Growing the good stuff in Athens, GA since 2006

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

CSA Pickups -- Week 5 -- Summer Squash

Roots Farm CSA Week 5: May 31 & June 3

This Week:
-Carrots: Napoli, Bolero, Nelson, Yaya
-Beets: Merlin
-Turnips: Hakurei or Scarlet Queen
-Radishes: Easter Egg
-Lettuce: Green Oakleaf, Green Star, New Red Fire
-Swiss Chard or Kale
-Sweet Onions (“Vidalia-type Yellow Granex)
-Fresh Garlic!! California Early
-Summer Squash: Zephyr, Yellow Zucchini, Green Zucchini, Magda
-Cucumbers! Marketmore, Sultan
-Basil or Dill

On the Farm . . .
Well, that storm that blew in last week brought us some much-needed rain, but it also wrecked some havoc on-farm here. One of our big new hoop houses is a sad sight to see -- all crooked-y and broken on one end where the footers pulled out of the ground, the boards splintered apart, the plastic ripped, and some of the 2½ inch steel piping bent and broke -- YIKES! We’ll be able to salvage most of it, but it’s more work to be done in a time of the year where there’s already plenty of work to be had. Most destructive 15 minutes we’ve had out here in a while. We also had some landscape fabric pull up off the beds and blow into the neighboring trellises and trees. And the lovely, long row of sweet potatoes out in the unfenced field lost both their fabric and their row cover, leaving them exposed to the deer who promptly ate about half of them. Our small hoop house also lost its plastic cover, which we’ll just remove for the rest of the summer. Change can be quick on the farm, and not always in the direction you were expecting.

Fresh Garlic
In better news, the garlic is getting ready and we’ve begun pulling it and processing it. Garlic can be used fresh, and we will give out some fresh for you, but to really store it for months, we have to cure it. Curing it entails setting it out somewhere with good airflow and letting it slowly dry. In the meantime, since your garlic is fresh, it will be really easy to peel, which is awesome, but you need to keep it in the refrigerator. Uncured garlic will go bad out on your counter and feed the fruit fly populations.

Bye Bye Lettuce
This is it -- the last week of lettuce for the summer. Enjoy your crispy lettuce now because it won’t appear again until September or October. We’ll try to keep arugula appearing for you as a salad green, but lettuce is a goner.

June Weekend Workday, Saturday June 11th
In just a couple of weeks, we’ll be hosting our June weekend workday, so mark your calendars and get ready! Saturday, June 11th, from 9am-noon! It’s garlic harvesting season and we’re up to our earlobes in garlic, which is great! So we really do need your help, and now’s the time you can give it. We’ll go out while it’s nice early in the morning and do some weeding and mulching and trellising and such, and then we’ll retire to the shade to process garlic for curing. We can sit in the shade by the fans and chat like regular old-timey folks--conversating while we get the job done. And it’s a mighty big job to be done--over 600 feet of garlic, which is over 3,000 heads! Then we can bounce on upstairs for a lovely farm-fresh BRUNCH!! Yay! Come join us!

Athens Tour de Farm
A whole passel of bikers came through and toured Roots Farm this past Monday as part of Athens’ annual Tour de Farm. The tour ran for 3 days and 2 nights and visited 10 different farms in the Athens and surrounding areas. They biked about 30 miles each day, enjoyed farm-fresh feasts each evening prepared by guest chefs, and camped out on the land. It’s a lovely way to get a closer look at local producers and a unique experience of enjoying locally grown goodness. If you missed out, sign up early next year as spaces fill quickly with eager cyclists, of which Athens has many.

In Your Basket
Enjoy the last of the lettuce coming through. My apologies if your lettuce heads are not perfectly formed--it seems the deer have gotten into the lower garden and have been having salad for supper most nights. I wondered why those heads looked so funny, then I looked closer and discovered they’d been munched. Pesky deer. And we’ll be featuring summer squash this week since it’s in strong now. I encourage you to savor it while it lasts--seems like our more recent planting are wanting to die even before they produce, and 2 out of 3 of the old ones that are producing now are dying off fast. We’ll keep planting them, but I’m not sure what the future holds in store for us--they may fail out. Or hey, it may turn out to be a really awesome late squash season this year--who knows? Get while the gettin’s good. And speaking of good, the carrots, beets, and cucumbers are flowing like water. Radishes and turnips are back, perhaps the last time for turnips. And the basil is just beginning. In fact, it’s prominently featured in one of our recipes this week . . .

Summer Squash
Our spotlight this week is on the summer squashes. We’ve got several varieties we’re growing this year--so far, you’ve seen the yellow and green zucchinis, the bi-colored yellow and green zephyr squash (which are my favorite), and the light green mid-eastern cousa-type magda squash (a close second favorite). We’ve got yellow crooknecks planted, patty pans, and trombicino squashes yet to come. Squash-fest! Summer squash is approximately 94% water, very low in calories, and a great source of vitamins A and C, potassium, and calcium. Eat ‘em up.

Storage: summer squash dehydrates quickly (it respires through its skin!) so keep it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week. Damaged or bruised squash will deteriorate very quickly. Usage: gosh, where to begin? I think summer squash is quite versatile and excellent in stir-fries, curries, salads, sandwiches, soups, stews, grilled, baked, roasted, boiled, and fried. It’s great filler for vegetarian lasagna and pasta sauces. You can even make desserts out of it like zucchini cake and break and cookies and mock apple cobbler. Have fun.
Squash & Zucchini Toast Appetizer
1 lb mixed summer squash, smaller size
1 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar
1 handful of fresh basil, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
½ cup onion (optional)
1 sourdough or French baguette
extra olive oil for toast

Grate summer squash over a bowl. Toss with sea salt and let stand for 10 minutes. Rinse away the salt thoroughly and drain well in a colander. Shape the squash into tennis ball sized handfuls and squeeze out the excess water. Discard the water and return the squash to the bowl. Toss with olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar, basil, garlic, (and onion if you like raw onion). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow flavors to merge. Meanwhile, slice the baguette into ½-inch slices and fry in olive oil. Scoop out a large tablespoon of the squash mixture on the prepared toast. Serve immediately. Makes 4-6 servings. Recipe by PLACE Raw (except for the toast), vegan goodness. Craig Page made this delightful dish at the Saturday Athens Farmers Market a couple of weeks ago and I enjoyed it so much that I’ve made it three or four times since then. Yum!

Zucchini-Goat Cheese Pizza
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
8 oz prepared refrigerated pizza dough
3-4 oz goat cheese, thinly sliced or roughly chopped
1 zucchini, peeled into thin strips (use a vegetable peeler or mandolin)
1 small red bell pepper, cut into rings
6 oz of tomato paste (the small cans)
2 Tbsp finely minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp)
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp olive oil
½ tsp red wine or red wine vinegar

To make the pizza: preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Brush a large baking sheet or pizza pan with 1 Tbsp oil. Spread pizza dough in prepared pan. To make sauce: stir together all ingredients with a fork in a small bowl. Spread sauce on dough. Top with half the goat cheese. Spread zucchini strips over goat cheese, top with bell pepper rings, then remaining goat cheese. Drizzle with remaining 1 Tbsp oil. Bake 10-15 minutes. Makes 1, 10-inch pizza. Note: for those of you who are vegan or just not into red sauce, try making this with homemade pesto sauce instead. Adapted from the June issue of Vegetarian Times Magazine.

Vegetable Fritters
2 medium white potatoes
2 large carrots
2 small zucchini
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
oil for cooking
Optional Yogurt-Dill sauce:
1 bunch of fresh dill, chopped
4 oz plain yogurt

Grate potatoes, carrots, and zucchini. Place them in a colander and squeeze out the excess liquids. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the onion, flour, and garlic. Fold in eggs and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Coat a large skillet with oil and heat over medium heat. Spoon 2 Tbsp of fritter mixture for each patty into the pan and shape with the spoon. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until bottoms are crisp. Carefully flip with a spatula and cook 2-3 minutes more, or until browned on both sides. Serve immediately topped with Yogurt-Dill sauce (just stir the yogurt and the dill together). Makes 4 servings. Adapted from the June issue of Vegetarian Times Magazine.

Cinnamon Zucchini Cake
2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (opt)
Frosting (optional):
4 oz (1/2 pkg) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (4 Tbsp) butter, softened
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan. Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl. Mix oil and eggs in another bowl until smooth; add to dry ingredients and mix well. Add zucchini; stir until thoroughly combined. Fold in walnuts, if desired. Spread mixture in prepared pan; bake until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, 35-45 minutes. Cool thoroughly. To make frosting, beat cream cheese, butter milk, and vanilla until smooth. Add powdered sugar and mix well. Frost cake. Makes 12 or more servings. From the From Asparagus to Zucchini Cookbook. I like to make muffins from this recipe--it makes about 16-18 muffins. And instead of frosting, I just mix a little extra cinnamon and sugar together and spoon it on top of the muffins before baking them -- it makes a nice, sweet crust on top (like Mom’s cinnamon toast . . . yummm).

MORE summer squash recipes are available here.

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