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:
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes (while supplies last!)
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
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
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: