Week 33, 2021｜Kristin Kimball｜August 20, 2021
It is indisputably tomato season now. Have you seen the heirlooms? Striped German, German Johnson, Yellow Brandywine and Cherokee purple. They appeal to my love of irregular things — bumpy, streaked, imperfect, and genetically untamed. Taste-wise, there are good reasons heirlooms were saved and propagated! These are the winners of a multi-generational taste test. They’re my first choice for fresh eating, for the sheer variety of interesting flavors they bring. They tend to be less acidic than the more standardized varieties, but even that varies widely. This week, I brought home a whole flat of tomatoes left over after distribution — a forty pound mix of all our types and varieties. I had planned to freeze them but before I knew it they had all been eaten. The heirlooms went directly onto plates in slices, the paste tomatoes became pasta sauce one night, and cream of tomato soup another, the cherry tomatoes were snacks grabbed from a bowl on the table, and the rest got quartered into salad or put through the food mill to make skinless, seedless juice. I hope you are enjoying them as much as we are. Other delicious things this week include some young, tender broccoli rabe and a new planting of bok choy, both of which I’ve been cooking on repeat, in very simple preparations, sauteed with garlic, salt and pepper and maybe a chili pepper thrown in if you are feeling spicy. New red potatoes are in this week, and they are the most gorgeous we’ve seen. Because they are not mature, the skin is very delicate and they can’t be washed before we distribute them. Treat them like the fresh food they are and eat them right away, because they won’t hold long.
There’s a very exciting construction project happening at the front of the farm this week. Apex Solar is putting in five Level Two electric vehicle charging stations in our parking area. You are welcome to park and charge your electric vehicles here! Coincidentally we have a friend visiting in her electric Chevy Bolt, and she let me test it. It’s a blast to drive and has a range of 250 miles. Now Mark and I are seriously considering purchasing one with a local friend, so we can share it. Somehow I feel I have to stipulate that no piglets, calves or goats would be allowed in this car. Please forgive the mess and disruption this week as the stations go in.
We got another 1.3” of rain this week, and the forecast is calling for more wet weather, leading to some anxiety over the fate of our hay. Without a window to make dry second cut hay, we will probably be forced to wrap it into baleage, a method that preserves forage via fermentation rather than dehydration. Baleage is never our first choice but sometimes it’s our only choice. The weather is also accelerating the yearly creep of fungus and pathogens into plants like potatoes and winter squash. The potatoes are far enough along already to make a good crop, but the winter squash race against microbes to see if the fruit can mature before the plants succumb. Don’t worry, this is all according to plan. One of the beauties of a highly diversified agricultural system is that no matter what the weather brings, some things will thrive, and some other things will struggle, and we will continue to eat well.
There was an interesting article in the New York Times this week about a new study of the benefits of fermented foods like yogurt, kim chi, and sauerkraut. It’s definitely worth a read but if you can’t get through the NYT paywall, here’s the nut: “…scientists are discovering that fermented foods may have intriguing effects on our gut. Eating these foods may alter the makeup of the trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi that inhabit our intestinal tracts, collectively known as the gut microbiome. They may also lead to lower levels of body-wide inflammation, which scientists increasingly link to a range of diseases tied to aging.”
We are looking forward to two events in the next few weeks. I’m doing a chat, reading and book signing in the book room at The Mountaineer in Keene Valley on Sunday, August 29th, at 3pm. We will have copies of both The Dirty Life and Good Husbandry to sell and it would be great to see new and old friends there. Then, put September 10th at 7:30 pm on your calendar, because Jake Armerding and Taylor Armerding will be performing at the Whallonsburg Grange to benefit our food deliveries to the community fridge initiatives in the South Bronx. Musically, this is not something you will want to miss. More details are coming! And that’s just a small slice of the news from Essex Farm for this ripe 33rd week of 2021. Find us at 518-963-4613, firstname.lastname@example.org, on instagram at essexfarmcsa, farmerkimball, and kristinxkimball, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.
-Kristin & Mark Kimball