Thursday, September 17, 2009

3rd Week of September

Notes from Your Farm:

This week we planted crimson clover in with the squash to establish a winter cover for when the squash vines die, took town the tomato twine and started to remove the stakes since the tomatoes are on their last legs, took up some of the irrigation lines and stored them in the barn upstairs, removed some of the plastic mulch in which the onions had been growing, and did some more hoeing of the fall crops. Our neighboring organic farmer had an abundance of potatoes this year but lacked for sweet peppers, so the potatoes you see this week are thanks to Promised Land farm and she is pleased to have sweet peppers from us. It's great to have a neighboring farmer to pull together with. We are also pleased to be harvesting the first arugula today. This nutty, sort of spicy green is a great addition to salads and fun to munch on by itself.

Date for Fall Potluck:
Saturday evening October 3rd 5-9pm - food, fun, fire.

Piqued by Pawpaws:
Mid-September means pawpaws, and if your interest was piqued by the mention of them last week, now is the time when they ripen. There are groves of them along the Susquehanna, and also in the County park. Look for green mango-shaped fruits lying on the ground and a heavy tropical banana aroma in the air. Most people prefer them in the soft green stage, but like bananas, they will speckle and turn dark as they ripen more, ending up black and burnt-caramel flavored if allowed to progress that far. Interestingly, they are the only temperate fruit in the custard apple family, which includes tropical delights such as: cherimoya, soursoup, guanabana. The native Americans tended and harvested groves of pawpaws locally, but settlers destroyed their pawpaw patches to eliminate food sources for the native groups. Pawpaws are indigenous to all states east of the Mississippi except for perhaps northern New England where it gets to cold for their winter survival.

Fall time is Fair Time:
When the air turns cooler and the walnut leaves are dropping, it is fair time. The Solanco Fair is this week in Quarryville, Thursday and Friday, and next week is the Lampeter Fair, Wed-Fri. Both are great places to go to see vegetables, fruits, nuts, tractors, antique tractors, and livestock--cows, goats, sheep, pigs and more.

Pick Your Own Field Highlights:
  • Stevia: this natural sweetener is 200 times sweeter than sugar, and has no glycemic impact for people with diabetes or who are limiting sugar intake Pinch off a few nodes and put in your coffee or tea. Jerusalem artichokes: beautiful sunflower type flowers for cutting! They are near the neighbors sheep fence. We will dug some up after frost for their edible tubers, but as Brian Martin said last year, "starts out like a carrot, ends up like a frying pan" in flavor. :-) frost will sweeten them up somewhat.
  • HOT Peppers: signs are posted in the row this week. The farther back the row you go, the more capsaicin! the Nippon Taka variety is said to be incendiary.
  • Concord Grapes: they don't ripen uniformly on the bunches, so just pick individual grapes that are ripe and eat or take with you.
  • Black-eyed Susan flowers: these are beautiful in the kitchen or elsewhere.
  • Ground Cherries: check out these tasty little paper-husked treat that have a hint of pineapple. Pick when paper turns golden brown or fruit is on the ground.
  • Sungold cherry tomatoes: yes, they have the late blight too--but there are some tomatoes there.
  • Heirloom tomatoes: various types located in the first row.
  • Pole beans: including Red Noodle and Roma types, down at the low end of the PYO field
  • Cut flowers: zinnias, snapdragons, celosia .
  • Basil: pinch off the tips just above where they branch--not sure, ask Bradley
  • 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.

About some of the Characters:

  • Arugula: a nutty, sort of spicy green--great addition to any salad and see Arugula Pesto recipe below.
  • Asian and Italian type eggplants: the slender Japanese type eggplants are said to be sweeter and milder than the classic Italian types--but, when we did a taste test, they all were pretty much the same in flavor. Their color is fabulous. Coating slices with oil and soy sauce and grilling them is quick and delicious.
  • Bell Peppers: these are the most nutritious when raw, and the long Carmen variety is the new favorite here.
  • Red Zeppelin Onions: beautiful red storage onions.
  • Greens: discard the stems or ribs, and use the leaves sautéed with olive oil, garlic, onion, soy sauce etc.

Arugula Pesto

1 bunch arugula, stems removed (about 4 ounces)
2 3/4 teaspoons of coarse or Kosher salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Fill a large bowl with ice and add water, set aside. Fill a medium sized saucepan with water and the 2 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and bring it to a boil. Add the arugula and as soon as the water returns to a boil, remove the arugula with a slotted spoon and place it immediately into the ice water to stop the cooking process.

Transfer the arugula to several layers of paper toweling or clean kitchen towels and allow to drain. Roll up the towels and squeeze as much moisture as possible from the arugula.

Place the arugula in a blender jar and add the oil, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and the pepper and puree until the mixture looks like thick pesto. There will be a small amount of oil on the surface. Use immediately or transfer the mixture to a jar with a tight fitting lid if you are going to store it. This will keep for at least 5 days, refrigerated. Before using, stir the pesto to incorporate the oil accumulated at the top.

Serve the pesto over some freshly cooked pasta or boiled potatoes.

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