20th Harvest Week July 26th - August 1st, 2004
Season 9
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"To draw real friends, one must cultivate understanding. True friends understand one another no matter what they do."
- Paramahansa Yoganada


What’s in the standard share:


Veggies and herbs:
Broccoli raab
Green beans
Tomatoes (red)
Sungold cherry toma-toes
Mystery items



... and if you have an extra-fruit option:
Strawberries, peaches, blackberries and raspberries



July 30, 31, Aug. 1
Children's Mini-camp, Friday eve. to noon Sun. (see details in Week 15 newsletter!) Sold Out!

Sat. Sept. 25
Fall Equinox Celebration
3-9 pm
with the Banana Slug String Band!

Sat. Oct 23rd
Halloween Pumpkin Pallooza

To fill a box with fresh vegetables is always a dance with Mother Nature, as she determines the rhythm at which her abundance be-comes available. The warm weather in March resulted in earlier peaches and apricots. The apples and pears seem to be about two weeks earlier than usual too. Since we farm on three different pieces of land, each has their own microclimate with different tempera-ture, soil and moisture conditions. It takes a couple of seasons to match the crops to the most ideal conditions in the field. Sometimes when faced with too many competing choices I plant something where my intuition tells me not to, and most of the time I regret having done so. This year I made the mistake of planting winter squash on the hillside behind our house. To save time we directly sowed into prepared beds, however due to the nature of the slope, the moisture was not evenly distributed and the weeds ended up germinating before the squash. Once the succulent seedlings did break through the surface, a flock of blackbirds discovered them and finished most of them off in a matter of days. Our replacement winter squash is now being transplanted into the fields, giving us a really late start. My hope is that a warm fall will still give us some tasty butternut squash come November. In the meantime, we can enjoy the start of our tomato crop and not worry about Thanksgiving. Who knows what kinds of surprises Mother Nature still has in store for us as the season progresses? – Tom

Crop Notes
If you ask me which crop I enjoy growing the most, potatoes are right up there on top of my list. The sight of a lush, green, potato field dotted with white and purple flowers is one of the highlights of the season. Slipping your hand under the loose soil and pulling up the first new potatoes is like finding a buried treasure. Do you know that the so-called "Irish" potato actually comes from the highlands of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, where it has been cultivated for over 5000 years? Potatoes were the staple of the Incas, who grew and ate hundreds of varieties. They even made a potato liqueur in some of the earliest known stills. Like its relatives the tomato and pepper, the potato arrived in Europe with the Spanish explorers. Within a few decades it replaced the parsnip as the vegetable staple of Europe. The Irish were the first to grow the potato extensively since it yielded 4 to 5 times more calories per acre than any of the traditionally grown cereal grains. By changing their diet, it allowed the Irish to survive without having to depend on the English grown grains. In war-torn Europe peasants planted potatoes as a kind of insurance since potatoes could be left in the ground through the winter and dug only as needed for daily consumption. This would allow peasants to survive the raids of soldiers during wartime: soldiers usually could not take the time to dig the field to get their food, and certainly they would not do so if grains were stored in neighboring barns. However in 1845-46, the year of the devastating "Irish Potato Famine," Late Blight (Phytophtora Infestans), a common fungal disease that thrives under cool and wet conditions (i.e. Irish weather) wiped out most of the Irish potato crop. Hundreds of thousands died before public relief could be organized, and scores of thousands who survived emigrated to America. The harsh lesson of this famine was the importance of maintaining a diversified farming system, i.e. don't rely solely on one type of crop (mono-cropping).

Although potatoes grow underground they are not really roots. They are the swollen end of skinny underground stems called rhi-zomes. To stimulate their growth, about a quarter to a third of the plant has to be covered with soil, or hilled up to stimulate the for-mation of "tubers". Today heirloom potatoes are making a comeback. There are hundreds of exciting varieties now available. They come in unique shapes and colors, from purple, to knobby "fingerlings," to round, red-skinned boilers, to oval, brown-skinned boilers. On the farm this year we are growing the early, thin-skinned red type with low starch content (which you are getting now), the sweet and nutty all-purpose yellow potatoes like Yukon Gold and Yellow Finn, as well as my favorite "Fingerling," or Russian Banana, which stays firm when cooked, making them great for roasting, potato salads and the like.

Notes from Debbie’s Kitchen . . . . . . . . Have a recipe you’d like to share? Contact Debbie.

I know Tom talked a lot about potatoes, but I'm guessing the thing in everyone's box they'll be most curious about how to cook and eat will be the broccoli raab. – Debbie

Deb on Broccoli Raab
This stuff looks much less like broccoli than it does a leafy green vegetable (see picture in our recipe database, on the website). The stalks are slender and multi-stemmed with lots of soft, serrated leaves, and the vegetable is more of a yellow-green than the dark, dusty-green color one associates with regular broccoli. The ‘buds’ at the end of the stems are sometimes nubby like regular broccoli, or can be beginning to form yellow flowers and still be eatable. And you eat the whole thing – the stems, the leaves, the buds... maybe only trimming off the very ends if they appear tough.

How do people describe its flavor? First of all, it is definitely in the ‘bitter greens’ category, so you’ll want to cook with it accordingly. Strong greens can stand up to strong flavors. Some say it tastes like mustard greens, others find it reminiscent of kale. Another gave it a ‘broccoli-turnip-radish’ combo flavor.

While looking for recipes, I found it paired often with sausage and pasta (typically orchiette), and often with garlic. I myself would readily prepare it in the style of my ‘hot salad’ recipe of a few months back. Cook it about 5 minutes (or until tender) in well-salted – think seawater – water [I’ve found that cooking bitter greens in well salted water really brings out their flavor and tempers them somehow; I’m not sure of the chemistry, I just know what I taste!] For the ‘hot salad’ I leave the stalks whole; for other preparations (like with pasta and/or sausage), I’d chop them coarsely. Drain well, drizzle with olive oil, and squeeze a generous amount of lemon over all (no need to salt it further). Just like that would be my simplest preparation. Variations: 1. you could grate some fresh sharp Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top, after the olive oil and lemon. 2. You could sauté up a bunch of fresh garlic in olive oil and toss the just-cooked broccoli raab with that, and just eat it that way, or optionally add the lemon, optionally add the parmesan. 3. You could sprinkle toasted breadcrumbs on top. 4. You could toss in some crushed red chilies. 5. You could brown up some hot or sweet Italian sausage, sautéed with some onion and garlic, toss the [cooked, chopped] raab in with that. Boil up some pasta (orchiette, penne, whatever you like) and add it too. 6. Instead of sausage, you could dice up some nice salty ham, or maybe even bacon or prosciutto. Are you beginning to see the possibilities?

I even found an interesting recipe that paired broccoli raab with blood oranges and mandarins, but it was a fancier compilation, something I may save for a future newsletter. Ditto for a preparation which serves the raab on a bed of soft polenta made with ground fennel and parmesan. Ditto for a frittata with sweet red peppers. Stay tuned!

Steamed Eggplant – version 1
(simpler) "with spicy sauce"

serves 5
from a 2001 SJ Merc clipping

"This dish gets tastier the longer it sits."

5 Japanese eggplants
2 tbsp. vinegar
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. sesame seed oil
1 tsp. Japanese or Chinese chile oil
Pinch of bonito flakes

Without cutting off tops, wash and partially peel eggplant and slice into thirds lengthwise. Soak in cold water 1 hour. In large pot, steam eggplant until soft, abut 15 minutes. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over eggplant.

Steamed Eggplant – version 2
"with cilantro, basil and mint"

serves 4
another SJ Merc clipping

2 medium purple eggplants
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 C soy sauce
3 tbsp. sweet chili sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 scallions, sliced
2 fresh red chiles, finely chopped
1 lg. handful fresh cilantro, roughly sliced
1 lg. handful fresh basil, ditto
1 lg. handful fresh mint, ditto
1 large handful yellow celery leaves (from the heart of the celery)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put some water in a pan and bring to a boil. Slice eggplant in half lengthwise and place in steamer, cut side up. Steam for about 10 minutes – to check whether they’re ready, simply squeeze sides gently, and if they’re silky soft then they’re done. Remove from steamer, place in colander and leave to cool. Make a dressing by mixing all the remaining ingredients in a bowl. When eggplant halves are warm, this is the perfect time to flavor them. Cut them up into rough 1-inch dice, add to bowl of dressing and toss. Serve immediately as a salad, tapa, or as a vegetable next to any simple cooked fish.

Peach Rum Jam
submitted by member Kathy Blount: from her 1968 edition Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. Makes about 6 half-pint jars.

3 lbs. fully ripe peaches, scalded, peeled and finely chopped (4 cups chopped)
a 1 3/4-oz. package of powdered fruit pectin
5 C sugar
1/4 C light rum

Combine chopped peaches and fruit pectin in a very large saucepan or Dutch oven. Place over high heat and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Immediately add all the sugar and stir. Again bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in rum; skim off foam. Stir and skim for 5 minutes to cool slightly and prevent fruit from floating. Ladle into hot scalded jars. Seal at once.

*Click Here* for a link to a comprehensive listing of recipes from Live Earth Farm's newsletters going back as far as our 1998 season! You can search for recipes by key ingredient. Recipe site is updated weekly during the season.