Our newsletter from Sept. 14:
Dear CSA members,
Mid-September! This is the time of year when we try really hard to focus on all of the good things we got done this year rather than everything that we didn’t manage to make happen. And we start thinking about all of the things we need to accomplish before winter sets in, such as clearing and mulching beds, making compost, repairing tools, collecting seeds for next year, etc.
I’m really happy about a lot of what we accomplished this year. We added some crops that we’ve struggled with in the past (like sweet corn), experimented with new vermicompost systems, increased the diversity of crops we’re saving our own seeds from, did a halfway decent job of working with my folks’ orchard and managed to scale our workload back to something closer to reasonable. I’m not as thrilled with our weed management. Last year the weeds really got away from us and so because we had so many weed seeds in the ground from last year, the weed pressure this year has been really intense. We had hoped to try a couple of new approaches to weed control, including using tarps as temporary mulches in between crops and we were doing pretty well with this until the past month when our schedules got busier and the weeds got serious about setting seeds. We’re going to have to do some thinking over the winter about how to better manage weeds next year.
While I was picking cherry tomatoes yesterday near the old cucumber vines, I noticed that one of the cucumbers had climbed up into the tomato trellis and had set a couple of nice cucumbers up in there. I started looking around and found that the Green Finger cucumbers were actually making a bit of a rally. Some of them are a little large, since I hadn’t been keeping track of them, but the ones I tasted were pretty good and there were just enough for your shares today, plus a few for John to make into gazpacho. Here’s a gazpacho recipe from famed fresh-food chef Alice Waters:
Alice Waters Gazpacho
Ingredients: 1 dried ancho chile, stemmed and soaked in warm water for 15 minutes; 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped; 2 cups crustless crusty bread; 5 pounds tomatoes, cut in half horizontally; 1/4 cup olive oil; salt to taste; 1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, halved; 1 cucumber, peeled and diced; 1/2 red onion, diced; handful each of chopped chervil and basil; 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar; 1/4 cup olive oil; salt and pepper to taste
In a mortar and pestle, pound the reconstituted ancho chile into a paste, then scrape out and set aside. Add the garlic and a pinch of salt to the mortar and pound into a paste. Soak the bread in cold water for 2 minutes, then squeeze out the water and add that to the garlic. Mash it all together until smooth. (Alternatively, you could do it in a food processor).
Grate the cut sides of the tomatoes on the medium holes of a box grater into a large bowl until only the skins are left; discard the skins. Stir in the bread paste and add the chile puree to taste (this allows you to control the spiciness). Add 1/4 cup of olive oil and salt to taste, then chill in the refrigerator. In the meantime, mix together the remaining ingredients to create a relish. Divide the soup among bowls and top each with a generous spoonful of relish.
And from Anna Thomas’s The Vegetarian Epicure, a salad version:
Anna Thomas’s Gazpacho Salad
Salad Ingredients: 2 bell peppers, seeded & thinly sliced; 4 firm tomatoes, finely diced; 2 cucumbers, seeded & chopped; 1 onion, peeled & chopped; salt & pepper.
Dressing Ingredients: ½ cup olive oil (approx.); ¼ cup wine vinegar (approx.); 2 cloves garlic, minced; pinch of ground cumin; chopped parsley; 2 tsp. chopped shallots. Garnish: watercress sprigs.
In a deep glass or crystal bowl, arrange the vegetables in thin layers, sprinkling each layer with a little salt and pepper. Start with a layer of bell peppers, then tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and over again until all the vegetables are used up. Make the vinaigrette dressing and pour it over the salad. Chill the salad for several hours and garnish with watercress.
The green onions got away from me this summer and so they aren’t as tender and mild as they were in the spring. But they still have a nice onion flavor, even if they are a little stronger-tasting. They might be good in a tabouli salad like this one:
Ingredients: 1 cup medium-grind bulghur; 1 cup boiling water; 1 cup each diced tomato and cucumber; ½ cup diced onion or green onions; 1 cup chopped parsley; ¼ cup chopped mint
For the dressing: ¼ cup fresh lemon juice; ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil; 1 clove garlic, minced; 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
Mix the bulghur and water in a bowl and cover. Let it sit about 15 minutes, or as long as it takes you to cut up everything. Cut up vegetables and herbs. Mix the dressing ingredients together. Mix the bulghur and vegetables and herbs. Pour the dressing over it all and mix well. Let it sit about an hour for flavors to blend. You can eat this as a salad and or tuck it into pita breads to make pocket sandwiches. I especially like it in the pitas with a little bit of tahini spread into the pita as a dressing.
Have a great week, everyone!
Amy & John
Some of our seed-crop for next year’s yellow snap beans: