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

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