Farm News, June 23, 2020

It’s hard to believe the summer solstice has come and gone.  It’s good we have a lot of daylight, because we’ve got a whole lot of projects going on.  After the coldest May I can remember, we had approximately one week of “pleasant” weather, and now it has turned seriously hot and dry.  Planting can be tricky in this kind of weather, since we need to have the pipes set up and ready to sprinkle right after we set the transplants.  The weeds have been quietly biding their time, germinating and forming tiny threads in the soil, and then little plants, and before you know it they can be over your crop and threatening to take over the farm.  

Look who’s right on cue for the summer solstice. I always think of cucumbers as a key flavor of summer.

We’ve acquired some new tools over the past few years, and one of our favorites are new “finger weeders” which gently brush the crop and disturb the soil around them just enough to kill the newly sprouted weeds, without hurting the crop.  Lauren is our finger weeding expert, and on many hot, sunny afternoons you will see her being driven around by one of our crew on the steerable cultivator busily killing many millions of weeds.

James drives the rig while Lauren sits atop the steerable attachment. It looks like she’s on an amusement park ride – and it is kind of a fun way to kill weeds.

We don’t get them all, so we need to break out the hoes, or get down on our hands and knees to crawl the carrots and beets.  We are lucky to have a very hardy and committed farm crew to get the job done.

You can see the yellow “fingers” that brush the crop, along with the wire torsion weeders. The knife-life sweeps are buried underground and scouring the soil. It’s truly amazing that so many weeds still get away.

Of course it’s not all planting, watering, and weeding.  We’ve just begun the season’s pickin’ and grinning.’  Snap peas are peaking this week; get them now, as they don’t like hot sunny weather.  We harvested our first summer squash last week, and a daily dose of water through the drip lines we bury in each row coupled with the intense sun and heat means they are cranking out the fruit.  We’ve got some really nice bunches of carrots and beets, along with the first tomatoes of the season making their appearance, along with a truly abundant display of lettuce, and salad and cooking greens.  

Stay cool, come visit us at the farm or a farmers’ market, and eat your veggies.

Paul and Rebecca, for Lauren and the Fort Hill Farm crew


Featured this week:

Fresh Carrots:  one of our most popular veggies, these are our baby spring bunching carrots, and they made a sweet crop this year.  There’s nothing quite like the first tender – crisp, fragrant carrots! We should have them for the next several weeks, with five plantings to follow.  To store 2 days up to two weeks, tear off the tops and place in a plastic bag in the fridge crisper.


Summer squash:  the warm, dry weather has put this year’s crop into overdrive, with loads of glossy green zucs, tasty green “Zephyr’ squash, and some yellow and Patty Pan squash to round out the harvest and your grill.

Also available:

salad mix, arugula, head lettuce, curly green and laminate kale, rainbow chard, spinach, fresh basil, red and French Breakfast radishes, salad turnips, cucumbers, escarole, scallions, fennel, kohlrabi, red beets, Chinese cabbage, radicchio, carrots, garlic scapes


Coming Soon:

cherry tomatoes, heirlooms, cucumbers!


Pick Your Own:

Cilantro: This is a tough herb to get a stand of in the spring because it germinates along with the weeds. We finally have a beautiful harvest!

Sugar Snap Peas! It’s a beautiful crop this year but they are definitely peaking in this heat. Get them while the getting is good!

FRESH STRAWBERRIES: Strawberry Update for June 23: Still some good berries left. No limits but it will take some work later in the week…last days of the 2020 patch.

PYO begins 30 minutes before and goes 30 minutes beyond barn hours.


Recipes, suggested by Rebecca Batchie. For more recipes, check out the Fort Hill Farm Recipe Database

To mix things up, I’m going to try to feature one farm classic recipe and one new one this year …

Carrot Cake Pancakes

Adapted by Cookie and Kate from Joy the Baker Cookbook. These pancakes are exceptional, with or without the cream cheese topping! It may seem like carrot cake for breakfast, but without the added fat, we can just relax and enjoy a scrumptious new take on an old friend.

Pancakes

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour 

1 teaspoon baking powder                                       

1/2 teaspoon baking soda                                                                      

1/2 teaspoon salt                                              

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon            

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 egg 

2 T. packed Muscovado or brown sugar

1 c. buttermilk (or 1 c. milk & 1 T. lemon juice)

 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups finely grated carrots (about 6 big or 8 smallish carrots)

 butter, for griddle

Maple cream cheese topping:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened                      

2 tablespoons real maple syrup             

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract                 

2 tablespoons milk (more or less depending on desired consistency)

Dash of ground cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit so you can keep the pancakes warm before serving. Spoon the cream cheese into a bowl and leave it out at room temperature to soften. 

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. 

3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, Muscovado/brown sugar, buttermilk and vanilla.

4. Stir in the carrots, then dump the wet mixture into the dry mixture all at once. Stir just until incorporated. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes while you make the cream cheese topping and preheat your griddle/skillet.

5. Whisk the cream cheese in a small bowl until it is uniformly soft and pliable, with no lumps. If your cream cheese is not soft enough yet to do this, try zapping it in the microwave for just a few seconds at a time. Whisk in the maple syrup, milk, vanilla and cinnamon. Feel free to sweeten with more syrup or thin it out further with more milk. Set aside.

6. Over medium heat, melt a big pat of butter in a cast-iron skillet or griddle. Pour a scant 1/4 cup batter into the hot pan, using the measuring cup to pat the batter down and out. Cook, flipping once, until the pancakes are golden on both sides.

7. Place pancakes on an ovenproof plate and keep in the oven while you cook the remaining pancakes, adding more butter to the pan as needed. Top with maple cream cheese and serve with extra maple syrup on the side, in case someone wants to sweeten it up further.


Mediterranean Chicken and Summer Squash Noodles with Fried Halloumi

From Halfbakedharvest

Ingredients

CHICKEN:

1/4 cup olive oil

4 cloves garlic minced or grated

1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

juice of 2 lemons1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast or tender

GREEN BASIL SAUCE:

1/2 cup fresh basil

1/3 cup roasted cashews

1/4 cup fresh oregano

2 tablespoons fresh chives

1/4 cup olive oil

kosher salt + pepper

ZUCCHINI NOODLES:

olive oil for the pan

8 ounces halloumi cheese sliced

4 zucchini or yellow squash sprialized

1 cup cherry tomatoes halved

1/2 cup kalamata olives pitted

1/4 cup fresh basil roughly torn

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large gallon size zip-top bag, combine the ingredients for the chicken and toss to combine. Seal and chill at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours.

Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the green basil sauce in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Stream in water to thin the sauce, I used around 1/3 cup water. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.

Set your grill, grill pan or skillet to medium-high heat. If desired, thread the chicken onto skewers.

Grill the chicken until lightly charred and cooked through, turning occasionally throughout cooking, about 10 to 12 minutes total. Let rest 5 minutes and then slice against the grain.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Once hot, add the Halloumi slices and cook for 1-2 minutes per side or until lightly golden. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Add the zucchini noodles to the skillet and give them a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt + pepper and cook until the noodles are just warmed through, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and toss the noodles with half of the green basil sauce, the tomatoes, olives and a handful of fresh basil.

Divide the noodles among plates. Top with chicken and a handful of microgreens. Serve with the remaining basil sauce. EAT!

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