Howdy CSA Folks!
Weather has been a rather hot topic on the farm the past few weeks, but naturally it seems to be discussed in most conversations just about anywhere around the globe. I have lived and visited quite a few states, and 9 times out of 10 there has been someone who has tried to convince me that their region or state has the most ‘unpredictable weather’ of all the other states/regions in the world. Have you all noticed that? As for me I would have to agree with the consensus that Georgia has very unpredictable weather, but I am starting to find some pattern and appreciation in the varied weather throughout the day. The weather trend for this past week went a little like this: morning fog and cloud cover, mid-morning and early afternoon SUN, followed by crazy winds and rain to end the day. Even as I sit here typing with the front door and windows open, I can see the clouds rolling in and hear thunder off in the distance. I don’t think that I could tell you weather trends from other states that I have lived in only a few months; this is definitely a trait that I have learned from farming.
Farming requires a great amount of forethought for the week, month, and even year. Weather is the deciding factor on when or how things are done around the farm, so the week (and sometimes month) needs to be planned around it as best as possible. Hourly weather changes tend to be less relied on by checking the weather channel, and more by being able to read the sky/clouds. With that said – what a crazy past few weather weeks we have had! We have been grateful for the rain (we can all four be working on a project instead of one of us running around doing all of the irrigating), but boy are we happy for the sunny weekend that is just ending. Hopefully our fields will be dry enough for us to get in with the tractor plant a few more successions of beans, corn, squash, and till in some spring crops to make room for cover crops in prep for the fall. However, the rain did not stop us this week, we have been hard at work weeding, trellising, pruning, and harvesting. The pepper plants are producing beautiful small peppers, so within a few weeks we will be littered with tons of peppers on our plants. The first ripe Sungold cherry tomato made its debut on Thursday, followed by a few more red cherries on Friday and Saturday. Get ready for tomato season! Then we ended our week with harvesting 5 rows of new potatoes – one of the coolest plants to harvest. Since the potato is the root system of the potato each plant gives us anywhere from 5-10 potatoes, making our haul quite large and HEAVY. Potatoes will be at the market next weekend and will show up the share within a few weeks, until tomatoes and peppers really start rolling in enjoy all of the cucs and zuchs your heart could ever desire, the last of spring greens, kohlrabi, fennel, cabbage, carrots, beets, celery, and herbs galore.
Also – the week before last we harvested our last radishes and turnips…but they will be back in the fall!
-I hope you all are prepared to say farewell to the greens of spring and welcome in your fare share of summer fruit. Our zucchini and cucumber plants are thriving right now! We have been harvesting well over 100 pounds of cucumbers every other day and about the same in zucchini and squash; get ready for more. Here are a few ways to use up this week’s (……and maybe last week’s) bounty of zucchini and cucumbers plus other new vegetables you have been seeing.
Cold as a Cucumber Soup
Yes, cucumber soup is a thing. A great thing. Plus it requires no cooking, therefore it is easy and a great dish to take to summer evening grill-outs and potlucks.
-1 lb cucumbers (about 2 of our medium sized cucs); peeled*, seeded, and sliced
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 1/2 c plain yogurt
-1 scallion; coarsely chopped (save some for garnish)
-1 garlic clove; minced
-4 1/2 tsp fresh dill (save some for garnish)
In a colander set over a bowl, toss cucumbers with salt and let sit for 30 minutes. Squeeze and pat dry when 30 minutes is up. Place cucumbers in food processor/blender along with yogurt, scallion and garlic. Process until smooth. Add in dill, process until incorporated. Serve chilled and garnish with remaining scallion and dill.
*Note: Don’t throw out your cucumber skins, add them to a jug of water and keep in the fridge for cucumber infused water: a great daily detox in the summer.
Quick Veggie Pickles
Pickles, by far one of my favorite things in life. These quick refrigerator pickles are great to eat in just a few hours and last for quite a few months hidden in the back of your fridge. However, pickling is not just for cucumbers with dill; welcome your taste buds to all sorts of other pickled vegetables accompanied with whatever herbs and spices you like. These pickles require a few sterilized pint size jars (place in boiling water for just a few seconds to sterilize), a refrigerator, and imagination. Follow this recipe for every pound of vegetables you have:
-1 c vinegar; any kind except balsamic
-1 c water
-1/2 c sugar (or less if you like them a bit more vinegar flavored)
-1 Tbs salt
-fresh herbs and/or spices and/or garlic; amount varies with preference
Heat vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a pot until all particles dissolved, creating a brine. While heating the brine, chop/slice vegetables and place in jars. Stuff in herbs/spices/garlic. Once brine is ready, pour over vegetables making sure all are fully immersed in liquid – this is key, if not all of the vegetable is covered you will see browning on the tops of pickles. Screw on lid, place in back of the fridge, and wait as long as 4 hours or a few weeks. If you are like me, dig on in once they are chilled. These are great to take to parties or have for last minute dinner guests or just when the summer heat gets to you and all you want is a pickle!
-The classic: cucumber, dill, mustard seed, garlic
-The trendy thing to do: kohlrabi, cumin, black peppercorn, garlic
-The non-wasteful pickle: stems from last week’s kale/collards/chard, mustard seed, crushed red pepper
-The Greek way: white part of scallion/spring onion/onion (sliced thin), garlic, black peppercorn
-The ‘if you carrot all about pickling’ way: carrots, garlic, cumin seed, fennel fronds, black peppercorn
Kid-tastic recipe (Adults can eat them too!)
Great way to eat zucchini?
Slice it in half, scoop out the middle, sear on flesh side for about 3 minutes, top with favorite veggie saute and cheese and/or breadcrumbs, and finished off with a toast in the oven! I made these on Wednesday and have been thinking of all the combinations I could do since. I did a saute of chard leaves, chard stems, garlic, and rice and followed it with a sage, parmesean, and breadcrumb topping. The perfect saute should include a protein, veggies, and possibly a starch which makes this a great whole meal – no side dishes needed! Allow for the boat with saute to cook in the oven at 375 for about 15 minutes before topping with cheese and/or breadcrumbs. Let the cheese and/or breadcrumbs brown – took me about 5 minutes. Let cool, then enjoy! Top with a sail made out of a toothpick and some paper to get the whole ‘boat’ effect.
At the intern house, we have been baking up a storm! We always have fresh baked breads and sweets, and recently we have been playing around with putting vegetables in all of our baked goods. Most of our goodies do not last for more then a few days, so experiments continue to happen! Keep an eye out for chocolate beet brownies, savory zucchini bread, and carrot cake cinnamon rolls within the next few weeks! Zucchini blondies are everything you want in a baked good: moist from the zucchini, sweet from the chocolate, and crisp from the butter. Always a fun recipe to make with kids, because when it comes to baking hands are the best kitchen tools!
-5 tbs butter, melted with 1 tbs water
-1 c dark brown sugar
-1 large egg
-1 c all-purpose flour (I used 3/4 c AP and 1/4 c whole wheat)
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/8 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 medium zucchini, grated (you can use a box grater or food processor)
-1/3 c chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. Grease pan 9×9 baking dish or muffin pan (great for ‘grab and go’ style sweet treats). Pour melted butter in bowl and add brown sugar. Once mixed well, add egg, vanilla and beat until well blended. Sift dry ingredients into the egg/butter/sugar mixture, then fold in zucchini and chocolate chips. Batter should be the same as a basic brownie batter. Spread into baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, or until knife comes out clean but still a little batter coated*. Let cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days (if you can!)
*Note: Brownies and blondies tend to be more moist than cakes and are okay to have a bit of almost dry batter cling to the knife once its pulled out. Also another way to test if the blondies are done is to press the center and if holds and imprint they are done.
I will leave you all with this great video of kids tasting new foods for the first time. Enjoy!