Oak Hill is taking off, and we’re working at full throttle just to keep up! Unfortunately, the garden isn’t taking off as well as some of our other ventures. The six weeks we had without rain seriously hindered our harvest and completely killed off a few of our selections (squash and kohlrabi, to name a couple). Even now, our volume isn’t where we’d like it to be–but we’re working extra hard to make sure our CSA members are still happy with their boxes each week!
|Summer CSA Week 3 (from top left): Basil, pears,
bread and butter pickles (free gift), okra,tomatoes, jalepenos, cayennes,
Helen Heaven Crab Apple Butter (free gift) and purple hull peas.
Not Pictured: Chevre (goat cheese).
This week’s boxes contain (drumroll, please…):
- Tomatoes: While these still aren’t yielding quite as well as we’d like, they did survive! We’ve had enough to put a tomato or two in every box. These are a mix of Brandywine (round, with uneven coloration typical of the variety); Mortage Lifter (big and slightly enlongated, also with typically uneven coloring; and Cherokee Purple (enlongated, with a deeper red verging on purple). All have more character than their supermarket cousins, and (we think) far more flavor than the perfect round beauties you find at the store.
- Okra: Our okra are a hardy dwarf variety that’s growing sturdily despite the lack of rain. Even in poor conditions, you can count on okra to be prolific–we’re picking it almost every single day! We encourage you to try it roasted in olive oil with a little salt and pepper for a surprising summer flavor that will give you a new opinion of this old southern favorite.
- Purple Hull Peas: These classic southern field peas have a flavor similar to that of black-eyed peas, but with more delicate overtones. Hull them by pulling both sides of the pod apart and letting the peas inside drop into a bowl. We like to cook them in classic southern style–boiled with a little water, pork, salt, pepper, and spices of your choice. They don’t have to be cooked all day, contrary to what our grandparents thought. Boil ’til they’re just tender and they’ll have more flavor and nutritive value.
- Pears: Our ancient pear tree, like our figs, has seemed quite happy with the dry heat. These are some of the most flavorful pears to come off of it in years! As one of our volunteers this week put it, “now that’s the way a pear should be–more like a pear-flavored apple.” These aren’t the soft, often overripe variety you’ll see at the store. They’re lightly sweet, great in pies and preserves or eaten fresh.
- Basil: Again with the basil. What can we say–we love it! Go for tomato-basil-goat cheese sandwiches: slather some soft cheese on your favorite bread, add slices of tomatoes and whole basil leaves, and crown it all with a little pesto if you’re feeling fancy (or just eat it as-is) for a farm-fresh treat.
- Hot Peppers: Our mixed red cayennes and jalapenos are at the height of their flavor and pack a little punch, so look out! We love to make pepper jelly, use them in stir fries, or collect them over several weeks (hang cayennes to dry; lay jalapenos out in a dehydrator, warm oven, or sunlight to dry) and create our famous hot sauce.
- Chevre: This classic goat milk farmer’s cheese is soft and slightly salty, delicious in salads or on sandwiches (or crackers, for that matter). We get the pasteurized milk from a homestead up the road, usually on the same day it comes out of the goat. It’s a two-day process to make the cheese–not necessarily labor-intensive, but it does involve a lot of patience!
- Helen Heaven Crab Apple Butter: Our crab apples are just as happy as our other fruits, but we didn’t think you’d appreciate a box full of crab apples! This little delight is a new recipe whipped up with Oleo Acres Sorghum and some classy spices. A little side note: Coincidentally, both our grandmothers were named Helen. My grandmother Helen always had an apple butter in season that I’ve never been able to match–until I tasted this recipe! And Ted’s grandmother Helen planted the crab apple trees whose bounty you’re tasting now. Both our beloved Helens have passed on, so we’ve dubbed this one Helen Heaven. (Say it out loud to see why it’s punny, too.)
- Bread and Butter Pickles: We’re sharing the bounty by passing on one of our favorites, my bread and butter pickles. These sweet, crunchy goodies go great on sandwiches or can be food-processed into a relish. We’ve even been known to eat them as a side dish! Our cukes are perking up again (they’ve died back and now are putting on some fresh flowers), so we should be able to replace our stores before frost strikes–but probably not before the Summer CSA is complete. So, we’re offering you the preserved version as a crunch-tastic alternative. Enjoy!