summer csa share – week 13

csa share week 13

Welcome to the 13th week of the Pitchfork & Crow Summer CSA! Here’s what’s in the share:

  • Savoy Cabbage
  • Bunching Onions
  • Broccoli or Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Jimmy Nardello Sweet Peppers – These guys may look hot, but they shouldn’t have much if any heat to them.  Some of our favorite sweet peppers!
  • Summer Squash
  • Corn
  • Basil
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers – Slicers or picklers, you choose!
  • Green Beans
  • Plums
  • Muskmelons – aka cantaloupes!  This variety is called Pike and was bred in the Monmouth area in the 1930s and 40s!

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harvests

Somehow it’s become mid-August and we’ve found ourselves smack in the middle of another growing season.  This year’s especially dry conditions have continued to make the landscape look later in the season than the calendar would suggest.  The leaves on some of the earlier apple trees are beginning to turn yellow and the familiar fall crunch of dry leaves already accompanies a walk through that orchard.  The onions are curing in the prop. house and Jeff’s tobacco is curing in his tipi.  Our thoughts are turning to big harvests and we’re beginning to wonder if all the potatoes and apples and plums and winter squash will fit into the available storage space.

This hot, dry season has had me thinking some about the seasonality of crops.  Obviously some crops are suited to cooler seasons and some to warmer seasons, but in a hot year are we expecting too much from summer kale or cauliflower for instance? Jeff recently came across the following chart put together in the early 1800s by President Thomas Jefferson:

jefferson vegetable chart

It’s called ” A statement of the vegetable market of Washington, during  a period of 8 years 1801-1808″ and as the title suggests, it details the vegetables and fruits found throughout the year at markets in Washington DC during Jefferson’s time as President.  I find it to be a fascinating look at a growing season in terms of availability of crops throughout the year.  Broccoli was only available in April but peas made an appearance from May through mid-November.  It’s also interesting to see crops listed that aren’t as well known these days such as salsify and corn salad.  It would be interesting to know more about the varieties of these vegetables.  How many different types of peas were they sowing for instance?

Of course there are caveats to be made.  Growing practices have evolved over time; we have the use of greenhouses that I wouldn’t imagine most market growers in the 1800s would have had for example.  Also, our climate is different from Washington DC where winters are often snowy and cold and summers are hot and humid.  And of course as tastes and market demands shift, growers are influenced to grow new or different crops.  But this chart does make me wonder why we feel the need to grow cauliflower all summer instead of just enjoying the heck out of winter cauliflower like they seemed to in Jefferson’s time given that it was only available December through March.

rows covered

We’re ready to transplant our overwintering cauliflower this week, along with the next successions of lettuce and beets.  As the market growers in Jefferson’s era must have known, the key to year-round availability is well-timed succession planting.  As we head deeper into this season, our plantings are getting smaller and the work is shifting to maintenance and harvest.  We’re appreciating Tim’s help more than ever as we continue to tackle the weeds each week.  And we’re still pondering where all the winter squash, potatoes, apples, and plums are going to go.

Enjoy the vegetables and we’ll see you next week!

Your farmers,
Jeff Bramlett and Carri Heisler

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Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:

Heirloom Tomatoes with Bacon, Blue Cheese, and Basil

  • 6 slices firm white sandwich bread
  • 1/4 lb sliced bacon (about 5 slices)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
  • 3 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
  • 4 assorted medium heirloom tomatoes (2 lb total), cut into 1/4 to 1/3 inch-thick slices
  • 30 small fresh basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 oz blue cheese (preferably Maytag Blue), crumbled, at room temperature
  • Very small heirloom cherry or currant tomatoes (for garnish)
Cut 1 round from each bread slice with cookie cutter. Cook bacon in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until crisp, then transfer to paper towels to drain. Pour off bacon fat from skillet and reserve fat (do not clean skillet). Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then toast 3 bread rounds, turning over once, until golden brown, about 3 minutes total. Transfer toasts to a rack to cool and season with salt and pepper. Toast remaining 3 bread rounds in 1 1/2 tablespoons more oil in same manner.
Cook shallot in 2 tablespoons reserved bacon fat and remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a small heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add vinegar and simmer, whisking, until emulsified, about 1 minute. Season dressing with salt and pepper and keep warm, covered. Crumble bacon.
Arrange bread rounds on 6 plates and divide tomato slices among them, stacking slices and sprinkling some basil and bacon between slices. Sprinkle cheese and remaining basil and bacon over and around tomatoes. Spoon some of warm bacon dressing over and around tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
Toasts can be made 3 hours ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature. Dressing can be made 1 hour ahead and chilled, covered. Reheat before proceeding. Tomatoes can be sliced 1 hour ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature.
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Macaroni, Tomato, Corn, and Basil Salad

  • 3/4 cup uncooked elbow macaroni (about 3 1/2 ounces)
  • 4 medium tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
  • 5 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup thin slices halved English hothouse cucumber
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels or frozen, thawed
  • 1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled

Cook macaroni in medium saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Rinse under cold water. Drain well. Transfer macaroni to large bowl. Add tomatoes, green onions, cucumber and corn.

Blend basil, yogurt, mayonnaise, lime juice and garlic in processor until basil is finely chopped. Add basil dressing to macaroni mixture and toss to blend. Season salad with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

From Epicurious via Bon Appétit, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/macaroni-tomato-corn-and-basil-salad-101962

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Savoy Cabbage and Lemon Slaw

  • 8 cups finely sliced savoy cabbage (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup low-fat (2%) buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup grated onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried

Combine cabbage and basil in large bowl.

Whisk buttermilk, mayonnaise, grated onion, lemon juice, lemon peel and thyme in small bowl to blend. Add dressing to cabbage mixture; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 3 hours ahead. Cover; refrigerate.)

From Epicurious via Bon Appétit, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/savoy-cabbage-and-lemon-slaw-2160

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