Embracing The Heat
“Cook things, eat them with other people. If you can tire your own bones while growing the beans, so much the better for you.” -Kristin Kimball; The Dirty Life
Each year in May when the first hot day arrives we all think to ourselves, "can I do this all Summer?". The air is heavy with humidity, our bodies are drenched with sweat, and there is no escape from the sun bearing down on us. Every heat wave finds us out there from sunrise to late afternoon, doing intense physical work while baking in the Sun. We don't have off when it is excessively hot, we actually have to work harder to make sure the plants are fairing okay. The first heat wave is always the worst as our bodies are not acclimated to the weather. Similar to the first 40 degree day in the Fall when we think we will never make it through the frigid fingers on cold, wet harvest mornings. Once July hits and we've worked through quite a few sweltering days I find I rarely think about the heat anymore. In fact whenever I go into an air conditioned building I feel out of sorts. The unnatural cold can give me a headache and I long for a shady spot outside or a nice fan. This week we had a particularly hot day on Thursday. The heat index was 110, the humidity was high, and our crew killed it. They picked green beans (a task not so great on the back as the plants are very low) for 3 hours and sang as they did it. No one complained about the heat, everyone drank a lot of water, and poems were made as hands snapped beans off plants and into buckets. Rhythm is found. A positive crew is everything. When you love what you do and who you are working with, that 1000 feet of green beans doesn't seem so long, the heat doesn't feel as bad, and the day goes by quickly. When the opposite is the case, everytime you look up the row seems a little bit longer. A little ice cream at lunch and everyone was excited to go back out into the fields, even with the afternoon heat bearing down on them. Even as our to do list piles up and we rarely get time away from the farm, I feel very blessed this July to have our crew, our farm, and a boatload of good vegetables to fill my belly. We have a little break from Summer squash this week as we are in between succession plantings (we lost a planting to some mice) but cucumbers are still here. Purple and green bell peppers are here as well as more eggplant, including the ever adorable fairytale eggplant. We also have sweet candy onions which are some of the best tasting onions you'll ever have! We've been bringing a small harvest of our tomatoes to markets and are waiting on the zillion tomatoes in the field to ripen soon so we'll have enough for the share. It's looking like next week for sure that we will have some great slicing tomatoes for you.
ANNA MARIA MUSCO DOMINICI GOURMET SEPTEMBER 2006
1 large Italian Eggplant
1 tablespoon kosher salt or 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
4 medium celery ribs, cut crosswise into very thin
1/3 cup large green Sicilian olives (1 3/4 oz), pitted and coarsely chopped (optional)
1 3/4 oz Italian capers packed in salt (1/3 cup), rinsed well (optional)
2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
1 (14- to 15-oz) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained and chopped (1 cup)
Peel eggplant, leaving some strips of peel, then cut into 1-inch cubes and spread on half of a kitchen towel. Sprinkle eggplant with salt, then cover with other half of towel and weight with a baking sheet topped with 2 or 3 large cans for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 1/2 cup oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook onion, stirring, until pale golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add celery and cook, stirring, until onion and celery are deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add olives, capers, and 2 tablespoons sugar and cook, stirring, 2 minutes, then stir in vinegar and tomatoes.
Reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. If sauce is very acidic, add 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar (to taste). Transfer to a bowl and keep warm, covered.
Rinse eggplant in a colander under running water, then squeeze dry in small handfuls.
Heat remaining cup oil in cleaned skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then fry eggplant in 2 batches, turning occasionally with tongs, until tender and browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes per batch. Transfer as cooked to paper towels to drain, then transfer to a large shallow serving dish in an even layer. Spoon sauce on top, spreading evenly, and let stand, covered with a kitchen towel, at room temperature, at least 8 hours (for flavors to develop). Stir before serving.
Cook's note: Caponata keeps, covered and chilled, 1 week. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Grilled Romaine Salad with Roasted Garlic Dressing
1 head of garlic, top third sliced off and discarded
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 cup buttermilk (butter milk can be made by adding 1 tablespoon any vinegar to 1/4 cup milk and allowing to sit for half an hour)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 head romaine, halved lengthwise
3 ounces Manchego cheese, shaved (1 cup)
HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
Preheat the oven to 350. Place the head of garlic, cut side up, on a double sheet of foil and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap the foil around the garlic and bake until the cloves are very soft, about 1 hour. Let cool.
Light a grill. Squeeze the garlic cloves into a blender. Add the buttermilk and lemon juice and blend to a puree. With the machine on, slowly pour in the 1 cup of olive oil until blended. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.
Drizzle the cut side of the romaine hearts with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the romaine over a hot fire, cut side down, until charred in spots, about 20 seconds. Turn the romaine over and grill for 20 seconds longer. Transfer to a platter, cut side up. Drizzle the dressing over the romaine, sprinkle with the Manchego and serve right away.
The roasted garlic dressing can be refrigerated.
Share Options This Week Bell Peppers- 1 point/ 2 peppers Italian Eggplant- 1 point/each Scallions- 1 point/bunch Candy Onions- 1 point/pound Kale - 1 point/bunch Chard- 1 point/bunch New Potatoes- 1 point/ 1.5 pounds Romaine- 1 point/head Kohlrabi- 1 point/ 1.5 pounds Silver Slicing Cucumbers- 1 point/pound Kirby Cucumbers- 2 points/quart Cilantro- 1 point/bunch Dill- 1 point/bunch Parsley- 1 point/bunch Fresh Garlic- 1 point each Celery- 1 point/head Mushrooms- 2 points/pint Carrots- 2 points/bunch Beets- 1 point/pint Green Cabbage- 2 points/each Asian Spinach- 1 point/bunch Fairytale Eggplant- 1 point/pint