September 29, 2020
What’s in this Week’s VEGGIE BOX: Plums, Peppers, Basil, Butternut Squash, Cherry Tomatoes, Braising Mix, French Breakfast Radish (has some kick), Potatoes
Bread this week: Barbari or Whole Wheat-your choice of one
This Week on the Farm
The sudden end of September! How did the month fly by? The planting month, the month when the bulk of the vegetables that will sustain all of us over the coming winter must be planted, has run its course. On the first day of the month, summer was still here, long hot days full of picking tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, basil and all the other staples of our summer box. Now we are looking at that longed-for moment, the day when the month in front of us promises the traditional joys of the fall season, my personal favorite. Watching the leaves turn and fall seeking to protect the life of the soil from the pounding of the forces of the Winter, driving tractor until dark and then coming into a warm and aroma laden home with a few hours before sleep, Harvesting without the tyranny of summer harvest that must happen every day, these are the Autumn world at Good Humus. No, few have the hanging smoke of suburban leaf piles burning, no; we don’t have pickup football games in the cul-de-sacs, nor all the joys and anxieties of the back-to-school reconnections. We still have some days of heat in front of us, gentler reminders of the heat of summer passed. The autumnal north wind carries new anxieties as it blows over a desiccated world. The first frost will probably be delayed, here at Good Humus we may not get one, but an extra shirt in the morning, an extra cover at night, feels good. All these changes, gradual or sudden coming into our lives, keep sharp and competent whatever tools and innate ability we posses to adjust to changing conditions. To what may we look for stability, for the security of what we know to be true, to be unchanging?
Except for that morning a couple of hundred years ago when Davy Crockett was forced to hike the mountain in the pitch dark to free up with bear grease the frozen gears that brought the sun up each morning, the sun always rises into our vision over the Sierra Nevada to the east. And somewhere in the middle of September, in perfect alignment with what we know to be true, it rises in the same spot south of east on the morning when the hours of daylight and the hours of nighttime are the same time length. The miracle of the sun sending pure energy through millions of miles of intervening space is intact. The earth is still falling into the sun at a perfect speed to keep it traveling through the years 365 days at a time. We ride on a spinning globe that wobbles as it spins. It never fails to provide some hours of energy and some hours of respite daily to every square inch of surface. And so important to those of us who look forward to the end of summer and the promise of the short days of autumn, the earth wobbles in a one year cycle to provide us the colors and the energy fluxes, and the wonderfully individual traditions and impacts of the four seasons of the year.
This brings me back to autumn on the Farm, now in its eighth day. We are still engaged in planting and ground preparation, working on “Maintime” here at Good Humus, which is analogous to “Mullertime” over at Full Belly and is a euphemism for being a few hours or days or weeks late in the schedule. I have given up on the schedule and just plant and prepare ground and hoe weeds until I can’t. That makes it very simple, but requires a good amount of mental adjustment. I call it “staying light on my feet”. This September we have done a good job thanks to the gentle prodding of Alison who is new to farming in Maintime and is less accepting of the great value of expecting lateness. She also has devised a devious system of keeping track of dates that I casually mention on her Smartphone. As the Autumn crops have come up the emphasis has switched to weed control. Just to keep you all informed, Good Humus is locally renowned in the research community for the life in our soil and the incredible breadth and quantity of our “seedbank” which is where weed seed is stored. Taking advantage of the dry weather and continuing warmth, we have been able to work nearly continuously on weed control, and have a good (for us) control of the situation. And that bodes well for the future of your CSA boxes. As always, the real Good Humus bank, our store of riches, lies in the ground at our feet. The red-hot radishes and the half pound of braising mix are the first of a long line of Autumn withdrawals from the bank. Eat well and let’s talk next week. Jeff
Gin Basil Smash
10 leaves fresh basil
2 ounces simple syrup
2 ounces lemon juice
4 ounces good quality gin
Combine basil leaves, simple syrup and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Crush the basil till bruised with a muddler, which will release the oils. Pour in the gin and ice cubes and shake until cold. Enjoy!
Quick-Braised Greens with Bacon and Sweet Onions
1 1/2 pounds braising mix, washed, trimmed, and roughly chopped
4 ounces bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup minced sweet onions
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. When water boils, add greens and cook until wilted and tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. Place bacon in a large frying pan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and fat is rendered, about 3 minutes. Add onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add greens and turn to coat well. Add broth - it should cover greens and let cook until broth is reduced and greens are very tender, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve.
Buttered Radishes with a Poached Egg
2 bunches (12 to 14) French Breakfast Radishes
2 tablespoons good unsalted butter
6 scallions, diced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
pinch of salt
2 pieces of bread, toasted
Prep the radishes by removing tops and roots. Slice in half lengthwise and set aside.
In a skillet, heat butter over medium low heat. Add in scallions and let cook until beginning to soften, 2-3 minutes. Add the radishes, thyme, and salt to the scallions. Cover and let cook, stirring once or twice, until radishes are tender but still have a bit of crispness to them, 5-6 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. While radishes cook, poach eggs. If you don’t like runny eggs, this would also be great with scrambled or hardboiled. To serve, place toast on two plates, divide radish mixture, and top each with a poached egg.
Perciatelli with French Breakfast Radishes, Bacon & Greens
6 ounces dried perciatelli, bucatini, or spaghetti
Several large bunches large French breakfast radishes, greens included
4 strips bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta 12 minutes, until just tender. Separate the radishes from the greens and slice enough radishes 1/8-inch thick to yield 1 cup. Measure out 3 cups of packed radish greens and coarsely chop. Cut the bacon into 1/3-inch strips. Cook in a very large sauté pan over high heat for 3 minutes, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is soft, not crispy. Add the oil, chopped radish leaves, and sliced radishes. Cook over high heat until the greens wilt and the radishes soften, 5 minutes. Drain the pasta; add to the pan and cook 2 minutes. Toss with half the cheese, lots of coarsely cracked black pepper, and salt. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Spicy Potato Wedges w/ a Homemade Plum Sauce
1 pound red skinned potatoes
1 tablespoon oat flour (made by blending rolled oats in a blender)
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon hot smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
For the plum sauce:
2 cups plums, stones removed
½ cup coconut sugar
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon cayenne
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Scrub potatoes well. Cut them lengthways, into thick wedges. Put potatoes in a large cooking pot filled halfway with. Bring to a boil, then cook for 5 minutes. Drain potatoes, then put them back into the pot with the remaining ingredients. Put the lid on and shake the pot to coat potatoes. Lay wedges on a baking sheet, making sure they aren’t touching. Place tray in oven and cook for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through. Add all ingredients for the plum sauce to a pot and bring to boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce has reduced. Push through a sieve (or pulse in a food processor) and allow to cool
Butternut Squash and Cherry Tomatoes Orzo
2 cups orzo pasta
1 1/2 cup butternut squash cubes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
black pepper crushed
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 lemon zested and squeezed
1/2 cup walnut chopped roughly and roasted
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/3 cup shaved parmesan
Preheat the oven to 400F and toss together the butternut squash, salt, pepper, 1 tbsp olive oil and paprika in a sheet pan. Bake for about 20-30 mins, till the squash is roasted. Meanwhile, boil salted water in a sauce pan and cook the orzo in it to al dente. Reserve a cup of the pasta water. Drain the orzo and keep aside.Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and keep aside. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan and add the minced garlic and cherry tomatoes to it. Toss quickly for a couple of minutes till the tomatoes soften a little. Transfer the orzo to a large serving bowl. Add the roasted butternut squash, cherry tomatoes, walnuts, lemon zest and juice, more salt and freshly crushed black pepper, about 1/2 cup of the pasta water, parmesan and the parsley. Toss well and serve warm.