Wednesday, August 22, 2012

CSA Newsletter

Flowers for beneficial insects
Greetings from the Garden! This week's box has tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, zucchini, green or white onions, garlic, basil,  corn, beans, and melons.

Field Notes.  Work continues with an eye toward fall and winter.  First we notice the days shorten, and now the nights are cooler.  Ken says it feels more like most Septembers, not August.  Last Thursday while Ken was at his monthly bee keepers meeting, I checked the weather report at 9 p.m. only to find the low was forecast at 37!  I raced out  (well, do I really race?) with a head lamp to shut the greenhouses before the temperature dropped below 50. The next morning was 41.  The end of heat is coming - when, I do not know.

Beans will not tolerate frost
There are certain tipping point temperatures - for example, several heat loving plants drop their blossoms above 90 degrees, so they don't set fruit. Fifty degrees seems to be the bottom threshold for heat loving plants.  Many, like the tomatoes, have crested their productive wave.  But if we can maintain night temperatures, it will be a slower drop to zero production.  Of course this increases the workload as we open and close hoops daily.

Ken continues planting, harvesting, and cultivating.  He has nearly completed the mobile chicken coop.  Then we will be moving and sorting birds, cleaning and winterizing coops.  We look forward to increased egg production to answer demand.  Thank you for your patience.  And we appreciate the help from various people who helped Ken in the building process.

From the Kitchen.  Canning tomatoes continues here. Last season Ken developed a system to separate juice from sauce early so the tomatoes are less cooked and caramelized for a lighter, brighter flavor. Ken is an efficient food processor, but I have taken over tomatoes so he can tackle building projects.  But he continues to take charge of pickles.  Most are cultured or lacto - fermented, like sauerkraut, not heat treated, so they contain probiotics.  But he did make some wonderful eggplant pickles from a recipe off the internet.  Josephine Caravetta's Pickled Eggplant Recipe.

With the cooler mornings I am moving into hot breakfast mode.  Monday I started with chicken stock, added chopped onion, sliced cabbage, and corn cut from one ear of last night's corn.  If I had eggs, I would have poached them in the soup, but Ken is saving out some for broody hens.  So we had some toast with cheese I put under the broiler.  

Juice, sauce and soup
I have been experimenting with Ken's upside down pizza - vegetables on a pie plate topped with a biscuit dough (see last week for recipe details).  Both last Sunday and this past one I have made it.  Each time a guest has commented that she will be adding this to her repetoire.  It is quite nice to have everything cut and ready and then just assemble and pop into the oven - good not only for entertaining, but also a kid friendly assembly - studies show including children in food growing or preparation often results in more eating and less pushing food around the plate.

With the tomatoes, cucumbers, and green onions, I have also been making tabouleh as a quick grain side dish.  Follow the directions on the bulgur wheat, let cool and then add some lemon juice, olive oil and chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and onion.  Some recipes call for parsley, others mint or basil.  Experiment to see what you like best.

Enjoy all the heat loving vegetables - these short days and cool nights signal their time will be ending before we are ready!  'Til Next Week

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