Tuesday, September 20, 2011

CSA Share Week #16

We have the best CSA members. We really do. And this weekend’s Open House at the farm was a strong reminder as to just how lucky we are. It was a gorgeous fall-like day—the sun warm and relaxing. We took a tour of the farm’s main growing field, where Ken was able to talk about our farming philosophy, answer members’ questions, and show members how and where things grow. Then members shucked corn and helped set up a large table of food for a pot luck lunch, which was chock full of delicious, healthy food. (see recipe below for Neil's dish we all really loved)

We enjoyed hearing from members as to how the CSA has enriched their lives—whether it has meant eating more healthfully, trying vegetables they would never have tried, enjoying how fresh everything tastes or insuring one’s family is eating sustainably-raised food. And we were inspired by just how much of a commitment members expressed for the farm. (We can always use that kind of morale boost.)

Thanks to all those who took a day off to come here to the farm (we know, we’re far). We wish the day could have stretched on longer.

This week’s share is showing just a glimpse of how the farm has been hurt by the drastic weather events of late August and early September. Call them Irene and Lee. The result: slim pickings. And, yet, we’re among the lucky ones! We have something to offer—just not many things we had planted for. At one of our farmer’s markets in the Hudson Valley we heard from many, many people that their CSAs were simply done for the season. Wiped out. Kaput. We appreciated hearing their tone of compassion for those farms. As it’s not an “us” vs. “them” kind of thing. We’re all in it together. We’ve all been hurt. Some just more seriously than others.

-Ken & Maryellen

P.S.- for those who were fans of the gingerbread made at the Open House, here is a recipe that’s similar to what she followed in the King Arthur cookbook: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/gingerbread-recipe.

3 pounds Tongue-of-Fire heirloom shell beans (info. follows)
6.4 ounces salad mix
¾ pound fresh edamame
6 ears sweet corn*
1 bunch carrots or other item
Sweet bell peppers
1 melon

*Natural sugars in sweet corn turn to starch rapidly. If you can’t cook the corn immediately (Tues. night), wrap in a damp towel and then tuck in a plastic bag and store in your refrigerator’s produce drawer to help preserve it best.

TONGUE OF FIRE SHELL BEANS.  At Free Bird, shelling these Italian heirloom fresh shell beans is a family affair. If there’s extra after a market, we all sit on the back of the truck and start shelling away—prying open the colorful mottled shells and flicking the beans into a communal pot. If we aren’t finding something to laugh over while sharing in the task, we simply enjoy the time together just being quiet. And then we cook up a big pot. Whatever beans you cook up and don’t eat, drain and freeze in zipper-locked bags and enjoy later on in a stew or pasta or with sautéed greens and lots of garlic. These beans are creamy in texture and mildly nutty in flavor, similar to a cannellini bean. A lot of our market customers buy them to make pasta e fagiole (pasta and beans).
TO COOK THE FRESH SHELL BEANS: place the shelled beans (pods discarded) in a pot of water. Add a bay leaf and any aromatics you have on hand, such as a chopped carrot, parsley stems, or an onion, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are creamy in texture all the way through, about 30 minutes. (Taste to test for doneness.)

HOW TO FREEZE PEPPERS. As you may be noticing, the farm had one heck of a pepper crop this year. If you’re not sure what more to do with your peppers, stash them in the freezer. They hold up beautifully. First, remove the stem and core and then slice the pepper into strips or chop up. Place in a freezer-grade ziplock plastic bag removing as much air out the bag as possible. Then freeze. Pull the peppers out any time this winter when you want to make a stir fry, a pasta dish, chili, soup,… They hardly even need to be thawed before throwing in a hot pan.

Neil Doshi's Fabulous Stew:

Hello everyone,

I went to the open house at the farm the past weekend and brought this dish for our potluck lunch. A few people asked me to share the recipe for the newsletter so here it is. It is a slightly modified version of a dish my girlfriend and I had in Turkey. All the ingredients are easy to obtain except for the last two, but both of them are optional. The resulting stew is great hot, cold, or at room temperature. It only gets better the next day and is great with some some pita. The prep and cooking time is under an hour.

1 medium-sized italian eggplant (1/2" cubes) or a few skinnier eggplants cut into rings (about 1/4" thick) with the skin on
1 red pepper cut into strips
1 onion (cut along the grain, julienne)
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2-4 Tomatoes chopped (see notes)
2 tbsp of tomato paste
1-2 tsp of turkish pepper paste (optional - see notes)
a few pinches of turkish pepper flakes (optional - see notes)

Add olive oil to a stewing pot of some sort (I used an enameled dutch oven)
I turned the stove to medium heat (I wasn't going for any caramelization or browning)
Fry the peppers in the oil for about 5 minutes
Add the onions and fry for another 5 minutes
Add the garlic and fry for about a minute or so
Add the tomato paste and the option pepper paste and powder and fry for a few minutes
Add the tomatoes and cook on low for 10-20 minutes until a sauce forms

While this is going on, pan fry the eggplant on high in a different pan until browned and thoroughly cooked with a high heat vegetable oil to prevent smoking.
You can press out some of the oil from the eggplant after it is cooked with some paper towels because it will have absorbed quite a bit.
Stir the eggplant pieces into the vegetable stew and turn off the heat after a minute or two.

1) You can use whole fresh tomatoes (I like roma tomates) with the skin & seeds or tomatoes from a can of whole peeled tomatoes without the liquid (its too salty). You could even add some whole cherry tomatoes in addition to the cut up tomatoes that form the sauce.
2) Turkish pepper paste is basically the red pepper equivalent version of tomato paste. I used something I picked up in Turkey, but you can buy something similar at Kalustyan's called "Biber Salcasi".
3) Turkish pepper powder is a dried pepper powder that is made from a mild to medium red pepper. Once again, I used something that I bought abroad, but they have two versions at Kalustyan's that you could try called "Kirmizi Biber" and "Biber Tursu". Alternatively, you can use a little bit of the usual red pepper flakes (cayenne) or some hot paprika.


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