Week 7: August 25

The heat is bringing out all of our tomatoes strong along with eggplant, more colorful peppers and more.  Enjoy the rainbow of veggies in this week’s box.

Tomatoes (Fields of Plenty, Singing Tree, Farnsworth, Vinewood Knoll)

Cucumbers (Farnsworth, Fields of Plenty)

Kale (Buffalo St Farm, Vinewood Knoll, Farnsworth, Fields of Plenty)

Beets (Buffalo St, Fields of Plenty, Farnsworth)

Eggplant (Vinewood Knoll, Fields of Plenty)

Sweet peppers of many shapes and sizes are loose in your box.  Even the skinny guys pictured above are sweet (Vinewood Knoll, Buffalo St, Fields of Plenty)

Wenk’s and Cayenne peppers are in plastic bags in your box.  Both are quite hot (Vinewood Knoll, Fields of Plenty)

Basil (Singing Tree)

Tarragon (Singing Tree)

Flowers (Buffalo St, Farnsworth, Fields of Plenty)

A Big Tomato Sandwich

This recipe comes from Local Flavors by Deborah Madison.  There are of course many ways to enjoy A Big Tomato Sandwich (BLT, being a perennial favorite), but this is pretty great, plus it will also use some of your bell peppers.

 

  • 1 large loaf ciabatta or other round crusty bread
  • Herb vinaigrette
  • 2 or more big ripe, juicy tomatoes
  • 1 large sweet pepper, roasted
  • Fresh mozzarella, goat or other favorite cheese

Slice the top third off the loaf of breat and set it aside.  Pull out the inside (you can use it to make bread crumbs).  Paint the inside of the bread with some dressing then make layers of sliced tomatoes, pepper, and cheese.  bathe each layer with the dressing and season with salt and pepper.  Add the top, press down, then cut into quarters or sixths.

Panzanella (or Eggplant and Bread Salad)

Thanks to CSA member Kari for suggesting this recipe

  • 3/4 pounds of eggplant, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • French or Italian bread
  • Small tomatoes
  • 1 large sweet pepper or several small ones
  • Basil
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 4 Tbs Olive Oil
  • Garlic

Preheat grill or broiler. Grill or broil eggplant slices until nicely browned, turning once to brown both sides. Coarsely chop slices; set aside.   Slice the bread one-half-inch thick and lightly toast the slices on the grill or under the broiler. Rub each slice with the cut side of the garlic. Dice the bread and mince the garlic.  Combine tomatoes, onion and eggplant in bowl. Add minced garlic. Fold in vinegar and olive oil. Fold in bread, mixing well so it becomes moistened with vinegar, oil and juice of tomatoes. Fold in basil and season salad with salt and pepper. Set aside at least one-half-hour before serving.

Storing the Harvest 2

Too many veggies to eat right away?  Here are some tips to keep your produce looking nice until you get around to eating it.  You can also check out more tips with our first Storing the Harvest.

Fresh tomatoes will store best withe the stem side pointed down (especially if the stem is no longer attached).  We usually try to provide you with some fully ripe tomatoes ready to eat right away as well as a couple that are still firm and can wait a bit longer.  They are best if stored at room temperature.

Cucumbers are best stored in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.  They’ll last a bit longer if kept in plastic, but will taste best when eaten a few days after you get them.

Eggplant is tricky as the best temperature to store it is 50F, warmer than a refrigerator but cooler than your house.  We suggest you just use it quickly so it won’t matter as much what temperature you store it at.  If that’s not possible a cool garage or basement can be great.

Sweet peppers will keep longest in your refrigerator.  If you can’t use them soon you can roast and freeze them to good effect.  The small Jimmy Nardello Peppers (the skinny ones above) also work well pickled.

Hot peppers store well at room temperature.  The chemical that makes them hot, capsicum, is also a natural anti-microbial so they will keep for a long time.  Cayenne peppers (the little red ones in the picture above) dry really well just by hanging them by the stem on a string.

Week 6: August 18

While most people are loving these cool days, some of us farmers are looking for a little warmer temperatures. The cool and cloudy days slow down some of our sumer crops, especially the tomatoes. Also there’s nothing like working 8 hours on a hot day! But the cooler weather has been great for the fall crops, the lower soil temperatures mean that our seeds for crops such as lettuce and spinach are finally able to germinate. Despite the lower temperatures there is an abundance of those summer crops in your box this week:

Eggplant (Farnsworth, Fields of Plenty, Vinewood Knoll)

Slicing Tomatoes (Farnsworth, Fields of Plenty, Singing Tree, Vinewood Knoll)

Summer Squash (Farnsworth, Fields of Plenty, Singing Tree, Vinewood Knoll)

Bok Choi (Vinewood Knoll)

Scallions (Vinewood Knoll)

Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers – just a little spicy (Farnsworth, Singing Tree)

Wenk’s Yellow Hot -These are very spicy! (Vinewood Knoll)

Beets (Buffalo St, Farnsworth, Singing Tree, Vinewood Knoll)

Sweet Peppers (Buffalo St, Fields of Plenty)

Flowers (Buffalo St, Fields of Plenty, Singing Tree)

Summer Squash Bread

Many people know the large zucchini are great for making bread, but few people realize that you can make quick bread out of any summer squash. For those of you that wait eagerly for those large squash to arrive in the summer this recipe is for you:

  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (or 1/2 cup applesauce and 1/2 cup oil)
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 2 cups shredded summer squash

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease two loaf pans.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the eggs until fluffy. Beat in the sugar, oil, and vanilla. Gradually mix in the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Fold in the squash. Mix in walnuts. Transfer to the prepared loaf pans.

Bake 45 minutes-1hour in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Spicy Bok Choi in Garlic Sauce

  • 1 pound bok choy
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Trim off the ends of the bok choy and chop, keeping the white parts separate from the green as they will need to cook longer. Rinse and spin or pat dry. Set aside.
In a small bowl or cup, stir together the vegetable oil and sesame oil. In a separate larger bowl, stir together the water, ginger, garlic, oyster sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar and red pepper flakes. Set this aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the bok choy stems first; stir fry for a few minutes or until the pieces start to turn a pale green. When stems are almost cooked, add the leaves; cook and stir until leaves are wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer the bok choy to a serving dish. Pour the sauce into the skillet or wok, and set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce has thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Pour over the bok choy and toss lightly to coat.

Cracking Wide Open

As growers we not only follow organic practices from the moment we put the seed in the ground, we also are concerned with the origins of our seeds. As such buy organic seed when possible, and we often choose heirloom varieties, not only because they’re more interesting, but because we want to protect genetic diversity. Not only does it help protect against pests, but the more diversity there is the less likely it is that we’ll face another catastrophe such as the great potato famine. So what does this have to do with the fact that some of the tomatoes in your share may have some cracks in them?

Unlike hybrid varieties that have often been chosen for their thick skins and ability to be shipped long distances, heirlooms often have thin skins and don’t transport well. Tomatoes in general tend to crack when they receive irregular water. So the lack of rain, followed by the last few days with rain means that our tomatoes are cracking wide open (not really wide open, just small cracks really). These cracks tend to heal, but leave a noticeable scar. Heirlooms are especially susceptible to cracking, as they are very thinned skinned. Rest assured these tomatoes are not only edible, but still incredibly delicious.

Week 5: August 11

Summer fruits are fully upon us: zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, eggplant and much more.  Expect to see many of these summer crops in every box until the frosts in mid-October.

The slicing tomatoes this week are a special treat.  Most are different heirloom varieties, don’t be turned off by the unusual shapes and colors, if you’ve only been eating bright red globes you’re in a for a real treat.  As we were discussing tonight, the ugliest tomatoes generally tend to be the tastiest and a really good tomato usually has curves.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or confused by any veggies we highly recommend a new Huffington Post feature named “WTF, CSA?”  Some recent posts on eggplants and basil might be especially helpful to you was the season continues.  Enjoy these fine foods in this week’s box:

 

Chard (Vinewood Knoll, Buffalo Street)
Cucumbers (Fields of Plenty and Farnsworth)
Kale (Vinewood Knoll, Farnsworth, and Fields of Plenty)
Eggplant (Farnsworth, Vinewood Knoll, and Fields of Plenty)
Slicing tomatoes (Farnsworth and Vinewood Knoll)
Zucchini and summer squash (Farnsworth, Buffalo Street, Fields of Plenty and Vinewood Knoll)
Basil (Singing Tree and Farnsworth)
Oregano (Singing Tree)
Cherry Tomatoes (Buffalo Street and Farnsworth)
Flowers (Buffalo Street and Fields of Plenty)

 

You’re not the only one who loves our vegetables

As farmers using organic methods one of the most common questions we’re asked is how we deal with pests.  There’s lots of answers to that question and with our mild winter this is a year that we’ve had to call on all the tools in our toolbox.  We can’t blame all the birds, caterpillars and beetles, these veggies are super delicious!

So how do we make sure there are still veggies left for us?
Healthy soil, healthy plants

Squash bug babies

As with humans, an already healthy and strong plant is a lot more resilient when pests come along.  A squash plant that’s planted in good soil can deal with a few Squash bugs and still produce a lot of fruit.  Plants also can often create chemicals that help them to fight off pests on their own, or that attract beneficial insects that will chase the pests off on their own.  In fact, anti-oxidants that are good for human health are often created as a reaction to pest pressure in order to just that, another reason that organic foods can often be healthier for people.

Good guys fight back

Ladybug eating some aphids

As good as our plants might taste to a Cucumber Beetle, the Cucumber Beetle makes a great snack for some nematodes.  Sometimes we buy in beneficial insects as a way to control a particularly bothersome pests/  Usually we just try to encourage these “good guys” to hang around by providing some uncultivated spaces, native plants and flowers.

Diversity is key

Some types of kale taste really good to cabbage butterfly, others not so much.  Some varieties of beans seems to be succumbing to a rust fungus while others are totally unaffected.  At some of our gardens there’s a lot of pressure on the cabbage family plants from flea beetle, at others there is virtual none.  By growing many different varieties of many different crops at many different sites all over the city we’re able to hedge our bets against any particular problems.

Squish

Tomato Horn Worm

Sometimes you just gotta squish ’em.  Tomato Horn Worms are giant, gross and can defoliate a tomato plant in no time flat.  Luckily they are also slow and, once you’ve spotted their damage, pretty easy to spot.  Since there’s usually just one per plant it is easy to just go through and do a targeted assassination.

Good fences make good neighbors

We’re actually not real big on fences at City Commons as a general rule, but some well placed row cover can help a lot when it comes to flea beetles, cabbage moths and other pests that love to fly or hop on to a newly planted row.  This is the same sort of row cover we’ll use later in the season to grow salad greens into the cooler months.

Sprays and traps

There are many organic sprays and traps on the market to use when other defenses fail.  The best ones are targeted for particular insects since we wouldn’t want to hurt our pollinators and beneficial insects in pursuit of the more destructive bugs.

Try again

Beautiful, bean eating pheasants

Early in the season some pheasants managed to eat all of the Edamame beans planted at Farnsworth.  Since it was still early a second round was started at Buffalo Street Farm.  So far the results have been better, but nothing is sure until harvest day.

Holes don’t taste bad

At the end of the day, sometimes organically grown cabbage will have a bit of a  Swiss cheese effect, or we end up getting a reduced yield do to some squash vine borer damage.  We still wouldn’t trade our lady bugs and wildflowers for chemical sprays that would make off with the butterflies and lightening bugs as well as our pests.