Hi everyone-welcome to week nine! We’re HALFWAY through the season already. It seems like just yesterday that Brandon and I were packing up the farm in Howard Lake, the house in Minneapolis and moving it all east to Wisconsin. Here we are today, picking corn, saving seeds, and basking in the late summer weather. Thanks so much, members, for giving us a great reason to be outdoors and digging in the dirt!
Some goings-on at the farm this week:Tomatillos
SWEET CORN IS HERE!!!!!!!! YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We all know this is why many people put up with mid-western winters, bugs, ticks and wild storms. At least this is why we do.
It’s always a momentous occasion when the sweet corn hits the first box. The hallmark of summer, the sweet crunchy taste that makes every last mosquito bite worthwhile, corn is one of the number one hits in any CSA box. You won’t get it any fresher, which is fantastic considering how much flavor is lost even a few days after picking. It’s been a long game of waiting, waiting, and waiting some more this year. Brandon hand picks every ear himself, checking to see if the tip of the cob is rounded off, if the kernels feel full, and if the silk is dried and britttle. All of these are good indicators that it is the perfect time to eat. And it is! Do yourselves a favor and eat the corn tonight, or if you’re like my dear friend Lindsey, in the car on the ride home from work. (Mike doesn’t read the newsletters, does he? He’d never know!)
Another summer favorite, the eggplants, are starting to set lots of nice fruits, and everyone is getting some this week-sounds like a perfect opportunity for a primer on these lovely vegetables! Indigenous to northeast India, Burma, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and other neighboring countries, the eggplant is vastly cultivated-up to 31 tons a year! The domestication of the plant is mentioned as far back as 300 BCE in Sanskrit documents, and is featured in Hindi Ayurvedic medicine as a healer of diabetes and asthma. The tables soon turned on our eggplant friends, though, and by the medieval ages in Persia the eggplant was viewed as a food to be cautious of, responsible for a wide variety of internal and external complications. The authors of this manifesto go on to mention that beneficial qualities can be had if the eggplant is salted and soaked prior to consumption. Perhaps this is where the common practice in today’s kitchens originates? Check out this link and this one to read more about salt and eggplants. Renaissance Europeans, especially those in the Mediterranean, revived its reputation, touting it as the “love apple”, and the fame of the eggplant rose, rightly, from here on out.
While reading History and Iconography of Eggplant, (I know, I know. Slow farm day. I think we were still waiting for the snow to melt…) I stumbled upon some charming tributes to the eggplant in the world of art:
1551). By courtesy of Jung-Myung Lee.
Source: International Horticultural
Congress 2006, Abstracts book.
Tacuinum sanitatis: A. Aphrodisiacal
effects of eggplant. Note the lady with
her foot on the red gown admonishing
the lovers affected by overly romantic
feelings. dated 1385-1390. Austrian National Library, picture
archive, Vienna, Austria.
Now to the eggplant we grow:From left to right: Galine, Ping Tung Long, Turkish Orange, Black Beauty, Dancer, Swallow and Fairy Tale
The boxes are full of fantastic produce this week, so let’s not wait another moment.
Box 9Onions Zucchini Eggplant Arugula Sweet Corn Beets (small shares) Napa Cabbage (small shares) Salad Greens (small and medium shares) Romano Beans (medium and full shares) Tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes or Tomatillos (medium and full shares) Swiss Chard (medium and full shares) Hot Peppers (medium and full shares) Broccoli (full shares) Cucumbers (full shares) Red Cabbage (full shares) Basil (full shares) Arugula-This peppery green in the mustard family is better than lettuce on a BLT, or have as a salad with your favorite cheese, dried fruit, and nut. Also great in a veggie sandwich of sliced peaches and gruyere, broiled until the cheese melts. Sweet Corn- This variety is called ambrosia. We’ve got several more successions going, so you’ll get to sample some of the best types around. NOTE: There may be a little green worm at the top of an ear of corn or two. We really regret that you may be startled by a little guy trying to get to your corn before you. No worries though, they will do you no harm! To deal with such pests on a large scale, field corn, and more recently sweet corn, have been genetically modified to produce their own pesticide in its tissue by splicing in a gene from a bacteria that naturally produces the product commonly known as BT. Up to 40% of our nation’s sweet corn is genetically modified in this way and 80% of field corn grown in the US is genetically modified. The use of GMOs in modern agriculture is hotly debated by both growers and eaters with countless pros and cons and a whole lot of gray areas and unknowables in between. We opt to not use GMOs on the farm and are able to do so because of members like yourself that choose the alternative: to brush an occasional worm off your corn. Tomatillos-Some tomato boxes will have their (culinarily) distant cousin the tomatillo. One of my very favorite fruits, the tomatillo is tasty in a fresh salsa, but perhaps best when roasted and turned into a killer green enchilada sauce. The cowgirl heart of me goes pitter patter whenever I see these little gems. We make tomatillo sauce by the gallon and freeze it to enjoy all winter long. To use, pull off their papery husks and try in one of these recipes or the one below. Hot Peppers-You’ll find yourselves with a mix of purple jalapenos, striated hot, or hungarian hot wax peppers. The jalapenos are beautiful and fairly mild, but watch out for the other guys! Depending on your taste, a little goes a long way.
Romano Beans with Serrano and Poached EggA favorite that Dad and I always cook together when we’re in Spain, one of the few places broad beans can be found in abundance: 2 1/2 cups romano beans, ends trimmed 3 T. extra virgin olive oil 2 small cloves garlic, chopped salt and pepper to taste 7 oz. serrano ham, diced 4 large eggs 1/2 tsp. white vinegar Cook the beans in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and plunge into ice water. Drain again once cool. Heat the oil in a pan and saute the garlic until it begins to brown. Add the beans and saute for a minute, then add the ham. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a simmer. Add the vinegar. Crack the eggs into a ramekin and slide them one at a time into the water. Cook for about 4 minutes, scoop out and drain on a towel. Divide the bean and ham mixture onto plates, topping each with an egg. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Tomatillo Enchilada Sauce
- 1 pound tomatillos, husks removed
- 1 cup diced white onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 jalapeno, quartered (seeded if desired)
- 1 cup water
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- Pinch of sugar