It's the end of the summer CSA season, but it doesn't seem that way here at the farm! Our long season crops are just starting to produce - they're gearing up for the fall CSA season which starts just two weeks from today. Our fields are filled with okra, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, peppers, beans and pumpkins, whose fruits we'll harvest this September, October and November. There's a preview of some of these in your box today.
Sweet Peppers come in many shapes, sizes and colors. This summer and fall we're growing both bell and pimento-type sweet peppers that come in shades of purple, yellow, orange, red and green. Some of these have a pointed tip and may deceive you into thinking they're hot, but they are in fact sweet peppers.
Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum), also called Tulsi Basil or Sacred Basil, is a relative of basil in the mint family. It is commonly cultivated in South Asia for medicinal and religious purposes, and is often grown around temples and homes. Holy Basil is used in Ayurvedic medicine as an adaptogen, to reduce cellular sensitivity to stress. It can be used as a seasoning similar to basil in Thai cooking, or it can be taken as an herbal tea - more reminiscent of mint than basil tea. You can place the stems in a vase or jar of water like a flower bouquet, or store the bunch in a plastic bag in the fridge. Check out the recipes for Holy Basil below.
Cucumbers from our most recent planting are just starting to produce fruit. You're getting the pick of the crop today. Try these tasty, thin-skinned Asian cucumbers sliced in any salad.
Chaya is one of my favorite green leafy vegetables. It has a delicious, meaty texture and considerable substance for a green. Cnidoscolus aconitifolius, also called Mayan Spinach, Tree Spinach and Mexican Spinach, is a perrenial tropical shrub native to the Mexico, and a proflific producer of nutrient-dense green leaves. It has been used in the traditional cuisine of Central America and southern Mexico since pre-Columbian times, and is still consumed widely today. Chaya is high in protein, calcium, iron, beta carotene and vitamins A, B and C - significantly more so than most other green leaf vegetables.
The leaves should be chopped and boiled for about 10 minutes prior to eating due to the presence of hydrocyanic glycosides, which are removed by cooking (HCN boils off as a gas, making the broth and leaves suitable for consumption).
After the initial boiling, Chaya is often strained, then prepared and seasoned just like cooked spinach in meals like pasta, lasagna, pizza, eggs and burritos. Boiled and drained chaya can also be fried or sautéed in oil with onion and tomatoes. It is delicious puréed into dips and spreads, or sautéed with olive oil and garlic. Some traditional preparation include Dzotobilchay (Chaya Tamales), Pibxcatic (stuffed chilies) and tacos filled with boiled, fried chaya, cooked with tomato and chilies then rolled in roasted pumpkin seeds.
Another scheduling reminder - Today, August 17th is the last Summer CSA pickup. For those enrolled in the Full-season share, the pick-up will resume on August 31st (with no CSA pick-up on August 24th). We still have some openings for the Fall-only session, so sign-up today if you haven't already!
Enjoy the harvest,
Claudia & the crew at Ridge to Reef Farm
Photo above: Okra in the CSA terraces
Holy Basil Tea Bring 1 quart of water to a boil. Pour over 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of Holy Basil leaves and flowers. Let steep 10 minutes, covered. Enjoy hot or iced.
Variations: - Add lemongrass, mint or other herbs with the basil. - Sweeten with honey or agave, if desired.
Chicken with Holy Basil (Gai Pad Gaprow) Ingredients: 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely 3 Thai chili peppers, chopped finely 1 cup chicken, chopped coarsely (~1 chicken breast) 1 red jalapeno pepper, cut into thin strips 1 Tablespoon oyster sauce 1 teaspoon thick black soy sauce 1 teaspoon thin soy sauce 1 cup Thai holy basil leaves 2 eggs
Instructions: 1. Cook the chopped garlic and chilis in a good amount of oil (2-4 Tablespoons) over high heat until the garlic is golden brown. 2. Add the chopped chicken and cook until it is done. While it's cooking, use the spatula to break apart any pieces that clump together. 3. Add all three sauces and saute a minute longer. Do a taste-test here and adjust seasonings if needed. 4. Add the red pepper slices and cook till almost done. Then add the holy basil. Saute just until the basil is wilted, then remove from the heat. 5. Remove the pad gaprow from the wok and return to burner with a little additional oil. Allow the oil to get very hot and then crack an egg into it and allow to fry to your desired level. 6. Serve pad gaprow alongside jasmine rice with the fried egg sitting on top.
Chaya Quiche Ingredients For the dough: ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons chilled butter or vegetable shortening 2 cups all-purpose flour ½ teaspoon salt 5 to 6 tablespoons cold water
For the topping: 2 cups milk or cream 1 cup shredded cheese 1 onion, chopped in cubes 3-4 eggs bunch of Chaya (boiled for 15 minutes), cut in slices salt, paprika, nutmeg
Mix the ingredients for the dough and spread it out in a buttered pie dish. Make sure that you have dough standing out on the sides so the liquid topping will stay inside. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 F.
Beat the eggs and mix with milk and the seasoning.
Get the dough out of the oven and put the egg-milk mixture on top. Add the chopped onion, the sliced Chaya and the shredded cheese.
Put back in the oven for about 30 more minutes. Check on it when it starts to smell good. Serve warm or cold. Enjoy.
Recipe by Nadja Hofmann, former apprentice (based on the "Joy of Cooking")
Chaya Rice (Arroz con Chaya) 1 cup water ½ tsp pepper 1 tsp dried oregano 1 tsp vegetable stock granules, or 1 vegetable bouillon cube 1 lime ½ cup long-grain rice 1 medium onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 lb chaya, steamed and chopped
Directions In saucepan, combine water, onion, garlic, oregano, chicken stock, and pepper. Bring to a boil; stir in rice, reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in cooked chaya. Cover and cook 5-10 minutes more until the rice is tender. Stir lightly with a fork and mix in lime juice. May be served hot or cold.