Tuesday, October 26, 2010

CSA Week 22, Final Week

The universe has been reading this blog. It has noted my preoccupation with the weather and it responded today with one of the most gorgeous days we have had on the farm. The air was unseasonably warm but the autumn light was still soft, and we began the final week of the CSA in extreme comfort. It is easy to be in a good mood in such conditions, and we performed the season's penultimate harvest happily, and with ease. We shed layers as we worked, and when it came time for me to remove my long-sleeve thermal and replace it with something lighter I was briefly shirtless, and Joshua advised our volunteers (Thank you volunteers, for being hard workers all season, and for being fun) to avert their eyes or consider wearing sunglasses. Maybe it is true that I am blindingly pale in the sunlight, but I was reminded of the Duino Elegies: "...beauty is nothing but the start of terror we can hardly bear."

That was a joke, it was hilarious. This is not a joke: Thank You to you everyone who has been a part of the 2010 Dover Farm CSA. Joshua and I arrived in this area last winter optimistic but unsure what to expect from the eastern Massachusetts community, from the piece of land that we would be farming, and from ourselves. Now, after one full season, we are proud of our work, we are happy with the productivity of the land, and we couldn't be more pleased with the community of customers, volunteers, and enthusiastic supporters that have been a part of the farm all season. I was especially wary of moving to a new community and establishing what would be the latest in a long series of temporary homes. In April, shortly after arriving, I met a friend for dinner in Waltham and I noticed that US Route 20 passes through that town on its way to Boston in one direction and on its way to the Oregon coast in the other direction, and I thought of that state where I spent the first half of my life and I thought of this state to which I was brand new, and I thought that I'd like it if we could tuck our fingers beneath the asphalt of the road and pull it toward us like a garden hose and keep pulling until multiple of our heart's locations were at our feet in a pile of crumpled geography. At least we'd be tired from all that pulling, and we could be still for a while. We've done it somewhere inside ourselves instead, in that part of ourselves where our own histories are coiled. We are spring-loaded against the day we return to the universe the accumulation of places we have visited and things we have seen, and we would do well to like what we are carrying. All I'm saying is, I'm happy to have arrived here, and to be a part of this farm and this farm community, and I'm happy to keep them alongside experiences past and future. Thanks, again, to all of you who have made this season possible.

Here is what's in the last share of the season:

Swiss Chard
Mixed Brassica Greens
Dandelion Greens
Hot Peppers
Sweet Peppers
Sweet Potatoes
Delicata Winter Squash
Mixed Herbs Bundles (Oregano, Sage, Cilantro, Dill)
Yellow Onions
Red Onions
You-Pick Tomatillos

*Consider whether you'd like to join the CSA in 2011. Joshua and I are excited to be returning for another season, and we'd love to see as many of you as possible back on the farm. Community Supported Agriculture is a non-traditional commercial model. By purchasing a share the customer enters a season-long partnership with the farmer in which the risks and rewards of farming are duly shared, and every season is different. As your farmers, we use every season as an opportunity to learn more about our piece of land and the crops we grow, and each season we hope to refine and improve our abilities as growers of food. Please consider making the CSA a long-term partnership for you and your family. We'll reserve a spot in the 2011 CSA for all current members until February 15, at which time we'll open enrollment to the general public. (And next season we plan to offer an increased number of memberships, so if you know anyone who might be interested in a full season of locally-grown produce, please spread the word.) For more information or for an enrollment form, please email us at doverfarmcsa@gmail.com.

*By this time of year I am so accustomed to eating food directly from the farm that I am nervous about the season's end. The prospect of returning to the grocery store on a regular basis baffles me, and spring seems like a long time to wait for fresh produce. If you are having similar apprehensions, our neighbor Chris runs a winter CSA, and he is still accepting shareholders. He's a great farmer, he has been an excellent mentor to us whenever we had a question this season that only another farmer could answer, and he is literally around the corner from Dover Farm on Haven St. If you are interested in a Vanguarden Winter CSA share, please contact Chris Yoder at cyoder12002@yahoo.com.

*Firewood is available by request this winter from Dover Farm. We have a large amount of wood that has been recently felled and split and is now curing on site. Please contact us if you are interested in purchasing some.

*And a final end-of-season note: Anyone looking for a good local source for pasture raised heritage turkeys should check out Brambly Farms (bramblyfarms.com). Ted and Sandra are offering Bronze and Bourbon Red heritage birds for the holidays. They are friends of a CSA member, and if enough people would like to purchase turkeys from them for Thanksgiving we may be able to arrange a pick-up at Dover Farm. Contact them at bramblyfarms@yahoo.com if you are interested.

*Let's actually end the CSA season with a few cooking tips for dandelion greens. You'll remember these bitter greens from the spring, but perhaps you didn't miss them. Give them another chance with these simple recipes from Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables:

Plain-Cooked Mild Dandelion Greens

"If you like the flavor of dandelions but do not enjoy the depth of bitterness, you can blanch the leaves to mellow the taste, as you would in French-style green preparations. Although the initial boiling and draining will eliminate some of the valuable nutrients, blanching is a time-honored way of retaining the color and texture of green vegetables."

1 1/2 pounds dandelion greens, washed
2 Tbsp butter, or 1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

1. Drop greens into a large pot of boiling water. Boil until tender--about 5 minutes. Drain, drop into a bowl of ice water, then drain again. Chop and reserve.

2. Shortly before serving, saute dandelions in a skillet in butter until heated through. Or boil cream for a few minutes to reduce it slightly, then add greens and simmer until almost no liquid remains. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Rice with Dandelions

"Chopped dandelion greens give rice a pleasing bitterness and aroma. Not for every taste, but bitter greens just aren't."

10-12 ounces tender dandelion greens, washed
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 2/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
salt to taste

1. Chop dandelions in small bits. Heat butter in heavy 2-quart saucepan and add garlic and greens. Stir over moderate heat to wilt. Lower heat and cook until tender, stirring often, about 5 minutes.

2. Add stock, water, and rice, and bring to a full boil, stirring occasionally. Add salt, if needed. Turn heat to lowest point and cover pot. Cook 20 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and let stand 20-45 minutes. Fluff gently into a warm serving dish. (Can be kept in very low oven, covered, for half and hour, or can be reheated.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

CSA Week 21

The mornings are getting colder. The days are still warm by afternoon, but they begin with frost. We arrive at the farm by seven, before the sun is higher than the trees that surround our fields, and on the plants and on the bare soil of our empty planting beds there is a thin layer of white frost, a powdery crust that glistens cold. The morning light, when the sun does rise, is soft, and as the air warms steam is released from every cold surface. It wafts upward, illuminated, evaporation like the slow exhalation of a thing that has been still all night.

This morning was especially cold. We are accustomed to beginning our harvest with lettuce and other leafy greens that will wilt if left in the field until the day is hot, but this morning those things were frozen. They were stiff with rime and would break if we handled them, and so we harvested the crops for the CSA share in reverse order. By late morning the sun had burned through the clouds and the tender plants had softened and we were able to harvest last what we would usually harvest first.

The cold mornings are a challenge for people as well as for plants. As we harvest, our hands are in contact with moisture that is nearly frozen, and for all of us (and especially those of us who are tall and thin and whose extremities are particularly far from our heart) this results in fingers and hands that hurt in the cold. Last week my hands became sort of inoperable after half a morning in the mizuna and kale; I could no longer use my fingers as individuals, so I went to the barn and used my hands like shovels to pick up and count garlic and onions for the CSA share. Meanwhile the sun outlasted the mist and the generalized pain in my hands and feet ceased to register as a sort of nausea and the day continued to its warmer stages. We begin the work day in a cold that is bracing and end it in a warmth that is comforting. It's not a bad way to be.

Here is what's in the share this week:

Swiss Chard
Collard Greens
Dandelion Greens
Hot Peppers
Sweet Peppers
Delicata Squash
Sweet Potatoes
You-Pick Tomatillos
You-Pick Husk Cherries

*The proliferation of root vegetables is appropriate for this time of year, and I find that on many cold nights I want nothing more for dinner than a roasted medley of the things. This week that includes the carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, and garlic, and if you have any parsnips from last week those could be added as well. I chop the vegetables into cubes; the onion I peel and quarter, and the garlic cloves I peel and add whole. Everything can be assembled in a pan, coated with olive oil and seasoned with salt + pepper and any fresh or dried herbs that you like. I roast the dish at 400 degrees for approximately 40 minutes (until the vegetables are soft enough that you'd want to eat them), stirring occasionally. The Delicata winter squash in the share this week and next week would also make a good addition--chop it into bite-sized pieces, leaving the skin on, and roast it with the rest. And keep root vegetables in mind, because next week we're hoping to offer a medley that will include carrots, turnips, and beets.

*It is also apple season, so if you find yourself with an excess of fresh apples, try this spoon bread that also includes sweet potatoes (and sage, if you are still looking for a use for last week's herb):

Sweet Potato, Apple, and Sage Spoon Bread
(Thanks to Erin Harvey for the recipe.)

1 1-pound sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 6-oz. Granny Smith apple, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 cups whole milk
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp chopped fresh sage
2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup white cornmeal
4 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Cook sweet potato in pot of boiling water until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain; transfer to large bowl.

Melt 2 Tbsp butter in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add apple; saute until tender and golden, about 8 minutes. Add apple to sweet potato; mash together. Cool. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 350. Bring milk, sugar, sage, and salt to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low; gradually whisk in cornmeal. Cook until cornmeal absorbs milk and pulls clean from bottom of pan, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Whisk in 3 Tbsp butter. Whisk yokes in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in cornmeal mixture. Whisk in baking powder. Mix sweet potato mixture into cornmeal mixture. Beat egg whites in medium bowl to medium-stiff peaks. Fold whites into warm cornmeal mixture.

Melt 1 Tbsp of butter in heavy large ovenproof skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Pour batter into skillet. Transfer skillet to oven; bake spoon bread until top is golden and puffed, about 1 hour. Serve warm.

*I am loath to include a photograph of myself in which neither Joshua nor anyone else farm-related is also pictured, but this week I am light on photographs and I am also loath to post an entry that is all text, and you can see how those scales tipped. You should focus on the carrots, they are prospering in the cold soil, and they have been fantastic in recent weeks.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

CSA Week 20

Our work on the farm is a healthy mix of the tasks that are daily (tending the chickens, watering whatever plants are in the greenhouse), tasks that are recurring (sowing seeds, transplanting crops, harvesting, weeding), and tasks that are undertaken only once or twice a season. In this latter category are things such as harvesting and cleaning garlic, a job that occupied some afternoons in late July and was followed by our annual harvest and cleaning of the onions, and which will directly lead to the one afternoon this fall that we spend planting garlic. The sweet potato harvest was also a once-a-year job. Over the course of several days--many of them conveniently timed to coincide with the final September heat wave--Joshua and I and a few occasional volunteers dug by hand the entirety of the sweet potato crop. Prior to this season neither of us had extensive experience with sweet potatoes, so it was without expectation that we planted two beds of the things this spring, weeded them twice, and then watched as their vines spread low along the ground to the complete occlusion of the soil. And it turns out beneath that soil monster sweet potatoes had been growing. To dig them was laborious, but each potato was a happy discovery. I collected those that were shaped and sized like human organs, and I arranged them on a table in the greenhouse in an approximate human shape that included two lungs, a heart, stomach, liver, intestines, something I decided to call the duodenum, and some miscellany. I also dug a hummingbird and narwhal for our sweet potato zoo, and Joshua dug a potato exactly the size and shape of a duck. It was my intention to learn to control lightning and then bring these things to life (I commented that once animated and ambulatory the collection of sweet potato organs would be sort of gross, but a friend of the farm pointed out that no, they'd be sweet), but before I could do so we moved all of the potatoes to the barn, where they have been curing and awaiting distribution. Along with the other items we have arranged in that dry place (garlic, onions, winter squash) they will contribute heft to the remaining shares, a weighty once-a-year harvest that we'll offer alongside the greens and peppers and all that we pick on an ongoing basis.

The share this week:

Red Russian Kale
Swiss Chard
Heirloom Tomatoes
Sweet Peppers
Hot Peppers
Sweet Potatoes
You-Pick Tomatillos
You-Pick Husk Cherries

*The parsnips have been in the ground for a long time. We sowed them in April, they germinated slowly, they survived (rather, most of them survived) a brush with the rototiller, and they have been growing ever since. That's six months in the ground, for those keeping track. I don't know what to tell you to do with the green leafy tops, although it will be obvious that those have grown to be as abundant as the root. Feed them Boldto your rabbit, if you have a rabbit, or add them to your compost, if you have compost. Like carrot tops, they can probably be cooked as part of a vegetable stock and then discarded. As for the root, here are a few suggestions:

Pureed Roasted Parsnips

From Simply Recipes: "The easiest way to prepare parsnips is to slice them, steam them, and dress with butter and salt. However, to get the fullest, richest flavor from the parsnips, they should be roasted. The browning caramelizes the natural sugars in the parsnips. In this recipe we first roast the parsnips with some butter, then puree them with added water. It's quite simple, but if you've never had parsnips this way, you're in for a treat."

2 lbs parsnips, peeled and chopped
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 1/2 cups water
1/8 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400. Peel parsnips and chop them.
2. Place chopped parsnips in a medium-sized bowl, add the melted butter, and stir to coat. Lay the parsnips on a roasting pan in a single layer. Roast in the heated oven 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden, turning the parsnips once halfway through the cooking.
3. Put the cooked parsnips into a blender or food processor. Add the water and pulse until pureed to the desired consistency. Add more water if necessary. Add nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.

Or include the sweet potatoes in this version from Gourmet:

Sweet Potato and Parsnip Puree

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 parsnips, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup whole milk
3 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and parsnips and boil gently until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a food processor. Add butter and puree until smooth. Add milk, brown sugar, and salt, and blend well. Season with pepper.

*Mizuna is in the share for the third and final time this season. It's part of a small arsenal of greens that we are offering this week (along with the lettuce, swiss chard, and red russian kale), all appropriate for the season. For tips and recipes concerning mizuna, scroll to week 15.

*This week's heirloom tomatoes will be the last. The plants have finally been felled by the season, but to this point they have thoroughly exceeded our expectations. (Our expectations, admittedly, were reserved--blight eliminated the tomato crop of most small-scale organic farmers in the northeast last year, and in light of that disaster we were reluctant to raise our hopes for this year.) The hot and dry conditions were favorable, and each week we were happily surprised by the number of healthy tomatoes we were able to harvest for the CSA. It's hard to believe that during the last week of August Joshua and I agreed that if we had tomatoes for one more week we would be happy. That was eight weeks ago, and the fact that we have been able to offer tomatoes through the middle of October has been one of our happiest accomplishments this season.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

CSA Week 19

I have been thinking recently of the ways in which humans have an adversarial relationship with the conditions that surround them. We insulate ourselves against the cold, we expose ourselves against the heat, and we create light against the dark. We constantly work to make a sphere of our own influence against what the world offers, and when we are unsuccessful, or when the conditions are insurmountable, we are uncomfortable. I appreciate farming in New England because we are regularly forced to work in a variety of the conditions that antagonize us, without recourse to full shelter when it is raining, or cold, or hot. We experience the world as a world relatively unencumbered by our efforts to modify it. On mornings such as this morning we experience rain as rain--that which wets the ground and those things upon it--and in it we are damp things, working. It is a privilege to know what it is to be wet or cold, and to know that those conditions can be fled when the work day is over, and we are grateful for it. There is a poem I like by Wendell Berry (a guy whose work I avoided for a while, for irrational reasons); I think of it in relation to this premise, and I apply it to a lot of things in life:

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

Try it in the most basic sense: leave the lights off as the day becomes dark so that you may know evening as evening and night as night and neither as things electrically illuminated; spend one minute being cold in the outdoors on a winter morning before putting on your coat, and for one minute know winter as winter. The ability to experience the world in a passive way without fully relinquishing our combative relationship with our surroundings--to know that we can be dark or cold and can then modify our environment to suit our comfort--is a special thing.

What was I saying? Oh--we harvested the share this morning in the dim light of a late dawn, in the spitting rain of a cold autumn day. It was fine.

Swiss Chard
Hot Peppers
Sweet Peppers
Heirloom Tomatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Husk Cherries
You-Pick Tomatillos, if you want them

*If you are familiar with radicchio, you know that it usually has the appearance of a tightly packed head that is the size of baseball or softball and is crisp like a cabbage. We've harvested some of the plants slightly before that stage because we have found that some of them are bolting (going to seed) before the head is fully formed. What we're offering, then, are beautifully colored heads of radicchio that are akin to lettuce in terms of texture and firmness. They still have the distinct bittersweet flavor of mature radicchio, and are excellent cooked as well as in salads. Two recipes with prefatory by Elizabeth Schneider, from Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables:

Salad of Radicchio, Red Pepper, and Avocado

"Brilliant-colored, this refreshing salad of bitter radicchio, crisp red bell pepper, and creamy avocado spotlights radicchio's unique qualities."

2 small heads radicchio (about 1/2 pound)
2 medium red bell peppers
1 medium avocado
2 Tbsp lime juice
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
Pepper to taste
4 Tbsp olive oil

1. Core, rinse and thoroughly dry radicchio. Cut into bit-sized pieces. Stem and seed peppers, then cut into thin julienne strips. Quarter and peel avocado, then cut across into thin slices or dice. Combine all in a serving bowl.

2. Blend lime juice, salt, and pepper. Gradually beat in oil. Pour over the salad and toss gently to coat the leaves. Serve.

Spaghetti with Radicchio, Anchovies, and Garlic

"When I first saw cooked radicchio, I was taken aback: where was the gorgeous garnet leaf with its sturdy crispness? But after a few tastes I began to understand the subtle changes the escarole-like leaf underwent when subjected to heat: an intensification of flavor and broadening of range to reveal its bitter-to-mellow-to-sweet spectrum. Although its brilliant red is lost once sauteed, radicchio gains an altogether new taste coloring."

1 pound spaghetti
1/3 cup full-flavored olive oil
2-3 tsp finely minced garlic, to taste
1 pound radicchio
2-ounce can anchovies in olive oil, sliced (do not discard oil)
2 Tbsp minced chive
1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
Black pepper to taste
1 cup finely grated provolone

1. Drop spaghetti into a large kettle of well-salted boiling water; stir until water returns to a boil. Cook until just barely tender

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet; stir in garlic; cook over moderately low heat until just golden. Add radicchio and toss for a few minutes over high heat, until just wilted.

3. Drain pasta and toss in a heated bowl with the anchovies and oil. Add radicchio, chives, parsley, and plenty of pepper and toss well. Add half the cheese and toss. Serve at once with the remaining cheese on the side.

*When preparing the leeks, let's not stray from the standards, especially when they are fully appropriate for autumn:

Potato and Leek Soup

The white and pale green part of 2 large leeks, split lengthwise, washed well, and chopped
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup chicken broth
1 pound potatoes
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley leaves or

In a large heavy saucepan cook the leeks in the butter with salt and pepper to taste, covered, over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are soft but not browned. Add the water, the broth, and the potatoes (cut into 1/2-inch pieces), and simmer the mixture, covered, for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. In a blender puree 1 cup of the soup, stir the puree into the remaining soup with the parsley, and season the soup with salt and pepper.

Or let's stray slightly, and incorporate the sweet potatoes. Like the recipe above, this is from Gourmet Magazine via Epicurious.

Sweet Potato-Leek Pancakes

1 large russet potato, grated
2 cups coarsely grated red-skinned sweet potato
1 leek, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise (white and pale green parts only, about 1 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 large egg
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
5 Tbsp vegetable oil
Sour Cream

Preheat oven to 275. Mix first 8 ingredients in a large bowl to blend. Heat 2 Tbsp of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, drop sweet potato mixture by 1/4 cupfuls onto skillet. Using spatula, gently flatten each mound to a 3 1/2-inch diameter round. Cook pancakes until brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer pancakes to baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil to skillet as needed. Transfer pancakes to plates. Serve with applesauce and sour cream.

*We couldn't be happier with the Swiss Chard. The leaves are large and undamaged by insects, and their colors are deep and full. We think they make beautiful bunches, and we hope you've been enjoying the abundance. A CSA member shared this recipe with us:

Sweet and Sour Swiss Chard

1 pound swiss chard (multiple colors preferred)
1 medium onion (diced)
1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins
2 cloves garlic (minced)
3 Tbsp white or cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse chard, pat dry, and remove stems. Chop stems diagonally into small pieces. Stack leaves, roll up, and slice in 1-inch strips; keep separate from stems. Set aside.

In deep saucepan saute onion in 2 tsp olive oil over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients along with chard stems, cover and cook for 8 minutes. Place chopped leaves on top of the mixture (do not stir in), cover and cook another 2 minutes. Remove from heat, stir and serve.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

CSA Week 18

To work the same five acres of land for a full season is to cultivate a sort of stillness. Not a stillness that is to be confused with idleness, but a stillness that is the result of the fact that during our working lives we rarely stray from this small piece of land, and of the fact that while here our efforts are concentrated on plants and soil that are never farther from us than a short walk, and are usually within arm's-reach. Plants and soil are by nature still things; they change constantly but slowly enough that we must tend them with patience, caring for them over the course of months as if we are rooted to the same spot as they. This has been on my mind because I had an unusually social weekend, first with an assortment of friends in the Pioneer Valley and then on the farm of a friend outside of New Haven, Connecticut. For more than two days I was in motion between people and places, and I was excited and happy and my attention was lifted from the ground and spread to several simultaneous points, and at the end of each day I was exhausted. This is a good thing, but it was a jarring contrast to the careful and stationary attention the farm requires. My heart moves slowly between states of being, and the varieties of stillness and motion have been on my mind as I acclimate again to the careful and focused pace of the farm.

Does that make sense? I probably should not use this blog to pursue trains-of-thought about potentially vague subjects. Until I don't, let's agree to practice a stillness that is neither idle nor vacant. Let's lie down with the cat, or watch the sky, or grow a plant, or sit down and carefully eat an array of vegetables. To that end, here is what's in the share this week:

Swiss Chard
Lacinato Kale
Heirloom Tomatoes
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes (while supplies last!)
Red Beets
Hot Peppers
Sweet Peppers
Husk Cherries
You-Pick Tomatillos, if you want them

*Eggplant can be delicious when battered and fried. Here is a recipe that you can use as a template, but be creative when making the batter. Eggs can be beaten and used for some of the liquid, and nutritional yeast is a good addition if you have it.
1 medium eggplant, trimmed, unpeeled, and sliced into uniformly thin strips
Olive oil for frying
3/4 Tbsp sea salt
8 oz. bottled soda water
3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour

Prepare eggplant: Put slices in a bowl, add 1/2 Tbsp salt, and let sit 20-25 minutes. Pour off liquid before dipping in batter.

Make the batter: Pour the soda into a bowl, stir in flour 1/4 Tbsp salt slowly, using a whisk or fork to mix.

Fry: Bring oil to high heat. Coat eggplant in the batter, use fork to place pieces in the oil, and fry 5-6 minutes, until golden brown on both sides and batter puffs up. Drain on absorbent paper towel just long enough to remove excess oil. Serve hot.

*Sadie Miller sent a recipe that I've been saving for a time when we had both kale and chard, and that time is now. The recipe calls for only one of the greens, but I think you should use a little of both. It also includes garlic and cilantro, both in this week's share. (If you see Sadie, by the way, and you probably won't because she lives in Belchertown, congratulate her--she was recently engaged to be married.)

Giant Chipotle White Beans

1 pound of large, dried white beans (corona, giant limas, gigantes, or any giant white bean you can find), rinsed, picked over and soaked for up to 24 hours

Chipotle-tomato sauce:
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 big pinches of red pepper flakes
2 pinches salt
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves
1 1/2 Tbsp adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers

Cilantro Pesto
1 medium clove garlic
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
big pinch salt
2/3 cup kale or chard, washed, de-stemmed, and finely chopped
1 cup queso fresco or feta cheese (or a combination of the two)
1 1/2 cup whole-grain bread crumbs, toasted in a skillet with a Tbsp of olive oil

Drain and rinse the beans after their overnight soak. Then place them in a large saucepan and cover with an inch or two of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the beans are cooked through and just tender. This can take anywhere from an hour to two hours (potentially more) depending on your beans, but do your best to avoid overcooking. Remove from heat, salt the beans (still in bean broth) with about a tablespoon of salt--enough that the bean liquid is tasty but on the salty side. Let the beans sit like this for ten minutes or so before draining and setting the beans aside.

In the meantime, make your tomato sauce. Place the 2 Tbsp olive oil, red pepper flakes, couple pinches of salt, and chopped garlic into a cold medium saucepan. Stir while you heat the saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute just 45 seconds or so until everything is fragrant--you don't want the garlic to brown. Stir in the tomatoes and the fresh oregano and heat to a gentle simmer, this takes just a couple minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the adobo sauce--carefully take a taste...If the sauce needs more salt add it now. More chipotle flavor? Go for it.

Make the cilantro pesto by combining the clove of garlic and cilantro in a food processor. Pulse while you drizzle in the olive oil. Season with a bit of salt and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a 9x13 baking pan (or large oven-proof casserole/dutch oven) toss the beans with the tomato sauce and the greens. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake in the top third of the oven for roughly 25 (if you're using queso fresco) to 40 minutes. I look for cheese to start browning and any visible beans to get a bit crusty. Remove from oven and let sit for about ten minutes. Top the beans with the breadcrumbs and just before serving drizzle with the cilantro pesto.

*A CSA member actually asked us to post more pictures of ourselves. I'm complying because I'd forgotten how adorable your farmers were back in June:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

CSA Week 17

It's the equinox, the second time this year neither light nor dark has been stifled in favor of the other. We lose a few minutes of daylight each day, and to arrive at the farm when the sun rises is to arrive each day a few minutes later. The extra sleep is mandated by the season, and we appreciate it. When the sun does rise its light is soft and the air is cold, but it is a cold unique to the season, a cold that contains within itself the assurance of future warmth. These are the cold mornings of warm days, conditions that exist in measure as equal as the light and the dark and invigorate because they do not threaten permanence. For those of us who felt diminished during the hottest parts of summer, exposed by the brightness and enervated by the humidity, the gentle daily fluctuation is soothing. It's certainly worth another opening paragraph about the weather.

Here is what's in the share this week:

Sungold Cherry Tomatoes
Heirloom Tomatoes
Collard Greens
Swiss Chard
Sweet Peppers
Hot Peppers
Husk Cherries

*During college I would often retreat to the home of my friends Mary and George. There, I could spend an autumn day doing schoolwork in the warmth of a household not at all reminiscent of the nearby campus, and I could end the day with a home-cooked meal. On at least one of these occasions I arrived to the sight and smell of tomatoes simmering on each of the stove top's four burners. George, who is an excellent cook, was making tomato sauce and tomato soup in quantities appropriate to freeze for the winter, and I spent the day in the midst of their preparation, in a haze of tomato-based aroma. With this in mind I called George and asked for tips and recipes concerning all things tomato. You're advised to heed his suggestions:

George Ferger's Tomato Soup

The quantities given here are for a 3-quart (medium-sized) saucepan. When I make this soup, I generally do so with the idea of freezing it in pint and/or quart containers for the winter, so I triple the measurements, filling the three pans in stages as I work through the cooking process. On a personal note, I like to save time so I am not fussy about tomato skins. I never skin a tomato I plan to cook. I do however at least slice each tomato open to be sure nothing objectionable is inside (you never know--one summer every 30th or so plum tomato had a moldy growth buried in its core). Most of the time I blend the cooked mixture once it has cooled sufficiently. If you want a coarser texture in a soup, dice everything a bit finer so any bits of skin will be unobtrusive. That will take longer, of course; a second strategy to add texture is to blanch diced vegetables (zucchini or yellow summer squash, bell peppers, etc.) in boiling water for a minute and then drain and add them to the blended tomato mixture. The times mentioned are for fresh organic vegetables. In my experience, they require less cooking time than most store-bought produce. Note: the bulghur acts to thicken the soup mixture. Tomatoes vary in their juiciness so you may need more or less. If the mixture is too thin, just add a bit more bulghur--it cooks in minutes. If the mixture is too thick, just add a bit of water. This can even be done at the blending stage if necessary.

2+ quarts coarsely chopped tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
2 chopped carrots
3 cloves fresh garlic, pressed or minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt + black pepper to taste
2 heaping Tbsp medium-coarse bulghur
other diced vegetables of one's choosing
1/2 cup each chopped fresh herbs (basil, dill, parsley) or 1 tsp each dried
1-3 fresh hot peppers, chopped, or crushed chili flakes to taste, or cayenne or tabasco, or a jar of salsa (if desired)

Saute the onions and carrots over medium heat in the olive oil for a few minutes, then turn down the heat and stir in the garlic. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir frequently. Add all the other ingredients and cook for about another 20 minutes. (Total cooking time should be less than an hour.)

George's Tomato Sauce

This recipe is similar to the one in The Victory Garden Cookbook (Fall Freezer Tomato Sauce). Like the soup recipe above, feel free to either make the sauce smooth or coarse in texture. The same methods as above apply.

2 1/2+ quarts chopped tomatoes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1 chopped carrot
1 1/3 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cans organic tomato paste (6 oz. can)
1 tsp each of these dried herbs: thyme, oregano, basil. And powdered bay leaf is fabulous if you can get it. If you use fresh herbs instead of dried, throw them in by the handful.
1 tsp salt + black pepper to taste
1-3 hot fresh peppers, chopped, if desired, or a jar of salsa (I like the medium hot), or cayenne or tabasco to taste. Some people may want to cut back on the herbs mentioned if you want the sauce spicy.

Saute the onions and carrots in the oil for a few minutes, then stir in the garlic. Turn heat to low and stir in the tomatoes. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Add herbs / salt / pepper / spices and stir. Drop the tomato paste in the center of the simmering mixture and blend it with a fork, then stir everything well. After it has all simmered slowly for a total of 45 minutes or so, turn off and let cool before blending and placing in freezer containers. If you like, add diced vegetables for variety and texture, stirring them into blended mixture after it has cooled a bit. Bell peppers and summer squash don't need to be cooked before freezing. Cut green beans (for example) will need blanching from 1-3 minutes, depending on their size.

*I have an inordinate affection for parsley. I eat it like a main course, but maybe you don't, and maybe you're wondering to do with it. Try this dip from Epicurious, it's easy:

Chick-Pea, Garlic, and Parsley Dip

a 19-oz. can of chick peas, rinsed and drained (about 2 cups)
2 garlic cloves, chopped and mashed to paste with 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup packed fresh parsley leaves, washed and spun dry
1/4 cup water
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

In food processor blend all ingredients except oil until smooth. With motor running add oil in slow stream. Season dip with salt.

*Pumpkins are available for sale at the farm stand. They are divided into three categories of size, and they're priced to sell. What you see is what's available--when they're gone they're gone, so consider us for all your pumpkin-related needs, and don't wait to celebrate the coming of autumn and "harvest season".

*You probably remember Krapp's Last Tape. It is good equinox literature, although in the play it's vernal:

Hm...Memorable...what? (He peers closer.) Equinox. Memorable equinox. (He raises his head, stares blankly front. Puzzled.) Memorable equinox? (Pause. He shrugs his shoulders, peers again at ledger, reads.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

CSA Week 16

Here is what's in the share this week:

Swiss Chard
Heirloom Tomatoes
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes
Sweet Peppers
Hot Peppers
Husk Cherries
Red Onions

*Each week we are happily surprised by the continued production of our heirloom tomatoes, but the week will come when the plants are no longer producing enough fruit to supply the CSA. If you want to use some of the current abundance to prepare for a day beyond the end of tomato season, consider making tomato sauce and either freezing or canning it. Here's a sample recipe, but experimentation is encouraged:

4 1/2 pounds heirloom tomatoes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup chopped garlic
4 cups diced onions
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup red wine
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 chopped fresh basil
freshly ground pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Submerge the tomatoes for about 10 seconds; remove and peel the tomatoes with a paring knife or your fingers. Don't remove seeds or juice--it's from these areas that a tomato gets a lot of its flavor. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and set aside.

Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes. Add onions and salt, stir to coat, cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat to prevent burning, until soft and golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and oregano and cook, stirring often, 2 to 4 minutes.

Pour in wine and vinegar; bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits with a spoon. Cook until reduced slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and any juice; return to simmer, stirring often. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are mostly broken down, about 25 minutes.

Remove from the heat. Stir in basil and pepper. Transfer the sauce, in batches, to a blender or food processor. For a smoother sauce, blend all of it. For a chunkier sauce, blend 1/2 and combine the the unblended portion.

This sauce can be eaten fresh, or preserved by freezing or canning. Freezing is the easiest and most risk-free option, but if you want to try canning, refer to this blog post by a friend of the farm. The post is specifically about fruit, but it mentions the basics and includes links for further information.

*The corn this week is from Sunshine Farm in Sherborn. We're happy to be supporting another local farm business; please see the Week 14 post for information about our decision to buy sweet corn rather than grow it ourselves.

*This is the last week that fennel will be in the share, which means it is the last time this season you will wonder what to do with fennel. Make amends for past uncertainty with either of these recipes, both from Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables:

Sauteed Fennel With Lemon

"As basic, useful, and versatile as simply sauteed peppers, mushrooms, or snow peas--any or all of which will enhance it, as variations."

2 medium fennel bulbs
2 Tbsp olive oil or butter
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
pepper to taste

Trim and reserve fennel leaves (and cut off and reserve top stalks). Quarter each bulb lengthwise; cut each quarter crosswise in very thin slivers. Mince 1 Tbsp of the fine leaves.

Heat oil in large, heavy skillet; toss fennel slices to coat. Add salt. Continue tossing frequently over moderate heat, until tender--about 10 minutes.

Toss with lemon zest and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with minced tops.

Fennel a la Grecque

1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup dry vermouth
2 large garlic cloves, halved
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf, crumbled
1 tiny dried hot chili-pepper, or 1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes
1 tsp coarse kosher salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2 medium fennel bulbs
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice
Lemon Slices

Combine water, vermouth, garlic, fennel seeds, thyme, bay leaf, chili (crumbled), salt, and sugar in saucepan. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Let stand, covered, until ready to use.

Trim and discard fennel stalks, saving feathery leaves. Trim base of bulb slightly without removing core. Cutting across as you would a loaf of bread, progressing from one short side to the other, make even slices 1/4-1/2 inch wide.

Heat oil in wide skillet (12 inches or more). On moderately low heat brown slices lightly in single layer, turning once, about 10 minutes.

Remove garlic from prepare bouillon and discard; add liquid to fennel with lemon juice. Cover and simmer very gently 5 minutes. Uncover and simmer about 15 minutes, or until fennel is very tender.

Cool. Gently lift slices into serving dish. Pour liquid over. Cover and chill.

To serve, snip fennel leaves and sprinkle on top. Arrange lemon slices over all.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

CSA Week 15

The quality of today's harvest is belied by the picture at the left, which was taken with a cell phone and makes our bell peppers look like they are in an aquarium or something. I'm including it anyway, because I like the murky luminescence of the produce, and the way the peppers appear to be situated in defiance of gravity. The image is a striking contrast to the reality of our recent days on the farm: The air is clear, the light is clean, and our produce is copious. It is September, and although we are psychologically accelerating toward the end of the season and a time when growth is slow, our harvests have been getting bigger, and with a total of fifteen items (not including you-pick snap peas) this is our largest share thus far.

It comes at a time when we truly are thinking of the season's end. With the tractor we erased half a field's worth of cucurbits (squash, cucumbers, melons), and many of our empty beds have been sown with cover crop. And each week our astonishment at the date is renewed: The calendar is moving while our hands and minds are on vegetables, and the conversations that last week began "I can't believe it is the last week of August" this week begin "I can't believe it is the first week of September," with no diminishment of actual surprise. Time is moving fast, it's past before we realize it is present. Here's a lot of produce for ballast:

Heirloom Tomatoes
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes
Summer Squash / Zucchini
Bell Peppers
Husk Cherries
Sweet Corn (from Volante)

*Is it obvious that I'm not really a cook? We spend the majority of our time growing food, and it would make sense if we were accomplished preparers of the food we grow. Joshua, I think, has some kitchen experience and enough intuition to make consistently good meals, but for me food preparation is a regular source of shame. I eat a lot of vegetables (I don't think we grow anything that I don't like to eat), but my preparation methods are rudimentary, to say the least. So it is with some irony that I provide a few recipes each week. Some of them I've made, but many of them have been sent to me by friends of the farm or culled from an internet search. I try each week to select recipes that prominently feature at least one item from the CSA share, and ideally include a few items. If you have a favorite way to prepare anything we grow, please be in touch, and we'll share the tips and recipes with the CSA community. Until then, I'll keep providing the recipe findings of a kitchen incompetent.

*It was a cursory internet search that helped me find these two recipes that include mizuna, the spicy green in the share the past two weeks. The first is from the Whole Foods website (I have mixed feelings about this) and the second is from epicurious.

Wok Sauteed Mizuna with Minced Chicken

1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp tamari or soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, finely chopped
2 tsp canola or peanut oil
1/3 cup finely chopped carrot
1/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup finely chopped water chestnuts
1/2 tsp chile paste
1 tbs lime juice
1 pound mizuna
1/4 finely chopped scallions

In a medium bowl, mix egg white with 1/2 tsp of the tamari, garlic, and chicken. Cover and refrigerate for one hour. Heat 1 tsp of the oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add chicken mixture and cook, stirring constantly, 4 to 6 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside. Heat remaining 1 tsp oil in skillet or wok. Add carrots, onion, and water chestnuts and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add remaining 1 tsp tamari, chile paste, lime juice, and mizuna and cook, stirring often, until slightly wilted. Return chicken to wok and toss well. Garnish with scallions.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Burrata Cheese and Kalamata Dressing

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
5 tbsp red wine vinegar
5 ounces mizuna
3 pounds heirloom tomatoes (assorted colors and shapes), cut into slices and wedges
1 pound burrata cheese (burrata is a fresh mozzarella filled with cream and curds)
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Puree oil, olives, and vinegar in blender. Season to taste with pepper. Scatter mizuna over large platter. Arrange tomatoes over mizuna. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper; drizzle with some of the dressing. Cut burrata into 1-inch slices; scatter over tomatoes. Sprinkle burrata with salt and pepper; drizzle with some of the remaining dressing. Scatter sliced basil over salad. Serve salad with remaining dressing.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

CSA Week 14

The rain broke after four full days, as you know. I was surprised that night to wake to the sight of moonlight through my window and to the sound of insects instead of the sound of water falling from the sky. Those were four days of November transplanted to late August, and now that they're over they have been replaced (as you also know) with a dry, baking heat that we expect to continue until Friday. When it is raining it is hard to think of anything but the rain, and when it is hot it is hard to think of anything but the heat, but the contrast between these two consecutive periods of weather reminds me that though we cannot often see beyond the horizon of our present condition, moments are replaced often and easily. This is as true of the weather as it is of the mornings I wake with a headache and a stiff body and am immediately consumed by thoughts of my own mild discomfort. They are conditions that will pass, and once gone will feel as distant and unknowable as a cold and blustery August day from a hot and dry vantage point that is only one day later. May we no time soon be subject to the sort of personal or meteorological calamity that gives permanence to our discomforts and finally teaches us how fleeting they have always been.

Was that a downcast paragraph? This isn't downcast: Here is what's in the share this week:

Sungold Cherry Tomatoes
Heirloom Tomatoes
Husk Cherries
Hot Peppers
Sweet Corn
You-Pick Snap Peas (optional)

*We did not grow the corn that is offered in this week's share. Because it uses a lot of space for a relatively scant yield, corn is a tricky crop for small-scale farmers. Each corn plant, planted at 1-foot intervals the length of a bed, will grow to be nearly eight feet tall and will produce only one ear of corn. The plant feeds heavily from the soil to attain its height, and it offers little in return. A single ear of corn sells for very little money, which means that a full bed of corn will use far more of the farm's resources (soil fertility, human labor, etc.) than it is worth. For these reasons, and because it is our first year planning a crop schedule for a CSA, we decided not to grow our own corn. That said, in the CSA model the value of a crop is more than its direct monetary worth: Each distinct crop that we grow adds diversity to the CSA as a whole, and enhances the experience of the subscribers. And because corn is something that we feel it is safe to assume people like to eat during the summer, we decided to buy corn from another local farm and offer it in three weeks worth of CSA shares, beginning this week and continuing for the two weeks that follow. We placed inquiries with several local farms, and we decided to order our corn from Volante Farms in Needham. What you need to know about this corn is that unlike everything we grow ourselves (that is, everything else in the CSA shares) it has not been grown using organic methods. The difficulties I mentioned with corn are slightly (and only slightly) abated by the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. They skip some of the steps of soil building and weed management that require so much time on an organic farm, and therefore allow the farmer a slightly improved (again--only slightly) profit on his crop. For this reason it was easier for us to source corn from a grower using non-organic methods--they devote more acreage to the crop and grow far more corn than most organic farmers in the area, and they therefore had some to sell to us.

So: The corn is not organically grown, but we are happy to be supporting a local business, and we're proud to be able to offer corn this year from Volante. If you are uncomfortable with the contradictory growing methods the corn represents, don't feel obliged to take it. Like I said, the corn is a bonus that we wanted to offer to any of our members who want it. It is likely that with a year of experience under our belt we'll try to incorporate corn into our crop plan in the future. Until then, we're interested in any feedback you have about this issue. Please feel free to leave a comment on this blog post or send an email to doverfarmcsa@gmail.com.

*I mentioned last week that we were offering husk cherries as a you-pick item. The plants are producing so well, though, that we decided this week to pick them ourselves to ensure that everyone in the CSA gets a pint. They're packaged for you in shell that is like a paper lantern. Remove this and you'll find the ripe yellow cherry itself. They're sweet, with a flavor a little unlike anything else we grow. Eat them as they are, add them to salads, use them for jam, or try them in this pie:

Husk Cherry Pie

2 1/2 - 3 cups husk cherries
2/3 cup brown sugar
4 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp butter

Place the husk cherries in an unbaked pie shell. Stir together the brown sugar and 1 Tbsp of the flour. Put this evenly over the husk cherries and sprinkle everything with water. Stir together the 3 Tbsp sugar and the remaining 3 Tbsp flour. Cut in the butter until it is crumbly, and place on top of pie. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then turn down to 375 and bake another 25-28 minutes.

*You may have more experience with them than I do, but the only thing I know to do with Tomatillos is make salsa. That said, they make some of the best salsa I've ever had.

Salsa Verde

1 1/2 lb tomatillos
1/2 cup chopped onion
chopped garlic to taste
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp sugar
2 hot peppers
salt to taste

Begin by heating the tomatillos whole in a skillet until their papery husks have blackened and the fruit is soft. Puree with the remaining ingredients. Easy!

*This eggplant recipe was sent to me from Austin, Texas. It originally appeared in the Austin Chronicle.

Caribbean Griddled Aubergine

5 Tbsp olive oil, plus 2 Tbsp to brush on eggplant
3 sweet peppers, deseeded and diced
3 sticks of celery, diced
1 cup butternut squash, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large eggplants, cut into rounds about 1/2 inch thick
1 hot pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
3 Tbsp tomato Puree
3 Tbsp tamarind paste
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley leaves, to garnish

Preheat oven to 350. Heat oil in a large saucepan and add the peppers, celery, squash, and garlic, cooking until almost soft (about 10 minutes). Meanwhile, brush the eggplant with oil and fry very quickly in another pan, on both sides, to brown.

Add the chile, tomato puree, tamarind paste, and sugar to the softening diced vegetables along with 4-5 Tbsp of water and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste, and add more tamarind or sugar as necessary to get a good sweet and sour balance. Put eggplant in an ovenproof dish. Top with dollops of the suace and cover with foil or a lid. Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the eggplants are tender. Served garnished with the cilantro or parsley.

*This has been a lot. There's barely room to mention the mizuna. It's an asian-style green with a spicy, mustardy taste, great in salads and on sandwiches, and a great addition to any stir-fry.

*I'm temporarily out of current photos of our produce, so this is what you get:

Monday, August 23, 2010

CSA Week Lucky Number 13

I have a theory that there is always at least one blustery day in the second half of August. Today, then, along with yesterday, is fall's annual incursion upon summer. We expect sun and warmer temperatures by the end of the week, but for now it is cool and windy and the rain has been steady and it certainly feels like a new season. Our soil will appreciate the moisture, and we appreciate the opportunity to leave the fields to the weather while we complete a few indoor projects. (This morning, for example, we spent some hours preparing our seed garlic. Of the garlic that we grew for CSA distribution we set aside a crate of particularly robust heads; we separated these into individual cloves, each of which will be planted next month as part of next season's garlic crop.) Our harvest, though, isn't slowed by the temporary change in conditions. This week's share:

Sungold Cherry Tomatoes
Heirloom Tomatoes
Sweet Peppers
Hot Peppers
Red Russian Kale
Edamame Soybeans
Summer Squash

*The fact that the watermelon is being distributed during a blustery week is inadvertent. The melons are ripe now, but they'll last a few days on your counter (longer in the refrigerator) if you want to save them for a day that is more summer-like. We're growing a few varieties, so don't be surprised if your melon is either yellow or white. I've never pickled watermelon rind, but I'm curious. If you have, let me know how it turned out. If you haven't and are also curious, try this recipe:

1 4-pound watermelon, quartered
8 cups water
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
8 whole cloves
8 whole black peppercorns
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp pickling spice
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground ginger

Cut watermelon pulp from rind (eat it!), leaving thin layer of pink on rind. Cut green outer skin from rind and discard. Cut rind into 1 x 1/2 inch pieces to measure 4 cups. Combine water and 2 tbsp salt in large pot and bring to boil. Add rind pieces and boil until tender, about 5 minutes. Strain and transfer rinds to large metal bowl. Combine remaining 2 tsp salt, sugar, and next 7 ingredients in heavy large saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour over watermelon rinds. Place plate atop rinds to keep rinds submerged in pickling liquid. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight. Strain liquid from rinds into saucepan and bring to boil. Pour over rinds. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Repeat straining and boiling of liquid and pour over rinds 1 more time.

*Edamame are green soybeans. We've harvested them by cutting and bunching entire plants, so what you pick up at distribution will have the appearance of a small bush adorned with many fuzzy pods. The beans can be prepared simply by removing the pods from the stems and steaming them for about 20 minutes. Season with salt and lemon juice and eat the beans directly from the pod. They are also good marinated in soy sauce.

*A CSA member sent us this suggestion for fennel:

Very thinly slice a whole fennel bulb--a mandolin works best. In a serving dish make thin layers--fennel, a little shaved parmesan, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Be sure to top the last layer with parmesan. You can either serve this as a salad and top with the fennel fronds, or you can bake it in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes until the top browns slightly and then top with the fennel fronds.

*We planted a row of husk cherries earlier in the season, and they're beginning to ripen. Like tomatillos, the fruit grows inside a papery shell, but they're smaller than tomatillos and have a unique taste that is somewhat sweet, somewhat vegetable-like, and somewhat tomato-like. We probably won't harvest them for distribution, but if you are interested in taking a walk on the farm and eating a few, ask Joshua or Jonathan to show you where they are, and to tell you how to know when they are ripe.