In The Box 8: Madison Delivery
What an eerily gorgeous morning! From my perch here at the dining room table I can survey my own back paddocks in front of acres of neighboring farms tucked up against rolling oak woods. The sky is an overcast periwinkle and the fields are various shades of ripening grains. Under the promise of rain, the greens of my pastures, the yellows of the corn and the greys of fences have all taken on the extra depth of a stormy daybreak. Now we just watch and wait for the much-needed moisture. Though much of the damage has already been done for the bulk of the farmers in this area, we still remain in a serious drought. For folks like me who grow through the fall, every inch we get now makes a big difference in our work load. And our yields. Which are pretty darn amazing this week, thanks to a rain last week. Here’s what’s in the box:
Basil – Oh boy. With nights quite a ways down below 50, we can expect the basil to turn black on us pretty soon. So freeze that pesto now!
Head Lettuce – Salad days! With this weather, the salads are only going to get better. This week we have dark New Red Fire heads for the Shortie Shares and multi-hued Red Sails for the Full Shares.
Tomatoes – With the edge off the weather, we see the tomatoes coming off the vines a lot less cracked and stressed. We all appreciate this fall weather, animals, vegetables and people alike! This week in your box we are featuring a number of paste tomatoes – less juicy, more meaty varieties intended to be cooked down into sauce. A perfect activity for our cool evenings! Use the oblong Amish Paste, horn-shaped Opalka Paste and crumpled Striped Cavern to make sauce. The Striped Cavern has very little flavor in its flesh, but the seeds are nestled into a tasty heart in the middle of the fruit that is delicious – and it will add lots of body to your sauce. Here’s a great recipe and video for fresh tomato sauce from “Mark Bittman”:http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/06/dining/06mini.html.
The tomato patch is a bit like a Halloween haunted house these days – with crazy limbs reaching out to grab you as you slink through and under the vines. It truly isn’t for the faint of heart in there. The tomato worms are getting bigger and more numerous and have quite sheared off the tops of the plants. Doesn’t seem to bother the fruit production, though. What is a bit damaging are the little marks left by the giant grasshoppers when they cling to the tomatoes. If you are in there by yourself on a quiet evening, you can hear the snap and rustle of hundreds of little bodies moving as you get close.
Bok Choy – This beautiful vase-shaped Chinese cabbage is a crunchy taste treat and a nutritional powerhouse. The best use for it is in stir fry and it combines great with pork – see our recipe below. But I also found a great salad recipe for bok choy on cooks.com, which can also be used with the Napa. I put that below as well.
Napa Cabbage (Full Shares Only) – Some of these Chinese head cabbages got very large! This is another great green to stir-fry but is also a terrific raw slaw cabbage. Also terrific made into Peanut Butter Rolls. Take a small leave, slather with peanut butter and roll up. Eat like a sweet sushi roll.
Arugula – I find our first picking through the fall arugula just delicious! At all times of year I am a fan of arugula, enjoying the way the taste changes season by season, and this gently mild flavor hits the spot for me perfectly right now! Mix it with your lettuce and eat as salad, or wilt slightly and serve over pasta.
Yard Long Beans (Shortie Shares Only) – We had some large items this week that would only fit in the Full Share boxes, so we thought we’d give the Shorties the compensation of the quite stunning red and green yard-long beans. This Asian specialty item is a beefier veggie than a green bean and should be cut in one-inch-pieces and sauteed in oil until tender. Boiling in water will ruin texture and taste. We love this post on them at “Serious Eats.”:http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/07/seriously-asian-the-yardlong-bean.html
Peppers – At last we’ve got some red sweet peppers! Many of these haven’t turned totally yet, but they taste red and that’s good enough for me. The long red peppers are Jimmy Nardellos – the sweetest-tasting peppers ever. They are fryers – which mean their thin skins make them appropriate for saute and roasting recipes, but they aren’t the best for fresh eating. You’ve also got some hot little green jalapenos and yellow Hot Wax.
New Potatoes – These brown bags of new potatoes include yellow Superior, Red Pontiac and All Blue. Scrub gently and don’t peel. The skins are tasty and tender. Cook just until tender.
Chives – These are sooo strong! I cried while harvesting – a first for me with chives. Enjoy with your potatoes, but keep them in the fridge in a plastic bag and you should be able to cook off of this bunch for a month. I just snip little bits off with scissors, right into whatever dish I’m working on.
Onions – What a terrific onion year it was here at Circle M. One of our year-end survey comments in the past has been: “More onions!” And so here you are – onions in every box til the end of the season. Remember – the flattened cipollinis are the sweeter of the two.
Fresh Tomato Cream Sauce
4 large paste tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 minced onion
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup of whipping cream
Fresh basil, ribboned
salt and pepper to taste
Skin tomatoes by dropping them in boiling water for 5 minutes, then removing to cold water. Squeeze the skins off and chop, discarding only the hard core. Heat oil in a sauce pot over med heat and add onion and garlic. Saute until onion is soft. Add tomatoes and salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 min. Add cream, reserving 2 tbsp. Let the sauce simmer for 20 minutes until slightly reduced. Add the last 2 tbsp of cream at the last minute. Remove from heat and add 1 TBSP vodka. Sprinkle with fresh basil. Serve over fusili or linguine pasta.
Bok Choy in Spicy Garlic Sauce
1 large head bok choy
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Trim off just the ends of the bok choy ribs and chop, keeping the white parts separate from the green as they will need to cook longer. Rinse and spin or pat dry. Set aside. In a small bowl or cup, stir together the vegetable oil and sesame oil. In a separate larger bowl, stir together the water, ginger, garlic, oyster sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar and red pepper flakes. Set this aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the bok choy stems first; stir fry for a few minutes or until the pieces start to turn a pale green. When stems are almost cooked, add the remaining oil and leaves; cook and stir until leaves are wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer the bok choy to a serving dish. Pour the sauce into the skillet or wok, and set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce has thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Pour over the bok choy and toss lightly to coat. Serve over rice.
Bok Choy Salad
1/2 c. butter
2 tbsp. white sugar
1 bottle of sesame seeds (1 oz.)
2 pkgs. Ramen noodles (broken up), do not use flavor packet
1 sm. pkg. slivered almonds
2 lbs. bok choy lettuce (chopped coarsely)
5 to 6 green onions, tops and all chopped
In large skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add sesame seed, noodles, almonds and sugar. Stir all the time until lightly browned. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Toss bok choy and onions together, mix and chill until ready to serve. Just before serving, break up the crunchy mixture, add to bok choy, pour dressing over, mix and serve.
3/4 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/2 c. white sugar
2 tbsp. soy sauce
Mix well and chill until ready to use.
SAVE THE DATE!
Our Annual Homestead Harvest Festival is just one month away. We hope you’ll all come and bring friends to chill on the lawn and celebrate the conclusion of a wonderful season of fresh eating. Tours, crafts, stuff for sale and a potluck dinner with live bluegrass music at 6. October 13, 2pm til 10pm. See the Tentative Schedule “here.”:http://18.104.22.168/~circlemf//visit-us/lambs-and-lettuces-festival/