Thursday, July 30, 2009

4th Week of July

Notes from your Farm
The rains arrived after a long dry spell, and it is great to see the plants responding with exuberant growth. This week we are harvesting leeks and carrots for the first time this season.
Yesterday we transplanted a couple thousand cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts plants into the field in anticipation of the fall harvest.

This Week and Tomatoes
With every type of weather something benefits, and some things suffer or are unaided. The rain was a blessing in many ways, but unfortunately the stormy, cool wet weekend was the perfect storm for the late blight to descend on our tomatoes. Late blight is unusual in that it is one of the few, perhaps only crop diseases or pests that can cause 100% loss of a crop almost instantly and without warning. So it was sad indeed to see the blackened plants and rotting tomatoes on Monday morning that on Saturday, had been beautiful, vigorous and on the verge of a harvest bonanza. The disease is airborne in the Northeast, and once the plants have it, there isn't much to be done about it other than hope for hot dry weather to inhibit its spread. So the expected deluge of ripe juicy tomatoes will instead be a trickle this season. We spent many many hours starting those seeds in the greenhouse, watering them, transplanting, staking, tying, pruning, and tying again, mowing, and checking them for diseases and eagerly awaiting their ripening, so it is sad to share this news. We hope the plants will persist long enough to give everyone a small amount of tomatoes. On the bright side, many crops are doing very well, and we even have some peaches to give out this year for the first time--pretty exciting.

Pick Your Own Field Highlights
  • Milk Thistle: a beautiful ornamental thistle to admire. Dispose of seed heads in your trash can before they ripen so as to not become a weed
  • Tromboncino Squash Tower: Check out this rapidly growing vine and the bamboo tower that Bradley made for it.
  • Summer Savory: this herb located beyond the grapes in the PYO field. Very strong by itself, it is excellent with tomatoes
  • Edible flowers: Nasturtiums, and Calendula and Borage are edible and are located also toward the end of the PYO field.
  • Basil: is ready: pinch off the tips just above where they branch--not sure, ask Bradley

Caramelized Leeks

You don't have to be vegetarian to enjoy the rich flavor of caramelized leeks. This quick and simple dish is amazingly full of flavor.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

2 medium leeks
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp soy margarine (butter)
1/2 Tbsp dark brown soft sugar
5 ounces (150 g) noodles
2 heaping Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste

Split the leeks lengthways and wash each layer thoroughly. Slice across into thin strips, including the green part.

Heat the olive oil and margarine together over a gentle heat. When the margarine has melted, add the leeks and toss well. Cook slowly, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the leeks start to soften.

Sprinkle over the sugar. After a couple more minutes, mix well. Continue to cook for 15 to 30 minutes, until the leeks have begun to collapse into a sticky mass. Add small amounts of hot water if required to stop sticking.

While the leeks are cooking, cook and drain the noodles.

When the leeks are done, add the parsley, olive oil, cooked noodles and seasoning to taste. Toss well and serve.

Yield: 2 servings

About Some of the Characters

  • Carrots: what needs to be said about carrots other than "enjoy."
  • Candy Onions: best used soon--these are not good keepers, so use within a week or two or else refrigerate for longer storage.
  • Leeks: generally--use the white part and discard the tough green stem. Leeks often have soil in the layers, so it is good to halve them and rinse the separated layers. The recipe above calls for using the green part also, just be sure to cut perpendicularly so you don't have long tough strands to deal with.
  • Potatoes: baked, boiled, roasted, they are excellent.
  • Kale: a super-nutritious green that can be added to salads, or sautéed and added to casseroles, soups, or omelets. The ribs are generally not used unless it is baby kale.

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