Salamander Springs Farm/Permaculture Organics

  (Berea, Kentucky)
Permaculture in Practice: Shopper's Basket CSA
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Your JULY 30 CSA box, recipes & a blog from Mirra

See below, “For our Love of Tomatoes and for Healing, ” from CSA co-manager, Mirra Shapiro.

EDAMAME SOY!  The healthy snack food much loved in Japan and China, these can be addictive (one variety we grow is called “Beer Friend”)!  Some of you have gotten them from us at the market for many years, but we wanted all to try them before their season ends.  The pods are not edible, but help retain quality of fresh edamame soy.  They are sold shelled and frozen in natural food stores, but are so much better fresh.  
Boil edamame (like boiled peanuts) about 10-15 minutes in a bit of well-salted water (1” deep) in an uncovered pot; let it mostly boil off so the salt penetrates the shell (we sometimes add other seasonings, too).  When they’ve cooled a bit, they you can easily pop them out of the shell and into your mouth in one fell swoop.  You can also shell them all out after boiling, and then salt & season to add to salads, frittatas and other dishes.  To feel good about your snack, see nutritional information below!

YELLOW SPANISH ONIONS - this is our first year growing these these teardrop shaped onions.  They like the longer northern summer days and did not get as big compared to our Candy Sweet onions which are adapted this latitude, but their flavor seems mild and sweet (less sulfury) for a onion that stores longer than the Candy.  Of our varieties and colors of onions at the market, let us know the type of you prefer--and if you’d use more than we give you each week.

GREEN (SNAP) BEANS are stringless and need little cooking; they can be eaten raw in dips, steamed or put into stir-fries, egg dishes or cooked with with potatoes, pearl onions, butter & salt.  Stringless snap beans are picked when the inner bean seeds have not had a chance to form.   
If you prefer the meatier, heartier-flavored heirloom pole beans, we have Half Runner Beans at the market today-- feel free to swap your snaps for poles!   Popular with many folks in this area who grew up with them, heirloom pole beans are more than a vegetable--unlike snap beans, they provide a substantial amount of protein as well.   Harvested when the inner bean seeds have started to fill out, old-time pole beans can be a meal in themselves.  In a couple weeks we will have a couple other favorite heirloom pole beans--Greasy Beans and Preacher Beans (Rattlesnake Pole Beans).

POTATOES  Pick a pound of potatoes at the market--large, medium or baby sized.   We have Red Thumb fingerlings, Yukon Golds & Irish Cobbler whites and Purple Viking potatoes.  Red Thumb are small & tender fingerling potatoes, like the popular French Fingerling we grow, except with beautiful pink flesh.  They are perfect for roasted potatoes with meat or just with olive oil, rosemary & salt.  Most folks are familiar with Yukon Gold, a popular and multi-purpose yellow-fleshed early potato with pink eyes.  Irish Cobbler is a traditional early potato that is wonderful cooked with salt and tossed with butter & chopped parsley.  Purple Vikings are beautiful big potatoes with deep purple skin beautifully streaked in hues of pink!  Their flesh is white and creamy--excellent baked or mashed.
With the unprecedented rains this time of year, we have found the potatoes (which have survived the standing water) to be more watery than normal and will likely not store as long.

TOMATOES (HEIRLOOMS, PLUMS, CHERRIES)  Choose 2# from a wide variety on the market table--from the yellow-gold Pineapple or Garden Peach, German Pink or Pink Plop Plum, to the dark purple Cherokee Purple or Black Krim (to name just a few).  Sometimes wild looking, their flavor is so much richer than the uniform standard red.  We also have cherry and plum tomatoes, which are the best for sun-dried tomatoes in our solar dehydrator.   Ask us about the different colors and varieties at the market and let us know your favorites.  See the recipe for one of our favorite summer salads and our much-loved natural homemade ketchup, below!  
Remember that many of the old-time heirloom tomatoes have “green shoulders” and a larger core when they are totally ripe (which was bred out of standard industry tomatoes--just slice off the green top.   Do not refrigerate tomatoes--it nullifies tomato flavor and turns the flesh mealy.  Keep them on your counter with stem-side down, covered with a cloth.  Use according to ripeness--within a couple days to a week.  To ripen further, leave a sunny windowsill (covered with a cloth).  
If you are interested in processing (freezing, canning or making lots of ketchup--we will give our CSA members who want more tomatoes a discount this week at the market, $1.50 lb!

CUCUMBERS!  We’ve been enjoying our traditional brine pickles (see last week’s recipe).  Our cukes are tender and do not have to be peeled, and are wonderful fresh in salads on hot days.  See our favorite summer tomato-basil salad recipe below or the previously posted yogurt/cucumber/mint and Tabouli Salad recipes.

SUMMER SQUASH  It’s not summer without summer squashes (though after 49 degrees on our thermometer Monday a.m., it hasn’t felt like summer!)  See our egg frittata, Morning Glory muffins, or pan grilled squash recipes; use in roasted veggies, casseroles, rice or stir fries.  Summer squash store best dry & cool but not too cold. Wash just before use, water causes it to spoil more quickly.  A perforated bag is best to provide some air circulation.

SWEET POTATO GREENS - the perfect summer green, delicious and nutritious stir-fried, sauteed or steamed with a little bit of lemon juice or butter.  Great in egg dishes, too, like our egg frittata recipe.  See the nutritional and medicinal benefits of sweet potato greens in the July 9 posting.

Head of GARLIC or a few PEARL ONIONS:  Choose what you’ll use most at the market.  Pearl onions are much used by gourmet chefs whole with roasted potatoes & veggies (with olive oil, butter, rosemary, salt...) or with potatoes & green beans.  The red ones are especially sweet sliced thinly in the tomato basil salad recipe below.  Store garlic out in a airy, dry place like a hanging basket in your kitchen or on the counter.

LEEKS a small early variety, sweeter and more pungent than onions.  Enjoy in creamy potato leek soup (see July 2 recipe) stir-fries, roasted-veggies, or our egg frittata recipe...the green stalks are good, too.

FRESH BASIL  In the season of tomatoes, garlic, grilled squash, pesto and other sauces, fresh basil adds great flavor to so many dishes.  See the recipe for one of our favorite summer salads, below.

PARSLEY  Almost every vegetable in this week’s box is enhanced by parsley.  See our May postings for Tabouli Salad recipe and to remember why parsley should be in your diet often!

PEACHES - Feel free to select a couple pounds from our basket at the market.  The branches on our “pregnant” peach tree are no longer touching the ground, but are still pretty loaded.  We’ve processed and frozen a lot of peaches this week and made some delicious cobblers.  We found the “peach worm” (plum curculio) has bored into many fruit (found in the brown area round the pit) but the rest of the peach is delicious.  We are picking them before they fall to further ripen in a couple days in a paper bag.  

Last but not least...
A bouquet of SUMMER FLOWERS to brighten your day!

FRESH BAKED BREAD & SPECIAL TREATS from Clementine’s Bakery.  Thank you Drew & Lindsey!

If you’d like to freeze or make jam, we again invite our CSA members to come out this week to pick blackberries & peaches before the season ends.  Give a call 893-3360 to let us know when you’d like to come and bring a bucket; for blackberry picking, wear long pants & sturdy shoes. 

The next Salamander Springs Farm tour is August 3 from 2 - 4:30 p.m.   Let us know if you can join us - and stay for dinner afterwords!

P.S.  We are adding another solar panel this week to our totally off-grid farm electric system, which will help power the freezer that keeps our produce fresh (via bottles of ice) until it gets to the market!  Many thanks to our wonderful friend Josh Bills whose extensive solar knowledge has made it possible for this farm to operate for 10 years without the burning of coal that produces Kentucky's grid electricity.

See you at the farmer’s market! 


You can also make this in the winter with frozen or canned tomatoes & peppers.
4 cups of tomato puree (see below)
1 T fresh basil
1-2 T raw apple cider vinegar
1 T unpasteurized whey (see below)
2 T fermented fish sauce (optional, but tasty; you can buy at Happy Meadow or Good Foods Co-op)
1/8 cup chopped green pepper
1 t  raw local honey
1 t dry mustard or 1 T fresh good quality mustard
1 T fresh oregano, minced, or 1 t dried
2 t salt, pinch of nutmeg & cinnamon.

Tomato puree: remove stems & core tomatoes.  Spoon out the seeds & juice.  Chop into big chunks and cook 10-15 minutes on low heat. Strain the juice and chill that for a delicious tomato juice!  Use the rest to make the ketchup.  Puree together with the rest of the ingredients in a food processor or blender.   
This recipe calls for a 24 hour ferment with whey (let sit 24 hours at room temperature). We strain whey off of our homemade yogurt.  If you do not have access to unpasteurized milk/whey, you can skip the ferment part and still prepare a tasty ketchup.   
Use a funnel and pour into (recycled ketchup) bottle and refrigerate.
Enjoy with roasted potatoes, on meat, frittatas, and stir fries!

Mix together in a bowl:
-a couple sweet tomatoes, chopped
-a small cucumber, sliced or chopped
-1/4 cup diced/thinly sliced) fresh basil
-a small sweet onion (red is nice), quartered and sliced very thinly
-a couple tablespoons good organic olive oil
-a couple tablespoons balsamic vinegar (red wine vinegar is good too)
-if you are a garlic lover, dice a clove of that and add to oil & vinegar.
-sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
-if you have it, crumble some local feta or grate some local Parmesan cheese on top.
Chill and serve.  YUM!

************************NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION**************************
See past blog postings for nutritional benefits on this week’s fruits and veggies!

EDAMAME SOY!  a 1/2 cup serving provides 20-40% of your daily recommended intake of protein, dietary fiber, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, thiamin, potassium, calcium and vitamin A & K, and has at least 5% of all the recommended dietary nutrients except vitamin D!  Soybeans are one of the few plant sources with complete protein, providing 30-35% of the daily value (for men & women; based on a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet). They're an especially good source of folate, providing 120% of the recommended daily intake.  Folate helps helps lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and prevent birth defects through its role in the creation and growth of new cells.  Edamame has less than 5% fat and its polyunsaturated fats include heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
"Soybeans contain plant-based chemicals called isoflavones that are similar to estrogen. These phyto-estrogens help lower cholesterol and reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes. Estrogen works by attaching to special receptor cells. Phyto-estrogens attach to the same receptors, but they’re weaker than real estrogen. If your levels of estrogen are low, phyto-estrogens increase the total amount. If you have normal estrogen levels and phyto-estrogens block real estrogen by attaching to the receptors first, total estrogen levels go down."  -from the Nutrition Digest (American Nutrition Association)


“For our Love of Tomatoes and Healing”   - a note from Mirra Shapiro, CSA Co-manager, July 30, 2013

In an early May blog, we wrote about the “bucket brigade:”  scouring the property for buckets, wheelbarrows, boxes or tubs to protect all our newly planted tomatoes from the chilly night air and cold morning dew (The usual row cover fabric or plastic was not enough protection against the cold & frosts).  
It is late July and where are we now?  We are still nursing tomato plants, doing our best to help them thrive in conditions that are cooler and damper than they like.
Like surgeons in the field, we cut out any yellowing leaves that suggest disease.  We coax their vines to grow in the support of trellice and provide more air circulation.   Susana wrote last week about a tea of horsetail plant that we prepare here - a silica-rich medicine we distribute on their leaves and around their roots.  The tea provides support and fortification for the plants to help resist the disease that comes in wet and cold conditions so alike their native habitat.

If I was a tomato (or eggplant, okra or pepper) plant, I might be angry at the farmer, and ask the question, “Why did you plant me into a season of cold and wet; a world of conditions that weaken my immunity and may cause me to be sick!?”  As gardener I might reply, “Because we love all the varieties of your beautiful fruit!”   
As I think on this, I can relate to the sad Solanaceae as much as to the farmer.  I too was planted in an era of poor living conditions.  Abundant blessings aside, I experienced a world that weakened my immune system.  The air, water, food and attitude that is readily accessible is polluted with toxicity.  Though the pesticides and car fumes may be chemically derived from our earth, they are toxic to all life on this earth. And like the tomato plant, I am pissed!

I am choosing not to be afraid.  I am cutting out fear and sad-looking food from my diet.  I am looking for good medicine, and it is EVERYWHERE.  How do I recognize medicine?  It is not necessarily labeled and on a shelf. Good medicine can come as a flower in the garden, a bee on the flower, or a bee-sting on the hand.  Good medicine helps me to taste my experience and to grow from it.  It comes into my life, into our lives, because some gardener loves all varieties of our beautiful fruit.
The wild mushrooms in the surrounding forest paths of Salamander Springs Farm have fruited in abundant variety this year.  I slipped in the mud on my way down to the freezer one morning and fell on my behind.  Before I could shout, “Darn this rain!”  A group of mushrooms showed themselves. They were big and rounded with orange tops. They were beautiful and strange to me.  I don’t know very much about mushroom medicine, but I have learned that they work as a network to help to break down toxicities in our environment.  Mushrooms have successfully been utilized to clean up oil spills and to filter drinking water.  They can break down nasty chemicals in the soil…and it is the rain that brings them out!
I can still relate to the disgruntled tomato plant.  This life is unfair, grumble grumble...  But good medicine is everywhere.  And as good gardeners of the earth, we can help each other to recognize it and bring it into our lives.

Here’s to our resilient tomato plants!   
- Mirra Ester Shapiro

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