August 31, 2011

CSA News for the Week of August 29th

This Week's Vegetable Harvest:
Assorted Sweet Peppers
• Lettuce Heads
• Cabbage
• Romano Beans or Haricots Verts
• Red Onions
• Sweet Corn*
• Red Slicing Tomatoes
• Heirloom Tomatoes
• Eggplant or Broccoli
• Garlic Bulbs
• Purple Basil and Green Basil

*not grown on our farm. See Notes from the Farm Kitchen for more info.
This Week's Fruit Share:
• White Seedless Grapes
• Red Plums and Purple Plums
• Peaches

Notes from the Farm Kitchen
Romano beans, also known as Italian green beans, have wide flat pods with excellent flavor. They can be cooked like green beans, but will usually take a little more time. Be careful not to cook them too long, though. They are best when tender but not mushy.

Mick says he'll be picking peaches for another couple of weeks and then the crop will be done for the year. If you'd like to preserve some of summer's goodness you might want to consider freezing peaches, something that isn't all that hard to do. First, prepare a syrup by combining 4 cups of water, 1/4 cup of honey and 1/4 cup of lemon juice in a large bowl, then stir until the honey is dissolved. Drop peaches into a pot of boiling water for one minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow to cool before slipping the skins off. Slice the peaches into the bowl of syrup. Ladle peaches and syrup into freezer bags, seal and place in freezer.

Eggplant is related to other vegetables that thrive in the late summer—tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers. There are many different varieties of eggplant, including white, purple, lavender, pink and green. Eggplant does not need to be peeled, but you may prefer to do so. Before using it in a recipe, I recommend lightly salting eggplant slices and then letting them sit in a strainer for at last 10 minutes. This helps reduce the water content in the eggplant, and improves texture and taste.

This week's sweet corn (not organic) comes from Joe Skelly and family who farm near Janesville. Although I love good old-fashioned corn on the cob, I find myself looking for interesting new things to do with corn at this time of year. In addition to the recipe for corn bisque and corn fritters that appear below, there are a couple of things I recommend:
•  toss a couple of handfuls of fresh sweet corn into your favorite cornbread batter
•  lightly char some ears of corn under the broiler and then slice them from the ear and use as a topping for tacos or taco salad
•  make a big pot of corn chowder with plenty of sauteed peppers and onion
•  make a delicious summer salad of fresh corn, chopped tomatoes, basil and your favorite vinaigrette

pictured: Jeff Miller, Sandhill Organics Assistant Farm Manager
Heirloom tomatoes come in many different shapes and sizes. They also come in a range of colors that includes white, yellow, pink, green, red and a shade of purple so dark it's almost black. Their flavors are as varied as their colors; some are fruity, some smoky, some tart, etc. Besides the pleasure of experiencing these different flavors, growing and eating heirloom tomatoes is a great way to promote diversity in the tomato gene pool. Many heirloom varieties begin to ripen late in the season and have a relatively short window in which they produce good fruit so enjoy them while they last!

Tips for Preserving your Tomato Bounty
  • First, never store tomatoes in the refrigerator if you plan to eat them fresh. Temperatures below 50 degrees have a pretty significant negative impact on the texture of fresh tomatoes and certainly don't do anything for the flavor either. Place fresh tomatoes stem-side-down on a plate lined with a paper towel and keep on the counter.
  • On the other hand, if you know you are going to use some of your tomatoes in a sauce or other cooked dish, I say what the heck-- throw them in the fridge. You probably won't notice any negative effects, and when you have a large amount of tomatoes, this can be the best way to guarantee that none of them will go bad before you're ready to use them.
  • Another strategy is to freeze some of your tomatoes in order to enjoy them once the tomato season has ended. One of the simplest methods is simply to wash and dry the tomatoes and pop them in a freezer bag whole. When you remove them from the freezer, run them under warm water for a few seconds and you'll be able to slip the skin right off. While a defrosted tomato will no longer have the same sturdy texture as a fresh tomato, it will be perfectly delicious for use in almost any cooked dish

This Week's Recipes:
Shrimp and Sweet Corn Bisque

Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... arugula, parsley, leeks, tomatoes, red or purple grapes, raspberries, potatoes, broccoli, tongue-of-fire beans, eggplant, cilantro and more!