Even more summer crops are ready to harvest this week. The first slicing tomatoes are in, as well as a few heirlooms. Eggplant and peppers are becoming more abundant, and we have also begun harvesting one of our favorite summer treats: watermelon! It is still a bit early for melons, but the watermelon harvest was hastened because of some heavy feeding pressure from crows and our local coyote friends. The crows have been pecking holes in the melons during the day and at night the coyotes have been finishing off the crows' leftovers and appear to be using the unripe softball-sized melons to play fetch with each other.
While we appreciate the coyotes' efforts at reducing groundhog, rabbit and mouse pressure on many of our crops, we are not so thrilled about their newly acquired taste for a post-meal dessert! Last week we tried out various strategies to protect the plants and baby melons, but the one that we feel has the most promise involves re-purposing our blueberry netting as watermelon netting. We've also just begun harvesting watermelons in earnest so that we can hopefully enjoy them before the wildlife does. This means that there may be some watermelon that is not fully ripened, but we think slightly under-ripe watermelon is better than no watermelon at all!
In the CSA this week:
- Red slicing tomatoes - just a taste this week, but we should be seeing larger quantities very soon.
- Watermelon - this variety is a red melon called Starlight. We don't grow seedless watermelon, so enjoy some old-fashioned seed spitting contests!
- Eggplant - In addition to the traditional dark purple Italian type, we have a light purple Italian type called Beatrice and a dark purple Asian type called Orient Express.
- Peppers - green and purple bells.
- Cucumbers - slicing and pickling are abundant.
- Summer Squash
- Onions - last of the Ailsa Craig and Red Long of Tropea
- Red Russian Kale
- Curly Kale - this is the last of the spring planted kale, but the fall kale is coming along really nicely, so it shouldn't be too long of a break from kale chips!
- Cherry tomatoes
- Hot peppers - jalapenos and serranos
- Beans - green and yellow wax
- Herbs - Genovese basil, Thai basil, cilantro, dill, parsley, thyme, sage and mint
In the store:
In addition to the crops listed above, we should have some heirloom tomatoes, Red Gold potatoes, cabbage and Verrill Farm sweet corn.
It's a perfect time of year for making ratatouille, but this week's recipe is another from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything (our go-to cookbook!).
From How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
- 1 1/2 lb eggplant
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley leaves
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and pressed (or throw in half an Ailsa Craig onion if you like!)
- pinch cayenne (or dice up a little Jalapeno!)
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs or all-purpose flour
- Neutral oil for deep-frying
- Lemon wedges for serving
Trim and peel the eggplant, cut it into chunks and blanch it in boiling water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well, pressing down on the colander to make sure it's dry. Pulse in a food processor. Beat the egg in a large bowl and then add eggplant, parsley, Parmesan, garlic, cayenne, bread crumbs and salt to taste.
Put at least 2 inches of oil in a deep pan over medium heat - bring the temperature to 350F. Drop the fritter batter into the hot oil, about 1/4 cup or large spoonful each. Cook the fritters about 4-6 minutes total, turning once, until nicely browned on both sides. Drain the fritters on paper towels. You can keep fritters warm in the oven at about 200F until all the batches are done. Serve with lemon wedges.