Tuesday, September 22, 2009

CSA from LAST week, falling behind in my blogging

Well, I have definitely fallen behind in my blogging. The CSA share that I picked up 6 weeks ago included peaches, beets, radishes, carrots, potatoes, summer squash, a zucchini, 2 heads lettuce, leeks, kale, 3 peppers (bell, banana, and hot), a daikon radish, and tomatoes.Lots of this has been eaten or stored and a new share comes in tomorrow. I hope to post my storage exploits later in the week, but I have been way too busy to post this week. I blame Chicago (the city) and U2 (the band), but soccer is also largely to blame. More later...

Friday, September 11, 2009

This week from the CSA

In the midst of a bit of a crazy week we got the following from the CSA:
Peaches, tomatoes, 2 banana peppers, 1 hot pepper, 3 cukes, celery, squash, dill, some nice Asian greens (not sure what they are called), carrots, beets, cilantro, soybeans, potatoes, & onions.

I may have to do a bunch of freezing and/or cooking this weekend to make sure this stuff does not go to waste.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Preserving Peppers: Hot Pepper Relish

One of things about trying to grow new things is that you never know how well or poorly things will go. I have not had too many vegetables overwhelm me this summer, with the exception of hot peppers. I have hot peppers coming in from the CSA, two pots on my deck growing Bella Hots, and another variety of slightly hot pepper growing on my deck from my father-in-law (I think they are a variety of banana pepper, but I transplanted them expecting them to be bell peppers so I really have no idea). I decided that the best way to use these would be to attempt a hot pepper relish that I could use as a condiment throughout the winter.

After a bit of research, I went with the basic recipe from http://www.thatsmyhome.com/general/hot-pepper-relish.htm. I started up with about a pound of peppers once I had removed the stems and seeds (this was 5 Bella Hots, 3 bananas from my deck, one CSA banana pepper, and 2 small green chill peppers from the CSA). I put the peppers in the Cuisinart with a large onion (also from the CSA). I then followed the recipe using 1 tablespoon of sea salt, 1 cup of white vinegar and 1 cup of sugar. I am very pleased with the sweet, slightly spicy final product.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tomato Taste Test

Yesterday I ran a taste test with 4 of the varieties we are growing this season. From Left to right, these tomatoes are a Big Boy, Ramapo, Red Lightning, and a 4th of July. The winner, hands down, was the Ramapo. Here are some notes about each of these varieties:
  • The Big Boy produces big nice tomatoes. They have a nice mild flavor, not to sweet and not too acidic. There are quite a few seeds inside and the meat of the fruit stays fairly moist. I have not been overwhelmed by the yield of these plants, but it does make sense that they would sacrifice quantity of fruit when yielding big tomatoes.
  • The Ramapo are fairly big, lightly sweet, meaty tomatoes. They have great tomato flavor an wonderful texture. This is an Heirloom variety from Northern New Jersey that we got from Sue's Dad. Unfortunately we have only the one plant, but hopefully we will be able to have more next year. I am attempting today to save the seeds from these for next year and I will report back on how I am doing this later.
  • The Red Lightnings are very pretty tomatoes. Unfortunately, they scored last in our taste test. The skins are too thick, the flesh is too dry, and the flavor is fairly bland. They have had a fairly good yield per plant and have lovely yellow stripes running down the medium sized tomatoes, but otherwise they are nothing special. If you also factor in the fact that Sue bought 6 seeds for $2, this variety is not worth trying to grow again.
  • The 4th of July tomatoes were basically the same as the Big Boys for flavor and texture. These are smallish to medium tomatoes and the plants, as the name would indicate, produce fruits earlier than other varieties. This year they should have been called 4th of Augusts because of the slow growing of all hot weather plants, but they have been churning out the fruit for the past month. They are the highest yielding tomato plants we are growing this summer.
In addition to those 4 we are also growing an Early Girl (which has not yet yielded a red tomato), Romas and sweet 100s. I think next year we will replace the Red Lightnings and Big Boys with something else and possibly try a different variety of saucing tomatoes. I would anticipate that we have at least another month of tomatoes based on all of the green fruit still on the vine.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

CSA Week 12

In this week's CSA bag we got the following: a fruit share of 4 peaches, potatoes, carrots, soybeans, basil, a couple of tomatoes, a hot pepper, a radish, a bell pepper, beets, 4 leeks, parsley, kale, one head of lettuce, a cabbage, and a bag of purslane. The purslane may exemplify why getting a CSA is so awesome. You get these new vegetables that frankly you would have never known existed if it were not for the farm share. According to Julie from MHOF: "purslane [is] a highly nutritious plant with a reddish stem and succulent leaves. While I like to throw the leaves into a salad, you can also cook it! Here is a link to some information on and recipes for purslane: http://www.prairielandcsa.org/recipes/purslane.html"

I have already used some of the leeks and carrots in the risotto I made tonight. Can't wait to figure out how to use the purslane.