August 11, 2009

CSA News for the Week of August 10th

This Week's Vegetable Share:
  • Hoophouse Tomatoes
  • Fresh Basil
  • Green Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Green-Top Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Green-Top Beets
  • Purple and/or Green Bell Peppers
  • Gold Cipollini Onions
  • Sweet Corn (not from our farm. See 'Notes from the Farm Kitchen' for more info.)
  • Zucchini and/or Summer Squash

This Week's Fruit Share:

  • Santa Rosa Red Plums
  • Early Blue Purple Plums
  • Red Haven Peaches
  • and the first Nectarines of the season!

Farm Journal

Some of you might have heard that tomato fields all over the eastern half of the country have been devasted by Late Blight, a fungus that poses no danger to human health but can be fatal for tomato plants. If you haven't heard about it, here are a couple of links that will give you some idea of just how bad the epidemic is:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/29/dining/29toma.html?_r=1&ref=dining

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/09/opinion/09barber.html?_r=1&emc=eta1

Late Blight is a disease caused by fungal spores that travel from farm to farm on the wind. It occasionally shows up on the East Coast and in the Midwest very late in the season when most of the tomato crop has already been harvested. This year, the disease appeared in New England in June on young, otherwise healthy plants. On Friday we found it in our own tomato fields. The discovery of Late Blight on our plants came as something of a shock as we hadn't heard of any cases west of Ohio. Yesterday a plant pathologist from the University of Illinois confirmed our suspicions when he took a look at the photos we had emailed him. Tomorrow he will drive up from Champaign to officially diagnose what looks to be the first case of Late Blight in Illinois. This is a pretty big deal for us as it means that our entire tomato crop may succumb before we are able to harvest any ripe fruits. That's the worst case scenario. The best case scenario is that we will continue to work diligently to identify infected plants and remove them from our fields before they have a chance to infect other plants and other farms. (Already we have destoyed nearly 600 plants out of a total of about 4,000.) We remain cautiously optimistic that we will have enough tomatoes to fulfill the needs of our CSA members, and we'll be sure to update you as we learn more.

Now, enough of the doom and gloom. After three days of worrying, I found myself looking for a reason to smile, darn it! This morning after breakfast I grabbed the camera and set out for a walk around the farm. As I walked, I snapped a whole bunch of pictures as a way of reminding myself of the many, many reasons to be thankful for what nature has provided. Below are pictures of some of the things that made me smile this morning. If you'd like to see more photos, click here.

As always, thanks for your support of our farm. Despite its challenges, this is still the best job around! We hope you enjoy this week's harvest. -Peg

Baby Summer Squash

Shell Beans Starting to Size Up in their Pods

Hollyhocks Blooming in the Garden

Beautiful Pepper Plants

Happy Pigs on Pasture

A Bountiful Carrot Harvest

Notes from the Farm Kitchen

Like tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes, peppers belong to the Solanaceae family. They are native to South and Central America, and now play an important role in cuisines all over the globe. This week we are harvesting green peppers and purple peppers. These two varieties are similar in the sense that both are harvested in the immature stage of a pepper plant's development. When left on the plant, green peppers eventually turn red while purple peppers eventually turn orange. Purple peppers taste much like green peppers and can be used in the same way--in sandwiches, salads, stir-fries, casseroles, etc.

Cipollini onions, pronounced chip-oh-LEE-nee, are smaller and flatter than most storage onions. They are slightly sweeter than regular yellow and white onions, and are therefore a great choice for carmelizing and roasting.

This has been a terrific season for zucchini and cucumbers. Our plantings of both crops are now past their peak production, but we expect to continue harvesting them for a couple more weeks. If you'd like to freeze some zucchini for use in baked goods, start by washing and grating it without peeling. Then steam blanch in small quantities for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain well and allow to cool before packing it in containers in amounts needed for recipes. Seal and freeze. If watery when thawed, drain the liquid before using the zucchini.

Red-winged blackbirds and starlings finished off the last of our sweet corn crop over the weekend, so we've included corn from Didier Farm in this week's share. While their sweet corn is not organic, it is local and delicious.

This Week's Recipes
Plum K├╝chen
Sweet Corn Risotto
Peach White-Wine Sangria
Corn, Squash and Beans with Basil Butter
Basil Vinaigrette (serve over steamed carrots and beans or roasted zucchini and squash)
Chocolate Beet Cake (I LOVE this cake.)
Matt's Mom's Quick Pickles
Beet & Carrot Salad with Blue Cheese and Walnuts

Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... eggplant, potatoes, kale, bell peppers, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, tomatillos, cilantro, poblano peppers, Paula Red Apples, nectarines, and more!