Anticipating the Coming Frost

Last Saturday was the Autumn Equinox and while the days are still sunny and in the 60s (still warm enough to ripen a few tomatoes!), the clear nights are starting to get down into the 40s and even the 30s.

The first dip down to freezing will end the season for a lot of crops.  Basil, beans, melons, squash, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and a couple of other crops.  Already rumors of this first frost have been flying (you know you’re a farmer when you set an alarm for 2 AM to check the temperature with plans for emergency row cover if it is getting to cool) and we actually did have a little frost damage on melons and squash plants at Fields of Plenty.

When that first frost really is in the air we’ll rush to save as much of the harvest as we can.  With the days still warm we’re able to continue getting more ripe tomatoes and peppers, but the day before that first dip we all hope to go out and strip the plants, with plans for force ripening fruit or enjoying some fried green tomatoes.

Leafy greens, root crops and most herbs can handle at least a bit of freezing and so those will help round out our fall CSA boxes along with storage crops (onions, potatoes, garlic…) and preserved food (frozen pesto, plum sauce…).

With the first frost always comes some sadness, after all it ends the fresh tomato season for another 9 months.  The coming fall is also filled with many good things as a farmer as well though.  The shorter days encourage us to rest a bit after working many a 60 hour week to deal with the plenitude and pressures of summer.  It also provides the opportunity for experimentation in the face of the challenges of growing in cooler weather.

Look for more blog posts about those challenges and the solutions we’re trying out as the season continues to change, and thanks for coming on the journey with us!

Roasted Eggplant and Chickpea Stew

  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Over 1 pound potatoes
  • 2 large peppers, or equivalent
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1 cup packed cilantro leaves
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp roasted ground cumin
  • 2 large onions, peeled and cut into eighths, or 16 very small onions
  • 1 pound eggplant
  • 2 or 3 large meaty red tomatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
  1. Preheat broiler.  Bring 6 cups water to a boil and add 1 tsp salt.  Slice the potatoes lengthwise about 1/2 inch thick, boil them for 5 minutes and drain.  Halve the peppers lengthwise, press to flatten them, then bush with vegetable oil.  Broil, cute side down, on a biking sheet until blistered but not charred.  Stack them on top of one another and set aside to steam.  When cool, remove the skins and cut the pieces in half.  Set the oven temperature at 350 F.
  2. Coarsely chop the basil, cilantro and garlic, then puree in a small food processor with olive oil, cumin and 1/2 tsp salt.
  3. Toss all the vegetables with 1 tsp salt, some fresh pepper and the herb mixture.  Using your hands, rub the herb mixture into the vegetables, especially the eggplant, then add the chickpeas and toss once more.  Transfer everything to a gratin dish.  Rinse out the herb container with 1/2 cup water and pour it over all.  Cover the gratin dish tightly with foil and bake until tender, about 90 minutes.  Remove the foil, brush the exposed vegetables with the juices, and bake for 20 minutes more.  Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Robust End of the Summer Spaghetti

  • 1  to 2 pounds eggplant, peeled and sliced
  • 2 large sweet peppers or equivalent.  Halve lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 anchovies, chopped
  • 1/3 cups parsley
  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup Kalmata or Gaeta olives, pitted and chopped
  • 3 Tbs capers, rinsed
  • 1 Tbs dried oregano
  1. Preheat the broiler.  Brush a pan lightly with oil and arrange the eggplant on it.  Broil on both sides until browned, 12 to 20 minutes per side.  Remove and cut into wide strips.  Lightly oil the peppers, the broil, skin side up, until blistered.  Stack them on top of one another to steam for 15 minutes, then peel and dice into small squares
  2. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or other heavy pan.  Add the onion, peppers, garlic, anchovies and parsley.  Saute over medium- high heat  until the onion and peppers are softened, about 5 minutes.  Lower the heat and add the eggplant, tomatoes, olives, capers, oregano and 1/2 cup water or juice from the tomatoes.  Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes
  3. Should make enough sauce for about a pound of spaghetti.  Serve with shredded Parmesan or similar cheese.

Week 12: September 29

Have a great weekend, most of the farmers will be enjoying a party Saturday night as we’ve got a wedding to go to over at Singing Tree!

 

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

Sweet Peppers (Fields of Plenty, Buffalo St, Singing Tree, Vinewood Knoll, Farnsworth)

Hot Peppers (Singing Tree, Fields of Plenty)

Basil (Farnsworth)

Eggplant (Farnsworth, Vinewood Knoll, Fields of Plenty)

Kale (Vinewood Knoll, Buffalo St, Singing Tree)

Chard (Farnsworth, Vinewood Knoll, Buffalo St)

Flowers (Farnsworth, Buffalo St, Fields of Plenty)

Week 11: September 22

Well cooler weather is upon us just in time for the Autumn Equinox on Saturday. For us farmers that means we’re racing against the shorting days to get the rest of our cool crops in the ground before the days are too short. At the same time we’re continuing to harvest our hot crops, as you can tell by the contents of this week’s box.

 Bok Choi (Vinewood Knool)

 String Beans or Snap Beans (Singing Tree, Buffalo St.)

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

Sweet Peppers (Fields of Plenty, Buffalo St, Singing Tree, Vinewood

Knoll)

 Hot Peppers (Singing Tree, Fields of Plenty)

 Basil (Buffalo St, Farnsworth)

Mint (Singing Tree)

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

Lentils with Beets and Mint

  • 1 pound (about 6 medium) trimmed golden or red beets
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) dried lentils, such as French green or black beluga
  • 6 thin slices fresh ginger plus 1 teaspoon finely grated
  • 1/4 medium red onion, finely diced (1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds, toasted and ground, or 1 teaspoon ground
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint, plus leaves for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, plus leaves for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place beets, water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a baking dish. Cover with parchment, then foil, and bake until beets are tender when pierced with the tip of a small knife, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Peel and quarter beets, and place in a small bowl. Toss with 1 teaspoon oil.
  2. Combine lentils and sliced ginger in a medium saucepan, and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer gently. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain; discard ginger. Transfer to a large bowl, and stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  3. Combine remaining teaspoon salt and the grated ginger, onion, vinegar, and honey, and let stand for 15 minutes. Whisk in remaining tablespoon oil and the coriander. Pour over lentils, and toss to coat. Season with pepper. Stir in chopped mint and cilantro. Arrange beet wedges on top of lentils. Garnish with herbs, and serve immediately.

De-Stringing String Beans

Many cooks and gardeners question the need to snap each and every end off all their green beans versus just lining them up and cutting the ends off. Many modern varieties of beans don’t actually require snapping the ends off, but there are many heirloom string bean varities, like the ones in your box, have a tough fiber, or ‘string’, along the seam. So how do you de-string a bean?

  1. Grasp the end of a bean firmly between your thumb and index finger.

  2. Twist the tip down toward its seam with a quick, even motion. A fresh bean should snap readily.

  3. Draw the broken tip down along the seam to remove the tough fiber that may be present. Most green beans available today do not have this “string,” but heirloom varieties may.

  4. Snap off the other end of the bean in the same way.

  5. Discard the snapped-off ends and any fibers in the small bowl. Place the trimmed bean in the large bowl.

Week 10: September 15

Another soggy harvest but our summer harvest keeps coming as we try to plan out salad greens, storage crops and other goodies for our fall harvest.  Farmers keep busy busy right up until the first frost.  Enjoy your herbs (parsley and mint) along with all the summer veggies this week, and if you need more come see us at Detroit Farm and Garden (1759 20th st, enter off 21st) Saturday from noon until 4 where we’ll have a farm stand with all sorts of goodies.

 

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

Sweet Peppers (Buffalo Street, Fields of Plenty, Vinewood Knoll)

Giant Zucchini- good for making bread or grilling or playing baseball (Buffalo Street)

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

Chard (Buffalo St, Vinewood Knoll, Farnsworth)

Sage (Buffalo St)

Parsley (Buffalo St, Farnsworth)

 Eggplant (Fields of Plenty, Vinewood Knoll, Farnsworth)

 Flowers (Buffalo St, Farnsworth, Singing Tree)

Pepper and Tomato Soup

This recipe originally called for yellow or orange tomatoes and yellow or orange peppers, but will taste great with whatever you have on hand.

  • 1 pound tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup white rice
  • salt and pepper
  • onion
  • garlic
  • 3 medium size sweet peppers or equivalent
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • saffron
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1 quart veggie or chicken stock or water
  • slivered basil, chopped marjoram and parsley for garnish

Peel tomatoes by quickly plunging into boiling water to loosen skins (about 10 seconds).  Put rice in 2 quarts boiling water, add 1/2 tsp salt, lower heat to simmer and cook until rices is tender.  Drain.

Chop the onion.  Mince the garlic with a pinch of salt until mushy.  Dice peppers into small squares, removing the seeds and membranes first.  You should have about 2 cups of peppers.  Peel and seed the tomatoes, reserving the juice, then dice the walls and mince the cores.

Warm the oil in a soup pot and add the onions, peppers, saffron, bay leaf, thyme and paprika.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, unti lthe onion has begun to soften and color, about 6 minutes.  Add the garlic, then stir in the tomato past and 1 tsp salt.  Give it a stir and add 1/4 cup water.  Stew for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes, their juice, and the stock.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes.

When ready to serve, reheat the soup with the rice.  Season with pepper and garnish with herbs.