Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hello from the farm,

The scorching heat of last week dissipated and the rains came down. Yesterday's two-plus inches turned the arid adobe-like fields into brown oatmeal. The beans in particular had looked pretty dry, but today all of the crops appear rejuvenated. There is nothing like rainfall--plants respond to it much better than to irrigation.
This week we are harvesting more Red Norland and Yukon Gold potatoes, and I rigged up a dehilling setup on the tractor that is helping to make the harvest go more smoothly. The garlic is looking great, and the ground is soft enough that we can pull carrots up out of the ground without a shovel--a perk of the abundant rain. Fox 43 did a story on the rain here yesterday which aired last evening at 11pm.

Carrots are Orange...aren't they?
Each year we refine the selection of crops that we grow based on your feedback and how we observed each crop performing in the field--disease resistance, insect susceptibility, vigor, and yield. This week we are pretty tickled to see the first carrots harvested: some are red with an orange center, and the other variety is purple throughout. Despite names that sound like they came out of the Russian heavy metal and space program, Purple Haze, Deep Purple, Atomic Red, and Dragon are mostly developed by plant breeders here in the U.S.
Carrots are thought to be of Afghan origin. Suprisingly the first carrots described in literature in the 12th century were red and yellow, not orange. Orange carrots were developed by the Dutch in the 1600s and that is orange is the color that we think carrots should be. The various colors of carrot each have their own flavor and in the case of the reddish carrots, lots of healthy lycopene. Other than orange, carrots may be red, yellow, pinkish, or white.

Suggestions for the Harvest:
Carrots: carrots sticks, pennies or grated for salad, roasted, boiled with butter and brown sugar or maple syrup, curried, carrot soup...the colors will fade when cooked.
Cabbage: the simplest ways to use this are cut into wedges and serve with a bit of salt, or shred and add to salad.
Potatoes: bakes, boiled, mashed, roasted, see the roasted rosemary potato recipe below.
Beets: grate and add to salad, roast, pickle,
Summer Squash: add raw to salads, steam lightly, or stir-fry. Don't overcook.
Cucumbers: add to your lettuce and greens for salad. Dice and add to yogurt with onions and garlic scapes.
Chard or Swiss Chard: sautee, oil, garlic, parmesan etc...use like spinach
Kale: this nutritional powerhouse is great stir-fried with olive oil and garlic (scapes)
Garlic Scapes: the soft neck of the garlic--wonderful garlic flavor, cooked or raw. Discard any firm portion unless you enjoy the crunchiness.

Carrot Bread
Ingredients List:
4 medium eggs.
2 ½ cups of flour.
2 cups of carrots, shredded finely.
1 ½ cups of sugar.
1 ¼ cups of corn oil.
2 teaspoons of cinnamon.
2 teaspoons of baking powder.
1 ½ teaspoons of baking soda.
¼ teaspoon of salt.
Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°F).
Cream the corn oil and sugar.
Add each of the four eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each is added.
Blend in the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Fold in the shredded carrot.
Bake in a greased loaf pan for about 90 minutes.
Allow to cool on a wire rack.
--from ---a treasure trove of all sorts of carrot recipes.

Thank You
Thank you this week to Elizabeth Swope, Assistant Farm Manager, Law Reh, farm staff, and each of the trainees for a tremendous harvesting job during all of the heat last week and for the great season so far. Nice work guys!

Hope you are enjoying the seasonal eating and the farm experience each week.

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