Our newsletter from August 31:
Dear CSA members,
The last day of August already! Like many of you (or your kids), I’m headed back to school next week, so this past week I’ve been trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to get a few summer projects wrapped up on the farm. One thing we’ve been working at this year is saving more of our own seeds. This not only saves us money, it means that we are able to select seeds from plants that have done particularly well under our organic growing conditions. So far this year, we’ve collected seed from a rare kale variety called Beedy’s Camden and a unique parsley called Cicilian Parsley. Bean seeds from the yellow Monte Gustos are drying on the vine (a new crop of green snap beans will be coming your way soon!) and we are deep into tomato seed harvesting. If you are connected to our Facebook page, you’ve probably seen the photos of the paste tomatoes we’ve been growing for the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society’s Farm Breeding Club. This is a neat project in which 33 farmers from northern states across the country are growing out second-generation seeds from a cross between two different tomato parents with the goal of eventually creating a new open pollinated paste tomato variety. This will take several years of growing and selection, but won’t it be cool if there’s eventually a tomato variety out there that we helped to create?
I’ve been fretting over the melons for the past several weeks, but this week they finally started to ripen. The most difficult thing for me about growing melons is getting them harvested at the right time. One day they are green, then the next it seems they are already splitting or getting soft. The slugs found our melons this past week just as they were sweetening up, so we’ve got a lot of them with one or two holes in their rinds. But the ones we’ve sampled have been nice on the inside! We picked some of them a little green to save them from the slugs—if your melon seems on the green side, smell it. If it smells sweet, it’s ready to eat. If not, just leave it on your counter for a day or so and it should ripen up the rest of the way.
‘Tis the season when we all start trying to figure out creative uses for zucchinis. Paperweight? Baseball bat? I’ve included the following two recipes in previous newsletters, but I’m going to print them again, as they are two of my favorite ways to hide zucchini in tasty treats.
Coconut, Walnut, Raisin Zucchini Bread
Ingredients: 3 eggs; 3 cups flour; 2 cups grated zucchini; 1 tsp. salt; 1 cup sugar; 1 tsp. baking powder; 1 cup vegetable oil; 2 tsp cinnamon; 2 tsp. vanilla; 1 cup chopped walnuts; 1 cup raisins; 1 cup coconut
Beat eggs. Add grated zucchini, sugar, oil, and vanilla to eggs and mix well. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. Combine with wet ingredients, then mix in nuts, raisins and coconut. Pour into greased loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes.
Fudgy Zucchini Brownies
Ingredients: 2 squares unsweetened chocolate; ¾ tsp baking powder; ¼ cup butter; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 1 cup sugar; 2/3 cup flour; 1 egg; 1 cup shredded zucchini; ¼ tsp salt. Optional: walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8 inch square pan. Melt the chocolate and butter together and mix until smooth. Pour into a bowl, then add the sugar and mix well. Add the egg, salt, baking powder, and vanilla—mix until combined. The stir in the flour and fold in the zucchini. Pour batter into pan and top with walnuts if desired. Bake for 25 minutes. (Note: you can substitute 3 tablespoons cocoa and 1 tablespoon butter for each square of unsweetened chocolate.)
Here’s a new zucchini recipe that I just found and haven’t had a chance to try yet, but it sounds like a nice variation of the kale fritters that I like so much. The original recipe by Alice Waters that I found in her Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook doesn’t include cheese, but since I like cheese a lot, this variation from Mental Masala (http://marcsala.blogspot.com/2008/05/recipe-zucchini-fritters.html) sounds good to me:
Zucchini Fritters adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables, by Alice Waters
Ingredients: 12 ounces zucchini; 2 t. salt; 1 t. lemon zest (optional); 1 T. herbs of choice (parsley, thyme, oregano, basil, mint, cilantro, etc.); 1/2 c. cheese (crumbled feta, aged goat, sharp cheddar, fresh mozzarella, etc.); 1 T. rice or wheat flour; 2 eggs; Pepper to taste
Grate the zucchini using a box grater or the grating attachment on a food processor. Toss with the salt and place in a colander to leech out some of the zucchini’s water. Place a plate on top of the salted zucchini to help the process. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes.
Rinse the zucchini, then squeeze out as much moisture as possible (a clean kitchen towel can be helpful for this). Then combine the zucchini with the remaining ingredients.
Heat a lightly oiled skillet or griddle over medium heat. When the cooking surface is ready, make fritters using a few tablespoons of the batter at a time (it’s just like making pancakes). Cook on one side until light brown, then flip and cook the other side.
Serve plain or with an appropriate accompaniment — try diced tomatoes with Italian herbs, a dollop of thick yogurt with Greek flavors, some tomatillo salsa with a cilantro-flavored fritter.
Wishing a smooth start to the school year for everyone! -Amy & John