We are rich in sweet corn this week on the farm. Our earliest variety planted, Ashworth, is ready to be picked and steamed, boiled, sauteed and more! Ashworth is an open-pollinated non GMO yellow sweet corn developed in by Fred Ashworth and marketed by Johnny’s Seeds in 1978. Unlike hybrid sweet corn this variety is less sweet with good corn flavor. Although I will spend the weekend, shucking and freezing corn for the winter for now I am putting fresh corn in every single thing I eat.
After 6 years of farming I have concluded that farming is all about excesses and failures. Lucky for us, that these excesses lead to year round abundance. I started a lot of traditional varieties of sauce tomatoes like Amish Paste and San Marzano but it was a bit too early and they did not make it out of the greenhouse this season. This is totally fine with me because a few years ago I started canning this heirloom variety of tomato called Garden Peach that falls in between a large tomato and a cherry tomato in size. The thick skin peels off easily after being blanched and I’ve enjoyed them for 2 winters now in soups, chillies, stews and braises.
Considering we harvested 50 lbs. of heirloom tomatoes last week and then I harvested 51 lbs. again just today, I think they are here to stay. Every day I find a new one bursting with color, ready to be picked. And the cherry tomatoes are popping off as well. Since I had a bunch of cherry tomatoes piling up in my refrigerator and heirlooms all over the counter, it was time for a fresh pasta sauce.
Farinata (also knows at Cecina in Italy and Socca in France) is an unleavened bread very simply made of chickpea flour and water. People have been eating Farinata WAY before everything that doesn’t contain wheat was dubbed holy and labeled “gluten-free”. And it is upon principle that I refuse to call this “gluten-free pizza” which it actually kinda is. Not eating wheat for every meal doesn’t have to have a label and a special diet and make you feel special. It’s the way a lot of people have been eating for many many centuries. It’s called moderation. I love a good wood-fired sourdough pizza crust bubbling away with little black bubbles all around the outside, but sometimes I like the deep dish feel and nutty flavor of farinata as a pizza crust.
This week, we are giving the CSA a break after 3 steady weeks of summer squash heavy in the baskets. It’ll be there as an optional grab in our walk-in, but not mandatory. Just to mix it up a bit, squash blossoms will make an appearance in the basket. Squash blossoms are so beautiful and delicate and unless you are growing squash or eating out, you probably rarely see them. They are so highly perishable that I can’t imagine any major retailer of food would ever be able to sell them and if they find a way, I wouldn’t trust it. Good, more for me.
“The Romans referred to the dog days as diēs caniculārēs and associated the hot weather with the star Sirius. They considered Sirius to be the “Dog Star” because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog). Sirius is also the brightest star in the night sky. The term “Dog Days” was used earlier by the Greeks.”
It’s happening. The “dog days” of summer are just around the corner in the southeast. Telltale signs include mandatory afternoon river breaks, sweaty nights and ripe tomatoes. Yes, those green ones are ripe. They are called “Green Doctors” and if you don’t grow them, you should. Not only do they get to confuse the heck outta everyone harvesting them, they are so super sweet it’s hard for me to not eat them all in the field.
Right now I am excited for cucumber. Because I just ate my second cucumber of 2014. In 3 weeks I am sure I will be singing a different tune, but right now, I am in love. Crunchy, refreshing, versatile and truly a summer treat. Of course being a farmer and a chef I am going to be a food snob about seasonal ingredients but let me tell ya, cukes in season are where it’s at. I don’t do a cuke in the winter….I want fresh, I want crisp I want my own. I drew from my Sicilian roots and former California cuisine life for this one. A medley of summer veggies with sausage (optional) and a refreshing tzatziki to top it all off.
I’ve had the brilliant idea for several years now to start a blog entitled ” A to Zucchini”. “A to Zucchini” chronicles a season of summer squash, from the first day it’s harvested to the very last. Recipes along the lines of “anchovy aioli and fried patty pan”, “basil pesto and grilled zucchini”, “cocozelle and coconut curry” and, well, you get it…it goes on….and on. BUT every year I realize that while I am constantly picking, hauling, selling, culling and composting squash I don’t have that much time to eat it, nor do I want to eat it to the extent of writing that blog. But this is the first time we are including summer squash in the CSA and I thought I’d share one of my very favorite recipes for our perfectly round little eight ball squashes. My farming mentor, Bob Cannard, really does make the best version of these stuffed, but I try.