Saturday, August 28, 2010

Week 15 August 30th and Sept 3rd


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 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

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.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Week 14 August 24th and 27th


Ahh, nothing like a fresh tomato! Since I started farming in 1999, Zach and I have eaten more and more seasonally. I found it a bit tricky at first but now I really don't crave lettuce mix mid winter or cucumbers in the spring or even tomatoes...until now. Now I pop them in my mouth like candy and slice them up on everything. Any excuse to eat as many as I can until frost.

This year I grew 810' of tomatoes (I only meant to have 600') and 11 varieties. I harvest tomatoes about every other day and each time I go out, there have been more and more and they are BEAUTIFUL!!! I pick most tomatoes slightly under ripe so you don't have to eat all of them in one sitting after you bring them home. And hopefully you aren't attracting every fruit fly in the neighborhood. I do grow some heirloom varieties and they are more subject to looking "funny", but be brave, just cut around it, because the taste is oh so worth it!

Tomato varieties in the photo:
Top Left: Prudence Purple and Brandywine (pinkish color)
Top Right: Orange Boy (orange)
Middle Left: Red Lightening (orangeish with red stripes)
Middle: Early girl, Jet Star (perfect looking red ones)
Bottom Middle: Paste (oblong and red)
Bottom Left: Black Prince (purplish green)
Bottom Right: Sungold (orange cherry)
Bottom Right: Green Zebra (green with yellow stripes)

It truly is a wall of tomato plants out there. Good thing the rows are straight or I would get lost! It looks a bit like a circus too, we have beach ball like balloons, shiny tape and 2 not so alive crows hanging out there to try and keep the murder of crows from eating all of your tomatoes, peppers, melons, winter squash and lettuce. Man are they persistent thsi year! I think they are looking for water in our fruits.

Today (Sunday) was a bit like waiting for a pot of water to boil. I woke up fully expecting it to be raining...nope. Then the forecast said 2pm...nope. Then the forecast said 5pm with a 70% chance of an inch on Monday night...nope. Looking at the radar, we are right on this line that keeps breaking up and that means no rain for us. Yet. I am still hopeful to get a bit tonight or tomorrow. Rain dance please!
This Week's Loot: no lettuce, sorry...cucs, zucs, beans, carrots, beets, hakurei turnips, tomatoes, chard, melons and the last of the corn
Next Week's Loot: about the same
(I am eating the summer squash carrot soup right now from last week's blog--yum!)
Chickpea, Zucchini and Nigella Seed BurgersMakes 7 burgers
1 cup of dried garbanzo beans, picked through and rinsed
6 cups of water, filtered
1 large zucchini, shredded
¼ teaspoon of kosher salt
1 tablespoon of nigella seeds
½ tablespoon of turmeric
2 tablespoons of hot crushed peppers
½ tablespoon of powdered garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 tablespoon of vital wheat gluten
Cook garbanzo beans in water until tender. Drain beans thoroughly and move to your food processor. Process until all the beans are pulverized. Move the pulverized garbanzo beans to a large mixing bowl.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a half sheet pan with a silpat or parchment paper and set aside.
Place shredded zucchini in a colander and mix with kosher salt. Allow to stand for 15 for water to drain. Squeeze zucchini of excess water and move to the mixing bowl.
Add nigella seeds, turmeric, hot crushed peppers and powdered garlic to the garbanzo and zucchini. Mix the ingredients thoroughly so the ingredients are evenly distributed. Taste the mixture for salt and pepper now. Add the vital wheat gluten and knead the mixture to thoroughly incorporate the wheat gluten.
Form the mixture into seven even patties and place them on the baking sheet.
Bake the patties for 25 minutes, or until firm and cooked through. If you like a crunchy exterior you can place the patties in a hot cast iron pan for a couple of minutes on each side.
Herbed Summer Squash and Potato Torte Adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2001
This torte can easily be made ahead and reheated as you need it for guests, or even a meal for a few, if you halve it. In fact, I suspect that it might be even better reheated because there is something about potatoes that have been cooked twice–they’re always better.
And if you’re not reheating it, be patient enough to get a better browning on the bottom than my impatient hunger allowed me to.
This also might work well in a cast iron, though you would probably have to adjust your cooking times slightly.
Makes 8 servings
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced1 cup grated Parmesan cheese2 tablespoons all purpose flour1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme1 1/2 teaspoons salt3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds12 ounces yellow crookneck squash or regular yellow summer squash, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds6 teaspoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter two 8-inch-diameter cake pans. (Deb note: I had only a 9-inch pan around, so what you see in my pictures is slightly thinner.) Set aside 1/4 cup sliced green onions. Toss remaining green onions, cheese, flour, thyme, salt and pepper in medium bowl to blend.
Layer 1/6 of potatoes in concentric circles in bottom of 1 prepared pan, overlapping slightly. Layer 1/4 of squash in concentric circles atop potatoes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture. Repeat with 1/6 of potatoes, then 1/4 of squash and 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture. Top with 1/6 of potatoes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture and press gently to flatten. Repeat procedure with second cake pan and remaining potatoes, squash, oil, and cheese mixture.
Cover pans with foil. Bake until potatoes are almost tender, about 40 minutes. Remove foil; bake uncovered until tortes begin to brown and potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes longer. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cool. Cover with foil and chill. Rewarm, covered with foil, in 350°F oven until heated through, about 30 minutes.)
Cut each torte into wedges. Sprinkle wedges with 1/4 cup green onions; serve.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Week 13 August 17th and 20th

Most folks know what a carrot is, but there are always a few folks that don't realize they grow underground. The leafy part sticks up out of the ground (and invites deer to chew on them) and the root is fully beneath the surface. I have been lucky, in that most of my carrots pull right up, however, this year I grew them in the rockiest soil I have (what was I thinking?!) and I need a pitchfork to get them out. The rocks explain some of the crazy shapes you may see at pick up!

For now all of the carrots are orange, but I did grow a few yellow ,white and purple carrots for fun that you may see later in the season.

We are starting to move in to fall--wow already?! And you will be starting to see the type of veggies shift in the share. We will move more into root crops like beets, carrots and potatoes and we will head back into more greens, cabbages and spinach. Although we did get 3-tenths of an inch of rain today, the fields are still pretty darn dry. I am feeling a bit anxious about all of the fall tranplants I just put in as well as seeded spinach, lettuce and cover crops. With just this tiny bit of moisture all the newly seeded crops germinated, but they are going to struggle.

Most farms have irrigation. It is a blessing and a curse. Mostly I believe in letting nature do its thing. If rain isn't falling, I don't think we should be depleting the water table. However, there are times I do wish I had just a bit of irrigation to "save" crops. The crazy thing is that if I did have irrigation, I think it would be like a drug. It would be hard not to use it and probably right now I would be outside, with my headlamp on, moving it around. Well, next year I am going to experiment with a little drip irrigation. I have few gardens in the back field that are very sandy and think it would help improve vegetable flavor if I were to irrigate them a bit. So we'll see how addicted I become...

Leroy and I thought I would show you what my hands look like after I have been harvesting tomatoes...just a tad blackened! Zach thinks my hands feel like shoe leather..his are soft as silk. (I did clean my fingernails for a wedding we attended this weekend)
This Week's Loot: a bit of lettuce (sorry those porcupines/crows really set us back!), greenbeans, cucs, zucs, carrots, beets, new potatoes, corn, melons, tomatoes, herbs, onions, some peppers and broccoli
Next Week's Loot: pretty much the same : )
The veggies are still pumping out good stuff! They are starting to look a little tired with the hot and dry and the elements of fall on our heels. I will probably not limit the share again this week, as I still have loads of beans and squashes. Please be mindful of the limits though on some items. At some point, barring an early frost, I am sure tomatoes will be limitless too, so do not despair!
Summer-Squash Soup with Parsley-Mint Pistou*Adapted from Gourmet, September 2006
For squash soup
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 lb yellow summer squash, halved and thinly sliced
2 carrots, thinly sliced1 yellow-fleshed potato (1/2 pound), peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
4 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth
For pistou**
3/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs1 large scallion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Make soup: Melt butter in a 6- to 8-quart wide heavy pot over moderate heat, then cook onion with salt, stirring, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add squash, carrots, potato, and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, then simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool soup, uncovered, 10 minutes.
Working in batches, puree; soup in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids) and transfer to a bowl. Return purée to cleaned pot and thin with water if desired; simmer 3 minutes. Season with salt.

Make pistou while vegetables simmer: Pulse mint, parsley, and scallion in a food processor until finely chopped. With motor running, add oil in a stream, then add water and salt, blending until incorporated.
Swirl 1 tablespoon pistou into each bowl of soup.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Week 12 August 10th and 13th


Traditionally the Indians grew their pumpkins and beans in with their corn. I have to admit, I am not totally sure why they did, but I can tell you why I grow my pumpkins under my corn...first of all it saves space. Both corn and pumpkins take up a lot of space in the fields. Corn needs several rows in order to pollinate sufficiently and pumpkins need plenty of ground to let their vines wonder. The second reason I grow my pumpkins and corn together is that the scratchy, crazy understory is supposed to deter rodents from wanting to enter in and eat your corn. Now I don't want to jinx myself so I won't tell you how that is going. All I will say is that harvesting your corn is very challenging : )

I find the corn patch to be very majestic. One morning the sun was just right: making the corn silks glisten crimson red and the pumpkin blossoms glow bright yellow.
Farming has been hot and dry lately. I know, I know, us farmers are never satisfied. But if you could do a little rain dance (and I mean little, like whatever dance would get us a nice soft inch of rain, just once and then another in a few weeks). Oh and the crows are still being a bit pesky. I think there is an unsaid race happening right now between me and them as to who is going to get the first ripe tomato. No fair! They are cheating ! They are eating them green!
OH and I almost forgot...we (zach, my dad, myself and 3 shareholders-and a ghost shareholder who didn't physically help but kept us fed) put up a hoop house this weekend. I did not download a picture, but you shouldn't miss it when you come to the farm--it is a bit like an airplane hanger right now. This unheated greenhouse will hopefully supply some winter greens for the winter shares and early green for next year's summer shares! I will update you more on that later...
Don't forget to Pick Your Own Flowers!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This Week's loot: lettuce, greenbeans, cucs, zucs, sugar buns corn, carrots, beets, chard and herbs
Next Week's loot: lettuce, beans, cucs, zucs, taters
So it turns out that canning is the new "in". Even hip city folks are doing it!!! Check out this blog for fun preservation recipes:

3 pounds small zucchini
1 pound onions
1 pound red or yellow bell peppers
3 tablespoons kosher salt
3 cups cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon pickling salt
1 tablespoon honey (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon whole yellow mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon total of whole black peppercorns and whole coriander, finely ground
1 dried chili pepper, finely diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and split
1 -- cut the vegetables into a 1/4" dice and toss in a colander with 3 tablespoons salt. Set aside for 2 hours for the salt to draw water from the vegetables, then rinse by pouring a kettle of boiling water over the vegetables and draining well.2 -- combine all other ingredients in a large sauce pan and heat until sugar is dissolved. Add vegetables to the hot vinegar syrup and cook over medium heat for 20-25 minutes, or until the vegetables are translucent and yielding. Discard garlic.3 -- pack hot relish into prepared jars, leaving 1/2" head space. Seal and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Do not open for a week, to allow time for the flavors to blend and mellow.