Our newsletter from August 17:
Dear CSA members,
The cool nights we were having a week ago had me convinced we were headed straight into Autumn. I even started planting cool season crops like chard and Chinese cabbage, thinking that the summer’s heat (what there was of it) was over. I’ve lived in Michigan long enough to know better! The past few scorching days have been great for heat-loving plants like tomatoes and eggplants, but it sure would be better if we got a little rain along with this warmth and humidity. Maybe later today?
I’m super excited to have sweet corn for you!! For the first few years of the CSA, we didn’t try to plant corn because we just didn’t have the space for it. The past couple of years it has been in our plans but for one reason or another we weren’t able to bring in a good crop. This year’s crop could be better, but at least we have something to share. Yay! John picked it this morning, so it is super-fresh. For the best flavor, plan to eat it soon. Once picked, its sugars will start turning into starches and it will lose some of its sweetness, even in your fridge. Also, as with the broccoli, since we don’t use any insecticides on the corn, one or more of you is bound to end up with a corn earworm snacking on your corn. Just snap or cut off the part of the cob that the worm is on—the rest is fine to eat. You didn’t realize that you were going to get to learn so much about bugs when you signed up for a CSA, did you? Ah, the web of life.
I hope that you received the email I sent yesterday regarding our work with my parents’ orchard and the possibility of including fruit in your shares. We’ve included a few peaches from the orchard in your shares today. You’ll probably want to let them sit out on your counter for a day or two to fully ripen. If we picked them fully ripe from the tree, they would be mush by the time they got to you, so we try to pick them just shy of softening. Once they do start to soften, though, you’ll want to eat them up since they won’t keep very long after that. The peaches are on the small side because the orchard is really too big for us to manage and we haven’t had time to properly prune the trees and thin the fruit in order to encourage larger fruits. Perhaps if we pursue working the orchard again next year some of you would be willing to lend a hand for an afternoon of fruit thinning? Doing that task more thoroughly would go a long way toward producing better fruit.
The little red onions in your shares are cippolinis. I like them thinly sliced raw into salads, but I LOVE them roasted or stir-fried. They caramelize nicely and add a roasty sweetness to whatever dish you add them to. Here’s what I plan to do with my head of savoy cabbage and cippolinis:
Stir-Fried Savoy Cabbage & Cippolinis
Ingredients: Cippolini Onions; Savoy Cabbage; Cumin Seeds; Olive Oil; Salt & Pepper to taste. Optional: Chopped Tomato
Thinly slice onions and cabbage. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add cumin seeds. (Maybe a teaspoonful, depending on how much you like cumin. I like it a lot.) Stir cumin seeds around in the oil, then add sliced onions and stir-fry together until onions soften. Then add sliced cabbage and stir-fry everything together until the cabbage is soft and onions are caramelized. Salt and pepper to taste. You could also add a chopped fresh tomato to the pan near the end of the cooking time for a juicier dish and a brighter flavor.
You can also roast your savoy cabbage in the oven. Here’s a recipe from chocolateandzucchini.com for roasting cabbage (http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/vegetables-grains/roasted-savoy-cabbage-recipe/):
Roasted Savoy Cabbage Recipe
Ingredients: 1 head Savoy cabbage; Olive oil for cooking; Fine sea salt; Freshly ground black pepper; Lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and grease a rimmed baking sheet. Cut the cabbage into quarters vertically and carve out the core. Cut each quarter in two lengthwise, and slice crosswise thinly. Place the cabbage on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and toss to coat.
Insert in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through, until cooked through and golden brown in places. Sprinkle with black pepper, dress with a touch of lemon juice, and serve.
The peppers in your share boxes today are hot peppers: you’ll either have jalapenos or stripy Golden Rule peppers (these were bred by a farmer in Northern Michigan) or both. I like to throw a chopped hot pepper into soups and stir-fries for a little extra punch. It’s not traditional in ratatouille, but I like to put it in anyway:
Ratatouille (adjust ingredient quantities based on what you like and what you have on hand)
Ingredients: Olive oil; Chopped onion; 2 medium chopped tomatoes; 1 clove garlic, minced; 1 zucchini or other summer squash, sliced; 1 medium eggplant, cut into cubes; Basil or oregano to taste; Chopped hot pepper to taste (I’d probably use half a pepper with the seeds and stems removed); Salt & pepper to taste; Grated parmesan cheese
Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add onion, cook until just soft. Add garlic and hot pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then add eggplant and summer squash. Sauté until soft. You can add in dried basil & oregano here if you like and salt and pepper. You might want to cover the pan to let things cook down a bit. Then add tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are soft. Serve sprinkled with parmesan cheese.
Speaking of basil, I’m bummed out about our basil, which has mildew again this year. Last year was the first year that I’ve ever had any problems with basil and I was hoping it would be a fluky one-year thing. Apparently not. Guess I’ll have to do some research on mildew on basil. Yay for more learning opportunities!
Have a great week, everyone! Amy & John
On my way to plant more chard, beets, and carrots: