DIGGING DEEPER

Farm NewsLetter 08/07/06

Week of August 7th, 2006

The work party was a great success! Thank you to everyone who came. We harvested over 1200lbs of potatoes and brought in almost that many onions. Picking potatoes is like digging for buried treasure and the kids especially had a terrific time. The onions are harvested before they are completely dry and we hang them in the barn to dry. We managed to not only setup most of the wires, but then also to fill the barn with bundles of onions. They are beautiful hanging in their rows in the attic, the warm air sweet with the scent of onions. Thanks again to everyone for all your help!

A few months ago the Rebecca Gerendasy from “Cooking Up a Story,” a weekly web based video show about people and food, asked if they could come out and see what we were doing. This month they have been to the farm several times to film the food, the fields and the folks who make it all happen. I was thrilled to see that Rebecca focused the show on the community. There is some great footage of the farm pickup and the work party too. The show debuted this week at http://cookingupastory.com

We hope to have flats of blackberries from Ayers Creek farm available for sale for the next few weeks. I asked Anthony about this particular variety, and this is what he had to say about it…
The “Chester Thornless Blackberry” originated in 1968 at the Southern Illinois University plant breeding program at Carbondale. The original cross was done by Robert Skirvin. It is named after Professor Chester Zych, who kept the variety “SIUS 68-6-17” alive between the time the Carbondale breeding station was closed and variety was officially named in 1985. According to Skirvin, the thornless trait comes from a popular English variety called “Merton’s Thornless.” The Brits have cherished Merton’s since the 1930s. The plant is “semi-erect” which means it has a strong stem but still needs the support of a trellis. Chester has a very “clean” flavor.

I tasted them today and all I have to say is YUM!

The Weather: Quite pleasant
Thank you everyone for all your help!

Your share this week may include:

Beets An assortment of beautifully colored beets. Don’t forget to use the greens too.
Cilantro Time to make salsa! Or an East Indian or Thai curry.
Basil Big bunches this week for making pesto!
Green Beans These flat romano beans are tender and tasty.
Eggplant Use these long thin Asian eggplant just as you would the fatter Italian varieties. There are just a few in the share this week, but there will be plenty more to come.
Baby Lettuce Heads These little batvian crisp lettuces are super in the summer when other varieties bolt or get bitter. No matter how hot it gets, these stay sweet and crunchy.
Mizuna These frilly and mild greens can add fluff to salad or be sautéed.
Red & Yellow Onions The tops are starting to fall, but these are still very fresh! Use them quickly or store in the fridge.
Potatoes Baby Yukon Gold potatoes are tender and thin skinned so no need to peel- just steam the little ones whole.
Summer Squash All different shapes colors and sizes.
Tomatoes!! First of the season, these little Stupice tomatoes from the greenhouse are super tasty

Coming Soon… Purple Beans!

Zucchini Gratin
Gratin de Courgettes
From LuLu’s Provencal Table

3 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon flour
1 large sweet onion, cut in two from top to bottom, 1 cup milk
each half finely sliced Freshly ground pepper
2 lbs small, firm zucchini, quartered lengthwise 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
and cut into 1/2-inch lengths Handful of coarsely grated breadcrumbs

ß Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
ß Over low hear, warm half the butter in a heavy casserole, add the onions, and sweat, covered, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for about 30 minutes, or until melting, but uncolored. Add the zucchini and salt and cook, first covered, then uncovered, until tender but not falling apart.
ß Sprinkle the onion and zucchini with flour and stir gently. Raise the heat somewhat and add the milk, a few spoonfuls at a time, stirring until the sauce boils before adding more. Simmer gently for 10 minutes before seasoning with pepper, tasting for salt, and pouring the mixture into a buttered gratin dish. Mix together the cheese and bread crumbs, sprinkle over the surface, and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden. Serve hot or tepid.