Kohlrabi is ready for one last colesl-ah
Did anyone else feel the wind change?
Yep, that's fall telling us that it's just around the corner.
This is especially important if you're like us and you cater your meals to the season.
Stew in the summer? Rainy days only! Shish-kabobs in December, not likely.
And while some dishes, like salads, can be amendable to seasonal ingredients and flavour bases, others, like coleslaw, are ubiquitously summer.
Let The Ground Cherries Begin!
I am, admittedly, in a bit of a panic over the fact that my wee, shy, sensitive, three year-old will be starting school soon (and all that this entails)
Luckily we are entering the season of bounty so I have lots of good reasons to keep my mind busy.
Squash is just around the corner, the potatoes are sizing up, the garlic is almost done drying, and the onions are forming their skins for storage.
But the most exciting thing about the end of the summer season is, by far, ground cherries.
Those little yellow orbits of sweet-tart deliciousness, completely wrapped, because even they understand that they are a gift, make my heart sing.
And while I normally provide recipes for you to try, this is one of those rare exceptions where I say unto you, just eat them, as they are, fresh out of the wrapper.
Perhaps the only thing I should add is that we harvest them without seeing beyond their papery husk, trusting that the plant will only drop them if they are, in fact, truly ripe.
For this reason, if upon opening you see a few fruits who have a greenish tinge to them, leave them on the countertop for a bit (up to a few weeks even) as they might not be quite ripe. An orangey-pinkish hue is where the real sweetness lies.
As a true mother, I keep those for my soon-to-be schoolgirl.
Maybe she'll even get a few in her lunch.
(Writer's note: those last two sentences made me cry, true mother indeed).
Red Express coming your way!
Mid August brings all kinds of treats; potatoes, beets, carrots, beans.
It really is a time of plenty where the fastest of all cabbages can be featured at the dinner table.
We like to grow a variety called Red Express which never ceases to take my breath away with it's fushia-violet extravagance.
But how to make an already showy vegetable shine?
Any number of summer slaws could do this beauty justice, after all, keeping it raw means that the colouring stays intact.
If you do end up choosing the slaw route, you can go in a variety of directions.
A nice sour apple would pair beautifully with this cabbage (think granny smith), with or without the addition of cucumbers, such as in this bright tasting recipe.
Alternatively, you could pair the purple brassica with an orange carrot for a simple summer slaw, perfect for topping burgers or as a side.
Looking for a more robust flavour? This cabbage salad features, among other tantalizing ingredients, miso paste and tahini, and would be amazing with microgreens or kale thrown in the mix.
And if all else fails, braise, braise, braise :)
Get fresh with garlic
Remember that garlic you got last week? Well, it was fresh.
What does fresh garlic mean, you ask? It means that, unlike the later stuff, it hasn't been cured, and it is sometimes referred to by the French as 'ail nouveau' or 'new garlic'.
It is for this reason that it needs to live in your fridge until you are ready to eat it, and it should be eaten as soon as possible to ensure that it is the best it can be.
You can also try to cure it yourself, but some quality will be lost as it has also been topped, and the stem is an important part of the curing process.
From a culinary perspective, you can use fresh garlic much the same as cured garlic, albeit with a little more prep due to the still-plump outer layers.
Some food bloggers see fresh garlic as the special treat that it is, so if you feel like being fussy with it, it will only reward you with deliciousness.
One thing that I've tried successfully with this slightly tangier version is to roast them whole (cut off the top bits to expose the cloves for easier removal) and spread onto fresh or toasted bread, perhaps topped with a sliced tomato.
The roasting mellows out the already subtle fresh garlic, and makes for the perfect topping for all kinds of things.
For instance, those snap beans you are receiving again this week would be amazing lightly steamed with a dollop of roasted garlic mixed it, as would summer squash on the barbecue.
Oh, the mouth-watering possibilities!
Pump up the beets
Beets are a show-stopper.
They are brightly coloured, aggressively dyeing red anything that it touches.
So beautiful, in fact, that our kiddo swoons at the sight of them. Well, maybe not swoon, but definitely acts as if she has noticed the beauty of said beet (she is partial to pink, after all).
Beets and I go way back. I distinctly remember having it on a semi-regular basis as a child, boiled then pan-fried with butter and a little bit of salt and pepper.
The caramelization of the beets as its sugars hit the hot pan was delightful, and clearly, memorable.
And I must admit that this method of cooking beets is still very much part of my repertoire, but I'd also like to think that I am able to up my "beet game" if need be.
Returning members will remember my obsession with chocolate beet cake. The moist, sweet, earthy flavour of beet melding perfectly with chocolate to create one of those "I can't believe I can call this healthy" moment.
Ever try beet gnocchi? It's decadent enough to impress, and as such, I highly recommend it as a "first time cooking for your crush" or "boss is coming over" recipe.
Don't feel like a big to-do? Boil them and use them as a salad topper, or make them shine as the salad star.
It all boils down to deliciousness.
Make Fennel Your New Favourite
Through out the years we've been told by friends and family that we are foodies.
It comes as a shock to us each time we hear it, as we find ourselves unworthy of such a title.
Don't get me wrong, after years of growing our own produce I've become a real veggie snob, walking through the produce isle with a permanent frown muttering "tsk, tsk".
No. The real reason we look like foodies has to do with the many friends who perhaps have been drawn to us because of our disdain for flavourless ingredients.
How do you know if your friends are foodies? Well, they prefer cooking at home as opposed to going to the restaurant, and always insist on making the whole meal themselves ("just show up, we've got it covered") even it if means that it took them all day to prep.
They don't even blink if you mention the term chiffonade, or julienne, have successfully started a sourdough starter from scratch and they never, ever buy salad dressing premade.
David and Saskia are exactly this type of friend, and we've been enjoying fine meals with them for quite a few years.
On one such occasion, David made something that I'll never forget, finocchio al vino bianco.
You see, up until this point I regarded fennel with suspicion, unsure of how to make it shine.
Spaghetti sauce was made more authentic and flavourful, but I felt like it was too safe for my adventurous spirit.
Orange-fennel salad was nice, but I drew tired of buying oranges when my garden was full of produce, and who has time to cut orange segments?
Braised fennel had everything going for it. It was comforting, packed with so much flavour due to the caramelization, and demanded very little of me.
Thank goodness for foodie friends who teach us just enough so that we become foodies by association ;)
Sweet Peppers In July!?
We oftentimes forget how spoiled we are to have two 96' hot houses for growing warm-season crops.
The tomatoes are almost ripe, the cucumbers are in full swing, and the peppers are just begging to be picked.
Not kidding. They are in full lean-over mode due to the abundance of fruit that are set on them. We have no choice but to do a mid-season trellis.
Incidentally, we are also going to share some with you this week :)
An easy way to eat peppers at this time of year is to simply grill them on the barbecue and eat them as a side dish. You can also amp the fanciness level a tiny bit with olive oil and salt. And don't just fire up the bbq for the pepper, add the scapes too!
Another warm-day option is to make burrito bowls, think tex-mex stir-fry atop a grain such as quinoa or rice. We play with our bowls quite a bit, ranging the flavour from indian to asian, but I think that the burrito bowl is my favourite.
Don't feel like cooking up grains? Just plop the above stir-fry into some sort of flat bread, put your feet up, and call it a day.
Mouth Agape For Garlic Scapes
Having a CSA share sometimes means discovering new things.
We're not talking cringe-worthy oddball ingredients ala Chopped, but rather, a gentle way to add new items to your culinary repertoire.
Last week you met our friend the kohlrabi, that unsung hero of the brassica world, ready to become a favourite crudité in a moments' notice.
You may even have been pleasantly surprised to discover a new favourite with the haskaps, french breakfast radishes, pac choi, and spring salad turnips.
Garlic scapes fit into that world of lovely new things.
So what are garlic scapes, anyway? They are the curly bit that grows out of the top of the garlic plant which eventually becomes the "flower" and produces bulbils, full of little garlic seeds.
The flavour is a bit more mellow than the bulb below, like the onion is to chive.
When immature, the scapes are a texture not unlike asparagus, and I usually recommend that you cook it as such.
I sometimes dice up the raw scapes to add to a coleslaw, giving it a bit of time to soften.
Other notable recipes include making a pesto out of the scapes, barbecuingthem dry or with oil, stir-fried, or sautéed.
Whatever dish you end up making, make sure to cut the tip of the scape before preparing (see photo above), as it is often too tough to chew through.
Com'mon Baby Carrots
As locavore foodies, it is sometimes REALLY hard to wait until something is available locally.
Especially if that something is carrots. After all, carrots are featured in so many delicious dishes, are tasty raw, and are healthy to eat.
Now I will admit to buying a few bags of carrots since we ran out of our home stash in early March, but these were acts of desperation tainted with regret.
And while early season carrots are nowhere near as sweet as their cool-season, fall counterparts, they still deliver that carroty goodness, and that's more than good enough for me.
So what's the best thing to do with mini carrots?
Eat them in an uncomplicated yet sophisticated fashion, perhaps with one pinky finger floating in the air, nibbling with an aristocratic air about you.
And if you want to honour them even further, make an amazing creamy basil dip to pair using, say, the basil you received last week, or the plant basil you will receive this week.
While you are at it, why not dip the radishes and kohlrabi too?
Because hot summer days need simple pleasures like crudités featuring carrots, basil and fresh, crunchy brassicas.