From the Farmer

Week 15 – 8/27/2014

This is week 15!  We are well in the thick of it, in fact it’s hard to believe we’re in the last week of August.  Time for back to school and new schedules and pencils and Trapper Keepers.

It’s also time for a couple of fresh fresh-veggies: Malabar spinach and ground cherries AKA Cape Gooseberries.  Malabar spinach is one of our Summer Greens – well-loved in Southeast Asia, it has naturalized and become a useful food crop in Africa and parts of South America.  It’s a tropical, and we like it both for its love of summer heat and for its beauty in the field.  Alice says it’s the love child of spinach and jade plant and has eaten it every night for the last month and a half.  A fair description though Matt says don’t think about it too much – and don’t try eating your Jade plant.  Anyway, it’s high in Vitamins A and C and iron and calcium.  It’s also low in calories and high in protein per calorie and also soluble fiber.  It has a bit of that okra essence and is traditionally used to thicken soups and stir fry, if you don’t treat it like the leaf it is and put it on a sandwich.

Also making its 2014 debut this week: ground cherries AKA Cape Gooseberries.  Each one is a present you get to unwrap – the berries are ripe when the husk is dry and the berry is golden yellow.  Ground cherries are native to the Americas (Go America), in fact they’re bred from a common Virginia weed the Virginia ground cherry.  If you grow them at home treat them rough – not too much water, not too much fertility.  They are sweet and savory at the same time and we can’t decide what we like to do with them more: add them to salsa or sauce, or make Kat’s Cantaloupe-Ground Cherry Crumple (Pie).  Ooh, or just with ice cream.

Speaking of weeds I’ve been sitting on the tractor a lot recently as we break a thick two-year cover crop on our next field.  This time of year and particularly this cool and wet year we’ve spent a lot of time fighting: weeds and disease especially.  In dark hours it feels like a ridiculous struggle to kill things that want to grow and keep alive things that want to die.  Nothing like a fresh tomato crop coming to bear to lift us out of that self-pity.  See CSA box for said tomatoes.

This week Bonnie talks Freezing.  Some items can be frozen as is (fruit, which includes tomatoes) and other will be better blanched first (most veggies like beans and broccoli).  One freezing memory is sitting on the deck watching a then-girlfriend with a cigarette in her mouth using a plumber’s torch to roast red peppers.  We removed the pepper skins, soaked in olive oil and packed into small zip locks.  Sounds like a lot of work but an enjoyable afternoon.  I’m sure there is another way to roast peppers.  Try it!

Be great,

Mike

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