2014 CSA distribution #15

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Okra, sweet peppers (Chervena Chushka), & a honey bee on flowering buckwheat (a cover crop).

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Upcoming crops: Close-up of bean flower, pole beans, & leeks.

PRODUCE

Sweet peppers Again, any red/yellow peppers in the share will be sweet peppers this week, no matter the shape.
NEW! Anaheim peppers Mildly hot green peppers. Yummy stuffed with cheese; follow the link for details.
Tomatoes Extras will start to become available this week, often as seconds.
Cherry tomatoes
Storage tip: Storing cherry tomatoes in a container such as a colander that allows for air flow around the fruits will result in a longer storage life than if they’re put into a solid bowl or lidded container that doesn’t allow air flow. Refrigeration may increase storage life but will sacrifice flavor; room temperature storage is recommended. 
Okra

Eggplant 
 
Cucumbers  We’ve retired the older planting; the production finally crashed after weeks of impressive yields. Cukes should be back soon, as the younger planting has fruit forming. Hoping it will provide a slow & steady supply of cukes until frost.
Garlic
One variety this week, the good general purpose Shvelisi (a hardneck); two heads for full shares, one for singles.
Summer squash
Onions
Now moving to some of the red &/or yellow storage onions.
NEW! Shiitakes (Monday only)
The ~4″ rain last week produced a flush of shiitake mushrooms; Thursday members already received their surprise shiitakes, and Monday members will get their share this week. The harvest date was 8/13, so use them reasonably soon.
Maybe? Musk melons
We’re doing a small variety trial this year, and we think we’re going to be able to get some melons out into shares, though it might not be all at once. First priority will be to get melons to full shares. Don’t think these will be ready by Monday; a subset of Thursday members might get the first taste.

HERBS

Full shares will receive up to 4 herbs & single shares up to 2.  If you want to maximize the number of herbs you receive, please follow the survey directions (no more than 2 “yes” request for full shares and no more than 1 “yes” request for singles, and enough “sure” responses to give us some flexibility in rounding out what you receive). Also, please remember to fill you your survey in order to receive herbs!

Here are the expected choices:

Squash blossoms Remove cucumber beetles before use….
Chives

Jalapeno peppers

Cutting celery

Dill heads
Green coriander
Parsley Bundles may be flat leaf, curly, or a mix.
Genovese/sweet basil Store all basil flower-bouquet style in a jar of water on the counter for longest life.
Thai basil The final planting of basil doesn’t include Thai basil because it tends to be less popular than the others. It will be disappearing from the list prior to the other basils, FYI.
Lime basil
Tarragon
Sage
Mint surprise Mint often looks a bit less beautiful in the summer, with insect holes & yellowing leaves , so we’ll be harvesting whatever variety looks best & is most efficient to harvest. If you’re really set on wanting one of the specific varieties, leave a comment and we can probably fulfill the request.

EGGS

We’ve twice seen and finally caught yet another Black Rat Snake in the chicken house, so hopefully that means egg yields will pick up again. (That’s the second Black Rat Snake for the day; the first was in our bedroom at 1:45 a.m.) Laying always decreases heading into fall, and with purchased certified organic feed both very expensive & hard to come by, we also plan to cut back the flock size. Thus, FYI, we may at some point cut off egg sales as the season progresses.

COOKING/MEAL IDEAS

Cutting celery tomato sauce: We tried the cutting celery & mint tomato sauce recipe that we linked in the comment thread of the newsletter a couple of shares back, and it was quite delightful, richly herby & complex, and a very nice change from our habitual tomato-basil sauce. We used a bit less cutting celery than the recipe calls for, but it was still plenty flavorful. Nice served over pasta or potatoes.

Ratatouille: This share is perfectly suited for ratatouille, which we made this week according to the classic Julia Child recipe. It does not qualify as a fast meal, but the way the flavors blend and intensify is sure to delight the taste buds, making the effort quite worthwhile. Parsley is nice (supplies are moderate), though it would also be appropriate to put basil in the ratatouille.

Eggplant dip: If you’re tentative about how to use eggplant, as we once were, baba ghanooj is a great way to learn to love it. Recipes abound online with a variety of spellings, baba ghanoush, baba ghanooj, baba ghannouj, etc. Start by roasting the eggplants, which we do by slicing in half & putting on a baking sheet with a little olive oil (usually cut side down), oven at ~400-450ºF, until the flesh is very soft. Some varieties roast faster than others; Ping Tung Long (the long pale purple ones) tend to cook faster than the more bulbous varieties. Scoop out the pulp & mash it up, add some lemon juice, minced or pressed garlic (softneck variety preferred), yogurt if available, olive oil, salt, black pepper, & minced parsley. Serve on bread or use as a dip with vegetable slices such as cucumbers (which are probably still lurking in some of your refrigerators). Yum!

Roasted tomatoes: If the oven is roasting eggplant, might as well get double duty & roast some tomatoes, as well. Slice the tomatoes in half, toss with a little olive oil & salt, and roast at ~400ºF for ~45 minutes. Perhaps toss in a few garlic cloves, with the skins on, & peel after roasting. Joanna usually puts the tomatoes cut side down on the pan so the skins blister, Eric puts them cut side up to make the pan easier to clean. Either way works. Roasting really intensifies the flavor, and the uses are virtually infinite. Puree for a sauce, add to a soup, freeze for later use, do anything you would with a regular tomato sauce. The pink “Amish Salad” tomatoes that are about the size of a small egg are especially well suited to roasting, though any variety will work.

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