What's In Your Basket?
King Richard Leeks
Zucchini & Summer Squash
Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!
- I was taken completely by surprise last week when a farm member, in response to my apology about the deluge of broccoli, said “I’m not sick of broccoli. I’m sick of STRAWBERRIES!” In light of the fact that the strawberries are ramping up production again right now for their August/September flush, I thought I should remind everyone that strawberries are extremely easy to put by for winter. If you can’t get through your two pints each week, just cut the green tops off of the leftover berries, toss them whole into a Ziploc, and put them in the freezer. We do this all season, making frozen strawberries the mainstay of our morning smoothies all year long on the farm. You can also thaw them out and use them in fruit salad, desserts, in yogurt, etc.
- If you’re someone who can’t get enough of the berries, no matter how many pints are in your basket each week, the strawberry U-pick is still going strong (and will be until the rain & cold weather arrive). We also have berries for sale by the flat if you’d rather have us do the stooping.
- Leeks are a member of the Allium family, a milder cousin to onions, shallots and garlic. This particular variety is known as King Richard, a reliable standby that yields early, long-shafted, blanched leeks.
- If leeks are foreign to you, use the long, blanched stalk anywhere you would use an onion – sautéed or steamed. The greener “leaves” are great for making homemade veggie stock.
- We’ve included a couple of Vichyssoise recipes (cold French potato soup, great for summer!) on the Recipe Exchange this week. They make good use of the potatoes, leeks, and even the fennel from last week’s share.
- Leeks are a hardy vegetable. They start their life in the greenhouse in January or February where they grow until they’re pencil thick. We plant them outdoors in early April and then they spend the next 4-6 months sizing up and growing tall. This is our first harvest, but we expect to be pulling leeks from the field through the winter. They tend to only get fatter and tastier as the months roll on. You’ll get to experience the King Richards in the late summer/early fall, and then we’ll start harvesting Tadorna, a more cold-hardy variety that will see us through the dark end of the calendar.
- Leeks store great in a plastic bag in the fridge. They typically have a shelf life of at least a couple weeks.
They’re here! All the poetry of a tomato summed up here, gracias a Pablo Neruda:
Ode To Tomatoes
filled with tomatoes,
through the streets.
it enters at lunchtime,
its own light,
Unfortunately, we must
into living flesh,
populates the salads
happily, it is wed
to the clear onion,
and to celebrate the union
child of the olive,
onto its halved hemispheres,
salt, its magnetism;
it is the wedding
of the day,
of the roast
at the door,
the table, at the midpoint
star of earth, recurrent
its remarkable amplitude
no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers
of fiery color
and cool completeness.
- There are two types of beans in the bag: French filet (the long, skinny ones) and Italian Romano (the broad flat ones). Both are delicious. Don’t cook them too hard – just a light steam or sautée will bring out the flavor, tenderness, and brilliant color of these beans. The romanos are great cut on the diagonal, or left whole. The French filets – long, lean, and lanky - love to be left whole to show off their lovely lines.
- This week - with beans, tomatoes and potatoes all at once, AND fresh local tuna available at the dock or via THEOCEANHARVEST.COM – it’s the perfect week to make a Nicoise Salad.
- Store your beans in the fridge, plastic bag, the usual drill. They won’t keep forever, though, so find a reason to eat them soon!
- Another round of spuds, this time a variety called Carola. This is a variety we've never grown before, and though the yields are good, the skin of the potatoes is a little rougher than some of the other varieties we’ve fallen in love with. But the beauty of these potatoes is more than skin deep – they have great flavor and versatility.
- Enjoy them in the Vichyssoise recipe, or the Nicoise Salad.
- Best to store them in the fridge bagged up…
- A couple more sweet peppers coming your way this week as they start to ripen up and turn color in the greenhouse:
- Jimmy Nardello: The long, red, skinny pepper. Don’t be deceived: this is NOT a hot pepper. It is possibly one of the tastiest little early sweet peppers there is. Eat it like a popsicle, or slice it up on your Nicoise salad for some extra bling.
- Islander: The purple bell, seen by some of you earlier this month…
- Bianca: The white/yellow bell, which also made an earlier appearance in some baskets…
On the Farm....
Most people work 9 to 5, but on an August harvest day on the farm, we like to make it 5 to 9. That was the case this week, when at 9:30 pm we finally stacked the last box in the cooler on Tuesday night. I left the house by starlight and came back again by starlight, got to see the sunrise in the field, and watch it set from the barn. Days like that are a haul - long and tiring – but also rich. So much produce passes through our hands, from berries to leeks to tomatoes, that it continues to march behind my eyelids as I'm plummeting off to sleep.
The irony in this time of veggie bounty is that we farmers often resort to ridiculous things like quesadillas to see us through a long work day. I would love to claim that we feast daily on all the fruits of our labor, but there are days, embarrassingly, when we're too busy growing it to eat it! We fantasize about having a resident chef program through the summer - people who would come for a couple weeks to live the good life on the farm, cook with all our produce, and FEED us what we grow - so that during this time of wild abundance we could truly celebrate it at every meal.
In reality, a lot of the bounty ends up in canning jars and freezer bags, put by for winter when the pace slackens and there is more time to cook and eat, and yes... sleep.