo in the oven until the beets are tender, then squeeze some fresh lemon juice over it. Yum.

Our summer squashes and cucumbers are asking for a rain, too. The cucumbers may go on vacation next week. The Patty pan squashes in their pretty sunburst and pale greens will keep trickling in. We don’t like to be overwhelmed with summer squashes, and hope you are finding just the right things to do with yours. Here’s one classic recipe for you:


2 cups summer squash, sliced 1 cup carrot, grated
1 cup onion, diced 1 cup sour cream
2 cups seasoned croutons 2 tablespoons butter

In a 2-quart casserole dish, layer 1/2 of the croutons on bottom. Mix vegetables together with the sour cream and spread on top of the croutons.
Add the rest of the croutons then top with the butter. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour.
Serving Size: 4

Another way to embrace your beets:
Baked Beet Root with Yogurt Walnut Dressing
3/4 cup walnuts 5 medium beets, thoroughly washed
1 tablespoon butter 2 cups plain yogurt
1 minced hot green chile peppers 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro 1 red chili pepper, minced
salt to taste

1~Spread walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast at 300 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes. Chop coarsely.
2~Butter aluminum foil. Pierce beets with a fork, and wrap with foil. Bake at 375 degrees F for 1 hour, or until tender (it won’t take so long with these small beets). Cool.
3~In a medium bowl, beat yogurt until smooth. Mix in green chile pepper, coriander, and walnuts. Season to taste with salt. Chill for 30 minutes.
4~Peel beets, and quarter without cutting all the way through. Place in a serving dish, and spread open. Spoon dressing over beets, and garnish with cilantro, and minced red chile peppers.

Celebrating the start of tomato season…

Roasted Tomato Basil Pesto

2 pre-roasted tomatoes, or 1 large fresh tomato 2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled, halved
3 Tbsp pine nuts 2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh whole basil leaves ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp butter, softened Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1) Combine the tomatoes, garlic, pine nuts and oil in a blender and process until just combined. Add a handful of basil and process again briefly; continue adding the basil in small amounts until all is combined.
2) Stir in the Parmesan cheese and butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Next week we’ll have green beans again, and bell peppers too! Watermelons are looking promising, as is the okra. Join us in praying, hoping, dancing and singing for a good long gently soaking rain this weekend.

Be well,
Paul, Coree, and Lulah Entwistle

“You talk of the mines of Australia,
They’ve wealth in red gold, without doubt;
But, ah! There is gold in the farm, boys –
If only you’ll shovel it out”

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