Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sunday - Week # 10




Hi,

I hope you are doing well and feeling especially fit this week--we have included our first watermelons of the season in the shares this week--and they will give you quite the workout. In addition to the watermelons, our small shares have slicing tomatoes, okra, red beets with their greens, acorn squash, cucumber, and garlic. In addition to all of that, our full shares have extra slicing tomato, acorn squash, fresh red onion, and poblano peppers.

New in the small shares this week are our slicing tomatoes, okra, watermelons, garlic, and acorn squash. As promised last week; our field tomatoes are starting to ripen enough for harvest, and we have included our slicing tomatoes this week. As their name implies, they are great on sandwiches, salads, with mozzarella, or however you like. All of our tomatoes are vine-ripened and never kept below 50 degrees; to keep them as flavorful and fresh/juicy as possible. Tomatoes stay best between 55-65 degrees, and below 50 degrees lose flavor and get a 'mealy' texture. We have a special cooler that keeps them in that range so they will be as fresh and tasty as possible for you, so I hope you will take care of them just as well when they get to your home. They will not be harmed by hotter temperatures, but they will continue to ripen, and the heat will quicken that. Since our tomatoes are picked at the peak of their ripeness, they are fresher, but also do not last as long as grocery store tomatoes, so please plan on eating them within a few days.

If you are not familiar with okra, it is quite a delicious little vegetable. It has a wonderfully gooey, light, green taste; and is great fried, stir fried, or in soups (where it is the traditional base for gumbo). I hope you are all well-acqainted with watermelons; these are our red seedless watermelons; which I imagine you are most familiar with--hopefully we will include some of our sugar babies and yellow watermelons in the next few weeks as well. Most of the shares this week received elephant garlic, and some received porceilan garlic. The elephant garlic plant is actually not a garlic, but is still part of the allium family--it is closely related to leeks; and as leeks are to onions (more mild, slightly sweeter), elephant garlic is to normal garlic. Since it is more mild, it is especially more palatable raw, though of course it's great cooked as well. The porcelain garlic is more similar to the garlic that you are used to, though it is grown from an heirloom variety.

The acorn squash is another variety of winter squash. Of the 12 varieties of winter squash that we grow, they each have unique textures and flavors, but all of them other than the spaghetti (which you received last week) can be prepared in pretty much the same way. First cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. Next, you can slice it into chunks, or cook it whole (or stuffed)--feel free to cook it with the skin on, but make sure to cut/peel it off before eating. Make sure to be careful with your knife while cutting--sometimes cutting winter squash can get pretty dicey. I think it is best coated liberally with butter and brown sugar, but you can coat with any fat/oil, or just water, and if you're going for something more savory than sweet, use salt, pepper, and any spices you like instead of sugar. Like the spaghetti squash, you can roast it at 350, and it should be done in about half an hour, depending on how thick it is--it's done when it's as tender as you like it, usually when you can pierce it fairly easily with a knife.

Obviously I enjoy and value eating locally and seasonally, and I am especially interested in finding/exploring/creating a local food cuisine/culture in that same vein. It is my assessment that the single biggest thing we can all embrace to help accomplish that is winter squash. If we are to really take eating locally and in-season seriously, then winter squash should be every bit as much of a staple food, if not more, than potatoes and onions. They come in so many wonderful varieties, and can be cooked in so many ways--other than the fact that they don't lend themselves to being fried and sold in fast food chains--I don't know why they aren't major staple foods in more households already. I really encourage all of you to try each kind of squash we share each week and consider making it a staple in your household even after this CSA season is over.

New in the full shares this week are our fresh red onions and poblano peppers. I am sure most of you already know what to do with red onions; they are good sliced on sandwiches, pizza, salads, or cooked into any number of dishes. The poblano peppers have a deep green pepper flavor, medium spice, and are the traditional pepper used for chiles rellenos--a personal favorite. Even if you're not up for chiles rellenos, I highly recommend searing them on the grill or in the broiler and eating them that way--they have a wonderful flavor.

Things are coming along very well on the farms. A few people came up for the garlic harvest, and though I was unable to make it; from what I understand it went very well and everybody had a great time. We will be putting together plans for our melon party sometime in the next week, so hopefully we will have the details for you by next week or the week after. As you might have noticed, our lettuces are out of season now, and probably will be for another 6 weeks or so--it is normal for them to not fare well through the heat of the summer, but they will be back again in the fall. Our melons and watermelons are coming in, and soon we should have more available, and in more varieties, so you should expect some of that in the weeks to come. As noted above; our winter squash has come in early this year, so we might even have enough time to rotate through every variety we grow before the season is over. Ground cherries are another highly anticipated item that is coming in and we will be able to share soon. These are the last of our beets from our first planting, but we should have more in another 6 weeks or so.

Please remember to return your bags.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me.

Enjoy!

-Mark


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