Dear CSA members,
Brrr, what a weather change we’ve had! We harvested and cleaned beets Sunday morning in a light rain and came in as chilled as if it were October. Despite this, the tomatoes are beginning to ripen their first fruits. We’re pretty excited about that and hope you are too. It looks like we’ve got a little bit of Early Blight showing up in a few tomato varieties so we’ll be applying a witch’s brew of beneficial bacteria, fish emulsion, and an extract of Japanese knotweed in order to help the plants cope with this fungal disease.
Speaking of fall, we’ve been busy this week clearing plant debris and weeds out of our spring beds in preparation for fall crops. We’ve got fall cabbages, broccolis, and kales started in the hoophouse and will be starting fall chard, beets, carrots, and arugula soon. We’re also planting additional quantities of beans and summer squash, since our initial plantings are not proving as productive as we’d hoped. This has been the case with a great many of our crops this year, due I think to a combination of unseasonable weather and soil nutrition issues, exacerbated by the flooding we had early in the year. We’re giving a lot of thought to what we need to do to deal with some of these issues next year, but in the meantime we’re feeling pretty exhausted by the extra work we’ve been putting in to contend with them this year. Because of this and also because we’ve had significant failures in two of our fall crops (potatoes & onions), we’ve decided that it’s just too much for us to try to produce the extra extended share quantities for this fall. We’ll be getting in touch with those of you who signed up for those and sending you refund checks for that share program. We ARE still going to try to go an extra week into October with the regular share program in order to compensate for starting a week late in spring, weather permitting.
We have beets again this week! For Monday’s lunch, I made a raw variation on last week’s beet salad, this one with kale rather than beet greens.
Kale Salad with Shaved Beets, Feta and Toasted Nuts (adapted from a recipe by Michael Symon)
Ingredients: 1 bunch of kale leaves, removed from stems & chopped; 1 clove garlic (minced); 1 red onion (peeled and sliced paper thin); 3 oz red wine or apple cider vinegar; 2-4 beets, peeled and sliced paper thin; 6 oz olive oil; 1/2 cup toasted nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts); 2 tablespoons fresh dill (chopped); 1/2 cup crumbled feta; salt to taste
Place kale in a bowl and sprinkle liberally with salt. Add the vinegar and then massage the kale with your hands, roughing it up a bit in order to let the vinegar penetrate and break down some of the tougher plant fibers. Mix in beets and onion and let all this marinate in the vinegar for at least an hour or so.
Then whisk together the oil, garlic and dill. (Because our dill is flowering now, I used the flowering heads and green seeds as well as the leaves.) Toss the oil mixture with the kale, beets and onion. Add feta and nuts. Mix and serve.
Another refreshing salad we’ve been eating this week (despite the cold!), is this simple cucumber salad:
Ingredients: 1 cucumber, thinly sliced; salt & pepper to taste;1 small onion, thinly sliced; olive oil (optional); your favorite vinegar; sugar or honey (optional); chopped fresh dill to taste
Place cucumber and onion slices in a bowl. Dilute vinegar with water to taste (some people like a stronger vinegar flavor than others). If using olive oil or sugar, add those, then add chopped fresh dill, salt and pepper. Mix, then pour vinegar mixture over vegetables. Chill for an hour or so before serving (or eat right away if you’re the impatient type).
Cucumbers are one crop that seems to be doing particularly well at the moment. Our cucumbers aren’t pickling cucumbers, but they still make some decent refrigerator pickles. Here’s a recipe from http://www.thekitchn.com:
Garlic Dill Refrigerator Pickles (makes 3 pint jars)
Ingredients: 2 pounds cucumbers; 6 garlic cloves, peeled (2 per jar); 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar; 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper per jar (3/4 teaspoons total); 1 1/2 cups water; 1 teaspoon dill seed per jar (3 teaspoons total); 2 tablespoons pickling salt (adjust to taste); 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns per jar (1 1/2 teaspoons total)
Wash and slice the cucumbers. In a large saucepot, combine vinegar, water and salt. Bring to a simmer. Arrange jars on counter and dole out the spices to each. Pack the cucumber slices firmly into the jars. You don’t want to damage the cukes, but you do want them packed tight. Pour the brine into the jar, leaving approximately ½ inch headspace. Tap jars gently on countertop to dislodge any trapped air bubbles.
Apply lids and let jars cool. When they’ve returned to room temperature, place jars in refrigerator. Let them sit for at least 48 hours before eating. I’ve made these with fresh jalapeno slices rather than red pepper and fresh dill heads rather than dried dill seed—spicy & yummy!
If you like sweet pickles, you could try these bread and butter pickles:
Bread and Butter Pickles (Makes 4 cups of pickles, filling a 1-quart jar.)
Ingredients: 1 pound cucumbers; 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced; 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar; 1/4 tsp celery seed; 1/4 tsp ground turmeric; 1 Tbsp mustard seeds; 1 Tbsp coriander seeds (if ground, use 1 tsp); 1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar, depending on your tastes; 1/4 cup Diamond Kosher salt (use less if you are using Morton’s)
In a medium bowl, combine the cucumbers, onion and salt. Mix well. Cover the mixture with ice. Let stand at room temperature for two hours. In a pot, bring sugar, vinegar and spices to a boil. Drain cucumbers and onions. Add to vinegar mixture and bring almost back to a boil. Remove from heat and cool. You can store the pickles in an airtight container for up to three weeks in the fridge.
Have a great week! Amy