Thursday, July 30, 2015

Here come the hot crops

It is tomato time down on the farm this week as your farmers take cover from the downpour and do some work up here under the barn.
I slow cooked some of last week's lesser tomatoes into sauce. Homemade sauce is well worth the effort.

The tomatoes are kicking into a higher gear this week and that's pretty exciting. We are picking the very first green peppers today and the cantaloupe harvest is imminent.  Despite the heat and humidity there is ample soil moisture and field conditions are pretty good.  We finished harvesting the storage onions and garlic this week and they are being cured in the greenhouse and barn respectively. The curing process makes them store better, enhances the flavor, and in the case of onions, dries the neck down to reduce the likelihood of rot.  

Christina boxes up the beans with care.  She is the only female trainee out of the dozen or so that work at the farm this season. Reliable, upbeat and strong are words that fit her well. Thanks for the great job that you do Christina! 

Abendessen Bread: This week Stephanie is baking Sun-dried Tomato and Roasted Garlic Sourdough this week for $5 per loaf.

Did you Know?  A green sweet pepper is simply a pepper picked before it is fully mature.  A mature sweet pepper changes color to red, yellow, orange or even chocolate or purple.  Why do colored peppers cost more?  They are much more prone to diseases while ripening, which means that the farmer has to compost a lot of colored peppers.    

we never tire of seeing the beautiful beans (well...after they've been picked that is) ;-)
Serving Suggestions for the harvest this week:

Tomatoes: tomatoes seem to stand for themselves without words of introduction, but here are some words anyway: delicious, great in sandwiches, BLTs, tomato & cucumber salad, cooked down for sauce, chopped in salad, fresh or canned salsa and more. 
A parade of tomatoes all queued up.

Green/Purple/Yellow Beans: these beans are so amazingly good it almost puts frozen beans to shame.  The purple variety is beautiful--if heated they turn green, if used in salad their purple looks great.  To cook, bring to a boil in an inch of water or so, then turn down to three lines or so until tender. Yum yum! 

Garlic: woohoo for our farm's garlic, so fresh and tasty. It goes really well in the tomato cucumber salad I talked about last week. 

Sweet Onions: these are mild and sweet and so good in salads or caramelized in the frying pan with butter. 
 Storage Onions:  the red and white storage onions should keep for a month or two in cool dark storage.  
Eggplant: The Italian and Asian types differ only in shape and color, they are used in the same manner.  I like them sliced and grillled or pan fried with soy sauce, oil, miso etc until browned and crispy.  
Cucumbers:  these are nearing the end of their life cycle, enjoy them while they fade away. 
Scallions: These mild-mannered onion family folks give an easy onion flavor to salads, sandwiches, stir fries and more.  Or you could do the old classic buttered bread and sliced scallion treat: my grandparents talked a lot about enjoying them in spring.  "A good spring tonic" says my 101 year old grandma. 
Beets:  We grow red, orange and striped beets, beautiful.  mmm, I used to love to eat these after my mother had blanched them and slipped the skins off and they were cooling on the counter.  Super nutritious, they can be roasted, grated for salad, boiled or steamed, then eaten hot or cold, and of course, made into pickled beets or used for pickled beet eggs.  Makes me hungry writing about them.  
Chard: this cousin to the beet is appreciated for its leaves instead of its roots.  Use for salads, or as a spinach or kale substitute in cooking.  


Kale/Collards/Senposai:  these are surrendering to the hot summer weather as usual.  We like to fry these in a skillet with butter or coconut oil until crisp, add some onions and saute them as well--a superb topping for rice, fried eggs or stand alone too.
Cabbage: great for a cabbage and chopped peanut with vinegar salad. Simple and surprisingly good in spite of its simplicity. 
Garlic scapes:  these are the would-be flowering stems of garlic--soft, tender, easy to use for stir fries, diced for salad, really anywhere a mild garlic flavor is desired. We like to use it for pesto here at the farm. 
Napa cabbage: this Asian cabbage is main ingredient in Kimchee, a spicy kraut or relish of sort. The quality is great diminished so we are not harvesting it any more until the new fall crop. 
Bok Choi: the joy of choi, this is great for stir fries and goes well with peanuts, cashews, ginger, soy sauce, garlic, peanut butter, chicken.   This will return in fall. 
Lettuce heads: the lettuce did really well, we hope you enjoyed it.
Green garlic: this is garlic harvested before the base swells and becomes a bulb. It has a milder flavor than bulb garlic and can be used anywhere garlic is called for. Keep refrigerated as you would green onions/scallions. 
Rhubarb: rhubarb is harvested only in Spring and is then given a year's rest 
Parsnip: may have a late fall crop of these. 

 The Pick Your Own Field: 

Each year we plant the pick your own field with lots of favorites like sunflowers, zinnias, Sungold cherry tomatoes, and basil, while also adding in some experimental and novelty things like rice, amaranth, quinoa, insanely hot peppers (and milder ones). 
General rules of thumb:

If plentiful, take a little more, if scarce, go easy on the crop

For herbs--pinch only the tops of stems so that they can regrow. 

 Enjoy! Scott  

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