Thursday, September 2, 2010

week #15

Red Springs Family Farm
September 2, 2010 week 15

Lettuce Peppers Eggplant
Garlic Potatoes Okra
Tomatoes Tromboncini Basil &Chives
Cantaloupes, as available Hot peppers, by choice

It seems strange to say, but it’s hard to really ever see it coming, this change in season. This year has been especially extreme of course, but it happens each year, and almost always in September. One week, the garden looks green and feels like summer, and over the course of a few days, the summer crops melt into the ground and are gone. This week we saw the end of cucumbers and summer squash from our gardens. Paul began tearing them out to plant more fall crops in their place. It’s good to see things turning over for the new season. We’ve seen the first red and purple leaves on the sweet gum trees and a few red tinges in the dogwoods, too. Black walnuts are always first to jettison their yellow leaves, and in wind gusts, they fly around our hollow.

So much work has been done, so much still to do around here. We covered all the fall transplants with remay to protect them from the ravenous grasshoppers before the last flood, and have been working our way through the rows, uncovering them, cleaning out the weeds and loosening the rain-packed soil so that they can grow more and better. The squash and cukes are being pulled out and later, faster fall plantings sown, with hopes of a gentle rain Friday night to tuck them in. Okra has to be picked every other day to keep it from becoming really too big. The plants are towering over everything else in the garden now, and still producing a profusion of beautiful yellow hibiscus-like flowers each day. A good piece of the upper garden is ready to be mowed, now that the winter squash have been pulled from the field and watermelons are finished. The eggplant will appreciate the breathing room. Very soon it will be time to dig the sweet potatoes and sow cover crops for fall and winter.

These unusual summer squashes are Tromboncini. At this stage, they are good and tender, zucchini-like, stir-fried or roasted, tossed with olive oil, garlic, and herbs. Our neighbor grows them for both summer and winter squash, but they are most delicious at the summer squash stage. Later in the season they become good keepers (though not as tasty as our favorite acorns and butternuts) and grow into some zany contortions, too.

A couple of nice recipes for this week’s fare:

Sautéed Peppers and Pears (off the line)
4 medium fresh red or yellow peppers, cored, seeded, and cut to 1/4-inch strips
3 medium firm-ripe pears or Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and cut to 1/4-in-thick slices
3/4 cup (3 oz.) shredded jack or Munster cheese 3 tablespoons butter or margarine

In a 12- to 14-inch frying pan, combine peppers and 2 tablespoons of the butter; stir over medium heat until peppers begin to get limp, 7 to 10 minutes. Add remaining tablespoon of butter and fruit. Cook uncovered, stirring often, until fruit is soft and tender when pierced, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Pour into dish and immediately sprinkle with cheese. Serves 6. (NOTE: If you’re using our pears, only cook them until warmed through – they won’t last 7 minutes in the heat.)
And this is a wonderful eggplant dish from 108 Recipes:

Sesame Noodles with Roasted Eggplant
1 large (or 2 small) eggplant 2 cloves garlic
The Marinade:
½ c. dark sesame oil ½ c. soy sauce
¼ c. balsamic vinegar 3 T. brown sugar
½ t. salt 1 t. hot chili oil
1 bunch scallions ¼ c. chopped cilantro, plus leaves for garnish
3 cloves garlic, pressed 2 T. freshly grated ginger root

1 12 oz. Package Japanese soba noodles 1/3 c. toasted sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, and place the pieces flat side up in an oiled baking dish. Peel the garlic, slice it thinly, and stuff it into the eggplant flesh. Brush the eggplant with olive oil. Bake uncovered at 375 for 45 minutes, or until the eggplant is soft but not mushy.
Whisk together all of the marinade ingredients, except the ginger and garlic. Boil the noodles according to package direction – al dente, not too soft. Divide the marinade into two. Pour one half of it over the noodles and toss well.
Add the ginger and garlic tot eh other half of the marinade. When the eggplant is done and is cool enough to handle, peel it and cut or tear it into narrow strips. Place the strips in the ginger and garlic marinade so they are entirely covered.
For best results, the two main parts of the salad should now be covered and refrigerated, overnight if possible. Two hours before serving, combine them. Add the sesame seeds, and garnish with whole cilantro leaves.
As with all dishes that contain acidic marinades, use glass, ceramic, or stainless steel mixing bowls to prepare and to store this salad. In the unlikely case that there is some left over, it does keep well for several days.

If you are overwhelmed with the okra, put it up for winter. Don’t miss the great benefits of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, folates, and fiber that these pods provide. Here are a couple of preservation tips:

Wash. Remove the stems at the end of the seed cells, being careful not to expose the seed cell. Water blanch small pods 3 minutes and large pods 4 minutes. Cool promptly and drain. Leave whole or slice crosswise. Package, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Seal, label and freeze.
To freeze for frying: Wash and remove stems. Blanch small pods 3 minutes and large pods 4 minutes. Cool promptly and drain. Slice crosswise and dredge with meal or flour. Spread in a single layer on shallow trays. Place in freezer just long enough to freeze firm. Package quickly leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Seal, label and freeze.

There’s something about this time of year and purple foods. The eggplants are glowing purple globes in the garden, and the red/purple lettuce leaves seem especially vibrant. They contrast well with the red and yellow peppers. We hope to clean out the last bed of beets next week, adding another shade of purple to the show. The first batch of acorn squashes is ready for you too, but they are yellow, not purple. We’ll keep spinning the color wheel. Enjoy your food!

Yours, the Entwistles

“Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature” ~ Michael Faraday, 1849

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