Spring CSA Week 11

Welcome to week 11!

Well, we’re in the thick of it now. Hot and Wet, all of the sudden. It’s almost as if the entire farm was waiting on the rain, and then bam! Produce explosion. We are pulling literally thousands of pounds of produce every week from the farm- principally cucumbers and tomatoes but also eggplant, peppers, okra and melons galore. The sheer volume is daunting, but at the end of the week, we seem to have found a place for everything, and we prepare to be barraged again.
It’s stupefying. The heat slowly wears on the will of the farmer in July. Perhaps driven by cultural trends, it feels like we should be on vacation now, maybe reading a book on a beach somewhere, or jumping into a cold mountain creek. Humidity begets such daydreams. Or maybe it’s an overdose of tomato pollen. Strangely enough it’s a good feeling, this dystopia. Although our minds wonder, our bodies and our hearts are well mended to the task at this point, leaving us needed room for flights of fancy. As hot as it is a hiking trip to Maine, or Canada, or Greenland sounds just about perfect. I wonder what’s growing in Greenland right now?…  But for now it’s back to picking. It seems there’s no time for weeding, or planting, or planning. Just pick, pack or preserve. And eat, of course. And then try to get some sleep…
We are harvesting so much that we’ve been scheduling time at the kitchen with chef Andrew. Once or twice a week now, the interns are honing their culinary skills canning bread and butter pickles, sun-dried tomatoes, and this week, ketchup and chow-cow. Were saving all of these (plus some delicious strawberry preserves put up this March), for later in the CSA when times are less fruitful. Putting up produce during the summer months is a time honored tradition in the south and whether you prefer to pickle, freeze, or process your excess food, It’s simple once you become accustomed to it. The best part is, for a little effort on the front end, you get to extend your enjoyment of summer’s specialties throughout the year.  I encourage you to put up at least one item this year so that you can see for yourself how fun it can be. Not only will you re-connect with lost food culture, but it will taste good too!
In The Box

-2.5# Mixed Heirloom Tomatoes
-1 head cabbage
-1 bunch carrots
-1 pint mixed cherry tomatoes
-1 melon (watermelon, Galia or Snow Leopard)
-1 large Burge Heirloom garlic, 2 small standard garlic
-1.5# eggplant
-2# cucumbers
-1 melange of peppers (including bell, padron, jalepeno, poblano, shisito, and green cayenne)- see attached photo for identification
Recipes and Ideas

Stuffed Cabbage
Ok, this one is a bit time consuming, but it’s so worth it. You’ll need:
-1 cabbage
-1# ground beef
-3 cloves Burge Garlic, chopped
-3 springs rosemary, chopped
-5 slices bread
-1 cup milk
-handful of parmesan cheese
-salt and pepper
-white wine
-1-2 tbsp butter
First, place the bread in a bowl and pour in the milk. Let it soak in and then squeeze out the excess moisture. In a bowl, combine ground beef, soggy bread, garlic, rosemary, cheese, salt and pepper, plus a dribble of wine until roughly blended. Set aside. Put the cabbage into hot water and boil for 5 minutes until just soft. Then place the cabbage in cold water to cease cooking. Cut the bottom of the cabbage and carefully peel the leaves away, trying to keep them intact. Now for the tricky part. hold a thin kitchen towel in your hand and place a cabbage leaf in the middle. In the middle of the leaf, place a some of the meat filling (about the size of a golf ball). Using the kitchen towel, wrap the leaves around the meatball and press firmly to seal the mixture in. Set aside gently and repeat. Saute cabbage rolls rounded side down in olive oil for about five minutes, than carefully turn them over and add a quarter cup of wine. Cover and let cook for 10-15 minutes more, adding more wine or stock it it evaporates. Remove cabbage rolls and add butter to the pan, giving you a creamy sauce. Spoon the sauce over the rolls and serve with rice. Deliciousness!
Grilled Eggplant
Eggplant can be a little daunting if you are unfamiliar with it’s characteristics. Short of making Eggplant Parmigiana, most Americans are in the dark about this veggie, which is a shame because it grows so well in the south and it is very versatile with other summer produce. Here’s How I like to prepare it. First, take a vegetable peeler and take the skin off of two sides. Cut the Eggplant in half lengthwise and sprinkle salt all over. Let the eggplant rest for 10-30 minutes as the salt pulls out moisture. Thoroughly rinse the eggplant and pat dry. Brush with olive oil and grill each side on high heat for 3-5 minutes. At this point you can get creative. The idea is to glaze the outside just as it’s finished cooking. I like to use siracha and honey, curry powder mixed in olive oil and lemon juice or balsamic dressing and chopped garlic, even bbq sauce works. The key is to not over-cook the eggplant so that you’re left with a nicely cooked and seasoned outside, with a soft warm inside. Always serve immediately!

Oven Dried Cherry Tomatoes in Olive Oil
This is a good way to preserve your cherry tomatoes, and it heightens thier already sunny flavor by concentrating the sugars in the tomatoes.  Using a foil-lined baking pan, place cherry tomatoes cut-side up, sprinkle with salt and cook on the lowest oven setting (170 degrees is best) for 2-3 hours. The tomatoes will reduce to about a quarter of their size and will be pliable, but leathery. Allow to cool and place into a sterilized jar (you can run it through the dishwasher to sterilize). You can add some chopped garlic and fresh herbs, and then fill with a good quality olive oil. Seal jar(s) and place in the refrigerator- it will keep for 6-8 weeks, building it’s flavor as time goes on.
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