Tuesday, July 20, 2010

CSA Week 8

I know that summer begins the third week of June and lasts until the third week of September, but my mental calendar conforms more closely to the school vacation period that has not been a part of my life for many years. By that reckoning summer neatly occupies the three months June-August and now, mid-July, is the season's halfway point. We're a ship in the doldrums, or a ship that is moving, but is moving across open sea, from a horizon of water toward a horizon of water, so that our motion is imperceptible and repetitive. Spring and fall are times of palpable change, and it is true that alongside these summer can feel like a static season, but I would do the garden a disservice to ascribe to it my own interior summertime state. There are buoys in this ocean: they are colorful and flavorful and impossible to miss. Our tomatoes have begun to ripen--not enough to fill a week of CSA shares, but enough that we were able to put the first sungold cherry tomatoes at the farmstand today. And the first deep-purple globes of eggplant have made their appearance. As these crops mature, the last of our spring crops have slowed in the heat. Once they are certified moribund, we rototill them, and our first plants of the season are returned to the soil. The effect on the farm's landscape is instantly noticeable: beds that were full of crops and their accompanying weeds are erased, and their green height and texture are replaced with the level brown of unplanted soil. Change on the farm is constant. For those of us stalled in the midst of an ongoing summer, it's an important thing to remember.

Here is what's in this week's share:

Cabbage, farao -or- napa
Beets, red -or- chioggia
Radishes, easter egg
Kale, red russian
Summer Squash
Specialty Basil, cinnamon -or- lemon
Raspberries, pick your own

Notes about the food:

*The cabbage took its time forming heads. As the weather got hotter and the cabbage still wasn't ready to harvest, we began to think that the crop would be killed by the heat before it fully matured. But it's ready this week, and not a day too soon; not even at our most optimistic would we expect cabbage--a cool weather crop--to survive another seven days of summer. Try this easy-to-prepare cabbage salad, which Epicurious recommends serving alongside a beet salad, the recipe for which is also below:

Cabbage salad:
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp safflower oil
6 cups very thinly sliced green cabbage
2 tbsp fresh chopped mint

Whisk vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Mix in cabbage and mint. Season with salt and pepper. Let stand 30 minutes (and up to 2 hours) at room temperature, tossing occasionally.

Beet salad:
2 tbsp sherry wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
5 tbsp safflower oil
3 large raw beets, peeled, coarsely grated

Whisk vinegar and mustard in large bowl. Gradually mix in oil, then mix in beets. Season with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes (and up to 2 hours), tossing occasionally.

*This is the last kale of the summer. One of the three kinds of kale we grow has been in every box so far, and it will return in the fall, but like cabbage (to which it is closely related) kale is not a warm-weather crop, and we've harvested it for as long as we can into the summer. We planted our first round of fall kale last week, and the second round has just germinated in the greenhouse.

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