Our newsletter from August 30:
Dear CSA members,
I guess the weather decided to make up for the lack of rain earlier this season by giving us a good series of thunderstorms this week! I woke up Tuesday night to strong wind and rain and lay in bed worrying about the sweet corn blowing over and the tomatoes cracking. The sweet corn did blow over some and the tomatoes did crack some, but the corn was ready for harvest anyway and we found plenty of minimally cracked tomatoes for you as well as the split ones.
I feel so grateful for the abundance this time of year even as it is difficult to keep up with, in the garden AND in the kitchen. I guess that sort of overwhelm just comes with trying to eat seasonally in a climate in which winter limits our growing season. John has been busy stocking our freezer with tomato and roasted veggie sauces. This weekend I think we are going to make our annual batch of tomato soup for canning. I’ll share our recipe. You can reduce the quantities for making a small batch just for dinner.
Ingredients: 1/4 bushel or about 35 medium-sized tomatoes; 1/2 dozen onions, chopped; 2 stalks celery, including leaves, diced; Chopped green pepper; 1/2 cup flour; 1/2 cup butter; 1/2 cup brown sugar (I usually use less than this—the tomatoes are pretty sweet on their own); 1/8 cup salt; herbs and spices of your choice
Blanch tomatoes, then dunk in ice water to cool. Slide off skins and chop. Cook together with the other veggies for 20 minutes at a soft boil. Stir to prevent burning. While the veggies are cooking, mix together the flour, butter, sugar, and salt. Add this to the vegetables, stir, then bring to a boil. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Process 15 minutes in a water bath canner.
We hope you enjoy the sweet corn this week—we have been jealously guarding it from the raccoons for the past month with an electric fence that we have been checking every single day! It only takes raccoons one night to wreck a perfectly good corn patch, usually the night before you planned on picking it. One pest we have not been able to eliminate from the corn is earworms. Those are the caterpillars that you’ll find inside the husk, snacking on the corn kernels and messing up the ear tips. Earworms are one reason that you don’t find a lot of organically grown sweet corn on the market. I have yet to find a good organic method of controlling them. I even tried spritzing the top of every developing ear with Bacillus thuringiensis (a bacterial toxin that only affects caterpillars) a few weeks ago hoping that they would ingest it on their way into the ear and that would kill them, but it didn’t work. The good news is that they probably haven’t damaged that much of the ear (and we are giving you lots of ears in case one or two is badly damaged). Take a knife and flick them off the cob, then break or cut off the part of the ear they were eating on, rinse it off, cook, and enjoy!
When we were in Ithaca, New York last summer, we were introduced to a slightly more decadent way to eat sweet corn, a Mexican recipe called elote. Here’s a recipe from http://www.pbs.org/food/fresh-tastes/elote-mexican-corn-cob/:
Elote (Mexican Corn on the Cob)
Ingredients: Olive oil or vegetable oil, for grill; 4 ears of corn, husks pulled back, washed and tied; 1/4 cup Mexican crema or mayonnaise or sour cream; 3 tablespoons crumbled cotija cheese or feta; 1 tablespoon ground Ancho chile pepper; 1 lime, cut into wedges; Handful of cilantro leaves, for garnish
Turn your grill to high heat. Brush the grates with olive oil or vegetable so the corn doesn’t stick. Place the corn on the grill, rotating them every 30 seconds or so to ensure even cooking/charring. Cook until the corn is browned and lightly charred. Transfer corn to a large serving plate. Top each cob with a tablespoon of crema, a liberal sprinkling of cotija cheese and a few pinches of Ancho chile pepper. Garnish the plate with a few wedges of lime and cilantro leaves.
If you’d like to make an Elote Salad, cut the kernels off the cob. Transfer them to a bowl. Add the Mexican crema, cotija cheese and ancho chile pepper. Toss the entire thing together and salt to taste. Feel free to adjust any of the seasonings further. If you’d like, you can finely chop the cilantro leaves and fold those in as well. Serve with lime wedges.
If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making elote but you want to try some different flavors on your corn, try making a compound butter by putting a room temperature stick of butter (or half stick if you are just one or two people) in the food processor with the herbs or spices of your choice. Think chili powder, cumin, lime, parsley, basil, cilantro—whatever flavors you like. Whirl it all together and then spread it on your hot corn or freeze the butter for using later. Or, even simpler, do what I did last night—I spread a thin layer of homemade mayonnaise (SO much better than store-bought) on my corn and then sprinkled it with some home-dried chimayo chile powder. So good.
Just a reminder that as long as the plants hold up, we will have two more weekly CSA distributions this year and then on October 20 we will host our harvest party potluck where you can come out to the farm to share in some food and fun to celebrate another season with us.
Enjoy! Amy & John