Tuesday, August 26, 2014

week 13

Red Springs Family Farm 8/26/14

Green Beans    Variety Peppers       Summer Squash
Eggplants        Garlic          Lettuce       Flat Leaf Parsley
Basil        Cilantro       Tomatoes
Cantaloupes & Watermelons

Here's the story on the peppers this year. Paul went out of town on business in the late spring, and I geared up to maintain the gardens without him. Just as he left, a big project that was not directly related to the garden fell right into my lap, so I did not accomplish my original goal of “keeping up.” When Paul came home, we were overjoyed to see him again, and the garden weeds were a bit further along than we usually let them grow. We set right to work on it, and salvaged the peppers and eggplants from weeds that were literally threatening to drown them. Once the weeds were gone, the peppers had to re-cover themselves with leaves before they set fruit. They are finally coming on, and looking good too.

This may be the last of the watermelons and cantaloupes. The vines are regenerating a little now, so there may be another little flush later. We'll see. These cantaloupes are Edisto. We're pleased with them and hope that you will be too. Watermelons this week are the heirloom Moon & Stars variety. It's an old timey one with big flavor and thick rinds. The leaves are spotted like the fruits.

The green beans this week would never win a beauty contest. The bean beetles seem to be thriving in the heat and humidity, so much that they've moved off the leaves and onto the beans themselves. Blanch them and toss them in a salad. The bean beetles didn't eat too much.

Tomatoes have reached their peak. The heat following the rain led to some heavy cracking and accelerated the blight on the leaves. There's still plenty of tomatoes out there, but we're seeing the beginning of their decline. If you want any tomatoes to can or freeze, please let me know now so I can pick and save some for you.

This week's basket is begging to be made into ratatouille. I've had many different flavors of success in my attempts with this dish. It's always good – but sometimes it's extraordinary! Since I don't have marjoram – I use basil, and some recipes call for rosemary. Yum. I also change the proportions of squash/pepper/eggplant according to what is most abundant. Here's one recipe framework, from foodnetwork.com. Try it out and see what you think...

2 eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices 2 large summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch slices
3 beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch slices Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt 1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice Pinch crushed red pepper
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar 2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram leaves
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Put the eggplant, zucchini, squash, and tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet or baking sheets, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt. Roast until the vegetables are soft and pliable, about 20 to 30 minutes, turning them halfway through the cooking. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle transfer them to a cutting board and cut them into 1/2-inch pieces.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and coat the bottom with olive oil. Add the onion, crushed red pepper and season with salt, to taste. Saute until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers and season again with salt, if needed. Cook until the peppers are soft, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the roasted vegetables to the pan along with the vinegar, marjoram, and thyme. Toss well to coat and add 2 to 3 more tablespoons olive oil, if needed. Taste to check the seasoning and transfer to a serving platter or bowl.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

week 11

Red Springs Family Farm 8/12/14

In one bag: Potatoes Golden Treasure Sweet Pepper
Carrots Garlic Onions
In the other bag: Lettuce Cucumber
Basil (green & purple) Cilantro Parsley
And then there are Tomatoes Cantaloupes & Watermelons
Well, that was a great rain. Our road is washed out and rough, but it's worth it, one hundred percent, to have refreshed the garden ground. I rinsed the muddy veggies once for you – they will need a slightly more thorough washing this week because of the rain.

There's another planting of green beans flowering now, and a second planting of squash, patty pan this time, about to flower. The next corn planting is making silks and new eggplants are fattening up. Fall crops are looking better and there's lots more that need to be planted now. Change is a-foot in the garden. It always is.

These first golden sweet peppers are just a sign of things to come. The plants are loaded and still blooming. There will be red bells, too, as the season progresses. These yellow ones are our personal favorites. We hope you enjoy them too.

Carrots come in many shapes, colors and sizes. Usually, I pick through the harvest a little, pulling out the ones with extra arms and legs. There were so many in this particular picking that I left several of the more interesting ones for you to enjoy. They are fun food. Levon eats them like apples.

This week might be the end of the Halona Cantaloupes. It's been a nice run of them. There are more, different varieties out there. We'll see how they do.

Herbs feature prominently in your salad bag this week. If you are overwhelmed, I have two diverse suggestions: 1) put a little basil, parsley, or cilantro on EVERYTHING. Every salad, every sandwich. Throw a handful into biscuit dough. Put them in marinades for grilling, in stuffings and breading batter. Chop them coarsely for salad, and as fine as possible for marinades and batters. 2) Make concentrated dishes, such as pesto (which can be made with cilantro or parsley, or cilantro and parsley and basil mixed) or tabbouli. This uses lots of herbs all at once, and then they can be put to use in different dishes throughout the weeks. Pesto also freezes well. If you don't want to mess with nuts and cheese and garlic, you can also just chop the herbs, add olive oil and freeze that, as is, for later use.

We don't do much grocery shopping in our house. We try to start from the base materials of food and make what we need. I have played around with making mayonnaise before, with mixed results. The worst thing is usually that we don't use it, so it sets in the fridge, where space is precious, until we forget what it is and throw it to the chickens. Then, on those rare events that we want mayo on something – oh well! My newest solution to mayonnaise aspirations, especially on potato or pasta salads, is plain yoghurt. I'm sure it's better for us, and when tossed, salad-style, with olive oil and some lemon juice, the effect is just plain wonderful.

There's another pot of tomatoes to cook down on the stove right now, and a million weeds growing before our eyes in the garden. I can hardly stay in front of the screen for another moment.

Thanks for your good eating – stay well!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

week 10

Red Springs Family Farm 8/5/14

In one bag: Cucumbers Yellow Crookneck Squash
Carrots Garlic Onions
In the other bag: Lettuce Basil
And then there are Tomatoes Corn
Halona Cantaloupe and Crimson Sweet Watermelons

Ten weeks marks the mid-point of our main season, and it feels just about right. The first flush of the summer fruits – cukes and squash, particularly, are slowing down. There are new vines beginning to bloom. Some of the fall crops are in the ground – broccoli and cabbages – we're hoping they can wait out the heat and put on some size before Fall arrives in earnest.

This sweet corn is spot on perfect this week. Thank you for partaking! There's another planting, quite a bit behind this one, but coming along nicely. So, there will be more corn, just not next week. There's no end in sight for the melons though. I think I've remarked before that we've never had such a wonderful melon patch, and it's holding true. This week, the larger Crimson Sweet watermelons are ripe, and the Halona cantaloupes are perfect. There are still jumbo Moon and Stars watermelons ripening in the field and two more varieties of cantaloupes that haven't started to turn yet. Plenty more melons to come.

Eggplants have gone on vacation, but they will return, hopefully with sweet peppers in tow.

Did you know that watermelon juice is yummy? Did you know that you can freeze cantaloupe puree and make delicious smoothies and sorbets later? Some folks even like to just eat the frozen chunks when they're not quite thawed. I'm not one of those people, but you might be.

Since it's election week, I just have to stand on my harvest basket for a moment here and make a statement. There are lots of ideas out there about how to vote. Vote with your religion, your principles, your political party, your friends, your family. It all boils down to this: it's a personal decision, and it matters. I think we should all vote, and I feel strongly that we are all voting every day – with our dollars.

Where your spend your money helps shape the world. Does your money enrich your community, or flow through long cyber-pipelines of large corporations and get spread in fraction of pennies to factory workers in South Asia? Probably both, of course, with a tendency to one direction or another.

The way I see it, eating is a physical necessity, but it is also a social and political action. How you choose your food helps to determine what this world looks like, probably in even more concrete and traceable ways than your average dollar at Wal-Mart. It's something to think about.

So, we thank you, during this election time, for voting not-so-much FOR us, but WITH us this season. We promise to do our best to bring your good food in exchange for your support. Now I'll get off my harvest basket and carry on...

If you want tomatoes for canning or freezing, let me know now so I can plan ahead to hold some for you. Also, if you would like extra basil for putting up pesto I'll be glad to make that available as the season progresses, too. Pesto is probably one of the easiest foods to “put up”. A food processor makes quick work of it. It just takes a LOT of basil. I don't think we've given what I consider a full pesto recipe's worth of basil in your bags as of yet, just to give you an idea.

Enjoy your veggies, have a great week, and please, pray for rain! Thanks.
Paul, Coree, Lulah and Levon