Friday, August 19, 2011

Ode to Summer Squash

Powdery Mildew

I know, I know, I just got done posting zucchini bread recipes. But, with the warm days and cool, dewy nights, powdery mildew is really making its move on the summer and squash plants. It's amazing how quickly the right conditions can spread the fungus. We'll continue having squash for at least another week in CSA shares, but expect a rapid tapering down of squash.

Fortunately, the winter squash is ripening happily away, and we should get a good harvest in despite the early-seeming arrival of PM. (Maybe I'm just not ready to give summer up yet.) Winter squash varieties to look forward to: Delicata, Butternut, Rouge vif d'Etamps/Cinderella pumpkin, and New England Pie pumpkin.

Fresh Ideas

Sue and her Week 8 ShareIt's that time of season-- the nights are dipping cooler, and the days provide just about everything you could want from summer--and everyone is trying to hone in on the Perfect Zucchini Bread Recipe. It's a journey, not a destination... or at least that's what I'm telling myself as I eat zucchini-ed souffle mush in my haphazard, substitution-riddled approach to recipes. Thanks to CSA member Sue, who always has great recipe ideas for our farm produce, I think we're getting closer. She even mentioned that these puppies hold a tight, high muffin top, just like they're supposed to-- no sinking pits of porridge here-- and they come in at 145 calories each. And so, for your testing pleasure (and adapted very slightly...)
Sue's Kathie's Zucchini Muffins - makes a dozen muffins.
1 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups shredded zukes
1/2 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 large egg
to sprinkle on top:
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 taspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine whole wheat flour and next 6 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; whisk together. Combine zucchini, milk, oil, honey, and egg in a small bowl; stir until blended. Make a well in center of flour mixture; add milk mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon batter into 12 greased muffin cups. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over tops of muffins.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from pans immediately and cool on a wire rack.

Hoummous among us.

My favorite part of fresh summer produce is... eating it fresh. Don't get me wrong, I live for multi-course extravaganzas (this is an understatement. This weekend: buttermilk and habanero/herb paste-soaked, deep-fried chicken with red potato salad (olive oil base, lemon basil, dill and a touch of fennel), mustard greens with a splash of rice wine vinegar, OJ and honey, steamed haricot verts and cherry clafoutis for dessert!) but not every day is Saturday, sadly. So the rest of the time, I avoid cooking as much as possible and graze while out in the field, or sometimes collect the grazings on a plate. hard-boiled eggs with a dab of sweet-hot mustard and lemon basil on a bed of mustard greens = two minute lunch. Fresh produce can stand up, and out, on its own!

John shows off his lovely bouquet this week. And, The Dog Days of Summer...

Keep the recipe ideas rolling in, and have a great weekend!

From Blossoms

One of my favorite poems, especially at this point in the year, read aloud for its musicality and rhythm. By Li-Young Lee, from the collection Rose.

From Blossoms

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

Summer harvest bounty, friends, rivers, fishing, love, deep-fried chicken feasts, out-of-town farm visits, back to school kickoff, singing and the marriage of friends in a field... Joy to joy to joy. Thanks for being a part of it!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

One more to add for this week...

Gomphrena. Can't forget these little beauties. Red is "Strawberry Fields" with nice, big round globes.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

CSA 2011 - Week 8

In your share this week... 2 lb Kennebec potatoes
garlic head
green onions
1.5 lbs green and purple beans
bag mustard greens
bunch swiss chard
bunch beet greens
1 head green cabbage
2 carrots - mixed colors
summer squash and zukes
picklers and slicing cukes
broccoli side shoots/raab
big bag of basil (1/4 lb)
and FINALLY! the first tiny handfull of tomatoes
Herbs: thai basil, lemon basil, LOTS of dill, parsley seeds, coriander seeds
Flowers: LOTS of sunflowers, celosia, copper amaranth, scabiosa (pincushion flower). Too wet Tuesday to get into the zinnias, but they'll likely be back for Thursday's shares.

Thankfully, after two days of steady, soaking rain the sun emerged this afternoon to dry out the beans to get in for harvest. Beans are one crop in particular that do not like being handled while wet, as it makes them extremely susceptible to spreading disease. You can expect 1.5-2 lbs of green and purple beans weekly for the next several weeks. If it's too many beans for your liking all at once, you can always blanche them and freeze them for a winter day. They hold beautifully in the freezer-- or make a bean casserole and freeze it up, too!

Cukes and zukes are just beginning to taper down from their summer frenzy as the cooler nights help foster the season-ending, somewhat inevitable powdery mildew. You'll likely see them through to the end of your shares, just in lesser quantities.

The first long-anticipated tomatoes are finally coming in after a series of false starts and some ferocious tobacco hornworms. Interestingly, tomato and tobacco (Simpsons, anyone? Tomaco plants...?) are closely related, and on big tomato farms smoking is distinctly prohibited. Disease spreads easily from the smoke and residual oils from tobacco on smokers' hands, and it somehow foils tomato growth.

Anyway, these tobacco hornworms (manduca sexta, which unfortunately is not as fun to write or say as their close relatives, tomato hornworms, or manduca quinquemaculata) are simply put, gross. Anyone who knows me can attest that I am not a squeamish person. However, these suckers make my guts churn, and to me, killing them is gory, nasty business. And the gore is a deep, deep green. The worms themselves are huge, roughly the diameter of a man's pointer finger when mature, and their path of destruction is terrific. They maintain fantastic camouflage and are somewhat hard to spot save two tell-tale signs; they are equally identifiable for the destruction they wreak on the plants and their large, segmented fecal excretions. When the wind stops blowing in the hoophouse, they're large enough that you can HEAR their mandibles chewing tomato plants.

Hornworms are fairly avoidable in that the pupae overwinter in soils, and are often killed during annual tillage-- unless, of course, you're hand-building beds with a bedfork inside a makeshift hoophouse... It's a good lesson to me that next year, yes, I'll wreck the tiller around inside the house a bit before transplanting in the tomatoes, carbon monoxide poisoning be damned. After all, carbon monoxide poisoning is a plant's dream come true; the whole time I was tilling inside the greenhouse, anyway, I was laughing about the passed trend of "oxygen bars". Whatever happened to them, anyway?

And so, tomatoes this week. It's been a bit of a saga, in an ongoing struggle for tomatoes at GPF; I'd like to think I'm getting smarter, but. Bell peppers will be in your share next week.

There is a lot of basil. It is so incredibly happy inside the hoophouse-- the vigor is really incredible. If you've got any big plans for thai or lemon basil, please let me know and I'd be happy to harvest pounds of it for you (pounds is roughly a garbage bag full!)
Please be sure, especially Tuesday folks, to give your produce an extra rinse this week. Because of all that rain, there was quite a bit of mud during harvest. Your mustard greens in particular would benefit from one extra run through the salad spinner.

Beet greens are the equivalent of swiss chard. Did you know that the Chenopod family, which includes beets, chard, and spinach also includes the miracle grain, Quinoa? Fun fact.

Looking ahead: expect more cabbage, fresh onions, more mustard greens, lettuce, and some fresh shelling beans for next week. Also, more toms and a pepper or two. I will be back to school starting Tuesday, so there's a slim chance I may be a bit late in getting the shares organized in the coming weeks. I will do my best to let you know in advance, and I deeply appreciate your patience. Thank you and have a great week!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

CSA 2011 - Week 7

In your share this week...
purple, green, and purple-green streaked filet beans (1.25 lbs)
slicing and pickling cukes
2 lbs potatoes - Kennebec
zukes and summer squash
bag o' basil
garlic heads
green onions
bunch chard
broccoli shoots/raab
Herbs: thai basil, lemon basil, coriander, dill
Flowers: LOTS of sunflowers, celosia, amaranth, zinnia

Kennebec potatoes are a different variety from the previous weeks. This is a new variety to me, so keep me posted if you have any comments about preferred cooking methods! They're said to be the best french frying potatoes around...

Filet beans are skinny beans, harvested small to stay tender. There are three varieties in your share mixed together. Spoiler alert: purple beans turn green when cooked. My favorites of the varieties are a pole bean called Rattlesnake, which has superior flavor and stays tender even when they get larger. You can tell Rattlesnake apart by its green flesh that's streaked through with purple.

Your green onions are strong in flavor, and I would recommend cooking them like you would a regular onion.

All of a sudden, the bouquets are looking awfully atumnal... August 9th, already? I guess the big round bales in the background don't help.

This bouquet has some flowers to look ahead to for next week, including agrostemma and scabiosa (pincushion flower)

We can also look ahead next week to cabbage, lots of filet beans, basil, mustard greens, salad mix, and a few cippolini onions. Squash and zukes will begin to taper off, so get your zuke bread baked before it's too late! Also, please be sure to grab your chickens from the freezer if you haven't already, and thanks!

Trading Work

...a good friendship makes.

Chickens are done for the season at Green Peak Farm, which is a pleasant relief. Most all of you requested to pickup your birds with your CSA share this week-- and so please be sure to grab your two birds out of the freezer when you come. This set is larger than the last, dressing out around 5.5 lb. Some of the larger birds come closer to 6.5-7 lbs-- big daddies-- and I am pleased to say that I think these are some of the finest-looking birds to come through the farm. It would not be possible without the help of friends: BIG thanks to Jane, Liz, and Gus for their willingness to learn, help, and get right in there.
A little pre-chicken stretch session

I feel so fortunate to be able to trade work with friends, and even just to have friends who are taking on exciting new projects that hone tangible, valuable skills. I'm lucky to have gotten the opportunity to learn a lot this summer-- Jane and Jimmy and their plucker project literally got the motor running in thinking about machines; Liz is an all-around rockstar, feeding me (YUM!), cutting my hair, and sparking good conversation; Anna Lea, my flower queen, rivals any arrangement I could put together in beauty, generosity, and practicality; Gus and family are FULL of good information, tools, and perspicacity to take on fun construction projects, laughing merrily throughout.

And so GPF chickens are done... and now it's on to the next set! Jane's chickens will go in two sets this week and next, and it will be nice to help her use her OWN plucker on her OWN birds. Talk about self-sufficiency! Last year it was Tim's birds-- and it all makes me think of the old barn-raising and haying parties. It's community built the old-fashioned way, through work: through time, problem-solving, and then sharing in food after work is done. In drawing the line between work and rest, and being at ease while resting. And taking turns: my birds for your birds, my birds for your woodpile, my birds for your... haircut? And new garden in Michigan?

I'm thankful for the help. Speaking of help, Rachel has been a fantastic helper and friend in the garden, and here's wishing her an exciting new start as she heads to Burlington this week. Rachel has been helping harvest and take on garden projects throughout the summer, and her sunny nature has been a wonderful addition to the farm crew. Don't get me wrong, Burt is a solid helper, too, but his stories don't nearly compare to Rachel's! Thanks, Rachel!

It's August, we're rolling, and there is a lot to be thankful for. Hope everyone has a great week!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Link to "Julia Child's Grated Zucchini Sauteed in Butter and Shallots"

One more quick post, because really, how can you go wrong here?? Salt, butter, garlic... The poor zuke is just a vessel. Yum.


CSA 2011 - Week 6

Hello! Week six, and suddenly, it's August and we've hit the half-way point in the CSA! Whew! Where does the time go? In your share this week:

summer squash/zukes
slicer and pickling cukes
bunch chard
bunch carrots
2 lbs potatoes - Yukon Golds
broccoli side shoots
sugar snap peas
snow peas
bunch mustard greens
garlic heads
bag o' basil
Thursday only: green and purple filet beans a.k.a. haricot verts a.k.a skinny-whinny green beans.

flowers: sunflowers, celosia, zinnia
herbs: dill, coriander, lemon basil, thai basil, sage

Mustard greens are sweet and have a tiny bit of tangy heat-- they're great fresh additions to salad or tossed with swiss chard for a cool side. You can also cook them quickly on low heat to get a bit more flavor-- toss some garlic, sesame oil and sesame seeds, and done! Mustard is in the brassica family (cole crops), so we're thinking broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, turnips in terms of the flavor profile.

Your filet beans (which is a fancy way of saying young, super tender green beans) are JUST starting up. I tried for a Tuesday harvest, and they only yielded one serving... which I know that in two weeks, when I'm up to my armpits in picking the some 100 bedfeet of beans spaced at 3", will be a sweet reminder of the importance of timing. They are just coming on-- so Tuesday shares, I'll get you caught up, fear ye not.

Looking ahead, we will start having more green beans, cabbage as the broccoli tapers off, and peppers are about a week-to-two off; tomatoes are still about two weeks off. We will have some green onions next week, as well. The fall crop of broccoli, kale and romanesca cauliflower is looking good, and will get us into September, as well as some later onions and green onions. Later lettuce, bulbing fennel, chard, and beets are all being transplanted today. Herb-wise, expect some parsley, cilantro, and more thyme to start appearing.

You may have noticed that there are some larger pickling cukes and zukes in your shares. What on earth am I supposed to do with THOSE, you may be asking yourselves... And here are some ideas:

+ Scrub and then diagonally slice big cukes to infuse in a jar of cold water in the refridge-- and voila! Cucumber water! Add some lemon basil, and a sprig of mint, and you're set.

+ Big cukes are great for icebox pickles when you peel them, then slice longitudinally (in half, long-wise), scrape out the seeds with a spoon, and let soak in brine in the fridge. No cooking required, they're cheap, and they'll hold for a week in the fridge. You can keep the same brine and just add more cukes as they come in, too.

To make the brine, mix together: 1 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup veg oil, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp white sugar, and 1 thinly-sliced shallot. It's that simple--no shopping required.

You can also add seasonings to flavor as appropriate:

-- I like the classic: 1 tsp celery seed with 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
-- Or, take them down the spice route and swap soy sauce for salt, add another tsp sugar, and add 1 tsp curry powder
-- Or make it Japanese Sunomono and swap in rice wine vinegar and soy

+ One more recipe: Green Peak Farm Fresh Veggie Ragout
Okay. So this is not technically a Ragout, as there is no meat, nor heat (typically they're hearty, seasoned meat stews.) I just don't know what else to call it. And, when you look up the etymology of Ragout, like you may do when you're a nerd farmer inside for an early lunch, you will find that the word is "A derivative of the French verb ragoƻter , meaning 'to stimulate the appetite'"(Read More This is definitely an appetite stimulant, and can dress up its paler pantry cousins.

Also, this is an almost entirely farm- recipe, save the sundried tomatoes. And oil. And pepper... you know what I mean.

1/5 lb (about 8-9 slices) sundried tomatoes, sliced thin
1 large zucchini, grated
3 green onions or 2 shallots, sliced thin
3 large cukes, unpeeled and halved with seeds scooped out then grated

1/2 cup good olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons dry/cooking red wine
no salt, as the sundried tomatoes are often salty enough
lots of freshly chopped thyme, dill, lemon basil, basil (to taste)
10-12 turns of black peppercorns
(I'd bet that a light squeeze of anchovy paste would be a delicious addition, if that's the sort of thing you happen to keep in your kitchen...)

In a large bowl, combine grated/sliced veggies with brine and stir well to combine and thoroughly soak veggies. Be amazed as you watch what was once a monster zucchini shrink down to turn into a manageable, delectable garnish.

I'm serving this tonight with pan-fried polenta... and plan on using it tomorrow as a base for a cold bean salad. I'll let you know how it all turns out!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Second set of chickens

Hello, CSA Members,

We'll be harvesting chickens again this Friday, August 5. You will each get your final two chickens for the season-- yum, yum!

Please let me know if you're able to come Friday, starting anytime after noon through the weekend to pick up your chickens fresh-- otherwise, I will store them in the freezer for you to pick up with your regular share next week.

A recipe idea from our farm potluck... Herb Brined Chicken

Defrost chicken in fridge.

Feather with scissors and combine generous handfuls of:
fresh thyme
fresh sage
fresh savory

1 chopped cayenne pepper
2-3 cloves chopped garlicn or shallots
3 tablespooons olive oil
3 tablespoons coarse salt
8 grinds of pepper
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/3 cup dry red wine

Stir to combine and then mortar and pestle to form a paste. Make small cuts to pierce the skin of the bird, and gently separate the skin from the meat. Smash herb paste under skin, distributing well. Cover tightly and let sit overnight.

Grill chicken at 350 for approximately 50 minutes, or until done. YUM!

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Big Day for Kate and Matt!

Here are some photos of the flowers from the gorgeous celebration of Kate and Matt! Somehow my camera got lost in the car after setup was done, but thanks to Jamie for letting me borrow one of her photos of the bride and groom.
Table setups. Loved the little honeypots for the guests!! Left: the groomsmen's bouts, Right: the groom's bout

One of the ladies' corsages

The roundup of the ladies' pin-on corsages

Two matching arrangements, birch rounds from Kate's dad, and votives for the place card table

This little buddy had the pleasure of gracing the bathroom with its color!

A fun and productive Friday night of prep with the ladies' bouquets all lined up and ready to go!

HUGE thanks to the one and only Miss Anna Lea, the best helper (and best looking model!) a friend could could ask for.

Congratulations, Kate and Matt!