CSA Newsletter: Week 11

IN YOUR BOX THIS WEEK

Cantaloupe // Store in the fridge. Once cut open, store leftover melon in the fridge wrapped with plastic wrap. The flesh will dry out if left exposed. Use them quickly.

Cherry Tomatoes // Most tomatoes should be kept out on the counter at room temperature, but cherry tomatoes need to be stored in the fridge or they over-ripen quickly.

Slicer and Heirloom Tomatoes // Store at room temperature for up to a week. Do not refrigerate. Use heirlooms much more quickly, immediately if you can.

Eggplant // Eggplant is very perishable. Use quickly or at least within the week. Many people recommend not storing in the fridge because it will get soggy quickly, but we generally do and just use it within a couple days. You can cube it and freeze it for soups or curries if you know you won’t get to it right away.

Zucchini or Summer Squash // Zucchini and summer squash spoil most quickly in very warm or very cool temperatures. They can be stored in the crisper drawer of your fridge, but try to use within a week as they will get soggy quickly in there.

Cucumbers (Large Shares Only) // Store in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Try to use within one week.

Banana Peppers, Cherry Bombs, or Jalapenos // Hot peppers keep well in the fridge, especially in the crisper drawer. I often keep hot peppers in a plastic bag so that they don’t spread their heat or flavor to other fridge items.

Carrots // Refrigerate carrots in a plastic bag. They will easily keep for 2-4 weeks this way. If your carrots had tops, remove them prior to storage and store the tops separately in a separate bag. They should last 2-3 days.

Celery // Celery releases a gas known as ethylene. It is therefore should not be stored in plastic — This will trap the gas and cause quick spoilage. For best storage, wrap in aluminum foil and store in the fridge.

Shallots // Store in a cool dark place until ready to use. These have been cured and should store for months, though you should use within a month for best quality.

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We are having a truly beautiful August at Raleigh’s Hillside Farm. With warm days and cool nights, both the crops and the farmers are in great spirits. The tomatoes are just beginning to reach peak production, and hauling in a thousand of pounds of tomatoes each week is so much more enjoyable when temperatures barely rise above 80 degrees. This tomato season has been an absolute joy so far both in weather for harvesting and the actual state of the crop. We’re just starting to see the first significant signs of disease and pest damage but they are still nothing compared to the last couple of years. If rain stays moderate, we can expect another month of tomatoes in your CSA boxes!

If you have noticed, the eggplant is also thrilled with this weather. We are having a tremendous eggplant year, hauling in 200-300 pounds of eggplant each week (when we are used to harvests barely half to a third of that size). We didn’t plan to give you so much eggplant this year but sometimes the crop decides how much members will receive. With both eggplants and tomatoes, you are experiencing a real “shared bounty” experience. One of the pillars of CSA is the concept of shared risk and shared bounty. We talk about this a little bit in our CSA handbook but essentially it just means that when a crop does well, you will receive a lot more than is usual, and when a crop does poorly, you will receive a little less.

On the reverse side of the bounty, you may have noticed that you received a lot less cucumbers this year than in the past. There were weeks in past seasons where we gave 4-5 cucumbers a week for the full month of July. Sadly, that wasn’t the case this year. Both of our cucumber plantings got diseased fairly quickly this year and that disease spread fast with the early summer rains. It’s completely normal for CSA boxes to fluctuate like this from year to year, and it’s up to your farmer to help you understand the unique personality of each season.

The winter squash field is still looking amazing, and we’re feeling very optimistic about this crop this year. Just like with tomatoes, winter squash is a crop we’ve really struggled with in past years because of the amount of rain received in August. Though we have had some big storms rolling through lately, they came after a pretty long dry spell. If the storms can stay light (none of that crazy 5-7 inches at a time stuff like last year) and relatively infrequent (no more than one or two a week), we expect a great bounty of acorn and butternut squash for the September CSA boxes.

The fall brassica field is also looking absolutely lovely. This field is row covered to keep the pests off and to help create a greenhouse effect that will speed up their growth so we can have some cabbage and broccoli in time for the last October boxes. We uncovered about half of it on Friday to get some weeding done, and it’s always so much fun to unveil part of a field and see how its doing. We spot check to make sure plants are staying watered but generally we won’t see a crop that’s under row cover for a week or two. When you uncover it to weed, it’s so exciting to see crops double or triple in size. We’ll continue weeding the rest of this field later this week.

In other news, Leo the farm cat (also known as Grizzly also known as Gravy also known as Derek) was adopted on Thursday. Our employee Zoe has been falling in love with him since the minute he wandered onto our farm about a month ago. She’s been waiting for the right time to take him home and that moment came last week. The farm crew will miss him and the silly energy a feline friend always brings to the harvest days, but we’re so happy to see him go to a great home.

-L&K

P.S. We just wanted to let you know that we’ve got a date for the Fall Harvest Party!! It will be September 28th from 11-3 p.m. and we’re so excited to have a CSA-member led CHILI COOKOFF at this event!! We’ll also have fresh apple cider alongside more apples for pressing as well as a caramel apple building station again for the kiddos. It should be a perfect fall day at the farm. You can find our Chili Cookoff and party sign-up form here.

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VEGGIE ID: Hot peppers

Consider this your official warning— all these peppers are hot!! The yellow ones are banana peppers and they are the mildest of the hot peppers we grow. Even if you eat these raw, they likely won’t hurt you. The red ones are cherry bomb peppers and one of our absolute favorites. They’re hot but also a little sweet. I think they are quite hot if eaten raw, but much better if added to a dish and cooked a bit. The green ones you are likely familiar with— these beauties are jalapenos. Remove the seeds and add a half or whole to most any of the dishes I share and I promise it won’t be too much heat.

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VEGGIE ID: SHALLOTS

The pretty pinkish purple thing in your box this week that looks a lot like an onion is actually a shallot. Their flavor is a lot richer and sweeter than an onion. They lend a lot of flavor to any dish, but I really love to mince them finely and use them raw in salad dressings made of buttermilk or caramelized and the focus on a pizza or other savory dish. I also love to use them in any salad that calls for raw onions because they have the perfect amount of subtle pungency.

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IN YOUR BOX NEXT WEEK

You can expect 10-11 of these items in your box next week

Cherry Tomatoes

Slicer Tomatoes

Eggplant

Colored Bell Peppers or Italian Fryers

Jalapeno

Potatoes

Celery

Carrots

Daikon Radish

Onion

Chard

Mixed Herbs

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KATHY'S RECIPE CORNER

Early on, Lauren's mom instilled in her a great love of cooking. She's always had a garden and knows what to do with abundant produce better than anyone. We hope you enjoy her classic Wisconsin preparations of summer abundance. 

Butterstuffing and Tomatoes

1/3 cup butter

½ cup diagonally sliced celery       

½ cup green pepper strips

¼ cup chopped onion (or shallot)

1 teaspoon salt          

1 teaspoon dried basil                                      

1 cup seasoned stuffing mix or seasoned croutons

4 (2 ½”) tomatoes, cut in 8 wedges each

2 teaspoons sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large heavy skillet, melt butter. Add celery, green pepper and onion along with spices and saute over medium heat until crisply tender. Add stuffing, toss. Add tomatoes and sugar, toss gently. Cover, continue cooking until tomatoes are hot yet firm.

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box inspiration:

Every week I'll share the links to some of my favorite recipes for the produce in your box from my own blog as well as my favorite bloggers and chefs. I am a master recipe substituter so be sure to read my notes before clicking through to see what vegetables I am swapping for others and how I adapt favorite recipes time and time again with whatever is in season! Though some of the recipes I share may look complicated, I also love sharing tips for streamlining or suggesting other preparation suggestions in the notes of the recipes.

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Cantaloupe Gapacho (pictured on the left) // Uses Cantaloupe, Cucumber, Tomatoes, Hot Peppers (whatever hot pepper you got in your box this week will work!), Shallot // I have mixed feelings about gazpacho. It’s generally not my favorite thing, UNLESS there is a whole bunch of melon in there bringing the sweet, spicy, bright, tangy flavors to life

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

Better Than Takeout Drunk Noodles // Uses Garlic, Carrots, Zucchini, Shallots, sub whatever hot pepper you got for the Fresno pepper, skip the red pepper, add 1-2 Eggplants in lieu of the chicken (if you do, I’d double the amount of oil used) // I’m not sure if you’ve ever had Thai drunken noodles before but it is one of my absolute guilty pleasure dishes from pretty much any Asian restaurant. Some are great. Some are not that good. And I’m so excited for this amazing version from one of my favorite recipe developers so I can have this comforting dish whenever I want!

Gluten-Free

photo by; Bon Appetit

photo by; Bon Appetit

Pork Chops with Celery & Almond Salad // Celery, sub Celery leaves for parsley, Shallot // In case you can't tell just by looking at it, fresh celery is NOTHING like store bought celery. The stems are thinner, the leaves are bigger, the green is more vibrant. Fresh, local celery doesn't need to be buried in soups or stocks (though I do use it for soup in the next recipe). It is worthy of starring as the main event on your dinner table. This simple salad from Bon Appetit is lovely and tender and delicate. It feels a little like fall thanks to the dried cranberries, but with the great cool weather we're having today, I'm feeling like fall anyways.

Vegetarian (if just making the salad), Gluten-Free

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Eggplant Parmesan Melts // Eggplant, sub Tomatoes or Heirloom Tomatoes or Cherry Tomatoes, Shallots and whatever hot peppers you received for packaged tomato sauce // I know only some of you got eggplant this week, but I have this feeling that you all may still have some lying around in your fridge from earlier weeks, and if that is true, here is what you should be doing with it. Thanks site host Erin for reminding me how much I love this simple eggplant parm recipe. It had somehow gotten lost from my memory.

Vegetarian

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

Smoky Eggplant Dip // Uses Eggplant, Garlic // For me, a good loaf of bread is essential for August eating. I LOVE how easy the eating is this time of year (you’ll see my favorite tomato toast recipe below!). Grill up some veg and eat it with a side of crusty bread or in this case, roast some veg and process it into a spread for your bread and eat it alongside a cucumber and tomato salad. Voila. Dinner time!

Vegetarian, Vegan

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Roasted Carrots with Avocado & Yogurt // Uses Carrots, sub Shallots for garlic // The carrots we gave you this week are PERFECT. No need to peel them or really do anything to them at all, but if you must, I love this simple sheet-pan dish. It’s a late summer favorite paired with some steak or grilled chicken.

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

Spicy Pesto and Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Involtini // Uses Zucchini or Summer Squash, sub Green Bell Pepper for red pepper, sub 2-3 cups roughly chopped Tomatoes for tomato sauce // This recipe is a little putsy but damn is it delicious. I love it with fresh tomatoes instead of sauce and some store-bought (or frozen) pesto to keep things a little easier.

Gluten-Free

photo by: Bon Appetit

photo by: Bon Appetit

Tomato Toast // Uses Tomatoes, Garlic // If you haven’t started or ended your day with a giant piece of tomato toast, you have not yet experienced the beauty of summer eating at its simplest. I love this crunchy yet fresh topping of sesame seeds and chives, but you could really play around with what exactly you sprinkle on top (maybe some fried garlic?). You can also make it vegan by using avocado instead of the mayo (still mix it with the garlic and lemon).

Vegetarian

photo by: Jamie Oliver

photo by: Jamie Oliver

Tomato Soup with Carrots & Celery // Tomatoes, Carrots, Celery, Onion // I know this lovely cool spell likely won't last long so I'm relishing in it eating all the delicious hearty, tomato-y soups I can. And I'm thinking to the future with them too! I actually just made a bunch of this tomato soup and froze the majority of it in freezer-safe mason jars. I can't wait to pull a jar of soup out of the freezer on a busy fall or winter day when I don't know what to bring for lunch and be met with amazing summer flavors!

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Carrot Cake with Cider & Olive Oil // Carrots // Since we are finally receiving the first of the cider in our apple shares this week AND the first of the carrots (and I'm patiently willing fall into being), I thought this cake might be a lovely treat for your household. I'm all for summer abundance and non-stop simple tomato dishes, but I love to balance them with something fun and silly like a giant loaf of carrot cake!

Vegetarian