Well it has continued to be hot and dry this past week. Today marks three weeks without a drop of rain. I can't really complain about this weather pattern, since hot and dry is very much preferable to it being too wet and cool at this time of year. When it's dry we can at least irrigate, but nothing much can be done when it's too wet. Last September we were dealing with way too much rain and that resulted in a lot of fungal problems and massive aphid issues. I think we lost close to half of our fall crops that season. I don't want to count my cabbage and turnips before they are harvestable, but it looks like we are going to have a very productive fall this year!
We tried a late zucchini planting this year, planting out our transplants at the beginning of August. I wasn't sure how well this would work, since plants in this family are susceptible to a wilting disease that tends to get worse as the season progresses. We covered our transplants with row cover until they were big enough to start flowering, then sprayed a kaolin clay product on their leaves to keep the cucumber beetles at bay. They started producing zucchinis a couple of weeks ago, but were really slow to get going. However, with the sunny weather we've had in the last couple of weeks, they are taking off and we have an abundance of beautiful zucchini to share with you. In addition to the standard green zucchini, we have striped varieties in both green (pictured above) and yellow. The yellow striped plants are not doing as well as the others, so you'll probably get green striped and a plain green zucchini in your share this week. The striped variety doesn't really taste much different than the standard zucchini, it's just fun :)
Two of the other crops you haven't seen in shares for awhile are beets and roma beans. It's feels good to have another round of these crops before they're done for the year. We had tried for another round of beets for the fall, but their germination was really poor. So these are the last of the beets for the season. We are thinking of ways to have more consistent beet plantings for next year and one idea is to use this innovative paper pot system that allows you to easily transplant pretty young seedlings. I think I'll tell you more about that in next week's newsletter ;)
Recipes from Maria:
Summer Vegetable Stew
1/2 cup diced onion
2 tsp minced garlic
2 TBSP butter
2 cups diced potatoes
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups diced green beans (1-inch)
1 14-oz can chicken broth
1 medium zucchini, diced
2 large tomatoes
Fresh corn from 2-3 cobs
1/2 tsp rubbed sage
1/2 tsp salt and pepper
1 cup heavy cream
2 TBSP cornstarch
1 cup diced chicken or ham, optional
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, to top bowls of stew with
In a large stockpot, heat butter over medium heat. Add in onions, garlic, potatoes, green beans and carrots. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until onions are translucent.
Add in chicken broth. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, until potatoes, green beans and carrots are soft.
Add in zucchini, tomatoes, corn, chicken or ham (if desired) and seasonings (except cornstarch.) Heat for another 10-15 minutes or so, until mixture is hot and beginning to boil.
Reduce heat and add all but 2-3 TBSP of the heavy cream. Mix remaining cream with the cornstarch and stir until combined. Stir it into the stew. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Salt & pepper to taste. Top with fresh diced cherry tomatoes & a little shredded Parmesan cheese once stew is ladled into each bowl.
Fall Butternut Squash, Beet and Kale Salad
For the salad:
3 cups butternut squash, cubed
3 cups beets, cubed
1 tsp garlic powder
12 cups kale, chopped
1 cup cannellini beans, canned
3/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries
1 cup toasted pecans
For the dressing:
1/4 cup lemon juice (juice of 1 medium lemon)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup tahini
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 400. Peel and chop butternut squash and beets into cubes. Place on baking tray. Sprinkle with a little olive oil, garlic powder, and salt to taste. Bake for about 30 min, or until easily pierced with a fork.
Next, make the dressing. Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl.
Chop the kale into small bits, then add into the large bowl with the dressing and mix.
Drain and rinse the beans and add them in.
Add in the butternut squash and beets once it is done roasting and cooled. Stir all together.
Serve on a large plate, topping with the toasted pecans and dried fruit.
This salad would taste yummy with blue cheese crumbles, goat cheese crumbles or even feta cheese.