Thursday, July 12, 2012

tired field hand during a harvest

Lettuce                        Onions                       Garlic
Carrots            Beets                            Summer Squash
Green and Wax Beans                Cucumber              Tomatoes       
Parsley                        Sorrel             Dill     Basil   
All will come again into its strength:
the fields undivided, the waters undammed,

the trees towering and the walls built low.

And in the valleys, people as strong and varied as the land.                                 
Yes, we finally got some rain.  It started early Tuesday and made a drizzly wonderful grey inch and a little more.  We’re hopeful that there’s more to come.  The garden and the gardeners alike breathe a great sigh of relief.  I hardly have anything to say in the newsletter except that we’re so happy that it rained.  With luck, the summer will proceed in this sticky humid, reasonable fashion, and we’ll be able to salvage the plants that suffered, and stop pumping so much water!  Please join us in being grateful for the bit of mud present on today’s basket.

All the tomatoes are getting colorful now, and the eggplant are small, but needing to be thinned for better growth.  We will pick all the sun burnt peppers from the plants and let them get another start.  Cantaloupes are green and swelling to size quite rapidly.  The beets are small, they can’t grow without their leaves, which have been defoliated by the blister beetles, which are present in what would seem a horrifying quantity.  However, upon researching the bugs, we discovered that their larvae feed on grasshopper larvae.  Grasshoppers are a formidable late summer pest, so we’re trying to tolerate the blister beetles in the hopes that they take a toll on the grasshopper population in the near future.  There’s always more to learn about life in its many amazing, sometimes lovely and sometimes disgusting forms. 

The kids and I took a great long weekend to Florida.  It was an unthinkable sort of trip, leaving just when the tomatoes are beginning to ripen, but an old friend’s wedding….  it was so wonderful to go.  We’re grateful to Paul for staying home and fending off groundhogs and grasshoppers, keeping the water flowing, and the tomatoes and beans picked, and the chickens and kitty fed while we were gone.  We couldn’t have pulled it off without the whole family’s involvement (Thank you Family!).  Momo came along to kid-wrangle (no small task), and we all enjoyed the gentle clear water of the Gulf of Mexico, three consecutive beach sunsets, and a beautiful wedding.  We got home after a grueling day on the road, fell into deep sleep, and woke to thunder and rain.  The next afternoon, an old friend from college brought her two growing children for an overnight visit while they passed through the state.  The kids helped harvest the tomatoes and onions and had a great time testing the electric fence and chasing chickens.  It’s been a diverse week with plenty of work, and plenty of fun.  Summer is FULL.

We grew more onions this year than ever before.  Use them up.  The ones we’re giving now may not store so well.  You can either try to cure them in a warm, dry, but not sunny place, then store them with your garlic (but not with potatoes!) for the long run, OR you can keep them in a plastic bag in the fridge, and eat them within a week or two.

Onion Poppy Seed Drop Biscuits
Oil or butter for greasing the baking sheets             2 large eggs
½ cup canola (or other) oil                                        2 large onions grated, liquid reserved
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour                         ½ cup poppy seeds (or sesame)
2 Tbsp water                                                              2 tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp salt                                                                 1 tsp sugar

1) Preheat oven to 400F.  Lightly coat 2 baking sheets with oil or butter.
2) Beat the eggs in a large bowl.  Stir in the oil and the grated onions with their liquid.  Sift in the flour, then add the poppy seeds, water, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Stir the ingredients just until they are moistened but not completely smooth.  Do not overmix the batter or it will become stretchy and your biscuits will be tough. 
3) Drop the mixture by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheets.  Bake until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.  Serve warm.

Grated Raw Beet Salad with Fresh Dill and Mustard Vinaigrette
3-4 cups Beets (I would use carrots too!), peeled, coarsely grated                 ½ cup olive oil
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar                                        1 Tbsp finely chopped shallot
1 tsp prepared Dijon mustard                                               1 small clove garlic minced or pressed
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste                                   1-2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill

1) Put the grated beets in a large salad bowl.
2) Combine the olive oil, vinegar, shallot, mustard, and garlic in a large jar.  With the lid tightly screwed on, shake the jar vigorously until the oil and vinegar are thickened.
3) Pour the dressing over the beets and toss until well coated.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer beet mixture to the refrigerator to marinate for at least 1 hour (or overnight).
4) Add the fresh dill, toss again, and serve chilled.

The squash are threatening to overrun the garden.  If we miss a day picking them, and even if we don’t, they grow into monsters.  I use the yellow squash just like I would a zucchini in this sweet bread:
3 cups all-purpose flour                     1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda                     1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon          3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil                             2 1/4 cups white sugar (or a substitute)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract                2 cups grated zucchini (at least)
1 cup chopped walnuts                     raisins if you like them (soak them before adding)

1. Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
3. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
4. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

Next week, there will be more carrots, beans and cucumbers, hopefully more eggplant, possibly tomatillos or some small peppers. 

Eat well, be well, and thanks for your support!                               Paul, Coree, Lulah and Levon

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