June 11, 2019
What’s in this Week’s VEGGIE BOX: Collards, Spinach, Chard, Garlic, Lettuce, Sorrel, Squash and Beets
What’s in your FLOWER BOUQUET: Dianthus, Feverfew, Fleabane, Scabiosa, Statice, Yarrow, Larkspur & Echinacea.
What’s in your FRUIT BAG? Mulberries, Ruby Red Grapefruit, Apricots and Strawberries.
This Week on The Farm
Whew! Some hot ones coming at us, and at all around us. Like hail, rain and cold, drought and heat and fire is not something that affects just one crop or just one portion of the living world. On the farm, we all adapt as best we can, knowing that there is nothing to do but to find any way to get through it. When we decided to make a career of providing food for people and to provide as safe an environment as we could for all on the farm, we took on a responsibility for its wellbeing. I think most farmers and farm workers that I know, those that work daily in the fields, have a similar sense. It is not such a far cry from, and only takes a few years to move beyond the understanding that the life of your own family depends on the continued health of the land you work on, to the understanding that the life and health of the soil that you work with is dependent on your work, the lives of the products that you bring to the farm are built on your systems and caretaking, and that all the world that takes up residence with us becomes part of that picture.
We begin to earn our money during a season like this one when the weather seems intent on being as unpredictable as possible. We have to bring everything we have learned into play to rectify the mistakes that come constantly when conditions are so far from the usual. For myself, I spend as much time recovering from the mistakes I have made in a big hurry as I do in being proactive about coming anomalies. Case in point this year are my decisions surrounding the long late wet cool spring which followed an unusually warm January which in turn was followed by a highly unsettled but finally, wet May and now a roaring heat wave close on the heels of that beautiful, damp, cool May.
Early on, I panicked. We had missed a small window in January when it was feasible, barely, to plant. As we rolled into April, I pushed cold wet ground to get anything planted. Our cover crops were head high and providing a cool dark cover for the ground that refused to dry. Anyway, I tried to substitute horsepower and machinery for the lifegiving warmth of sun and the drying cycle in order to satisfy the need for something to sell. Consequently, we lost our slicing tomato transplants to moldy, airless, wet, uninviting soil. Ah, that was hard. But, we stopped and reconsidered. Stepped back sort of, and ground our teeth and admitted our mistake. Didn’t talk about it too much, but I have to say, it was a trying time. Transplants got old in the greenhouse, requiring water and checking every day. Began to doubt our soil and our program. Thought of the costs of unpredictable weather to all our work. All this is the product of tough times, and finally, I don’t know, we can only be down for so long when so much is going on. The bright spots, carrots, flowers and mulberries produced beautifully, enough to get us through, barely. We remembered that this is not the only time for these, once having been through a season where we sent to our CSA miner’s lettuce and a few other farmcrafted wild plants. And now, we have learned a little bit, I hope. We can commit this spring to our collective memory and make its memory something that lives on as a cautionary tale and a joke on the impatient farmer. (“Remember the year when Pop…”)
And now we are at the other end of all that and you all are beginning to experience the summer fruits and vegetables of the Good Humus Farm. Now, this is the time when we are trying to be proactive, trying to look with confidence at our ability to carry through the coming fury. The summer is suddenly upon us. We think about what an extended heat spell will mean to the farm. Protect the oncoming apricots at all costs. We have a reasonable crop, but it is late and has missed that perfect ripening time of late May with cool mornings and 90-95 degree afternoons. Late means vulnerable to the overheating of the fruit and the subsequent breakdown of the flesh around the pit. So we start water in the heat of the day to bring down the temperature in the orchard and pray for the best. Your boxes and bags of fruit will tell the outcome of that story. Keep water on the transplants of basil, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, flowers and herbs that must get in the ground. Water and the magnificent green overstory that blankets so much of the Good Humus Farm are essential friends in a time of excess heat. Protect the soil, protect from wind, (wow that was a fierce north wind) protect from sun, protect the plants, and protect the hedgerows and orchards. Do anything to lower the heat and sun that keeps pollinating insects at home that destroys the viability of pollen that shuts down the ripening process that leaves fruit starchy and vegetables barren. We have done all this before and are working right now as I write this to add our efforts to those of the plant and animal world of our farm to make it happen.
I have to say, there is something special about the first fruit of the summer. Maybe it is just me, but the first zucchini and yellow squash mean summer. On our farm, it means cucumbers are not far behind. It means basil and peppers and green beans and potatoes and onions and eggplant. Maybe it is all about the regimenting of our lives to fit the harvest schedule of summer. It has been satisfying to head out first thing in the morning to harvest squash, something that we will be doing for the foreseeable future. And with that last thought Jeff needed to head out to pick the first of the apricots for your fruit bag for this mornings pack, maybe just a few, probably on the green side, but trying to get ahead of the heat. Have a great cool week~Jeffnannie
Savory Breakfast Bread Pudding
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for buttering the baking dish
1 large yellow onion, diced
1/2 pound breakfast or Italian sausage, removed from the casing
4 cups spinach leaves, washed and drained (about 6oz or 1 large bunch)
2 1/2 cups whole milk
8 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
6 cups 1 1/2 inch cubes day-old country French bread
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese (about 6 oz)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese (about 3 oz)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
Butter a 9x13 inch glass baking dish. Melt the 2 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-5 minutes, until soft. Add the sausage and cook 4 minutes, breaking it up into pieces, until it's cooked through (if you want to substitute another raw vegetable, you can add it shortly after the onions, or mix in a cooked vegetable towards the end). Stir in the spinach and cook just until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove skillet from the heat and drain off the liquid. Whisk the milk, eggs, mustard, salt, and pepper together in a large bowl. Add the bread and stir to coat. Stir in the sausage, cheeses, thyme, and rosemary and pour into the prepared baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. Preheat the oven to 350F.
Twenty minutes before baking, remove the pudding from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Bake the bread pudding for 45-50 minutes, until it is puffy and light golden brown. Remove the pudding from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm. Adapted from Sara Foster's Fresh Every Day
Fruit Salad with Grapefruit Brule and Coconut
This is a tropical paradise in a bowl! The bruled grapefruit lends and caramelized flavor throughout the salad and the toasted coconut provides a heavenly crunch! You can also add mulberries, and use the apricots instead of mangos.
2 grapefruits, peeled and segmented
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 small or 1 large oranges, peeled and segmented
1 large mango, peeled, remove the seed, and dice
1 small green apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 large banana, peeled and sliced
2-4 strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
¼ cup toasted coconut flakes (angel flake is fine, too)
Preheat the broiler. Place the grapefruit segments on paper towels to remove excess moisture. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a double layer of foil. Place the grapefruit segments on the baking sheet. Sprinkle each segment with brown sugar, then rub the sugar in gently. Broil on the middle rack of the oven for about 8 minutes, or until the sugar is a deep, amber color. Keep a close eye on these as they can burn rapidly! Cool slightly on a wire rack. Cut the segments in half width-wise once cool. Place the coconut flakes in a small skillet. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until slightly browned and toasty. Set aside. In a large bowl, add the orange segments, mango, green apple, banana, and strawberries. Gently stir in the bruled grapefruit segments. Serve immediately and top with the toasted coconut! Notes: Great for breakfast, snacks, or even dessert! Serves: 4-6 servings
Wilted Chard Salad with Walnuts & Apples
1 bunch chard
2 or 3 Apples, sliced thin
1/4 cup olive oil
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, diced
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
3 teaspoons wine, champagne or balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare this salad immediately before you plan to eat it. Soak the chard in cold water to clean it. Drain it and spin it until dry. Strip the leaves off the stem and break the leaves into bite sized pieces. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the garlic and walnuts. Fry for 5-8 minutes and then add the chard. Cook the chard until it is coated in oil and wilted. Add the vinegar, salt and pepper. Put the salad in a bowl and top with the Apples. Eat immediately!
Pasta With Sausage and Collard Greens
1 bunch collard greens, stems removed, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced crosswise in ½” slices
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic
¼ tsp red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
5-6 hot or mild turkey links
8 oz pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add sausage and cook at low boil for 10 minutes. Let sausage cool and slice. Add sliced collard greens to the same water and boil 5-7 minutes, until tender but still bright green. Remove collards from water, keep water in the pot and bring back to boil. When water boils, add pasta and a small amount of salt and cook 9-10 minutes, until done but still quite al dente. Drain pasta, reserving about one cup of cooking liquid. While pasta cooks, in large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add sliced sausage and brown until well browned on both sides. Add remaining tablespoons olive oil, garlic and red pepper and cook 2 minutes, scraping bottom of pan to get browned sausage bits. Add collards and sauté 2 minutes, then add pasta and enough cooking liquid to moisten dish, and cook 2 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot with Parmesan cheese.
Flavored butter is used in almost every professional kitchen across the land, and yet absolutely ignored by home cooks. It is quite easy to whip up flavorful bits like chives, Roquefort, and add to softened butter, chilled, and become suspended animation in your fridge until they are released by a sizzling steak, a steaming potato. The lemony leaves in your butter will add zing to grilled chicken or salmon fillets, the latter combination being a rustic riff on the French classic, Salmon in Sorrel Sauce.
1 stick unsalted butter ignored until room temperature
2 tablespoons finely chopped sorrel leave
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
One pinch each of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Combine all of the ingredients thoroughly, and chill until solid. It will keep, chilled, for 1-2 weeks or frozen for millennia.