The ODOT powers that be have been predicting Carmageddon (or is that Carpocalypse?) on Portland roads due to their major road renovation work on practically all the freeways at the same time. We have been into town a few times now, and things actually seem to be better than non-construction days. Perhaps everybody has taken ODOT's advice and stayed home or left town. Regardless, we're going to be starting out early in the morning on Thursday to make sure that we get your veggies to you on time and in good shape.
This week, those vegetables include the first of the peppers, both Gypsy peppers and jalapenos. We also have cucumbers (a slicing variety, Marketmore 76), green beans (Provider bush beans), and my favorite of the week, a red butterhead lettuce called Alkindus.
On a side note, I misnamed the lettuce you got last week. I had said it was a variety named Sylvesta, when actually it was an earlier variety named Mirlo. This stuff probably doesn't matter to anybody but me, but I still want to be correct. As far as this week's very red lettuce is concerned, I feel very motherly about it. Red lettuces are just not as hardy as their green sisters. It's not that they don't germinate--fresh lettuce seed of both red and green varieties is extremely viable. It's adolescence that's hard on the reds; a little too much sun here, a little too little water there, and pretty soon there are gaps in the rows. I like the look of it, though, both in the field and on the plate.
The gypsy peppers are an extremely mild (like, no heat) variety, similar to the Romanian Antohi peppers I've been growing for the last couple years. You can stuff them or roast them or put them in a stir-fry, or make up a mélange with the jalapenos and green beans.
A real revelation, if the weather is cool enough for you to cook, is to saute the cucumbers. Once again, this is not a recipe but a technique, and not the braising technique from the movie Julie and Julia. Simply peel the cucumbers and then use a spoon to core out the seeds, then slice them into half moons about 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick. Melt about a tablespoon of butter into a pan over medium heat, throw in the cucumber slices all at once (pat them dry on a towel first if they're really juicy), and season liberally with salt and pepper. You can also add about a teaspoon of sugar after they have softened and browned a bit; it certainly changes the flavor and helps with any residual bitterness. I like them both ways, and either way it should take less than five minutes to cook. Or, you can add these to the green beans that you've parboiled and then fried for a few minutes, or toss all of the veggies together and bake them in a gratin with cream and Parmesan, topped with seasoned bread crumbs, or...the possibilities are truly limitless. Use the red lettuce as a bed for all of the other veggies, cooked or raw, accent with hard cooked egg and capers, then maybe serve with a home made mayonnaise that you've blended an anchovy into...I've got to stop.
I'd like to thank everybody, by the way, for letting us know ahead of time when you're going on vacation, and for returning your baskets in a timely fashion. It certainly has made it easier for us to get your food to you, and has made our site hosts much less anxious than they've been in past years. Everyone, give yourselves a pat on the back from us. You are the reason we do this.