A perfect summer week!
A smattering of heirloom tomatoes, clockwise, starting from the top: valencia, cherokee green, striped german, brandywine, cherokee purple and striped cavern in the middle. Not pictured here: striped john - pink, great white - very light yellow with an ever so subtle peachy blush at the bottom, green zebra - green with yellow stripes.
A new patch of jerusalem artichokes flowering - see if you can spot the swallowtail.
Notes From The Field
Respite from the heat
After the intense heat two weeks ago, this past week seemed like a wonderful dream. The cooler weather was swept in with a fairly big rain event on Monday that gifted us with a total of 3 inches of precipitation. Even though we had a good amount of rainfall about a week prior to that, consistent high temperatures and sun from the heat wave left the farm thirsty for a good drink. Those three inches were just what the ground, plants, pond, wildlife and farm critters alike needed... and fortunately for the sake of sanity, Derek had not irrigated in advance.
Our sociable barn cat, Radar, strutting her stuff through the verdant pathway by the pond.
Through healthy soil management techniques we can promote the soils' natural abilities to cope with dry and overly wet conditions alike. By implementing tillage methods that maintain, or disrupt as little as possible, the soils' inherent structure, the ground has a better ability to hang on to moisture in dry spells, and process excessive moisture more effectively when there is too much precipitation. Crops that are planted in these healthier soil conditions in turn benefit by having more balanced access to moisture despite variable weather conditions.
We have altered the way we till over the years to achieve the healthiest soil possible and continue to tweak our system based on trial and error. It has been gratifying to see positive changes in the soil and plants resulting from better, self-informed interactions with them. There is certainly no 'one size fits all' set of rules that applies to all farms since each piece of land is unique in it's soil composition, orientation and topography. Much of the fun and reward of farming is observing the truly one-of-a-kindness of a very specific landscape and developing the most nourishing, mutually beneficial relationship with it.
Tomatoes continue and winter squash
Harvest #11 should include: kabocha winter squash, fresh onions, celery, scallions, fresh garlic, tomatoes, sweet peppers, eggplant, heirloom tomatoes, lettuce, okra, hot peppers, summer squash and new potatoes. Some items will be a choice. U-pick should include: cherry tomatoes, edamame, parsley, italian basil, thai/purple/sacred basil, husk cherries, tomatillos, dill, cilantro, perennial herbs and a flower bouquet. Half shares, this is Week A.
U pick notes, Edamame and Winter(?) Squash storage
If you didn't get your u-pick in the past couple of weeks because of the heat, make sure to come out to the farm and get this important share of your harvest. There were several families out today and kids and parents alike were busy harvesting - it was a great thing to see! Make sure you allow enough time to pick the many offerings of the farm, and to enjoy the beauty of the nature all around you! Please make sure to return the containers you use for harvesting. I normally use the containers so I can measure what I am picking, and then I put the veggie into a plastic bag and return the containers to the pick up room prior to leaving the farm.
Edamame are new to the u-pick field for this week. As, with most crops, check at the bottom of the plants for the plumpest beans. They will store in the fridge in a plastic bag for about a week. To eat, they must first be cooked. Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Put beans, shell and all, into pot - watch it, they have a tendency to want to boil over. Start testing them for doneness at about 8 minutes. They take anywhere from 8-10 minutes to cook. Plunge into ice water to stop cooking and maintain the bright green color. They can now be eaten as a snack by just pulling the shell through your teeth - the beans will pop right out. You can freeze them in the shell, or shell them first and then freeze for later use. Put them on a cookie sheet and freeze and then put in freezer bags - this way they won't stick together. There are several recipes on this site, so check some of them out, such as the Soybean Hummus and the Provencal style Edamame sauté.
As for the winter squash, there will be much more on these wonderful veggies in the future, but for now you can store them. Pick a cool, dry spot in your home. This could be in your basement, or a spare room -- the garage is too hot. Close to an air conditioning vent is a good location because the air is dry.
A challenge from Dana to me
This past week, we had the first share of celery for the year. We typically receive 4 or more celeries. If I remember correctly, last year we received celery for about 4 weeks in a row, and then there was a break, and later we received another 2-3 bunches. The flavor of fresh farm celery is much more flavorful than what you are used to buying at the grocery store. Enjoy it, and try it in different ways.
So, what was the challenge? I know Dana didn't even mean it as such, but when she asked me how I use my celery I gave her a smart answer of "I eat it". Which is true, but wasn't really what she had in mind. I got to thinking about it and I really do eat a lot of it as a plain snack - I know many people have their favorite fillings for it, which is great too. I have braised it in prior years, along with onions and garlic and it is delicious that way. Today I am going to make a fish stew, using the rest of my fennel and some celery stalks. But, knowing that we are going to receive it for at least a few weeks(plus I have some in my own garden), I searched for a recipe that is easy for summer and delicious. It is Italian Celery and Mushroom Salad - I haven't made it yet, but the reviews are terrific for it and it is from a website that I have found many wonderful recipes. I hope D&D and you enjoy it as well as the Summer Vegetable Ceviche I have added this week.
How did I enjoy my harvest this week?
I know I am being redundant in saying it was a great week of veggies. It is always exciting to see new items - celery, fresh onions, okra and of course tomatoes! So, here are a few of the things I made to enjoy my harvest. I haven't heard from any of you out there lately but would love to, so please send your thoughts to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Potatoes, green beans, scallions, pepper, garlic and herbs - I made a really delicious potato salad. The dressing was olive oil and balsamic dressing and was flavored with rosemary and thyme.
Cherry tomatoes -- made an uncooked tomato "sauce". Just cut the tomatoes in half and put in each person's bowl. Added a little salt and pepper, garlic to taste and basil that has been cut into chiffonade. Top with hot pasta, mix up and grate a bit of cheese on top of each portion - a very easy meal for during the week.
Tomatoes, garlic, basil -- had bruschetta a couple of times. It is a favorite summertime pre dinner snack of ours.
Cherry tomatoes, hot pepper, sweet pepper, edamame(from my freezer from last year), scallions, cilantro or basil - found a recipe for a vegetable "ceviche" that was absolutely delicious. It also includes sweet corn and peaches. I told a friend about it and she told me I have to post it this week so she can see it and make, so I have posted it. We didn't eat it all the first day and it was just as good the next night.
Tomatoes and green beans, scallions -- made a salad last night. Steamed green beans for about 3-4 minutes. Drain and place on towels to cool and dry. Meanwhile, chopped up a large tomato and put in a bowl with scallions, about a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, and pepper. Added the green beans and stirred, then added about 2 tablespoons olive oil. Passed feta cheese at the table. Yum!
Eggplant, squash, scallions, fennel, peppers -- grilled some twice this past week and ate them alongside grilled chicken and fish.
Cucumbers - put up about 8 jars of pickles for munching on throughout the year. Also continue to eat them as a snack with my lunches or while I am making dinner. Also made the spicy cucumber salad one night.
How did you enjoy your harvest?
Italian Celery and Mushroom Salad
From Food52.com; serves 4-6 as a side salad; ready in about 30 minutes
7 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
1 pound mushrooms, delicate varieties such as cremini, oyster, or shiitake are best, wiped clean as sliced as thin as possible
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
8 ribs celery, shaved paper thin (use a mandolin if you have one)
3/4 cup shaved parmigiano reggiano or Romano cheese
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
In a skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over MEDIUM HIGH heat. When the oil is hot, add the sliced mushrooms and saute until golden brown, 5-6 minutes. Season with a little salt and pepper and then set aside to cool.
In a large serving bowl, whisk the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil with the lemon juice. Add a little salt and pepper and then taste. Add more oil or lemon juice as you like. Add the celery, cooled mushrooms, cheese, and parsley to the bowl and toss until combined. Season with sea salt and pepper and serve.
V Summer Vegetable Ceviche
From Food and Wine magazine; August 2013; about 1/2 hour to prepare and then inactive marinating time. Serves 8.
1 cup fresh baby lima beans (from about 1 1/2 pounds in the pod) or other shelling bean - I used edamame
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced
1 small shallot, thinly sliced - you can use extra scallion instead
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears)
2 nectarines or peaches, cut into thin wedges - I used local peaches
1 Hass avocado, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large orange bell pepper, finely julienned - I used a purple farm pepper
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro - I used cilantro 1 day and basil one day, both are delicious - I added to each plate as a garnish.
In a small saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the lima beans until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the beans and rinse under cold water. I used edamame that were already cooked, so didn't need to do this step.
In a large bowl, whisk the lime zest and juice with the olive oil, scallion, jalapeño and shallot; season the dressing with salt. Gently fold in the lima beans, corn, nectarines, avocado, orange pepper and tomatoes. Refrigerate the “ceviche” for at least 2 hours. Fold in the cilantro just before serving and serve the “ceviche” chilled.
The salad can be refrigerated for up to 8 hours. Actually, we ate about half of it the next day and it was still delicious.