Happy Fourth of July to all our CSA Members!
I apologize for the poor delivery scheduling. Ian and I do nothing but work these days so holidays tend to sneak up on us. Also, I have to mention that last week’s corn was reported to be very starchy if not inedible in some cases. Sweet corn is pretty scary from our point of view because we can’t see what’s under every husk. The crop ended up way better than I expected overall considering the (too) wet weather right after planting and then the drought that followed. Remember here when your favorite fat farmer actually got on TV for that drought? HA! It was pretty good there for a while. In fact, one of our all-time favorite chefs -whom our River Bluffs resident Members know well- Erin Wiley, used our corn and sent me this picture below of her creation served at Dram and Morsel down on South Front Street.
The tomatoes are finally ripening on the vine and we will have a nice yellow Roma type that’s also really good for fresh eating tomorrow. It’s called “Sunrise Sauce” and is a favorite from the Johnny’s catalog. I have a fuzzy picture below from Ian as he pics them and puts them directly in the single layer boxes.
Back to this week’s box. There’s some re-hashing as always on agricultural and culinary information on the produce, but, we do have some interesting new things starting with the tomatoes mentioned above.
Tomatoes – All tomatoes are in the Solanaceae family like their close cousins the potato, and some crops you might not expect like peppers and eggplants. I won’t go into my usual spiel again about the different types of tomatoes and how we grow them, but if you missed it, you can read it here.
By the way, “Sunrise Sauce” tomatoes are supposed to be orange, so don’t let that fool you. You can use them like any other small tomato – in a Caprese salad, a BLT, or , try feta stuffed tomatoes that my Greek chef buddy, Alexis Fouros, put in his cookbook. There is a great picture and recipe I included in an article I wrote for a local magazine in 2018 here.
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. The Asian Eggplants in this week’s box came from a Partner Farmer – Andrew Lorek. He and Ian have become fast friends trading equipment, know-how, and labor. More on Andrew soon. He’s a fantastic young farmer from right around the corner in Castle Hayne.
These Asian Eggplants would go well just sliced into rounds and mixed with the zucchini and yellow squash in a saute, but, you could also grill them quickly smothered in olive oil/salt and pepper and then chill them. The key is not to let them get mushy. After the rounds are chilled, add them to a cold anti-pasta plate as an Italian preparation.
Red, White and Blue Potatoes – 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 have red, white and blue, July 4th potatoes this week. All 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.. If anybody decides to make red-white-and blue potato salad, I want a picture!
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.
Mixed Pepper. As mentioned above in the tomato description, peppers are in the Solanaceae family. As you can imagine with tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplants being so popular, it’s Solanaceae (Nightshades) aren’t the easiest crop to fit into a proper plant family crop rotation. On top of that, they tend to have a lot of disease and pest problems. So far, we haven’t run into this problem using only OMRI approved methods like insect netting, row covers, and proper rotation.
Ian is putting some really cute mixed green peppers into the box this week as a start to the pepper season. We will have bananas and bells of all colors and sizes. More on those next week.
Cucumbers – Cucumbers are, well, Cucubitaceae – another large crop family that includes melons and squashes. We grow them both outside and in greenhouse/high tunnels. Much more on cucs as the season goes along. Greenhouse growing is pretty complex and we will be doing photo and video on that in the Fall.
Culinarily, cucs are good for much more than they are given credit. They are even a fantastic replacement for lemon in a glass of water or even tea. Bon Appetit has a great post that with over 50 tasty looking ideas here.
Hey, I got finished before eleven this time! It’ll be a long day of deliveries tomorrow but I very much look forward to it. Thanks everyone. 🙂