This weather as of late has been amazing for farming. Cool nights, crisp mornings and the pleasant warmth during the height of the day – what a treat! I wish we could have this for the rest of the season, but I recognize that New England weather is tricky and I would be fooling myself if I didn’t think that a heat wave or Indian summer could be lurking just around the corner.
August is a paradoxical, colorful and special month. There’s a definite shift mentally, emotionally and energetically that you feel as a grower and as someone intimately connected to the seasons. It’s not difficult to imagine the upcoming fall months, which you could be picturing when you’re slightly bundled up during the morning harvest or discussing over a slice of juicy watermelon. While we are definitely still harvesting, cultivating and working tirelessly, the farm – at least here – doesn’t seem as overwhelming. I seem to have a chance to breathe, appreciate the harvest and the place that is Hunts Brook.
Yet, the farm is far from slowing down. We’ll be pulling our shallots and onions in the
coming days to dry and cure for storage. We’ve been peeking at and drooling over the beautiful winter squash field, anticipating that big harvest toward the end of the month. Further, on Monday and Tuesday, for example, we transplanted our third and final planting of summer squash and zucchini and yet another planting of lettuce. It’s easy to let nostalgia and perhaps the appeal of the slower pace of the cooler months alter the farm plan. But, we, as food growers, must also ensure that we have enough food and variety for our customers. Practicing and implementing succession plantings, crop rotations and paying attention to the needs of certain plants (i.e., day length, heat and cold tolerance, etc.) are necessary practices employed to guarantee a prolonged, manageable and plentiful bounty.
On a more tangible, sense-based level, August offers a versatile and flavorful range of
food options. The nightshades – tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes and peppers – are out in full force, the cucurbits (cucumbers, squash, melons, etc.) are abundant, and the greens – especially the first harvest from our fall planting – are going strong. (My favorite kale variety – Red Russian – seems to be thriving right now and are among the largest leaves I’ve ever seen!) With so many options, August is an excellent time to be an eater and good food lover!
On behalf of the HBF family, enjoy the weather and the bounty,
CSA Week 9 ~ August 7, 2013
The goodness this week:
- Swiss chard
- Savoy cabbage
- Summer squash & zucchini
- Green beans or sun sugar tomatoes
As I mentioned, I love kale! It’s probably my favorite vegetable because it’s so versatile and, well, tasty. Some other fun facts about this glorious green, courtesy of the amazing cookbook “From Asparagus to Zucchini”:
- It’s the oldest and earliest cultivated member of the cabbage family.
- Kale is a superfood! It’s rich in vitamins A, B, C and calcium. It is said to have the highest protein content of all cultivated vegetables. (So, omnivores and vegetarians alike should eat lots of this!)
- Because it is cold tolerant, kale becomes sweeter and more tender with cooler growing conditions.
To highlight the wonder that is this cruciferous vegetable, here is a delightful and simple recipe for you:
Massaged Kale and Currant Salad (from “Feeding the Whole Family: Cooking with Whole Foods” by Cynthia Lair)
- 1 bunch kale (Red Russian or rainbow lacinato are ideal. And, how convenient! That’s what’s in your box this week!)
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- ¼ c. diced onion
- 1/3 c. currants (variations: raisins and/or cranberries work, too!)
- ¾ c. diced apple (about ½ an apple; variations: other seasonal fruits work as well – peaches would be tasty!)
- 1/3 c. sunflower seeds, toasted
- ¼ c. olive oil
- 2 Tbl. unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 c. Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled – optional (variations: feta, goat or other soft cheeses could work here as well!)
1.) Destem kale by pulling leaves away from the stems. Wash leaves. Spin or pat dry.
2.) Stack leaves, roll up, and cut into thin ribbons. Put kale in a large mixing bowl. Add salt, and massage it into the kale with your hands for 2 minutes.
3.) Stir onion, currants, apple, and sunflower seeds into kale. Dress with oil and vinegar. Taste for salt and vinegar, adding more if necessary. (Variations: I add fresh, ground black pepper.)
4.) When at desired flavor, toss in cheese. This salad will keep for several days and still be great!
But, what do you with those other summer veggies? Make ratatouille, of course!
Golden Ratatouille (from “Vegan Planet” by Robin Robertson)
- 2 Tbl. of olive oil
- 2 onion, diced
- 2 pepper, seeded and cut into ½-inch dice
- 1 eggplant, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 summer squash or zucchini, cut into ½-inch-thick rounds
- 4 large, ripe yellow tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 1 Tbl. minced fresh thyme leaves
- 1 Tbl. chopped fresh parsley leaves
1.) Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper, eggplant, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste and stir gently to combine. Cook, covered, until the vegetables are slightly softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the squash, tomatoes, and thyme and cook until all the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
2.) Sprinkle with the parsley and serve hot.
Variations/serving suggestions: To bulk up, add a cup or two of cooked chickpeas. Serve over brown rice, quinoa, mashed potatoes or noodles.
We’ll be harvesting our shallots this week, which means you’ll be getting them in your boxes during the upcoming weeks. Yum! Shallots are magical orbs of flavor. They’re like the midway point between garlic and a red onion. Here’s a quick recipe for a versatile vinaigrette that can be used to transform salads, roasted roots or as a marinade for tofu, meat and/or fish.
Shallot Vinaigrette (from “Moosewood Restaurant: Cooking for Health” by contributors and members of the Moosewood Collective)
- ½ c. minced shallots
- ½ c. olive oil
- ½ c. cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
- ½ tsp. of salt
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper
- 2 Tbl. chopped fresh basil, 1 Tbl. of tarragon, rosemary, thyme or any other herb
- 2 Tbl. water
1.) Cook the shallots in 1/4 c. of olive oil until soft in a small skillet over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes.
2.) In a small bowl, whisk the warm shallots and olive oil with the other ¼ of olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, herbs, and water. You can also put all ingredients in a blender to incorporate, slowly adding water to blend. Add more vinegar, salt and/or pepper to taste.
3.) Shallot Vinaigrette will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. If the chilled dressing congeals, bring it to room temperature and shake before serving.