Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Summer CSA Week 12 and Joan's Eggplant

I really like vegetables, hence I like this time of year. As I work in the garden I eat and many times when I come in for meals I'm not hungry...or else I eat more veggies.

I always thought it was rather strange that a fellow who lives around the corner from me who grows greenhouse tomatoes made the admission to me that he doesn't like tomatoes at all. Nor in fact does anyone in his family.
He sells them, but never tries them.

I'm a different case altogether. I eat it all, and then some. So I know what I am selling and I know how good it is.

I'm lucky to have this bounty at my doorstep. My blackberries are producing now, so it was blackberries for breakfast, a fist full of kale, apples, carrots thrown in my Vitamix at lunch and a quick tomato sauce for supper, on polenta.

When I make a fresh sauce, I throw it all in. A little olive oil, then chopped tomatoes, sliced garlic, peppers, both sweet and hot, thai eggplants, chard or kale and a good bit of basil and oregano.

I've sold vegetables for 16 years now, but for me the best part of having all these things growing here is eating them and feeding them to my family.  Going out to the garden with my basket in my hand and filling it with whatever I choose to eat.

That's a form of richness in it's very own way.  It never fails to make me feel good.

This year with the bounty of fruit on the farm I feel doubly blessed. I have so many delicious and not quite perfect apples and pears.
When I walk my dogs in the morning though I also take advantage of living in the country and snack on pears from trees that line my road and are there for the taking. Yum.

Todays baskets were pretty full again, and I hope not too wilted when picked up. It was hot today, hot and humid and the greens in the baskets were not impressed.
CSA baskets today contained heirloom tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, cukes, zucchini/summer squash, tomatillos, a good lot of beans (several varieties), garlic, chard/kale, eggplants, basil, rosemary and sage.

There are only 3 weeks left in this summer CSA session, with the fall beginning immediately after.
I am full for the fall and will soon make contact with everyone who is "in". Thanks so much for your support this year and as always.

The recipe I am going to share with you is from Joan, a recent member of my CSA. It's very good, enjoy!

Joan's Eggplant

The eggplant recipe is more of a guideline than a firm recipe. It was given to me by a former Asian student who had been a chef back in China.
You take young, skinny eggplants (though big ones work too). You cut them up into small pieces. The ones that were in my basket were sliced into about 1" slices and then cut in half (Katlyn says they were smaller than an inch - so you can see that it's not a firm recipe at all). You cook them well, until they look roasted/charred - but not burnt (of course).
You then fry them in a frypan with garlic and sesame oil (smells lovely). While they're cooking, you mix soya sauce and something sweet (sugar/honey/maple sugar/agave nectar) together. You can add hot sauce of some type (we used the "Rooster Sauce") to taste if that's what you like.
You then add the liquid to the cooked eggplant and mix until the liquid evaporates somewhat and becomes sauce-like. 
This is delicious and hands-down our favourite way to make eggplant. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Summer CSA Week 11 and Vegan Mediterranean Stew

The season seems to have hit high harvest.
Despite my earlier concerns about how the season was going to proceed, the garden is producing well right now. The rains subsided, the gardens dried out and things began to jump.
A little rain right now would be okay, but my clay soil is holding onto enough moisture to ensure that things continue to grow and produce.

Recent plantings are coming along too, although I still will plant more.
The newly planted beets (varieties -Cylindra and Early Wonder Tall Top) are doing well, as are the turnips and winter radishes.
I need to get more lettuce planted, and with a pound or two of spare turnip seed, might just scatter it on a spot, a very large spot, that I tilled up yesterday.
After having run the tractor tiller over a garden hose that was hidden in a particularly weedy area, I felt as liberated as my tractor did when I got the darn hose out of the tiller and I showed off by doing a little freestyle tilling. Turnips it will be.

I'm amazed by the fruit this year. I have so many apples and pears. It isn't perfect fruit, but the taste is so much better than anything from the stores, probably enhanced in my mind because it is grown here by me, chemical free. If you want to try some, I'll put some in the baskets.

Nature astounds me.
I love russet apples and somehow in the past few year several have sprung up on my property and are now producing fruit.
I also have a good number of volunteer pear trees. One is a true oddity, having sharp thorns on the branches. I believe it is a pear-hawthorn cross, but when the Master Gardens group came here in the spring, some of them wondered if this was even botanically possible. I don't know, but I have a thorny pear regardless.
The baskets today were loaded.

Basket contents

They contained zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, beans, chard, onion, peppers hot and sweet, eggplants, basils, rosemary, a jar of basil jelly and some small cobs of corn. This is an open pollinated corn, and possibly not as sweet as the super charged corns that you generally find for purchase. It's pretty corny though.

Some of the zucchinis were pretty big. If you got a big one you can stuff it, grate it for later use and put in your freezer, or use a good bit in the following recipe, which I adapted from "Moosewood Restaurant Low Fat Favourites" cookbook.

Mediterranean Stew

2 cups chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 peppers, any colour, chopped
2 cups sliced fresh beans
1 cup dry red wine
3 cups chopped summer squash or zucchini
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh basil
2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 cups cannellini beans, cooked and drained

Combine oil, garlic and onions in saucepan and saute for 5 minutes until onions soften. Add peppers, beans and wine, simmering for five more minutes. Add all the other ingredients, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until veggies are tender.
Top with a fresh basil leaf to serve.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Garden Pictures - August 16, 2013

Mexican Sunflowers

Stupice are producing like crazy


My grafted "Old German"

Thai Long Green

Yellow Bhut Jolokia

Slim Jim

African Eggplant

Black Scorpion Tongue


The blackest of the blues-'Tendence Bleu"

Scarlet Runner

Red Marietta marigold

This is the squash the chickens planted!

So many delicious apples this year!


Blue Ribbon beans

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

CSA Week 10 and Zucchini Chips

After a busy and rather noisy few weeks, tonight I find myself alone.
I'm a bit later in the evening doing this weekly CSA blog post because in this time of quiet I am finally getting to my meditation course that I planned on starting at least half a year ago. I don't have a whole lot of time alone, so this little stretch seemed like a good opportunity.
Last night I found my eyes closing at a few points in the lecture, so tonight I made it my priority.
Tonight I was reading in the newspaper about the high cost of stress in the workplace. Assuming the facts are correct, 500,000 people miss work everyday in Canada because of a mental health issue.
I am delighted that I can live the way I do, and I never miss work because of stress or for any other reason. I'd be stressed out if I did because this is what I do for a living.

I love what I do.
But farming can be stressful in it's own right. The weather can be wonky causing crop failures, chefs can depart their workplace leaving you hanging, payments can be slow to come if they ever do at all and equipment can break down causing unforeseen expenses.
Then there is the reality that our food is terrifically cheap, which is what people expect. The work  and expense of getting good food out to people is just simply not compensated.  So you have to do other things and diversify and hold it all together.
Becoming a single parent and supporting this farm and all my friends here on my own it has become a whole lot more stressful.
Hence the meditation, which also gives me a bit of "me " time.

Today's baskets were summer, summer and more summer. Despite the chill in the air, the summer crops are peaking. Zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers, kale or chard, basils, rosemary, parsley, eggplants, cucumbers, garlic and mouse melons found a home in the baskets today.
I generally never have an overabundance of zucchini, but this year it is exceptionally happy. Absent for the most part are the squash bugs and cucumber beetles that tend to destroy it. The zucchini is happy and so am I.

The cool evenings are ensuring that the tomatoes in the field are slow to ripen. So there are not as many colours in the baskets yet....but they will come.
Well, you've done kale chips. Why not zucchini chips?

Oven Baked Zucchini Chips

1 (large) zucchini, cut into 1/8" - 1/4" slices
  • 1/3 cup whole grain breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat milk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Combine in a small mixing bowl, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Dip zucchini slices into milk and dredge into bread crumbs to coat both sides. Note: It may be necessary to press crumbs onto zucchini slices to ensure the crumbs stick.
Arrange zucchini on a non-stick cookie sheet and lightly mist with a non-stick cooking spray.  Or, place zucchini on a wire rack sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
If using a rack, place rack on a cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes, turn over and continue baking until golden, approximately 10-15 minutes (being careful not to burn). Allow to cool to room temperature before storing in an airtight container.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Summer CSA Week 9-Tomato Salad

It's been a fun week for us getting to know our new friend from Brooklyn who came to visit us through the Fresh Air Fund. It gives children a chance to get out of the big city, and it gives us country dwellers an idea of a different kind of life.

Our young visitor is a twelve year old girl, and her life in an apartment in a massive city is a long way from ours. Adjusting to our eating habits, pets and lifestyle is no doubt tough. But I tell you, this girl has a sense of humour and she pulls it all off. She puts a unique spin on things and is game to try pretty much everything. It's going well, but I don't think she'll be a farmer in her future. She tried to dig a big ol' hole in my clay... and the clay won.

So here's the thing. I am an old mother of a  twelve year old. Between tending the farm and getting CSA baskets ready and keeping two twelve year olds happy an fed, I am tired. So I'll get right to the baskets that I delivered today.

Yes, there was zucchini and possibly summer squash and patty pans too. There was also tomatoes, (still the Stupice), sweet and hot peppers, onions, garlic, soup celery, Blue Ribbon beans, cucumber, basil, rosemary, eggplants, and a few mouse melons just for fun. If that isn't a summer basket, I don't know what is.

This recipe from Epicurious makes good use of your basket ingredients. Just use the smaller tomatoes instead of the large.

Tomato Onion and Zucchini Salad

Serves 4


  • 2 large tomatoes,sliced
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried, crumbled
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper


Place alternating slices of tomatoes, zucchini and onion on serving platter. Sprinkle with herbs. Whisk together oil and vinegar and pour over salad. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 and up to 4 hours.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Farmville ... in 3D

Guest entry by Jo Pavlov
I am embarrassed to admit that a lot of what I know about identifying mystery vegetables and knowing when something is ripe, I learned from Farmville.  Yes, Farmville, that stupid Facebook video game that sucked up a couple of years of my life awhile back.  In it, you plant virtual crops, and harvest them when the time is right.  You can watch them grow, and although it's cartoony, you get the gist.
I'm sure Linda is rolling her eyes right now, aching back, dirty hands, sweaty brow... in from harvesting REAL veggies, wondering what in the hell that Jo is on about.  :)  Hey, this former city girl has come a LONG way!!  Not only can I take a stab at identifying these mystery foods, but I actually EAT THEM!  A far cry from that kid... I mean teen...  I mean twenty-something... I mean thirty-something... who was afraid of anything other than potatoes and carrots.
Speaking of which, I turned 41 last week.  You are NEVER too old to try new things.

So today I found something in my basket that was a bit of a mystery to me.  I think I heard Linda use the term "summer squash" when I picked it up, but I don't remember exactly.  I was separating out my veggies, and I ran to the computer to google "pattypan squash" to see if, indeed, my life's lessons from Farmville in 2010 did me well.  Indeed, that's what it was!  And I'd never seen it before in non-cartoony form, never mind eaten it.

I used the trusty ol' mandoline slicer to slice it up (not sure if you were supposed to go vertically or horizonally, so I did both.  Making rounds is better), added some of Linda's tomatoes and onions, and some store bought asparagus and decided to try grilling.  I've had some success on my grill with asparagus, but I was a bit scared of the squash and the consistency of it, so I cracked out an old cookie sheet.  Good thing it was old, as the BBQ kind of toasted it, but ... mmmm... the veggies came out fantastically!  I had put them in a large gallon baggie, drizzled oil on them (I don't even have olive oil... I think it was just canola, but it was fine... I'm no oil snob) and sprinkled on a generous helping of a seasoning I love called "Borsari".  God only knows what's in it, but it's salty and delicious.  Shook up the bag until everything was coated, and fired up the grill.  Sizzled them on the sheet on the BBQ and browned a few on the side to give grill marks.


I was on vacation the last few weeks with my sister and we road tripped through California.  We drove the width of the state through Fresno, and through some of the most interesting farmland I've ever seen.  It was miles and miles and endless miles of fruit trees in what was otherwise a desert.  A few I recognized from Farmville (I know, I know...) Hey!  That's peach!  Or limes!  OMG Lime trees!  It was so bizarre. 
The food in California blew my ever loving mind.  Every single meal seemed better than the one before it, and my sister and I kept commenting on how good vegetables are when you are a stone's throw from where it was grown.  At one point, she was eating what she said was the best avacado of her life, and when we got back in the car and put on the radio, an ad came on saying, "Have you ever wondered why California avacados are so delicious??"  It was hilarious... we both yelled, "YES" as the radio!
I get squicked out by peach fuzz, but I ate an entire peach in San Francisco, including the peel and sucked the stone dry it was so delicious.  And me -- the person who is *terrified* of fruits and vegetables triggering one of my lifelong stomachaches... went two and a half weeks without a single bout of pain.  It was downright miraculous. 
I'm feeling more daring since I've been home, and just polished off SEVERAL of those rounds of squash, and I keep saying "pattypan" out loud to myself, because the word amuses me, and I'm so glad I finally got to try it.  Mmmm.  Pattypan.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunday Evening In The Garden

Mollie's tomato people

Scarlet runner beans

Amish Cockscomb

White Bhut Jolokia

Black Stem Eggplants

Szechuan Buttons