Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fall CSA Week One and Caponata

I love the fall.
Of all the seasons, it is by far my favourite.
There is something that is somehow comforting about slipping on a sweater that I haven't seen since the spring. The morning chill demands it.
I like the change in the heat, the sun seems to warm you, but not scorch. When you lift your face to it, it just feels so good.

The sense of urgency in the garden is gone. Don't get me wrong-there's lots and lots to do. But the pace just seems a bit slower.
I'm not too worried about pulling out the weeds anymore, and the only watering is in the hoophouses as I urge the crops I've planted for the winter to spring forth.
I know I need to do a little walk about with pad and pencil and make my to do list that will address everything I need to get one before the fall.

It will go something like this:
1) Check the weather for frost and pick, pick and pick the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants before it hits. String and dry some hot peppers.
2) Dig out certain plants to overwinter inside. Take cuttings for others.
3) Collect seeds and hope like heck that all the bean seed dries.
4)Till empty spots and incorporate compost, hay into them.
5)Plant garlic early October. Mulch.
6) Plant empty spots in hoophouses as they become available.
7)Mend tears in hoophouse plastic.
8)Get pump at pond put away for winter, as well as tractor and other equipment and tools.
9)Most importantly-relax and enjoy a different tempo. Breathe.

My fall CSA began today too. I'm doing a bit less this time around, but there is lots of food out there still. With the seed end of my business requiring attention at this time of year, and the house needing some fresh paint and imagination, fewer CSA baskets were required. Plus...read number 9)!

This session will take us right up to Christmas. 
The first several weeks, and maybe more will see the continuation of some of my favourite summer crops, particularly tomatoes. I have a lot of plants in one of my hoophouses, as well as eggplants and peppers, and should the temperatures dip, it should all be fine for a while yet. 
It will all freeze though, in October I suspect and I'll pull out the spent plants and...keep on planting! I've got some super-duper Chinese greens I'm looking forward to, and they are also terrifically frost hardy. They'll grow much more slowly at this time of year, but grow they will.

Today's basket contents were: tomatoes, eggplants, peppers (hot and sweet), tomatillos, ground cherries, beets, broccoli florets, onions, garlic, apples, basil and a good large bunch of assorted kales.

The following recipe makes good use of the summer ingredients that are still plentiful in the garden. It's a nice side dish. 
(From "The Garden Fresh Vegetable Cookbook" by Andrea Chesman)

1 eggplant, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tomatoes, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 cup green olives, chopped
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp chopped basil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp capers
1 tsp sugar, or to taste
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a large sheet pan.
Mound eggplant and onion in the middle of pan and drizzle oil over them, tossing to coat. Arrange in single layer.
Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes, until eggplant is tender.
Transfer to a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients.
Let it sit for 30 minutes for the flavours to meld, then serve at room temperature.

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