Welcome to August, friends. What fun it is to bring in a new month with you all once again. We hope this month brings you all good things, just like we know it will bring good things to the farm.
Just as July proved to be a whirlwind early on, August has not disappointed us yet in that department. We have been busy Seren-bees harvesting all summer crops and seeding all the fall crops in the greenhouse and in the ground. That is right you guys, we are already thinking about the fall. Just as we have finally gotten all of the spring crops out of the ground (except for all of those tasty leeks) we have seeded your long missed turnips, radishes, carrots, and beets. We have also started more broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, swiss chard, and collards than you all could even imagine. Lettuce has also been seeded, with more leeks, scallions, and onions. We will all have quite the tasty fall.
The new “B-Field” update: Some of you all may have been keeping up with our new fields on the farm, watching us run around endlessly moving sprinklers from one side of a field to another just to water the small plants that are coming on. We now have officially established our pumpkin patch up top, and our two sets of cover crop in the lower tiers of the field. Hopefully by the middle of September you all will be peering at tall gras
ses and sunflowers the size of your head. The pumpkin plants are looking quite beautiful as well; we have them covered with row fabric for protection from the deer since this field doesn’t have any deer fencing quite yet. Hopefully we will start to see some flowers and then fruit on the plants within the next few weeks. Besides just the pumpkin patch in the back, we do have a small patch of winter squash that are doing great and are just about ready to be harvested. In the patch we have small pie pumpkins, butternut squash, acorn squash, sweet dumpling squash, and birdhouse gourds. Soon enough you all will be enjoying “winter” squash in the summer. It is neat to think that a squash termed as winter is only called that because of its storage capacity and not technically its growing season. Winter squash plants thrive in summer months, but the fruit itself can be stored for six months and some cases up to a year. I can’t wait to share my favorite winter squash recipes with you all and eat pumpkin pie for the entire season of fall.
I want to share with you all a fun “coming of age story” about our newest crew member, maybe you all have seen him around on CSA day. We have recently hired a fourth set of hands for the remainder of the summer just until we can gain a few more apprentices who will start in the beginning of the fall season, and will then roll into the spring. These hands come to us by way of a self proclaimed “city boy” who in his half of a century of life has never stepped foot on a farm. However, that has not stopped him from jumping right in with us ladies and working from sun up to sun down with us. He weedeats like a professional (promptly taking that job away from myself and Ivy), he has helped to set up all the new signs that are around the farm, and gets down and dirty with us weeding and planting away. The neatest thing about these hands is that they now yearn for more farm work. It is a neat thing for me, being in my first season of farming knowing that I want to be a farmer, that I am already helping someone else to become a farmer. Which provokes this quote that I want share with you guys:
” The health of the farm is as apparent to the eye as the health of a person.” – Wendell Berry
I hope it brings thoughts into your daily lives; to search for health outside of appearance. Plus to give you the inside scoop as to what provokes thoughts in a young new farmer.
Just as I promised you all back in July, summer is full of easy, no fuss meals that will please your eyes and stomach. These next few recipes have either a story to them, or are just a great way to take care of a few of those CSA items that may be lurking in the back of your fridge (or just give you a new way to eat them!). Read on for fun stories of these foods.
Blackened Green Bean and Grain Salad
No fun story here, just a great salad to eat hot after its first made or cold the next day for lunch.
- 1 cup of any grain you prefer, cooked as you normally would (I use rice, but the recipe originally calls for quinoa)
- 1 pound long green beans, (roughly 3 cups)
- salt and pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup water
- ½ medium red onion, sliced into very thin strips
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
- 2 corn on the cobs, stripped
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1½ to 2 small lemons, juiced
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- sea salt and black pepper
- ⅓ cup sliced almonds (highly recommended)
- crumbled feta (optional)
- Cook your grain of choice, fluff, and set aside.
- Chop off the straggly ends of the green beans. Cut them on the bias (diagonally) into 2- to 3-inch long pieces.
- Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the green beans and a sprinkle of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until spotty brown (4 to 6 minutes).
- Use a wooden spoon to push the green beans from the center of the skillet. Add another teaspoon olive oil and the minced garlic. Cook the garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir the garlic into the green beans.
- Grab a baking sheet to cover the pan and keep it handy. Add the red onion to the pan, followed by the water and cover until the beans are bright green and crisp (about 2 minutes). Uncover the pan and increase heat to medium-high. Cook until the water evaporates and the beans are lightly browned (3 to 5 minutes) and remove from heat.
- Transfer the green beans to a big mixing bowl. Add the cooked quinoa, chopped cherry tomatoes and corn kernels. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and pour it into the salad bowl. Toss to combine. Add salt to taste. If it doesn’t taste like an end-of-summer party, add another squeeze of lemon and maybe a dash of red pepper flakes.
- In a skillet over medium-low heat, toast the almond slivers until fragrant and golden. Top the salad with toasted almonds and feta, if you’d like, and serve.
Spanish Garlic Soup
This soup has quite the background as to why I am including this comforting soup in the middle of the heat of the summer. On my very first day here at the farm I was appointed to garlic cleaning duty. What this very important job entailed was to go through all of the leftover garlic bulbs from last season and pull apart the biggest cloves and separate them into buckets. After about two hours and three full buckets later, it was time to plant the cloves. This garlic would later on become the green garlic you all enjoyed at the beginning of the CSA, as the garlic bulbs had already been planted in October. Once the garlic was clean, we set out to plant all three of these buckets of garlic, which proved to be two beds worth at three rows a piece. If you could imagine, this took a good amount of time as we had to punch the garlic into the ground about two inches deep by hand at six inches apart. So, as I was planting all of this garlic and looking at the preexisting garlic in front of my all I could think about is that there has to be so many other ways to eat garlic and make it the main attraction. I began to think about my favorite soup, French Onion Soup, and thought maybe there is a garlic equivalent. Lo and behold ladies and gentlemen, I give you all Spanish Garlic Soup, for that day in your week where you just want to fantasize about planting garlic and tasting all of its strong yet subtle flavors.
- 2 generous tablespoons olive oil
- 8 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup cubed, stale bread, crusts removed
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
- 6 cups water
- 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
- 4 bay leaves
- 3 eggs, beaten well
- Boil your water with the bay leaves and 2 teaspoons salt. Once it boils, keep it at a simmer.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a pot over low/medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add bread cubes. Cook, stirring frequently so the garlic doesn’t burn, 2 to 3 more minutes. Add the paprika and stir to coat everything.
- Add boiling water; do not remove bay leaves. Simmer for 20 minutes. Taste the broth, and add salt as needed. Remove bay leaves.
- Stir the soup pot in wide circles, and slowly stream the beaten eggs into the pot. You want them to turn into wisps and ribbons, not clumps, so keep stirring for a few extra seconds, after everything is added. Serve immediately.
Stewed Okra and Tomatoes
Stewed Okra and Tomatoes. My go to meal when the days are long and I need just a bit of comfort from this quick summer stew. I discovered this last summer when I was overrun with tomatoes from the farm I was volunteering at back in Texas. Okra was not as prevalent last summer, so it was a treat for me to have and a momentous occasion when I cooked it. I could go as far to say that okra is my favorite vegetable, and I tend to eat it raw just because its a great quick snack and rather high in electrolytes. However, some days I just want to cook it and showcase its lovely slimy qualities. When making this meal about three times a week every week last summer, I had no idea that this was something that folks enjoyed all over the south, but I am still happy to share this all with you as it is my favorite comfort food in the middle of the summer.
- 1 pound tomatoes, roughly chopped (size is based on preference)
- 1 pound okra, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small red onion, minced
- 1 cup of cooked rice
- In medium sauce pan (preferably not cast iron as the acid in the tomatoes will affect your skillet’s seasoning), heat a tablespoon of oil. Once oil is shimmering, add okra and allow to char a bit (about 4-5 minutes).
- Add minced onion and garlic and allow flavors to infuse the oil (about 1 minute).
- Once the okra, garlic, and onion are all mixed together add in the tomatoes, add liquid if the vegetables start to stick or burn. Cover with lid and allow to cook down to whatever consistency and acid level you like (the longer you cook tomatoes the less acidic they get).
- Once cooked all the way through, take off burner and allow to cool and sauce will thicken a tiny amount. Scoop a good amount of rice onto your plate and heap on the okra tomato stew. Take a deep breath, and dig in!
Cherry Tomato Cobbler
Well, I just came across this meal and thought, what the heck you all should give it a try! I know you all have the same issue as me and cannot give away your cherry tomatoes to a recipe because you pop them in your mouths like candy, so go ahead and use your big tomatoes just chop them up to cherry tomato size.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2.5-3 pounds cherry tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Coarse salt
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese (2 1/4 ounces), plus 1 tablespoon, for sprinkling
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, plus more for brushing
Make the filling: Heat oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium heat. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 25 minutes. Add garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let cool.
Toss onion mixture, tomatoes, flour, and red-pepper flakes with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and some pepper.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Make the biscuit topping: Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or rub in with your fingers until small clumps form. Stir in cheese, then add cream, stirring with a fork to combine until dough forms. (Dough will be sticky.)
Transfer tomato mixture to a 2-quart baking dish (2 inches deep). Spoon 7 clumps of biscuit dough (about 1/2 cup each) over top in a circle, leaving center open. Brush dough with cream, and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon cheese. Bake until tomatoes are bubbling in the center and biscuits are golden brown, about 50-60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Let cool for 20 minutes.
Simple Roasted Salsa
Here we are, the salsa you all were promised. This is my favorite salsa. The one I make just about twice a week. Enjoy!
- 1 pound plum or roma tomatoes, stemmed and cut in half
- 1 or 2 jalapeños (depending on how hot you want the salsa), stemmed and cut in half
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 lime
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste
Turn on your broiler and place a rack five inches away from the heating element. Line a skillet or baking sheet with foil and place the tomatoes, jalapeño halves and garlic on the skillet; season with salt. Cook under the broiler for five minutes (this, and all broiling steps, took much longer in my weak oven), or until the jalapeño and garlic have brown spots. Remove the jalapeño and garlic from the skillet and place in a blender.
Meanwhile, return the skillet to the oven and continue to broil the tomatoes for five more minutes, or until they have browned on top. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and add them to the blender, also pouring into the blender any juices that may be in the skillet. Begin to pulse on a low speed until the salsa reaches your desired texture; I usually add about 2 tablespoons water to loosen mine — you may need up to 1/4 cup, or more, for a thinner salsa. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Add juice of lime and cilantro. Eat with everything.