Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Week 11 7-25-2012

This week’s box:

Eggplant- Beautiful long, skinny Asian eggplant called “Pingtung.”  Asian eggplants are always tender and never have a bitter flavor. You do not need to soak in saltwater.  I like to chop and steam or boil the eggplant for about 8 minutes and then add the mostly cooked pieces of eggplant to a sauté pan with other veggies like onions, peppers, tomatoes to blend the flavors.   Try the Summer Eggplant and Sweet Pepper Bake.  Recipe below. 
Tomatoes-The tomato harvest continues!  Try all the different colors and sizes, each one is a different variety
Cherry Tomatoes-Some of the most flavorful tomatoes are the little ones.  Try them sliced in half with basil and chopped cucumbers.
Green Peppers-Pepper harvest continues to go well.  The peppers are larger and larger each week with nice thick walls. We hope their strong growth continues and we have ripe peppers in August…although it needs to stop raining for the peppers to ripen!
Cucumbers-The heat and rain is slowing them down.  We may have a lull in the harvest in the next week or two-so keep enjoying!
Squash/zucchini-See the note on cucumbers.  When the plants are happy the produce, when they are sad-no more fruit.
Potatoes-This week will be red skin white potatoes. “Red Norland” Great for boiling and roasting.
Basil-Nothing says summer like fresh basil in…..everything!  Try with in scrambled eggs, on a fresh tomato salad, make your own pasta sauce, or use with some garlic for pesto, the possibilities are endless.  Try a BBT-Bacon, basil, tomato sandwich.
Eggs-There was a mix up with last week’s eggs.  Most on farm eggs folks missed the eggs in their box.  This week there will be eggs in your box in the fridge.  Nature’s Bounty boxes will also have eggs as planned.

On the Farm

It’s been one of those weeks where the farm just seems a little out of.  It started right after our last newsletter.  On Tuesday last week we purchased 13 piglets from some friends of ours.  By Wednesday morning they’d figured out they fit through their corral panels.  They also discovered that the very brushy woods were a great place to root and hide.  So after harvesting basil for the CSA Victor (Marie’s younger brother) and I got to spend a fun filled two hours literally crawling through briars to catch piglets one by one.  The briars were so thick that the piglets were getting stuck.   From there on out for the week we were behind schedule.  Then, right when we thought we might get to catch up on some tractor work-more rain!

One of our good pigs inside its fence where it should be

You’ve probably been hearing about the national drought ruining crops all over the country.  Even much of North Carolina is experiencing some drought.  Farmers I sell next to at farmers market from as close as Catawba and Lincoln counties worry about no rain on their farms.  We are not looking forward to the upcoming animal feed bills.  However, at least in our little corner of Burke County, it has been raining plenty.  These days the most noticeable result of all the rain (besides constantly wet feet) are the weeds!  When its harvest day we wade through waist high weeds, push them aside like curtains, peer under and over and find that red tomato or cucumber or squash.  In spit of the rain we have finally made some progress getting ready to clean up the garden for fall.  Today we removed old irrigation tape so we can get the tractor back into the field.  As soon as it dries out some that is.

Squash Blossom with bumble bees

We’ve been short on pork for much of the summer.   But this past Monday we took six hogs to butcher.  If you’ve been dreaming of some country sausage or one of our delicious rich pork chops the wait is almost over.  Next Wednesday August 1st we will have pork available for sale during CSA pick up at the farm. 

Your farmers,
William and Marie

Mediterranean Salsa
Fresh flavor! This is a great salsa, salad or pita stuffing.

1 medium cucumber, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced, remove as much of the spicy ribs and seeds as needed
1 bell pepper, diced
1 bunch parsley, finely diced
2/3 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup pitted kalamata olives
Juice from 1-2 fresh lemons

Combine all ingredients and toss well.  Let marinate at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.

Basil Aioli
1 cup mayonnaise, 3 cloves garlic pressed, 25-35 basil leaves thinly silvered, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, fresh black pepper to taste. Whisk to mix.  Serve with roasted potatoes, grilled vegetables, spread on sandwiches.  Great for a tomato a sandwich.

Baked Eggplant with Sweet Peppers and Rice
Hearty and comforting, baked eggplants in a casserole are a pleasing late summer dish.

1 eggplant (about 1 or 1.25 pounds)
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped fine
1 large sweet red pepper or 4 small ones, diced
1 cup cooked rice
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
Oregano,  1 tablespoon dried or 2 tablespoons fresh,  crumbled or chopped
1 bunch parsley, chopped fine
12 basil leaves, chopped
Freshly ground pepper
1 egg, well beaten
Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Cube the eggplant and steam for 12-15 minutes.  Meanwhile saute the onion and red peppers in the butter until soft.  Gently mix the eggplant, onion, red pepper, rice, and tomatoes, herbs, and egg together. Add salt and pepper to preference.  Spoon into a buttered baking dish and bake for 35-40 minutes.  Add grated Parmesan if you’d like. 
 We like to serve spiced lentils with this dish to provide protein for a balanced meal without meat.

            We are now working with Jace, the landowner where our main vegetable field is, to raise some grass based and organically fed beef.  We have helped to create a beef raising protocol with him to create healthy, lean, and tasty beef.  The meat we have available now is 100% grass fed.  Many cattle are raised on pasture, but finished out (grown to full size) using corn.  The addition of corn drastically alters the fat profile of the meat creating a more unhealthy mix of omega-3s and omega-6 fatty acids.  100% grass creates the healthiest balance available in meat (except fish). 
            Right now the heat has greatly reduced the quality of the grass.  So the animals we have grazing can’t get their full nutrition requirements for optimal growth.  We have worked with our certified organic feed supplier to create a ration that is low in corn and 100% certified organic, so no GMOs or chemicals in the feed.  These animals are still always grazing on fresh grass, moving frequently, to ensure that the grain is a minimal part of their diet. 
            Right now we have Beef available at the farm during pick-up for $5.75/lb.  Look for emails soon about larger family packs and ¼ animals available this fall. 

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