Wednesday, July 29, 2015

July 29 or August 1

"Juliet" Tomatoes on the vine
Small boxes:  2 1/2 pounds brandywine tomatoes, 2 1/2 pounds juliet tomatoes, 1 garlic, 1 pound "Ophelia" eggplant, 1 red bell pepper, 1 bunch of italian parsley, 1 canteloupe.
regular boxes: 4 pounds brandywine tomatoes, 2 1/2 pounds juliet tomatoes, 2 garlic, 2 pounds ophelia eggplant, 3 red bell peppers, 1 bunch italian parsley, 1 canteloupe, 2 pounds cucumbers.

Storage:  Garlic out of direct sunlight on your counter.  Tomatoes that you'll eat within 2 days, store on the counter.  The others should be refrigerated.  All else in the fridge.  Eggplant and parsley in bags.

The Brandywine tomatoes make for great fresh eating on sandwiches, in salads, all by themselves.  They also make great soup.  The Juliets are at their best as a cooked tomato.  I like them oven roasted or grilled and then eaten plain or used in pasta sauce, as a pizza topping, on sandwiches.  Ophelia eggplant is a small variety of the "Indian" type used well in curry cut in half or whole.  I also like these oven roasted.

The offer for the $30 25 pound tomato box still stands thru the coming weekend.  We may still have an abundance next week but I can't be sure right now.

Roasted eggplant:
Wash eggplants and cut away the stems.
Cut each one in half and place in a bowl altogether.
Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano (or any herb you are fond of).
Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in a 400 degree oven until soft and lightly browned on top.

When I do this, I leave the skin on.  It is good to taste one and be sure the skin isn't bitter.  If it is, scoop the "meat" out and discard the skin.  After I've roasted the eggplant, I add it pasta or grind it in the food processor and use the paste in baba ganouj or as a sandwich spread.  I also sometimes freeze it and use later. 
One method for Roasting Tomatoes

A baby bird!  From the nest in last weeks' picture.

Ellen and Anne loading the truck with the pepper harvest

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

July 22 or 25 Tomatoes! Tomatoes! Tomatoes!

A nest of baby birds in the cherry tomato row

Up close...a full nest!
Small Boxes:  1 bunch of shiso, 1 pound of torpedo onions, 2 1/2 pounds of "Paul Robeson" tomatoes, 1 italian eggplant, 1 canteloupe melon, 1 pint of cherry tomatoes.
Regular Boxes:  all of the above plus 1 pound of yellow wax beans, 1 pineapple bi-color tomato, 1 bunch of gold beets.

Storage:  Tomatoes will have best flavor if kept out of the refrigerator, but it means they will need to be eaten within 3 days or so.  Keep them in fridge if you won't eat them that quickly.  The melon is ripe so keep it refrigerated until eating.  All other items will keep best in the fridge as well.

Shiso is an herb with a mild cumin flavor.  It is good in salad, hummus, with beans, in baba ghanouj.

Here is the description of the Paul Robeson tomato from the FEDCO seed catalog that led me to start growing this one:  "This Russian heirloom was named in honor of Paul Robeson (1898-1976) who befriended the Soviet Union. Athlete (15 varsity letters at Rutgers!), actor (played Othello in the longest-running Shakespearean production in Broadway history), singer (world famous for his vibrant baritone renditions of Negro spirituals), orator, cultural scholar and linguist (fluent in at least 15 languages!), Robeson was an outspoken crusader for racial equality and social justice. Revered by the left, reviled by the right, he was blacklisted during the McCarthy Era and beyond, harassed by the FBI, his passport revoked for eight years, his career stifled. He died broken and almost forgotten, his life a testament to lost opportunities in 20th-century American history. His namesake tomato developed almost a cult following among seed savers. The maroon-brick 6–12 oz oblate often bi-lobed fruits with dark green shoulders come closest in flavor to Black Krim, but claim their own distinctive sweet smoky taste. A sandwich tomato with a tang, an extraordinary tomato for an extraordinary man."
See what you think!  Also makes good soup and a good canning tomato as well.

On that note, we are in the tomatoes right now and have more than enough.  If you would like tomatoes to can or freeze or just eat a lot of fresh, we will sell you 25 pound boxes for $30.  (At market they are $2.50/pound.  This is a special deal for csa customers!)  Just let me know by email or let us know at market that you want to do this.  It needs to happen this week as they'll slow down again probably by end of July.  If you just want to try some other variety this week in addition to what is in your box, grab it from us at market "on the house".   Also, we don't put hot peppers in the box because so many people don't eat them.  If you want hot peppers, help yourself at market or if you pick up elsewhere, let me know and i'll send you some.

Shiso and Lemon Dressing
juice from 2 lemons 
5 to 10 shiso leaves
3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T rice vinegar
1/2 T maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste

this dressing can be made in advance and kept in a jar with a lid in the refrigerator.  It is good on fresh tomatoes, on potato salad, on bean salad.

The following recipe is for a huge batch, so you'll have to cut down the amount of ingredients or ask us for extra eggplant if you want a huge batch!
Eggplant salad recipe
Tomatoes on the vine

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

July 15 or 18

Beets with mud, before cleaning.

Our godson, Henry, on his last day working with us.
Small boxes: 2 pounds red hybrid tomatoes, 1 1/2 pounds of green cucumbers, 1 head of "cured" garlic, 1 bunch of red beets, 2 fennel bulbs, 1 head of green cabbage.
Regular boxes:  2 pounds red hybrid tomatoes, 1 1/2 pounds of green cucumbers, 2 heads of cured garlic, 1 bunch of red beets, 2 fennel bulbs, 1 head of green cabbage, 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, 1 bunch of root parsley, 1 bunch of leeks, 2 pounds of fingerling potatoes.

Henry is our 14 year old godson who came to live and work with us for 5 weeks.  He was an absolute champ!  He got up for work at 6 am everyday and worked right along with the crew all day doing whatever the task was with a cheerful countenance.  He made us laugh and gave us some new perspective.  Thank you Henry!  Now he's back to Blacksburg VA to enjoy the rest of his summer in a more relaxed schedule and start high school this fall.

Thank you to all who responded with words of support and enthusiasm to our email on Sunday!  We really do want to fix what we can when you have problems with our CSA.  Let us know if you get something that's not good and we'll replace it.  If you have dietary restraints, let us know and we'll do what we can to change out vegetables.  Those of you who pick up at Catawba rather than a market have a bit less flexibility in this matter but I will try to fulfill your requests.

Storage:  garlic and tomatoes can be kept on the counter and used this week.  Everything else needs to be refrigerated.  If you aren't going to eat the beet greens within 2 days, cut them off of the beets and store in a separate bag with the air squeezed out.  Parsley root is usually long like a carrot but ours is knobby because we transplanted it.  The greens on top are stronger than parsley grown for leaf use.  You can use it in small quantities raw or you can make a pesto with it mixed with basil and/or other herbs.  The root is good cooked in soup, stew, or roasted vegetables.  You can eat it raw in salad or slaw too.
 "Cook (almost) Anything" is an interesting blog with many good ideas in addition to the recipe I linked below.
Parsley Root and Leek Soup Recipe
Here is a link to fennel ideas:

Have a great week!
If you look closely, there is a newly fledged kestrel chick on the left sprinkler.  We got to watch them for a few days as they learned to fly.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

July 8 or 11 CSA

Small boxes: 1 pound tomatoes, 1 bunch of basil, 1 head of garlic, 2 red onions, 1 head of celery, 1 pint of baby squash, 1 eggplant.
Regular boxes: 2 pounds tomatoes, 1 basil bunch, 1 garlic bulb, 3 red onions, 1 head of celery, 1 pint of baby squash, 2 pounds of cucumbers, 1 bunch of dill, 1 eggplant.

Storage:  Tomatoes will have better flavor if you store them outside the refrigerator.  Basil will keep in a cloth or paper bag in fridge or with stems in a glass of water on the counter.  Everything else will keep best in the refrigerator.

The garlic is "uncured" still and needs to be used this week or kept in the refrigerator.  It is likely to mold if kept out on the counter.  The tomatoes in the box this week are a hybrid variety called "New Girl".  They are best for fresh eating but can be cooked with too. 

I like to eat eggplant roasted the best of all.  Slice in 1/4 inch slices, toss in olive oil with salt and pepper and roast in a single layer at 450 degrees until lightly browned.  I know there are many other things to do with eggplant and the epicurious site has some good ideas:
An Eggplant Idea

The cucumbers in the regular boxes are from a new planting and are crisp and delicious.  We make cucumber salad with them using fresh dill, an onion, apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper.
This blog post is short and hurried because we are burning up the daylight right now with onion harvesting, tomato trellising, preparing beds for fall crops (can't believe its time already to think about this!), moving cows to green pasture.  I hope you have a good week!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July 1 or 4

Small boxes:  2 pounds of Satina potatoes, 1 pound of green snap beans, 1 pound of zephyr squash, 1 bunch of parsley, 1 green cabbage,1 bunch of torpedo onions, 1 bunch of red beets.

Regular boxes: 2 pounds of Satina Potatoes, 2 Pounds of snap beans, 2 pounds of zephyr squash, 1bunch of parsley, 1 green cabbage, 1 bunch of torpedo onions, 1 bunch of red beets, 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, 1 1/2 pounds of small slicer tomatoes.

Storage:  Everything except tomatoes will keep best in the vegetable drawers of your refrigerator.  Parsley and beet greens need to be wrapped in a cloth or in a bag with the air squeezed out.

We thought that folks might be celebrating July 4th with potato salad and cole slaw so we hope you are!  The potatoes are similar to yukon golds in color and texture with a sweet flavor since they are freshly dug.  We had a discussion about whether parsley or dill was the important herb for these dishes and consensus was parsley.  I hope you agree...
The following link has a recipe for an unusual potato salad.  I omit the sugar in the dressing because the potatoes have plenty sweet flavor on their own:
  Beet and Potato Salad

The torpedo onions are really good grilled if you are firing up the grill.  We marinate them in salt, pepper, olive oil, and a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar.
The cabbage is an heirloom variety called "flat dutch", due  to it's sat-upon look. 
The zephyr squash has a different appearance than normal because it is from a new planting and the first squash produced on the plant is mostly light green instead of the usual green and yellow.  These are also delicious sliced thin and grilled with the same marinade as the onions. 

Steamed Squash with Mint
4 cups of squash, sliced thin
1 T water
1/4 tsp salt and pepper
1 T oil
1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
a sprig of mint
a dash of red wine vinegar

1. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan with a lid.  Add the squash and mint.  Steam until soft (about 5 minutes).
2. Strain off excess water and remove the mint sprig.  Saute the garlic in olive oil for a minute or so and add the squash, vinegar, and salt and pepper.

Freshly harvested garlic laid out in the barn to "cure".