CSA Week 12: For the Week of August 25th

Volume 11, Issue 16

This Week’s Selection:

Onions! Melons, basil (thai, lemon, tulse, sweet), parsley, a selection of other herbs, kale, chard, summer squashes, cucumbers, eggplants, sweet peppers, carrots, tomatoes, pick your own: flowers, cherry tomatoes, and extra basil (pesto time!)

From the Farmers

Dear Friends, dear Family, dear Friends who have become our Family,

In my contemplations—my What To Write In The Newsletter Contemplations—throughout this week, I keep turning back to the weather, the atmospheric conditions, the air temperature by day, by night, and especially by those in-between hours, when the coolness begins to leave with the sun, or settle in with the fading of light, and an extra layer is required, or a wool hat, and still each day this is a surprise—the cold, the tactile, robust cold air, bringing the specificity of sensation to our spoiled sun-warmed skin.

And so, let us celebrate this weather, this perfect time of year between summer and autumn, when we are savoring the melons, yet the winter squash are ripening in the field.  When we are bringing in the hay, curing the onions, selecting the garlic bulbs which are hearty enough for next year's seed, and standing-sitting-working in awe of the season's passing before us--how quickly it moves, how fast we grow.

I was told that my poetry is a bit dark for a farm; my sincere apologies to each of you for creating a dark space in this world, this farm, this community, of light.  I have opted for its removal: a bit safer for all of us, keeping the haven of Great Song basking in the glory of the season, and letting the sun's rays outshine any inner tremors.

In lightness and awakening,

Lisa and Anthony

Where Does the Dance Begin, Where Does It End?

(Mary Oliver)

Don't call this world adorable, or useful, that's not it.
It's frisky, and a theater for more than fair winds.
The eyelash of lightning is neither good nor evil.
The struck tree burns like a pillar of gold.

But the blue rain sinks, straight to the white
feet of the trees
whose mouths open.
Doesn't the wind, turning in circles, invent the dance?
Haven't the flowers moved, slowly, across Asia, then Europe,
until at last, now, they shine
in your own yard?

Don't call this world an explanation, or even an education.

When the Sufi poet whirled, was he looking
outward, to the mountains so solidly there
in a white-capped ring, or was he looking

to the center of everything: the seed, the egg, the idea
that was also there,
beautiful as a thumb
curved and touching the finger, tenderly,
little love-ring,

as he whirled,
oh jug of breath,
in the garden of dust?

I know it isn’t quite soup weather yet, but we’re getting there, and we just spent the day harvesting the 2 billion pounds of onions we grew this year, so here is a little something for a cozy pre-fall night when nothing short of complete decadence will do.

Onion Soup [Soupe à l’Oignon]

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, which was adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

1 1/2 pounds (or about 5 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams) sea salt, plus additional to taste
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) granulated sugar (helps the onions to brown), or honey
3 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
2 quarts (8 cups) stock—beef, chicken, porcini or mushroom stock—something robust!
1/2 cup (118 ml) dry white wine or dry white vermouth
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons (45 ml) cognac or brandy (optional)

To finish [Gratinée] (Optional)

1 tablespoon minced parsley
1 to 2 cups (to taste) grated Swiss (Gruyere) or a mixture of Swiss and Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter, melted
12 to 16 1-inch thick rounds hearty bread—I like a good, slightly stale, whole wheat or rye sourdough, toasted until hard

Melt the butter and oil together in the bottom of a saucepan or Dutch oven over moderately low heat. Add the onions, toss to coat them in oil and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to real low and let them slowly steep for 15 minutes. They don’t need your attention; you can even go write a poem or weed the flower garden.

After 15 minutes, uncover the pot, raise the heat slightly and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook onions, stirring frequently, for 30 to 40 minutes until they have turned an even, deep golden brown. Don’t skimp on this step, as it will build the complex and intense flavor base that will carry the rest of the soup. Plus, from here on out, it will be a cinch.

After the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle them with flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the wine in full, then stock, a little at a time, stirring between additions. Season to taste with salt n’ peppa. Bring to a simmer and simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 more minutes, if you have the time. Correct seasonings if needed but go easy on the salt as the cheese will add a bit more saltiness and I often accidentally overdo it. Stir in the cognac, if using. Smitten Kitchen thinks you should.

Set aside until needed. I find that homemade onion soup is so deeply fragrant and flavor-rich that it can stand alone, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the graitinéed top once in a while. Here’s how to pull it off:

Preheat oven to 325. Arrange six ovenproof soup bowls or crocks on a large, foil-lined baking sheet. Bring the soup back to a boil and divide among six bowls. To each bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon grated raw onion and a tablespoon of grated cheese. Stir to combine. Dab your croutons with a tiny bit of butter and float a few on top of your soup bowls, attempting to cover it. Mound grated cheese on top of it; how much you use will be up to you. [Julia Child, in another era, felt that 1/2 cup of grated cheese could be divided among 6 bowls. I can assure you that if you'd like your gooey bubbling cheese lid to be anything like what you get at your local French restaurant, you are looking to use more, such as a generous 1/4 cup.]

Bake soups on tray for 20 minutes, then preheat broiler. Finish for a minute or two under the broiler to brown the top lightly. Grab pot holders, and serve immediately.

A little something else…

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have a faith that can move mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,
but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Corinthians 13:1-7