Welcome to another week of beautiful veggies. I love the produce right now- the colors are so vibrant, and the plants are so productive! The tomatoes are flourishing in the greenhouse, though unfortunately, we did have to pull out and destroy the outdoor tomatoes due to an attack of Late Blight (for more information, see below).
The summer squash is going at it full tilt, and the eggplant are producing a staggering amount of incredibly beautiful fruit. It's a nice time of year to be working on a farm growing food.
White Onion or Purple Scallions
Green and Wax Beans
Cherry Tomatoes (Remember to wash these and the large tomatoes before eating! We're spraying an organic agriculture-approved product to protect them from the blight. But you still don't want to eat it...)
Salad Mix or Mixed Asian Greens
Eggplant—all the regular shares on Thursday got it this week
Some recipe ideas to share:
A lot of people assume they don't like eggplant, but if you're like me, you probably just haven't been exposed to it very often, or in one of it's tastier forms. Recently, I've become an Eggie convert. When cooked long enough, it becomes incredibly tender and flavorful. Here are some ways to try preparing it:
Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch thick rounds or slices, brush with olive oil, then coat with (spiced) bread crumbs. Bake them on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven until tender and browned. Serve with pasta and tomato sauce, or just eat them up as a side dish!
Make a simple version of ratatouille by layering sliced summer squash, tomatoes and eggplant in an oiled casserole dish, adding a little olive oil between each layer, then top with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Bake in a hot oven until all the layers are cooked through and tender. 400-450 degrees for about an hour? But check it sooner in case I'm not remembering correctly
You can also take the whole eggplant, skip peeling it, but rub it with oil and poke it a few times with a fork. Stick it under the broiler and cook it about 20 minutes, turning it occasionally, until it's charred on all sides and the insides are soft. Remove it from the oven, allow it to cool, then cut it open and the insides can be scooped out and used to make Baba Ghanoush (Greek) or Baingan Bharta (Indian), both of which are excellent.
I'll admit, I don't always know what to do with greens. But whenever we harvest the Asian Greens, I munch a few leaves and I feel like there must be some excellent ways to prepare these highly flavorful, zingy greens. I was speaking with a friend (who's an excellent cook and also a Lucky Moon CSA member) and he recommended this recipe:
2 cloves garlic, minced,
1 hot pepper, sliced in rings (optional)
1 big handful of green/yellow beans, trimmed
2 summer squash/zucchini sliced thick (too thin and they get mushy)
2 large handfuls of Asian greens rinsed (make sure to spin or shake off excess water)
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
½ Tbsp rice vinegar
½ tsp ground fresh galangal or ginger
½ tsp sesame oil
1 clove minced garlic
3 shakes/dashes cumin
Mix all sauce ingredients in small bowl
Heat 2 Tbsp vegetable oil (oil with high smoking pt) over medium high heat in wok.
Add garlic, beans, and pepper (if using)
Let brown 1-2 minutes. Stir, let brown 1-2 minutes. (DON'T OVER-STIR, just a quick stir to keep it from sticking. Once is fine.)
Add zucchini and squash, stir briefly
Let brown 1-2 minutes. Stir, let brown 1-2 minutes.
Add greens and turn heat to medium low. Stir constantly, and after 3 minutes taste the greens until they're cooked enough that the texture and spiciness are to your liking.
Add sauce and serve over rice or lo mein noodles.
Lo mein noodles can be started after the greens have been added. If you add them to the wok, add them after the sauce and stir.
So Late Blight has officially hit Central New York for 2014. If you're a home gardener, please pay attention to this information, because it is up to all of us to do what we can to keep this nasty fungal disease at bay. First off, tomatoes can get a few different fungal diseases (commonly Early Blight and Septoria) which are detrimental to the plants, but won't usually kill them outright. These are characterized by brown spots and patches on the lower leaves, including yellowing and a bulls-eye effect on the leaves.
Septoria is notable for its thousands of tiny black dots that appear all over the leaves and sometimes the stems. These are all bad. But Late Blight is really bad. It appears as black splotches on the leaves and black patches on the stems. It spreads incredibly quickly, especially in wet, humid, cool conditions (sound familiar?) and it will kill the tomato (or potato) crop.
Once you see the black splotches on the stem, and on more than just a few leaves, you should pull the plants and put them in garbage bags and leave them in the sun to heat up. DO NOT compost the plants or leave them lying around. The spores of the fungi are airborne, and can spread miles around to infect your neighbors and neighboring farms. It's really disappointing to pull out what see like mostly healthy tomato plants, but it needs to be done. It's pretty impossible to save the plants once they've been hit, and especially with the weather conditions we've been having lately.
Potato plants are also susceptible to the disease, but it can be harder to tell with them because often by the time they catch it, the plants are starting to die back anyways, as they normally do as the potatoes grow and mature underground. Because of this, it's best to always avoid putting potato plants or actual potatoes into your compost pile, because they could be carrying the disease and any volunteer potato plants that grow out of your compost pile could be broadcasting the fungal spores. Also, it's really necessary these days to plant seed potatoes that are certified disease-free. In the old days, you could simply save some extra potatoes from the previous year's harvest to plant in the ground for more potatoes. But that was before Late Blight occurred in the area. Now that it's here, planting your own seed potatoes is a really good way to accidentally spread the blight.
For more information, check out some articles on the Cornell Cooperative Extension website. Hope this was helpful - and thanks for taking the time to read it and put the methods into practice! Be well and make good food for each other!
for Lucky Moon Farm