In your box:
- Summer Squash
- Sweet corn
- Sweet onion
- Sweet pepper
All of our returning members from 2011 will no doubt remember the sad, fiery end of our dear old tractor, Mr. Peanut. Our monocled workhorse was a 72-year old Ford 9N tractor that begged all season to be allowed to die, leading to endless hours of prodding, fixing, yelling, and repairing. Finally, in October, he hung his head after plowing his last field and ignited into flames. I jumped off shortly before the tractor completely caught fire, but by the time we could get water to the tractor it was a lost cause. Its battery vaporized, the steering wheel rubber burnt off, and the engine was a charred mass of rubble by the time the wheels were finally extinguished.
I bought a newer tractor a few weeks later and used it to drag the hull of Mr. Peanut from the field. He sat through the winter and spring next to our garage, out of eyesight from the road yet not completely dumped in the woods to be forgotten. All summer I planned ways to bring him back to life, before finally realizing that I’d much rather play with baby Nathan than spend hours and endless money trying to revive a tractor that has lost the will (and electrical components) to live. So when a neighbor approached me last week about buying his remains, I grudgingly agreed.
This past weekend he drove up with a massive earth mover with a front-end loader the size of a mini-van. Lowering the loader bucket over the deceased, he bound up the front and rear axles with heavy chains and carefully hoisted Mr. Peanut into the air. It was quite a sight to see my first tractor moving down the road, hung precariously from the jaws of a machine that could have driven over it without much more than a bump. Mr. Peanut now resides four miles down the road, enjoying a beautiful new pasture before he is stripped for parts or, I dearly hope, plugged up with new parts and made to drive again. May he be so lucky.
Meanwhile, this year I have a nice tractor that has given me precisely zero problems and is not on fire.
Nothing new in your boxes this week, so I thought I’d give some ideas for clearing out your fridge:
- Delicious raw, when cut into sticks and served with dip
- Can be grated or sliced thinly into salads. Also, try grating it to make a squash slaw
- Steam squash whole or halved to retain texture. Cook squash cut into 1-2″ pieces for 10-15 minutes, chunks for 5-10 minutes or until tender when a fork is inserted. Do not overcook! Top with butter, lemon juice, herbs, Parmesan cheese, or pepper.
- Grill summer squash halves about 3–4 minutes on the hottest part of the grill and then 8-10 on a cooler side. Baste with oil or marinade.
Mash cooked summer squash, drain well, and blend with butter and salt and pepper. Add grated cheese, if desired.
- Nina freezes excess squash for use in zucchini cake and bread in the winter. Just take some squash, grate it finely, and put it in a freezer bag for up to one year.
In case your dinner table can’t keep up with our supply of fresh Beans, here’s an easy way to freeze them and enjoy them later (assuming our bean plants ever stop producing).
- Break off the inedible ends of the beans.
- Bring a large pot of water (and a pinch of salt) to a rapid boil.
- Once the water is boiling, dump in the beans and return to a boil.
- Cook the beans for 3-5 minutes at a hearty boil and then remove from heat.
- Dump the beans into a colander and drain the water. Immediately run cold water over the beans, tossing in ice cubes if your patience wanes. Keep this up until the beans are no longer hot. This is important-—if the beans do not cool, they will continue boiling internally and get mushy.
- Once cool, set the beans out to dry.
- Once dry, move them into plastic freezer bags and jam into the freezer.
This process is known as blanching and can be used for peas, corn, and some other veggies as well.
Onions can be frozen easily. Simply chop them up into fine slices and throw them in a bag into the freezer for up to one year. These are a real treat in the spring, once storage onions are starting to rot. The sweet onions you’ve been getting don’t have a long shelf life, so it’s a good idea to get them on ice if you have any around still. We have finished up the sweet onions and will move on to storage onions next week.
If you are interested in freezing or canning on a larger scale, we will be in excess on some crops for the next few weeks. We plan to offer:
Tomatoes: $3.00/lb ($4.00 – $4.50 at co-ops), with a majority of “meaty” tomatoes
Beans: $3.00/lb ($4.00 at co-ops)
Please give us a call or e-mail if you’d like to get on a wait list for these extras: 952-353-1762 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We may also have basil, cucumbers and beets available for sale, later in the year. Anything you purchase will be in addition to your regular allotment in the box. And we should emphasize that sales to canners and restaurants are always given after we give a usable amount to our CSA shares—you come first!