To all of our wonderful CSA Members and newsletter subscribers. Your farmers are putting in some long days in this heat, but, I tell you it’s worth it. I try not to bother anyone on delivery day, but I do see quite of few of you that are on my route and it’s a real treat. It was also great to see a handful of our members today at the Farmer’s Market at Poplar Grove. We missed a couple weeks to catch up on planting, but we should be there from now on, every Wednesday, 8am to 1pm.
I’ve done this one before so forgive me, but I get a big kick out of seeing the boxes left for me to pick up off of Members’ doorways and stoops. I try to take the pictures so you really can’t tell the addresses or whose door is whose. By the way, if you’re a new Member, you don’t have to leave the box out. In fact, we never required it or even mentioned re-using them. It happened spontaneously. Just keep in mind that if you get a box that’s a little worn out – or even has staples in it or writing on it – it’s probably got some miles on it.
Back to this week’s box. There’s some re-hashing below on agricultural and culinary information on the produce for the produce,
Yellow Squash – This Southern mainstay has a long run in the field during the summer and we plant several successions during that time. It is in the Cucurbitaceae family along with many, many of it’s cousins – see Zucchini below.
Culinarily speaking, it’s an outstanding complement to any dish and is more nutritious and healthful than people realize. There’s a great article here on the health benefits.
<<<Since we all know what yellow squash looks like, I used a picture from one of our CSA Members who has a Spiralizer that makes those wonderful zuchinni/squash noodles. I’ll have to ask him if he added pasta sauce to this. Man, I bet that would be terrific, especially with some of our tomatoes.
Eggplant – You know it’s getting to be Summer because we start seeing plants in the Solanacaea family (aka Nightshades) like Eggplant, Peppers, Tomatoes, Tomatillos, and, yes, Irish Potatoes. Our eggplant is the standard, Black Italian type called “Nadia.” We grow them using a similar method as we use for determinate tomatoes. They are staked up using a “florida weave.”
Eggplant is a sought after culinary crop, but I don’t have much experience with it, I hate to say. I would probably slice it into rounds thick enough to grill and do it that way coated in olive oil plus salt, pepper and oregano. My buddy, Alexis Fouros, gave me a fantastic eggplant moussaka at the farmer’s market earlier today and it looked like this one from allrecipes.com. I’ll catch up with him before next week to get his exact recipe.
Fingerling Potatoes and Yukon Gold – All potatoes are in the nightshade, or Solenacaea family. They are closely related to tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. In fact, if you let potatoes go to flower-fruit, you will see tiny tomato looking fruit. Don’t eat them; they are toxic. By the way, “Irish” potatoes like these are completely unrelated to Sweet potatoes which are a type of morning glory – of all things.
We were not able to harvest enough of each type of potato so some boxes got purple and some got the yukon gold. Both are exceptional and potatoes that just came out of the ground are just terrific as some of the sugars in them have not turned to starch yet.. Personally, I like to roast my potatoes like I did above in the potato.radish, beet roast. I typically do this at or near 400° to be sure to get a little carmelization. I use small ones whole and I cut the larger ones into similarly sized pieces so they all cook evenly. Honestly, olive oil, salt and pepper is all you need. If you got one type of potato but think you prefer the other, don’t worry. You’ll be seeing all types of Irish potatoes in the weeks to come!
Zucchini – Or if you grew up in the region, “green squash.” Zucchini is in the large Cucurbitaceae family which includes both summer and winter squashes, pumpkins, and all melons. Like the Brassicas, it’s such a large crop family that it can be difficult to fit into a proper crop rotation.
Culinarily speaking, well, it’s a mainstay of so many side dishes. Sauteed zucchini mixed with yellow squash and onions or thinly sliced carrots could once be found on the side of every restaurant dish from TGIFridays to Appleby’s and even upscale places. There’s a reason, though. It’s good, and it’s an easy way to prepare it.
One different idea is to broil or grill halves or quarters of zucchini sliced longitudinally and just seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper. And, I absolutely love that Spiralizer idea (see squash above.)
Carrots with tops! Carrots are in the Apiaceae family along with celery, parsnip, dill, fennel, coriander, chervil, cumin and parsley. It’s not the easiest crop to grow as it takes a long time to germinate and we need to create weed free beds in which to plant them, otherwise the weeds take over before the carrots have a chance to get established. Once you get it figured out, growing carrots is very rewarding. We grow several varieties including Napoli, Yellowbunch, Malbec, Purple Haze, Mokum, Hercules and Romance.
Culinarily speaking, carrots are good raw (typically sliced thin,) roasted/baked, glazed and sauteed. The tops are a great addition to salads when used judiciously, or in smoothies. I have a couple of really good new recipes to share. The carrot bisque is from Chef Erin at Porches Cafe, and the other is a really cool carrot greens pesto I found online a while back. In the next couple weeks, we are going to be working with Chef Dean Neff on some recipes and I know he’s keen on teaching a really simple root vegetable glazing method, and I’m certain that our carrots will be featured prominently in his vegetable glazes.
Sweet Corn. Sweet corn, as opposed to “feed corn,” is the only true grass (Poaceae) in our crop rotation, although we may grow sweet sorghum in 2020. It’s a fascinating plant with a long history living alongside humans. Michael Pollen, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, posits an interesting theory that we aren’t growing corn, corn is using humans to spread across the world. That sounds odd, I know, but the next time you’re driving through Iowa, (or rural N.C.,) you may find yourself agreeing. This is our little harvest rig pictured.
The variety in this week’s box is a wonderful bi-color called Peaches & Cream. – straight out of the Burpee catalog. I like mine grilled in the husk and slathered in lime butter, but, there are myriad ways to prepare it. There are some really great ones on this Southern Living site. I particularly like the way they present their corn with the husks on. This one is very much worth a browse.
Green Onions (Spring Onions) This is a fun plant to grow. It’s one of the first things to go in the ground in late Winter. Onions are in the Allium family along with leeks, garlic and chives. It’s one of the few monocots we grow – the other is corn, of course.
In my opinion, the best way to enjoy these onions by themselves is by grilling them. Again, Food & Wine has a great article HERE on this method. If you want to make it simple, just use a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and set them on the edge of your grill – preferably next to a steak! – apologies to all our vegan friends.
Spring onions are also good chopped thin all the way down to the white and added to salads, soups, and anything else where you want a little fresh onion spice.
If you see one of these, it’s not a Cucumber! – We will have cucumbers in the box tomorrow as they are coming on like gangbusters. Just for fun, I toss in some of these stray “Costata Romanesco” zucchini that got mixed into our crop from last year’s seed. It’s an interesting and unique looking zucc, but we discontinued it – or tried to- because it does not produce very well, especially compared to “Green Machine” or “Tigress.”
My favorite thing to do with Cucs is just peel them and then slice them into rounds and dunk them in apple cider vinegar with salt and pepper. I’ll think of something a little fancier next week. In the meantime, here’s a good Bonappetit.com article to peruse.
Hey, I got finished before midnight! It’ll be a long day of deliveries tomorrow but I very much look forward to it. Thanks everyone. 🙂
P.S. Some miscellaneous pics from the week.