Tuesday, July 13, 2010

CSA Week 7

I was once told by a friend with whom I was in regular written correspondence that I wrote beautiful letters, but that they were only about the weather. The second half of that claim was likely true: I have been working in the outdoors for many years, and when a person spends the majority of their time under the sky it is easy to become fixated on all things atmospheric. As farmers, we are especially attuned to fluctuations of temperature and precipitation not only because they affect the success of our work, but because, like our crops, we live in the weather as it occurs, and we work in all of it. There is nothing as immediate as the heat of a hot day, and it is a wiser person than myself who can exist in that stifling immediacy and be mindful of the fact that as oppressive as it is on a given day, it is fleeting compared to the span of season. That person would probably write of something other than the weather, but I'm a simple thing: I write what's on mind, and what's on my mind is what I feel on my skin, and what I feel on my skin is what's in the air. All of which is a way of acknowledging the fact that I always seem to start these blog entires with a paragraph about the weather. Sorry. This week's entry: It is still hot but not as hot as last week, and we appreciated the heavy rains on Saturday. It is possible, if we choose to be fully optimistic, that the extreme heat tempered by regular infusions of water will be very good for many of our crops.

Here's what is in the share this week:

Kale, green curly
Swiss Chard
Turnips, hakurei
Carrots, bolero
Onions, ailsa craig
Summer Squash
Basil, genovese
Raspberries, pick your own

Notes about the food:

*Our soil had become very dry prior to Saturday's rain, and when the rain fell, it fell fast and heavy. In such dry conditions it takes time for the water to infiltrate the surface of the soil; before the soil is saturated the pummeling rain splashes against the dry ground, and soil is thrown by the splashing water. As a result, some of our crops are spackled with dirt following such a rain. We wash everything we harvest before arranging it at the distribution stand, so this isn't something you'll notice except on the occasional item that we don't wash. Among the items harvested this week, we wash neither the summer squash nor the basil. These two plants don't store well after becoming wet, so once they are cut we keep them dry even though they are slightly gritty. We recommend that you store them as they are, and wash them just prior to use. Maybe you'll use the basil to make pesto:

4 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 tsp coarse kosher salt

Combine first four ingredients in blender. Blend until paste forms, stopping often to push down basil. Add cheese and salt; blend until smooth.

I copied the recipe above from epicurious; you can use it as a guideline, but I think pesto is something that invites improvisation. Last night I made some without cheese, and I substituted sunflower seeds for pine nuts.

*I suspect the carrots need no introduction, but I should mention that their presence in this week's share is a small triumph for the farmers. We struggled early in the season to get carrots to germinate, and for a while, as we learned our way around the soil on this piece of land, we were afraid that we'd never grow any. Now it looks like we might have ample carrots for some time.

*Please don't relegate the parsley to garnish status; it deserves more consideration than the space it usually allotted as some kind of plate-filler next to a sandwich or hamburger. Treat it like what it is: a dark green, leafy vegetable, flavorful and extremely nutritious. Try it with the carrots in this Moroccan Raw Carrot Salad, also from epicurious:

1 pound carrots, coarsely grated
1/4 cup olive oil
3 to 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sweet paprika
pinch of salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days to let the flavors meld and permeate the carrots. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

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