News from the farm: June 23, 2010

What's going on at the farm?

         That’s right, the moment you have all been waiting for, the day before my birthday! ….oh wait, that was me who has been waiting for that. Yep, tomorrow I turn 35 (officially entering my MID-thirties).  This is also the tenth year of Elysian Fields CSA, which means I was actually 25 at one point, and started the farm. I can think of a few of you who have been members for all ten years!  There is a special place in my heart for those folks.  I overheard that Becca and Beth, who work for me here, are planning a cake for lunch tomorrow.  Yum :)

Thanks for all who replied to the notice about the potato work day.  I have decided to hold the event in the morning, from 9-11am on Sunday July 11, 2010.  I will send directions and more info to come as the time approaches. 

One last thing about the watermelon that I forgot to mention last week, the variety that I am growing, Little Baby Flower, is named so because it is a intentionally a small variety.  “A small, 5 ½ inches round, averaging 2-4 lb. fruit.  Bright stripe pattern on shell and dark pink flesh that is sweet and crisp with high sugar content”, according to Johnny’s Seed Catalog, which I ordered it from.  There is most definitely a range of size, from 2-4lb., as some of you have received two softball size ones, while others receive one a little larger.  We have another planting in the ground, and will not let those crows get near it!  So, we will have more watermelon in a month or so. But…..

Speaking of melons, we will have cantaloupe next week (most likely!)  Actually some of the half shares received cantaloupe instead of watermelon this week, with just a few coming on.  This variety is also small, and yummy.  We like growing smaller variety melons for a couple of reasons.  It doesn’t break our backs getting them out of the field to you, they fit in your boxes, and they are better sizes for half shares, which we have most of.  Next week we will also see some cucumbers.  We really had bad luck with our first planting of cucumbers, but I am happy to say that our second looks fabulous, and is juuuuusssstt starting to come on. 

Potatoes
            Potatoes are one of the most popular vegetables in the world today. Native to South America, they were brought over to Europe in the 1500s. Potatoes are surprisingly nutritious- they contain complex carbohydrates, protein,  and a variety of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C and iron and potassium. The skin is also a great source of fiber.
            Potatoes are actually not roots, but are tubers- the swollen underground stem of the plant that stores extra carbohydrates to feed the leafy plant above the soil. Potato plants will actually bear a small green fruit, but unlike it’s relative the tomato, this fruit isn’t edible. 
            It’s best to store potatoes in a cool, dark, dry space because light and warmth will encourage your potatoes to sprout. Make sure your potatoes are dry when you store them- wet potatoes spoil more quickly. Mature potatoes can be stored for several months. If your potatoes do start to sprout, just cut away the sprouts and the rest of the potato should be fine to eat. There are all sorts of ways to use your potatoes. If you boil your potatoes, try to boil them whole and make sure to bring the water to a boil before adding the potatoes to help preserve their vitamin C. Potatoes are also great in soups and stews or just simply roasted in the oven with some salt and rosemary. You can also boil potatoes for a potato salad- just chop them up once they’re cooked and toss them with celery, onion, peppers, and a little vinegar or mayonnaise. 
            You’ll see three different types of potatoes in your boxes this season- Yukon Gold, Red Pontiac, and Rose Gold. Yukon Gold potatoes have yellow flesh with a firm, dry texture and work well boiled, baked, or fried. Red Pontiac potatoes have red skin and white flesh with a firm, waxy texture, making them perfect for boiling. Rose Gold potatoes have rosy red skin and a deep yellow flesh with a creamy, buttery texture. They work well baked or in creamy soups

Eggplant
            Part of the nightshade family, along with tomatoes and potatoes, eggplants are native to India. Arab traders first brought eggplants to Europe in the 12th century; the variety they first brought over most likely bore white, egg-shaped fruit, hence the name. You’ll find Chinese and Japanese eggplants in your box- these have an elongated shape and range in color from dark purple to pale pink. Eggplants keep best stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag; they should keep for about a week.
            Many cooking directions call for salting eggplants before cooking, but this isn’t necessary with Chinese or Japanese eggplants.  These eggplants are so tender, you can just cut them up and cook them and you can also eat the skin. Eggplants taste great grilled- just cut them into thick slices and lightly brush them with oil. You can sprinkle chopped garlic on top for some extra flavor. You can also cook eggplant in the broiler for a similar taste- just keep an eye on it and flip the slices once they begin to brown. It should take about 5 minutes per side.  Once you broil or grill the eggplant you can chop it up with grilled bell peppers, onion, and garlic, black olives, and olive oil and vinegar for a delicious salad. You can also bake eggplant- pierce the skin with a fork a few times and bake it for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees.  Baked eggplant is easy to mash up for dishes like baba ghanoush. Just mix mashed eggplant with tahini, lemon juice, parley and garlic and serve it with bread or pita. Eggplant also tastes great in a simple ratatouille- sauté chopped eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, summer squash, onion, and garlic in olive oil and herbs (oregano, thyme, basil…) and then let it simmer until everything is tender. Eggplant also tastes great sautéed with a little oil and then served with peanut sauce and chopped basil.

 

So, next week, most likely, cantaloupe, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, eggplant….and maybe more…….Let me know if you guys have any feedback, thoughts or concerns.  I love to hear from you, Elise.

What's in the box?

Full Box
Crop Amount  
 

Japanese Eggplant - 1 lb.
Tomatoes! - 2 lbs.
Cherry Tomatoes (mixed colors or sungolds) - 1 pint
Rose Gold or Yukon Gold Potatoes - 3 lb.
Red Cabbage - about 2 lb.
Onions - 1 lb.
Summer Squash - 1 lb.

Half Box
Crop Amount  
 

Tomatoes! - 1 lb.
Rose Gold or Yukon Gold Potatoes - 2 lb.
Little Baby Flower Watermelon - One small or two super small
Jalapeño - one
Onions - 2/3 lb.
Summer Squash - 1 lb.