The cooler weather forecast for this week is very welcome after what has been a particularly hot and humid summer. It's not only a pleasant time weather-wise, but vegetable-wise too, with tomatoes in abundance and some fall crops on the horizon. There is one aspect of this time of year that we don't like: schools start up again, meaning we have to say goodbye to our employees who are teachers and college students. Molly and Dave had their last days this past week, and soon we will say goodbye to Emma as well. Both Jacob and Rebecca will soon be cutting back hours as they return to school and teaching, but we are grateful that we will still get to see them on the farm (albeit a little less regularly) through the fall. We will miss the spark they all bring to conversations in the fields, as well as the immense amount of work they help us get done!
School departures mean that the rest of the crew will have plenty to keep us busy in spite of the fact that there is very little left to plant and weeding pressure is diminishing. Harvesting will take up a lot of our time - not only summer crops like tomatoes, melons, zucchini and cucumbers, but also fall storage crops like onions and winter squash. We harvested all of our shallots and half of our storage onions in the past week and half. They are now curing in our greenhouse and we are looking forward to harvesting the rest of the onions, as well as spaghetti squash and pumpkins this week! There are also still fall carrots, beets and brassicas to be weeded, garlic and strawberries to be planted, plastic mulch and drip tape to be pulled, new ground to be broken for next season, cover crops to be seeded and hoop houses to be built. Fortunately, our Assistant Growers Janel, Katherine and Zach are still here to help us accomplish all that! We are so lucky to have such a great crew - all these things would be physically (and psychologically!) impossible on our own.
This week in the CSA:
- Colored sweet peppers - Mostly Carmen (a sweet red frying pepper, also known as a "bull's horn" type due to it's pointy shape) and Flavorburst (yellow bell pepper). Colored peppers are slow to ripen in our climate. We've picked many of them this week while they are still partly green (if you wait until they turn fully colored they unfortunately often have pepper maggot damage and rotten spots).
- Green and purple bell peppers
- Slicing tomatoes - Mountain Merit (red), Damsel (pink) and Chef's Choice Orange (orange of course!).
- Heirloom tomatoes - Pruden's Purple, Striped German, Cherokee Purple, Cherokee Green and Carbon. These have been sprayed with organic copper to prevent late blight, so be sure to wash them before eating.
- Watermelon - Starlight (striped skin) and Blacktail Mountain (solid dark green with a yellow spot on the skin). Both varieties have red flesh and seeds.
- Summer squash - Transitional.
- Zucchini - Transitional.
- Cucumbers - slicing and pickling. Transitional.
- Fresh onions - We are now cutting the tops off, but you should still refrigerate these onions as they are uncured. Transitional.
- Potatoes - Carola (yellow skin and flesh). Transitional
- Cherry tomatoes - all are ripe. Also the cocktail size tomatoes (Mountain Magic and Wapsipinicon Peach) are ripe.
- Husk cherries
- Edamame - steam them, shell them and season them with a little salt for a delicious snack.
- Cilantro, sage, mint, oregano or thyme.
In the farm store:
We will have most of the veggies listed in the CSA available, as well as bulk paste tomatoes for making sauce. We'll also still have corn from Verrill, honey from Double B honey (produced by bees right here on the property!), and eggs from Pete and Jen.
You don't have to be a Flower CSA member to pick - just talk to a shopkeeper about purchasing a bouquet a la carte. Flowers in bloom right now include zinnias, snapdragons bachelors button, celosia, statice, scabiosa, verbena, cosmos, strawflower, craspedia, gomphrena, orlaya, calendula, ammi and more.
Tomato and Squash Gratin
- 5 to 6 medium yellow squash, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 3 to 4 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil
- 15 to 20 whole basil leaves
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Place one layer of sliced squash in the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Top with a layer of sliced tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and a few basil leaves. Generously drizzle olive oil over everything and sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese on top. Repeat in the same order until you run out of vegetables. The top layer should be tomatoes.
Add a final toss of Parmesan and a generous coating of breadcrumbs and more olive oil. Bake until everything is soft, bubbly and brown on top (about 30 to 40 minutes). Serve as a side dish with whatever you’re grilling or with a bean salad or pasta dish for a complete meal.
Zucchini Grilled Cheese
SERVINGS: MAKES 4 SANDWICHES
TIME: 45 MINUTES
You can use a mix of any cheeses — although a couple that melt well is ideal for sandwich adherence — you like with zucchini, I’ve suggested three here. All gruyere (2 cups) works well too.
- 1 pound (about 2 large) zucchini or other summer squash, trimmed
- 1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea or table salt, plus more if needed
- 1 cup (3 ounces or 85 grams) coarsely grated gruyere cheese
- 3/4 cup (2 1/2 ounces or 70 grams) coarsely grated fontina or provolone cheese
- 1/4 cup (20 grams) finely grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8 thin slices bread of your choice, I used a country-style white bread
- A couple tablespoons softened butter or olive oil for brushing bread
Prepare zucchini: Use a food processor with a grater attachment or the large holes of a box grater to grate the zucchini. In a large colander, toss together the zucchini and salt. Let stand for 20 to 30 minutes, until the zucchini has wilted and begun to release liquid. Drain the zucchini in a colander and then use your hands to squeeze out as much water as possible, a fistful at a time. Place wrung-out zucchini on paper towels to drain further.
Make filling and assemble sandwiches: Mix zucchini with grated cheese, a lot of freshly ground black pepper, and more salt if needed.
Brush or spread the bread sides that will form the outsides of the sandwiches with olive oil or softened butter. Spread zucchini-cheese on insides and close the sandwiches.
Cook the sandwiches: Place sandwiches on a large griddle or frying pan over low-medium heat. I like to cook grilled cheese slowly to give the centers a chance to really melt before the outsides get too brown. When the undersides are a deep golden brown, flip the sandwiches and cook until the color underneath matches the lid. Cut sandwiches in half and dig in. Perhaps some pickled vegetable sandwich slaw on the side?