I am including a picture of the first ripe tomatoes on the farm, because, well, it's a big day for us here. We put a lot of effort into our tomatoes and we know you'll appreciate that we do. We expect that within two to three weeks we'll have enough ripe tomatoes to bring to our CSA pickups! Cucumbers should be here within a week or two.
On the farm we are seeding more of our fall crops this week, from kale to broccoli to cabbage and lettuce, the crops that really make fall sing for us. With the help of our work share members we've been weeding and planting up a storm, ensuring that successive rounds of crops are healthy and happy so they're available for as long as possible for you.
On a depressing note, the prodigious amount of rain means that a few of our beautiful rows of cabbage have actually been splitting in half because they've become water saturated! We're trying to find good homes for them, but not many people like a split cabbage, even though they're still great! Just one more thing about too much rain that makes farming harder. But we still have lots of cabbage that hasn't split, so we'll be harvesting it extra early this time.
If you haven't stopped by in awhile, The Kitchen Addict has a couple of great new recipe inspirations posted, particularly for beets, that I hope you find as fascinating as I do. Beets go so well in so many dishes -- salads, main courses, desserts, appetizers, etc! They're the wonder root. https://addictinthekitchen.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/gimme-a-beet/
Also, a word on noodle bowls: these are a Vietnamese style meal created by tossing cold noodles, raw chopped veggies like scallions, cabbage, Thai Basil and beets with pickled veggies, cooked veggies like squash and broccoli and topped off with a Vietnamese style lemon/fish sauce dressing called nuoc mam. We have been eating these like crazy; they are served cold or room temperature so they are great for hot summer days, they include lots of raw veggies, and they're delicious. Plus, you can use whatever's seasonally available. We drew our inspiration from our friend Rachel's Iron Owl Kitchen noodle bowls, check her out at Sunday farmers market to be totally wowed.
Summer squash/ zucchini
Cilantro/Dill? We'll see...
Cabbage: so many things to do with this lovely vegetable!
First of all, please try stir frying this cabbage, very lightly, in soy sauce or another Asian condiment. It is a critical vegetable in Asian cooking for a reason! Crunchy, sweet, and tender, you really can't beat it in a dish like that.
It also features prominently in other cuisines: for a central American take, toss thinly sliced cabbage with lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper (and maybe some fresh herbs? Parsley? Oregano?) for a lovely, simple summer salad or side dish.
Finally, many eastern European cuisines use cabbage as a sort of wrap, to keep a bundle of spiced meat and rice tightly wrapped up during baking. Simply cook your filling (meat, rice, other stir fried veggies, wrap in lightly blanched full cabbage leaves, and then bake until tender in a tomato sauce base.
This last one is a real favorite of ours: sauerkraut! Try using napa cabbage for a mild, tender kraut.
One head of napa will make two quarts of sauerkraut. Slice or grate cabbage heads thinly and layer in a mason jar, smooshing them as much as possible and layering with salt until the jar is full. Use one tablespoon of salt per filled quart jar. Pro tip: I've had sauerkrauts with caraway seed mixed throughout that were mind blowing. If you're feeling adventurous or think that you don't like kraut, it's worth a try.
It's raining, it's pouring; Lena is snoring! Aaron and I are not, however. Your fall crops have been seeded and are growing nicely in their flats, tucked in safely with insect netting. We have been peeling weeds away from crops, scouting for disease and nutrient deficiencies with clenched teeth and harvesting like mad. We always talk about The July Lull as though it is a real thing, and it is, except it also isn't. Rather than having a million different things to do in the field we have just about a quarter of that -- but primarily our time is spent harvesting, weeding, and (this year) running various things under cover to keep them out of the rain.
Aaron mentioned our Vietnamese noodle-bowl obsession last week; we finally ran out of noodles and switched to rice for a couple of meals, but today we had a cool and rainy day favorite: grilled cheese, red summer crisp salad with balsamic dressing and creamy dill and tomato soup. For those of you who preserve food, this is a great way to use up those last jars of last year's tomatoes before this year's crop comes pouring in in just a couple of weeks. (We'll have bulk produce available for sale later in the season for you canners out there!)
Another food item I'm obsessed with (which I believe I have mentioned before but I just love it so darn much I'm going to tell you all about it again right now) is a cucumber salad with a yogurt-lemon-dill dressing. I first had it at a little cafe called Guglhopf near my sister's house in Durham, NC, and I have reverse-engineered it as best I can for your pleasure and mine.
First, slice cucumbers into thin coins (don't bother peeling!). Pile into a bowl.
If you're feeling ambitious/cooking for tomorrow: Pour vinegar over to cover them, add in some salt and sugar to taste.
OR, if you've got to eat this now (and I don't blame you), slice those cucumbers up thin and throw them in a bowl.
Toss tomorrow (quick-pickled) or today (fresh) with a dressing made of:Greek yogurtLemon juiceSaltDill!
By the way -- truthfully, Aaron and I are terrible recipe-makers; we don't really use recipes so generally our recipes are made up of words like "a bunch of," "a glop of," "some," etc. But our friend Allison over at Kitchen Addict is amazing, so check her blog out for great recipes and inspiration.
As always, we want to thank you all for your continued support of the farm with our CSA. Since we started the CSA in 2012, we've grown as farmers, as people, as a farm; we've watched other farms adjust to the changing landscape; we've seen CSAs take on new shapes; we've seen the appreciation of local foods explode and that interest continues to grow exponentially every year, even outside of our happy little Ithaca bubble. We are so happy the world loves vegetables as much as we do!
A reminder: we field rinse your vegetables, but we don't scrub them down completely spotless. It helps us to maintain the free choice nature of the CSA. So please, wash your produce before eating!
Vegetables, vegetables. Drumroll please....
GREENSKaleRainbow ChardGreen cabbageHead lettuceBroccoli
FRUITSZucchini/ Summer Squash
HERBSThai Basil (delicious cinnamon flavor, perfect raw chopped on Asian stir-fries or soups, or vietnamese salads, etc.)Italian BasilDillCilantroSorrel (back by popular demand!)
See you all Thursday!
Kara and Aaron
PS For those wondering, Lena is our dog.