July Twenty Third

The intensity of the summer has a way of stripping us of our layers.  We enter the season in the spring well rested, with our homes and lives organized, and our thoughts even somewhat still, structured, prepared and grounded.  The season begins with days slowly lengthening.  We’re eased with near trickery into days where the sun shines half past nine pm.  We continue working, preserving, laundering and maintaining our lives with fury into the late of the night.  We become stretched and squeezed and we exhaust our energy reserves to keep up with the quickening pace. lemoncukesLemon Cucumbers!

Admittedly, I do live in my own little world here on this farm, but I assume the rest of you are feeling it too.  The summer madness.  The ‘heat’.  The buzz.  It has a way of putting us to the test.  Here it is, the real stuff that we’re made of.  The raw person we are when you catch us tired, hungry, and needing a shower with still more heavy lifting and work to do before the day is over.  How do we behave, how do we react, how do we handle?  How good is your self-practice? 

Farming can be a stressful occupation.  Incorporated into the heaviness of the season can be long periods of no rain, insect and disease pressure, machinery break downs, workers getting sick and so on.  It’s up to us, who are captaining the ship, to ride the waves.  Farming is teaching me patience and is helping me build my character in ways I never imagined it would.  Most days, upon reflection, I’m happy with how it has helped form me and challenge my nature. 

Now with the “heat on”, and the heat index rising, the obstacles begin.  The summer bounty is about to really start picking up.  Soon the tomatoes will start ripening, the peppers will start turning colors, the melons will slip from their vines and the sweet corn ears will swell.  The green beans are flowering and the eggplants are starting.  Our heat-loving plants are getting ready to start sharing their secrets. 

I am reminded why it’s all worth it.  If not for my own personal love for the best food money can buy, I might not be willing to endure the intensity of this life.  But nothing beats our sweet sun-gold cherry tomatoes, or eating raw sweet corn right off the plant, or munching on sweet peas and celery stalks while you work-just a moment away from it’s source.  There is something very freeing about this.  Something that helps a person think about what is fundamentally important and enriching in life. 

I consider myself lucky.  Even at the end of the day with my nails filled with dirt, my feet tired, my clothing turning to rags and my brain a little squishy.  My body is hungry from a full day of hard work and it feels truly tired and ready to rest.  I appreciate the opportunities to improve myself from being faced with obstacles and struggles that are difficult to handle.  I am thankful for the “foodie” community that supports this farm and respects this lifestyle and chooses to invest in it.  

Sooo....What's in the Box???

Green or Red Cabbage-  Still plenty of large heads of green cabbage out there, but we were tempted by the beautiful heads of purple that were looking so perfect and ready for the picking.  Grandma Jane has been using up lotts of cabbage lately with her classic Egg Roll recipe.  anise_harvestHarvesting the fragrant and beautiful Anise Hyssop

Green or Purple Kohlrabi-  The final giving of kohlrabi has arrived for the spring season.  It's amazing that we had it this long!  We do have Fall successions of kohlrabi that we can look forard to in our last few boxes.  

Celery-  Another fantastic week of celery!  I'll have you know that growing organic celery in the midwest is difficult!  These little guys were started from the tiniest seeds you've ever seen way back in early March.  We have tended to them through their infancy for almost 8 weeks in the greenhouse and then transplated them and cultivated them in the field for another 8 weeks.  These guys have been with us for a while!  They're not what you're used to seeing from California, white and flavorless, but they have a midwesten character all of their own.  We noticed a real sweet flavor when chewing on stalks during harvest.  A stronger celery flavor.  Use the greens in your cooking for stocks, soups or minced into cold salads of all kinds.  One year we even dehydrated some to flavor soups in the winter time.  

Cucumbers-  Huge cucumbers!  Three per member.  I'm not sure what's gotten into our soil, but these are the biggest cucumbers we've ever seen.  We are now picking from our second succession of cucumbers.   More where these guys came from in the next few weeks.  Cucumbers prefer to be stored at 50 degrees.  Some refrigerators could be too cool for them and cause them to get a little rubbery.  Use them up in cucumber water too!  If we shorted you a cucumber, you may have received an eggplant in it's place!  

Lemon Cucumbers!-  Notice the small, round, yellow ball rolling around at the bottom of your box?  That is a lemon cucumber.  These little guys are an heirloom cucumber variety with a smooth cucumber flavor.  It will add color and texture to your favorite classic cucumber dishes.  Have fun!

Green Onions-  Sadly, this is our final giving of green onions as well!  The good news is that our white onion bulbs are up next.  You may even have received a white onion this week as we were running out of green onions toward the end of harvest.  

Summer Squash, Zucchini and Patty Pans-  About 4-5 per member.  We had a slightly cooler week last week, so sqash harvest slowed down a little.  We're expecting it to stay steady so we can continue to be generous with squash in the weeks ahead.  All summer squashes (by that I mean the yellow squash, zucchini and Patty pans) prefer 50 degree storage as well.  Remember that you can freeze squash very easily-just grate it with your cheese grater and store it in zip lock bags in the freezer.  

Anise Hyssop-  A hot item for farm worker conversation this week.  We know the honeybees love that we grow Anise Hyssop, we'll have to find out if you love that we grow it!  It is a medicinal herb that is good for respiratory issues and can be made into a simple iced tea and sweetened with your favorite sweetener or check out one of our recipe suggestions below. 

Broccoli-  We did our best to send everyone a broccoli and a cauliflower this week.  It ran a little heavier on the cauli this week, so you may have gotten two of those instead.  Broccoli loves to be kept very cold, so keep it in a plastic bag in the fridge

Cauliflower-  Another adjustment from California grown cauliflower.  Cauliflower loves cold and overcast growing conditions.  We've had sunny, dry and hot growing conditions here in late July in the Midwest.  This is what we get!  We found the flavor to be wonderful still even though it's getting hot out there to be growing cauliflower.  Use it up quick!  

Collards or Green Curly Kale-  Collards and Kale are very similar in cooking abilities and flavor.  They are both brassicas that originated as primative non-heading cabbages.  While kale is often the more popular of the two, collards are usually a more tender leaf and are less likely to become bitter in the heat.  The only difference this greens-eating girl can tell is the shape and texture between them.  If a recipe you love calls for kale, sub collards and vice versa!  

Lettuce X 2-  I am so amazed at how tender our lettuce is considering the time of year it us.  We've got one or two more weeks of lettuce givings ahead of us, and then we'll take a little break from lettuce for the late summer and resume again in the fall.  

Cilantro-  Beautiful bunches of cilantro this week.  We've got one more week of cilantro givings ahead of us still.  Cilantro makes a wonderful salad dressing (see recipe below), or even wonderful in cold cucumber salads.  


Cucumber Water

Cilantro-Lime Salad Dressing

Anise Hyssop Drink

Anise Hyssop Sauce

Vegetable Pad Thai with Tat Soi and Cilantro