Hello CSA members!
This week we hope to bring you a melon, onions, beets OR cauliflower, zucchini OR cucumbers, japanese eggplant OR italian eggplant, and green beans. Large share members will also be getting edamame, cherry tomatoes, and a large share “grab bag” choice. Fruit share members will get peaches and plums.
In this week’s newsletter:
- Harvest Photos
- Reusable Bags: Lost and Found and For Sale
- Grilling Eggplant
- Baba Ganoush
- Eggplant Sauce
- Tortilla Salad
I’ve been really trying to remember to take more pictures on the farm lately. We’re usually so busy when we’re out in the fields that I think most of us forget to take pictures or even just look around and appreciate how beautiful it is.
Last week I took some photos of one of my least favorite crops to harvest and one of my most favorite crops to harvest. See if you can guess which is which.
This is a pickling cucumber vine. If all goes well, all of those little yellow flowers will become tiny cucumbers.
This particular row is a “little leaf” variety, meaning that the leaves and vines are all very tiny and tangled. Here’s what it looks like when you’re up close and personal. Can you see any cucumbers in there?
There are lots of rules when picking cucumbers. As you may know if you garden at home, the plants are super sensitive and need to be treated really carefully or they’ll get upset and stop producing.
The Four Commandments of Cucumber Picking:
- Thou Shalt Not Swim. Especially when picking the little-leaf varieties, it sometimes seems like the only way to find any cucumbers is to dive in head first and wave your arms around. This leads to unhappy plants and thus is not allowed.
- Thou Shalt Not Step on the Vines. As you may know, cucumber vines can be quite unruly and tend to grow where you would otherwise put your feet, your harvest bucket, etc. It is important not to step on the new growth or you will again upset the cucumbers.
- Thou Shalt Not Yank. Pick gently. Specifically, you should wrap your right index finger around the base of the cucumber where it meets the vine, and gently pluck it from it’s moorings.
- Thou Shalt Not Take Pity. Odd cucumbers need not apply. I have learned that this rule is in effect for reasons other than aesthetic. A lot of cucumbers grow into strange shapes…pointy ends, C-formations, weird bulbous protrusions. Unfortunately, these really don’t taste as good as the pretty ones and thus get left behind.
Ooh look! I found one.
How’d I do?
Sometimes it seems like every day I work on the farm starts out with a couple of hours in the basil. I have to say, it is a pretty nice way to spend the morning.
Here are Kendall and Madi collecting some purple basil.
When we harvest basil on the farm, we do what we call “tipping.” This basically means that we take newest set of 4 to 6 leaves from each stem. Tipping serves a few purposes. It keeps the basil from flowering and going to seed so we can harvest it for a long time. It also means that we don’t pick it with any stem which makes it super easy to throw in a blender and make pesto or top a pizza. We try to only pick basil that looks like this.
Sometimes we will pick 15 or 16 pounds of basil in one day. Basil doesn’t weigh very much, so you can imagine how much basil that is.
Here’s Madi weighing out some purple basil for restaurants.
Reusable Bags: Lost and Found and For Sale
By now you have probably seen our new Red Wagon Chico Bags hanging up on the tent at CSA. You can pick one up at your next pick-up. They are $6 each for CSA members, $7 for everyone else, and we’ll take cash or a check.
These bags are awesome. They pack down really tiny when empty, they’re tough, and they’re perfect for picking up your CSA share and other groceries. Not to mention, you can carry it around and represent Red Wagon wherever you go! :)
I also have a couple of reusable bags that were left at CSA pick-ups a while ago. If either or both of these belong to you, send me an email or mention it at your next pick-up and I’ll get them back to you.
Have a great week and I’ll see everyone at pick-up!
Posted by Mo
People have been asking when we will get greens again. Wyatt has them planted so, depending on weather, we should see some arugula and braising mix in 3 or 4 weeks. Lettuce mix will follow soon after. Until then I hope you are all enjoying the great height-of-the-season vegetables we are getting.
This week you have a choice of Italian or Japanese eggplant. Last week I grilled the Japanese eggplant and I am grilling the Italian eggplant this week to show you how different they are. The Japanese variety is very tender and mild. The Italian are longer and larger, so the skin is thicker and a little bitter but the flesh is silky and sumptuous. The flesh almost dissolves in your mouth. It disappears into the background of whatever it is mixed with and brings a body unlike any other vegetable I can think of.
I was looking through our recipe archive and we don’t have many sauce or dip recipes so I thought I would add a couple using eggplant. I grilled some Italian eggplant and used the flesh for two different dishes: baba ganoush and an eggplant sauce.
Heat up your grill and put the eggplant right on the grill, make a few slits in your eggplants so they don’t explode.
When the eggplant are charred all over, and really black and crunchy take them off the grill and let them cool so you can touch them without burning yourself. You are going to scoop out the flesh and get rid of the charred skin. Both these recipes use only the flesh of the eggplant.
Both of these recipes are absolutely delicious and utterly non-photogenic.
- 3 medium-sized eggplants
- 1/2 cup (130g) tahini (roasted sesame paste)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
- 3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Grill the Italian Eggplant and scoop out the flesh and mix with the rest of the ingredients. I mash it all together in a bowl with the back of a fork.
And this is the eggplant sauce served along with cauliflower and beans you are getting in your share. I blanched the vegetable for about a minute and served the eggplant sauce on the side.
*Adapted from a recipe by Nigel Slater
- The flesh of one grilled Italian eggplant
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- A handful of mint leaves
- Olive oil
Mash all the ingredients together in a bowl and use it as you would baba ganoush. This is fresh and bright.
Posted by Mo
I often look through Heidi Swanson’s books for ideas. I saw this recipe Tortilla Salad and made my own version of it with the vegetables we got this week.
You can use any vegetables you have of course. I followed the recipe for the dressing except I added a little cumin, and used the beans and cauliflower again. This is very good. I’ll make this again.
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 2 medium cloves of garlic, smashed into a paste
- 1 well-crumbled bay leaf
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon + fine grain sea salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- A pinch of cumin
Gently warm the olive oil over medium-low heat in a skillet or pan, until it is just hot. When hot remove from heat.
While the oil is heating, lightly pound the rosemary, thyme, and oregano in a mortar and pestle.
Stir the paprika, garlic, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, and salt into the oil. Then add the bruised herbs and lemon juice.
You can use this now, but know – the oil just gets better as it ages over a few days. Keep it in a refrigerator for up to a week/ten days-ish. It thickens up when cold, so if you need it in a liquid state, place it in the sun or in a warm place for a few minutes.
Full disclosure; I dropped my camera and broke the lens so I couldn’t take pictures. My daughter is in town for a wedding and she took all the pictures this week. Thanks Nyssa. Good job.
Have a great week.