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August 2006

Thanks

A quick note to say thank you and goodbye. I'm immensely grateful to Clagett Farm and all the good people involved in it. As to the weblog itself, Clagett Farm Notes will remain open right here until Carrie announces the move to the new site.


Many Tomatoes

There comes a day during the summer in which we harvest over a 1,000 lbs of tomatoes. When that happens we know that the tomato season is really in full swing. Well, it happened today. We picked over 1,200 lbs of tomatoes. And we definitely did not harvest all we could. Off the top of my head, these are the varieties we harvested: Big Beef, Daniella, Rose de Berne, Black Prince, German Striped, New Girl, Sun Gold, Juliet, Green Zebra, and Garden Peach. Plenty to choose from.


Swallowtails

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Good days for butterflies. At least for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtails right by the wash station. As these photos attest, they love the Mexican sunflowers. 
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Another photo:
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And is the one in the last picture below a female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail or a different species entirely (Black Swallowtail?)? I don't know.
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Summer's Bounty

The vibrant produce of Clagett Farm is as tasty as it is eloquent and the harvest is hitting the high notes

Linguine with Burst Cherry Tomato Sauce
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Such a simply incredible recipe of Italian origins and the Clagett orange cherry tomatoes (sun golds) are just as sweet as the Pommodorini Dolce of the Almalfi coast. It’s as much fun to wait and watch until the tomatoes burst as it is to eat.

Linguine with Burst Cherry Tomato Sauce
Serves 4-6

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil; more for brushing
2 or 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 Tbs. finely chopped fresh basil or anise hyssop
1/4 cup crushed walnuts
1 teaspoon salt; more to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups cherry tomatoes
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound linguine
fresh snipped garlic  chives
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a bowl, mix together the olive oil, basil, garlic, walnuts, and 1 teaspoon salt.

In a large skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil until hot. Add the onion and sauté 5 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and let cook without stirring for about 4 minutes. Stir once and let cook again until they burst. Turn off the heat and let the vegetables rest in the pan.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of well salted water to a vigorous boil and add the linguine. Cook until al dente; drain well. Toss the pasta with the vegetables and the basil mixture. Sprinkle with pepper; toss again and serve immediately, with garlic chives and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Chili Seared Rockfish with Sweet Pepper Salsa
Serve 4

2 tablespoons chili powder
1⁄4 Teaspoon salt
1/8 Teaspoon white pepper
4 6 oz. rockfish fillets

Combine chili powder, salt and pepper, rub evenly over fish fillets.
Heat grill to medium – high heat.

Grill about 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Serve with Corn, Squash and Sweet Pepper Salsa.

Corn, Squash and Sweet Pepper Salsa
Serves  4
2 cups fresh raw corn kernels (lightly cooked or grilled is ok)
1⁄2 cup red onion, diced
1 cup yellow squash, diced
1⁄2 cup red pepper, diced
1  very small dragon chili pepper, minced (optional)
1 cup plum tomato, diced
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
1/8 teaspoon sugar
salt to taste
1/8 teaspoon coriander
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Stir well. Let stand at least 30 minutes.

Squash Cheese Cubes
6 to 8 servings

The texture of these cubes is softer than a bread and denser than a soufflé, and the onions do stay crunchy. The squares are great supporting a chilled soup like our Clever Beer Gazpacho or they make good picnic food.

3 cups grated yellow crook neck or zucchini (4 small or 3 medium size zucchini)
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 to 1 medium onion, diced
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or lemon pepper
1/2 cup canola oil
3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 7-by-11-inch baking dish with butter and line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.

In a colander set over a bowl or in a sink, combine the squash and salt and toss to mix. Set aside to drain for 30 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water. (For a faster method, place the grated zucchini in a small salad spinner and let stand for 5 minutes, then pump to extract the excess moisture.)

In a medium bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Add the zucchini, onion to taste, cheese, thyme and pepper. Mix well with a fork, breaking up any clumps of zucchini.

In a small bowl, whisk the oil and eggs. Pour into the zucchini mixture and mix well, which will further break up any remaining clumps of zucchini. Transfer mixture to the baking dish. Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden. Let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then cut into squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Spanish Romesco
Makes about 2 1/2 cups

Romesco (roh-MEHS-koh) is a sauce from Spain with many variations: Some are garlicky, some are rich with red peppers, some use hazelnuts in addition to almonds. This version relies on toasted almonds to give it a complex flavor and thick texture; the better the paprika, the better the sauce.

Now this versatile concoction can easily act as a dip for all of those fresh vegetables you’ve gathered. As a sauce, serve with grilled chicken, fish or asparagus.

1 large ( 1/2-inch) slice white bread
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup whole almonds, blanched, toasted
1 cup coarsely chopped unpeeled ripe tomatoes
1 roasted red bell pepper
2 teaspoons Spanish paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fruity olive oil

Place the bread and vinegar in a bowl and set aside.

Finely grind the almonds in a food processor. Drain the bread but do not squeeze it. Discard the soaking liquid. Add the soaked bread, tomatoes, paprika and salt to the almonds and process until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the oil until a thick sauce forms.

Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Recipes from “Cook For Life Balance” by Rita Calvert


On the radio

Fm_intersection_logo125_2 Your tomatoes, sweet potato greens, and your farmer were featured on WETA 90.9 this morning.  WETA's new show, The Intersection, hosted by Rebecca Roberts, had very nice program about eating and growing local food.      

I was hoping that by hearing Ms. Roberts ooh and ah over your sweet potato greens, you, my dear customers, might be more willing to try them.  (Not many Tuesday shareholders seemed as thrilled as I am that they're in your share.)  So if you haven't been inspired to eat the leaves of a sweet potato plant before now, then you should listen to the show!  Click over to the The Intersection website, from which you can listen to any show from their archives (you want the one from July 28, 2006).

 Before the show, it was fun to chat a bit with the Chef of Restaurant Eve, Cathal Armstrong, who is a surprisingly passionate supporter of his farmers.  Now I'm looking for an excuse to invite my husband to dinner there.  Mid-summer celebration, perhaps?  I also have to admit that it was just fun to sit around in an air-conditioned building for a while.  When it's this hot out, I'm easy to please.


A summer Thursday

Yesterday morning a volunteer named Ryan spent a few hours weeding the watermelon field with Kenji. Pigweed, Jimson weed, morning glory and foxtail were the most common plants that were pulled out. It was hot and very humid, so soon both, Ryan and Kenji, were drenched in sweat. Good practice for Ryan, who in September will start his agriculture-related Peace Corps stint in a Francophone African country (he does not yet know which one). While Ryan and Kenji were weeding, Michael Heller and Keith Hudson, a young volunteer who loves farms, were stacking hundreds and hundreds of bales of hay. Hard work.

During lunch we were sitting at the wash station when Kenji saw a large bird. "An eagle!" Kenji exclaimed. Sure enough. A bald eagle! By the time I took a picture the eagle was high up in the air, so please excuse its fuzziness.

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Rob quipped that as national symbols are concerned Clagett Farm has it covered. We have wild turkeys, which Benjamin Franklin wanted to designate as the national symbol, and now the bald eagle, the actual winner of this honor, shows up at the farm.

After lunch Janie, a dedicated volunteer, helped Kenji to mix soil for our second seeding of fall brassicas.

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The dogs, Tuzeek and Cassie, pretty much took it easy and stayed out of the sun. They know what to do when it's hot.

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Baling in the heat

Because of the heat it was a tough week for those of us who work on the vegetable growing side of Clagett Farm. In comparison to those who had to bale hay, though, the veggie team had it easy. Once again, as it happens every year, Michael Heller and Rob Vaughn did most of the baling by themselves. You need at least two people to do the job. One drives the tractor and the other stands on the moving wagon and stacks the bales. If a third person is available, two people stand on the wagon. The one driving the tractor is the one who is "resting", but soon enough it will be this person's turn to stand on the wagon. I remember that a while back an athletic young man with plenty of farming experience was hired to help out with the baling. After a couple of days he refused to be on the wagon. He could not take it. And yet this is what Michael and Rob do every year, several times a year--there are usually three cuttings during the growing season.

To a read a previous post that briefly explains why and how baling is done at the farm, click here


Twining tomatoes

Our tomato crop promises to be a good one. Shareholders already got some, but most of it is still to come. The plants are laden with green fruit, so August, once again, will be a great tomato month. To keep up with the growing plants, though, we have to twine them between the stakes. Twining facilitates and increases the tomato harvest. It's quite a chore, though--especially when it's hot and humid.

Below we see Kenji and Patti Wawzyniecki working as a team of twiners. Patti is a leader of a Young Neighbors in Action group that volunteered at Clagett Farm during this week of challenging weather.
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And here is Stefan Wawzyniecki, the other leader of this hard working group, young members of St. Bartholomew's Parish in Vermont, Connecticut. They came to the DC area for a week of service work. Not exactly a relaxing vacation for them, but we were certainly impressed and grateful for all their good help.

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Joe and Gail after several hours in the tomato field.

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After much sweating, pulling and straining Kenji and Patti stop work to get a well deserved lunch break.

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Code Red Harvesting

The radio and the papers urged folks to stay indoors on Tuesday, a Code Red day. But Tuesdays are our busiest harvest days and there is no choice for us. We were very impressed, though, by those who did have a choice and still came to the farm to pitch in. Connecticut volunteers from Young Neighbors in Action harvested close to 500 lbs of tomatoes. Other volunteers and worksharers helped us harvest over 700 lbs of summer squash and cucumbers. And that's not all they did, but I'll stop here to show some photos.

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Harvesting summer squash. Susan Minor, shareholder and volunteer, is in the foreground.

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Worksharer Laurie Martin between the summer squash and the sunflowers.

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Tricia McCauley, a veteran worksharer, carrying a bin of cucumbers she just harvested.


Squash Attitudes

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It’s time to keep the house cool.  So brush up that grill and make all of your meals out of doors, even a pizza or meatloaf. Below you’ll find a general grilling attitude that works in most applications. Real hardwood and fruit wood is preferable over charcoal briquets and now many stores carry the real McCoy. Please please DO NOT use those “easy light” briquets as you can literally taste the chemicals in the food!!

Grilled Vegetable Tart
Serves 8

Grilling vegetables brings out their sweetness and imparts a smoky, nutty quality that is extraordinarily delicious. Make them whenever you  light up the coals all harvest season. Look for focaccia bread in Italian bakeries or your supermarket.

Choose colorful ripe garden fresh vegetables, such as summer squash, eggplants, onions and different colored bell peppers. The amount depends on you.
Cut eggplant, onions and squash on the bias into about 1/2" thick slices. 
Cut peppers  into 2 to 3" strips
Sweet potatoes can be half-baked and then cut on the bias or in chunks
purchased focaccia (about a 12-inch square or
slices multigrain bread)
4 oz. soft goat cheese (chevre)

About an hour or so before cooking, combine vegetables with any good olive oil-based vinaigrette or use balsamic vinegar and olive oil with added minced garlic, basil, pepper and salt.

"Prepare a grill  fire, preferably using some fruit wood or mesquite chips. Fig or apple wood is quite amazing. When coals are evenly at the white ash stage, drain vegetables well and grill on fine mesh BBQ grid about 4 to 6" from the coals. Grill as slowly as possible until tender when pierced, turning several times and moving vegetables around with a fork so that they cook evenly.  A little charring on the edges doesn't hurt them.

Keep the grill on medium or preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

If using a 12- or 13-inch focaccia, cut in half horizontally. Lay out the halves (or the whole grain bread slices) in a sheet pan. Brush cut sides with oil mixture. Spread goat cheese over bottom layers of focaccia; top with eggplant, red pepper, zucchini,  yellow squash and any other grilled vegetable you have grilled.  Heat the tart on the grill or in the oven for about 20 minutes to meld flavors.

To serve, cut into wedges.

Clagett Mid-July Salsa
Makes about 4 1/2 cups (give or take)

Inspired by spices of northern Africa, we’ve taken everything else from the harvest this week at Clagett Farm. So now we have a “fusion” dish to top just about all savory categories-breakfast, lunch and dinner. We hope you get excited as it’s very spicy which is ever so good for you and speeds up the metabolism

Spicy Mixture
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
2 cloves garlic
1/2 dragon chile
about 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
juice of 1/2 lime
3 tablespoons thinly sliced garlic chives

Veggies
12 orange cherry tomatoes (sun golds)
2 cups diced fresh cucumber
2 cups diced uncooked squash (any combination but tender younguns’ work best)

To Dry Roast the Seeds:
In a small sauté pan add the coriander and cumin seeds and heat over medium high heat, shaking often. When you smell the fragrance of the seeds, roast just a bit more and then place in a mortar and pestle. Grind. Add the garlic, dragon chile and salt and grind well. Add the lime juice and mix.

Place the cut raw vegetables in a non reactive container. Pour the lime spice mixture over. Cover and let meld in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving.

Greek Cold Cucumber Soup with Clagett Mid-July Salsa
Serves 4 to 6

We can’t think of of a soup that tastes better on a hot summer day. Consider serving this at your next cookout.

1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup  extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, peeled
4 cups yogurt
1/2 cup  cold water
2 small cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and diced
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
chopped fresh mint for garnish

Combine the walnuts, oil, vinegar, and garlic in an electric blender or food processor and process until a smooth paste is formed.
Combine with the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Serve well chilled, topped with a spoonful of Salsa and garnished with chopped mint.

Cilantro Pecan Pesto-Grilled Yellow Squash and Zucchini
Serves 4–6

This melt-in-your-mouth squash provides a colorful accompaniment to other grilled fare, and the cilantro-pecan pesto is a fun change from traditional basil pesto. Grilling the sauce mellows the garlic and cilantro, allowing the full flavor of the squash to shine through. Easy, quick and absolutely delicious.

1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup pecans
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup fresh packed cilantro, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon umeboshi or ume plum vinegar (or more to taste)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 yellow crook neck squash
2 zucchini squash

Ingredient option: If you would prefer to include Parmesan in the pesto and make this non-vegan, remove the umeboshi vinegar and replace with 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese and salt to taste.

Toast pine nuts in a heavy skillet on medium heat until fragrant and golden brown. Repeat for pecans. Combine the pine nuts, pecans, garlic, cilantro and ume vinegar in a food processor. Pulse until fine and well mixed. With food processor running, slowly add oil. Mix a few times by hand to thoroughly combine pesto.

Spray olive oil cooking spray or lightly rub olive oil onto grill grate to prevent sticking. Preheat grill to medium heat.

Cut squash lengthwise (about three pieces per squash). Make 3 or so hatch marks on cut sides of squash and rub pesto onto cut sides of squash. Grill squash for about 5 minutes on each side or until golden grill marks appear and squash is soft. Remove and serve with extra pesto on the side if desired.

Chicken Grilled  Under A Meteorite  — Clagett Farm Style
(WOW-READ BELOW FOR THE TITLE)
Serves 3-4

This technique, traditionally entitled, “chicken Grilled under a Brick is an old-timey recipe which provides a juicy, perfectly cooked chicken with crispy skin. The smoky grill flavor and the bright taste of fresh herbs combine to make this is the perfect dish for a casual summer patio meal. To simplify prep, ask a meat department person to split the chicken in half-so it lies flat-but leaving it intact. Serve with a light pasta salad with lots of fresh herbs and the Grilled Squash with Cilantro Pecan Pesto

1 3–4 lb natural chicken
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5–6 garlic cloves, chopped
6 tablespoons Herbes de Clagett
sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
lemon wedges to garnish

Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator with the herbs, olive oil and pepper for at least 5 hours or overnight.

A whole chicken should be cooked over a medium-low fire (you should be able to hold your hand over the flame for 5–6 seconds). Drain excess marinade off the chicken and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place the chicken on the grill skin side down. Immediately place two heavy bricks wrapped in foil or a weighted cast iron pan over the chicken. Close the lid of the grill and cook for about 15 minutes. Check to see that the skin is crispy and golden. Cook on the other side for 15 to 20 minutes, until juices run clear when pierced with a knife or a meat thermometer registers 180°F. Serve with wedges of lemon

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As we were learning the ropes for this recipe AND grilling along the Severn  River, we searched around to borrow a brick or two. Low-and-behold, from our jetty bracing the waterline, we found a huge flat rock. Covered with foil and plopped on our chicken, this mighty meteorite did the deed! We joked about the meteorite that had gratuitously landed on our bird. (Of course this now famous rock was returned to the shores of the Severn).

“Getaway” Zucchini, Cranberry and Walnut Cake
Serves 16

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached white flour
1 1⁄4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1⁄2 cup egg substitute
2 (2 1/2-ounce) jars prunes baby food
2 tablespoons canola oil
2/3 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons thawed frozen orange juice concentrate
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups shredded zucchini, blotted dry
1 1⁄2 cups fresh cranberries
1⁄2 cup chopped walnut pieces
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

Mix the whole wheat flour, unbleached white flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Whisk the eggs, egg substitute, prunes, canola oil, buttermilk, orange juice concentrate and vanilla in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Fold in the zucchini, cranberries, walnuts, orange zest and lemon zest. Spray two 5 x 9-inch loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray. Divide the batter between the pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Glaze with lemon icing.

Lemon Icing

1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Combine the confectioner's sugar, lemon zest and juice in a bowl; whisk until smooth and sugar is completely dissolved. Spoon over the top of the cake.

Recipes from “Cook For Life Balance” by Rita Calvert