*Announcement: Due to the recent crop losses we have experienced from the excessive rain, we have decided to cancel deliveries for at least July 24th and possibly July 31st as well. The shares run for 20 weeks with the last delivery slated for September 11t h (assuming we delivered straight through). This means we will add on the weeks we cancel to the end of the share, thus having the shares run through to September 18th if we only cancel the 24th, or September 25th if we cancel July 31st also. That way you will still receive 20 weeks of deliveries. There WILL be a deliver next week on the 17th. We will send lots of reminders about the cancelations. We feel that this is the best chance we have to give you the diversity and quantity we advertised. Late July we would be looking at eggplant, onions, garlic and potatoes as we would have lost tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon, and possibly cucumbers and squash. In late September we have the chance to still have peppers, onions, garlic, eggplant, potatoes AS WELL AS sweet potatoes, winter squash, baby kale, boc choi, chard and radishes. Of course in order to have baby greens at that point, we would need to be able to get into the ground sometime in the next month which means we need the rain to stop. We are sorry if this is an inconvenience for anyone! Please let us know if this presents any logistical problems for you around pick-ups.
What’s going on at the farm?
I can’t help but keep likening the strangeness of this year’s weather patterns to feeling like I am living in an alternate reality. Perhaps it is my fondness for science fiction that keeps making me think of this analogy, the idea that one day you wake up and your life is normal, except it isn’t! Subtle things here or there are not quite right and somehow, strangely, while it seems like the world you know on the surface, it’s not quite the world you know……..you’ve seen that kind of movie, right? So, I know I live in North Carolina, and it still looks like North Carolina, but gosh, for this entire year it surely has NOT felt like North Carolina! This week we are looking at the chance for rain everyday and highs in the mid-eighties….so not right! This time of year we usually have day after day of dry ninety degree plus weather. Usually it’s so dry dust forms up in a huge cloud every time I drive down the gravel road to and from the farm covering my car in a never ending sheen and making its way into the interior dash and windows. The grass all around the farm usually starts to turn brown and we end up running the irrigation from our huge spring fed pond on the crops daily, even all day long as we rotate the zones. That is summer in North Carolina to me. I keep trying to think about where it feels like we are….the Pacific North West?? Perhaps now with the endless daily rains, but maybe more New England for the extended cold weather this spring.
We received another 3.5 inches or rain Sunday night into Monday morning at the farm. These bands of rain can be so localized that I was relieved for Chapel Hill and Durham to hear that they did not receive this on top of all the flooding they experienced last week. Next day, Tuesday (yesterday), we received another long heavy rain in the afternoon followed by extended drizzle. Hmmmmm. Unfortunately the situation keeps getting grimmer and grimmer for us, and many others. This week’s horror story is that a farmer we know in the western part of the state posted videos on Facebook earlier this week of their creek that jumped the banks from the flooding and made a new path through their peppers and cucumbers. While we literally don’t have a creek running through our crops, it does feel like the level of wetness is so excessive it could never, ever possibly dry out! Well it could, but the reality is we would need at least a solid week to two weeks of hot and DRY weather. Until that happens, planting and weeding are at a total stand still.
There are lots of unknowns at the farm right now, and although the boxes have been for the most part bountiful and diverse up until this point, we are not sure what is to come. It’s up to Mother Nature at this point and whether or not the rain stops. For those of you, who have joined the CSA for the first time this season, trust this is highly unusual. In fact, my mother told me she saw a report on the ABC Morning News on Channel 11 this morning on how the recent rains have been really tough particularly on local small organic farmers. I was impressed they acknowledged us, and interviewed a small organic farmer in Wake County who talked about losing 30-40% of his total crops already.
So I wanted to summarize where we are at, again, as the share will unfortunately be impacted.
Specifics on each item:
Shitshito Peppers, Green tomatoes, Poblanos and Jalapenos: Just a quick note to let you know that we intended to give everyone who asked for them, jalapenos in last week’s box. So, if you didn’t receive them, let me know. The Shishitos are going to be handed out to a few members each week as we don’t have enough plants to give them to everyone who wanted them in the same week. We hope to have green tomatoes for those who requested them for next week’s delivery. Let me know if you would like them but didn’t ask for them in the beginning of the year. Poblanos are starting to size up and we may be able to hand a few out next week. If you received Shisitos, they are in a small plastic bag, and are a pint or so worth of small light green peppers. They are not hot. They are best cooked, not raw. The easiest way to cook them is to heat oil in a pan, then throw them in, uncut, stem and all, and stirring frequently, until the skins have blistered. This should only take a few minutes. Add some salt. They make a great appetizer, use the stem as a way to pick them up to bite!
Tomatoes: You don’t want to put your tomatoes in the refrigerator, as temperatures below 55 degrees affect their flavor and texture. The best way to store them is to take them out of the paper bag (the bag encourages them to ripen quickly holding in the gases they emit), and rest them on your counter. This applies to the cherry tomatoes as well. We have given you mostly ripe tomatoes, but some that need a couple of days, so you can enjoy them all week. A tomato is ripe when its color is deep, and it feels just a little soft to the squeeze. You have received Pink Girls (a pink tomato), Lemon Boys (a yellow tomato) and Big Beef (a red tomato).
Potatoes: Desiree is a red skinned yellow flesh potato that has a nice buttery flavor. If you have a lot of potatoes right now, just remember, these are fresh out the ground as of a couple of weeks ago, and will store for a LONG time. By long I mean into October or beyond. So, keep them in their paper bag in your hydrator drawer and eat as you wish. I have included a potato recipe below that calls for Yukon gold potatoes, these would be a fine substitute.
Onions: Remember that these store for a very long time as well. These you can store on your counter or in your refrigerator for months.
Garlic: You can store this on your counter, as it continues to dry, and eat as you wish. Garlic also stores for months.
Cantaloupe: Again, our cantaloupes are picked pretty close to ripeness, and should be stored in the refrigerator and eaten within a few days.
Basil: Surprisingly, I have found keeping the basil in the plastic bag on the counter in an air-conditioned house set at 72 degrees to be totally sufficient for the basil to last more than a week. Temperatures below 55 can cause basil to turn brown, so the refrigerator can be a dangerous place for it depending on how cold yours runs.
Lemon and Caper Mashed Potatoes
Martha Stewart Living, October 2003
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup milk
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Plus 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons capers, drained and coarsely chopped
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground pepper
Traditional Peruvian Potato Salad
juice of 1 lemon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
salt and pepper to taste
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 pounds potatoes
10 ounces queso fresco (available in Latino grocery stores)
1 cup heavy cream
2-3 hot yellow or green peppers, seeded
6 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup imported black olives
3-4 hard cooked eggs, quartered
Combine lemon juice, cayenne, salt, and pepper in bowl. Add onion, separated into rings, and marinate at room temperature, tossing often. Boil potatoes in salted water until barely tender. Drain and keep warm. Blend cheese, heavy cream, and hot peppers in blender or food processor until thick and smooth. Heat olive oil and turmeric over low heat in large pan, add cheese mixture, and cook, stirring constantly, until smooth. Drain onions. Arrange potatoes on platter and pour sauce over them. Garnish with onions, olives and eggs. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 8-10 servings.
From Asparagus to Zucchini: Madison Area CSA Coalition
If you have any thoughts, concerns or feedback let us know. We love to hear from you all.
All the best,
Elise, Beth and Lacey