The first frost and what’s left of summer

Despite the warm weather most of these days and nights (even now, with the rain), we had our first frost in our lower field, a natural cold sink where all the cool air flows to at night.  It wasn’t a hard freeze, but it was enough to kill the winter squash plants and the tomato and pepper plants that were growing in that space.  We hadn’t yet harvested the winter squash because they were a little behind this year, and just two weeks ago they were not yet ripe.  Thankfully, by the frost most had ripened, and we got a good harvest, our best yet.  Now they are curing, although we have started eating the acorn and delicata squash–yum!!

We pulled all the ripe peppers as well, and both ripe tomatoes and any that had started to turn in color.  Those unripe ones will finish ripening in storage.  Thankfully, we had tomatoes planted in our upper field too, so there are a lot still on the vine, and those are covered, so the first early frost we get in that field (most likely in the next few weeks) won’t kill those plants and we should have tomatoes for quite a while still.

The rest of the early fall glut is slowing down though, just like that.  This week we didn’t bring cucumbers or summer squash to market for the first time since they started this summer.  It always surprises me how fast this happens, and I joked with the farmer that he should have warned me–I want to know when I am eating the last of something for the year.  Even when I take great pains to enjoy every flavor while it is in abundance, I would pay special attention to that last bit of something for the year!  Luckily, I am sure the kids and I can go glean some of these vegetables for ourselves, since they really are not completely done, just not prolific enough anymore to take the time to harvest for market or the CSA.



So this week, I plan to enjoy the last tastes of summer:  a few more meals of White Lebanese summer squash, simply sliced and roasted with olive oil and sea salt (everyones favorite!) or stuffed (so good!) and yellow summer sqaush diced and sauteed until browned. A few more cucumbers to throw on our salads and as many more as there are eaten out of hand by the children.  Eggplant in some of the last few eggplant recipes I wanted to try this year:  this and this!  And also in some of our favorites that we haven’t yet made this year:  moussaka and white bean and roasted eggplant dip (since as much as I love eggplant, I don’t love baba gonoush).  These alongside yummy winter squash and apple cider soups, turnip and turnip greens soup, and roasted pear, arugula, and balsamic vinegar salads.  The best of both worlds for another week, two if we are lucky!  And then it will be good-bye to summer meals for a good eight months;  it’s no wonder summer veggies are so prolific in their turn, they really have such a short window of time to bear fruit.

At market and in the farm kitchen this week

Pickings were slim this week at our market booth and a few others as the cool weather and gray days were again here more than gone.  We could hardly believe that there was so little growth from last week’s harvest to this week’s.  This happens in early spring, but the pace of growth usually continues to get faster and faster as we approach the summer solstice.  The longer days usually mean more sun and warmer temps, but not so this spring.  We have had funny (although really, not so funny) conversations with a few other farmers, commiserating over wet fields that can’t be tilled and spoiling crops and worries about the rest of the season.  There is some solace in this, knowing we are all in the same boat.  It’s wild that in every year of this farming adventure, the weather has provided such a hurdle in one way or another.  It is one of the constants of farm life, I suppose.

Still, the farmer keeps smiling; and as hard as it has been to have lower than average harvests (and thus, sales) at market this first month, the CSA harvests have been good.  And as much as I go back and forth these days, becoming irrationally worried that it really will never warm up this year…I am sure that it will (right?)!  Either way, we are happy that we plant diversely enough to squeak by even if we had a crazy year that just stayed cool.

Even this guy, who is ever so serious as you can see, isn’t too worried even though each week he struggles to find enough flowers to fill his bouquets and this year’s annual flower  seed plantings are no more than an inch high and only barley inching there way higher each week.

In the meantime, market shoppers, CSA members, and us alike are all eating well from the springtime bounty that the earth is providing.  Salad turnips, eaten peeled and whole by the children, or sliced and added to our salads, or in tasty recipes like this turnip slaw (minus the sweet pepper), are so good.  We also saute them a lot, simply by themselves as a side dish, or in a dish such as this, with chard..mmm.  The turnip greens are some of our favorites, too.  They end up in soups or curries, lending to dishes their small mustard tang and nutritious greens goodness.

Kohlrabis are one of those fun, unique vegetables that are such a joy to look at, and after peeling away all those knobs and the thick outer skin, make a mama’s life easy by being a fast snack to set on the table, tasty just to munch on as they are.  But since we end up with so many, we use them in many of the same ways we use salad turnips as well.  Grated and made into kolrabi slaws with turnips or alone, or used as you would cucumbers in the summer to make this yummy salad.  Someone just mentioned to us at market this week that when they lived in Germany, in the winter they always made that sweet, creamy cucumber salad we all love in the summer with turnips instead.  We are trying it with the kohlrabi this week!

Spring always means lots of parsley and green onions, thrown in many, many dishes, but especially any kind of cold vegetable or grain salad (our go to market day make ahead lunch standbys).

And of course, sweet, beautiful lettuces!  This we eat for the rest of the season, but it is always the best in the spring, after a winter without lettuces.  And, for Farmer’s market shoppers, it is always nice to be able to get good quality meat easily each and every week.

Spring, too, brings about the time when our family begins to harvest some of the years first meat chickens and some of last year’s baby goats, finished on freshly growing spring green growth.  And finally, after almost a whole year, the last half of our spring piglets from last year were processed as well.

We don’t eat a lot of meat, and we especially don’t in the winter unless our freezers are stocked from our farm or others sources we trust.  We round meals out with legumes a lot of times, but we also can’t eat wheat and dairy, and most other grains aren’t really very good for us either, so good meat is definitely a spring blessing for us.

And we have, of course, been enjoying those special treats of spring that we don’t yet have growing on our farm.  We picked up asparagus last week, roasted it and swooned.  And strawberries, twice a week, from each market, get brought home and devoured.  We planted both of these crops this year.  The strawberry planting looks good, the asparagus…questionable.  We will just have to wait and see next year.  This year, we are waiting, as well.  Waiting for summer to come, but enjoying what we have right now as well.