Weekly Share September 19th – 25th

ThaiEggplantLettuce (Red Leaf, Canary Tongue, or Bibb Romaine)
Eggplant (Thai, Asian long, or Middle Eastern)
Daikon Radish
Nelson Carrots
Romano Green Beans
Anaheim & Cubanelle Peppers
Khmer Thai or Aji Dulce Chiles
Thai & Paneng Basil

This weekend we hopefully wait for the coming storm. For the first time in over a month it looks likely that we will get some rain sometime between tonight and Monday evening. We cannot begin to express how important even the smallest amount of rain would be for our crops and land right now. It has been over a month since we got any precipitation and that was only 1/10th of an inch. Since mid June, we have had around 4 inches of rain total with 3 inches of that in a two-day period in late July. This lack of precipitation coupled with three very hot and sunny months have meant our land is currently very dry. So dry that we can run a hose in one spot for 3 minutes and it never saturates, rather the water disappears. One can imagine that these are not ideal conditions for beginning cool crops for the Fall and Winter season; but that is why adequate irrigation systems are a necessity for an efficient farming system. As we stated last month improving our own irrigation system is now top priority for our Winter projects, so we can more adequately care for our crops as well as minimize our labor in times of heavy irrigation. For us this feels like a drought; but ironically there are many places around the world that deal with these conditions most of the time. Virginia normally has lots of water, not always when we want it, with humid conditions and heavy soil, normally we retain good amounts of soil moisture. We are not used to thinking in terms of water conservation in order to survive drought conditions, a real luxury compared to so many farmers around the world. It has made us realize we must be smarter by implementing an efficient system both in terms of labor and water usage. We must be better prepared, thinking about methods for better soil moisture retention, looking for crop varieties that are tolerant to hot and dry conditions and saving seeds from plants that can withstand this current Summer. As painful as the last six weeks has been for us, struggling to get our Fall and Winter crops started, this is the part of farming that keeps us farmers present, focused, and thoughtful. Normally we struggle with wet or humid and warm Summers, where diseases thrive and so we are anticipating those effects; but the weather turned it all around on us this Summer and gave us a whole new set of conditions to react to. This is why we always look so exhausted and yet it keeps us on our toes and keeps us coming back for more.
We are excited to offer a few new elements to the share this week. This group of vegetables can inspire delicious southeast Asian dishes. We are adding a few sprigs of the Paneng Basil, which is a Thai Lemon basil, to your regular Thai Basil bunch. Use it for garnish on curry or to add to a salad. It has a distinct lemon aroma and is delicious, although slightly tannic. The daikon are young baby daikon; which will be delicious both raw and cooked. Please check out the recipes below, specifically the Eggplant with Thai Basil recipe, a favorite in our house especially when using the Thai round eggplants. Enjoy the share….Brian and Autumn
Thai Basil, Pepper and Green Bean Stir Fry
Shortcut Banh Mi With Pickled Carrots and Daikon
How to make those classic Pok Pok wings at home
Daikon Radish Greens Pasta with Seared Daikon, Chilies, Garlic and Lemon
Scrambled Peppers and Eggs
Roasted Eggplant With Fried Onion and Chopped Lemon
Eggplant with Thai Basil
1 lb eggplant, cut into ½-inch slices
4-5 cloves garlic
1-2 medium sized fresh red or green chilies (or sweet bell pepper for the meek)
1 Tbsp light soy sauce or tamari
2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
2 Tbsp palm sugar or dark brown sugar
1 bunch Thai basil
Slice the eggplant into ½ inch rounds and fry them over medium high in a wide skillet with ¼ inch of canola or other frying oil. When things get going, the eggplant slices will absorb the oil and you will gradually see it penetrate through to the top.  Make sure that they don’t get too brown on the bottom before this happens.  If the eggplant slices absorb all the oil and still don’t look wet, you must add more—but don’t worry, because they will release much of it as they cook.  When they look like they have absorbed enough oil and they start to get nice and brown on the bottom, flip them over and brown them on the other side.  If the pan is dry at this point, don’t add more oil because the slices have absorbed enough to fry themselves.  When they’re done, drain the slices on paper towels
Meanwhile, cut the garlic into slices and the chilies into diagonal rings.  When the eggplant is ready, remove it and add 2 Tbsp of fresh oil to the pan, add the garlic and half the chilies, and stir-fry until the garlic is golden.  Add the soy sauces and sugar, stir for about 30 seconds until the sugar starts to bubble, and return the eggplant to the pan.  Add torn basil leaves, stir and serve, garnished with the rest of the chilies (if you dare!)
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