Monday, July 27, 2009

CSA-Summer Starts Up

Each week, our CSA sends our a newsletter, which usually includes a letter from the farmer. He makes an effort to give us insight into all the workings of the farm, good and bad. This year, although the produce has been excellent as ever, it seems like it's been a hard farming year--wet, cold, and threatening crop diseases. Especially because our farm is near Saratoga, comparatively far to the north of here, we are still working on our leafy greens well into the middle of the possible tomato/corn season. But, as you see above, the first chunky, heavy summer fruits and roots are starting to appear. This week, we got:

A small lettuce
1 green pepper
a few beets
1 head chinese cabbage
2/3 summer squash
3 enormous cucumers (as Carrie put it, someone must have looked the other way during the ten seconds that they zoomed past ideal size)
2 cipollini onions
1 bunch arugula (yay!)

....and probably something I've forgotten. We used the cucumbers and last week's kohlrabi in salads for a little weekend cookout, and I just stirred the arugula into some sausage pasta this morning.
This coming week's pickup will be our last for a while, as we're going out of town, and a friend will be taking over our share. I'm already sorry about the tomatoes and corn and eggplant we'll miss, but since we'll be up all over New England, I'm sure we can work something out. Who am I kidding, I'm sure we'll be grinning like bandits with blueberry juice running down our chins. I love New England and our brand new tent, and can't wait for the trip to begin. But first, one more week for Chinese cabbage et al.

The cucumber salad recipe I've been using comes from one of my favorite new book discoveries (I've had it out of the library for six months, and yes, I've been renewing it), Seductions of Rice, by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. It's very simple, and very addictive. In fact, just the smell of it was so strong and appealing that almost no one could walk by the dish without taking a handful. Here it is, with my comments:

Cucumber-Sesame Salad
Minimally adapted from Seductions of Rice, by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.

1 European cucumber or 1 pound pickling cucumbers (6 to 8)
1 tablespoon kosher salt or sea salt
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons rice vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons roasted sesame oil (I used regular sesame oil)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 - 1 teaspoon dried chile pepper flakes (I've been using crushed whole chiles or a drop of chile oil)

Wash, trim, seed (and peel only if necessary) cucumbers. Cut lengthwise into quarters. Cut each quarter lengthwise into 3 or 4 slices, then cut into approximately 2-inch lengths, or the size of your choice. Place in a colander, sprinkle on the salt, and mix gently with your hands to ensure all the pieces are salted. Let drain over a bowl or in the sink for 20 minutes.

Rinse the cucumber pieces thoroughly with cold water, wrap in a cotton towel, and gently squeeze dry (I just realized that I have always inadvertantly skipped this step).

In a small bowl, blend together the ginger, vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar. Pour over the cucumbers and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle the chile flakes over. Serve immediately, or within 2 hours, or cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve.

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