Growing the good stuff in Athens, GA since 2006

Sunday, August 29, 2010

CSA Pickups -- Week 19

Roots Farm CSA
Week 19: August 31 & September 3

This Week:

-Butternut Squash (Backyard Harvest & Full Moon Farms)
-Peppers: Carmen, Lipstick, Islander, Green Bells, Cayenne, Jalapeno
-Eggplant: Nadia, Hansel, Gretel, Fairytale, Pingtung Long
-Basil: Sweet, Lemon, Thai, Purple
-Beans: Red Noodle
-Potatoes: Assorted (Full Moon Farms)
-Okra: Clemson Spineless, Red Burgundy
-Garlic: Inchelium Red, California Early
-Flowers: Assorted Zinnias

In the Field . . .
We’re watching some summer cover crops grow while tilling in others to make way for winter covers. And we just keep on planting for the Fall. Arugula is appearing again this week, I’m happy to say, and we continue to plant successions of it. Newly in the ground: more carrots, beets, radishes, and lettuce mix. Scallions are seeded in the greenhouse and more lettuce is getting seeded this week. The brassicas seem to be holding on despite caterpillar and grasshopper attacks and we’ve got our fingers crossed and the sprayer tanks loaded with BT. We’ve all been enjoying the cooler temperatures and rain, and it seems like fall is on the way . . .

Last Week of the Season!
Wow, can you believe it? 19 weeks come and gone already? How does such a thing happen? We sure hope that you’ve enjoyed your summer with us. It’s mostly been a good year, we think. We’d love to hear any feedback you have, both positive and constructive (i.e. please fill out our handy-dandy surveys) so we can continue to improve our performance. Thanks so much for joining us this year on our veggie-growing adventure--it’s a little different every time! We’ll still have veggies available through the Athens Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, as well as through Athens Locally Grown online later in the Fall for those of you about to go into withdrawal. And never fear, Roots Farm will be back in CSA action next spring for another full season of summer delights--look for notices in January about 2011 season details. We’ll miss you and we’d love to have you back!

Saturday Workday, September 11
Still want to come out and help at Roots? We’ve got another weekend opportunity for you coming up on Saturday, September 11 from 8am-noon. Come join us for a fall extravaganza of planting, weeding, trellising, and more! Early fall mornings are really nice out here on the farm . . .

Is in the veggie spotlight this week. STORAGE: Garlic stores well in a cool, dark, dry, and well-ventilated place for several months. Warm temperatures will encourage garlic to sprout. Do not refrigerate unless storing peeled cloves for a short time. For long-term storage, garlic can be minced and covered or blended with olive oil and placed in small airtight container and frozen. After removing from the freezer, keep it in the refrigerator. USES: garlic goes great in many, many dishes. From soups to salad dressings to spreads to mashed potatoes, stir-fries, muffins, breads, and more, it’s a super savory flavor. Here are some ideas for you . . .


Roasted Whole Garlic
4 large heads of garlic, left whole
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the top 1/3 off of each head of garlic to expose the cloves. Place all 4 heads of garlic on a piece of aluminum foil; drizzle with olive oil. Tightly wrap up the garlic in the foil. Roast until the cloves are soft and creamy, 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on size. Serve as a spread over warm bread, mixed into other dishes, or simply by itself squeezed into your mouth. Yum! Try roasting a few sprigs of your favorite herb along with the garlic for some extra flavor nuance. From Farmer John’s Cookbook.

Roasted Garlic Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk or cream
2/3 cup sugar or packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted, or vegetable oil
1 head roasted garlic, pulp mashed or chopped
zest of 1 lemon

Position rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a standard 12 muffin pan or line with paper liners. Whisk together thoroughly in a large bowl the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together in another bowl the eggs, milk or cream, sugar, and butter or oil. Add the flour mixture and mix together with a few light strokes just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Fold roasted garlic and lemon zest into the batter. Do not overmix; the batter should not be smooth. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in 1 or 2 of the muffins comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Let cool for 2-3 minutes before removing from the pan. Serve as soon as possible, preferably within a few hours of baking. Makes 12 muffins. (from the Joy of Cooking)

Feta Garlic Dressing
1 cup olive oil
2-3 Tbsp vinegar
2-3 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tsp dried dill
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups grated feta cheese
1 cup milk or buttermilk

In a blender or food processor, whirl all the ingredients except the milk or buttermilk for one minute. With the blender running, slowly pour in the milk. As soon as the dressing thickens, turn off the blender or the dressing with separate and become runny. It should be thick and creamy. Chill at least 30 minutes so the flavors will meld. Refrigerated and tightly covered, Feta Garlic Dressing will stay fresh for 3-4 days. If the dressing separates, simply re-blend it. Serve it on crisp greens and raw veggies or any favorite salad. Makes about 3 1/2 cups. From the Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant cookbook.

Garlic Soup
2 medium tomatoes
6 garlic cloves, pressed
4 slices French, Italian, or whole wheat bread
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
4 cups vegetable stock

Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 5 minutes and then peel them. Cut each tomato into 4 slices. Set aside. Spread the pressed garlic on both sides of each slice of bread. In a heavy skillet, saute each slice of bread in the oil until browned on both sides. Place each slice of bread in a shallow soup bowl. Top each one with 2 tomato slices. Add a pinch of fresh basil and a few drops of olive oil to each bowl. Add one cup of very hot stock to each bowl. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings. From the Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant cookbook.

For more garlic recipes, click here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

CSA Pickups -- Week 18

Roots Farm CSA
Week 18: August 24 & 27

This Week:

-Butternut Squash (Backyard Harvest & Full Moon Farms)
-Tomatoes: Pink Beauty & green Cherokee Purple
-Peppers: Carmen, Lipstick, Islander, Green Bells, Cayenne, Jalapeno
-Eggplant: Nadia, Hansel, Gretel, Fairytale, Pingtung Long
-Basil: Sweet, Lemon, Thai, Purple
-Beans: Red Noodle
-Potatoes: Assorted (Full Moon Farms)
-Okra: Clemson Spineless, Red Burgundy
-Garlic: Inchelium Red, California Early
-Flowers: Assorted Zinnias
-Eggs: Crooked Pine Hollow

In the Field . . .
We’re planting for the fall. Last week we seeded carrots, beets, arugula, radishes, and cilantro and transplanted kale and collards. Amazingly, most of the direct-seeded stuff has already germinated only 4-5 days later! This week, it’s more arugula and carrots and some experimental plantings of cukes and pole beans. We’re enjoying the cooler, damp weather that’s making life easier both for us and for the newly planted babies. Let’s hope it continues . . . What may not continue are the pole beans. The red noodle beans are slowing down and we’re not sure how much of a harvest we’ll be getting these next two weeks. We’ll see. Fortunately, the second planting of okra seems to be picking up speed and we may get some production from it soon. Yay for more okra! And we’ll probably have more arugula next week if it grows speedily enough, which I think it shall.

Supplementing the Basket
We’ve decided to buy in some more produce from other farmers to help supplement the basket these last few weeks. It’s the first year we’ve had to do so, but we’re okay with that--it’s been a tough summer with the 100 degree heat waves. This week, it’s more butternuts from Boo & Becky and some potatoes that we sourced from Jason Mann’s suppliers out near Lake Hartwell. Staple crops of substance. We’re also offering a choice of a half-dozen eggs to our full share folks as part of the basket this week. The eggs come from our neighbors down the road at Crooked Pine Hollow. We’re glad to be able to support fellow farmers. And we’re grateful for all you CSA folks who support us!

End of the Season Survey
Coming soon to an email inbox near you (and perhaps available through the website and maybe even hard copies here at pickups)! We here at Roots want to give our members and customers what they want as much as we can, and to do that we put out a survey each year to get your feedback on how things went for you. We kindly request that you take a moment to fill them out. We can’t make it better if you don’t tell us how you’d like for us to do so. And, if you just want to sing our praises, we love that too! We might even quote you on our website :). So yeah, surveys will be coming out soon--hopefully this week!

Is in the spotlight this week. From soups and salads and dips to casseroles, eggplant is a versatile veggie. It is believed to have originated in India or Burma. Introduced through trade routes, it became popular in many Arab countries and Northern Africa and later made its way to Europe and eventually North America. STORAGE: Eggplant likes it around 50 degrees, which is cooler than most houses and warmer than most fridges. That said, it’s probably best to keep it in the hydrator drawer of your refrigerator and use it within the week. Fresh eggplant is less bitter and more sweet and delicious. You can also freeze it in dishes like ratatouille or baba ganouj. I’ve got several recipe options for you below. . .

Tomato & Eggplant Salad
1 large or 2 medium eggplants
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp ouzo
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
salt, to taste
2 medium to large plump ripe tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash eggplant and pat dry. Puncture skin lightly with a fork and bake whole in an ungreased pan for about 25 minutes, or until soft and slightly shriveled. Remove and cool slightly. Remove stems, cut eggplant in half lengthwise, and remove skin and seeds. Cut into strips about 1 1/2 inches wide, then cut strips in half. Place in a small deep bowl and marinate in olive oil, ouzo, garlic, and salt for at least 2 hours before using. In a medium bowl, combine eggplants, tomatoes, and parsley. Toss well and season with freshly ground pepper. Serve at room temperature. Makes 4 servings. From The Food & Wine of Greece.

Thick Eggplant & Onion Soup
2 Tbsp butter
2 large onions, thinly sliced (~1 1/2 cups)
5 cups vegetable stock
1 medium eggplant, peeled, chopped (~4 cups)
1 small zucchini or yellow summer squash, thinly sliced (~1 cup)
1/3 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 clove garlic, minced (~1/2 tsp)
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups uncooked orzo or other small pasta
3 Tbsp fresh basil
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions; cook until tender but not brown, 5-7 minutes. Pour the stock into the pot. Add the eggplant, zucchini, tomato paste, wine, garlic, and sugar. Bring the ingredients to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the salt and pepper. Simmer until the vegetables are almost tender, 20-25 minutes. Add the orzo and continue to simmer just until the pasta is tender, about 7 minutes. Remove the pot from heat; stir in the basil. Let stand for about 5 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Ladle into bowls. Top with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 servings. From Farmer John’s Cookbook.

Baba Ganoujh (or Ghanoush)
2 lbs eggplant, cut in half, flesh side scored deeply in crosshatch pattern
1 Tbsp virgin olive oil
Lemon juice to taste (1-2 lemons)
2 small cloves garlic, finely minced
4 Tbsp yogurt
4 Tbsp tahini (or substitute mayonnaise)
1 tsp salt, to taste
minced fresh parsley

For an authentic smoky taste, grill or broil the eggplant first. If you’re using a grill, maintain heat at a medium-low temperature. If you’re using a broiler, preheat first and then turn it down to the lowest possible temperature. Brush the eggplant halves with olive oil and place, flesh-side down if using a grill, flesh-side up if using a broiler, and cook until charred and very soft, turning once, about 40 minutes. Set the eggplant to drain in a colander in your sink until it’s no longer warm to the touch. Scoop the flesh into a food processor or food mill, discarding skin. Process the eggplant with a few off-on pulses or force it through a food mill into a mixing bowl. Stir in the lemon juice, garlic, yogurt, tahini (or mayonnaise) and salt. Place the mixture in a serving dish and sprinkle the top with parsley. Chill well. Serve as a dip with raw veggies or pita bread. Makes 4 servings. From the Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant cookbook.

Story has it that this much-revered Middle Eastern eggplant puree gets its name by way of a devoted son who set out to prepare something wonderful that his very old and toothless farther could eat.

Stuffed Pickled Baby Eggplant
2 - 2 1/2 lbs baby or very small eggplants (~3-4 inches long)
4 cups strong red or white wine vinegar
celery ribs with leaves
3-4 medium carrots, scraped and diced
4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
crushed red pepper or black peppercorns to taste (optional)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
olive oil

Remove the stems from eggplants and make two or three incisions lengthwise into each eggplant. Bring to a boil enough water to cover eggplants, 1 cup of the vinegar, and 2-3 Tbsp salt. Drop in the eggplants and simmer for 3-5 minutes, until they are softened. Remove pot from heat and immediately rinse and drain the eggplants completely. Let cool.
Drop the celery ribs into boiling water for 2-3 minutes, just to soften. Drain and slit the celery lengthwise into strips about as thick as a medium strand of wool.
Combine carrot, garlic, hot pepper, and parsley. Taking one eggplant at a time, carefully fill each slit with carrot mixture. Wrap with softened celery strands and secure closed. Place upright in a large, airtight, sterilized jar and cover with remaining 3 cups vinegar. Pour in enough olive oil to form a seal of about 1 1/2 inches of oil at the top of the jar. Store in a cool dry place for at least 1-2 weeks before eating. Makes 1 1/2 quarts.
This is an end-of-summer, early-fall treat, when the miniature eggplants are in season in Greece. This recipe sounds quite interesting to me and comes from The Food and Wine of Greece by Diane Kochilas. Enjoy!

Want more eggplant recipe ideas? Click here.

Monday, August 16, 2010

CSA Pickups -- Week 17

Roots Farm CSA
Week 17: August 17 & 20

This Week:

-Butternut Squash! (Roots Farm & Backyard Harvest)
-Tomatoes: Arkansas Traveller, Cherokee Purple, Pink Beauty, & green tomaotes
-Peppers: Carmen, Lipstick, Islander, Cayenne, Jalapeno
-Eggplant: Nadia, Hansel, Gretel, Fairytale, Pingtung Long
-Basil: Sweet, Lemon, Thai, Purple
-Beans: Red Noodle
-Okra: Clemson Spineless, Red Burgundy
-Garlic: Inchelium Red, California Early
-Flowers: Assorted Sunflowers, Zinnias

In the Field . . .
Well, I hear from other farmers that this is the hottest summer we’ve had in 20 years, and the worst August we’ve seen yet. I’d have to say I agree. Several weeks of 100+ degree weather in July plus not much rain has taken its toll, and the fields are looking pretty lean produce-wise. I feel like we’re limping through to the finish line this year with the summer CSA. Usually we’re swimming in tomatoes and beating off eggplant with a stick. Now, we’re savoring every last bite and forgoing any canning hopes. With that in mind, we’re turning to our farming friends in the community to help us supplement our baskets for the last few weeks here. So this week, some of your butternuts were grown by Boo & Becky of Backyard Harvest. Of the 240 feet of plants we planted, we only harvested about 40 squash total. Thankfully, they had much better luck than us this year, so we’re turning to them for help. So yeah. Hang on with us--we’re doing the best we can.

Awesome Workday!
Thanks to all the folks who came out Saturday and braved the rain with us to work their magic on our fields. About a dozen people came out and we revolutionized the scene around here--we pulled out old cucumber plantings, old melons, old tomatoes, old squash, old bean trellises, old kale; we weeded asparagus; we transplanted 140 feet of broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage; and we fixed the plastic on our little hoop house and put it back up where it was supposed to be. It was amazing. Four full days of work accomplished in 4 hours. Wow! And weather-wise, the overcast day and rainy weather was a welcome change from the heat, and I think most of us enjoyed our dampness being produced by the sky instead of ourselves. Brunch was fantastic and featured homemade biscuits, local egg & veggie frittatas, red mule grits, strawberry sauce, watermelon, and snickerdoodles. Yum! For those of you who missed the fun, our next weekend workday is coming up September 11, probably from 8am-noon again. We’ll keep you posted, but go ahead and mark your calendars. Thanks again!

Are a wonderful thing. They’ll keep for several months in a dry, cool location (50-55 degrees), and for at least one month just out on your counter. They’re called winter squash for this reason--because they keep into winter and are one of few “fresh” veggies you can count on for the cold months. We grow them in the summer, but the tough skins they develop allow them to stay available for us much longer than summer squashes. Personally, I love them. Deep orange on the inside, sweet and delicious, they’re excellent roasted, steamed, baked, in stews and soups, in baked desserts, salads, and sautees. I’ve got several recipes for you, including one of our all-time favorites here on the farm. Check it out . . .


Indonesian Squash & Spinach Soup
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
2 small dried chiles
15 almonds (opt. blanched)
1 large onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tsp salt
2 cups veggie stock or water
14-oz can of coconut milk (not sweetened)
4 cups peeled & cubed butternut or acorn squash
6 small handfuls fresh spinach or chard or kale, coarsely chopped (or chiffonaded)
fresh lime or lemon juice

Grind the coriander, cumin, turmeric, chiles, and nuts in a small spice grinder, with a mortar and pestle, or with about 1/2 cup water in a blender. (I like to grind the spices and just chop the dry nuts with a knife so I get little bits of almond to crunch in my stew.) In a soup pot, briefly saute the onion and garlic in the oil. Add the ginger and salt and continue to saute until the onions are translucent. Add the stock and the ground spice mixture to the pot and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and the squash and gently simmer, uncovered, for about 40 minutes, until the squash is tender. Stir in the chopped spinach/chard/kale and allow it to just wilt. Remove the pot from the heat, squeeze in lemon juice or lime juice to taste, and serve at once. Makes 6 servings. From Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant. This is one of our all-time favorite recipes here at Roots! Works great with sweet potatoes as well when winter squash is in short supply. Enjoy!

Autumn Gold Squash Soup
1 medium to large butternut squash (~2 cups cooked pulp)
1 large onion, chopped (~3 cups)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 medium carrot, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups tomato juice
1 cup apple juice
1 cup orange juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bake or boil the squash. To bake, halve the squash and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash halves cut side down on an oiled baking sheet and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees until tender, about one hour. Scoop our the pulp and discard the skin. To boil, peel the squash, halve it, and scoop out the seeds. Cut into chunks and place them in a saucepan with water to cover. Bring the water to a boil and cook until the squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and reserve the liquid.

Meanwhile, saute the chopped onion in the oil with the nutmeg, cinnamon, thyme, and bay leaves until the onion is translucent. Add the diced carrot and celery and the water (if you boiled the squash, use the reserved liquid). Cover and simmer until the carrots are tender. Remove the bay leaves. In a blender or food processor, puree the cooked squash, the onion-carrot mixture, and the juices in batches. Gently reheat the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 6-8 servings. From the Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant cookbook.

Butternut Squash Gratin with Onions and Sage
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced onion
2 thyme sprigs
1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage or 1 tsp dried
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1/4 cup grated Gruyere or Fontina cheese
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp heated whole milk
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil or butter a 1-quart baking dish. Heat half the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, thyme, and sage and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are lightly caramelized, about 15 minutes. Season with 1/4 tsp salt and pepper to taste. Spread in the baking dish, return the skillet to medium heat, and add the remaining oil. Toss the squash in the flour, letting excess fall away. Add it to the pan and cook until it begins to brown in places on both sides, about 7 minutes. Add the parsley, season with salt and plenty of pepper, and cook for 1 minute more. Layer the squash over the onions, cover with the cheese, then add the milk. Cover and bake for 25 minutes, then uncover, add the bread crumbs, and bake until the top is browned and the liquid absorbed, about 25 minutes more. Makes 2 servings. From Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

Easy Winter Squash Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups cooked and mashed winter squash (butternut, pumpkin, acorn squash, etc)
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan with butter and dust with flour. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Mix well. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and oil and beat until light. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the winter squash. Add the flour mixture and beat until just thoroughly blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top springs back when lightly touched. Cool completely on a rack before frosting. To make the frosting, beat together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Add the sugar and beat until smooth. If the frosting is too thin, add additional sugar. Frost and serve. Makes 12-15 servings. From Serving Up the Harvest.

If you’d like more winter squash/butternut recipes, click here.

Monday, August 9, 2010

CSA Pickups -- Week 16

Roots Farm CSA
Week 16: August 10 & 13

This Week:
-Cucumbers: Mid-East Prolific, Lemon
-Tomatoes: Big Beef, Arkansas Traveller, Cherokee Purple, Pink Beauty, Jubilee, Tropical, Whopper
-Peppers: Carmen, Lipstick, Islander
-Eggplant: Nadia, Hansel, Gretel, Fairytale, Pingtung Long
-Basil: Sweet, Lemon, Thai, Purple
-Beans: Red Noodle
-Okra: Clemson Spineless, Red Burgundy
-Garlic: Inchelium Red
-Flowers: Assorted Sunflowers, Zinnias

In the Field . . .
Something is eating our beet sprouts. Grasshoppers? We’re not sure, but last week there were rows thick with baby beet sprouts and today it’s more like a widely dotted line. Oh, farming. Just when you think you’re set, another challenge appears. Guess we’ll be re-seeding this week. In other news, we’ve got baby arugula coming on that should be ready in another week or two and we’re glad the red noodle beans and peppers and eggplants are continuing to do well. The variety of veggies that grace your baskets for the next few weeks is probably going to be limited. We’re doing what we can, but August is a tough time on the farm. Summer is petering out and Fall is yet to come on. Even cucumbers are giving up the ghost. Yikes. Hang in there, veggies, we need ya!

Workday Saturday, August 14, 8am-noon
Another friendly reminder about our workday coming up this weekend. Come early for the best temperature experience and be prepared to sweat regardless of what time you appear. We’re going to be wrecking havoc and pulling out old plantings and trellises, which is always a good time. Turning the fields from summer to fall. Probably also weeding. Join us! Our work parties are usually great fun! See you here!

Veggie Notes
So I thought you might appreciate a few tidbits of info on some of the items that have been appearing in your baskets. Figs: are highly perishable if you didn’t know. I recommend just eating them immediately. If you don’t eat them immediately, refrigerate them immediately and eat them ASAP. Friday I discovered that some of the figs that we picked at 10am had begun to grow fuzzy mold by 7pm--a mere 10 hours on the shelf! Jeeze louise! Also in the figgy realm, we had our fifth annual Figstival last week and I have to say my favorite dish was roasted figs stuffed with goat cheese and rosemary. This week, we’re providing the figs and rosemary; you provide the oven and the cheese. Lipstick Peppers: are sweet, thick, and juicy. Our seed catalogue says that may folks consider Lipstick the most delicious sweet peppers there are, and I have to admit they’re pretty darn tasty. They fall into the category of “pimento” peppers, which apparently have a more “aromatic” sweetness than your regular old bell peppers. Hope you like ‘em. Red Noodle Beans: have also been appearing and we’re excited about them. Like green beans, they’re excellent steamed, stir-fried, in curries, casseroles, soups, and more. They do, however, turn green upon cooking. Enjoy!

Is in the spotlight this week. Personally, I love okra. It’s sweet raw and wonderful cooked. My favorite way to cook it is to simply slice off the caps and fry it in a pan with olive oil until the sides are lightly browned. Roasting it is also simple and delicious (425 degrees for 15 minutes or so), as is grilling (8-10 minutes). Okra is a close relative of the hibiscus plant and the flowers are quite similar. Native to Africa, okra finds its way into Caribbean, Indian, African, and deep South dishes. I’ve got a few selections for you. Some folks object to the slippery texture that okra can impart upon dishes, but that quality can also be considered a boon for thickening soups and stews. If the slimy tendencies of okra are not what you like, try adding vinegar (or tomatoes, or other acidic veggies or liquids) to help cut the ooze; or try frying or roasting okra (unsliced) to completely bypass ooze altogether. STORAGE: I recommend keeping your okra in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator and eating it within the week. Enjoy!


Fried Okra
1 lb okra
1 cup fine cornmeal
1 tsp salt
peanut oil

Slice okra into 1/4-inch rounds. Mix the cornmeal and salt (add other spices if you like such as chili powder or cayenne). Toss the okra in the dry mix to coat thoroughly. Heat 1/2 inch peanut oil in a heavy skillet until it’s just short of smoking. Toss the okra in a large sieve to shake off the excess cornmeal, then fry in small batches utnil golden. Transfer to papaer towels to drain briefly, but serve hot. (You can also fry whole pods.) Makes 4-6 servings. From Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. This recipe is a classic way to serve okra here in the Southeast. Enjoy!

Okra Gumbo Soup
1 cup chopped onions
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
2 bay leaves
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium carrot, diced
1 cup chopped potatoes
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
3 cups vegetable stock or water
1 cup fresh corn
1 cup sliced fresh okra
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
salt & ground black pepper to taste
Tabasco or other hot sauce to taste
1 tsp Worchestershire Sauce

Saute the onions in the vegetable oil until just translucent. Add the herbs, celery, bell pepper, carrot, and potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat, stirring to prevent sticking. Add the tomatoes and stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the corn, okra, and vinegar and simmer until the okra is tender. Remove the bay leaves. Add the remaining seasonings to taste. Makes 4-6 servings. From the Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook. This is one of my all-time favorite recipes. Southern summery delight!

Curried Okra
3 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp curry powder
1 lb okra, trimmed and sliced 1/2 inch thick (4 cups)
1 cup seeded and diced tomatoes
2 tsp garam masala
salt & fresh ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and toast for about 10 seconds. Add the onions, garlic, and curry powder and saute slowly until the onions are soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the okra, tomatoes, and garam masala. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, until the okra is tender, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook for 5 minutes longer. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot. Makes 4 servings. Look for garam masala wherever Indian foods or gourmet spices are sold. (In Athens, the Taj Mahal off Baxter St. sells Indian foods/groceries—check it out)

For more okra recipes, click here. Enjoy!