CSA distribution #19 & newsletter

Our next CSA distribution will be Monday August 6 and Thursday August 9. This has been an especially draining week for us, so there will be little in this post beyond information on the upcoming share. Enjoy the food as much as we are, because it’s one of the things that keeps us going.

THIS WEEK’S PRODUCE

NEW! Amish Salad tomatoes Only sort-of new as a few made it into earlier shares. These are small, pinkish fruits that look like large cherry tomatoes. We grow them mainly because they’re hardy and productive, one of our most reliable varieties. Their raw flavor isn’t anything special, but their dense flesh and uniform size/shape makes them excellent for roasting. Prepping them for roasting is really fast, too, since there’s no need to core them. We’ll try to include 1-2 pints in each share; try making a roasted tomato salsa or sauce with these.
NEW! Cured onions
We grew two kinds of sweet onions this year, and we’ll include a sampling of both in the share this week. Cipollinis, a flat yellow onion, have already been a part of a previous distribution. The other variety is a red variety: Rossa di Milano. These are new to us, so we did only a small trial, but we quite like them. They have a nice sweetness with less of a bite than the cipollinis if eaten raw. They’re very nice for Greek salad.
Potatoes
We’ll be distributing from a row of Kennebec potatoes that we dug this morning. Yield still wasn’t stunning, but we’ve seen worse. Kennebecs are good for general purpose use. Potato pizza is a great way to feature (& stretch) a small quantities of potatoes: Slice a small-ish potato as thinly as possible, rub a pizza crust with olive oil and garlic, sprinkle on rosemary or another herb of choice, lay out the potato slices to cover the crust, add some cheese, and bake. Joanna’s favorite!
NEW! Cayenne hot peppers These long, thin, red peppers pack a punch but are highly tasty. When we have more than we can use fresh, we string these with a needle and thread and hang them in a window to dry for winter.
Anaheim hot peppers These dark green peppers are mildly hot and perfect for adding flavor to salsa, sauces, and other dishes. We especially enjoy halving them lengthwise (removing seeds), stuffing them with fresh goat cheese, and roasting. Very tasty.
Jalapeno peppers Standard small green hot pepper, great for stuffing with cheese.
Mixed sweet peppers The plants look great, and the amount should be on the rise. So many uses for these: raw (salads), stuffed, stir-fried, roasted, etc. Roasted peppers take a little bit of effort, but are intensely yummy. The thicker-fleshed varieties tend to be easier to peel.
Cherry tomato mix
Mid-sized slicer tomatoes Enjoy these sliced or roasted, they’re very versatile.
Big ugly heirloom tomatoes
These come in a variety of colors; some of you received White Tomesol tomatoes last week; other varieties include Cherokee Purple, Kellogg’s Breakfast (orange), Grandpa Willie’s (red/pink), and Cour di Bue (heart-shaped pink). The raccoons have crowned Cherokee Purple the winner of their taste-test extravaganza.
Okra Remember that these have a relatively short storage life. Try them fried in cornmeal, or chopped into soups or curries. To preserve, toss them in a bag in the freezer (do NOT blanch) or slice and put in a food dehydrator at 120ºF for ~8-12 hours until crisp/brittle.
Cucumbers Mostly yellow cukes from the second planting.
Summer squash The zombie squash planting continues, pumping out both human and pig food. Unbelievable. Maybe there won’t be a break from squash after all, given that the new planting is starting to form little baby squash-lings.
Cured garlic: This week’s varieties will be German Extra Hardy (a hardneck variety with large cloves that is especially good roasted) and Shvelisi (a nice general purpose hardneck). We will cut the stalks so German Extra Hardy has a longer stem this week.

We hope you enjoyed the sweet corn, not as much as we hoped to get you, but some is better than none. Raccoons continue to get into the patch despite electric net fences with nearly 6,000 volts and other efforts on our part. We’ve been salvaging lots of damaged ears for our own use, but aren’t sure whether there will be enough from this planting for another fair distribution to everyone. Feedback welcome on what you did get: was it mature enough, did you find major earworm damage, etc. We’re still in the learning phase of growing sweet corn. There’s one more variety with a later maturity date; the planting is slightly smaller and the ear set doesn’t look as uniform. So there’s a possibility for a slight bit more in a few weeks, but no promises.

HERBS
We’ll stick with 4 herb bundles/full share and 2/part share this week. Most of the lime basil is flowering pretty heavily, so we’re going to retire it for now; a few more plants should be ready later. The chives and garlic chives seem to have perked up slightly with a bit of natural moisture and after a break in harvest, so those are going back on the list for now.

Thyme
Sage
Tarragon

Chives
Garlic chives
Orange mint

Kentucky colonel mint
Basil
Now coming from a new planting.
Thai basil
Parsley

Shiso: Mix of red & green varieties. Really pretty! There’s lots of this right now, so we might give out a bonus bundle of herbs for anyone who expresses interest. We heard from one household that they made a tasty shiso pesto.
Green coriander: Great for salsa. Probably the last week of this; much of the planting is moving beyond the nicest green phase.
Coriander: Some of the cilantro plants have finished maturing their seed into fully dry coriander. We’ll cut this as we do for dill heads: just chop off a cluster of stems, put it in a bag, and let you separate out the seeds from anything else. These are suitable for either culinary use or for planting to grow your own cilantro/coriander.
Dill heads

11 thoughts on “CSA distribution #19 & newsletter

  1. The corn was sweet, tender and juicy. I think another day or two on the plant would have filled it out better, but knowing you’re competing with raccoons, you probably harvested it at just the right time. I’m looking forward to more, and I appreciated your guidance on how to best enjoy it. I ate it even before I had the rest of the veggies put away. Thank YOU!

  2. I agree the corn was really good. I took the corn kernels off the cob, then halved/quartered some cherry tomatoes, tore up some basil and added some goatsbeard feta. Mixed it all together with a little olive oil and some minced garlic. Then I hollowed out a zucchini and stuffed it with the corn salad and roasted it in the oven. So summery, I love it.

    With all the heat and drought, I can’t imagine how tough it is to get out there and work on the farm all day and into the night. Y’all are doing awesome, thank you!

  3. Good feedback, thanks. Sweet corn is something we wish we could do more of from a culinary point of view, but it’s just such a space-hog and pest-prone. And Toni’s right, we decided it was better to get a few slightly early ears at the right time for distribution than risk waiting too long and losing them.

  4. With regards to okra, we had it three ways tonight! Seemed we got an especially large share this week (from our Toronto CSA).

    Some we sliced up and added to a squash blossom soup, a Rick Bayless recipe with okra being our addition (that may just improve the already delicious soup!). The recipe is probably in one of his books I admit we just refer to this website: http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/2721/golden-squash-blossom-crema-crema-de-flores-de-calabaza

    More interesting were the other two uses…

    Basil okra where you remove the stems and boil the okra (maximum 5 minutes, probably less for such fresh/high quality as Chert Hollow Farm distributes) and toss with basil and whisked-together olive oil & lemon juice (2:1 ratio, approx, with about 2 tbls oil for 1/2 pound okra). Unbelievably good, and very surprising in that I’d never seen boiling okra.

    The last was grilled. I left the okra whole and tossed it in a mix of spices and olive oil. Any mix you like is fine, of course, but I did cumin, coriander, tumeric (very little), pepper, salt. It only takes a few minutes on a hot grill, put them on skewers or just be careful… move around fairly often to get even color.

    For the last two recipes can be found in Vegetable Love by Barbara Kafka and Gourmet Today edited by Ruth Reichl (both books, btw, are good additions for people who are enjoying diverse offerings from a farm like yours).

  5. Random question: What are the smallish orange tomatoes? They’re almost pink on the inside. I love them, and was wondering what variety they are.

  6. If they’re bright orange, they’re Jaune Flamme. If they’re mild orange/yellow, they’re Yellow Perfection. If they’re reddish-orange with a hint to a lot of purple on top, they’re Indigo Rose. I suspect the latter, as the other two should stay orange inside. We plan to take some comparative photos at Saturday’s tasting event, and will post those soon.

  7. Joshua,

    We tried the boiled okra tonight and found it still kinda slimy, which is why we usually don’t like okra cooked that way. Flavor was nice with the lemon & basil, but not texture. How did yours come out in that regard?

    • I probably should’ve warned that it was sort of slimy, but I found that it was mitigated by the oil, and the overall effect won me over. I don’t think I’d do it this way all the time, and ideally I’d probably have it with something like grilled fish and maybe potatoes, but we rather enjoyed it. (renée also does not like slimy okra at all, and is one of the reasons I have been trying to come up with alternatives, since we often default to Indian dry curry style).

      I also probably should’ve mentioned that the recipe suggested it sits in the dressing for at least 30 minutes but not more than several hours, and I’d definitely say it was far better about 30-60 minutes after preparing than it was the next day (we couldn’t finish all I had done that way).

      Perhaps I liked it so much because I’d never seen it boiled (other than in a soup/gumbo/etc) and I was pleasantly surprised at how perfect the texture was (ignoring any slime factor). In fact, I think it was the texture that allowed renée to enjoy it so much.

      The grilling option will probably be the most likely to repeated soon, and offers near-endless variations.

  8. This cooking technique was great for negating the slime factor on the okra. The spices on this particular recipe weren’t that fabulous, but I think you could play around with it and really have some good results.

    Seared Okra with Potatoes and Tomato
    from 660 Curries
    1 pound fresh okra, rinsed and thoroughly dried
    4 tablespoons canola oil
    1 pound russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, quartered, and thinly sliced crosswise
    2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt or sea salt
    1/2 teaspoon cayenne
    1/4 teaspoon ground asafetida
    1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
    1 large tomato, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
    1/2 cup water
    Trim the caps off the okra without cutting into the pods.
    Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the okra pods and fry, turning them occasionally with a pair of tongs, until they are soft and evenly browned all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer them to a plate.
    Drain the potatoes and pat them dry with paper towels.
    Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the same skillet. Add the potatoes and fry, tossing them occasionally, until they are crisp and brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Return the okra to the skillet, and add the salt, cayenne, asafetida, and turmeric. Continue to stir-fry the combination until the spices start to roast, about 1 minute.
    Add the tomato and 1/2 cup water. Stir once or twice, and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the skillet, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are fork-tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

    We also really enjoyed this pickled okra I made with last week’s share… it’s a refrigerator pickle, but it could surely be adapted for canning.

    Pickled Okra with Jalapenos
    1 lb okra, trimmed and halved lengthwise for larger okra
    6 Tbsp kosher salt (or 3 Tbsp table salt), divided
    3 c distilled white vinegar
    2 bay leaves
    1 t coriander seeds
    1 t black peppercorns
    0.5 t cloves
    0.5 t cinnamon
    0.5 t red pepper flakes
    5 fresh jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed, cut into quarters
    Rinse the okra in a colander. Toss it with half of the salt. Let it drain into the sink for about 15 minutes.
    Put the remaining salt, 1 cup water, the vinegar, spices, and jalapenos into a medium sized non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. After a few minutes turn the heat off.
    Rinse the okra under cool water to remove all the salt. Transfer the okra to a large heat proof bowl. Pour the pickling liquid over the okra. Let the mixture come to room temperature. Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator, covered to cool completely. Serve cold.

    • Jessica, you are basically doing an Indian dish, but the recipe is holding back on making it true Indian flavour! Do you have a good source of asafatedia in Columbia? I guess it’s probably all over now, but I still have to go to well-stocked Indian markets (around the large Indian communities of Toronto) to find it. Admittedly I often don’t bother, but I probably should.

      Anyway, I would use all the spices indicated but then either add in a garam masala you buy, or your own garam masala (you can just add to taste in a pan, or pre-mix one if you use often). If you’re doing on your own, any or all of the following would be good: mustard seed (toast it a bit in the oil before adding other ingredients), coriander seeds (whole, toasted with mustard, or ground), cardamom, cumin, ginger, garlic, tumeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, fenugreek.

      Check out any Madhur Jaffrey books or Mangoes & Curry Leaves for no shortage of inspiration. Should be at the library… they’re pretty big/popular names.

      And there are several more nice looking okra recipes on the Serious Eats website (a site well worth checking for other foods too), including a pretty simple variant of your recipe above (for just the okra):
      http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2010/09/in-season-okra-choosing-storing-recipes-20100904.html?ref=search

      • Yeah, I tried to follow the recipe exactly, as it came from a highly recommended book. It seemed odd when I read it, though, and definitely was too lightly seasoned (and way too salty). Next time I’ll certainly have to try the additional spices.
        And Columbia actually has several pretty good international markets, for being such a small city. Admittedly, I haven’t gone looking for anything terribly rare, but so far curry leaves are the only thing I consistently can’t seem to get my hands on.