Notes from the Farm
Sorry for the interruption in the newsletter last week. The kiddo and I were back in the Midwest visiting family and I was (gasp!) computer-less. Leon had enough on his plate without learning how to operate wordpress. So in short, to join the thousands of businesses in the U.S., we had a staffing shortage. We are now back to our full capacity of 2 people.
Leon got a lot done while we were gone. He kept everyone alive, including all the crops. Moving water in this heat and aridity can be a full time job. He also got most of the garlic harvested with some help from friends. The garlic looks very nice this year! Here’s what else is going well: zucchini! cucumbers! cabbage! The tomatoes and peppers seem to be coming along nicely too. The onions are a bit slower this year, we are not sure why, but everyone will get a small, white sweet onion in their veggie share. All in all the farm is running quite smoothly at present. We feel very fortunate.
This Week’s Veggie Feast
Beets, Red Russian Kale, Green Cabbage, White Sweet Onion, Yellow Crookneck Summer Squash, Epazote, Parsley, Zucchini, Cucumber
New This Week
Beets are a versatile root which can be eaten raw, roasted, steamed, grilled, or boiled. Their natural earthy sweetness pairs well with olive oil, sour cream, vinegars, citrus, mustard, horseradish, dill, tarragon, onions, apples, and goat cheese. Red beets bleed and tint everything they touch but leaving the skin, tail, and at least 1 inch of the stems intact while cooking will help keep all those juices locked inside.
The dark green, red-stemmed Russian kale may be one of the sweetest greens in the kale family. Oddly, this is the first harvesting of kale for us this season. It started out very slowly and then decided to go through a yellow leaf stage. We were perplexed. It has settled into its groove though and recently produced large, tender leaves.
Red Russian Kale
Native to Europe, wild cabbage can still be found in its headless form that was known to be a source of food for ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. In Greece, the origin of cabbage was attributed to Zeus working himself into a sweat trying to explain two conflicting prophecies. Through years of cultivation, cabbage was developed into the large heads we are familiar with today. Of course cabbage can be turned into sauerkraut and makes for some great coleslaw, but this versatile vegetable also takes well to cooking, whether it is sautéed, braised, boiled, or grilled. Cooking cabbage gives off a pungent smell that is a result of a high concentration of sulphur compounds in the vegetable. The combination of thin slicing and brief cooking times can alleviate the strong flavor. Green cabbage pairs well with butter, olive oil, sour cream, cheddar cheese, parmesan, mustard, horseradish, caraway, dill, marjoram, potatoes, apples, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice. Cabbage can last for a long time stored in a plastic bag in your vegetable crisper but its nutritive value decreases with time. Remove any wilted leaves before using.
Sweet onions tend to be lower in sulfur and higher in water content, giving them a mild flavor and perfect for eating fresh in salads and on sandwiches. These onions do not have a long storage life and will last best if stored in a cool dark spot. If the outside layers start to soften, peel and store in the refrigerator.
White Sweet Onion
The delicate flavor, soft shell and creamy white flesh of summer squash is a perfect addition to any summer meal. Summer squashes, members of the Cucurbitaceae family and relatives of both the melon and the cucumber, come in many different varieties. While each variety may have a distinct shape, color, size and flavor, all varieties share some common characteristics. Regardless of variety, all parts of summer squash are edible, including the flesh, seeds and skin. Some varieties of squash also produce edible flowers.
Epazote is a Latin American herb that comes with a very distinct scent and taste. Its aroma can be unappealing when raw, but will soften with cooking. Also known as wormseed and Mexican tea, epazote derives from the Nahuatl work epatzotl (epatl meaning “skunk” and tzotl meaning “dirty), which is descriptive of its wild taste. Epazote is best used fresh but can be dried; hang upside down in a cool, dark, well ventilated spot. Once dried, store in a cool, dark spot.
If you won’t be drying the herb, it is great used fresh in rice and bean dishes. Roughly chop the leaves and add fresh to your burritos, quesadillas or enchiladas. Or try adding some fresh leaves to salsa verde. In cooking, epazote is typically used as whole stems or just the freshly chopped leaves that add a distinct flavor to Mexican and Caribbean food. Whole stems can also be added to braising meat dishes and make a nice addition to tortilla soup.
Grilled Zucchini Ribbon and Kale Salad
1 bunch kale
3-4 small zucchini
blue cheese crumbles
Slice the zucchini into ribbons using a mandoline or vegetable peeler.
Tear the kale away from the stems in little chunks.
Lightly coat the grates of a grill with cooking spray. Bring the grill to medium-high heat and arrange the ribbons on the grates. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Once you start to see browning where the grates are, you can use some tongs and just remove them from the grill. The ribbons are so thin, there’s no real need to flip and grill the other side.
To make the dressing, whisk together some olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Lightly toast your cashews.
Toss the kale with the dressing in a bowl. Arrange on a plate and top with grilled zucchini ribbons, cashews, and a good sprinkling of blue cheese.
adapted from: Tablespoon.com
Beet Risotto with Greens
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
This recipe from Deborah Madison is delicious on its own or served with grilled salmon, lamb, or pork.
5 ½ to 6 ½ cups vegetable or chicken stock
3 tablespoons butter
½ cup finely diced onion
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped basil
2 to 3 medium beets, peeled and grated,
about 2 cups 2 to 3 cups greens (beet, kale, chard, spinach) stems removed and finely chopped
Salt and freshly milled pepper
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
Have the stock simmering on the stove. Heat the butter in a wide, heavy bottom pot, add the onion and cook over medium heat until soft, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the rice, stir to coat it well, and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and simmer until it’s absorbed, then stir in half the parsley, the basil, grated beets, and the chard or kale. Add 2 cups stock, cover, and cook at a simmer until the stock is absorbed. Begin adding the remaining stock in ½ cup increments, stirring constantly until each addition is absorbed before adding the next. When you have 1 cup left, add the beet greens or spinach. Taste for salt, season with pepper, then stir in the lemon zest and juice. Serve dusted with the cheese and remaining parsley.
Mexican Black Beans with Epazote
1 pound dried black beans
3 cups chicken stock
3 cups water
2 large sprigs fresh epazote (or 2 tablespoons dried)
1/2 pound chopped fresh chorizo sausage
1 diced onion
2 diced carrots
2 diced celery stalks
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon ancho or New Mexico chile powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Soak black beans overnight in cold water to cover. Drain and rinse.
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Place the beans, chicken stock and water, and epazote in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil on the stove top, skim off foam, then cover and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
In a large, heavy skillet, brown chorizo sausage. Remove the chorizo, leaving the fat in the pan. Add onion, carrots, celery stalks, and garlic to the pan and cook over medium heat until the vegetables become soft.
Remove the pot of beans from the oven and stir in the vegetables and chorizo, along with ancho or New Mexico chile powder, ground cumin, and salt to taste.
Cover and bake for 1 hour, or until the beans are soft.