Before I could start writing the newsletter this week, I had to put my kitchen into some semblance of order. I had canned a few beans (and, funny how canning a few makes just as much of a mess as canning a lot of them. Lesson learned.) That was Saturday evening and then I rushed off to many weekend activities – leaving my counter and table full of pots and cutting boards. I have a fairly small kitchen, and it doesn’t take much for there to hardly be room for the cook. Now it’s cleanish, and there’s room to put my laptop down on the table. More importantly, there’s room for my thoughts to roam about without tipping over the dishes in the drying rack.
This past weekend I went down to the Cities to burn my shoulders, catch some live music on a stick and get deep-fried cheese curds for breakfast. I was at the State Fair, of course. One of the highlights for me were the dahlias on display in the Horticulture building. Both of the plant/flower rooms were full of them this year -and it was extraordinary. I couldn’t stop exclaiming out loud at how wonderful they were. There were small ones like little pom-poms and others the size of dinner plates. There were totally spherical ones and ones that looked like pinwheels in a Dr. Seuss book. They are so beautiful -and also so organized in their appearance that they make me think of outer-space, or math or the spiral part at the top of cauliflower.
This time of year the way we harvest starts to change. I suppose I’ve said that in past newsletters. I’m reminding myself more than you all. With the changing harvest, and more and more produce coming down into the root cellar, staying organized is crucial. Even though this is my fourth season I still need reminding of where we put things so they stay out of the way (but not too out of the way), and it takes me adjusting how I think about wheeling pallet boxes into the cooler. The crew is catching on to our little tricks for how to keep things straight during harvest days and wholesale delivery days. We use certain bins for this or that, and certain stickers for other thises and thats. Getting and staying organized takes a certain amount of energy and work, but it is so very worth it. At the end of the day, the time we spend talking about how to do things better with our time or space is more than made up for by how the system can flow.
The fact that anything gets, or stays organized on this farm while I’m working here is because in the 30 years of farming that Jane, John, Dave and Janaki have done (and countless other crew members and volunteers) they have all set systems in place that work well for us. We make little changes from season to season, and big changes (like adding a root cellar, and then expanding it) – and we all get a say in what we think makes sense.
In your share this week:
- Yellow beans
- Green mix
- Sweet onion
- Green bell peppers
- Hot peppers
- Red Potatoes
- Daikon radish
- Juliet tomatoes
Cucumber and daikon radish relish
2 cucumbers, peeled, halved, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 teaspoons sea salt
8 ounces daikon (Japanese white radish), peeled, cut into 2x 1/4-inch sticks
2/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Toss cucumbers with sea salt in colander. Place colander over bowl and let stand 15 minutes. Rinse cucumbers. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
Place radish sticks in medium bowl. Cover with water. Soak 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
Stir vinegar and next 3 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Add cucumbers and radish; toss to coat. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
Indian-spiced cauliflower soup
- 2 tablespoons olive or peanut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
- 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium potato (about 6 ounces), peeled and chopped
- 2 teaspoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 fresh hot green chili, chopped (more or less to taste)
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne (to taste)
- About 3 1/2 cups cauliflower florets (from about 1/2 a large 2.75-pound head)
- 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped or 1 1/2 cups canned chopped tomatoes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste (we wanted more)
TO FINISH (ALL OPTIONAL)
- A couple spoonfuls heavy cream or dollops of yogurt
- 1/2 cup cooked basmati or other long-grain white rice
- Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Lime wedges
- Toasted pita or naan wedges
Refrigerator Dilly Beans
2 cups of green beans
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
2 ½ tablespoons of sugar
2 cloves of garlic OR 3 tablespoons of minced garlic scapes
1 ½ teaspoons of kosher salt
½ of a medium onion, sliced thinly
2 sprigs of fresh dill
½ teaspoon of whole black peppercorns
¼ to 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (depending on how hot you want them) – you
can also add a whole dried chili if you have one.
You don’t need any canning supplies for this project. You don’t even need special
jars. I reused a jar from store-bought sauerkraut for mine. Use whatever you have
on hand, as long as it’s glass and has a lid.
Make your brine. This is the longest part of this process (and it only takes a few minutes!) so do this first. Add your water, vinegar, salt, sugar, and garlic (which you’ve minced) to a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Once it is boiling, turn it off and set it aside to cool down to room temperature.
Trim the beans. You want them all to fit in your jar with about an inch at the top
so the brine covers them completely. You can trim both ends, or just the stem end. I think the pointy blossom end of beans are pretty, so I leave them. It’s up to you.
Blanch the beans. Bring a saucepan of water to a full boil, then dump the beans in
and boil them for thirty seconds. Drain them, and quickly add them to a bowl of
iced water to shock them and stop the cooking process. You want your beans to be
brightly colored and still crisp.
Drain the beans and set them aside. Add your onions, dill, red pepper flakes,
and peppercorns to your jars.
Now add your beans to the jars. They look prettiest standing upright, but don’t
worry about being perfect. The easiest way is to lay the jar on its side, or hold it
horizontally, and place the beans inside.
Go ahead and pour your brine in once it has reached room temperature. Fill
the jar to 1/2 inch below the top of the jar, and put the lid on. Place the jar of dilly
beans in the fridge, and let them sit for at least two days before eating them.
They’ll keep for up to six months in the fridge, but I’ll bet you foldable money that
you won’t have them around nearly that long!