Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Week 12: First tomatoes of the season!

This week's box:  1 med or 2 small fennel bulb, 2 fresh garlic bulbs and a little bag of basil or cilantro – all from 8th Street.  The beet bunch, slicing tomato and walla walla onion is all from Yonder Farm.  The PF Flyer peaches, an early variety and the first of J.C.'s peach crop, are all from Filaree Fruit.  Normally the Okanogan is well into peach harvest by now, but judging by how packed Omak Lake was yesterday, we just finally got a heat wave. Although, now it's thunder and pouring out. . .!  Fruit Option:  a pint (2 shells) of blueberries from Bunny Laine – those big, fat sweet berries have been so refreshing. After being in the sun for several hours, I sit for paperwork and shove handfuls into my mouth, then get full fruit belly, don't need any other food for a while, and praise the beauty of blueberries!  A pint of strawberries from 8th Street, and 2 lbs. of peaches from Filaree Fruit.

Chris Deveraux polishes a perfect slicing tomato at Yonder Farm.

A new (old style) wheel hoe rests outside one of four greenhouses full of ripening tomatoes at Yonder Farm. 

A moment we've been waiting for. . .   fennel bulb! ! !  Hah!  It's actually been a nice fennel bulb season, with less heat and more time to absorb water.  Fennel is usually a fall crop, like Chinese Cabbage, but we grow them in the spring around here.  By this time of year, it's typically been harvested because of bolting.  It still hasn't grown like I see in the stores, but it sure tastes good.  My kids love its sweet, refreshing, licorice flavor!

Fennel bulbs!

Carrot, Fennel, and Orange Soup

Gourmet  April 1996    
 yield: Makes about 8 cups

1 med.  fennel bulb, stalks trimmed flush with bulb, bulb sliced thin crosswise
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 pounds carrots, sliced thin (about 4 cups)
1 garlic clove, sliced thin
6 cups water
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup sour cream
Garnish: 1 tablespoon fresh chervil leaves or fennel fronds

In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook fennel bulb in butter over moderate heat, stirring, until softened and beginning to turn golden. Add carrots and garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add water and salt and simmer, covered, 20 minutes, or until carrots are very tender.

In a blender purée mixture in batches with orange juice, sour cream, and salt and pepper to taste until smooth, transferring to another heavy saucepan. Heat soup, stirring, just until heated through (do not let boil).

Serve soup garnished with chervil leaves or fennel fronds.

(Scroll down for Chicken and Fennel Salad Sandwich)

Chris Deveraux cheerfully cleans Walla Walla onions on Yonder Farm.

Fresh Walla Walla onions from Yonder Farm.

We're finally getting caught up with the weeds here at 8th Street Greens.  Thanks to all the weeding crew for their stamina and willingness to get it done!  I liked the little boombox blasting classics out in the field.  A fun change contrasting the modern-era of ipods.  I quit farming for 3 years, and upon re-entering the farm-worker world, discovered that ipods had become the norm!  There's a new view when observing helper friends out in the paths between crop beds:  wires hanging out their ears, ipod on hip or in pocket, and little conversation.  It took some adjustment for me, I confess, and I must talk louder when orchestrating, and then next time, they have just one wire hanging out one ear. 

It's a brave new world but we still got fennel bulb!  And worker-friends we appreciate!  

Thanks everybody!   ~~shannon

Tomato vines climb towards the trellised sky in a Yonder Farm greenhouse. 

Chicken and Fennel Salad Sandwiches
Gourmet  June 2006          
by Maggie Ruggiero
yield: Makes 12 servings          active time: 45 min           total time: 2 3/4 hr

Ingredients:  For the chickens:
3 whole chickens
4 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened

For the dressing and sandwiches:
1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds, toasted and cooled, then lightly crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chopped fresh basil
3cups chopped fennel bulb (sometimes called anise; from 2 to 3 medium bulbs, stalks discarded)
12 rolls or buns

Preparation:  Roast chickens:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.

Rinse chickens inside and out and pat dry. Stir together salt and pepper, then sprinkle over chickens inside and out. Put 1 tablespoon softened butter evenly under skin of each breast, then rub remaining tablespoon butter over skin of each. Arrange chickens in a 17- by 12-inch shallow heavy baking pan and roast, switching position of chickens and rotating pan halfway through roasting to help cook evenly, until thermometer inserted into fleshy part of each thigh (do not touch bone) registers 170°F, about 1 hour. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

Discard skin and bones from chickens, then coarsely shred meat and transfer to a large bowl.

Make dressing and assemble sandwiches:
Stir together mayonnaise, yogurt, zest, lemon juice, fennel seeds, salt, pepper, and basil, then pour over chicken in bowl. Add chopped fennel and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve chicken salad in rolls or your favorite bread.

Cooks' note:
Chicken salad, without basil, can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Stir in basil before serving.

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