Week #16, August 31 2017

Steve doffs his cap in the watermelon field.  The vines and leaves look normal but the melons are rotting.

Folks, this might be your final melon for the season.

A new disease is wreaking havoc in our large, third melon planting.  Nearly all the watermelons in that acre have been infected and are quickly collapsing.  We’re sorry that some of you did not get your usual quota of watermelons!  As I wrote last week, we have sent lots of muskmelons this year because they’ve been so good and we wanted to get them to you during the short muskmelon season.  We assumed that watermelons would remain abundant in September as usual.  The disease is related to all the rain.  Considering how wet it’s been, we really haven’t had many losses until now so we can’t complain.

This week’s melons came from an unaffected field but almost all those melons are now harvested.

We’re doing our research, talking with extension experts and figuring out how to keep the disease from spreading.  Steve ran samples to the disease diagnostic clinic in Madison immediately, to get the disease identified (Phytophthora Blight).  Over the years, we’ve learned to move quickly when problems arise.  We’ll pull and destroy isolated disease patches.  Amanda Gevens, the vegetable pathologist for Wisconsin, suggests looking into some of the available plant oils like rosemary, clove, and peppermint.  If nothing else the field will smell good.

Steve is really bummed.  Watermelons are his favorite crop, plus we know you’ve been waiting for watermelons.  Beth

Veggie List and Veggie Notes
(Aug 31/Sept 1, week #16, green EOW)

Beth’s notes:  Let’s call this “An Almost Salsa” box.  
You’ve got tomatoes, peppers, jalapeño chile and onion, everything you need, as long as you substitute parsley for the traditional cilantro.  You can even add corn kernels.  The cilantro will be ready in a few weeks.  We lost two seedings during the heavy rains in July but have re-planted.

You will receive most but not all of the items on this list:
Sweet corn, ~8 ears
Yellow watermelon
Slicing tomatoes, 3.25+ lb
Bell pepper, ~2
Fennel, 1 bulb with fronds
Cucumber, ~2
Zucchini/squash, 1 – 3
Grape tomatoes, 1 pint
Walla Walla onion
Flat parsley, 1 bunch
Jalapeno chile (HOT), 1

Next week’s box will probably contain potatoes, tomatoes, onion, peppers, lettuce and more.

Sweet corn – This is the final sweet corn planting.
Fennel (large vegetable with a fat bulb and lacy fronds) – Fennel is a ‘swing vegetable’; it can be used raw or cooked.  Clean well and slice as thinly as possible for use in raw salads.  It is good simply prepared with olive oil, lime or lemon juice, salt and shaved parmesan cheese.  Cooking softens and sweetens fennel, and mellows its anise flavor.  Both the bulb and leaves are edible.  Here are ideas from Alice Water of Chez Panisse about how to use fennel:  ‘It’s strong anise characteristic seems to suit fish particularly well.  … We use fennel all the time.  We add the feathery leaves to marinades for fish and to numerous salads, sauces and soups and we use them as a garnish, too. … The bulbs are sliced and served raw in salads in various combinations with other vegetables, parboiled for pastas; caramelized and served as a side dish; braised whole; or cooked in vegetable broths & fish stocks.”
Grape tomatoes – We’ve experimented with new varieties and think you are going to like these tasty grape tomatoes.
Jalapeno chile – These are HOT.  If you want to diminish the heat, remove and discard the seeds and midveins.  That’s where the heat concentrates.  Wear gloves if you are sensitive.
Garlic – This week’s garlic is from our friend John Hendrickson at Stone Circle Farm.


Visit our Recipe Log, a list of all our 2017 recipes to date.


Comforting Classics
Grilled Corn
Southwestern Black Bean, Tomato, and Vegetable Salad
Spanish Bruschetta with Tomatoes and Parsley
Grilled Flatbread with Fennel and Peppers

Outside the Box Recipes
Blistered Cherry Tomato and Corn Salad
Tomato Choka
Parsley and Barley Salad
Shaved Fennel Salad with Oranges and Olives

Quick and Easy Meal
Shrimp with Fennel and Tomatoes


Adapted barely from a genius recipe from Susige at Food52
Oh my, oh my this dish! This is hands down one of the most tasty things I’ve ever consumed (and I live a pretty decadent and delicious life).  I love really any combination of corn, peppers, onion and garlic but something about this risotto just sings on another level.  I think the corn cob broth is the real game changer.  Don’t skip this step if you can help it.  It adds a little time (but also can be left alone while you get things done around the house). Also don’t omit the quartered cherry tomatoes on top. It’s a simple thing but it adds the acidity and brightness that the rich creamy risotto needs.  Lauren.

Takes 90 minutes (1 hour active cooking time)
Serves 4-6

5-6 ears sweet corn
6 cups water
1 tablespoon Kosher salt, divided plus more for seasoning
5-6 garlic garlic, divided
1/4 cup butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 colored pepper, diced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup parmesan
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered

  1. Husk ears of corn. With a knife, remove kernels from corn and set aside in a small bowl (hopefully there is 1-2 cups). In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, combine water and corn cobs (sans kernels) and 2 teaspoons Kosher salt. Smash 3-4 garlic cloves with the blade of your knife and remove the skin. Toss into pot.
  2. Bring corn cob broth to a boil and then immediately reduce to a gentle simmer. Simmer slowly for an hour. Then keep warm on very low heat to add into the risotto.
  3. After the corn cob broth has been simmering for about 30 minutes, begin your risotto. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with olive oil in a large saute pan (with tall sides) over medium heat. Add onion, black pepper and remaining teaspoon Kosher salt. Cook until the onion is very fragrant and just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
  4. Mince remaining two garlic cloves and add to the onion along with your diced pepper. Cook over very low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Turn heat up to medium low. Add rice and cook for 2-3 minutes until it has absorbed any fat from the pan. It should look slightly puffed.
  6. Add the wine to deglaze the pan (aka get any browned onions off the bottom of the pan and into the risotto with all their yummy caramelization). Cook, stirring occasionally until the rice has absorbed all the wine.
  7. By now your broth should be nicely reduced to 4 cups of liquid. Remove the corn cobs with tongs. If you feel ambitious, run the back of a knife against the corn cob to get every yummy morsel of corn off the cob and into the broth. Toss the garlic gloves into the pan with the rice.
  8. Add three ladles of broth to the rice and stir. Let simmer gently, stirring occasionally until broth is absorbed by rice. Then add a couple more ladles of broth. Continue this process of adding broth, stirring occasionally and letting the rice absorb the broth until you’ve used all the broth and the rice is tender but not mushy. It should take about 20 minutes. (If you use up the broth before the rice is cooked enough to your likely just add a little more warm water).
  9. Remove pan from heat. Add reserved kernels, remaining three tablespoons butter and Parmesan cheese. Stir to combine then cover and let sit for five minutes.
  10. Serve warm with quartered cherry tomatoes and a sprinkle of salt.

Tomato pie was the thing that got me on board with tomatoes five years ago. I always thought tomatoes were to be enjoyed on sandwiches alone and never as the main event. This made me realize what I’d been missing out on. This recipe is wildly adaptable. You can toss any herbs or cheeses that you feel like into the topping. You could add other veggies beside onions and fennel to the bulk of the pie (think sweet corn, zucchini, peppers). You could even spruce up the crust if making from scratch with some cornmeal or other embellishments. The main event is simple: tomatoes, pie crust and a mayo + cheese topping. The rest is totally up to you.  Lauren.

Takes 1 hour with store-bought crust or 2 hours if you make the crust yourself
Serves 4-6 very happy people

1 favorite pie crust (my favorite pie crust recipe is over here at Smitten Kitchen or feel free to use store-bought crust)
3 pounds tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1 fennel bulb, cored and very thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried sage

  1. If making pie crust, start by first making that and then get it chilling in the freezer for at least 20 minutes before beginning. If using store-bought crust, jump straight to step 5.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  3. Roll out pie dough on a well-floured surface into a 12-inch round. Move into a 9-inch pie pan and press the dough onto the edges of the pan so it stays put. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes to chill.
  4. Remove from freezer. Line with foil and pie weights, rice or dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and pie weights and bake 5 minutes longer. Reduce oven to 350 degrees once finished baking.
  5. While the pie crust bakes (or if using store bought crust just begin here), line a baking sheet with two layers of paper towels. Lay out tomatoes on sheet and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt. Let sit until crust is done.
  6. In a large saute pan, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, fennel, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Saute for 5-10 minutes until soft and fragrant.
  7. Blot tomatoes with paper towel to remove excess moisture. Place in pre-baked crust or purchased crust in even layers. Top with sauteed onions and fennel.
  8. In a medium bowl, combine mayo, cheeses, parsley and dried herbs. Stir into well-combined. Place all over tomato pie and even out with a spoon until smooth.
  9. Bake pie 30 minutes or until top is golden brown. Let sit at least 10 minutes before serving or you will have a sloppy messy on your hand. Tomato pie is best served warm.
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