Thursday, August 28, 2008

Week 13; August 27, 2008

It hasn’t always felt like it, but summer is still here. Here’s what was in this week’s share:

2 bunches of carrots
½ pound salad mix
1 ½ pound shell beans
1 cucumber
1 to 2 eggplants, depending on size
6 tomatoes
1 large onion
1 bulb of garlic
1 bunch of parsley
1 bunch of basil
1 pound of purple beans (unfortunately, these will lose their regal color once cooked; serve fresh with a green goddess dressing or hummus?!)
6 ears of sweet corn

The corn was at its peak of maturity, which is when the bugs love it. So we did our best to find ears that weren’t buggy. That would explain why a lot of the husk was peeled back or off. If you haven’t already eaten it, it holds best wrapped in a damp towel in a zipper-lock bag in the produce drawer of your refrigerator.

The lima-like beans with the mottling on the pods are fresh shell beans. We love these. Cook them just like you would a dried bean. Because they’re fresh, however, they shouldn’t need quite as much time to cook.

To cook shell beans: Remove the beans from their pods. Place them in a pot of water with aromatics, such as onion, peppercorns and a bay leaf (I’ll also throw in carrot trimmings if they’re kicking around). Bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer until they are tender. Stir occasionally. Depending on the age of the bean, the amount of time needed to cook varies. I recommend tasting beginning after about 20 minutes. We have hard water, so it can take twice that time in my kitchen. I’m going to try adding a little baking soda to the water this year to soften it and, hopefully, speed things along. I know that helps when cooking dried beans.

You can use them with your corn to make succotash. They’re also great in pasta. Last night we caramelized some onion, browned some diced eggplant in extra-virgin olive oil, and then simmered them briefly with chopped tomatoes, more extra-virgin olive oil and minced garlic. Chopped basil was added in at the end. It was great as is, but the beans would have been a nice addition and source of protein. And the good news is that all those ingredients are in this week’s share.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Week 12; Aug. 20, 2008

Yes, we have corn at last! Our corn crop took a hammering recently from torrential thunderstorms with strong winds (what’s up with all these storms?! Sigh.). But not all of it was leveled by the wind. The kernels on this variety aren’t large but are succulent and sweet. This was picked just hours before we delivered your shares.

You might also be wondering what those fuzzy little green pods are. They’re edamame, also known as soybean. They’re such a treat. We like to just boil them in their pods in well salted water for about 5 minutes. Drain, spread on a baking sheet and sprinkle with Kosher salt (the salt part makes it tasty, but it is optional). They can be served warm, but some recommend serving at room temperature. The best way to eat is to just pinch the beans out of their pods and into your mouth with your teeth or with your thumb and fingers. If anyone else has a take on how to serve these, please comment!

For something different to do with red cabbage, try this Chinese chicken salad with peanut sauce:
If you’re vegetarian, you could substitute tofu or tempeh for the chicken.

Here’s what was in this week’s share:
1 pound edamame in pods
1 Walla Walla onion
4 tomatoes
1 quart of red potatoes
1 bunch of beets
1 bunch of purple carrots
1 red cabbage
1 bulb of garlic
10 to 12 ears of corn

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Week 11, August 13, 2008

We had a rather curious harvest this week. Our walk-in refrigerator broke down over the weekend, and the refrigeration repairman was still waiting on parts Wednesday morning when we needed to harvest the CSA share. So, in the name of getting things harvested as close to delivery time as possible—so that nothing sat out for too long, we didn’t jot down a list of what was in the week’s share. So, this is what we think was in the share:

1 bunch basil
¾ pounds green beans
4 tomatoes
1 quart of potatoes
½ pound salad mix
2 cucumbers
3 bulbs of garlic
1 bunch of leeks
1 large onion
3 patty pan squash (great grilled or roasted or sautéed; they brown really beautifully)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Week 10; August 6, 2008

Farm stuff:
We’re planning an open house Aug. 12—Tuesday afternoon/early evening for CSA members to see the farm, learn more about how we do things differently from a conventional farm, and why that might really matter to you, our environment, and, thus, the world at large. (We’d also just be glad to meet members face to face!)

There will be one or two fixed tour times. Children are encouraged to come. Stay tuned for info. on tour times and directions to the farm.

In this week’s share:
½ pound yellow wax beans
1 head of broccoli
3 Walla Walla onions
½ pound mixed baby lettuce leaves
3 cucumbers
3 zucchini
1 large eggplant
4 tomatoes
1 bunch of carrots
1 head of Napa cabbage (good for stir fries)

Ideas from Maryellen on eggplant:
While roasting eggplant is pretty sensational, grilling is a delicious alternative to turning on your oven in August. If the idea of grilled eggplant is new to you or you just feel like you could brush up on how to get it right, here are some basic instructions from someone who used to work at Chez Pannise, a Berkeley-CA restaurant founded by Alice Waters, a goddess in the movement to eat fresh, in season and local:

If you received Japanese eggplant, which are more slender than bulbous, slice them at a diagonal so that they are more oval in shape than round and, thus, less likely to fall between your grill’s grates.

Alice Waters has a new book out called the Art of Simple Food that I have only had time to browse through. It’s refreshingly, well, simple in terms of approaching cooking and keeping the focus on quality of ingredients.

If you’re entertaining this week or just want to surprise the family with an appetizer before dinner, this recipe for bruschetta with grilled eggplant and Vidalia onion is a fun way to make use of some of those sweet Walla Wallas and the eggplant and last week’s garlic:
The author, Jessica Bard, is a friend of mine who lives on a former family dairy farm in the Hudson Valley. She teaches classes at Warren Kitchen Tools ( in Rhinebeck. It’s a store that a lot of Culinary Institute of America students go to for their knives and for knife sharpening. I’ve been wanting to get down there to have my knives sharpened for the last year or so (gulp). After seeing what the nearest sharpening service did to our knives for butchering chickens, I vowed I’d make a trip and have someone who deals only in kitchen knives--not also lawn mower blades—take care of these all-too-important tools. Besides, I’m dying to drool over their knife selection.
If you’ve never had your knives sharpened, do it—even if they aren’t anything special. You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to prep foods. Also, the sharper they are, the safer. Knives that cut more easily are less apt to slip while in action. Just make sure you take them to someone with experience sharpening knives. I believe Warren Kitchen Tools will even accept knives for sharpening through the mail. You’ll have to pay for shipping, but the actual cost of sharpening is really inexpensive. If you go this route, ask them for advice on how to safely package your knives.

Other tips: If you’re not home to cook as much this week and want to use as much of your veggies as you can, try a stir-fry with the cabbage, yellow beans, broccoli, zucchini, and walla wallas. You could also throw in carrots. They are just so good raw, that I have a hard time extracting them from my 3-year-old’s fists to use for cooking. If you’re one of our Cooperstown members, Cooperstown Natural Foods sells really good quality ginger, a staple in stir-frying. Make the stir fry extra big and enjoy leftovers for lunch. Just remember to cook the vegetables in batches—you don’t want to overcrowd the pan or cook vegetables simultaneously that end up cooking at a different rate.