Weekly Share July 25th – 31st

Crimson Sweet Watermelon
Asian Long or Thai Round Eggplant
Little Leaf Pickling Cucumbers
Seyrek or Shishito Peppers
Assorted Tomatoes
Thai Basil

With 4 weeks left in the Spring/Summer share, we are finally beginning to see some new crops after a relatively slim month. Our early Summer has been a little slim because of  a number of different factors. We ran through our Spring crops very quickly due to low yields in the carrot crops, lots of bolting in the herbs, and early heat meaning some storage crops were ready early. Since we have limited storage space, things like cabbages need to move quickly, to make space for other crops like potatoes, onions, and garlic. Another affect of the weather, the intense heat with high humidity since late May, has meant some destruction from Southern blight. It is a soil born disease that is very difficult to get rid of without taking crop land out of production for long amounts of time, something we cannot do. This has been taking out swaths of peppers (very sad, although we still have a lot growing strong) and set back some maturity. It has also affected our potato yields and mildly affected our eggplants when they were young, all slowing down early flowering and yields. We also always get behind schedule in May, often because we are waiting for one crop to be done to replant in that same space. This year we got behind planting our okra, long beans, and hot chilies. Then they were hit with unrelenting heat, followed by pest pressure (deer and groundhog eating), so their growth has been stunted. Again we have been very dry and hot, so the animals are hungry and taking risks to come into our crop fields. As we get a handle on this, we feel hopeful that the plantings will pull through but it will be another 3-4 weeks before they hit their stride.  Every season is full of these sorts of issues and our job is to anticipate in advance what we need when and sometimes things do better than expected (cucumbers, squash, watermelon, tomatoes this season) and sometimes much worse. Crops like okra and eggplant are so hearty that sometimes we ignore them and then we get setback or caught off guard; but with time things can sometimes turn around.
This week’s share includes our last spring scallion planting, which was planted 3 weeks late; but in a tunnel under a shade cloth. They are taking a long time to get to size, due to a dislike for 90degree temperatures; but they are a nice aromatic partner with thai basil, so we are happy to have them this week. The seyrek peppers are beginning to take off , they are a great crunchy mild pepper, delicious in salads, sautéed, or grilled or if you prefer some heat, we will have shishitos. Both of these peppers pair well with tomatoes or eggplant, so lots of options. We are also excited to get you a early for us watermelon, usually these do not come on until August. These will likely be enormous. Overall this is the largest crimson sweet watermelon we have grown, not the highest yield but the largest pieces. Don’t be overwhelmed, cut into it, eat some, keep a piece in the fridge for a week easily, and then juice a hug chunk, it is so refreshing on a hot day. The juicing does not require a juicer, just a blender and then a strainer. Add some lime, bubbly water, thai basil, mix with cucumber , delicious. Enjoy the share….Autumn and Brian

Watermelon Tomato Salad

Watermelon Cucumber Salad with Crispy Thai Basil Dressing

Fresh Watermelon Thai Basil Fresca (We make this without the added sweetener and both with and without the alcohol – delicious)

Blistered Shishito Peppers with Miso

Spiced Peppers and Eggplant (substitute seyrek or shishito for sweet peppers)

Japanese Eggplant With Chicken & Thai Basil

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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