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.


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