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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Week 15 August 30th and Sept 3rd

PEPPERS


Every year I think I am going to grow enough peppers to have copious amounts at pick up. Although this summer seems like it should have been a good pepper year, I have come to the realization that we still live in Maine. My plants actually look the best they ever have. And the peppers look great and big and are turning red earlier and quicker than ever, but I don't seem to have very many per plant. Not sure why...I planted near 600' of peppers this year, the most I have ever and yet I still feel like I need more! I think part of my obsession with them is that I think they are beautiful. I feel the same about eggplant, but they are even harder to grow and I really don't like eating them so that is why I don't grow them.

I didn't have it quite together this week to have photos to show you the different varieties of peppers I grew this year. But most of you have heard the differences at pick up already. If not don't be shy to ask. I have the crates divided into sweet and hot...no one seems to trust me though : )


(The 7 "little" ducks)
Yesterday (Monday) I went to a friends farm in Wiscasset to work for the day. We, with a 3rd farm, decided to do a fall work trade. We all go to one farm and work for a day and then swap farms until we've all had help at our place. It is a great chance to talk farming, compare notes and see how other folks organize their place. Not to mention it is nice to actually SEE my friends during the farming season! I was thinking I would have folks come here to help me lug winter squash in from the field, but we will see how the timing works out.

A note on the zucchini, summer squash and cucumbers: Their time is about up, so enjoy them while they last. Sorry the cucs have looked a little rough lately. Between the lack of rain and the heat, they are not so happy anymore. They still are crispy though and peeling some of the skin off can make the rough appearance a little better.

This Week's Loot: peppers, melons, ss, zucs, cucs, beans, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, kale, onions, basil

Next week: I am not sure yet

Recipes:
Zucchini Strand Spaghetti Adapted from Michael Chiarello
As I’ve mentioned before, Chiarello has wonderful recipes but I can’t resist cutting out a few steps or we’d be using every dish in the apartment. Still, the link is up there to the original if you want to go that route. In the meanwhile, for the rest of us, here’s a simplified version of a really simple, wonderful dish that I could see quickly becoming a summer staple.
Servings: We got a solid four dinner servings out of this
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound whole-wheat dried spaghettini
3/4 pound zucchini
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus a small piece
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.
While the water comes to a boil and the pasta cooks, cut the zucchini with the fine French-fry cutter on a mandoline. If you do not have one, cut by hand into the longest, finest julienne you can manage. Season with salt and pepper. If your zucchini is very finely cut, it does not need to be cooked. Otherwise, place in a colander, suspend over the pasta pot, cover the pot, and steam the zucchini until still slightly crunchy, about 2 minutes.
Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic and saute briefly until light brown. Turn on the exhaust fan and add the red pepper flakes. Quickly mix in the basil and remove from the heat. When the pasta is al dente, drain through a colander, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
Pour the pasta into a warm serving bowl; add the zucchini, basil oil (optional, recipe below), the garlic mixture, and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Toss well, adding cooking water as needed to make a smooth sauce. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, as needed. Grate about 2 tablespoons Parmesan over the top and serve at once.
Basil Oil (or any other herb-flavored olive oil)
Makes 1 1/3 cups
For soft herbs, such as basil, parsley, cilantro or tarragon: Use 4 cups packed leaves to 2 cups pure olive oil.
For woody herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano or lemon verbena: Use 1 cup packed leaves to 2 cups pure olive oil.
In a blender, puree the herbs and oil until completely smooth. Put the mixture in a saucepan and bring it to a simmer over moderate heat. Simmer for 45 seconds, then pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Don’t press on the mixture, but you can tap the strainer against your hand to get the oil to drip through faster.
[Chirello has steps here to strain again through a coffee filter and let it settle for a few hours but I skipped all this and still had a gorgeous, delicious, unbelievably potent basil oil.]
Note: Fresh herb oils are better to toss into pasta at the end rather than cook with, so the oil keeps its fresh, uncooked taste.

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