July 19, 2008

Week 46

When I was 21, my father got a really fast growing type of cancer that took his life 7 months later. I was a junior at Fresno State with an Agri-business major but dropped out the middle of that second semester to go run the farm.
So there I am with a mountain of doctor bills, our benevolent government expects you to repurchase the farm you own through inheritance tax and while I knew HOW to do all the cultural and equipment stuff because I’ve been driving tractor since I was 5, I just didn’t know WHEN or WHY.
At this point, I’ve got a very teachable attitude. I seek out my Uncle Dave and ask a very embarrassing question; “How do you know when its time to irrigate?” The Fresno State answer would have been “Install Tensiometers at 6”, 18” & 36” and maintain them between 12 & 18 milibars of draw” so I was anticipating a similar response. He looked as though he wondered whether I’d been paying attention the last couple decades but responded with “Well, you’ve just got to stay ahead of your crop.” That statement has been a guiding principle in so many areas. You’ve just got to stay ahead of your crop.
The tree or the vine or the chicken for that matter will do what it’s supposed to do and reward us with its production if we just stay ahead of it. The trick is to observe with at least our five senses where it’s at in its cycle and make sure it has the resources available to do what it needs to do.
One of the best scientific tools ever developed to aid this observation process is a 5 gallon bucket. Its light weight & portable. You take it with you into the field or flock, turn it over and sit on it. What you thought you were seeing as you walked changes dramatically when you sit. You’ll not only notice your crop, but it’s interaction with weeds and bugs and birds. You’ll observe turgor at the tips (rigidity because it’s got plenty of water) or not, but the main thing is, you recalibrate yourself to what’s going on so you can anticipate, not just react. There’s a ton of ramifications here for daily life and all of you are so sharp you’ve already drawn them. Main thing, we need to take the time to stop & recalibrate ourselves to the needs of what’s going on around us so we can be pro-active, not just reactive. (Believe me I’m talking to myself as much as anyone else.) We’re often so busy, we can’t get anything done. Unless something’s on fire, the solution is usually to walk into the middle of the challenge with a 5 gallon bucket, flip it over and observe to the point of understanding.
Zee Lady’s for home canning or freezing. Next week’s the week. We might have ‘em the week after but next week will be best. 30 pounds of Vernon or Paul’s Organic Zee Lady’s for $16.00. They’re freestones so Carol just peels & slices ‘em into a Zip Lock bag and puts ‘em in the freezer til later. Her ice cream recipe is literally award winning and you can taste summer all winter in peach pies and cobblers!

Would you guess that the eggplant is related to the tomato, sweet peppers and potato? Most people would not. There are many varieties of eggplant and each varies slightly in texture and taste. The best description of eggplant is that it has a pleasantly bitter taste and a spongy texture. It is this unique taste and texture, and its deep purple glossy beauty that has made the eggplant a vegetable that is enjoyed the world over. In many recipes the eggplant serves as a complementary ingredient that balances the flavors of other ingredients that have a more pronounced flavor.
You may see eggplant that ranges in color from lavender, jade green, orange, and yellow-white to the most common purple. Eggplant comes in sizes and shapes that range from that of a small tomato to a large zucchini.
Eggplant is very perishable and is sensitive to both heat and cold. Ideally it should be stored at around 50ºF. Do not cut eggplant before you store it. Once the skin has been cut or punctured and the inner flesh exposed it will perish quickly. Place your uncut, unwashed eggplant in a plastic bag in the crisper of your refrigerator and it will keep for a few days. Use a stainless steel knife when cutting your eggplant as carbon steel will cause it to turn black. You can tenderize the flesh and reduce some of the natural bitterness by sweating the eggplant with salt. After cutting the eggplant into the desired size and shape, sprinkle it with salt and allow it to rest for about 30 minutes. This process pulls out some of the water content and will make it less permeable to absorbing any oil used in cooking. After you have completed the sweating process rinse the eggplant to remove the salt.
Whether you eat the skin of the eggplant or not is really a matter of preference. Larger eggplant and those with a white skin color tend to have a tougher skin which may not be palatable. If you wish to remove the skin you may do so before it is cooked or if you are going to bake the eggplant you can scoop the flesh out after it has been cooked. Try eggplant baked, roasted in the oven or grilled. One word of warning, if you are baking or grilling the eggplant whole be sure to pierce the eggplant several times with a fork to allow steam to escape or you may have a purple mess. Eggplant is also great stuffed and of course who has ever gone to a good Italian restaurant that did not have Eggplant Parmesan on the menu?
Don’t ever say you don’t like something until you have given it a try. You may be surprised!

Here is what you will find in this week’s box.
-Seasonal Stone Fruit
The Peterson Family, Kingsburg
John France, Porterville
-Sweet Corn
Don Warkentine, Kingsburg
-Italian Curly Long Peppers
-Italian Sweet Red Onion
Kyle Reynolds, Kingsburg
-Sweet Green Peppers
-Yukon Gold Potatoes*
T & D Willey, Madera
*Denotes Large Box Only
Contents may vary due to availability on date of delivery.

Here is a suggestion for barbecue season. The Olson Organics fruit/pepper sauces make great barbecue sauces. Use them to marinate your meat or brush one of them on while you are grilling. They will give your meat just a little sweetness and zip. They come in Pepper/Peach, Pepper/Plum and Pepper/Apricot.

Italian Fresh Vegetable Salad (Great for barbecues)
A combination of any, or all, of the following vegetables:
Red Onion Tomatoes Cucumbers
Bell Peppers Sweet Peppers Avocado
Radishes Carrots

Wash vegetables and cut into bite size pieces and place in a bowl with a tight fitting lid.

1 ½ cups wine vinegar 2/3 cup oil
¾ cup sugar Salt and pepper
Pour dressing over vegetables and cover. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 ½ hours, rotating bowl so all vegetables have been covered. Drain and serve or serve with a slotted spoon. This dressing can be saved, added to, and reused. This dressing is also good for 5 bean salad.

Grilled Meat with Fresh Stone Fruit
Fresh stone fruit is a great addition to grilled kabobs. It is best to use firm fruit.
Remove pits from your choice of nectarines, peaches and plums and cut into large pieces. In a bowl toss the fruit with melted butter, salt and pepper.
Soak bamboo skewers in water until ready to use. Thread alternating pieces of fruit and prepared pieces of your choice of meat onto the skewers. Place skewers on the grill and cook until meat is cooked through, turning at least once. The natural juice from the fruit will caramelize while cooking. Remove from grill and place on a platter to serve.

No comments: