In the CSA share this week:
- sweet corn
- green peppers
- zucchini and summer squash
- hothouse tomato
- green beans (for those who didn’t get it last week)
Happiness in a Husk
One of the main reasons we first became interested in growing our own food was the (hopefully positive) effect it would have on our children’s eating habits. I was a very picky eater as a kid and wouldn’t touch anything resembling a vegetable. I don’t blame my parents for not forcing me to eat broccoli and spinach — I’m sure I would have thrown a fit. And in my experience, forcing a kid to eat “healthy” foods — the “taking your medicine” approach — doesn’t achieve the greater goal, which is to create young eaters who actually crave foods that are nutritious.
Some kids are born picky, myself a prime example. Mandy and I were lucky to get naturally adventurous eaters, but I do think there are substantial benefits to exposing kids to where their food comes from, and even giving them a hand in its growth and harvest. I don’t think my kids would gobble down peas with such fury if they hadn’t picked them themselves. And I don’t know if they’d even try something as exotic as Brussels sprouts if they hadn’t planted the seeds in the greenhouse, helped transplant the seedlings, and watched over months as the miniature cabbage heads slowly emerged along its stem.
Sweet corn is an entirely different story. Show me a child that doesn’t love a hot-buttered ear of summertime corn. The advantage of growing your own corn is that you can stand in the field and eat the freshly picked ears raw. That’s how sweet and tender just-picked corn can be.
Over the next couple of weeks, you’ll be getting lots of wonderful corn in your CSA shares. This wasn’t always a given. The torrential June rains set back Beth’s first planting of corn, yellowing leaves with an overabundance of water-soluble nitrogen. And just when the first ears started to ripen last week, an opportunistic raccoon squeezed under her electrified fence to steal away some prime specimens. On my end, the cows nibbled down half of my crop in June, but most of it has made a full comeback. I expect to harvest ears from the un-chomped plants next week. This is some hard-won corn!
It’s hard to beat the simple pleasure of quick-boiled corn on the cob with a dab of butter and salt. For these fresh-picked ears, I recommend no more than 5 minutes of active boiling, just enough to soften the kernels a bit, but not to sap all of the crisp flavor.
But if you’re looking for other ways to use the sweet corn, consider these recipes:
- Grilled Corn – OK, this is still technically corn on the cob, but the flavor is smoky and complex. Try it Mexican-style for a real treat
- Charred corn salad with basil and tomato – Another way to use that grilled corn
- Corn and zucchini salad with feta – Takes full advantage of the CSA share
- Corn griddle cakes – This recipe includes orange-honey butter. Yum…
- Corn-studded corn muffins – A honey-mascarpone glaze on these babies
Whole Grilled Eggplant
We are big fans of Mediterranean food. My daughter brings a hummus and feta sandwich to school each day for lunch. (When she added pickled radishes to the mix in the spring, the smell was quite “interesting” to her tablemates.) My sister gifted us the Jerusalem cookbook a couple of years ago and we’ve been working our way through the incredible recipes. One of our favorites is a smoky eggplant dip (a version of baba ganouj) made from whole grilled eggplants.
Basically, you prick a few holes in two eggplants and set them on a hot gas or charcoal grill, rotating them so that each side gets completely blackened. This takes about 15 minutes total. After you let the charred eggplants cool, you slice them open to reveal creamy soft and smokey flesh that’s easily scooped out with a spoon. Then it’s into the food processor or blender to mix with tahini, garlic, lemon juice and herbs. Here’s a good recipe from the NY Times.
Your Dinner Pics
Keep sending me shots of your CSA creations. Feel free to text pics directly to 412-496-2805.