The end of July is a bountiful time of the summer! Many summer crops are reliably producing every day and fall crops are getting bigger. I also find the end of the July to be a time of reckoning on the farm. There is daily harvesting that needs to be done to stay on top of vegetables like cucumbers and zucchini, large scale harvests like garlic are happening, many of the fall crops needs to be planted now, and any small weeding jobs that were left undone in June are now full scale weed forests that have to be dealt with immediately. The end of July is often when I feel like my 'to-do' list is growing much faster than I am crossing items off. But we need to endure a few more weeks of this frenzy and then we turn the corner. By the end of August things start to settle into a more relaxed rhythm for the remainder of the season.
Despite the frenzy of late July, I love the variety of vegetables that are available. Sometimes I think if I sat quietly in the fields I should be able to see the zucchini growing and the tomatoes ripening before my eyes.
Speaking of tomatoes, they are ready and will be in everyone's share this week! This is about two weeks earlier than we normally have enough for all share members. I imagine the hot weather we have had is the reason for the early harvest. We have been enjoying the early, lonely ripe tomatoes and they are delicious! We grow three varieties of cherry tomatoes, and seven varieties of larger slicing tomatoes. Most are heirloom varieties which means that their flavour is superb but sometimes they can look a little funny. Don't pass up the unusual looking tomatoes: they are often the yummiest.
Just like we had many zucchinis last week, we have plentiful cucumbers this week. If you love to snack on sliced cucumber than you will be in cucumber heaven. But if you're not sure how to get through numerous cucumbers you may want to try one the recipes below.
Creamy Pineapple Cucumber Smoothie
Asian Cucumber Salad
The Best Greek Salad
Veggie Nori Rolls
Summer is here in full force on the farm! The summer vegetables are all producing or nearly ready. If fact, our tomatoes are ahead of the game this year. You will see some tomatoes in the trade in bin this week with tomatoes for everyone starting in the next week or two. Later this week I will be tackling the garlic harvest. So far, the garlic looks great and once it is cured you will see some regularly in your shares.
We had a lovely 3 days away in Frontenac Provincial Park: the weather was fantastic, there were hardly any insects, and our site had a nice little rocky beach and swimming area. Now, back to reality!
Since the zucchini went into overdrive while we had our week off, you will receive extra zucchini in your shares this week. Don't worry, I won't force this much zucchini on you every week! For now, dig out your zucchini recipes.
We are still having some beautiful, warm summer weather but the humidity has broken which has made the last few days of fieldwork much more pleasant! The summer vegetables have appreciated the heat and are all looking great.
A reminder to all share members that next week (week of July 16) is a vacation week for us, so there will be no share deliveries. We are taking a few days to go camping in Frontenac Provincial Park and the remaining time to catch up on farm tasks. Deliveries will resume as usual the following week. When we return you will notice that many summer vegetables will be making their appearances in your share. In the two to three shares after our return you can expect to begin receiving zucchini, cucumber, carrots, cabbage, eggplant, fennel, beans, and, finally, tomatoes.
We have had a plentiful run with snap peas this year and I thought I'd include a couple recipes in case you are tiring of just eating them out of hand. This past weekend I made a snap pea salad for a potluck and it turned out great. I didn't follow a specific recipe so I don't have exact measurements: below are my closest guesses. I think it would be pretty forgiving and easy to make in all quantities.
Snap Pea and Radish Salad
3 - 4 cups snap peas, trimmed and cut in half
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp dried dill or 1 tbsp fresh dill
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Combine all ingredients in bowl and toss to serve.
For another snap pea recipe, try Grilled Sugar Snap Peas with Spicy Peanut Sauce or Garlic Parmesan Sugar Snap Peas
The topic on everyone's mind this week is the heat, I'm sure! I hope each of you is enjoying the heat or, at least, finding ways to keep comfortable. While I'm pretty used to working in a least a little heat, there are a still a few changes I make when the weather gets this warm. Early mornings and evenings are the best to time accomplish fieldwork and I leave the mid-afternoon for office work and other cooler jobs.
The warm season vegetables such as squash, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and beans are loving the heat and growing at a fast pace. The cool weather loving crops such as lettuce, greens, cabbage, and kale are a little less happy but as long as we keep them well watered they generally do OK.
Since the heat is making the lettuce want to bolt (send up a flower stalk), everyone is getting extra lettuce in their share this week. Better in your bellies than in our compost pile! And since the heat looks like it will continue, I imagine everyone is living off of salads and other foods that don't require much cooking. Everyone will also be receiving plenty of snap peas again this week. I hope we can squeeze another week of harvest from the plants, but the hot weather can stop peas from flowering so time will tell.
I had hoped to include zucchini in everyone's share this week but I don't think there will be enough decent size zucchini yet. But hopefully the extra peas and lettuce makes up for this omission. Definitely expect zucchini next week!
This week, and most weeks going forward, you will now also receive one or two fresh herbs in your shares. As in previous years, herbs are considered 'bonus' items, which just means I don't calculate their value in the total value of your shares. For this reason, and because their value is less than most other items you receive, herbs are not trade-able. If you have your own at home or don't use many fresh herbs, just leave them behind for someone else. There are two things I am doing differently this year: bunching the herbs and listing a recommended quantity to take (ie. take up to 2 bunches of herbs). In previous years I have just put bulk herbs on the table and encouraged people to take what they could use. Often, I went home with plenty of leftovers. I think this is because people feel shy taking much when there is no recommended amount listed. After a few weeks, let me know what you think of this new system!
On the subject of herbs, I thought I would profile the various herbs we grow on the farm.
I love cooking with and growing herbs and hope to increase the herb selection each year. Refer back to this post whenever you want some ideas of inspiration on how to use a particular herb.
Basil doesn't need much introduction and I know it is a favourite of many share members. Classically used in pesto, fresh basil is also lovely in pasta, homemade ranch-style dips, thinly sliced on salads, and tossed with grains. I also like garnishing some soups with fresh basil. To keep basil fresh, don't refrigerate and instead put the stalks in a glass of water on your countertop.
Another farm favourite, we grow both flat leaf and curly parsley. Much more than a garnish, parsley is great used very similarly to basil. It also makes a great additions to smoothies and juices. Chimichurri is similar to pesto but with parsley as a base. Traditionally spooned over grilled meats of all kinds, I like to always keep a jar on hand to spoon over eggs, mix with cooked grains or roasted vegetables, or use as a salad dressing.
You either love or hate cilantro. Apparently, it's a genetic predisposition that some people think cilantro tastes like soap and others think it tastes wonderful. Thankfully, I am in the group that thinks it's wonderful! Cilantro is one herb I would like to grow more of but it has a very short harvest window before bolting so sometimes it can be hard to stay on top of. Try this cilantro vinaigrette drizzled on anything you want to give a Mexican flair.
It's hard for me to choose a favourite, but dill is very high on my list of favourite herbs. I often mix with mayonnaise and garlic to make an addictive dip for salmon cakes, roasted potato wedges, or artichoke hearts. Dill is almost always in my salads and, of course, features prominently in potato salad and egg salad.
Summer savory is the more delicately flavoured cousin of winter savory. The classic use for summer savory is any sort of bean dish. Minestrone, white bean soup, and others will all benefit from fresh summer savory thrown in at the very end of cooking. And I love tossing fresh green and yellow beans, butter, garlic, salt, and summer savory together for a quick and easy side dish. Use summer savory anywhere you would typically use thyme, oregano, or marjoram.
I use very little thyme throughout the summer months, but once fall arrives and root vegetables are the norm, I begin using thyme regularly. Soup, chicken, fish, stews, and root vegetable medleys all benefit from thyme.
Like thyme, I tend to use sage most in fall and winter. Many thanksgiving dishes just wouldn't be the same without sage! Or, for the true sage lover, you could try battering and frying whole sage leaves.