Thursday, July 26, 2012

week 10

blooming cucumbers - dense with life

Green Beans                Cucumbers      Eggplant
Peppers                        Tomatoes         Lettuce
Summer Squash          Onions             Garlic             
Basil Cutting Celery Sorrel

It's hard to believe that July is almost over - but it is.  At least the weather is finally seasonal, meaning hot and sticky beyond belief!  The kids seem to do nothing but sweat and swim, and we feel as tho we were swimming in sweat as we pull the weeds from the garden, getting ready to plant another round of squashes, cucumbers, beans, and then the Autumn crops. 

Last Thursday's intense storm knocked the corn over pretty hard, but it's recovering, and we hope to have sweet corn very soon.  Lulah found the first ripe cantaloupe and it was a winner.  It looks like the melons will be small this year, but very sweet, due to the dry spell.  The latest picking of beans is coming out very nicely, but the lettuce is suffering.  Everything enjoys having the weeds pulled away, and its wonderful to feel the good moisture in the ground again. 

The gardens are overflowing right now.  Lulah announced that she would make lunch one day this week.  She wandered through the gardens with a basket, picking a few cilantro flower heads here, a handful of green beans there, a few carrots, a small head of lettuce, some basil, and of course tomatoes (tomatoes go with everything right now).  She washed and chopped and shredded (documenting everything as she went along with her old digital camera - a born blogger!) and served us a chunky fresh salad in the heat of the day.  She's one lucky girl and she knows it.

This is the end of the carrots until the Fall.  We're looking for room to plant the next round, contemplating the needs of the garden for over-wintering cover crops, Fall greens and roots, and fallowing for spring.  It's long term thinking, and as we try to do it well, we realize how little of our modern world works this way.  It's deeply satisfying to make a compost pile with the intent that it not be used in this calendar year.  Mid-summer is the time to plan what ground to leave open over the winter so that have open ground to plant the 2013 spring garden.  We will all be a year older, hopefully wiser for our time spent living, and still grateful for something fresh from the good soil. 

Here's a winning eggplant idea from Alice Waters:
Eggplant and Tomato Pizza
Grill 1/4 inch slices of eggplant, or oven-roast them, brushed with oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Roll out or shape a disk of pizza dough, and brush with olive oil mixed with garlic chopped very fine.  Make an even layer of thin red onion slices, place a few thin round slices of fresh mozzarella on the onions, and arrange the grilled eggplant slices and large slices of tomato on top, in a single layer.  keep the layers light or the crust will be soggy.  Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and bake in a preheated 450-500 degree oven for 4 to 10 minutes, until the crust is crisp and golden brown.  Scatter basil leaves over the pizza and serve.

And then there's: Cucumber, Mango and Red Onion Salad
This is a good salad to serve with spicy Mexican food. Peel and thinly slice cucumbers, mango, and sweet red onion - about the same amount of each, but exact proportions do not matter at all.  Season to taste with freshly squeezed lime juice and salt, and garnish generously with cilantro leaves. (Wow!)

Or: Chilled Tomato Soup
4 pounds ripe tomatoes                       2 stalks celery (or some cutting celery)
2 Tablespoons salt                               3 shallots
1 small cucumber                                White wine vinegar (or balsamic)

Cut the tomatoes into quarters, put them in a bowl, add all the salt, and mix well.  Peel and seed the cucumber, clean the celery, and peel the shallots.  Cut them all into a fine dice, put the shallots in a small bowl, add just enough of the vinegar to cover, and set aside.
            After about half an hour the salt will have softened the tomatoes.  Mash them with a wooden spatula and work them through a food mill to obtain a thick tomato juice.  Add the shallots, celery, and cucumber.  Season to taste with salt and vinegar.  Use balsamic vinegar if the tomatoes need a little sweetness.  Refrigerate over ice and serve well chilled.

If any of you put up food - I have new canning lids for you.  Conventional canning lids (Ball, Kerr, and Golden Harvest are all owned by the same mega corporation) contain BPA in their sticky interiors.  The safety claim is that the BPA doesn't get in the food unless the food touches the BPA coated surface, but the more we learn about BPA, the more we want to keep it very far away from our children's food.  So, we researched and learned about Tattler lids.  Tattler is a small American company that makes these re-usable, BPA free canning lids.  They are notably more expensive than ordinary lids, but indefinitely reusable, so they get "cheaper" by the year.  We put in a large order with the bulk food co-op we order with, and have some left over to offer to anyone who wants to try them out.  You can learn more about them at:  We have regular mouth lids available for $7/dozen (great price since we were part of a really large order).  Just let us know if you want to try them out and we'll pack them along. 

Next week, we won't have lettuce (GASP!). It will be back, we're just in a gap. There will be more green beans, most likely sweet corn, cantaloupes, and peppers. There won't be eggplant again for a couple more weeks, so make the most of these. There will still be beautiful basil, probably some cilantro, and of course, there will be tomatoes.

We hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Paul, Coree, Lulah and Levon

A poem this week, dedicated to the logging operation going on in our adjacent woods:

In a Country Once Forested, by Wendell Berry

The young woodland remembers the old, a dreamer dreaming
of an old holy book, an old set of instructions,
and the soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest,
and under the pavement the soil, is dreaming of grass.

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