September 12, 2012

CSA News for the Week of September 10th

This Week's Vegetable Harvest:
  • Spinach
  • Head Lettuce
  • Eggplant
  • Red Potatoes
  • Lacinato or Green Kale
  • Green Bell Peppers
  • Red, Yellow or Orange Bell Peppers
  • Poblano Chile Peppers
  • Beefsteak Tomatoes
  • Heirloom Tomatoes

This Week's Fruit Harvest:
  • Red Raspberries
  • Golden Delicious Apples
  • Macintosh Apples
  • Red 'Canadice' Grapes
  • White 'Neptune' Grapes
Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... swiss chard, radishes, cilantro, tomatoes, beets, salad mix, carrots, turnips, arugula and more!

Important Upcoming Dates
The Fresh Fruit Season ends September 19th/20th.
The Summer Vegetable Season ends October 3rd/4th.

Notes from the Farm Kitchen
On Sunday we hosted the second of our two CSA potlucks. I had a wonderful time chatting with old friends and meeting new CSA members. I hope you all enjoyed touring the farm and picking tomatoes. In addition to the opportunity to pick your own tomatoes, many of you have taken us up on the offer to buy pre-picked cases of either romas or beefsteaks. It's still not to late to order for delivery to your pickup site next week, but let me know soon since tomato season won't last forever. Here are some tips for preserving your tomatoes so you can enjoy them once the season has ended.

One of the simplest methods for preserving tomatoes is simply to wash and dry them 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 a delicious addition to almost any dish.

Freezing tomatoes whole is a perfectly good option, but roasting before you freeze them adds even more flavor. I start by cutting romas in half and beefsteaks into quarters. Then I place them in a single layer (cut side up) on a rimmed baking tray.

Drizzle them with olive oil and salt, and roast them at 300 degrees for about 3 hours. Once they've cooled they can go straight into freezer bags. They're perfect for marinara, soups, stews, casseroles, etc.

As long as you've got the oven on, you might want to go ahead and roast this week's eggplant and peppers too.

I've got a tray of these vegetables roasting in the oven as I write. For dinner tonight I'll use them to make a Moroccan dish called Zaalouk. It's a warm dip made of roasted eggplant, peppers and tomatoes and served with toasted pita bread. Here's the recipe:

1 large eggplant (or 2 medium)
2 green bell peppers
3 large tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or pressed
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste
1 chili pepper (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Trim the stem from the eggplant and slice it in half lengthwise. Place it on the baking sheet, skin side up. Trim the stems from the green peppers, slice them in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Place the pepper halves skin side up on the baking sheet, flattening them with your hand (or breaking them into pieces if necessary) so that they lay flat. If you'll be using a chili pepper, prepare it in the same manner as the green pepper and add it to the baking sheet.
  2. Roast the vegetables for about an hour or until the vegetables are soft. 
  3. While the eggplant and peppers are roasting, prep the remaining ingredients. Peel, seed and chop the tomatoes. Transfer them to a deep skillet and add the garlic, parsley, olive oil, water and spices.
  4. Remove and discard the skin from the roasted chili pepper, finely chop the pepper, and set it aside for later use.
  5. Coarsely chop the roasted bell peppers and add them to the skillet. With a spoon, scoop out the flesh of roasted eggplant into the skillet (discard the skin, as well as large clumps of seeds) and mash it with the back of a spoon or a vegetable masher.
  6. Stir to combine the ingredients, cover the skillet and simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes. Use a spoon or vegetable masher to crush and puree the cooked tomatoes and eggplant, add the lemon juice, and continue cooking, uncovered, to reduce the liquids. Stir occasionally and keep an eye on the heat, adjusting it if necessary to avoid scorching the zaalouk.
  7. When the zaalouk has reduced to a paste-like consistency (you should be able to stir it into a mass in the center of the pot), stir in as much of the minced chili pepper as you'd like. Allow the zaalouk to cook for just a few minutes more before removing from the heat.
  8. Serve warm or cold with crusty bread. A little fresh parsley or a drizzle of olive oil may be used as garnish. Offer any remaining minced chili pepper on the side as a condiment.

I'm using one of the roasted poblanos for the zaalouk, but I'll save two of them for the green chile stew I'll be making tomorrow (see recipe below).

In case you need a refresher on what to do with poblanos, here's the scoop. Poblanos are hot, but not as hot as a jalapeno or a serrano. This week's poblanos are between 3 and 5 inches long and are dark green and glossy. Roasting poblano peppers before using them improves their flavor and allows you to remove their waxy skin. Once you've roasted them you can put them in a freezer bag and store them in the freezer for months. Poblanos can be used in many different Mexican-inspired dishes from rice dishes to casseroles to the well-known chiles rellenos. To roast them you can either put them under the broiler, use a skewer to hold them over an open flame on your stove top, or stick them in a very hot toaster oven.

Roasted poblanos are terrific combined with two other vegetables in this week's share--potatoes and kale. This is one of my favorite early fall vegetable combinations. If you are feeling a bit skeptical, try one of these recipes.

Green Chile Stew with Potatoes and Kale
Smoky Black Bean and Kale Soup
Mashed Potatos with Kale, Poblanos and Cheddar

All three recipes are favorites from past newsletters. They are all terrific. Bon appétit!

Elsewhere on the farm... is in the air! Cooler fall temperatures and shorter days signal the approach of breeding season for the sheep.

Our two rams, Chip and Dale, eagerly await the opportunity to enter the ewe pasture. Breeding won't officially start until early October, so for now the rams must stay on the other side of the fence.

Today their interest is piqued when one particularly friendly ewe sidles up to the fence. Don't they look just like a couple of teenage boys gawking at her??
 Alas, her interest in the rams is fleeting. The boys are left hanging when she ubruptly turns and walks away.

Dale throws back his head and lets out an anguished cry. No, I'm just kidding. In this photo he's actually exhibiting a mating behavior called scenting. He sticks his nose in the air, curls back his lip and breathes in the scent of the retreating ewe.

Meanwhile, Chip pretends not to care about the recent rejection. He walks over and joins a group of ram lambs in the shade of the oak tree.

The ewe, for her part, just shakes her head and chuckles softly. I'm not sure if she is enjoying the rams' antics or not, but I am definitely enjoying myself!
Have a good week!  -Peg