Notes from the Farm
Who ate my corn?
Autumn is coming and with it all the wonders of nature, including hungry migrating birds putting on a little extra for the long journey. Living in the valley bottom we get all kinds of visitors to the farm that make farming well, not so easy, white-tailed deer,(sapling destroyers), raccoons (chicken eaters), skunks (egg and chick chompers), mice and voles (tree girdlers, carrot/beet munchers, squash chewers), robins and waxwings (raspberry and strawberry devourers) which brings us to the beautiful blackbirds. We grew two different varieties of corn this year, Painted Mountain, which is a spectacular corn used for making flour and meal. We use Painted Mountain as a decoy to save the sweet corn. This strategy worked well last year, but not this year. The birds delighted in both varieties, essentially striping the the ears. Leon has hung a few ears of corn in front of the cooler if you want a closer look.
This Week’s Veggie Feast
New This Week
Tomatillos are a distinctive and indigenous ingredient in Mexican cuisine. The fruit goes by many names, including tomato verde and husk tomato since it remains green while ripe and it grows inside a papery calyx or husk. Mexican green tomatoes grow in the wild but most cultivated varieties you find in the store are green, yellow, or purple and remain in their husk. The fruit itself is thin skinned with a mild acid and lots of seeds. If you plan to use them quickly, tomatillos can be stored at room temperature in a cool place. For longer storage, keep inside a paper bag or perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator. The fruit can be used raw but it takes well to cooking too. Roasting or simmering tomatillos can help mellow their slightly tart bite. They make a great addition to many Mexican dishes and can be used as burrito or enchilada filling or to supply the base ingredient for sauces and pork verde. However you prepare them, the husk needs to be removed and the tomatillo rinsed of the slightly tacky substance around the base. If adding to a stew (i.e. chile or pork verde), tomatillos can be chopped and added raw.
Use as you would green beans.
Dock leaves are high in iron, potassium and a great source for vitamins A and C. This green is a common weed in much of North America, but luckily for us it happens to be quite edible too. The flavor is slightly lemony, astringent. The leaves cook quickly and can become mushy if cooked for too long. You can use this delicious green raw, or lightly steam, or sautee. It can be a good substitute for spinach greens in any dish.
Most of these peppers are mild, but full of flavor!
Cilantro, Yellow crookneck, dragon tongue beans, red cabbage, walla sweet onion, green bell pepper, carrots
Courtesy of Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook by Cindy Pawlcyn
12-14 tomatillos, papery husks removed and rinsed well
2 small ripe avocados, pitted and peeled
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves only
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
To make the salsa, combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth and liquid, but not thin. Refrigerate until needed.
(makes about 2 cups)
Courtesy of Diana Kennedy, From From My Mexican Kitchen: Techniques and Ingredients
This sauce is a great table salsa and goes well with tacos, grilled meats, burritos, and grilled vegetables. It will last for a few days in the refrigerator.
1 pound tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed
3 or more jalapeno chiles, finely chopped
½ cup loosely packed, roughly chopped cilantro
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons white onion, roughly chopped
Salt to taste
Put the tomatillos whole in a small saucepan, barely cover with water, and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and continue cooking until soft but not falling apart, about 5 minutes, depending on the size. Drain over a bowl to reserve the cooking water!
Using a blender or food processor, put 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid in the processor bowl. Add the chiles, cilantro, garlic, onion and grind to a paste. Add the tomatillos a little at a time, blending with about 1/3 cup more of the cooking liquid until you have a textured sauce of medium consistency. Add salt to taste.