Thursday, August 4, 2011

mid season newsletters

August 4 - week 11

Lettuce Tomatoes Cucumber Peppers Garlic Eggplant Summer Squash

Potatoes Cantaloupe Okra or Green Beans

Basil Purple Ruffles Basil Cutting Celery

WOW is it hot! These are the kind of days that we contemplate joining the electrical grid and having an air conditioner. We can't spend enough time at the creek.

Last night's thunderstorms missed us, so we're ready to lay drip tape and do a little irrigation. With Fall crops to plant, more beans to germinate, and shallow rooted lettuce to keep growing, a trickle of moisture to the top of the soil makes the continuation of the garden possible. Plants that have been in the ground for awhile – like the okra, peppers, tomatoes, melons, basil, have all reached their long roots down to where there is still plenty of soil moisture. It's the new plants that need a lift.

Speaking of lettuce, this is the time of year that it suffers. The heads are small and may be more bitter than usual. We recommend using a sweeter salad dressing, or using some fruit – dried or fresh – mixed in your salad to off-set the bitter flavor (a very important, though neglected and wrongly maligned taste in the American flavor repertoir). Our good friend Wilson will eat very bitter lettuce by mixing a dressing of tahini and marmalade, thinned with some oil and maybe a splash of vinegar. Otherwise, you might try this:

Orange Sesame Vinaigrette

3 Tbsp canola oil 3 Tbsp toasted sesame oil 3 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp fresh orange juice 2 Tbsp rice vinegar 1 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 tsp honey salt and pepper to taste

Mix well, taste, and adjust seasonings as necessary. Can be kept covered refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

We're still recovering slowly from our various spinal perterbations. Paul can do a fair amount of work, but is still not comfortable sitting for long periods of time. Coree, on the other hand, can sit just fine but walks with a limp and has difficulty lifting heavy things. We're grateful for progress, grateful for the many helpful hands and kind healing thoughts and prayers that have come our way in the past few weeks. We cannot pretend it hasn't been a trying time, but like most trials, it serves to clarify our perspective and sharpen our resolve to make the changes we need to make to stay healthy and strong and live this life we love.

You never know what might come your way on the information super-highway. Here's some unconventional knowledge about cucumbers, for your entertainment, at least:

~ Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance.

~Have an important meeting or job interview and realize that you don't have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.

~ Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, voila, the squeak is gone!

The excessive heat is doing a number on our eggplants. They're beautiful this week, and there will be a few more next week, but they refuse to set fruit in the high heat. Once the heat breaks, the flowers will hold and bear again, but we may have a break in their production. Have some Baba Ghanoush ~ Enjoy them while you've got them!

3 lbs eggplant 2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove (or more!), minced salt and cayenne to taste ¼ c. chopped parsley

Wash and dry eggplants, and broil them on a rimmed baking sheet. Turn them one or twice, and broil until soft and tender – 15-20 minutes. Let the eggplants cool for ten minutes, then peel them, discarding stems and skins. Coarsely chop. Combine sesame oil, lemon juice, garlic and 2 tsp salt in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Place eggplant in a medium sized bowl, and beat with an electric mixer or immersion blender until smooth. Gradually beat in the oil-lemon mixture. Season with additional salt to taste. Transfer to a pretty bowl and serve at room temperature sprinkled with parsley and cayenne pepper. Store in the fridge up to 5 days.

Here's a cool recipe for hot weather that incorporates much of our harvest...

Panzanella Salad

12 oz. day old country style break with rusts, ut into 1 inch cubes (8 cups)

4 large tomatoes, cored, seeded, and chopped, juices reserved

1 large cucumber, cut into ½ inch dice 2 med. Peppers, cut to ¼ inch dice

1 small red onion, cut to ¼ inch dice ¾ – 1 cup sun-dried tomato vinaigrette

salt and pepper to taste 20 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons

Combine bread, tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, and red onion in a large bowl.

Add ¾ cup of the sundried tomato vinaigrette and toss to coat all ingredients evenly. Taste and add more is the salad is dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with basil. Serve within an hour or two of making. Made too far in advance, the bread will soak up all the dressing and you will need to add more. Capers, olives, and anchovies are good additions.

Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

1/3 c. sun dried tomatoes, reconstituted in hot water, chopped ¼ c. balsamic vinegar

½ tsp (at least!) minced garlic 1 c. olive oil

½ c. red wine vinegar salt and pepper

Process vinegars, garlic and tomatoes in food processor together, then add olive oil. Refrigerate, covered, up to two months – best used at room temperature.

(All the recipes for this newsletter came from The Earthbound Cook by Myra Goodman, with thanks.)

If you find an enourmous, beautiful, delicious pink tomato in your bag, that's one of our new favorites, with the (great) name – Mortgage Lifter. Healthy plants are producing well, not cracking, like so many large tomatoes are prone to do. We hope you're enjoying them too.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the good eating...

With best regards,

Paul, Coree, Lulah, Levon and Branden

A thatched roof once covered free man; under marble and gold dwells slavery.”

~ Roman philospher Seneca (3BC – 65 AD)

End of July - week 10

Lettuce Cucumber Bell Peppers Hot Peppers

Garlic Tomatoes Eggplant Green Beans MELONS!

Okra Basil Sorell Cuttimg Celary Green Onions

More powerful and fearful on the farm than flood, drought, heat, or cold... back injury.

After two weeks of Paul's slow recovery (we're glad to report that he is recovering steadily), Coree and Branden were some tired folks (Paul is tired too – but in a different direction – he's tired or being laid up!). Coree, flying around doing chores and getting ready to start dinner on Saturday evening, went to climb into the barn loft to fetch some onions and the ladder toppled, sending her down onto her right hip pretty hard. That's two farmers down – not good numbers.

Branden's youthful energy and the helpful goodwill of a great number of our family and friends has been on our side this week and we're sure grateful. We knew entering into this season that help would be necessary to make it work; we had no idea how true that would prove to be. It feels very strange for neither of us to be able to make it to Cookeville for delivery this week – we're glad that the food can be brought to town without us. Thank you all for your understanding as we weather this strange interval.

The mid-summer heat, and harvest, is upon us. The hills are a full deep green, and the nights are noisy with cicadas and tree frogs in full chirp. Cucumbers and okra need picking every other day, tomatoes twice a week. Melons will come on fast for awhile then trickle in after the rush. The green beans are sweet. You have a great sufficiency of menu items to work with this week. What a great time of year.

If you get a melon that doesn't smell perfectly ripe, leave it out a couple days. Otherwise, pop it in the fridge because it's probably perfectly ripe. Cucumbers and okra should be refrigerated as well. Eggplants and peppers prefer to not be refrigerated but may need to be if you can't get around to using them fairly soon.

This is our tenth week – marking the middle of our twenty week season. If you are paying quarterly, please make your check ready for next week. If you're not sure where you are in your payment schedule, just drop us an email and we'll let you know.

Tomatoes Tomatoes! It's a big bunch of tomatoes. They sure are beautiful. We hope you're enjoying them completely. FYI – tomatoes lose texture and taste when refrigerated. Of course, they'll also keep longer in the fridge, but the icebox should be a last resort. A warm sunny window will ripen them faster. Cool shade will keep them longer. Use them up. We don't buy tomatoes off season; we just eat so many and put up as many as we can, and by the time the last green tomatoes get frosted, we're tired of them! Put tomatoes in everything - some recommendations – make your own salsa or tomato sauce (you can freeze the tomato sauce to use this winter) – bruschetta – tomato sandwiches – tomato soups – tomato salads - tomato juice – tomato jam!

A few basic tomato recipes fill the remainder of the newsletter – we'll be back with okra and cucumber recipes next week!

Bruschetta – an Italian appetizer dating from the 15th century (old food!) - simple, flexible, and delicious. For best results use a crusty kind of bread. I like to fry the bread in olive oil, but like as mentioned above – it's all flexible to your own tastes:

Mix salt, pepper, ½ cup olive oil, one large minced clove of garlic,

and several leaves of chopped fresh basil.

Dice two large tomatoes and an onion if you want (make this in any quantity you like – simple math).

Combine tomatoes with oil and herbs, allow flavors to mingle well.

Spoon this mixture onto crispy toasted Italian bread. Top with Mozzarella and/or Parmesan. Enjoy!

Salsa – this is probably also an ancient food. Same principles as Bruschetta, but with a different set of flavors, and delivery method (chips). Here's a basic framework:

1 pound tomatoes, diced (or more) 1 red onion, finely diced

1 jalapeno, finely diced and seeded 1 clove garlic, smashed (or more)

1 lime, juiced 3 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine and enjoy!

Salsa variations are endless. Sweet corn is a wonderful addition to salsa. Bell peppers or tomatilloes will be fine in here too.. Mostly, if you have some tomatoes, either an onion or some garlic, salt and pepper, and lime juice, you can have a basic and very delicious fresh salsa. So good.

And a nice fresh tomato sauce:

10 ripe tomatoes 2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter 1 onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped 2 carrots, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning 1/4 cup Burgundy wine

1 bay leaf 2 stalks celery

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Have ready a large bowl of iced water. Plunge whole tomatoes in boiling water until skin starts to peel, 1 minute. Remove with slotted spoon and place in ice bath. Let rest until cool enough to handle, then remove peel and squeeze out seeds. Chop 8 tomatoes and puree in blender or food processor. Chop remaining two tomatoes and set aside.

In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, cook onion, bell pepper, carrot and garlic in oil and butter until onion starts to soften, 5 minutes. Pour in pureed tomatoes. Stir in chopped tomato, basil, Italian seasoning and wine. Place bay leaf and whole celery stalks in pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 2 hours. Stir in tomato paste and simmer an additional 2 hours. Discard bay leaf and celery and serve.

We hope you enjoy your basket this week. We look forward to seeing you next week. Please be careful when climbing ladders and lifting anything heavy.

With best regards,

Paul, Coree, Lulah, Levon and Branden

Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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