This week’s Farmers’ Market offering is purposely low on vegetables. The CSA share from last week was so generous that we were still working on it when I went to the market Saturday. But I did not come away empty-handed.
The peaches and berries are so abundant this year, something I am definitely thankful for after last year’s drought conditions. The CSA tomatoes are not ready yet, so I picked up those lovely, sweet yellow cherry tomatoes, and the pair of slicing tomatoes, keeping my options open for how to use them. I splurged a bit on the cheese, and it was worth it. The farmhouse cheddar goat’s milk cheese is almost like halloumi cheese, with a firm texture for grilling or frying, a briny flavor, and a satisfying “squeak” as you bite into it. The raw cow’s milk mozzarella was creamy and perfect for salad. The wedge of aged cow’s milk cheese (they named it Spring Meadow) was harder to pin down, somewhere between a gruyere and a cheddar, great for snacking with a goblet of red wine during Game of Thrones. Last week’s chicken was so flavorful and tender I had to pick up another one. It went into the oven to roast last night, with butter and sage rubbed under the skin.
The CSA share this week has some new additions – green beans (pick-your-own), Japanese eggplant, and green bell peppers. I started the pickling crock in the basement last week, and the pickling cucumbers on the bottom right were added in after a chill in the refrigerator. No sense adding warm cucumbers to a brine that I’m trying to keep a chilly 45-50 deg. F., in a basement that is a touch warmer than that right now. Ice packs changed daily are doing a fine job keeping things cool.
Much of this share is still in the refrigerator as I contemplate my trip to the Farmers’ Market tomorrow. I’m hoping to see some Roma tomatoes, because then I will have the makings of a fine, summery ratatouille with the zucchini and yellow squashes, and the eggplant. If I make a big batch, I can freeze some for the months when these vegetables are not available locally. Vegetable stews like ratatouille keep well in the freezer, and are great for a mid-winter meal with bread and cheese. There is more kale to freeze, and enough zucchini to make some bread, which also freezes well; zucchini alone does not do well in the freezer, but a loaf or two of zucchini bread will keep just fine for months there.
There is a lot of lettuce in the house right now, but it’s just as well, because next week the CSA will be between lettuce crops and there won’t be any in the share. One benefit of getting food so fresh is that it keeps a lot longer in the refrigerator than grocery store produce often does, and doesn’t get wasted. The lettuce we have now will be in fine shape next week.
What may seem like surplus at the moment is often better appreciated later, something along the lines of “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. The abundance of summer will be gone before we know it, here in New England, so now is the time to think about what can be preserved for the months when almost nothing grows, and what foods we will yearn for the most on the coldest winter days.