Monday, August 29, 2011

2011 CSA Week 14

We went to sleep on Saturday night expecting a hurricane and we woke Sunday morning to a tropical storm. Our scant meteorological training doesn't allow us to parse the difference, but through the window it had the appearance of nothing more than a very blustery day, and we felt lucky that our worst expectations were not met. We spent a pleasant day indoors and at night I enjoyed using a headlamp to navigate my room. And this morning, although my bike ride to the farm was significantly re-routed by fallen trees, the air was clear and lovely, blown clean by the weather, and we returned to a farm that showed few effects of the tumult. We made note of the standing water in many of the fields, we replanted some broccoli and cauliflower plants that had been uprooted and laid on their sides, and we then continued with work as we would on any Monday. The only casualty has been my ability to include pictures alongside what is written here, but I'll add them as soon as my computer access is no longer limited by power outages. It may take a few days, but check back if you want to see onions drying in the greenhouse, or what a few quarts of cherry tomatoes look like close-up. We hope that you and your family weathered the day safely, and that you have experienced no greater storm-related inconvenience than this small delay.

The share this week:

Red Beets
Carrots or Parsnips
Sweet Peppers
Hot Peppers
Italian Basil
Storage Onions
Sweet Corn

Notes about the food:

* For a long time I didn't enjoy working with tomato plants. They are fragile and susceptible to disease and they require extensive support in order to remain upright, and I felt that maintaining a large crop of them was picky, delicate work fraught with potential failure. I still think those things are true, but as I've spent more time working with tomatoes my confidence has improved, and as I become less reluctant to involve myself with the things I have become increasingly convinced that they are always worth the effort.

Our tomato plants were certainly battered by yesterday's weather, but despite my ongoing concerns about their fragility they fared better than we might have expected. Which is to say, they are still alive. Their stems were not snapped in the wind, and their fruit was not blown to the ground. They were not helped, though, by the rain: The greatest current threat to their longevity is the consistent precipitation that has kept their soil wet. In it, they show signs of a suffering that is probably irreversible, and our best hope is that it will be prolonged by as many warm and dry days as we can get. Until they succumb, we hope that you'll enjoy the continuing abundance of tomatoes, and consider each week that does not bring their complete demise a success.

Farro Pasta with Tomato Vinaigrette

2 garlic cloves, peeled

2 1/2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (heirlooms, Roma or cherry)
1/2 cup torn basil leaves
1 pound farro or whole-wheat tagliatelle or spaghetti
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra as needed

Pound garlic, with a pinch of salt, into smooth paste with mortar and pestle. Stir in vinegar.

Core tomatoes and cut in 1/2-inch dice. If using cherry tomatoes, remove stems and quarter, or halve if small. In a large bowl, toss tomatoes with vinegar-garlic mixture and half the basil. Cover and marinate 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 7-10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid and then drain well.

Add oil to tomatoes, and season to taste with salt. Toss pasta with tomato vinaigrette. Stretch sauce with a few tablespoons reserved cooking liquid until sauce turns juicy and coats the noodles. Taste and, if desired, add salt and an extra splash of oil or vinegar. Toss in remaining basil leaves. Serve warm or at room temperature.

* That recipe was printed in The Wall Street Journal, the Sunday food section of which I continue to stumble across and then cite on this website. This edition was a particularly fortuitous section of newspaper to find on the ground because it included an article about basil, and we have fielded a lot of questions recently about how to best store basil. I'll quote the article on that point, and I'll transcribe one of the several recipes it provides:

"Basil is happiest when it's treated like a delicate hothouse flower. As soon as you get your bunch home, trim about 1/2 inch off the stems, put the basil in a glass of cold water and put a plastic bag over the setup. Leaving plenty of air around the basil leaves, tie the bag closed around the glass with twine or a rubber band and refrigerate; change the water daily. Encased in it's greenhouse, really fresh basil will keep for five days or more. Alternatively, you can wrap the trimmed stems in a wet paper towel and store the basil in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator. For long-term storage, make a thick puree of basil and olive oil and freeze the almost-pesto in an ice-cube tray. When the basil is solid, pop the cubes and seal them in airtight plastic bags."

Basil, Mozzarella and Plum Salad

Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in 1/3 cup packed basil leaves, cook for 30 seconds, then drain and run under cold water to cool. Squeeze as much water as possible from the leaves, then chop finely. Put basil and 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil in food processor, add pinch of salt and process until well blended. Let rest 15 minutes, then pour through a fine-mesh strainer. Discard the solids and reserve the oil.

Toss 2 handfuls mixed salad greens with 1 tablespoon basil oil, salt and pepper, and divide among 4 plates. Slice 8 basil leaves and toss with 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, cubed, 2 black plums, pitted and cubed, 1/2 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped, the juice of 1/2 lime and 2 tablespoons of the basil oil. (Refrigerate remaining oil for another use.) Season to taste with salt, pepper, and lime juice and spoon equal amounts of the mozzarella mixture over the greens.

* Edamame are green soybeans, and you'll receive them on the plant. To prepare, simply remove the pods from the stem and steam them until they are dark green, 10-20 minutes. For a snack or hors d'oeuvre season the pods with salt and fresh lemon juice and suck the beans from the pods directly into your mouth. (They are also good seasoned with soy sauce.) To incorporate as part of another dish, simply squeeze the beans from the pod once they are steamed.

* You'll certainly hear more from us about parsnips, so for now I'll mention them only in the context of a recipe that a CSA member recently shared. The timing is good, because this salad pairs them with beets, also in today's share:

Shredded Parsnip and Beet Salad in Pineapple Vinaigrette

For the pineapple dressing, put in the blender:

1 15 oz can of pineapple chunks, or 2 cups pineapple juice
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup grapeseed or olive oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup or agave or honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the salad:

1 pound beets peeled and shredded (best shredded in a food processor)
1 pound parsnips peeled and shredded (best shredded in a food processor)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped mint

Mix the salad and dressing with tongs. Refrigerate 30 minutes before serving.

Monday, August 22, 2011

2011 CSA Week 13

I can't remember: Is thirteen an unlucky number, or is it lucky? The thirteenth week of this year's CSA has so far identified itself as neither one nor the other. No one has fallen in the well. We didn't find treasure while harvesting the beans. Nothing has been spooky. We have continued to work in fields that have been unable to fully dry between inputs of rain, and although at their wettest they are a slog to traverse, from amidst their patches of standing water and banks of weeds spread in green occlusion across soil too wet too cultivate we have continued to harvest a diversity of crops appropriate for the month of August. Our tasks have continued their seasonal progression: In the greenhouse we sowed the last seeds of the season nearly six months after sowing the first, and the rate at which we transplant seedlings to our fields has slowed to a near-trickle. We have enjoyed the mild temperatures, the clear air today has been a glimpse of autumn, and after a day of work I have sat down at the library with not a clue what to write in this space. A week so ordinary is indicative of the fact that our routines at this time of year have settled; the rhythm of our days is pleasant and knowable, and we practice active enjoyment of the unremarkable.

The share this week:

Summer Squash
Sweet Peppers
Hot Peppers
Purple Filet Beans
Sweet Corn

Notes about the food:

* We did not grow the corn that is offered in this week's share. This was true last year as well, and I'll basically reiterate what I wrote at that time: 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 does not sell for much 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 for the space constraints to which we would subject ourselves if we grew enough corn for the 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 safe assuming people like to eat during the summer, we decided to buy corn from a local retailer and offer it in three weeks worth of CSA shares, beginning this week and continuing for the two weeks that follow. This year we are purchasing sweet corn in bulk from Russo's in Watertown. ( 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 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 the crop. Because of the quantity we are buying, it is easier for us to source corn grown using non-organic methods.

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 Russo's. 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, and the monetary value of your share will not be affected if you decline. We're interested in any feedback you have about this issue. Please feel free to leave a comment on this blog or send an email to

* The presence of eggplant in this week's share represents a small triumph. From the beginning of their lives in our fields the the plants were beset upon by a variety of insect pests, and for a while their growth was so stunted and their leaves so ragged that we considered the possibility of having no eggplant to harvest this season. We intensified our focus on the health of these plants: We added fertility to the soil so that they might produce new growth and overcome their damage; we repeatedly cleared the planting beds of weeds that we suspected were creating habitat for harmful insects and using more than their share of resources; and we spent more time than we would have liked removing potato beetles by hand. As a result of these efforts, or as a result of an innate vegetable resiliency, the plants survived and have grown to an admirable size. And the eggplant itself is copious and lovely. We're relieved.

Two recipes to get you started, the first from allrecipes, the second from Gourmet:

Baba Ghanoush

1 eggplant
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400. Lightly oil a baking sheet.

Place eggplant on baking sheet, and make holes in the skin with a fork. Roast it for 30-40 minutes, turning occasionally, or until soft. Remove from oven and place in a large bowl of cold water. Remove from water and peel skin.

Place eggplant, lemon juice, tahini, sesame seed and garlic in an electric blender, and puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer eggplant to medium-sized mixing bowl, and slowly mix in olive oil. Refrigerate for three hours before serving.

Eggplant Bruschette

1 baguette
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 garlic cloves, whole clove left unpeeled
1 small eggplant
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Put oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 375.

Cut off and discard one end of baguette, then cut 12 (1/4-inch-thick) crosswise slices from baguette. Lightly brush one side of each slice with oil (about 1 tablespoon total) and arrange, oiled sides up, on a baking sheet. Toast until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. While toasts are still warm, rub oiled sides with cut side of garlic clove half, then transfer to a rack to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 350.

Halve eggplant lengthwise shallow 1/2-inch long incisions all over cut sides with tip of a paring knife. Arrange eggplant, cut sides up (without crowding), in a shallow baking dish and add unpeeled garlic clove. Sprinkle thyme, rosemary, oregano, sea salt, and pepper over eggplant, then drizzle eggplant and garlic with 2 tablespoons oil.

Bake until garlic is very tender, 30-35 minutes, then transfer garlic to a cutting board and continue to bake eggplant until very tender, 20-25 minutes more. When garlic is cool, squeeze flesh from peel on cutting board.

Transfer eggplant to cutting board and let stand until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Scrape out flesh with a spoon onto cutting board, discarding peel. Finely chop eggplant and garlic together and transfer to a bowl. Add parsley and remaining tablespoon oil, then stir until combined well. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

Top toasts with eggplant mixture and sprinkle with cheese.

* I like the latter of those recipes because it includes a lot of herbs. Perhaps you saw the New York Times Magazine two Sundays ago in which the food column was devoted to herbs, with special attention paid to parsley. I read the article, and I felt less alone in the world. It included this recipe:

Lemony Parsley-and-Egg Soup

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion chopped
4 cups parsley
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
salt and black pepper
4 eggs
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream, optional
Sour cream for garnish, optional

Put the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When it melts, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the parsley and cook, stirring occasionally, until it wilts, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in half the stock.

Puree the soup in the pan with an immersion blender, or cool slightly, pour into an upright blender, and puree carefully. Return to the pan with the remaining stock. Heat through over medium-low heat, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Beat together the eggs and lemon juice, then slowly add about 1 cup of the hot soup, whisking all the while. Gradually stir the egg mixture back into the soup. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then stir in the cream if you're using it, or serve garnished with a dollop of sour cream, if you like.

Monday, August 15, 2011

2011 CSA Week 12

It was raining when I woke this morning, and I knew rain was forecast throughout the day, but for 15 or 30 minutes after I ate breakfast the precipitation abated, and that was enough time for me to make the questionable decision to ride my bicycle to the farm. By the time I left in the afternoon the rainfall had been heavy for hours, and it was becoming heavier. I arrived home as saturated as if I'd been pedaling in a stream.

These wet and cool days are the most recent way this season has differentiated itself from 2010. Last year, hot weather persisted well into September, and we learned to work with crops that were frequently parched. Heat loving plants--tomatoes, eggplant, squash--thrived, while crops best suited for a cool autumn--broccoli, cauliflower and other brassicas--were nonexistent in the fall CSA shares. This year our summertime crops have been as slowed by the conditions as their cool weather counterparts have been invigorated, and we are learning to modify our expectations for each harvest accordingly. We are reminded that farming is a long-term project: each season is uncharted territory in which the lessons of the previous season are semi-applicable, and we work toward the day when our accumulated experience is enough to dispel the unknown that lies in each variable we encounter. Sometimes I'm not sure we'll reach that day: it is possible that for farmers and others who work within and against the conditions of the world success will always be short-term mastery and long-term apprenticeship. With that in mind, we'll apply each water-logged lesson of this August to this water-logged August, one harvest at a time. If nothing else, we're unlikely to be caught on our bicycle in another unseasonably cold downpour, at least not before September.

The share this week:

Mixed Beets
Summer Squash
Yellow Wax or Purple Filet Beans
Sweet Peppers
Hot Peppers
Lemon Basil
Bunching Onions

Notes about the food:

* Please note that tomatoes are listed above with a deliberately vague lack of reference to whether the share will include heirloom varieties, cherry tomatoes, or red slicers. It is likely that you will receive some combination of two of those three possibilities, but we won't know for certain until we complete the harvest. The tomato plants have been affected by the wet, cool weather, and they are producing fruit more slowly than they might in sunnier conditions. As a result, we're not comfortable predicting whether we'll have enough of any given variety for a full share. Tomatoes will be ample, but we won't know anything more specific until shortly before distribution.

Please also note that tomatoes often split in the rain. When the plants receive an input of water that is faster than the fruit can accommodate, the tomatoes grow too quickly and develop seams that may tear if the tomato is left on the plant. We distribute tomatoes that have begun to crack but not cracked so fully that the wound is wet. As long as the cracks are still superficial and dry, the tomato will store well. If you select a tomato with a deeper split, plan to eat it soon.

A CSA member recommends the following recipe. It calls for plum tomatoes, but she uses whatever is ripe:

Linguine with Tomato-Almond Pesto (Pesto Trapenese)

3/4 cup slivered almonds
1 large handful fresh basil leaves
1 to 2 large garlic cloves
several sprinkles of sea salt
6 ripe plum tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan
1/4 cup to 1/3 cup olive oil
1 pound linguine

In a large skillet, saute the almonds in a little olive oil until toasted. Let cool, then blend them in a food processor or blender until they are in coarse pieces--"The size of orzo." Scoop them out of the processor and set them aside.

Put the basil, garlic, and a few pinches of sea salt into the food processor and chop. Add the almonds back to the food processor (keeping them separate will keep them from getting too finely chopped as you get the basil and garlic to the right texture) with the tomatoes, cheese and olive oil and whirl briefly. Season it with freshly ground pepper.

Cook your linguine until it is al dente and could use another minute of cooking time. Reserve one cup of pasta cooking water and drain the rest. Immediately toss the hot linguine with the pesto and mix quickly so that it drinks the sauce up a bit. Add more pasta water if needed. Serve this lukewarm, or at room temperature.

The recipe for this risotto was in a Sunday section of the Wall Street Journal that was given to me because its cover story was about Iceland:

Tomato Risotto

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced small
1 tablespoon salt, plus extra for seasoning
4-6 cups water
1 pound juicy, ripe tomatoes
2 stalks celery
2 cups Carnaroli or arborio rice
4 tablespoons basil, chopped medium-fine
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

Set a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Swirl in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Sweat onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.

In another pot, bring water to a simmer.

While water heats up and onions cook, juice tomatoes and celery. If you don't have a juicer, pulse tomatoes and celery in a food processor or blender until liquefied. Push through fine mesh strainer, reserving juice and discarding solids.

Turn onion pot's heat up to medium-high and stir rice into the sauteed onions. Toast 2 minutes, or until grains are hot and opaque.

Deglaze pot with 2 cups simmering water. Stir until liquid is absorbed and season with 2 teaspoons salt. Adjust heat to keep risotto at a steady simmer. Add another 1-2 cups water and continue to stir often.

Once liquid is absorbed, add another 1-2 cups water and continue to stir regularly.

When rice has cooked for about 15 minutes, or once it is five minutes shy of al dente, stir in tomato juice. Cook, while stirring, 4 additional minutes, or until risotto is creamy and rice is al dente.

Quickly stir in 4 tablespoons olive oil, basil and parmesan. Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Taste and season with salt, if needed.

In a small bowl, mix cherry tomatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of salt.

Garnish risotto with tomato mixture. Serve immediately.

* The preferred use for tomatillos at Dover Farm is to make salsa. I posted a similar recipe last year, but it is worth repeating. The recipe is a template--experiment with proportions and ingredients (roasted garlic is a good addition, for example). The key is to roast the tomatillos in a dry skillet, in their skins, to maximize their flavor.

Salsa Verde

1 1/2 pounds tomatillos
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 Jalapeno peppers
or 2 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
salt to taste

Roast tomatillos, in their papery skins, in a dry skillet until skins brown, 5-7 minutes. Remove skins. Place tomatillos, lime juice, onions, cilantro, chili peppers, and sugar in a food processor or blender and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed. Season to taste with salt. Cool in refrigerator.

Monday, August 8, 2011

2011 CSA Week 11

It's true, I was in Iceland last week, and it's likely that as Joshua wrote the blog, or performed the harvest, or weeded the beans, I was doing something more along the lines of sitting in a thermal hot spring or looking at a puffin. This time of year requires an especially large amount of work on the farm, and to leave for six days felt like a bit of a coup. It's truly thanks to Joshua's redoubled efforts and the help of several friends and volunteers that I was able to travel, and I returned to the farm jet-lagged but refreshed, and grateful for the rare opportunity to spend some time away during the summer. If you haven't tried a work situation in which your co-workers are so fully supportive of your most inconvenient extracurricular activities that they will perform their own job and yours while you remove yourself to some fjord near the arctic circle, you really should.

Welcome to the halfway point of the 2011 CSA season. After eleven weeks of ascent toward this mid-point we find ourselves once again at the time of year when all things seem to accelerate, and we are preparing for a swift descent toward October. Now more than ever our sense of time is confused by long days that accumulate into short weeks, and milestones that seemed distant yesterday are upon us today. We are creeping toward a thing that is itself rushing toward us: halfway is followed by the end, and now is an appropriate time to pause and remind ourselves to enjoy all good things while they last. Starting with the tomatoes, maybe. I'd suggest starting with the parsley, but I've been enjoying that excessively for what seems like ages.

The share this week:

Green Curly Kale
Summer Squash
Red and Golden Beets
Sweet Peppers
Hot Peppers
or Black Cherry Tomatoes
New Girl Slicing Tomatoes
Bunching Onions
Italian Basil

Notes about the food:

* The light reflected on each of the tomatoes pictured to the right is the camera's flash. A short, intense thunderstorm crossed the farm this afternoon, and as I stood in the sunlight and sorted our tomatoes I could see it raining on the far side of our fields. You've seen our fields--the far side is not too far away, and the rain moved toward me as I moved the tomatoes to a sheltered place so that by the time I was ready to photograph a few the sky had fully darkened and rain was general over all our fields and the flash was activated. It was sunny again within a few minutes.

Please enjoy these first tomatoes of the season. The plants have been laden with fruit for a few weeks, but the tomatoes have been slow to color. We expect their productivity to increase as August continues, and as it does I'll provide a more thorough primer of the varieties we grow. Until then, please note that we harvest at a few stages of ripeness. Some of the red slicing tomatoes in this week's share will be a full, deep red-- these are the most ripe, and are ready to eat now. Others are less thoroughly red-- their shoulders will be an intermediate yellow or orange. We recommend selecting tomatoes based on when you think you will eat them. Those not fully colored will continue to ripen if stored in a warm, dry place (a brown paper bag on the kitchen counter works well). In general, the paler the color the longer you can store them before use.

* The following recipe calls for golden beets, but no one will stop you if you use those in combination with another beet variety. I'll go ahead and admit this is from Martha Stweart Living:

Golden Beet Salad

6 golden beets, trimmed
6 ounces green beans, trimmed
coarse salt
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallot
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 loosely packed fresh torn basil
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Wrap beets in parchment, then foil, and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 60 minutes. Let cool completely. Peel and cut in 1/2-inch cubes. Transfer to a large bowl.

Prepare an ice-water bath. Cook green beans in boiling salted water until bright green and crisp tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to ice-water bath, and drain. Cut beans diagonally into thirds and add to beets.

Mix vinegar, shallot, and mustard in a small bowl. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Toss with vegetables, and season with salt and pepper. Stir in torn basil and goat cheese. Garnish with additional basil leaves.

* Summer is a good time for a constant supply of recipes that make use of summer squash. From Eating Well:

Creamy Gorgonzola Polenta with Summer Squash Saute

2 14-ounce cans vegetable broth, divided
1 cup water
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 small summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Combine 2 1/2 cups broth and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in cornmeal and pepper until smooth. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until very thick and no longer grainy, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in Gorgonzola; remove the polenta from the heat and cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in zucchini and squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften and brown in places, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables; stir to coat. Stir in the remaining 1 cup broth and bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and the vegetables are tender, 1 to 3 minutes. Stir in basil; serve the saute over the polenta.

Monday, August 1, 2011

2011 CSA Week 10

Jonathan is probably sitting in a thermal spring overlooking the North Sea right now, so I'll be filling in this week but he'll be back again soon. We steadily are winding our way toward the center of our season, and the fields are full to bursting. My eye is on our tomatoes, our peppers, and our eggplant as they become heavy with fruit and begin to blush. At this time of the year we start to see a pernicious pest that camouflages itself seamlessly with our blossoming tomato plants. They're called tomato horn worms, and immature they're about the length and width of your index finger. Given half a chance, they'll devastate a crop, eating the the fresh young leaves with impunity because the alkaloids in nightshades make them unpalatable to most would be predators. This is the moment when an organic system really has a chance to shine- the carefully tended ecosystem on the farm moves to regulate itself. Parasitic wasps lay their eggs all along the backs of the caterpillars, riddling them with tiny white passengers which will hatch and devour their host, saving our tomatoes in the bargain! Thanks nature.

This weeks share will include:
  • Winterbor Kale
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Cucumbers
  • Squash or Zucchini
  • Red Torpedo Onions
  • Oregano
  • Fennel
  • Tomatillos
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Yellow Wax Beans
  • a few Hot Peppers
  • and a modest pint of You-Pick Raspberries
Green Gazpacho

2 cucumbers
2 large green peppers
one bunch of onions
5 tomatillos
2-3 stalks celery
1-2 jalapenos or serranos
1 large handful cilantro
2 or 3 cloves garlic
2 slices white bread (can be either stale or a little toasted)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoon white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste


Suitable for a raw diet depending on what kind of bread you use.

Chop all veggies coarsely and add to blender. Blend with remaining ingredients until very smooth. Chill well. I like to blend again right before I serve if it separates a little in the fridge. If its too thick, thin with a little water to your deserved consistency.

Garnish with cilantro, chopped scallions, minced jalapeƱos or green bell peppers, lime zest, or whatever green ingredients you like!

Preparation time: 10 minutes plus chilling time


2 lbs green beans
1-2 hot peppers (according to your heat preference)
2 cloves garlic, whole and peeled
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds (optional)
1 head dill (or 1/2 tsp. dill weed)
5 cups distilled vinegar
1/2 cup pickling salt
5 cups water

Prepare jars for canning. Wash and trim beans at ends. Do not snap beans.
Bring vinegar, salt and water to a boil.
In the bottom each hot sterilized jar, put the garlic cloves, mustard seed, and dill.
Pack jars with fresh green beans, packed lengthwise.
Do not snap beans.
Process for 20 minute.

Zucchini Date Nuthins


1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup raw whole oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup agave nectar
1 1/4 cups zucchini or summer squash, shredded
2/3 cup dates, soaked in water 1 hour and chopped
1/2 cup chocolate optional


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin with paper liners. In large bowl, mix whole wheat flour, oats, baking powder and soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt with a fork.

2. In a separate bowl, stir together applesauce, olive oil, milk, and agave nectar with a wooden spoon until well blended. Pour over dry ingredients and mix together.

3. Add the shredded zucchini, dates, and chocolate/carob chips, if using to batter and stir with wooden spoon until all ingredients are well combined.

4. Pour into prepared muffin tin and bake 12-15 minutes. Serve with applesauce spooned on top.

Mmmmmm, good!

Makes: 1 dozen muffins, Preparation time: 15 minutes, Cooking time: 15 minutes