Farm News (8/4/15)

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Important Reminders & Announcements:

  • This is a vegetable and fruit week for full-share members only.
  • Next week we will deliver vegetables, fruit, eggs, and dairy for full and half-share members.
  • The switch to the new Evanston location starts with this week's pickup. If you are an Evanston members and didn't receive an email about this, pleasecontact us.
  • It's time to sign up for fall shares! Don't miss out on the opportunity to savor the flavors of autumn in the Midwest--winter squash, sweet potatoes, spinach, parsnips, salad greens, garlic, and so much more. In addition to vegetable shares, we also have dairy, egg and meat shares available for fall. Visit our website to learn more about fall shares and to register.

This Week's Vegetable Share (full share only):
  • Green Beans
  • Bell Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Carrots
  • Sweet Onions
  • Kohlrabi
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers
  • Fresh Thyme & Sage

This Week's Fruit Share (full share only):
  • Apricots
  • Plums
  • Blueberries
  • Peaches

Farm Photo Journal
It's been an exceptionally busy couple of weeks on the farm. Our summer staple crops--broccoli, carrots, zucchini and cucumbers-- continue to require every-other-day harvesting, while a whole new wave of late-summer crops is also starting to come in. Eggplant and peppers are now producing abundantly. Tomatoes are just getting started, but we've managed to harvest enough for two tomatoes per share this week. The really large tomato harvests typically start around mid-August and continue through the end of September.
 

In addition to planting, weeding, watering, harvesting, washing and packing, there have been lots of other things going on. We think the following photos capture some of the fun we've been having on the farm these last few weeks.
 

There have been lots of visitors lately, including all the folks who came out on Sundayfor Soil Sisters. Despite the heat and the wind, the event was a great success, drawing over a hundred visitors. (By the way, there's another opportunity to visit the farm this week. We'll be hosting Shakespeare on the Prairie at the Grayslake farm from August 6th to the 9th.)
 
We also wrapped up our week at the county fair, having learned a lot about patience, respect and good sportsmanship. The kids came home with a handful of prizes, including a blue ribbon for showmanship in the sheep ring.
 
On Saturday there was time to squeeze in a small celebration in honor of Peg's 40th birthday. The highlight of the day for Peg was meeting her new Jersey calf, a gift from Matt and the kids. Her name is Valentine, and we hope she'll provide milk for us for many years to come.
 
Valentine isn't the only baby on the farm right now. On top of everything else going on, a new puppy recently joined us. Cedar fits right in, and she is in the process of befriending all the other animals on the farm, including the lamb in the photo above.
 
 
In the Farm Kitchen
 

 
Because of its mild flavor, eggplant is a versatile vegetable that works well with many types of cuisines, including Italian and Asian. It does not need to be peeled, but some people prefer to do so. Before using it in a recipe, we recommend lightly salting eggplant slices and then letting them sit in a strainer for at last 10 minutes. This helps reduce the water content in the eggplant, and improves texture and taste. Store eggplant on the countertop or in a cupboard if you are going to use it within a few days. If you'll be keeping it longer than that it will need to be refrigerated.

Eggplant Marinara Flatbread
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large eggplant, cut into 6 rounds, each about 1/2-inch thick
1 loaf ciabatta or similar bread, cut horizontally in half, trimmed to 9-inch length
1 1/4 cups marinara sauce
1 cup coarsely grated mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle eggplant with salt and pepper. Place in skillet. Cover. Cook until tender, turning, 10 minutes. Transfer to plate. Brush cut side of bottom half of bread with rest of oil. Cook in skillet, cut side down, until golden, 1 minute.

Place bread, cut side up, on baking sheet. Spread with 3/4 cup sauce. Top with eggplant. Mound mozzarella on eggplant; spoon remaining sauce over. Bake bread until topping is hot and crust is crisp, about 12 minutes. Cut into 6 pieces. 

Ratatouille
1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large eggplant cut into 1-inch cubes
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 large onions, diced large
1 head garlic, cloves smashed and peeled
2 bell peppers seeded and diced large
2 zucchini, diced large
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
2 teaspoons fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
2 to 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place tomatoes and juices on a rimmed baking sheet and use your hands to break tomatoes into 3/4-inch pieces. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and bake until thickened, 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a colander, toss eggplant with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Let sit 20 minutes, then squeeze out excess liquid. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 4 tablespoons oil over medium. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until onions and garlic are soft, 5 minutes. Add peppers and cook, stirring, until crisp-tender, 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini and herbs to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and cook at a gentle simmer until vegetables are tender but not mushy, 15 minutes. Season to taste with vinegar, salt, and pepper. 
 

 
 
Fresh herbs are abundant on the farm right now. Sadly, our basil plants have succumbed to a foliar disease that seems to be showing up on farms around the Midwest this summer, but thyme, sage and oregano are doing quite well. These herbs store well in the refrigerator and will last for about a week.

Braised Carrots with Sage, Thyme & Sweet Onions
1 large bunch carrots, peeled
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped sage
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Cut carrots into 3-by 1/2-inch sticks. Bring stock to a boil in a 12-inch heavy skillet. Add carrots and simmer, covered, until just tender, about 15 minutes. Remove lid and boil until most of liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Transfer carrots to a bowl and wipe out skillet.

Cook onion in butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden- brown, about 6 minutes. Add sage, thyme, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and return carrots to skillet, tossing to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

 
 
Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... tomatoes, romano beans, cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, watermelons, carrots, peaches, apples and more!

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  • Margaret Sheaffer