Time moves fast. The sunlight is already taking on more of yellow/orange glow, the bugs have settled, much of the planting is finally finished (although there are still a few things going into the ground) and our days are being swallowed up by harvesting.
Weeding is put on the afterburner while we do our best to keep up with all the crops bursting from the garden. Luckily we’ve got a few helpers who come out and liberate some of our more important and sensitive crops.
August is a good month for vegetable fans. It’s the time of year we have the greatest selection of produce available by far. September may have a greater bulk being harvested, but in August we get to show off our summer colours.
This week our CSA members will get:
Tomato: Big reds for slicing, little yellows for snacking, mid-sized green and yellow striped for salads… Try them all!
Dill: An under rated herb no doubt, use it in salad dressings, fish, potatoes, cucumbers, beet salad and more.
Summer onions: We’re into a new bed of onions and they’re a lot bigger. Enjoy!
Summer squash: The cold weather is especially hard on the summer squash, and it is beginning to die-off already, so hopefully the temperatures perk up a little more before September.
Carrots: The carrots got a lot bigger too. Now we’re talking.
Golden beets: Bright yellow flesh is very sweet and mild compared to red beets. Many beet haters love yellow beets. They’re fantastic steamed.
Broccoli: More broccoli. Cause broccoli is great.
Despite the rain, it’s still BBQ season! My favourite way to cook summer veggies is just to brush them with a little oil and grill them. If that’s too plain for you though, some other ideas for serving up summer’s bounty:
A super-bright dip for yet more veggies, bread or to use as a spread on sandwiches! This hummus is pretty much the same as traditional chickpea hummus, just with beets in place of the pulses.
1/2 pound beets (1 large or 2-3 medium-sized ones), well scrubbed
3 tbsp tahini*
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp of dijon mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
* If you don’t have tahini (sesame paste) on hand, or don’t want to use it, any mild nut butter (almond, cashew) will also work. I do recommend putting something in as it helps to balance out the flavour by toning down the “beetiness” a bit, as well as thickening the texture somewhat.
Cook the beets until soft. (You can bake or boil them, or roast them on the grill; whichever works better for you.) Blend them in a food processor, along with the tahini, garlic, mustard, and a little salt. When you have something close to a puree, add in the lemon juice and keep pulsing. Add oil until you reach the consistency you want. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Devour!
Summer squash, two ways:
I know not all of our squash is zucchini, but all summer squashes can be grated up to lend baked loaves moisture and tenderness. If you’re a little overwhelmed by squash, this bread is great toasted in the mornings, as an afternoon snack, or (if you *really* feel you have too much) makes a good hostess gift!
1/2 pound of summer squash (about two medium-sized squash)
1/2 cup plain yoghourt
1/2 cup butter
2 cups flour
1/4 cup wheat germ (or ground flax seed, hemp seed, etc.)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsps baking powder.
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Add-ins: chopped crystal ginger, walnuts, chocolate chips, poppy seeds, lemon zest, whatever! For a more savoury loaf, mint and basil leaves can be gently heated in the butter to infuse it with their flavour prior to assembling the batter.
Preheat the oven to 350F(with rack placed in the middle). Grease a loaf pan.
Sift together the dry ingredients.
Grate the squash into a large bowl. Mix in the yoghourt, eggs and butter. (If you are using the herbs, whisk those right in too.)
Pour the wet mix into the dry and fold gently until everything is combined. Scrape it into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean.
Squash quick pickles
If you can’t get enough of the summer squash, here’s a way to pile some into your sandwiches (or on burgers) as well! Slicing long narrow squash makes for slightly easier to use coin-shaped pickles, but if you’d rather have spears of squash, that would work too!
These will keep for a week or two as-is, though you could probably process them in a hot water bath if you made up a really big batch.
1/2 pound (1-2 medium squash), washed and sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced (if you’re using spring onions, include the green parts)
1 tbsp fine grain sea salt (not iodized)
Quantities here are mostly to taste, but start with a small handful of fresh herbs and 1/2 tbsp of any dried herbs.
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
Toss the sliced veggies together with the salt in a large colander, making sure that the salt is well distributed. Let them sit for a few hours (or overnight) in the fridge, to allow the salt to draw out some of the water.
When ready, put your flavouring ingredients in the jar (or jars) which will contain the pickles, and heat the vinegars together with the sugar over low heat until the sugar melts.
Take the squash in your hands and squeeze it gently to coax out a little more water. Pack the veggies into the jars.
Pour the vinegar mixture over the squash to fill the jars and seal. Once cool, keep them refrigerated.