CSA Newsletter – Week 11
Hazy Days & Heavy Harvest – Revisiting Gratitude
Watermelon. Cantaloupe. Tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes. Corn. Green beans. Bell peppers. Shishitos. Summer squash. Cucumbers. Salad mix hand-cut from nearly fifteen different greens. Carrots. Beets. Herbs. Chard. Potatoes. The list goes on to include just over a hundred different items that we are currently harvesting, which just goes to show how abundance is surely a double-edged sword. On top of that, the smoke in the air feels stagnant, heavy, and slow, and at times it’s difficult to breathe.
But these feelings are not new. In fact, they burbled to the surface this exact time last year. I am constantly reminded of exactly how cyclical the farming season is. This time last year we were uplifted by the 2017 full solar eclipse. I want to take you all back to that time, to the lessons that peak season had for us then that still remain true. Here goes:
There isn’t much of anything that can stop farmers from farming in the dead of August, but this celestial event sure did it. Just as the moon started peaking over the sun, we all dropped our hoes and harvest totes, grabbed some breakfast and eclipse shades, loaded into a couple flatbeds, and went out into our most expansive field to watch day turn to night and back. As I sat on the truck munching on some cantaloupe, I was overcome with a deep sense of gratitude. Gratitude for the beautiful fields of produce being showered by irrigation, for the darkening purple mountains surrounding this valley, for the hardworking fellow farmers sitting on the back of the truck with me, and for the amazing fact that the sun and the moon happen to look like they’re the same size when viewed from our planet.
This is the time of year when we are all working 60 hours a week or more; the only thing on the menu is farming with a small serving of sleep on the side. We are all exhausted and winter is still far off on the horizon, but it’s moments of gratitude that keep us going. Yes, we’re tired. Yes, it’s hot out. And yes, we still love what we do. We get to spend our days in the gorgeous Willamette Valley, growing, eating, and sharing good food together. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but I surely can’t think of anything else I’d rather do.
Though you may not be working on a farm, I’m sure life still tries its hardest to exhaust you. Hopefully this box can provide you with something to be grateful for, something to make you feel—even for just a minute—like you have everything you need in this world. We’ve all got clean drinking water, access to some of the finest fresh produce in the world, and lovely people to eat it with. Enjoy.
Best, Laura Bennett
Table of Box Contents
- Poblano Pepper
- Sweet Italian Pepper
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Jimmy Nardello Sweet Pepper
- Serendipity Sweet Corn
- Mixed Summer Squash
- Green Cabbage
- Willamette Sweet Onions
- Colorado Rose Potatoes
- Bunched Carrots
- Tomatoes – Our $30/20 lbs. canning tomato deal is still running! Contact our office to make a special order for your home preservation needs.
- Romaine Lettuce – Often times I will use the outer leaves from romaine for a salad, and will retain the inner leaves, otherwise known as the heart, to dip into hummus or herbed cream cheese.
One-Skillet Sausage, Peppers, Potatoes, & Onions
Author Notes: Don’t you love when the recipe title is also the ingredient list? I do. This one-skillet dish is as easy (and delicious) as a weeknight dinner gets. If spicy Italian sausages aren’t your favorite, sub in any other fresh sausage link; I bet chorizo would be great. —Emma Laperruque—adapted from https://food52.com/recipes/77606-one-skillet-sausage-peppers-potatoes-and-onions
- 3 tbsp Olive Oil, divided
- 4 spicy Italian Sausages
- 1 lb Potatoes, cut into large bite-sized chunks
- 2 pinches Salt, plus more to taste
- 2 Bell Peppers, roughly chopped
- 1 large Onion, roughly chopped
- Suggested Addition: Sweet Corn Kernels
Set a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. After it gets good and hot, add the olive oil, then the sausages. Brown all over—about 2 minutes per side—then remove to a waiting plate. We’re not trying to cook them through, just sear ’em!
Add another tablespoon olive oil to the skillet, followed by the potatoes, cut side facing down. Season with a big pinch of salt. Cook these for 5 minutes until browned, then flip and cook another 5 minutes. Transfer these to the plate with the sausages.
Add the remaining tablespoon olive oil, then the peppers and onion. Season with a big pinch of salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender—about 10 minutes. Add the sausages and potatoes back to the skillet. Pour 1/3 cup water evenly over the top and cover the pan with a lid.
Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the sausage is cooked through and the potatoes are tender, lifting the lid for the last few minutes. Taste and adjust the salt accordingly.
This dish could also be a great breakfast served with eggs on the side.
Zucchini & Basil Risotto
Adapted from the Vegetarian Bible, p. 94
- Olive Oil
- 4 Zucchini, diced
- 1 Sweet Bell Pepper, seeded & diced
- 2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
- 1 large Onion, finely chopped
- 3-5 cups Risotta Rice
- 4 tbsp Dry White Vermouth
- scant 7 cups Vegetable Stock, simmering
- 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
- large handful Fresh Basil, torn
- 1 cup grated Parmesan
Heat 2 Tbsp of oil in a large skillet over high heat. When very hot, but not smoking, add the squash and bell pepper and stir-fry for 3 minutes, until lightly golden. Stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds longer. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Heat 2 more Tbsp of oil in a large heavy pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes, until soft. Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes, until the rice is translucent and well coated with olive oil.
Pour in the vermouth; it will bubble and steam rapidly and evaporate almost immediately. Add a ladleful (about ½ cup) of the simmering stock and cook, stirring constantly, until the stock is completely absorbed.
Continue adding the stock, about half a ladleful at a time, letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next. This should take 20-25 minutes. The risotto should have a creamy consistency and the rice should be tender, but still firm to the bite.
Stir in the zucchini mixture with any juices, and the butter, basil, and grated parmesan. Drizzle with a little oil and garnish with basil. Serve hot. Tomato would be a great addition on top as well.
Chicken Salad w/ Garlic Basil Aioli
At GTF we serve crew lunch to nearly 70 employees in the heat of the season. I had the very challenging but extremely rewarding opportunity to cook for everyone a few weeks ago, and this dish was a big hit. I loved it because it was an easy way to feed a ton of people something that was delicious and healthy, and everyone else loved it because it is full of protein but is nice and cool, perfect for farmers to get through a day in the heat. Many people think of aioli or mayonnaise as unhealthy because it is high in fat, but fat is not the enemy—sugar is.
- 1 Cabbage, grated or sliced thinly
- 1/2 Chicken, roasted whole, cooled, and shredded
- Dried Cranberries
- Raw Veg Additions: Sweet Corn, Sweet Peppers, Grated Carrot
If you feel like making aioli from scratch, get an egg and some oil and a blender and emulsify away! If not, buy some mayonnaise from the store—no shame! Either way, mix in the following:
- minced Raw Garlic
- half bunch of Basil, finely chopped
- lemon juice
- salt & pepper to taste
Mix together all ingredients