Greetings once again from Ffynnon Farm. We don't know how many of you are heading down into the Path of Totality, but if you do, why don't you take us along? Pop some tomatoes and strawberries into your cooler and enjoy a fresh treat while the sun goes dark.
Things are settling into the late summer routine out here on the farm. There's still some planting to do for your fall vegetables, and we're already preparing some of the beds for over-wintering produce and cover crops, but a lot of the work has devolved to maintenance and harvesting. The tomato plants are getting a trim; we still have to take out suckers and side shoots to help the existing fruits to ripen. We also are going through all the tomato plants to remove any current blossoms for the same reason: there are already plenty of fruits and we want the plants to put all their energy into ripening those. Of course, there's also weeding, cultivating, fertilizing, and irrigating to be done on a daily basis; these are the things that make up the Zen of a farmer.
Yep, tomatoes again. And strawberries.
The tomatoes are a mixed bag of several different varieties this week, including Chef's Choice Orange, Bloody Butcher, Oregon Spring, and Manitoba. Some of them appear to have thicker skin than normal, and some (the Bloody Butcher) are fairly small--this is normal, it is their nature. These make great fresh sauce for pasta.
Try this simple method for removing the skins:
bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, then plunge the tomatoes into the water, one at a time, for about 30 seconds each. Remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon, and then peel them with a paring knife as soon as they are cool enough to handle. To make the sauce, saute some minced garlic in olive oil until it is translucent (less than a minute), then add the tomatoes, whole, to the pan. Break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon and kind of swirl them around the pan, adding salt and fresh or dried herbs to your taste. Don't bring them to a boil! You want the tomatoes to be bright and keep their fresh flavor; this is "almost-not-cooking." You can add a smidgen of good vinegar at this point if you like, then toss it together with your already-cooked pasta.
Just typing this, at nine in the morning, is making me hungry for dinner.
Greens and radishes
The radishes are the Celesta variety; we like their almost-magenta color and their mild heat. If you like to sauté or braise radish greens, note that these may take a few minutes to cook down. There are more zucchini in your baskets this week. We hope that you don't think we're "zucchini-bombing" you. Actually, we've done more strawberry-bombing than anything else. We've included more of the Bergam's Green leaf lettuce; we like how crisp and sweet these lettuces have stayed through the blasting heat. New this week is the Nash's Green kale and/or green chard. It is excellent sautéed, steamed, braised, or baked into chips.
Note: if your kale is a tad wilted from the heat, simply cut of the bottoms and place in a glass of water for an hour or so, and it should perk right back up! or you can just cook it tonight!
Enjoy the eclipse, wherever you go, but please, remember that we're getting a million extra people in our state this weekend. It's kind of like Woodstock and Burning Man rolled into one. We're probably going to just hunker down on the farm up here in only 98.6% totality. Whatever you do, enjoy, be patient, and use your eclipse glasses! And maybe keep a bottle of water in your car if you venture out.
Wishing you a happy eclipse,
Farmer Joel and all of us at Ffynnon Farm