The Alleged Farm News – 31 July, 2014

This Weeks Share: Beets, Cucumbers, Dill, Eggplant, Endive, Garlic, Lettuce, Onions, Peppers, Newmex hot pepper, Squash, Tomatoes


It is possible I am becoming an old fogy. There’s the physical evidence. The little noises when rising from a kneeling position or getting out of a chair. The time it takes to get up to operating speed in the morning. The sense of excitement about a lack of pain. The inability to sleep late. The way fitness goes twelves times as fast as it is painfully gained. The squinting to read the ridiculously small type they use for crossword puzzles.

There’s the style evidence. I think I ought to be able to buy a pair of plain white sneakers in a normal shoe store. I don’t think shorts should go down to your knees (real shorts are a consistent source of hilarity for my sons).

But mostly there’s the carping about the modern world. About, for instance, texting. So many words, so little meaning. All those youngster babbling away at every opportunity. In the middle of actual conversations. In the middle of movies. In the middle of classes. Well, not even babbling. Babbling would be far better. It would suggest some actual human contact. Silently and remotely tapping their thumbs, sending out little pieces of stream of less than consciousness, pointlessly emotionally hyped up. Laugh out loud? Really? What about a snort of amusement or a small chuckle or just a wry expression to acknowledge the attempt at humor or a stone cold look to show it wasn’t actually funny at all.

About the way the internet has allowed us to stop compensating people for their creative output, and shifted the money to the people who grant us free access to others work while mining our personal information for their own profit. Not that creativity has ever been a particularly lucrative undertaking. But now that everybody can easily put their work out we seem to have decided there’s not much point in rewarding the people who do it well. You’d think that finding out what novel or film or painting all those people felt they had in them would make us appreciate the good stuff even more. But it just seems to have overwhelmed our critical faculties. Whatever.

About hipster foodies (or do we have to call them foodists now?) and their obsessive search for the authentic bitters recipe, the freshest fennel pollen, the true art of pig butchering. I like food, but a bar with 1800 whiskeys (sorry, a whiskey library) strikes me as a sign not of deep learning and true refinement, but of the sort of pointless, solipsistic erudition cultures develop on the upper decks after they have hit the iceberg and started taking on water in the hold.

About the ability of the younger generation to multitask. It sounds great. Who doesn’t want to be able to drive and text and watch a video of someone being attacked by a rutting elk all at the same time in the middle of some college lecture whose salient points you are soaking up like a sponge. The only tiny problem is that it doesn’t work. Almost unbelievably, the internet has not caused the human brain to evolve in wonderful new ways during the past decade. We have just found a nice way to say nobody’s paying attention fully.

Oh, I could go on, but you get the idea. Things are going to hell. It’s all down from here. I am a grouchy old fogey.

Well, that or I am a farmer. Farmer would certainly explain the physical symptoms and the way I dress (a style that manages to incorporate untidy mechanic, homeless guy, confirmed bachelor, escaped convict and day laborer into a single look). And the carping, too, I think. We are, as I have noted too often, a fatalistic bunch. It’s a necessary survival technique when a hail storm could pop up at any moment and wreck what you sweat and bleed to make. But it does leave you prone to a certain tetchiness. And what with this brave new world leaving us dirt workers, us actual producers, us practicers of civilization’s oldest art far behind, we’re apt to be particularly tetchy about modernity. So maybe I am just a farmer after all. Or both. I am not sure how you would tell the difference, and anyway I don’t give a damn what those young folks think.
Vegetable note: The Newmex, which is only mildly hot, is the long, pale green pepper. I recommend blistering the skin over a flame, letting it sit covered for a few minutes (the steam helps to loosen the skin) and peeling it. And then eating it, unless you just want to admire your peeled pepper. Chop it up in salsa with grilled onion and tomato or sprinkle it over grilled squash and eggplant or puree it with garlic and herbs and pour it on just about anything.

As you can see, our main onion crop has started to size up. The white onions are fairly mild (the variety is called Candy, which suggests more sweetness that you will find–or, I think, would ever want to find in an onion). They are excellent grilled or baked (cut a bit off the top, pour on a little olive oil and vinegar, sprinkle with a little thyme, wrap in foil and roast until soft) or raw. I like onion sandwiches: some thinly sliced onion on good bread with oil, vinegar and a good amount of salt. But then I like onion everything.

You can make a simple and quick cucumber salad by slicing them into thin rounds (a mandolin makes it that task very easy) and tossing them with vinegar, salt and pepper, and a bit of dill. It is good right away, but even better if you let it sit for a few hours. Or you could make a slightly less simple and quick salad with chunks of cucumber and boiled beets, onion, macaroni and dill in a russian dressing.