August 9, 2008

Week 49

“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” I believe that’s a general Patton quote but it’s really true which ever general said it. Our stone fruit harvest of course is seasonal so we have the “it’s harvest season” mentality which is; whatever it takes, as long as it takes, we’ve got to get it done because if we don’t, the work that was done all year to prepare for today’s harvest will be lost and that’s just unacceptable whatever your position on the team. My cell message is “tell me what you need, team Peterson will get it done.”
If you’re a harvester in the field and it’s 105 degrees, you’ve been going since 5:30 AM and your crew’s still 45 minutes from the end of the row, you pound some more water, pour some down your neck and you get the job done because otherwise, that fruit will be lost.
If you’re a shed worker who started at 8:00 AM and it’s now 11:00 PM, you just work harder so you can get done, get some sleep and do it again tomorrow. Regardless your position, from irrigators and harvesters, right on through to cold storage shippers and marketing staff, we all just get it done. Our industry is full of the finest people you’ll ever meet who face inevitable difficulty with admirable resolve and ingenuity:
I’m fond of saying May through July, “there’s no whining until August” because come August, everybody just lacks the psychic energy to deal with other than routine challenges. You can put it on the calendar, and circle August 1st and there will be a mass choir of whining that somehow would be humorous if these weren’t your comrades in arms who’ve suffered the slings and arrows right along with you 18+ hours a day for the last 90 days, and there’s still another 90 to go if you count grapes. Mercifully, the intensity drops way off mid August and everybody somehow recovers and forgets and does it again next year “a little bit louder, a little bit worse” One definition of insanity is “to keep doing what you’ve been doing, the way you’ve been doing it and expecting the outcome to be different.” Another good piece of advice is to never make major decisions at a low psychic level. Therefore, the best thing for any of us to do when we’re in the midst of a crisis is to just pound some water, pour some down our necks and get to the end of the row, then meet in November and decide what changes need to be made so we don’t get in this mess again next year.

Announcing the addition of Chef Deb to team Abundant Harvest. Chef Deb is passionate about seasonal cooking and sharing that passion with you all. She will be accompanying the delivery truck and putting on the Chef Deb show during the regular pick-up time. She will be teaching us how to prepare the less familiar (What do I do with thiiis?) seasonal goodies that come along with a sparkle and verve you’re just going to love. Our hope is that we can get her or someone to each delivery site about once a month and thus add to our horizons her joy of seasonal cooking. EAT HEALTHY!

If your tomato knowledge is limited to what you see at the market you may not realize that there are over 1,000 different varieties of tomatoes. These varieties vary in shape, size and color. There are tomatoes that are red, yellow, orange, green, purple or brown. They can be very tiny or quite large, and have very different tastes.
Nothing says summer like vine ripened tomatoes. Although with today’s growing practices, and the import of vegetables from other countries, you can get tomatoes all year long the very best are the fresh summer tomatoes that are available from July to September.
By definition a tomato is a fruit. Rather than the sweetness found in what we commonly refer to as fruit tomatoes have a subtle sweetness, and have become more familiar as a vegetable ingredient in recipes and salads. The tomato has become one of the top selling “vegetables” in this country. Although tomatoes are native to South America and were first cultivated in Mexico, it was centuries before it became an acceptable food product in this country. If you have ever smelled the strong odor of the leaves and stems of the tomato plant, you may be able to understand why all parts of the plant were first considered to be poisonous. Tomatoes were originally grown only as an ornamental garden plant. With time it was discovered that the leaves of the tomato plant contain toxic alkaloids but not the fruit. The Italians are said to be the first to grow and eat the tomato in about 1550. The first records of tomato production in this country indicate that in 1781 a “progressive” Virginia farmer by the name of Thomas Jefferson planted and harvested them.
The health benefits of tomatoes, and the lycopene contained in them, have made headlines in recent years. Adding to those health benefits are the fact that tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, A, and K, and a very good source of many other vitamins and minerals.
Tomatoes are sensitive to cold and should be stored at room temperature out of exposure to direct sunlight. Depending on how ripe they are they will keep for up to a week at room temperature. If the tomatoes become overripe and you are not ready to use them put them in the refrigerator. HINT: If there is room put them in the butter com-partment, which is the warmest area of your refrigerator.
When you are going to use your refrigerated tomatoes remove them about 30 minutes before you are going to use them. This will help restore their maximum flavor and juiciness.

Here is what you will find in this week’s box?
-Seasonal Stone Fruit
The Peterson Family, Kingsburg
-Summer Royal Grapes
Bob & Mona Warren, Kingsburg
-Red Bell Peppers
Troy Huckabay, Kingsburg
California Organic, Lamont
-Russet Roasting Potatoes
Family Farm Organics, Madera
-Summer Squash*
-Early Girl Tomatoes*
-Cherry Tomatoes
-Red Onion*
Kyle Reynolds, Kingsburg
-Mediterranean Cucumbers
T & D Willey, Madera
*Denotes Large Box Only
Contents may vary due to availability on day of delivery.

As it seems is the case with many things these days, we have been notified of a price increase on chicken. All orders placed by 9:00 Monday, August 11, 2008, will be at the current price. The increase will take effect after that time.

Squash Pizza Preheat Oven to 400º
2 green zucchini quartered lengthwise
2 yellow squash quartered lengthwise
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and black pepper
1 tomato, diced
1 onion, diced
Leaves from 4 fresh thyme, chopped, or ½ tsp dried thyme
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, washed, dried and chopped
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Oil an oven proof baking dish. Alternate zucchini and yellow squash, cut side up, in the dish. Drizzle with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle tomato, onion, thyme and basil over the zucchini and squash; top with cheese.

Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted & veggies softened.

Asian Stir Fried Veggies
¼ cup thinly sliced onions 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp Asian chili sauce 2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp light brown sugar 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2-3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium zucchini cut into 1 inch pieces, or matchsticks
1 each red, yellow, and green bell pepper cut into pieces
Other veggies such as mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, etc. may be added

Combine onion, garlic, and chili sauce in a cup. Combine ¼ cup water with soy sauce, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar in another cup, set both aside.

Heat large, heavy skillet or stir fry pan. Add 2 Tbsp oil and swirl to coat pan. Reduce heat to medium. When the oil sizzles, add the onion mixture. Stir gently for about 30 seconds, adjusting the heat so ingredients don’t burn. Add all other veggies, cook stirring until they are just beginning to turn tender, adding more oil if necessary. Stir soy sauce mixture and add to pan; toss well. Bring liquid to simmer, cover pan, and simmer until most of liquid is absorbed about 2-3 minutes. Serve with rice

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