Our newsletter from Sept. 6:
Dear CSA members,
Whew, summer isn’t going down without a fight, is it? I have to confess that I’m really looking forward to the cooler, less sweat-inducing temperatures of Fall! I wish all of you headed back to school either as teachers or as students smooth transitions into your Fall schedules. I started back at Kalamazoo College this week, so I’ve at least had air conditioning for parts of my days, which has been nice. John, on the other hand, has been spending extra hours in the gardens getting today’s harvest ready. I think he’s ready for some cooler temps as well.
We’ve been trying to get in an hour or two of apple picking most days this past week—the apple crop is the most abundant I’ve seen in years! The fruit is far from cosmetically perfect, but it sure is tasty and should make some nice fresh cider for you. We have an old-fashioned hand-crank cider press that we hope to get cranking soon so maybe you’ll find some cider in your shares next week. Remember that next week is your last weekly share distribution! We’d appreciate it if you brought back any plastic tubs you may have so that we can store those for next year. (We’ll have boxes and bags for you to take your produce home in.)
A few of you have asked about our honeybees, so I wanted to give you an update on the hives. You may remember that earlier this spring, we split our single honeybee colony into three colonies by moving frames of brood that had queen cells started in them into two new hives (along with nurse bees and pollen and honey for them to eat). Both new hives successfully raised a queen bee, but then for some reason, one of the new hives lost their queen mid-summer. So we currently have the original colony (which is quite large) and one new colony (which is still pretty small). We’ve held off on taking honey from the larger colony thus far because we wanted to see whether we will need to give some of their excess honey to the small colony to get them through the winter, since they may not be able to gather enough food for themselves. I’m hoping that we can check on both colonies this weekend to make a determination about whether we can pull honey this year or not.
The eggplants have been so lovely! Big thanks to Hannah for introducing me to the idea of stuffing eggplants hasselback style. I cobbled together a couple of different hasselback eggplant recipes this week to make the one below—it was really good and tasted very much like eggplant parmesan.
Hasselback Eggplant Parmesan
Ingredients: 1-2 cups John’s roasted tomato sauce (see Week 11 newsletter); 3-4 small eggplants or 1-2 larger eggplants; Olive Oil; Fresh mozzarella, sliced; Pesto; Fresh sliced tomatoes; Bread or breadcrumbs; A couple of tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese; Chopped fresh basil
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread sauce in a baking dish. Make crosswise cuts every ¼ inch along each eggplant, slicing almost to the bottom but not all the way through. Transfer the eggplants to the baking dish and place on top of the sauce, cut side up. Gently fan them to open the cuts wider. I filled every other cut with pesto and then alternated tomato slices and mozzarella slices in the rest of the cuts. (Some recipes call for alternating pesto and mozzarella and skipping the sliced tomatoes. Other recipes call for alternating mozzarella and tomato slices in the cuts and tucking basil leaves in next to them instead of using pesto. Other recipes have thinly sliced garlic in the cuts as well. Obviously, this is a recipe that you can adapt to your liking!)
Once I stuffed the eggplant, I drizzled olive oil over it, covered the dish and baked it for about 45 minutes, until the eggplant was tender. While the eggplant baked, I made some breadcrumbs by cutting up a couple of slices of bread into ½ inch squares and toasting them in a dry sauté pan until they were a little crispy. Then I threw them in the food processor with some grated parmesan, some basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. I pulsed the blade a few times until all of this was mixed together and coarsely chopped.
Once the eggplant was cooked, I took the cover off the baking dish, scooped a little of the sauce over the eggplant, then sprinkled the breadcrumb mixture thickly over the eggplant. Then I stuck it under the broiler for a couple of minutes until the breadcrumbs browned up and the parmesan melted. We scooped more of the sauce over the eggplant as we ate it.
While tomatoes and peppers are still in season, it’s a great time to enjoy some fresh salsa. Here’s a simple recipe from www.epicurious.com. I wish we had cilantro to give you today, but that’s one crop we’ve been struggling with this year. Our early cilantro bolted quickly and our late crop had an encounter with a rabbit. This recipe is still good without the cilantro, though.
Pico de Gallo
Ingredients: 3/4 pound tomatoes (about 2 medium), seeded and finely diced (1 1/2 cups); 1/3 cup chopped cilantro; 1/4 cup finely chopped white onion; 1 small fresh jalapeño, finely chopped; 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, or more to taste; 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, or 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Season to taste with additional chile, lime juice, and salt. Refrigerate up to one day.
Happy eating! And remember to put October 20 on your calendars for our Harvest Celebration!
Amy & John