Our newsletter from July 14:
Dear CSA members,
Even though the storms that passed through the area yesterday managed NOT to bring us any rain, it sure is nice to have the humidity a little lower this morning! Overall, things look pretty good. We’ve had some great volunteer help with weeding these past few weeks, for which we are enormously grateful. I think I mentioned in a previous newsletter that one of my goals this year is to not let so many weeds get away from us and go to seed. Once we harvest out a particular crop, it’s easy to let that garden bed fall to the bottom of our priority list and get filled up with weeds. This year I’m trying to make sure that doesn’t happen by covering those empty beds as soon as I can with mulch or planting a cover crop of buckwheat into them. These patches of buckwheat should also provide a good nectar source for the honeybees when they flower in late summer.
An unusually large population of cucumber beetles set the melon and cucumber plants back quite a bit during their first few weeks in the ground. They are recovering, but I’m a little worried about diseases like downy mildew, which can be spread by cucumber beetles. For now, we’ll just keep an eye on them and make sure they have good water and nutrition. On the other hand, we’ve had only a few potato beetles this year. I squish them whenever I walk past the potato patch, but they aren’t posing any real threat to the crop. The red potatoes are almost ready to dig—look for those in your shares the week after we get back from our vacation.
Speaking of which—next week is our vacation week! My cousin Bryan will be holding down the farm fort while we sneak away for a few days of tent camping near Lake Huron. Last year was the first year that we scheduled a vacation break into the CSA. We found that getting away for a few days made an enormous difference in our spirits and stamina for the rest of the growing season. So, thank you for accommodating the renewal of our spirits!
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, your share contents are starting to shift away from the green leafy spring things to summer vegetables like zucchinis. Thank you, Zinta, for sharing this recipe from thetoastedpinenut.com that uses both the zucchini and the beets in your shares today:
Zucchini Beet Salad
Ingredients: 3 medium zucchini, rinsed; 2 large beets, rinsed; 1 cup walnuts, chopped; 4 oz. crumbled blue cheese; 1 T. extra virgin olive oil; 1 T. balsamic vinegar; 1/8 t. garlic powder; salt and pepper to taste
Place beets in cold water. Bring water to boil and reduce heat to medium. Boil beets for 45-60 minutes, or until easily speared with a skewer with little resistance. Spiralize, julienne, or chop zucchini and place in individual bowls. Peel beets under cold water and cut into cubes. In separate bowl, combine cubed beets, chopped walnuts, 2 oz. of crumbled blue cheese, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix to combine. Place heaping mound of beet mixture on top of zucchini. Sprinkle each bowl with remaining blue cheese.
With the ducks providing us with eggs on a daily basis, we find that we eat a lot of variations on eggs and greens. Here’s one of our favorite gratin recipes from FARMfood: green living with chef Daniel Orr. It calls for chard, but I think you could make it with other greens as well, including your beet greens.
Gruyere and Chard Gratin
Ingredients: 1 lb chard, stems cut into small pieces and leaves roughly chopped; 3 large eggs; 1 ½ cup heavy cream; ¼ tsp nutmeg, ground; fresh ground pepper; 1 garlic clove, minced; 2 anchovies, finely diced [I often omit these, but John likes to put them in]; 1 tsp salt; ½ cup Gruyere or Swiss cheese, grated; butter for greasing pan
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Blanch chard in salted water until crunchy-tender and shock in ice water. Drain and pat dry. Combine eggs, cream, nutmeg, pepper, garlic, anchovies, salt, and three-quarters of cheese and mix well. Add chard and mix well to incorporate into egg mix. Lightly grease 9” glass or ceramic dish and pour in mixture. Top with remaining cheese. Pat down evenly and bake 30-35 minutes until set and golden on top. Allow to sit at least 5 minutes before serving.
I made this variation on a gratin recipe from Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert last week. It really is a simple dish, but it’s satisfying and delicious.
Au Gratin Cabbage
Ingredients: 2 1/2 cups cabbage, shredded; 1/3 cup green onion, chopped; 1/2 cup milk; 1 egg; 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese, shredded; 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
Sauté cabbage in butter or olive oil until crisp tender. Transfer to greased 1-quart baking dish. Combine milk, egg and cheese in a small bowl. Pour over vegetables. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F, for 30-35 minutes.
Here’s a broccoli gratin recipe from the same cookbook. I think the main thing with broccoli is—whatever you do with it, don’t overcook it.
Ingredients: 5-6 cups broccoli (cut in chunks); 1 onion (thinly sliced); 1 clove garlic (minced); 1/4 cup flour; 2 cups milk; 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste; 1/4 teaspoon pepper; pinch each ground nutmeg and ground red pepper; 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese; 1 cup bread crumbs; 1 tablespoon butter; ¼ cup Parmesan cheese; 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
Steam broccoli just until crisp-tender, 6-8 minutes. Drain well and set aside. In small saucepan sauté onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons oil until fragrant and tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour on onions and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes without browning. Whisk in milk and bring to a boil. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg, and red pepper and cook 5 minutes. Stir in cheddar cheese and remove from heat. Combine with broccoli. Transfer to a glass-baking pan. Combine bread crumbs, butter, Parmesan cheese, and parsley, then sprinkle on top of the broccoli mixture. Bake in a preheated oven at 350F until thoroughly heated, 20 minutes.
Enjoy!! And we’ll see you in TWO weeks. Amy & John