As we head into the final days of August, the cooler nights of late feel downright brisk compared to the intense heat of just a week ago. It’s a welcome break for both people and our lettuce crops. Meanwhile, the crops keep pouring in. The next 3 or 4 weeks are often the most abundant harvests on our farm. Peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes are plentiful. We’ll have watermelons on hand for Labor Day, and plenty of greens for salads. We should have sweet corn for about the next 2 weeks, so take advantage of it while you can. We’ve even got some fall treats, with leeks and potatoes on the menu.
Other than harvesting, the end of August is the perfect time to sow cover crops. Vegetable farming is hard on the soil, and we rely on plantings of peas, vetch, and clover to replenish our soil. These plants are all legumes, and they form a symbiotic association with special nitrogen “fixing” bacteria, that have an amazing ability to take nitrogen out the air and turn into fertilizer. It’s the closest thing in agriculture to a free lunch. We often pair the legumes with grasses such as oats and rye that add much needed organic matter to the soil and help retain nutrients over the winter to provide for next year’s crops.
The only thing that seems in smaller supply is people to get all this abundance into the coolers. As Lauren so eloquently wrote last week, we have had a great summer crew helping us get things done this summer. As they leave, it puts an extra load of work on our now smaller field crew. We feel fortunate to have Lauren, Mady, James, Connor, Dana, Selenna, Harry, and Elliott with us this fall to bring in the veggies. They are a super hard working bunch, and good folks to be around to boot!
Paul, Rebecca, and Lauren for the Fort Hill Farm crew
Featured this week:
Sweet Italian Peppers: These pointy treats are starting to come in strong now, which stands in stark contrast to last year’s dribble of a harvest. These are our favorite sweet peppers by far – we never reach for a sweet bell actually. The Italian peppers have an incredible sweetness that goes beyond the bells, and thin, crisp walls that pack a punch. As proof (kid’s palates don’t lie), Luca dines on 4 – 5 of the pointy orange ones on the way home from camp everyday. The orange are best for snacking and salads, and the red are great for frying, roasting, or grilling. We’ve had a few comments over the last couple of years from folks wondering why our peppers are “hard.” The fact is, people aren’t used to peppers that haven’t aged for weeks in transit. These have true pepper flavor and they’re fresh too!
Savoy cabbage: this sweet and mild flavored cabbage has crinkly leaves, which are perfect for catching any dressing or vinaigrette that comes its way. Go wild and mix with red and Tendersweet cabbage for some triple anti-carcinogenic fighting power. Store up to 3 weeks in the fridge crisper.
salad mix, arugula, pea shoots, head lettuce, curly green and lacinato kale, rainbow chard, fresh herbs, Tendersweet cabbage, red cabbage, garlic, carrots, red and chioggia beets, Classic Italian and Rosa Bianca eggplant, mixed Asian and Graffiti eggplant, leeks, Ailsa Craig and Red Torpedo onions, jalapeño, cayenne, Serrano, shishito, and poblano hot peppers, sweet and green bell peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, zephyr summer squash, fresh and frozen baby ginger, first of the new boy choy and escarole, the last of the cantaloupe, red watermelon, sungold, red, and specialty cherry tomatoes, and heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes
Dark Red Norland and Satina Gold potatoes
Pick Your Own:
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes are OPEN while they continue to flourish! Everyone’s favorite.
Sunflowers: are winding down but still cheery
Flowers 🌸 … the late patch is going strong. ON SALE AGAIN THIS WEEK!
Fresh herbs: parsley, thyme, sage, oregano, marjoram, chives. We’ve had a number of failed cilantro and dill plantings are waiting for the next to come in.
*** Just like last year, CSA members may take a small (mixed or not) PYO herb bunch for free, one bunch per share per week! Please see sample sizes in the barn.
PYO begins 30 before and goes 30 minutes beyond barn hours.
Recipes, suggested by Rebecca Batchie. For more recipes, check out the Fort Hill Farm Recipe Database
Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers with Eggplant (Funghetto)
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis’ Food Networkrecipe
Vegetable oil cooking spray
3 medium sweet red peppers, cored and seeded
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Two 8-ounce eggplants, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
One 26-ounce jar tomato-basil sauce (or homemade sauce)
20 pitted medium black olives, chopped
20 pitted medium green olives, chopped
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons plain breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
For the peppers: Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Spray a small baking dish or baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray. Arrange the peppers on the baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Bake until the peppers are tender but still holding their shape, 15 – 20 minutes.
For the eggplant: Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a 12-inch nonstick skillet. Add the eggplant in batches and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.
For the filling: Combine the cooked eggplant, tomato-basil sauce, olives, capers, salt and pepper in a 12-inch nonstick skillet. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes.
For the topping: In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan.
Preheat the broiler. Spoon the filling into the peppers and sprinkle the topping over the filling. Drizzle with the olive oil and broil until a golden crust forms, 2 to 3 minutes.
Savoy Cabbage Salad
Adapted from ifoodreal.com
2 lbs (1/2 large head) savoy cabbage, finely shredded
3 large carrots, coarsely grated
2 cup diced cucumbers or peas, fresh or frozen (thawed)
2 cups corn, canned, cooked or frozen (thawed)
3 large avocados, diced
Healthy Ranch Dressing:
1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt (3.5% and higher fat content)
1 small bunch dill, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, grated
1 tsp salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
In a large bowl, add savoy cabbage, carrots, cucumbers/peas, and corn.
In a medium bowl, whisk Healthy Ranch Dressing Ingredients, pour over vegetables and gently toss to combine. Add the avocado just before serving. Serve cold.