Spiced Okra Curry

Ingredients

  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g onions, sliced
  • 500g okra, trimmed, washed, dried and sliced into 2cm pieces
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped (or ½ tsp powdered)
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped, to serve

Methods

  1. Heat a large wok or frying pan over a medium heat. Add the oil, then the onions, cooking until soft. Stir in the okra. Add the tomatoes and chilli, then season. Mix well and keep stirring gently, taking care not to break up the okra. Okra releases a sticky substance when cooked, but keep cooking, stirring gently – this will disappear and the tomatoes will become pulpy, about 10 mins.
  2. Lower heat, add ground coriander and cook for another 5-10 mins. Add 2 tbsp water, cover and let simmer for another 4-5 mins. Sprinkle with coriander and serve with basmati rice or chapati bread.

Thanks to our friends at Good Food for this awesome recipe!

CSA Newsletter Week 11

Meditation on Abelmoschus esculentus

The first okra harvest is always the hardest. The plants are short and your back is bent and the row is long.  And it’s hot, of course.

This is the only time you wear gloves picking vegetables; the pair you found on the shelf are shriveled and hard, like dried banana peels. You rarely use clippers either and they feel like a blunt, slightly menacing instrument in your hand after holding a pen all morning.

Because organic okra seed is so expensive,  you entice young kids to shell the dried up pods each fall. They enjoy it and now you have bags and bags of purple BB-like seeds.  In the green magic of early spring you got a little carried away and planted six rows, each 250 feet long. Everyone survived infancy.

As you stare at this hardy regiment of floral soldiers waiting for your attention, you have to ask: What was I thinking?” The yellow hibiscus flowers that teased your eyes with their beauty have transformed into elusive “lady fingers” hiding under their big floppy leaves. Making matters worse, these adolescent plants seem to be leaning away as you loom over them, resisting as you pull their stems toward you. Their canopy is too big for their body, just like the hair on your 15-year-old’s head — unruly and thick — and you recall how he too pulls away when you reach out to touch it or threaten to take him to the barber.

In this earliest stage of fruiting, the okra is still trying to get it right. Their colors are off, too pale or mottled. So are their shape — oddly twisted or deformed. Some look like bullets instead of arrowheads, as if still experimenting, not sure who they are, and here again your son comes to mind.

Like with any first cutting, you’ve lost feeling for the mechanics and rhythm of flesh working with metal. Several long passes are needed before you start cutting confidently, without seeing,  like a puppeteer’s hands working in tandem under the table. After a nine-month hiatus, your guiding hand and your cutting hand are finally working together like dancers amid stems and weeds and bugs in your face.

If there is one good thing about adolescent okra it is this: it’s leave are only mildly irritating at this stage. The fierce itch that comes later as its toxins mature in ever darkening reds and greens is now just a reminder of the misery to come. These teens will soon grow independent and proud for having survived all manner of assaults and won’t let go of their possessions without a sore fight.

In truth, the farmer and the okra plant need each other. Yours is a silent give-and-take relationship that deepens as the summer grows hotter and you both grow tougher. Your cut-and-come-again tactic forces it to keep producing until eventually it grows beyond your reach or gives out just about the time you do too.

Either way, it’s going to be a long summer. You’ll get sick of each other by mid July and need a vacation. But today, you are still enjoying an almost parental pride of having coaxed and cultivated these young plants into productive citizens of the farm. Today the harvest is too small for so much effort but now summer has officially begun and these sun-loving, heat-seeking plants will stand by you and faithfully deliver.
-Farmer Skip

CSA Newsletter Week 10

Thanks to the warmest winter in Austin, we’ve had a solid 12 weeks of abundant harvests. The farm has the look and feel of the end of June rather than the beginning. Flowers have turned to seed. Grasses have started to turn brown and bend down with heavy heads. Everything is peaking and summer hasn’t even started.

And now come the bugs. The down side of a mild winter is now writ large over our beautiful plants. Back in February, when we had some highs in the 90s, harlequin bugs ravaged our greens. Now it’s the leaf-footed bugs and they are destroying our tomatoes and more.

Other farmers have commented on this year’s infestation being the worst in recent memory. In a matter of days, these flat-footed soldiers have marched down rows of trellised plants and speared each and every tomato — a slow death that is hard to watch and which explains why you will be having so many green tomatoes in the shares.

One of the few summer crops that seems impervious to both bug and disease is okra. You’ll start getting it in next week’s share, along with green beans and peppers.

We are having all kinds of company in the fields, including this rat snake that refused to leave the squash row and held its ground as I approached.

This weekend’s storms were all bark and little bite out here in Bastrop. Made for impressive clouds.

One of my favorite jobs at the city farm is taking students on an impromptu tour and testing them on their knowledge of flora and fauna. We stopped here on a grandfather post oak that serves as a resting place for goats — and kids.

-Farmer Skip

Awesome Carrot Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 cups shredded carrots

Directions

  1. Combine raisins and water in a small bowl. Let soak for 15 minutes. Drain raisins, discard water and set raisins aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, oil and brown sugar; beat well. Combine egg mixture and flour mixture; mix just until moistened. Fold in carrots and drained raisins. Spoon into prepared muffin cups.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes before frosting.

Recipe sourced from here!

Eggplant, Green Olive and Provolone Pizza

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pound eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 pound store-bought pizza dough at room temperature
  • 5 ounces sliced provolone, cut into short thin matchsticks (1 1/4 cups)
  • 18 pitted green olives, coarsely chopped (1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

PREPARATION

  1. Prepare a gas grill for direct-heat cooking over medium heat.
  2. Stir together garlic and oil. Brush some of garlic oil on both sides of eggplant and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Grill, covered, turning once, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes total. Cut into roughly 1-inch pieces.
  3. Stretch dough into about a 12- by 10-inch rectangle on a large baking sheet and lightly brush with garlic oil. Oil grill rack, then put dough, oiled side down, on grill. Brush top with more garlic oil. Grill, covered, until underside is golden-brown, 1 1/2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Using tongs, return crust, grilled side up, to baking sheet. Scatter eggplant, cheese, olives, and parsley over crust. Slide pizza from sheet onto grill and grill, covered, until underside is golden-brown and cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.

Recipe sourced from here!