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.

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