Last week was truly hot, a fitting start to the official start of summer that’s marked by the longest day of the year. I have never held with those official dates for seasons much, personally. If I have to set a date, I usually go with whole months: all of June seems summery, and all of December tends towards winteriness. We in the US tend to unofficially run summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day, including more of June, but not September – and yet September is definitely still summer on the farm, hot and humid, full of tomatoes, bell peppers, and sweet corn, and if the leaves are starting to take on a brown hue towards the end of their days so be it. I heard, once, that in the old Celtic calendars of Ireland they only had two seasons: summer ran from May through October, and winter occupied the dark days of November through April. That seems appropriate, and simple enough. But really, all of this is artificial, a result of humanity’s need to define Nature and fit it into a neatly ordered box. Summer arrives, sometime around the middle of June, in ripening strawberries, flickering fireflies, and days that are not just comfortably warmer but downright hot. A warm front drifts in and you just can’t call it spring anymore. Instead of banking fires at night we lay in sweaty beds, carefully arranging fans around the room, planning out canoe trips and picnics, getting up early to pick lettuce and can cherries before the day gets too hot. It is summer! – and no season for philosophy. Like all of these vegetables, it comes precisely when it is ready, and not a moment before. - Dave
Produce and Cooking Notes
Lettuce – The lettuce survived last week’s heat and seems happy to be back to slightly cooler temperatures.
Basil – We’ve started packing the basil right into the boxes; not only does it smell delicious, but it makes sure that folks coming later to distribution have some left to get.
New Potatoes – These are from the Hostetlers (unsprayed, but not certified organic), although we have a big planting of our own that we are just starting to harvest. So we should new potatoes for quite a bit this July. These have a fresher flavor than storage potatoes and take well to boiling; I love them in potato salads too.
Cucumbers – Cucumbers make a great and easy addition to salads and sandwiches, or don’t be afraid to quick-pickle small batches.
Zucchini – Zucchini season seems to be going well on the farm, and as we get used to picking regularly the abundance of giant ones should drop.
Hot Peppers – Our greenhouse plantings of hot peppers seem to be doing well, and three types – the cute purplish Czech Blacks, the small green jalapenos, and the long yellow-green Hungarian Hot Waxes – are available today. The first two are comparable in strength; the latter are our mildest hot pepper and are similar to a spicy banana pepper – too hot to eat out of hand, but good for slicing into sandwiches or salads.
Sungolds or Peas – The beginning of one treat and the end of another; full shares are getting a choice between sungolds or peas today. If you pick peas, you might get shell or snap peas; we’ll label the bags so you won’t be too surprised.
Eggplant – The beginnings of our eggplant crop make me fairly hopeful for the rest of the year, although there’s only enough today for full shares. These long, thin Asian eggplant are ideal for slicing into rounds.
Blueberries – These blueberries are from Byer’s in Allenwood; they are unsprayed but not organic.
Cucumber Salad with Attitude: The Final Frontier -- Makes about 3 cups. Submitted by Lindsay Williambrown, a fellow CSA member.
This recipe is for those of us who never got what all the cucumber salad fuss was about. Those of you who did will like it, too, though.
• 2 small cucumbers, the smaller a dice the better
• 1 small fresh onion, quartered and sliced thinly
• 3-4 T. raw tahini (I like Spectrum, but if you can do better, by all means do)
• 1 T. pure maple syrup
• ½-3/4 t. Louisiana hot sauce
• 1/3 t. kosher salt
Combine all ingredients. If you have the bad fortune of having to share, serve as an accompaniment to salads, meats, breads, cheeses, or as an accent to a fruit tray. If not, a spoon and a glass of wine will do the trick. I would tell you what it tastes like after it sits for a day, but I really don't know.
Note: to go lower fat, substitute half the tahini with a raw lowfat yogurt.
Papas a la Huancaina (Traditional Peruvian potato salad)
From Asparagus to Zucchini
Juice of 1 lemon
- Pinch of cayenne
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 3 pounds potatoes
- 10 oz queso fresco
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2-3 hot peppers, seeded
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- ¾ tsp turmeric
- 1 cup black olives
- 3-4 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
Combine lemon juice, cayenne, salt, and pepper in a 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.