Our newsletter from August 11:
Dear CSA members,
Summer just keeps on coming, doesn’t it? We’ve got our fingers crossed that the forecasted Friday rain materializes, since everything is dry, dry, dry again. Irrigation is a poor substitute for a good shower and a lot of the plants are showing some heat and drought stress. Of course there are a few crops (like eggplants) that love the heat and are pumping out the fruit. That sneaky woodchuck has found its way under the netting we put over the plants—while harvesting I found a few eggplants with their ends gnawed off. On this weekend’s agenda is constructing an electric fence around that garden patch to keep the raccoons out of the corn as it begins to set ears, so we hope that will deter Mr. or Ms. Woodchuck as well.
Peaches today! As most of you know, we’ve been working to transition my parents’ orchard from conventional to organic management. This year we have not used anything in the orchard (pesticides, fertilizers, etc.) that isn’t approved for use under organic certification standards. Of course, organic management is a lot more than not spraying synthetic chemicals. We’re also working to increase the fertility and diversity in the orchard floor by selective mulching and companion planting. That’s a process that will take awhile but should result in healthier trees and a more robust beneficial insect population in the long run.
One of the major diseases of stone fruits like peaches is brown rot. Sulfur is commonly used to control it in organic orchards and that’s what we’ve used this year as well. You may notice some sulfur residue on your peach skin, so wash that off before you eat them. You may need to let your peaches set out for a day or two to finish ripening, but keep an eye on them! Because they haven’t been treated with hard chemicals, they are going to be more susceptible to rot even as they ripen. If they start to get brown spots, that’s a signal to eat them now! You can keep them a little longer by putting them in the refrigerator if you’d like, but they aren’t going to last forever in there either.
Here’s a recipe that uses both the peaches and the basil in your shares. I haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds super yummy. To keep your basil fresh longer, treat it like a cut flower: trim the ends and put it in a cup of water.
Fresh Peach and Basil Salad (from aspicyperspective.com)
Ingredients: 4-6 ripe peaches, pitted and cut into bite-size pieces; 1 tablespoon honey; 6 basil leaves, thinly sliced; ½ cup lemon chevre (or plain chevre with a little lemon zest); A pinch of salt
Place the peaches in a bowl. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat. Gently fold in basil and chevre. Serve immediately.
My friend Crystal made this recipe a couple of weeks ago and shared it with us. It made a nice savory but light summer lunch:
Roasted Eggplant, Onion, and Tomato Tian (From the book Ten Dollar Dinners)
Ingredients: 2 tbs olive oil; 1 small eggplant, trimmed and sliced ¼ inch thick; ¾ tsp salt; 2 small onions, sliced into ¼ inch thick rounds; 1 garlic clove, smashed; 2 small plum tomatoes, sliced into ¼ inch thick rounds; ¼ c grated Parmesan cheese. Optional: eggplant can be swapped for zucchini – do not precook zucchini if you do this.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the eggplant, sprinkle with ¼ tsp salt, and cook until golden brown on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes total. Transfer the eggplant to a plate and set aside.
Pour 2 teaspoons of olive oil into the skillet and add the onions. Season with ¼ teaspoon of salt and cook until soft and just starting to brown, about 2 minutes. Slide a spatula under the onions and turn them over to brown on the other side, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Rub the smashed garlic clove all over the interior of a 9 ½ inch deep dish pie plate. Alternate adding an onion round, then an eggplant slice (or more than one, depending on the size of your eggplant), then a tomato slice. Repeat, working your way around the edge of the pie plate first and then repeat with a smaller circle in the middle to create two concentric circles. Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and drizzle with the remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake until the vegetables are heated through and the tomatoes are soft but still hold their shape, about 20 minutes. Remove the baking dish and turn the broiler to high. Sprinkle the vegetables with the Parmesan and broil to melt and brown the cheese, about 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve warm or at room temperature.
Enjoy! Have a great week, everyone. Stay cool and hydrated!
Amy & John