That quiet moment that is located in between two seasons has this week been found on the Ecosystem Farm: some of our favorite high-summer crops have begun to come in, just as our fall crops are being put into the ground, causing us to look toward both a season that is passing and one that will soon arrive.
Cantaloupes, for instance, have begun to ripen. Also called muskmelons, there are not yet enough of these sweet-smelling fruits for all of our SHAREholders to have one each week. As such, we ask that when you come to pick up your SHARE, look for a melon that is labeled with your last name. Please do not take a melon that is not meant for you.
Figs, too, have arrived. In a moment of magic, the farm staff noticed last week the first ripe figs of the season. The green-to-golden-brown fruit, which grow in clusters on rather beautiful trees, are delicious when eaten raw, but can enhance both sweet and savory dishes when cooked. The ripe fruit, with pink, seed-filled flesh, does not keep or travel well; as such, some prefer to dry their figs or to turn the fruit into jam or chutney. Below, we’ve included a recipe for butter-braised figs with shredded cheese and toasted almonds; click here for even more culinary ideas.
But even as we enjoy these late summer fruits, we must look toward the fall: greens will soon be started, carrots have begun to come up, and our Brassicas are now in the ground, growing steadily underneath floating row covers. It is our hope that these long sheets will protect our broccoli, cabbage, and brussels sprouts from the feet—and bills—of increasingly present flocks of Canada geese—another sign of summer’s approaching end.
Below, photos from this week on the Ecosystem Farm. Click images to enlarge, or view them on Flickr.
This Week’s Recipe: Butter-Braised Figs with Parmigiano-Reggiano and Toasted Almonds
Recipe from Jennifer Jeffrey
1 pint ripe figs
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted almonds, crushed
- Rinse figs and gently pat dry. With a paring knife, slice off the pointed tops and make a cross-shaped cut about 3/4-inch deep into each fig. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and saute the figs for 2 to 3 minutes, or until their bottoms begin to spread.
- Remove figs to a plate. The cuts made in the top will now have spread to reveal the insides; slip a little of the grated cheese into each.
- Add the balsamic vinegar to the remaining butter in the saucepan, and reduce to a thick, viscous syrup. Drizzle the syrup over the figs; sprinkle with crushed almonds.
Behind the Scenes Barnyard Visit and Presentation on Heritage Breeds of Livestock: Tuesday, August 16, 2011, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. and 6:30 to 8:00 p.m., Barnyard and Education Center: Meet the Accokeek Foundation’s heritage breeds of livestock during this special behind-the-scenes opportunity in our barnyard. Join Foundation staff as they feed the animals and provide opportunities for you to interact with cattle, sheep, hogs, and poultry. Afterward, follow Accokeek Foundation Manager of Livestock and Pastures Polly Festa to the Education Center, for a free presentation on heritage breeds of livestock. This presentation will discuss the heritage breed movement and the important role the Foundation has played in preserving these unique breeds.
Sprouts: Thursday, August 18, 2011, 11:00 a.m. to Noon, Education Center: It’s never too early to get out and garden! Sprouts is a garden-themed educational program geared toward preschoolers. This one-hour, once-a-month program will spotlight fruit, vegetables, and other parts of a backyard garden, and will feature fun activities for parents and children to do together, from singing songs and reading stories to making crafts and playing games. We will spend time outside when weather permits. This month’s theme is fireflies.
Monthly Foodways: Melon-choly Days: Saturday, August 20, 2011, Noon to 1:00 p.m., National Colonial Farm: Join us for a kitchen table conversation as we introduce you to the epicurean delights of colonial Marylanders. Learn how our tastes and the food itself have changed over 300 years as we explore the “receipts” (recipes) and meal preparation for everything from peas and pottage to food traditions for which Maryland is known. This month’s menu will include The Anne Arundel Melon, pickling melons, and melon mangoes.