This Weeks Share: Lemon Basil, Cucumbers, Dill, Eggplant,
Garlic, Onions, Pepper, NewMex pepper,Potatoes, Cherry tomatoes, Tomatoes
So many people have written in with questions about the farm that I thought it would be a good moment to go to the mail bag and try answering a few letters.
Dear Alleged Farmer, What is up with all the eggplant in the share? Buried in Parmigiana
Dear Parm, Actually, that is not anywhere near all the eggplant. I don’t mean this as a threat, but we could have handed out twice as much. Fred from Community Action took seven or eight tubs yesterday morning and we still have another five tubs in the cooler.
Dear Alleged Farmer, You have a new mascot, but the same old official farm cocktail. Time for an update? On the Rocks
Dear Rocky, I feel our official cocktail (roughly equal parts lemon basil simple syrup and good bourdon over lots of ice) has a timeless quality. But you will be happy to know I have been experimenting. No reason a farm cannot have more than one cocktail. A recent success involved muddling cucumber slices in a mixture of Thai basil syrup, lime juice, gin and Pimm’s Cup, straining, and serving over ice. I promise I will continue to do more work in this area.
Dear Alleged Farmer, How do you learn to live with deer? Struggling with Nature
Dear Struggler, I assume by “with” you mean “on.” There are lots of places to find good venison recipes. Our neighbor, DJ, is a good source. He and his family hunt and eat a lot of game. As a general guide, keep in mind that venison is extremely lean meat, so for the most part any kind of high heat cooking method will just make it tough. Not that I would actually recommend living solely on venison (though god knows there are enough deer to fill all of us). Why not at least add a few vegetables to your venison dishes for a more complete diet?
Dear Alleged Farmer, I cannot help noticing a certain amount of dirt on my potatoes. Is this the result of a water conservation plan or are you guys just lazy? Dirty Spuds
Dear Spud, Actually, this is the result of a potato skin conservation plan. At this early point in the potato season, we are still digging live plants, which means the tubers have not set their skins. If we ran them through the barrel washer we would take off the skins as well as the dirt, which would reduce their culinary and their storage quality. Also, we have so much dirt on the farm that this seems like a good way of getting rid of a little bit of it.
Dear Alleged Farmer, Did you ever get a rhino? Pachyderm Proponent
Dear Thick Skinned Correspondent, Sadly, I have not yet procured a rhino–and given what’s happening to them it may be too late soon. Not only have I failed to find any local breeders, but Liz insists rhinos would not enjoy our winters. I keep pointing out that they look pretty irritable about living in a hot climate and maybe cold weather is just what they need. But that’s a moot point until I actually get my hands on one.
Dear Alleged Farmer, It looks like you grow a lot of buckwheat, but we never see any in our box. Where does it go? Kasha
Dear Kasha, We do grow a fair amount of buckwheat. And it does turn up in your share. Well, sort of. Not directly. We grow it as a cover crop. The seed is pretty cheap and it comes up reliably and quickly. Quicker, in fact, that most weeds. And then it creates such a dense canopy that the weeds that do come up don’t get enough light to grow. But we mow it down and till it in before it sets seed so there’s no grain to hand out. However, as it decomposes it enriches the soil, and then the crops we plant use those nutrients.
Well, that is all I have time for this week. But tune in next week when I answer more letters and tackle such questions as “how come?”, “why not?”, and “if not now, when?” And keep those letters coming.
Vegetable notes: If you don’t want to use the lemon basil to make cocktails, you could instead use it in tomato salad or gazpacho, or puree it with garlic and make a nice sauce for fish.
If you don’t want to use the cucumbers in a cocktail you could instead use them in a tomato salad or gazpacho, or puree them with yogurt, dill and lemon juice and perhaps a little hot pepper and make a nice cold soup.
If you don’t want to use eggplants to make a cocktail… No, just kidding. Well, so far. I’ll let you know if I come up with an eggplant cocktail. In the meantime, you might want to try Yotam Ottolenghi’s burnt eggplant and mograbieh (a sort of large couscous) soup.
The red onions are called Long Red of Tropea (Tropea is a Calabrian town). I have not grown them before. For some reason, I thought they would be fairly small. Maybe they are supposed to be. A lot of our onions seems to be quite large this year. Whatever their size, the Tropeas should be fairly sweet. You could roast or grill them and then drizzle with with a little olive oil, a little coarse salt, and maybe a few drops of balsamic vinegar.