Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Week 15: The First Double Share

It's a big week this week, and not just because of the vegetables. Seda turned three over the weekend and Scott turns thirty today!

Party Time!

Also, we do have a LOT of vegetables for you. This week's share (which is technically the week 15 and the week 17 share combined - but that is a little confusing) will include: Brussels Sprouts, Kale, Sorrel or Parsley, a Selection of Fresh Herbs, 2 pounds of topped Beets, At least 3 pounds of topped Carrots, Rutabaga, Head Lettuce, 3 pounds Green Tomatoes, Spaghetti Squash, Onions, a Pumpkin or Gourds, and optional Jalapeno peppers.

Bring a strong back to pick-up this week! And maybe an extra bag.

If you're wondering how you can possibly use all these vegetables before they go bad, remember several of them are easy to store.

Brussels Sprouts: We're leaving them on the stalk because they store best this way. They are best fresh but will keep for up to a week wrapped in plastic in the fridge. We have kept them, on the stalk, for a few weeks in our unheated porch with little damage, though they taste best right after harvest. The simplest way to cook them (which also happens to be delicious) is to roast them. You can find my recipe for roasted sprouts in this post, just below the photo of Brussels sprouts.

Fresh Herbs: These can be hung to dry. Thyme, oregano, and rosemary all dry particularly well. Just make sure they are out of the sun. You can also dry them in a frost free refrigerator. Simply leave them in there, whole and uncovered, until they become crisp. I find refrigerator dried herbs have the best flavor.

Beets and Carrots: We have removed the leaves on these items so they will store longer (leaves take moisture from the roots, even in storage). Keep them in their plastic bags and store them in your crisper drawer, they will keep for at least two weeks this way. You can also pickle them. Pickyourown.org (a great online resource for canning information) has recipes for pickled beets and pickled carrots here. Scroll down to the pickling section to find them.

Rutabaga: These will also keep in your crisper drawer for at least two weeks. If space is tight they can  go on the counter for a week or so. If you aren't sure what to do with your 'bagas, try steaming or boiling them and then mashing them just like potatoes. Add butter, herbs like sage or thyme, or even a dollop of maple syrup. A few carrots will go nicely in the mash too.

Green Tomatoes: Three pounds of green tomatoes may sound like a lot, but it is just the right amount for a small batch of green tomato relish (recipe here at the bottom of the post) and some fried green tomatoes. The fried green tomato recipe can be found at the end of this post. Green tomatoes will keep on your counter for at least two weeks, ripening slightly as they sit. These tomatoes will never get fully ripe. If you want to make the relish, be sure to take a few of the optional jalapenos in the share. Green tomatoes also pickle beautifully.

Spaghetti squash just after harvest.

Spaghetti Squash: This will keep for at least a month on your counter, or much longer in a cool dark space like the closet of an unheated spare room or in a reasonably dry basement. When you are ready to cook it, the options are many. I like spaghetti squash baked, forked out, and seasoned with salt, pepper, and dried tarragon. If you want to get fancy, try the recipe at the bottom of this post. The recipe I linked to is what I'll be making Scott for his birthday dinner.

Onions: These are cured storage onions. Store them and use as you would any storage onion from the store, but expect them to taste better :)

Pumpkins just before harvest.

Pumpkins: We don't have enough pumpkins for every member to get one, so you'll have the option of either one pumpkin or three gourds. You should be able to keep your pumpkin out for decoration through Halloween with no problem, but if you want to carve it you should probably wait a few weeks because, of course, once you cut it it will not last as long. You can also paint it is Seda is demonstrating below. I haven't tried it yet, but the variety we grew is supposed to be a pretty good pie pumpkin too.

Gourds: I imagine you all know that gourds are not edible. They are pretty much the only thing that we grow that isn't. Usually I have little patience for cultivating plants that I won't be eating, but for some reason I LOVE gourds passionately. If you do too, hang on to them until they are dry and they will last more or less forever, as long as you keep them dry. Their color will fade, but their character won't.

Gourds adding flare to the acorn squash box. (Acorn squash
will go out next week.)

Fried Green Tomatoes

The ingredients to this recipe are the same as those in the green tomato post linked to above, with the fried green cherry tomato recipe, but the technique is a little better. If you've never had fried green tomatoes I STRONGLY suggest you try them. They're surprisingly easy to make, once you figure out how to get the breading to stick to the tomatoes (it took me some trial and error...), and kind of addictive.
  • Canola or Peanut oil, as needed
  • 2 pounds green tomatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch or thinner slices
  • Flour, as needed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 cup corn meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

In a large skillet, heat about an eighth of an inch of your chosen oil over medium heat.

Spread some flour onto a small plate.

Lightly combine the egg and milk in a small bowl.

In another small bowl combine the corn meal and seasonings.

Dip the green tomato slices in the flour, then the egg/milk mixture, then the corn meal mixture, coating thoroughly but thinly at each station.

When the oil is sizzling hot, fry the slices in batches until the breading is golden and the tomatoes are slightly soft.

Or until they look about like this. Complete with oil
splatter on the stove top.
If necessary, drain on paper towel before serving to remove excess oil. These are best when they are still nearly hot enough to burn your mouth.

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