Sunday, August 30, 2015

CSA offerings: week 14

I KNOW I'm supposed to welcome rain with everybody else, but the timing of this storm is off. I've got dry beans and winter squash curing in the field, potatoes doing the same somewhere underground, and tomatoes ready to burst with the addition of all that water. Basil was teetering on the edge of finished last week, and I'm pretty sure this rain has done it in. Unfortunately, nature is not a democracy. We get what we get. Hopefully it'll at least put out some of those wildfires!
early last week: beans drying in the sun
same beans, zipped up tight for the storm(s)
On Thursday evening, I stopped by the farm on the way home from my other job and covered the drying beans with even bigger tarps. Right now, I'm thankful for woven plastics and sand bags, which have done their job and kept the beans dry! I also did a flurry of seeding last week before the mud came: radishes, scallions, spinach, mustard greens, more cilantro and dill, and those beloved Hakurei salad turnips. I have some chard, lettuce, and chicories to transplant, and then the planting will be done for the season.

OK, on to the share. It's time to take a little side-trip into some different nightshades for this week. I'm going to give the bigger peppers a break for the week, reduce--but hopefully not eliminate--the tomatoes (only because the rain will probably dictate it) and offer tomatillos and smaller, hotter peppers. My favorite pepper for spicing things up is the Bulgarian Carrot Chile, a beautiful bright orange pepper with the heat of a serrano and a nice fruity aroma. (It also dries well and makes delicious chile flakes.) Of course, the better-known jalapeno is also welcome, with its thick juicy walls and moderate heat.
chiles!
beautiful heirlooms
Cilantro makes a triumphant return this week, and we'll switch out our usual onions for some garlic. This variety is called Chesnok, which I just learned is Russian for "garlic," even though it actually comes from the Republic of Georgia, where they don't speak Russian. Go figure.

Carrots continue to be sweet and aromatic, and they're part of the marinara sauce recipe that Delinda created for us this week. Make sure you make this Truly Awesome Sauce! It's the perfect antidote to the chilly damp.
Found this friend in the wash station tub last week. I bet this guy doesn't mind the rain!

Truly Awesome Sauce
from shareholder Delinda Free
Ripe tomatoes are one of the foods that are most umami, and slow-cooking brings out the richness of this "fifth taste". Add parmesan, the most umami flavor in European cooking, and you've got a mouthwatering pot of awesome. For more on umami, see http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2013/apr/09/umami-fifth-taste

Traditional marinara uses peeled and seeded tomatoes, but I leave out that tedious step and retain the extra vitamins and juices by just blending the whole tomatoes before adding them to the pot. Also, instead of thickening the sauce with canned tomato paste, I used tomatoes I had dried in my dehydrator. They soak up the extra liquid and, along with the smoked salt, bring out a rich depth of flavor.Try this sauce over pasta, of course. Or you can experiment with spiralized zucchini, spaghetti squash, or a bowl of quinoa and steamed green beans.

2 small onions, minced
2 carrots, diced fine
3 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 lbs vine-ripened tomatoes
1 tablespoon Better-than-bouillon vegetable stock concentrate
3 roasted bell, mild long red or banana peppers, diced
1 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup parsley, chopped fine
1/2 - 1 bunch basil, chopped fine
3-4 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped fine
6-7 sprigs fresh thyme
2-3 teaspoons smoked salt
Pepper to taste

Heat oil on medium in a gallon soup pot, and sauté onion and carrot until onion is translucent. While onions are cooking, blend tomatoes in batches in a high-speed blender. Add garlic through a garlic press, and stir for a couple of minutes, being careful not to burn the onions. Pour liquid tomatoes into the pot, stir, and cook uncovered on low. Add remaining ingredients except pepper. Adjust the herbs to your taste. Allow sauce to reduce to a thick consistency, which may take an hour or so. If sauce bubbles and spatters, reduce heat to lowest setting. When sauce is thick enough for your liking, add pepper and adjust the salt. If the sauce gets too thick, it can be thinned with red wine or water.

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