Later today is, as the subject line of this email has already stated, our Ninth Pickup. I think it's an exciting one. It's exciting mostly because we have several pounds of tomatoes for everyone. Yes we've shown up fashionably late to the tomato party but we're here and we brought the goods. This week it will be only large, round slicer tomatoes, you know the kind that make great tomato sandwiches.
Quite a few of the cherry tomatoes and plum tomatoes are ripening as well. These little suckers take a long time to harvest although it's not exactly terrible work. You get to do a lot of taste-testing. The trick it to pick more than you eat. We need help doing just that. On Sunday and Monday we'll be out at the farm picking small tomatoes and we could use your help. Give me a call (aaron 704/305.6654) if you're interested.
Speaking of labor requests, the first annual Charlotte Regional Farm Tour will be taking place on the afternoon of September 19th. We are one of the farms on the tour, or rather I should say that the Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm Park where we do most of our farming is on the tour. This is a request for volunteers who would like to work at the farm on that day. Work might include picking cherry tomatoes or washing peppers but it might also include talking to people about your experience as someone who is buying local produce and supporting local farmers. It might include sharing squash recipes- I'm not sure exactly what it will be like but it will be fun and it will count as part of the four hours that working-share members are asked to spend on the farm this growing season.
Speaking of volunteers visiting our farm, who left the kid-sized, blue and gray reversible jacket at the farm? I think it was part of the group that picked squash in the upper field on a Sunday several weeks ago. My wife took our camera to the beach with her so I can't share a photograph of the jacket, maybe next week if it is still unclaimed.
I've heard from several of you that last week we sent waaay to much basil so we've toned it down this week. However, we have waaay more basil than we can sell so if you need extra let me know. You can come out to the farm and trade 30 minutes of cherry tomato picking for as much basil as you can haul off in your vehicle.
Also thanks to those of you who were out at the farm this past week helping to tie up tomatoes, wash vegetables do other such work. We appreciate your labor.
An update on fall and early winter crops: We have already planted cabbage, kale, collards, and broccoli in the greenhouse. We'll be planting more of that stuff this week along with cauliflower and kohlrabi. We'll also be planting spinach and lettuce a little later on. Yesterday we built beds for root crops. This morning while I type Brad and Eric are seeding radishes, carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips and much to my wife's annoyance, rutabaga. I think mashed potatoes made with 5 parts potato and 1 part 'baga are great. She won't eat them unless they are straight potato. I can make fun of her more than normal in this email because as I mentioned, she is at the beach and cannot hurt me.
Several of you have asked about the puppy. He's actually biting my feet as I write this email. On Saturday he's going to live with family of ours in Virginia. He is just about as cute as a critter can be but it's not a good time for my family to add another member so we're shipping him up north and hoping our three year old won't notice.
So, what are you getting this week?
Tomatoes (big, fat, red, local tomatoes)
Swiss Chard (other greens coming soon)
Squash (both patty pan and straight neck)
By the way the grapes aren't organic. They have not been sprayed with anything. The vines haven't been synthetically fertilized they just aren't from an organic farm. We will have other opportunities to harvest fruit this fall from farms that aren't organic. We will not be harvesting fruit that has had anything sprayed on it. If you're not comfortable with this give me a call and we'll talk about it. We think these opportunities to other fresh, local fruit that is chemical free are too good to pass up.
Ok, on to the recipes. By the way keep sharing. I haven't gotten any recipes from you folks in a while.
You have tomatoes and you have basil so you can now make one of the year's yummiest salads. I don't have measurements on this one because I've done it so long I just adjust it to the amount of tomatoes I have. It goes something like this.
Yummy Tomato/Basil Salad
Vinegar (I think rice wine vinegar works best)
Salt & Pepper
Chop up tomatoes into thumb-sized pieces and place them in a bowl. Try to bruise them to get the juices flowing. Add olive oil not to the point where the tomatoes have to start swimming but enough to equal the juice of the tomatoes. Start with a little, you can always add more. Next add just a splash or two of vinegar. Not too much, again you can always add more but I don't want you ruining these tomatoes after you've waited so long. Next add feta cheese (Hopefully Lisa will have some today at the pickup) I like to add lots of Feta. It's probably hard to add too much unless you find yourself with more feta than tomato. Crush 5 or 6 basil leaves and then chopped them up and add to the salad. You can adjust this ingredient too depending on how much you like basil. Now put it in the refrigerator for several hours.
You can eat it without the croutons but I think they are a great addition. If you think you'll like them completely soggy go ahead and add them just before you put it in the frig to cool. I wait until about an hour before I'm going to take the salad out and serve it before adding the croutons. Then they soak up some of the juice but are still relatively crunchy. Enjoy.
Salt & Pepper
Lightly Toast your bread. You just want to stiffen it up a bit so it won't fall apart under the stress of tomato juices. Put a little more mayo on each slice than seems reasonable. Cut a really thick section out of the center of the tomato and save the rest for dinner. Place the tomato slice on one of your bread slices and hit it a little with your knife to bruise it and get the juices flowing. Salt and pepper to taste. Next I usually make another.
4 tomatoes, peeled and sliced
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 (9-inch) prebaked deep dish pie shell
1 cup grated mozzarella
1 cup grated cheddar
1 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the tomatoes in a colander in the sink in 1 layer. Sprinkle with salt and allow to drain for 10 minutes.
Layer the tomato slices, basil, and onion in pie shell. Season with salt and pepper. Combine the grated cheeses and mayonnaise together. Spread mixture on top of the tomatoes and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
To serve, cut into slices and serve warm.
Swiss Chard with Tomatoes
1 lb red swiss chard or green swiss chard
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup soft fresh breadcrumb
1 clove garlic, minced
2 small tomatoes, i use italian tomatoes,seeded and diced
1/4 teaspoon salt
crushed red pepper flakes
Trim coarse leaves and thick center ribs from chard; cut tender stems and leaves into 1/2-inch slices. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet; add bread crumbs; cook, stirring often, until crisp and golden; remove from skillet and set aside. Cool skillet slightly; add remaining oil and garlic; cook, stirring, 2 minutes; add chard and cook until wilted, 1-2 minutes; add tomatoes, salt, and red pepper flakes to taste. Remove from heat and sprinkle bread crumbs over the top.