Bunch 'o' Parsley
Dante Hot Peppers
Some Kind Of Zucchini and/or Summer Squash
Notes from the Farm
I work outside every day, and I'll tell you right now, there aren't 4 seasons, there are 12...
I mean, I'm just going to go along with the Gregorian calendar, which I also think is a little silly, but I don't have it in me to challenge both the seasons and the calendar superstructure simultaneously... so, seasons, what's up with that?
It's a total abstraction, but on the first of every month, there is a monumental sea-change. Weather is weather, and climate is climate, but nothing happens in a vacuum, and participant bias is foundational to any experience.
July is not August and lumping them together with parts of June and September is absolute nonsense... , mashing that train-wreck of a shoehorned posse of months into a loose concept of Summer, well, it's ridiculous.
From a straight farm perspective:
May is the set up, days are cool, sometimes warm, nights are cold and the fields are clean.
June is warmer, but it's a hollow warm, like the Earth hasn't heated up yet. The air is warm, the water and wood is not. We are planting and hoeing with the idea that this will be the perfect season, we have all the energy, we have all the resolve.
July brings first summer... the real heat and long days, warm nights and warm water. In July we start harvesting in earnest, we are hoeing thinking we can stay ahead of the weeds, the bugs start their biblical marches, and it becomes clear we cannot do it all, but we're still bailing as fast as we can... and we wear the heat like a weighted vest... in July, we are not ready for the heat and humidity, our bodies respond slowly and with registered contempt.
In August, the wheels come off. August is second summer. Cool at night, still getting those scorchers, but not quite as sever. The seasonal fatigue is setting in, but the coil is adjusted to operating in the unending heat, and our team efficiency is really cooking. August is when we start to see the Give-An-Eff meter running low... if we don't get to weeding, we don't get to weeding... this is the last of the really warm weather and we're going to lean back when we get a minute. August means more sideways afternoons and taking time to cook the food we've been growing.
September is the beginning of the Nostalgia months. Riding out the farm year with nice days and cold nights, first frosts and winter squash, low light and quiet roads. September is still for swimming and ice cream, but less often, and the sweaters are out. September is for looking back at what was, this season, all the seasons, forever & ever.
There is no one summer, as far as I can tell, and we are at the start of maybe the nicest month of the year in Maine (not that I don't love them all, but let's be honest...), and we're leaning back a bit... this is where the real fun begins.
A Walk Through The Food
Beatrice Eggplant: Just like any Italian style eggplant, but it doesn't reduce as much, doesn't need to be peeled or salted.
Napa Cabbage: It's not like cabbage at all. Originally from China, it is one of the most widely grown vegetables in the world now. We like it sliced thinly and used as a salad or lettuce substitute. It's great cooked and stuffed or made into a quick Kimchi. It's flavor, texture and freshness are hard to beat... hence the widely grown nature of it...
Radicchio: Radicchio is not an entry level vegetable, and unless you're super familiar with the flavor, we recommend cooking it, not eating it fresh. Radicchio has a very European flavor (which is a farm euphemism for bitter... if you ever hear a farmer say European, they mean bitter). Don't be brave or creative with this one, go to the internet, ask the internet. It's one of my favorite all time vegetables, top 10 easily, but it turn evil on you if you don't treat it right.
Spoon Spinach: It's an asian green, great mild broccoli flavor, wonderful as a fresh salad, in sandwiches or burgers.
Radicchio-Cabbage Slaw with Honey
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
1 medium head napa cabbage (about 1 pound), halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick strips
1 small head radicchio, halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick strips
Whisk together honey, vinegar, and salt in a small bowl. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until well blended. Season with pepper. Toss together cabbage and radicchio in a large bowl. Add dressing; toss to combine. Cover, and refrigerate at least 5 minutes. Just before serving, toss again.
Eggplant Caponata Crostini
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for grilling
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons golden raisins
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar, plus more if needed
1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup white-wine vinegar
8 1/4-inch-thick diagonal slices baguette
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
In a 5-quart Dutch oven or pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion, raisins, pine nuts, garlic, and red-pepper flakes; cook stirring occasionally, until onion has softened, 4 to 6 minutes.
Add tomato paste, cocoa powder, and sugar; cook, stirring, until tomato paste is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggplant, vinegar, and 1/3 cup water.
Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is tender and mixture is thick, 7 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and more sugar (up to 1 tablespoon), as desired.
Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush both sides bread with olive oil. Grill, turning once, until toasted and grill marks appear, about 2 minutes per side.
Top grilled bread with caponata; garnish with basil leaves. Caponata can be refrigerated up to 5 days in an airtight container; let cool completely before storing.
Napa Cabbage Salad with Peanuts and Ginger
2 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 piece fresh ginger (1 inch long), peeled and grated
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 medium napa cabbage (about 1 pound), cored and cut into bite-size pieces
1 red bell pepper (seeds and ribs removed), thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh, cilantro
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, ginger, and oils until dressing is smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, combine cabbage, bell pepper, cilantro, and peanuts. Add dressing to taste, and toss to combine. Serve.