July 21, 2020
What’s in this Week’s VEGGIE BOX: Summer Squash, Eggplant, Potatoes, Parsley, Peaches, Cherry Tomatoes, Charantais Melon, Green Onions
Bread this week: Whole Wheat or Sourdough Baguette
Fruit Special Orders Options
We are in an in between stage, coming soon are figs, more plums and peaches
Keep your eyes open for email updates
This Week on The Farm
One of the most difficult concepts that I have encountered as a small, diversified farmer centers around this week on the farm, is the farm simultaneously reaches the end of spring the middle of the summer, and the beginning of the fall all at once. The same phenomenon occurs for fruit, herbs, vegetables and flowers, each with overlapping needs that reach a point of change during the midsummer. The vegetables are a case in point.
The day starts early, but not because we are farmers and just love to get up early, but for that reason along with a lot of more practical reasons, too. The coolness of the early morning, lasting to about ten or eleven o’clock, is the picker’s friend. The ripe fruits and vegetables come into the packing area more durable and still bearing the nighttime coolness to ease the burden on the refrigeration. And the coolness on our backs and necks is as good as it gets until the slight breezes of the evening cool the sweat in shirts and hats. Those early hours are precious and being in the field as the sun rises extends them as long as possible.
The summer harvest is an everyday harvest, each crop producing marketable crops on its own schedule. Cucumbers and string beans should be picked every three days, peppers and eggplant on a similar schedule. Cucumbers are picked here half the patch at a time, picking two days out of three. Squash is picked every day, seven days a week. Tomatoes and cherry tomatoes must be picked constantly, hoping to get through the entire planting in three to four days. Falling behind in any of these schedules means dropping overripe or oversized fruit to the ground to serve as food for the soil and fruit insects and fungi or as a snack for turkeys, ground squirrels, deer or rabbits, skunks or possums, mice or gophers. The bottom line is that the summer heat and long hours create a ripening process on steroids that we are bound to follow, running from vegetable to vegetable, fruit to fruit to bring each of the many into the box on time or thereabouts.
Sometime between the middle of June and the middle of July we make our last summer plantings of squash and cucumbers and beans, winter squash and melons while we pick up the last of the spring potatoes, onions and garlic, and store them appropriately either outdoors in the dry shade or in the dark coolness provided by refrigeration. As we finish each of those tasks, the image of preparing ground for the first fall plantings begins to move forward in our minds. By July 15th, this week on the farm, it is important that we begin the ground preparation work for fall planting. Juggling all these coinciding strands of our vegetable production has always been difficult for me, focus being a strong suit of mine and multitasking less so. It boggles my mind just to think of it now, as I extend the described process of tracking the vegetable year and add to it the yearly cycles for fruit, herbs and flowers. As I look at what I have just described, I am thankful that we have on our farm the contrast of the California Native Plant Hedgerows that spend the entire year going about their appointed tasks with little or no direction from us.
This midsummer transition point is a tough one to make, but essential for a farm that relies on a continuous year-round food production. It is really hard to bring myself at the end of the day of picking and packing and sending out the volume of that summer’s day pick, to switch gears and move from the overwhelming present to crops that will be providing for all of us in the coolness, perhaps even dampness of late September, October and November. It has taken me 40 years to even get to the point where I can recognize the need.
As you open today’s box, notice that we are beginning add to early summer squash, basil, beans and cucumbers, the longer season tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. You can look forward to some combination of those as part of the boxes for the next couple of months, while on the farm this week, we begin the process of bringing the fall cornucopia of crops. Farmers and CSA members alike, I hope we can stop for a moment in the middle of the hustle, bustle and cares of everyday, and remember the incredible good fortune we have to live here. In spite of all our transgression, this Great Central Valley gives us the opportunity to work with the still vibrant forces of nature that continue to provide for us day after day, month after month, season after season. As a farmer trying for 40 years to understand and carry out my small place and short time in the lineage of human impact on this place, I find myself carrying the hope that somehow after 40 centuries we will still be wrestling with the same magnificent set of forces that require us to think about planting for the Fall in the middle of the Summer. Until next week, enjoy your food from the farm. Jeff
Japanese Eggplant with Ginger And green onions
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
1-2 jalapenos, chopped
3 large green onions, chopped, green and white parts divided
1 1/2 pounds Japanese eggplant, sliced into thin rounds
3 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Heat canola oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add garlic, ginger, jalapeños and white parts of scallions and cook for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Stir in eggplant slices and cook for about 5 minutes, until eggplant has softened. Meanwhile, combine soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Once eggplants have softened, pour sauce into pan and bring to a boil, stirring to make sure all vegetables are coated. Reduce heat and cook for 5-6 additional minutes until sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and top with scallion greens before serving.
Crispy Potato and Peach Salad with Scallion Dressing
1 1/2 lbs. mixed baby potatoes
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1 bunch green onions/scallions ends trimmed
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. fish sauce sub with capers if making plant-based
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves plus more for garnish
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 to 3 handfuls baby arugula
2 medium ripe peaches cored and thinly sliced
6 oz. burrata cheese, torn
Place potatoes in a medium saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil, and simmer 12 minutes or until tender. Drain. Once cool enough to handle, slice potatoes in half.
Heat 1 Tbsp. of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add potatoes, cut side down. Cook ~4 minutes, undisturbed, until golden-brown. Season with 1/2 tsp salt, toss and continue cooking an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until crisp-tender. Transfer potatoes to a bowl.
Add scallions to hot skillet and cook 3 to 4 minutes, turning occasionally, until charred. Transfer scallions to a blender. To the blender with scallions, add remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, vinegar, fish sauce, basil, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Blend until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes, stopping as needed to scrape down sides.
Place arugula, potatoes, and peaches in a large serving bowl. Top with torn pieces of burrata cheese, and spoon charred scallion dressings overtop. Garnish with additional basil, if desired.
Fresh Tomato & Parsley Spaghetti
1 pound spaghetti
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 Pint ripe cherry tomatoes, chopped in half or quartered
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley
Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions in a pot of well-salted boiling water. Meanwhile, to a large bowl, add the olive oil, tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let sit until the spaghetti is done cooking. Add the drained spaghetti to the bowl along with the parsley and mix well. Serve.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion chopped
3 zucchini squash halved lengthwise and chopped
1 yellow squash halved lengthwise and chopped
1 eggplant peeled and chopped into 1/2" squares
5 cloves garlic minced
2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes including juices
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried rosemary
½ tsp salt or to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat, and add the onion. Sauté onion until it begins turning brown, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, sauté 2 minutes
Add zucchini, eggplant, diced tomatoes, herbs and salt. Cover and stir every couple of minutes. You want the vegetables to reach a boil which will take about 12 minutes to reach if you’re cooking over medium to medium-high. Continue cooking and stirring until the vegetables reach desired level of done-ness, for me this was another 7 minutes or so. Don’t allow your veggies to get soggy
1/2 garlic clove, roughly chopped
8 cherry tomatoes
1/3 cucumber, cut into cubes plus extra for garnishing
1 cantaloupe, cut into chunks
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
some bacon bits, for serving (optional)
Put the garlic, cherry tomatoes and cucumber in a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl over muslin cloth, squeeze out the juice and discard the solid. Set aside. Add the cantaloupe in the food processor, blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl, mix in olive oil, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Add the tomato and cucumber juice, stir to combine.
Put in the fridge to chill. To serve, divide equal portion into glass or small bowls, top with some chopped cucumber and cantaloupe and some bacon bits, if liked.