The Halfway Point
It feels a little strange that we're already on Week 10 of your shares, with another ten weeks to go. Of course, we started planning this year's garden, and your baskets, about a year ago, and the preparation of the beds and such started in February. Market gardening is certainly a marathon, not a sprint. We have some treats to look forward to on the downhill slope, such as peppers, winter squashes, the bulk of the onions (you've received barely half of what you're going to get), and a variety of fall brassicas and greens.
And speaking of greens...
You have three different ways of getting your leafy greens this week. There's the leaf lettuce, which is again Bergam's Green. There's also Fordhook Giant Swiss chard, which is an all-green version (okay, sort-of white in the stems). And then there's the greens attached to the Touchstone Gold beets. I am in love with these beets. Their flavor is outstanding, and their gradient golden color makes them about as sensuous as peaches, in my opinion. I was picking them last night in the long light of sunset and had another one of those "this is why I do this" moments. You can't really do better than working in beauty while providing things of beauty to people who appreciate them. Makes my cynicism about the world go away, if only for a little bit.
Greens and rice
Our partners Neal and Tasha were out this last week for the eclipse and Neal made us a wonderful dinner of salmon and a Swiss chard sort-of-risotto. I'm going to adapt his recipe a little bit here:
1 bunch Swiss chard (or use the beet greens), cleaned, dried, and chopped
2 cloves garlic, or more, roughly minced
8 oz. mushrooms, chopped (optional)
1 cup white rice (we used jasmine rice, which is heresy for risotto, but it turned out fine)
2 or 3 cups warm chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tbsp. olive oil, or half oil and half butter
In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the garlic in olive oil until just translucent and aromatic, about thirty seconds. Add the mushrooms, if using, and sauté until they give up some of their moisture. Add the dry rice and stir it to coat with oil, then toast it for a minute or two. Then, add the greens all at once and cover the skillet with a lid, letting the greens cook down and reduce volume. When the greens are manageable, start adding the warm stock, about a half cup at a time, stirring occasionally and allowing the liquid to be absorbed into the rice before adding more liquid. This should take a total of about 20 minutes. Stir in about 3/4 cup of the Parmesan when you add the last liquid. Once the last liquid is absorbed, let the pan rest for a few minutes, then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and run the skillet under a broiler for about thirty seconds.
Usually, when you cook greens, it's a good idea to pull out the stalks and cook them for a few minutes longer than the leaves. I can pretty much guarantee you that you won't have to do that with your greens this week; everything is tender and succulent.
Oh yeah, beans and stuff too.
Tomatoes and green beans round out your basket this week. You could use the green beans in your risotto as well, if you'd like. The tomatoes are all over the map this week, with Oregon Spring, Bloody Butcher, Manitoba and Brandywine predominating. There's also the beets, those yellow things on the other end of the beet greens. If you'd like to try something really different, how about some golden beet-infused vodka? Just peel and chop the raw beets into about a liter of vodka and let it sit for about a week. The flavor is a bit funky, a bit musty and sweet, and the color is out of this world. Bloody Marys, golden martinis, even screwdrivers...you get the picture.
Tomato apocalypse, first warning
So, you're probably getting tired of all these tomatoes. If you're not, or if you'd like to make something big, like a sauce or juice or jam, we are about to be overwhelmed with tomatoes. We will be letting you know when this avalanche of tomatoes is ready; we just wanted you to know that we will have bulk shares available for a very special price to you. Dust off your canners and get your Mason jars washed. I'm thinking about two weeks from now, if the weather stays this warm. You have been warned.
As we head into the second half of the season, I want to thank you all again for your kindness, your patience, your great ideas, and your food pictures. You make it all worth getting up in the morning. And, as always, thanks to my husband and partner Michael, whose unfailing cheer, grace, and organizational skills make delivery mornings, and every morning, a joy.
Farmer Joel and the crew