CSA Week 11: August 16-20

August is one of the busiest months here on the farm as we are still in the height of the summer harvest season but also have to prepare for the fall and winter seasons. The cucumbers and summer squash gradually are coming to an end (those of who spend hours harvesting them each day will not be sad to see them go!) just as the corn, plum tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers (hopefully!) are arriving while the greenhouse tomatoes just keep coming. The garlic is drying in the barn and we’ve just begun harvesting and drying the onions. We transplanted our first fall spinach planting outside yesterday (Spinach does not do well with the heat of the summer as it tends to bolt quite quickly – the reason that you haven’t gotten spinach in your shares since June). The greenhouse that had our early season zucchini, cucumbers, and basil now has Zinnias and a new planting of basil and we’re finalizing plans for our late fall and winter growing (with the mild winters we’ve been having recently, winter growing in unheated greenhouses is becoming more feasible). On top of all the vegetables, we’ve still got the meat birds, laying hens, pullets (pullets are laying hens that are less than a year old; ours were born in April and some of them have just started laying eggs in the past week!), cows, and pigs to take care of.

On the subject of animals, this week’s animal of the week is Sweetheart, the Jersey cow that provides the organic raw milk that those of you who pick your share up at the farm are able to buy. Vermont law has changed a lot in the past few years (thanks to the work of Rural Vermont) and farmers now are allowed to sell up to 50 quarts of raw milk a day from the farm (the reason we are not able to deliver raw milk) while farmers who register with and are inspected by the state and have regular milk testing are allowed to sell up to 40 gallons per day between on-farm sales and home delivery to pre-paid customers (check out the Rural Vermont website for more information on the work they’ve done on raw milk and other issues). Sweetheart arrived at Luna Bleu this spring from a local organic dairy farm. She was beginning to slow down a little bit so the farmer didn’t want to milk her anymore but she still provides plenty of milk for us to drink here on the farm as well as some to sell to CSA members and other neighbors. Suzanne also makes yogurt from the milk once a week that is available to those who pick up their shares on Mondays here at the farm. We now milk Sweetheart once a day and she produces between 2 and 3 gallons of milk a day. Her diet is almost entirely grass (she does get a little organic grain to balance it out) so this is rich, healthy milk. Jersey cows produce milk a much more creamier milk than Holstein cows (the black-and-white cows that are quite common in VT). Nothing has been done to the milk other than filtering. Since it is not-homogenized, the cream rises to the top and you’ll want to either skim some off to use as cream or shake the jar very well before pouring (or else the first glass is half-and-half and the rest are skim milk!). Since the milk is not pasteurized it is full of bacteria that are beneficial to the digestive system as well as several important enzymes. Raw milk also contains the vitamin B6 and the pasteurization process causes 20% of this important vitamin to be lost. In short, this milk is delicious, good for the environment and good for you! Hopefully you have a chance to pick up a jar from the farm!

Sweetheart grazing in the pasture.

This week’s share (click picture to enlarge):

Preparation Tips/Recipes:

Corn: The corn in your share this week is a smaller earlier variety (the ears are supposed to be that size). Sweet corn is best when it’s the freshest; we always make sure that we pick the corn the day that we give it to you and you should eat it as soon as possible. Sweet corn is simple and delicious. Just steam it for a few minutes (I always err on the side of under-cooking to ensure firm kernels) and eat it with a little butter and salt.

Eggplant: Suzanne made Baba Ganouj, a Middle Eastern eggplant dish, the other day and it was pretty awesome, and it’s simple to make!

Baba Ganouj

2 pounds eggplant
6 tbs fresh lemon juice
4 tbs tahini
1 to 4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
2 tbs chopped fresh parsley
salt to taste
chopped scallions (optional)
olive oil (optional)

Pierce the skins of the eggplants several times with a fork and place them on a baking sheet. Bake the whole eggplants at 400 until they are crinkly on the outside and very soft inside, about 40 minutes to 1 hour, depending on their size (for a more authentic smoky flavor grill the eggplant over a direct flame until they are well charred on the outside). When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, scoop out the insides. Puree the eggplant pulp and the remaining ingredients in a food processor until smooth (or mash the eggplant with a fork until smooth and then stir in the remaining ingredients). Cool to room temperature and serve (or serve chilled) with some crackers or veggies to dip.

(Recipe from New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant)

Kohlrabi: The Burlington Free Press had an article a couple weeks ago about Kohlrabi. It included the following recipe:

Kohlrabi and Carrot Slaw with Miso Dressing
1-2 Medium Kohlrabis
2 carrots
1 tbsp white miso
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
chopped cilantro

Peel and grate the kohlrabi and carrots. Whisk together soy sauce, miso, and vinegar. Combine all ingredients and chill.

Fresh Tomato Sauce: As you start to see more plum tomatoes appearing in your shares, it’s time to start thinking about tomato sauce (plum tomatoes have less water than slicing and heirloom tomatoes and they are best cooked in a sauce or used for salsa). I’m not going to post a specific recipe for Fresh Tomato Sauce but it is very simply to make and you can just use whatever you have/like. I usually saute some garlic and onion in olive oil, add some chopped tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, some fresh basil and oregano, and some salt, pepper, and sugar to taste and let it simmer down. I don’t worry about peeling or seeding the tomatoes but you easily can peel them by cutting a little X in the bottom of the tomato and putting it in boiling water for about 30 seconds and then immediately into ice water for a couple minutes. The skin then should peel off easily. Another option is to roast the tomatoes, peppers, or eggplant to intensify the flavor. Regardless of what you do, just keep adjusting things until it tastes good to you and then serve fresh with some pasta!

That’s all for this week. Have a good one!

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