Our newsletter from July 7:
Dear CSA members,
Summer came back with a vengeance this week, didn’t it? Too bad this hot weather hasn’t brought a nice thundershower along with it! We’ve been doing a lot of “hose wrangling” this past week and a little bit of irrigation pipe wrangling as well. Thankfully, we’re able to reach most of our gardens with water in one way or another. The only thing I think we’ll probably lose due to lack of water are the onions we planted at John’s place this spring in an attempt to avoid the onion maggot problems we’ve had in our main gardens the past couple of years.
In between moving sprinklers and re-connecting irrigation pipes, we’ve been busy trellising tomatoes, squashing potato bugs, and weeding. We took time this past weekend to take a peek into the beehive as well. The bees have been busy making comb and honey—they look like they’re doing well. We didn’t find the queen bee, but since we saw young brood (bee larva) we know she’s still in there somewhere alive and well! We harvested some honey early this past spring from what was left from last year’s hives. Sometime in the next month I hope we can harvest a bit more and then get it bottled up so you each can have a sample.
In the meantime, we’ve got beets and cabbages for you today. I know I put this in every year, but I’m reprinting the beet hummus recipe as a nudge for those of you who haven’t yet tried it to give it a go. It makes a nice cold dip on a hot summer evening. I’ve even known sworn beet-haters to come back for seconds!
Beet Hummus (adapted from simplyrecipes.com)
Ingredients: 3-4 medium beets, roasted or steamed; 1 Tbsp ground cumin (to taste); 2 Tbsp tahini sesame seed paste; Salt (to taste); 2-4 Tbsp lemon juice (to taste); Freshly ground pepper (optional, to taste); 1 small clove garlic, chopped (or garlic scapes). Optional: Cooked chickpeas
Peel & coarsely chop cooked beets. Place all ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust quantities of seasonings to your preferences. If you want to add more protein to your meal, blend in some chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans). I’ve tried it both ways and I prefer it with just the beets, but I know other people that like this better with the addition of the chickpeas. Garnish with scallions, parsley, or cilantro.
As for the cabbage, I had some delicious sauerkraut at a friend’s house over the holiday weekend, which got me to thinking about making my own. Here’s a recipe I found in From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce by the Fairshare CSA Coalition:
Real Deal Homeade Sauerkraut
Ingredients: Clean, shredded green cabbage; Non-iodized canning salt
Weigh the shredded cabbage. For every pound of cabbage you’ll need 2 scant teaspoons salt. Place cabbage in a large, clean bowl; add the salt and toss well with clean hands until the salt is very evenly distributed throughout the cabbage. Let mixture stand until limp, 15-20 minutes. Next, pack the cabbage into a clean ceramic crock or glass jug, pressing it down with each addition of cabbage. Fill the crock no higher than a couple of inches below its rim. Place a clean plate on top of the cabbage and weigh the plate down with a clean jar filled with water. Place this contraption in a cool place like your basement (60 degrees or cooler is good, but not freezing). Over the next several hours, press on the jar to release liquid from the cabbage. The liquid has to cover the cabbage, so if it hasn’t done so after several hours, remove some of the cabbage and replace the weights. Once it’s covered with liquid, you can let it alone to ferment. Fermentation will take around 14 days. (You’ll notice some bubbles—and odors!—within a day or two.) A scum or mold may form; is so, just skim it off. Don’t worry about the scum or the odor—that’s just part of the deal with sauerkraut. For fun, taste the cabbage every day or two and notice the change in acidity and flavor as it ferments. When sauerkraut reaches the desired flavor, can it (following the directions from a reputable canning resource) or pack it into containers and freeze or pack it into jars and refrigerate. It may be eaten as is or cooked according to your favorite sauerkraut recipe.
Or, if you prefer fresh to fermented cabbage, you could try this recipe from the Moosewood Restaurant Favorites cookbook:
Slaw Ingredients: 4 cups thinly sliced cabbage; 1/2 cup chopped scallions; 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Dressing Ingredients: 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil; Finely grated zest of 1 lime; 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice; 1 teaspoon sugar; 1/2 teaspoon salt
In a bowl, combine the cabbage, scallions and cilantro. In a separate small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients. Add the dressing to the cabbage and stir well. Add more sugar and/or salt to taste. Serve right away or refrigerate. Can be served chilled or at room temperature.
Some Variations: 1) Add cayenne or red pepper flakes for a spicy slaw. 2) Use apple cider vinegar instead of lime juice. 3) Add garlic and ground cumin seeds. 4) Add mayonnaise or sour cream for a creamy slaw.
If you can’t use up your fresh herbs before they go bad, you can preserve them by making herb butters or oils and putting them in the freezer. Just put the clean, dry herbs (with tough stems removed) in a food processor along with butter or olive oil. (Use approximately 1/3 cup olive oil for every 2 cups herbs or 1 stick of butter for approximately 4 Tbsp herbs.) Process into a chunky paste, then package into quart ziplock containers for freezing. Put 1 cup herb oil or ½ cup herb butter into each bag, then flatten the bag so that the oil or butter freezes in a thin sheet that you can break chunks off from to use later. You can also freeze in ice cube trays, then pop out the frozen cubes and pack into a freezer bag for storage.
Enjoy! And have a wonderful week. Amy & John