Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Week 13: Watermelons and Green Soup

Brown watermelon tendril, a good indicator of ripeness.

It's watermelon time! We have been testing them (read: Seda has been DEVOURING not quite ripe watermelon) for about a week and a half now, and all signs finally indicate readiness.

Returning members may remember last year, when we had enough melons for every member to get half a melon. This year's harvest is slightly better, and we have enough for each member to get a whole melon this week. Unfortunately we only have enough for one week though, so group two half share members won't get any. Two weeks of watermelons is what we will strive for in 2013!

In addition to melons, members should expect: Carrots, Beets, Tomatoes, Eggplant or Peppers, Fennel or Dill, Summer Squash or Cucumbers, Lettuce or Radicchio, and Baby Kale plus Brussels Sprout Tops.

There's a few things to explain in this week's share, but first lets talk watermelons.

We grew four different varieties this year. The most prolific was the variety we grew last year, Goldflower. They are the traditional oblong watermelon shape and quite small. They are yellow fleshed. The second most prolific variety was Cream of Saskatchewan, which is also relatively small. It is round and white fleshed. Most members will receive one of these two types. If you get to pick-up early, go for the Goldflower, they are tastier!

The two remaining varieties, Blacktail Mountain and Sweet Favorite, did not produce quite as well for us. Blacktail Mountain is a round, black skinned watermelon with red flesh. Sweet Favorite is a traditional large, oblong, red fleshed watermelon. As larger melons, the Sweet Favorites have a slightly longer season than the others and they actually aren't quite ripe yet. If the frost holds off as long as it seems like it will though, we should get to taste some ripe ones.

We also have another fennel dill choice this week (Remember, we had one way back in the first share?) This time they're coming from the field rather than the hoophouse and they look a bit different. The fennel is small bulbs we planted as a fall planting. The idea was that they would get a little larger than the summer planting did before they started to bolt, thanks to cooler fall weather, but it's 82 degrees today and they are getting ready to bolt, so the fennel is dainty. Use it with fish or eggs, or in the pork and fennel recipe I posted a few weeks back.

The dill is flowering. You can use it in pickles, if you've got something you want to pickle, or as an herb in pasta salad, with baked fish, or with brie cheese in an omelet. 

Finally, the Brussels sprout tops need a bit of explaining. Brussels sprouts are basically baby cabbages that form along a long stalk. There is also a main loose cabbage head that forms at the top of the stalk. If you cut off that head, the sprouts grow a little bigger than they would if you left it on (or so "they" say), so we like to cut the head off. 

Brussels tops, ready to cut.
The result is a big pile of kale-like greens that are tasty enough for sharing. Combine them with the bunch of baby kale in your share (Yay! The kale is back!) in any recipe you like. Including the one below.

Caldo Verde

This hearty soup is velvety from potatoes, flavorful from sausage, and a delicious way to eat up kale and other other greens! As a traditional Portuguese soup it actually calls for a traditional Portuguese sausage, called linguica, which is seasoned with paprika and oregano. But this is the Yoop, I could't find any linguica and you guys probably won't be able to either (tell me if you do 'cause I'll get some). I used polish sausage and it worked nicely. 
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 - 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound potatoes, chopped
  • 6 cups stock or water
  • 1/2 pound sausage
  • 8 - 12 ounces kale and other greens (in other words, the kale and sprout tops in your share), sliced into bite sized pieces. I use stem and all, but feel free to remove the stems if you don't like extra crunch.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil over medium/low heat in a 2 quart pot. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are just soft and translucent.

Stir in the chopped potatoes and pour in the stock or water. Bring the stock to a simmer and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

While the potatoes are simmering, cook the sausage. Brown it and cook it through, then slice in into bite sized pieces.

When the potato is tender, puree the soup until it is smooth. Add the cooked, sliced sausage and return the soup to a simmer. Simmer for about five minutes.

Stir in the chopped greens and simmer until they are tender to your liking. I like them after about five minutes. 

Taste for salt and pepper. If your taste buds are like mine the sausage will have added enough flavor and you won't need any more of either.

Why yes, that is a WWII era US Navy soup spoon, and there is an
interesting story behind it. Thanks Grandma!

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