Growing the good stuff in Athens, GA since 2006

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

CSA Pickups -- Week 6 -- Cucumbers

Roots Farm CSA Week 6: June 7 & June 10

This Week:
-Carrots: Napoli, Bolero, Nelson, Yaya
-Beets: Merlin, Chioggia
-Bright Lights Swiss Chard
-Kale: Winterbor, Red Russian, White Russian, Rainbow Lacinato
-Sweet Onions (“Vidalia-type Yellow Granex)
-Fresh Garlic!! Hardneck Georgian Crystal, Persian Star
-Summer Squash: Zephyr, Yellow Zucchini, Green Zucchini, Magda
-Cucumbers! Marketmore, Sultan, Lemon
-Cauliflower or Cabbage

On the Farm . . .
The deer are finding their way in. I’m not sure how, but we’ve begun a more serious investigation of the issue. Beets, chard, melon plants, pole beans, okra -- those four legged foes are ravenous and it seems no vegetable is safe. Time to patrol the fence, tie up holes, tie closed gates, and keep up the lookout. Jeeze.

Summer seems to be in full blast. I swear, those veggies grow from one hour to the next. The 3-inch cucumber of today is the behemoth of Friday’s harvest. Everything is growing up a storm, which is awesome in the realm of veggies and daunting in the realm of weeds. Good thing we’ve got a workday coming up on Saturday . . .

June Weekend Workday -- THIS SATURDAY!!
That’s right--it’s time to work with us on the farm again! This Saturday, June 11, from 9am-noon we’ll be out on the land, weeding, thinning, mulching, trellising, digging potatoes perhaps, processing garlic, and maybe even planting some seeds. So come join us! We’ll also have a farm-fresh BRUNCH as always following our hard work. Get out your sun hat and come get your early morning farm experience for June.

In Your Basket
Let’s see, lots of cucumbers this week, including the lemon cucumber. Lemon cucumbers are round and white to light yellow. They taste like regular cukes, and I like to think of them as snack-sized treats. They’ve been a hit in our CSA in the past and I think you’ll like ‘em. The summer squash are dwindling faster than we can say “whoa!” so enjoy them while they last. For full share folks, cabbage or cauliflower are available. We’ve just got a little of them right now and the cauliflower is both purplish and a bit spicy--both signs of weather stress (i.e. hot and dry); I recommend cooking it. The cabbage we will eventually have more of and will distribute to all shares. Same with the blueberries--just enough this week for full share folks, with all shares hopefully getting them next week. Basil is coming out to all shares this week, finally. And the fresh garlic continues with hardneck varieties this week. Last week it was softneck artichoke varieties--garlic like what you find at the grocery store. This week, it’s the hardneck kind. Hardnecks have a solid, hard core in the center usually surrounded by a single layer of cloves. Hardnecks are flavorful and easy to peel and often sport rather large cloves. They don’t store as long as the softnecks, though, which is why they don’t often appear in supermarkets. A fresh market treat! Enjoy them now.

These juicy veggies were first cultivated in India more than 3,000 years ago. A light and cooling vegetable, cucumbers are 95% water, contain small amounts of vitamins A and C and a few minerals and large amounts of vitamin E.

Storage: keep cukes in the refrigerator in the hydrator drawer or in a plastic bag for up to a week (or slightly longer). Cut or peeled cukes deteriorate quickly. Usage: popular in salads, pickles, and sandwiches, cucumbers can also make their way into soups and can even be cooked. Cooked cucumbers are silky smooth and lightly flavored and can pick up seasonings well. I have a theory that you could peel, slice, and seed them and then salt and press them sort of like tofu. Hmmmm. I also hear that Sarah Dunning over at Gymnopdie has made a cucumber sorbet! So many options! Here are some ideas for you:

Marinated Cucumber Salad
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp water
1-3 tsp honey
4 medium cucumbers, peeled, thinly sliced
6 thin slices of onion
seasoning—choose one:
1/4 tsp prepared Dijon mustard OR
1 tsp chopped fresh dill OR
1 tsp celery seeds OR
1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds

Mix the vinegar, water, honey to taste, and seasoning in a glass mixing bowl. Add the cucumber and onion; toss until well combined. Marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or refrigerate overnight. Serve cold or at room temperature. Makes 4 servings. Try varying your vinegars (rice wine, balsamic, red wine, apple cider, or others) and your seasonings (other recipes call for salt, hot peppers, soy sauce, sesame oil, olive oil, or white pepper to name a few) to create your own favorite marinated cucumber recipe. Most marinated cucumber recipes can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or more, and many folks I know just keep adding fresh cukes to the marinade as they go for a continuous supply.

Spicy Cucumber-Cashew Salad
2 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and sliced
1/2 cup cashews, toasted
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sugar or honey
1 Thai Dragon hot pepper or 1/4 tsp ground cayenne, red pepper flakes, or hot pepper sauce (regulate your own level of spice, here)

Combine the cucumbers and cashews in a bowl together. Whisk the remaining ingredients together and pour over the cukes and cashews. Toss gently. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings. Adapted from the From Asparagus to Zucchini cookbook with inspiration from the Serving Up the Harvest cookbook. Sounds yummy to me.

Curried Rice & Cucumber Salad
3 cups cooked basmati or jasmine rice
1/3 cup sliced scallions (or onions)
1/3 cup golden raisins
3 Tbsp lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, & thinly sliced
1 Tbsp ghee (or veggie oil or butter)

Combine the cooked rice, scallions or onions, raisins, and lemon juice in a large bowl and stir. Season with salt to taste. Toast the nuts in a dry, heavy skillet over high heat until they turn brown in spots and smell fragrant. Transfer the nuts to a dish and set aside to cool. Melt the ghee/butter in the skillet over medium heat and stir in the curry powder; stir for 30 seconds. Add the cucumber slices. Cook, stirring constantly, until the cucumber is tender, about 4 minutes. Remove the skillet from heat. Add the cucumber to the rice mixture and toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Toss the toasted nuts with the salad, then sprinkle a generous amount of paprika over the top. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings. ( from Farmer John’s Cookbook)

Chilled Cucumber-Mint Soup
4 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped (about 4 cups)
1-2 cups water
2 cups plain yogurt (or 1 cup yogurt combined with 1 cup sour cream)
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
several fresh mint leaves
2 Tbsp fresh dill or 1 tsp dried dill
1 Tbsp honey
1-2 tsp salt
2 scallions, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)

Combine the chopped cucumber, 1 cup water, yogurt, garlic, mint, dill, honey, and 1 tsp salt in a blender or food processor. Puree the ingredients, adding more of the water until the soup is a consistency you like. Season with more salt to taste. Transfer the soup to a large bowl and chill for several hours. Garnish with chopped scallions. Makes 4-6 servings.

Basic Tzatziki Sauce
2, 8oz containers plain yogurt
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and grated
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt & pepper to taste
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
3 cloves garlic, pressed

Combine all ingredients. Tastes best when chilled for at least 1 hour. Makes 8 servings.

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