Well, it took a little longer than we hoped, but the first summer CSA box is here!
|Clockwise from left: Okra, Mortgage Lifter tomatoes, hot peppers
(jalapeño and cayenne), eggplant, basil, EGGS, sweet potatoes,
zucchini, figs, and rosemary. Also: garlic (not in photo.)
The drought has hit everyone, and our veggie patch has suffered from lack of water and encroachment of weeds. Luckily our friends next door at Oleo Acres Farm came through to supplement this week’s box (tomatoes, zucchini, and sweet potatoes.) Also, we had a very helpful wwoofer in mid-July who helped get the weeds at least somewhat under control. Thank her for the peppers and basil. Of course it rained yesterday (when we were planning to bale hay), and we are looking forward to a great veggie season.
For those of you who were in our spring CSA, you can expect a different set of veggies. Greens are mostly out in the hot summer months, but tomatoes, peppers, and okra will be fairly standard. As usual, we’ll provide some ideas for working with the vegetables–things like chile verde with a whole load of jalapeños but minimal spiciness, and a way to cook okra without frying that eliminates the slime that some people hate. Now: on to the veggies!
- Mortgage Lifter tomatoes! These heirlooms have a great story behind them, and an even better flavor. The fact that some of them have uneven ripeness actually signifies better flavor! In the summer time, our favorite way to eat these is raw, maybe with just a little salt or mayonnaise. Also, try them on a sandwich with fresh basil and mozzarella cheese.
- Sweet potatoes: These are storage potatoes from the last of the harvest last season–Tim at Oleo Acres guarantees them good, or he will replace them when the new crop comes in this fall. They look great to us, and would be amazing sliced thin and grilled to bring out the sweetness.
- Zucchini: Everyone’s favorite long, green, Italian squash–also great grilled!
- Okra: OK, not to sound like a broken record, but have you ever grilled okra? All southerners know about fried okra, but try this: cut off the ends and slice the okra, either into bite-sized chunks crosswise or lengthwise into stringbean-sized strips. Toss them with a little olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper and place them on a grill pan or aluminum foil on the grill. (You can also do this in a single layer on a cookie sheet in a 425 degree oven.) Turn them when the edges start to brown. You will have non-slimy, sweet, crunchy, and delicious okra without the fried mess. This is now our Favorite Way to do okra.
- Basil: however you like it, fresher is better with basil. This was picked this morning, and the whole house smells like basil. Make pesto, or combine with the eggs and tomato to make this amazing crustless quiche.
- Hot peppers! Ok, some like it hot–others, not so much. Remember that the heat is located in the seeds and, mostly, in the white ribs. Cut the peppers in half and scrape out all of that pith (I use a spoon) under running water, and what you are left with is mild and sweet. As for the cayenne, you could do the same thing (in theory) but they are so tiny and spicy they are best left as seasoning. Hint: leave the cayenne on the counter and they will dry, then you can crush them into flakes for use in cooking.
- Figs! Woohoo! The humble fig! When all our other crops wilt, the figs just keep going. We included two trays of 12 figs in the box, with a sprig of rosemary in one tray for extra measure. Try this: Take one pork tenderloin, cut a deep groove through the center and lay in the entire uncut rosemary sprig. Add in a few cut figs, then close the cut and tie the tenderloin with butcher twine. Voila! Fig and rosemary stuffed tenderloin! A little salt and pepper, garlic if you want it, throw some bacon on top if you want, just have fun–bake it, pull out the rosemary once it is done, and enjoy.
- Eggplant: The first of many, we hope. You can make a great Italian dish using thin eggplant slices (dipped in egg, coated in breadcrumbs, and baked in the oven until the crumbs brown) like lasagna noodles and layering other ingredients around them.
- EGGS! A special bonus in the box this week. Break a few to make an omelet, scramble them, boil them, etc.
Enjoy–and don’t forget to share any fun recipe ideas that you have here or over on our FaceBook page.