Thursday, August 30, 2012

week 15

Pole Beans      Tomatoes        Eggplant
Watermelon/Cantaloupe      Summer Squash        
Peppers           Potatoes          Garlic  Cukes    Okra
Herb bag:       Arugula            Basil (green and purple)       Parsley       Sorrel    Chives

“Without deviations from the norm, progress is not possible.”
~Frank Zappa

Given the diversity of life, it behooves us to experiment in the garden.  Sometimes the experiments create wonderful successes, and sometimes they create wonderful messes.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which.  We encountered this reality while picking the Red Noodle, Kentucky, and Missouri Wonder Pole beans amidst the Indian corn and butternuts in preparation for this week’s basket.  It was nice to pick such beautiful beans standing up (picking long rows of bush beans squatting and kneeling can be a real chore.  The corn is tall with nice big ears.  Butternuts and squashes are ripening nicely.  All together they are a living tangled jungle of good food.  Some of the beans in the mix are STRING beans – old timey pole varieties with excellent flavor and nice long strings attached.

The pest pressure seems to be letting up in the cantaloupe and melon patch.  For awhile, we were racing the groundhogs and turkeys for each melon.  It is dis-heartening to find them pecked and eaten in the field.  The melons seem fairly well ripened now too.  We’ve heard some stories of a few un-ripe melons.  Sorry about that.  Keep trying – there are some real winners.

It’s great to see the arugula again.  Make a salad (oh we miss our salads!) with just arugula, toasted almonds or pine nuts and parmesan or feta cheese.  Dress it with olive oil, lemon juice, and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  It’s strong, but so good.

Most of our okra this week came from Long Hungry Creek Farm.  Thank goodness for neighbors.  Ours seems to be picking up speed somewhat.  Since summer started so early, it seems late in the year now, but there’s still plenty of time for okra.

The nice news in the farmyard is that we finally have a few more chicks!  Two new ones hatched on Friday, along with a turkey chick (just one), and then Lulah and I found another new one Wednesday morning.  We’ve never heard of such long spacing between hatches in a bunch of eggs, but we’re grateful to see them still coming.  Chicks like company.

It is unfortunate, in a way, that Lulah’s newfound excitement about having her own farm stand is coinciding with the beginning of her first dance class (very exciting).  She is present mostly at the tail end of pick up time these days.  She will continue to bring fresh flowers and hopefully cherry tomatoes for the on-going goat fund.  Thanks for your support!

Next week we anticipate more peppers, less eggplant, and arugula again.  Perhaps there will be celery sticks, and swiss chard.  Please begin thinking about your intentions for the Fall extension.  If you know right away whether or not you’ll be joining us for the later season greens, sweet potatoes, and squash shares, please let us know.  We’ll have plenty.

Now, some recipes…
1/2 cup red or other quinoa, rinsed in a fine-mesh sieve, drained
2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more for seasoning     1 pound assorted summer squash
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan plus 1/4 cup shaved with a peeler
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest                                     2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar                                                 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper                                                1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted                                          1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
Bring quinoa and 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Season with salt, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until quinoa is tender but not mushy, 12–15 minutes. Drain; return quinoa to hot saucepan. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Uncover; fluff with a fork and let cool.
Cut squash into 1/8"-thick slices, some lengthwise and some crosswise. Transfer to a large bowl, season with 2 teaspoons salt, and toss to coat. Let sit until slightly wilted, about 15 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain well. Pat dry with paper towels.
Whisk grated Parmesan, zest, juice, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing with salt and pepper.
Combine squash, quinoa, parsley, walnuts, and basil in a large bowl. Pour dressing over; toss to coat. Garnish with shaved Parmesan.

Eggplant and Tomato Curry (from Curries Without Worries)
This dish runs hot, and a bit oily, but can be adjusted down with great effect.
3 medium tomatoes                 3 hot green peppers                 1 tsp ground turmeric             
½ tsp ginger powder               ½ tsp fennel seeds                   ½ tsp cumin seeds
3 cloves                                   1 cup water                             ½ tsp cayenne pepper             
salt to taste                              1 lb small eggplant                  1 cup oil
Gravy: Cut each tomato into 6 pieces. Place the tomatoes and all other ingredients except eggplants and oil in a 4 qt saucepan.  Cook on medium high heat for 5-7 minutes, until tomatoes have cooked down a bit.  Set aside.
Heat the oil in a wok for a couple of minutes.  Wash and wipe the eggplants dry so they won’t splatter in the oil. Cut in half long across, and into quarters lengthwise.  Add eggplants to oil and stir fry for about 5 minutes, until eggplants start turning a little reddish in places.  Pour eggplants and oil into the tomato mixture.  Stir a bit to cover eggplants with gravy.  Return saucepan to heat, and cook uncovered on medium high for another 5 minutes.

Green Bean Curry from Aruna, a Southern Belle (also from Curries Without Worries)
1 lb green beans, cut to 1 inch pieces                        salt to taste                 ½ cup water
2 Tbsp oil                    ½ Tbsp mustard seeds                       a few curry leaves
½ Tbsp grated fresh ginger    1 small onion, finely chopped                       ½ cup grated coconut
Bring beans, salt and water to a boil.  Cover, lower heat and cook for 10 minutes.  Drain.
In a 4 qt saucepan, heat oil on high.  Add mustard, curry leaves, ginger and onion.  Fry a couple of minutes.  Add beans and stir fry.  Stir in grated coconut.  Serve hot.

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

Thursday, August 23, 2012

week 14

the tomato jungle
Tomatoes        Cucumbers     Eggplant
Summer Squash        
Peppers           Potatoes          Garlic             
Basil (green and purple)        Parsley                Sorrel    Chives

“Where is our comfort but in the free, uninvolved, finally mysterious beauty and grace of this world that we did not make, that has no price? Where is our sanity but there?  Where is our pleasure but in working and resting kindly in the presence of this world?”    ~Wendell Berry

Every season has its particular flavors.  Those of you who have been with us for awhile have seen the fluctuations.  One year it was okra that just wouldn’t quit.  This year the okra just won’t get started!  Last Autumn, there was so much broccoli we almost couldn’t stand to eat it anymore.  This season, even though the tomatoes are plentiful (if not beautiful), squash is our winner.  We have never ever seen squash plants live this long and produce this much squash.  Each week, we think that the powdery mildew is surely taking over and the whole patch is going to go down, and maybe a few plants will succumb, but not many, and those remaining continue to produce LOADS of squash.  Now our very favorite patty pan type, Bennings Green Tint is coming in.  It is more sweet and creamy than any other summer squash we have tried. 

Here’s a salad we had this week that was a real winner:
Wash and slice a long cucumber (or two short ones) in half lengthwise, then into half moon slices.  Cut a Bennings Green Tint patty pan into slices similar to the size of the cuke.  Mince a large clove of garlic.  Toss cucumber, squash, and garlic with a pinch of salt.  Cut a sprig of purple basil leaves chiffonier, and chop some chives.  Add the herbs to the salad and dress with plain yogurt and freshly ground pepper.  Beautiful and delicious!

We had a little extra help from some friends this week and got as much of the upper gardens into shape as possible.  Some portions of the melon patch are beyond recovery, but the big weeds that had threatened to take over the path between the peppers and the eggplant are subdued.  The corn/bean/squash project is in full swing, and although it is beautiful to behold, it is dreadful to encounter on foot.  All three varieties of plants do appear to be thriving.  There are large squash, beautiful bean flowers, and towering Indian corn stalks.  However, to pick the beans, one has to walk on the squash vines, and the morning glories are mixing with the bean vines in a disturbing tangle.  It will be an interesting harvest.  Nice to see hummingbirds perched on corn tassels as they take a break from the red bean flowers.  It’s great to be alive in the living world.  We planted the flat-leafed kale on the west side of the corn patch, and even though the seed was old, it germinated perfectly.  On the other side of the patch, and past the tomatoes (if you can get through the tangle of those vines!), the morning glories’ cousins, the sweet potatoes, appear to be thriving.  We don’t recall ever seeing the vines grow so tall.  They have bushed up above knee height now.  Surely it bodes well for the Autumn harvest!

Down in the lower garden, we’re rather frantically working to make room for the Fall crops.  Recent plantings of arugula look good and may be ready to harvest next week.  Don’t hold your breath, but the lettuce is shaping up nicely and will make a come back, eventually.
Recipes this week are adapted with gratitude from Susan Voison’s Vegan Kitchen Blog.  So, you could easy make both of these dishes non-vegan if that’s your preference.

Ridiculously Easy Roasted Squash and Onions
about 2 small to medium summer squash per person
1/2 small onion per person               freshly ground black pepper             salt

1) Preheat oven to 425F.
2) Lightly spray a baking sheet with canola or olive oil. Trim the ends of the squash, cut off the slender necks, and slice the necks in half, lengthwise.  Then slice each squash into lengthwise slices, about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick.  Lay the slices on the cooking sheet in a single layer.
3) Trim the ends of the onion and peel it.  Cut it in half down through the top and place each half cut-side down on a cutting board.  Slice into thin wedges.  Separate the layers of the onions and sprinkle them over the squash.
4) Bake for about 15 minutes, until bottoms of squash begin to brown.  Sprinkle with pepper and salt, turn each slice over, and bake until bottoms of squash are browned, about 15 minutes more.  Serve immediately, hot out of oven.

Roasted Eggplant Pesto
If your sun-dried tomatoes are not packed in oil, make sure they are still soft and flexible. If they seem overly dried out, you will need to soak them in hot water before using.

1 large eggplant                     1/4 cup whole almonds
2 sun-dried tomatoes                         2 cloves garlic
2 cups basil leaves, lightly packed                1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
salt to taste

1)  To Do Ahead:
Preheat oven to 400F. Trim off and discard the stem end of eggplant and cut in half lengthwise. Place cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with a silicone liner or parchment paper. Pierce the backs of the eggplant with a fork in a few places. Bake until completely soft and somewhat collapsed, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. This can be done ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. 
2)  At least 2 hours before using (and up to overnight), place almonds in a bowl and cover completely with water. Allow to soak at room temperature. Drain water before using.
3) Just Before Serving:
Put the almonds, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic into food processor and pulse to chop. Peel the eggplant and add it, the basil, and the nutritional yeast to the processor and process to a coarse puree. Add salt to taste and pulse to blend.
4)  Add a tablespoon to a serving of warm pasta (if the pesto is too thick to easily coat the pasta, add a little hot water to it), or use as a spread for bread or a dip for crackers or vegetables. Store in a covered container. For best color, either press a sheet of plastic wrap onto the exposed surface or spray with a light film of olive oil.

Stripes (the new pet chic) still has no siblings, but rules the roost with Lulah as her mother hen and protector.  We enjoy sunning her and watching her develop her innate chicken-ness.  We hope that you enjoy whatever is mostly innately yours this weekend, too.

Be well ~   
Paul, Coree, Lulah and Levon Entwistle

Thursday, August 16, 2012

week 13

Tomatoes        Cucumbers     Watermelon   
Summer Squash        Peppers            Eggplant        
New Zealand Spinach                       Potatoes          Garlic             
Basil                Dill      Parsley                       Sorrel    Chives

“…before we plow an unfamiliar patch, It is well to be informed about the winds, About the variations in the sky, The native traits and habits of the place, What each locale permits, and what it denies.” ~ Virgil

mama brahma hen and little stripes
The most lively news this week is that we have a hatchling.  One cute fluffy chick has hatched from underneath the two broody hens in the chicken pen.  It has feathers on its feet and a cute little stripe on its head.  Lulah calls it Stripes.  We’ve removed it from the momma hens (with frequent visitations and overnight stays) with the hopes that she will continue to hatch eggs and Stripes will soon have siblings.  In the meantime, the baby has bonded to us and follows us around and an amazing rate of speed for one so small.  She rides in pockets and on shoulders and peeps VERY LOUDLY if left alone for too long. 

The cold snap slowed down production of the okra (one day we’ll have okra), but whatever mood that the tomatoes were in has lifted and they’re back in full swing.  THIS is the week to make roasted tomato sauce (see last week’s newsletter).  It’s not so bad running the oven in the cooler weather now.  We woke one morning to find the temperature at 51 degrees!  Eight years ago, when we moved back from Maui, August was like this.  Strange, but not un-welcome.

Eggplants are enjoying life now.  If you find that you simply cannot eat 8 eggplants in the course of a week (yes, there will be more next week), you might consider freezing a few.  We love to pull them out and throw them into stir fry dishes in winter, or blend up a batch of baba ghanoush.  Just roast until they’re completely cooked, leave the skins on or off as you like, and pop them in a freezer bag for safe keeping.  Even though the harvest of peppers is not as abundant as the eggplants, the peppers are looking great.  They had to go slow with the heat and drought, but they are recovering beautifully and we foresee a beautiful crop of red and yellow sweet peppers on the horizon. 

The basil couldn’t be more beautiful right now.  Think about your pesto needs for this winter and we’ll be happy to sell extras soon.  Throw the dill heads into some cucumber dish – we just planted another row of dill, so hoping for a new batch soon.

we break for watermelon
Watermelons are looking good.  Unfortunately, we never got that last load of old hay to mulch them, so find the melons is like wading through seas of morning glory and pigweed until something round extends its shape to your eye.  Ah – a melon, with wilted tendril, white patch on the bottom, and a watery, vibratory, THUMP to it.  These are Crimson Sweet, Ali Baba, and Malali.  There will be more of next week.

New Zealand Spinach is back.  Here’s what we do… pluck off all the succulent leaves.  Toss the stems to the chickens.  Rinse and then cook the leaves, just as you would spinach.  Drain and squeeze out excess moisture, then use the greens anywhere you want a dark cooking green.  I recommend looking back at the newsletters to Chard Utopia (probably in week 1 or 2) – a spanikopita-type dish.  Or, you could make Judith’s lasagna with the summer squash and throw the NZ Spinach into the layers.  Quiche, omelet, curry, or just olive oil and roasted garlic.  There are not many dark greens in the garden this time of year.  We hope this one serves you well.

One recipe from Gaby Forte in Pacific Grove: I dice my eggplant and onions (and sweet bell peppers if I have them), and add to them walnuts and currants. Sprinkle it all with salt and pepper and extra virgin olive oil. Then bake it in the oven until the eggplant is cooked, remembering to toss them once in a while as it bakes and add little tads more of olive oil if needed. Whenever I am in a hurry I start it off on the stove, on a pan that can go straight to the oven, and finish it off there. We enjoy it on crostinis (toasted bread), alongside a giant green salad. This eggplant dish is good both hot and cold, and it makes a great sandwich for lunch on pita bread the next day. From Chef Gabriela Forte 

Princess Eggplant from Mariquita Farms (Chinese home recipe)
2 pounds smallish white or purple eggplants              3 tablespoons peanut or safflower oil
2-4 cloves garlic, chopped                                          1 bunch parsley or cilantro, chopped              

1 bunch chard (Coree says: NZ spinach), washed and chopped (ok to leave water on leaves)
sauce: Mix together with a bit of water:
2 cloves garlic, chopped                      2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar                                1 Tablespoon soy sauce
Tablespoon dark sesame oil                1 Tablespoon black bean sauce

Cut the eggplants into large-ish bite-sized pieces. Cook them over high heat in the oil, after 2 minutes, add the garlic and stir often, until the eggplants are mostly cooked through. Add the chard and mix in until it's wilted some, about 1 or 2 minutes.
Add the sauce to the still-hot eggplant mixture. STIR in the parsley or cilantro just after removing from the heat, serve with rice.

ah, sunflower!
In college, my friends and I used to play a game in which we would ask each other, in any given situation: “How is this (whatever it was at the moment) a metaphor for all of life?”  Wading through the jungle of tomato patch brought a metaphor clearly into focus.  The tomatoes are in full fruit.  We’ve nursed the plants from the time they were seeds in tiny one inch soil blocks on a table in our living room.  We weeded, hoed, mulched, caged and urged them through drought heat and rain into becoming what they are.  And now, we spend several hours at a time in harvest, sorting, packing, and canning them.  And, as I examine the plants, I see signs of the wearing on of the season.  There are the first withering leaves of the blight that comes every year.  There are splits and blemishes on the stem ends of the fruits.  These tell us there will be an end to this glorious tomato patch.  No matter what we do to prolong the season, it has to end sometime.  It sounds sad, but it really is OK.  I wouldn’t want to harvest the tomatoes 2 or 3 times a week all year round.   How exhausting!  What I DO want is to enjoy this bountiful harvest and see it used to its fullest, for as long as it lasts.  I will not seek to unnaturally prolong life, but certainly to make the most of it.  That’s my metaphor for all of life, this week.

Thank you all for your generous and enthusiastic support of Lulah’s farm stand.  She hopes to share many more cherry tomatoes with you soon.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

week 12

Sweet Corn                 Green Beans                           Cucumbers
Cantaloupe/Watermelon      Summer Squash        Peppers   Eggplant      Tomatoes        Potatoes          Garlic
Green Onions              Basil               Cilantro          Parsley

Thrush song, stream song, holy love ~ 
that flows through earthly forms and folds, 
the song of Heaven’s Sabbath fleshed ~ 
In throat and ear, In stream and stone, A grace living here as we live,~ 
Move my mind now to that which holds ~ 
Things as they change. 
~W. Berry

The summer roller coaster is running full speed ahead.  These intense thunderstorms tend to pop up on Thursday nights, fortunately AFTER we’ve gotten home.  The weeds think they are winning the garden, but the fruits are still coming, and with perseverance we shall overcome the goose grass, maintain beauty, and make room for the Fall greens in every nook and cranny.

One week is a long time in the life of a corn ear worm.  There will probably be more of them in this week’s corn harvest.  Much of this patch landed on the ground in one of the last couple storms.  They’ve held up amazingly well, all things considered.  It’s uncertain whether there will still be corn next week.  If we have any, it will be the smaller secondary ears.  Enjoy!

The fun news in the farmyard lately is that two of our hens are setting on eggs.  When we refreshed our chickens last year, we chose more old fashioned breeds with the hopes that they might “get broody” sometime and make chicks.   It’s been several years since we oriented our flock toward natural reproductive cycles.  Many modern birds have the broodiness bred out of them for the sake of better egg production.  When hens get broody and hatch chicks, they don’t want to make eggs for awhile (makes sense!).  Broodiness also tends to spread throughout a flock, so even if just one hen wants to set, the others may not lay as many eggs.  So, our egg production is down, but excitement is high to see how this whole hatching phenomena unfolds.    The chicks should be beautiful multi-purpose mutts.  We’ll try to post photos as we go along.

Lettuce is still struggling.  It seems strange that we managed to bring lettuce to town all during the drought only to have it wimp out on us now that the rain has returned!  We have a few theories: In dry conditions, roots grow deep, seeking water.  When rain pours down and the soil is soggy, the roots die back because they don’t need to go deep.  This is not good for the leaves above ground.  Also, when it pours 1 ½ to 2 inches in a sudden storm, the lettuce drowns in the anaerobic soggy soil.  A couple days later, the sun is blazing again, temperatures reach up into the high nineties, and the plant struggles to cope with the change.  Most of you know how much we love to grow, and eat, lettuce.  We’ll be glad when this little rough spell is over.

Last weekend’s storm also brought on a string of tomato explosions.  At the first picking, as soon after the rain as we could bear to get into the garden, almost half of the tomatoes were split open.  The plants had taken up so much water that the tomato fruits couldn’t contain the change in their tender skin.  That was sad.  Wednesday’s picking looks better, but still kind of rough.  The good news is that there are MANY BIG green tomatoes on the plants.  With a few good turns from the weather, we’ll see a steady stream of tomatoes for quite awhile.
This eggplant recipe is a tapas-type, not for anyone who doesn’t like to fry.  We had something similar (and stunningly delicious) in a restaurant in Asheville – with no breading.  To make it really sing, add rosemary.  I’m sure deep-frying is not necessary here.

Fried Eggplant Chips with Honey Drizzle
1 small eggplant (or Japanese), cut in half lengthwise and sliced very thinly
2 eggs, beaten well                 1 cup breadcrumbs (or seasoned breadcrumbs)
honey                                      oil for frying

Slice the eggplant lengthwise and slice very thinly. Dip the eggplant into the beaten egg and then coat with bread crumbs.  Heat the oil to 375° and fry the breaded eggplant slices until crisp and brown. Drain on cooling rack (without paper towels). Put on individual plates or large platter and drizzle with honey. Serve immediately.

And our friend Judith passed along these tips about roasting tomatoes to make a delicious sauce.  Everything we’ve ever eaten from Judith’s kitchen has been wonderful – give it a try:

Roasted Tomato Sauce
Preheat the oven to 400.  Use a large cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.
Wash and lightly core the tomatoes.  Slice in half at the widest point round.
Sit open face up and place on the pan as tightly as will fit filling the pan completely.
Sprinkle dry basil and oregano - no salt, no oil.

Roast them for about 90 min more or less.  When you see steam pouring off them and they are about 1/3 or 1/2 cooked down it's the best time to use them. 

Pull out and use when cooled enough to easily transfer to the food processor.  Make a paste or flavorful sauce by adding fresh basil, fresh garlic, a little olive oil.  Blend. Yum! Try tasting before adding salt.  I have never needed any.  Oh yes and I leave the seeds in.  Lots of recipes call to have them removed.  I don't get that at all...that's just me.

Squash Lasagne
Use the above sauce for the base.
Add any of these layers in combination to make a delightful creation:
-garlic, fresh basil, olive oil pesto      -layers of romano cheese and mozzarella
-mushrooms sauted with onions       -lightly roasted thin sliced chicken breaded with parmesan
-italian sausage                                  -thinly sliced and lightly roasted eggplant
-tofu (non gmo) with basil and parmesan as a non-dairy cheese alternative.

Slice the patty pan squash or any kind in very thin but cohesive rounds or lengthwise.
Arrange as layers in the same way you would the noodles of lasagne.
Layer sauce; squash; mushrooms & onions; cheese and pesto etc. as you would for a lasagne.
Be sure to add sauce to every other layer and finish at the top.
Bake for 1 hour at 350 or until it looks done. Might be less than an hour.

This is the end of green beans for a little while.  The okra is finally getting big enough to warrant regular picking, so we hope to send some next week.  Melons will continue to roll in, and there will be more eggplant, and maybe more chard or similar greens.  Until then…
Be well!                                                                                           Your gardeners, the Entwistles

Thursday, August 2, 2012

week 11

deep in tomato-land
Sweet Corn                Green Beans                        Cucumbers
Cantaloupe                Summer Squash            Tomatoes        
Potatoes               Swiss Chard         Onions & Garlic             
Basil                Cilantro          Sorrel              Thyme

“…the failure of one thing repaired by the success of another; and instead of one harvest, a continued one throughout the year.”   ~ Thomas Jefferson on the garden

We’re giving a shout out this week to the pollinators in our garden.  It’s great to see them out there early in the morning, hard at work.  We had never associated bees with sweet corn until this year.  The summer squashes are planted amidst the corn, three-sisters-style, so we see the dance more clearly now.  Large and small bees, bumbling, zooming, buzzing high and low notes, drop down into the deep squash blossoms, then float up and crawl along the dangling corn tassels, strewing streams of corn pollen as they fumble along, their legs coated with bright golden-yellow pollen.  What a pleasure it is to see them, and to know that they are fed too (and not poisoned) by the work they do here.           

The corn is a long story this year.  Last winter we bought our favorite organic corn seed from our favorite seed house.  It was warm and dry and we planted it not too early, but early enough to feel good about the stand.  Then there was no stand!  We went looking, and found rotted kernels, and about 6 sprouted corn plants out of 6 rows.  At that point, we were right on time to plant, so we pulled out some seed left over from last year, still viable.  It sprouted lovely little green shoots which were immediately eaten by crows and turkeys.  Now we were really frustrated, out of corn seed, and getting late for planting.  We resorted to buying a-lot of corn seed from the local co-op – the bright pink fungicide-treated stuff (we rinsed it until the water ran almost clear before planting) and proceeded to plant and plant until we had a stand tall enough to not be plucked by marauders.  Some raccoons got into this first patch one night before the kernels were even budding, so we’ve had the electric fence on it ever since.  After it tasseled and silked, a storm knocked the plants down into the squash, making a big tangle, but the tops reached back up to the sun, and finally, we have some corn.  If we’re lucky and the fence holds, the wind stays mellow, and the hot days don’t roast the ears in the husk, we’ll get two or three weeks of picking from our patches.  That’s life in a garden!

If you are a corn enthusiast, we hope you’ve been enjoying some earlier corn, and that you enjoy this corn ASAP.  The sugars in fresh corn change to starch FAST.  Even if you don’t want to eat the corn tonight, you might do well to just cook it (4 minutes should suffice) and store it in the fridge or freezer until you want it.

Our apologies if you encountered a bitter cucumber.  We found some in our last cucumber salad, and we hope that you didn’t.  But if you did, sorry!

The melon patch is a mess.  We’re not sure what we were thinking when we planned the space that the melons would take.  We did not plan according to their ability to make vines this year.  The vines are crawling, sprawling everywhere, and thankfully, there are melons coming along.  These cantaloupes are mostly Halona – one of our favorites.  

The soil is dry again.  It’s to be expected in August, I suppose.  Nevertheless, it is unnerving.  We’ve started the drip tape up again and hope to see a good steady soaker this weekend.  As far as we can tell, the drier conditions are responsible for some of the fruiting veggies slower pace this week.  Tomato, pepper and eggplant ripened considerably slower.  The only crop that made more than we expected was green beans – and they seemed bothered by the heat, not as crisp as we’d like, even as we were picking them.

Recipes this week are from American Grown, by Michelle Obama (and the White House chefs).
Green Beans with almonds
1 ½ lbs fresh green beans, trimmed              1 cup slivered or chopped almonds
1 tsp melted butter                                         1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp olive oil                                                  1 Tbsp butter
¼ cup minced shallots or onions                   1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook the green beans for about 5 minutes.  Drain and place the beans in a large bowl of ice water to cool quickly.  Drain again and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  On a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, toss the almonds with the melted butter and paprika.  Spread in a single layer and bake for 7 minutes, or just until fragrant.  Do not let the almonds burn.  Remove from the oven and set aside.
3. In a medium pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil and butter.  Add the shallots and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the green beans and sate until warmed through.  Remove from heat and add the parsley.  Season with salt and pepper.
4. Place the beans in a serving dish and garnish with toasted almonds.  Serve immediately.

Corn Soup with summer vegetables
4 to 6 ears of fresh corn, shucked and silk removed                        2 sprigs fresh thyme
Juice of ½ lemon (about 1 Tbsp.)                                           Salt and Olive Oil     
Grilled vegetables of your choice (summer squash, eggplant, pepper, tomato, mushrooms, etc.)

1. Cut the corn off the cobs and set aside.
2. Place the cobs in a large pot and just barely cover with water.  Bring to a boil; then lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the stock has a rich corn flavor.  Strain the stock and set aside.
3. Reserve ¾ cup of corn kernels and place the remaining corn in a blender.  Blend, starting on low speed and increasing the speed as the corn purees.  You can add a little of the corn stock to get the corn started.  Blend on high for 45 seconds to a minute.
4. Pour the pureed corn into a medium saucepan through a fine mesh strainer to remove the bits of skin.  Add the thyme and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently.  You do not want the soup to boil.  As the soup heats, the natural starch will begin to thicken the soup.  Once the soup has thickened, add the lemon juice and the reserved corn stock little by little until the soup reaches the desired thickness.  You should have 4 to 6 cups of soup.  Add salt to taste.     
5. Heat a small frying pan over medium heat; add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil begins to smoke, add the reserved corn kernels and do not stir until the corn has a nice brown color.  Stir the corn and then remove it from the heat.  Add the seared corn and any other grilled vegetables of your choice, cut into bite sized pieces, on top of the soup and serve.

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