Welcome to the 14th week of the Pitchfork & Crow Summer CSA! Here’s what’s in the share:
- Kale Mix – young & tender, this kale mix would make for a tasty salad or lightly saute if you prefer your kale cooked.
- Sweet Onions
- Broccoli or Cauliflower
- Golden Beets – rumor is, if you think red beets are a little too ‘earthy’ tasting, the milder golden beets might be your ticket to loving beets. We like them roasted int he oven or grated on salads.
- Sweet Peppers – A mix of two types of red and orange sweet peppers this week. Both varieties make great stand-ins for bell peppers!
- Summer Squash
- French Fingerling Potatoes
- Cucumbers – Slicers and picklers all around
- Green Beans
- Muskmelons – aka cantaloupes!
There’s been a welcome hint of fall in the air this past week. Although we had some warm days, the temperature has dropped overnight, resulting in some relief from the seemingly endless heat. There’s even rumor of rain this weekend! We’re ready for it! Or we we will be by Saturday.
Looking around the farm there are a few things we need to take care of before the rain arrives. Tools need to be brought inside, tarps need to be secured, and fruit needs to be harvested. Similarly, there were seed crops waiting to be threshed. Though they were stored in a greenhouse, plastic houses sometimes have unnoticed holes in them that can mean ruin to dry seeds when a rainstorm hits.
This past week I spent some time threshing and winnowing the chicory and kale seed crops we had grown out over this past winter and spring. The photos above show much of the seed production process for the chicories, but here’s a little more explanation:
- We transplanted out the chicory starts last October and by March they had grown to the size of a small lettuce head.
- By the end of May they’d begun bolting, and by mid-June they were in full flowering mode.
- Chicory flowers are a striking periwinkle color and they only open during the morning hours, closing by midday when the sun is brightest.
- The bees and other local pollinators enjoyed the flowers as much as we did and as the flowers began to fade, seed began to develop.
- When the birds took a real interest in eating the seed, we harvested the dry stalks onto a tarp and stored it in an empty greenhouse to finish drying down.
- The seeds of chicories are difficult to thresh out from the base of the flower and they’re difficult to quickly distinguish from the dried plant material as they look like tiny sticks. Our friends let us borrow their altered chipper that works wonders for breaking up the dried stalks and knocking the seeds free from the flowers.
- At this point we’re left with a big pile of chipped plant material mixed with the seeds. After some winnowing with a box fan to blow off the lightest plant material, I screened out the larger pieces of dried stalks.
- We now have a bin full of seeds and stems. We’ll use successively smaller screens to continue to remove the stems, eventually leaving us with clean chicory seed ready to plant again.
The seed cleaning process is similar for other seed crops, though it varies slightly depending on the crop. For the kale seed, instead of putting it through the chipper we beat the dried seed pods with a stick to break the pods open and release the seeds. It all depends on how the seed is held onto the plant. The screening and winnowing process will also vary depending on what the dried plant matter is like that’s mixed in with the seed.
Our seed crops are now half processed, and out of danger of any rains that might come our way anytime soon. A rainy day might even serve as a good excuse to stay inside and clean them further. Until then, we’ll be focusing all the other tasks on the list. The plums still need to be harvested, the next round of apples are beginning to fall, the popcorn is ready to be harvested. And of course the weeds and irrigation and planting etc all continue to need attention. But the weather feels like fall, and everything seems a little easier in the cooler temps.
Enjoy the vegetables and we’ll see you next week!
Jeff Bramlett and Carri Heisler
Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:
- 4 medium red or golden beets (4 ounces each), stems and root ends removed
- 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon sunflower-seed oil
- 2 ounces lowfat goat cheese
Heat oven to 400°F. Wrap each beet in foil. Roast until soft, about 1 hour. Cool slightly; remove foil. Rub off skins; cut into wedges. Toss with nuts and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Add oil; toss. Divide among 4 plates; crumble cheese on top.
From Epicurious via SELF by Lesley Porcelli, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/beet-salad-238644
Eggplant Fritters with Honey
- 2 eggplants (about 1/4 pounds)
- About 2 cups milk
- Flour for dusting or dredging
- Olive or sunflower oil for deep-frying
- Orange blossom honey or other aromatic runny honey
Peel the eggplants and cut them into slices about 1/3 inch thick. Put them in a bowl, add enough milk to cover, and put a small plate on top to hold them down. Let soak for 1 to 2 hours; drain.
Cover a plate with plenty of flour mixed with a sprinkling of salt. Working in batches, turn the eggplant slices in this so that they are entirely covered with flour, then shake them to remove the excess. Deep-fry in sizzling but not too hot oil, turning the slices over as soon as the first side is brown. Drain on paper towels.
Serve hot with a dribble of honey, and let people help themselves to more honey if they like.
Variation In Córdoba, I had the eggplant slices dipped in batter. The coating was crisp, the eggplant was moist, and they were served with molasses.
From Epicurious via The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/eggplant-fritters-with-honey-366230
Spanish-Style Grilled Vegetables with Breadcrumb Picada
On the grill
- 3 large red bell peppers (about 1 1/2 pounds), stemmed, seeded, quartered
- 4 large Japanese eggplants (about 1 1/4 pounds), trimmed, cut lengthwise into 3 slices
- 4 medium green or yellow zucchini (preferably 2 of each; about 1 pound), trimmed, cut lengthwise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
- Extra-virgin olive oil (for grilling)
For the dish
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
- 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)*
- 2 tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
- *Available in the Asian foods section of some supermarkets and at Asian markets.
Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Arrange vegetables on baking sheets. Brush with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill peppers, skin side down and without turning, until blackened and blistered, moving occasionally for even cooking, about 10 minutes. Enclose in plastic bag. Let stand until skins loosen, about 30 minutes. Grill eggplants and zucchini until charred and tender, turning and rearranging for even browning, 5 to 6 minutes. Place on foillined baking sheet. Peel peppers. Transfer to sheet with eggplants and zucchini.
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add breadcrumbs; stir until golden, about 3 minutes. Season breadcrumb picada to taste with salt; scrape into small bowl.
Place vinegar in another small bowl; whisk in 3 tablespoons oil. Mix in parsley and oregano. Season to taste with salt.
Arrange vegetables on platter. Spoon herb dressing over; sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
From Epicurious via Bon Appétit by Tori Ritchie, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/spanish-style-grilled-vegetables-with-breadcrumb-picada-238806