A basket and a bowl.
Every year at my grandmother's house in Teague, Texas, we ate freshly shelled peas- white acre, purple hull and crowder. Some were delivered by Miss Minnie who loved to forage for peas in the many gardens in town, and some we shelled on my grandmother's porch.
Cowpeas, first cultivated in Africa, are one of the oldest farmed crops and are still a staple food in parts of Africa where the immature pods, leaves and seeds are a rich nutritional source of protein, folate, fiber and resistant starch. These legumes thrive in sandy soil and fixate atmospheric nitrogen which is converted to ammonium nitrite and nitrate by bacteria and fungi in the root nodules and soil.
Baskets filled to the rim with freshly picked White Acre, Crowder or Purple Hull peas are a personal food memory of summers spent in Teague. Adults and children would sit down, shell peas and the children, would listen only, to adult conversations; this was a time when children were meant to be seen and not heard, especially when it came to "grown folks business'.Once we finished the peas were either saved for Sunday dinner or frozen for a later date.
And on Sunday, there would be a big bowl of peas cooked with a ham hock and a few pods of okra ,perfectly seasoned, along with cornbread, green beans and new potatoes, baked chicken or quail, mixed greens( depending on the season) and for dessert , a pound cake or blackberry cobbler.
Before the invention of protein powders, whole foods supplied all the protein and in most cases, nutrients needed for children and adults. Commonly used to enhance weight loss or build lean muscle mass, protein powders manufactured from dairy or plant sources( soy, pea, rice) remain a unregulated nutritional supplement best used under the guidance of a registered dietitian. Unless you are a professional athlete, or require a medically prescribed diet, protein powders are an unnecessary expense and source of calories for most children and adults.
Shelling peas is a tradition throughout the South especially ,and an opportunity to connect to ancestors that lived on the very land where they grew and harvested their own food. Now, it is an opportunity to slow down, connect and teach the adults/children in your pod about the different varieties and cooking methods for peas and green beans and share your own food memories.
The White Acre pea has a creamier taste than the commonly known Black-Eyed Pea, the pod is purple when dried and the pea has a slight purple eye. Along with our sweet onions and a few pods of red okra, our CSA members will enjoy a quick and simple dish that delivers on flavor and nutrients. And if you've never heard of Texas Caviar, prepare to taste a dip , side dish , or summer salad over a bed of hibiscus leaves, that brings summer on the farm to your table. Load it up with jalapeño or Serrano peppers or your favorite hot sauce for a nutritious snack that is filling and fresh. And for crab lovers, top it off with some lump crabmeat from Maryland blue crabs.
Storage onions, Haricot Vert (French green beans), Italian romano beans, malabar spinach, carrots,sweet potato leaves, yellow squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, green bell peppers, jalapeño peppers, Serrano peppers, rosemary, mint, hibiscus leaves, and small sugar pumpkin
sweet corn, red okra, Nancy watermelon, white acre peas, butternut squash, spaghetti squash
This came early and in a patch of yellow summer squash-surprise! Sweet and not just limited to holidays, sugar pumpkins are a early ripening, winter squash with a flavor described as smooth, rich, sweet and nutty. Roast and season with cinnamon and sugar or savory herbs like rosemary and thyme. The rich flavor adds fiber and rich flavor to soups, chilli and as a pie filling. And don't forget the seeds, boil then oven roast for a nutty snack rich in Omega fatty acids and magnesium.
The heat and humidity continues which means that the early leafy greens are resting comfortably in the compost pile. Swiss chard and bok choy thrive in cooler weather but both the record temperatures this summer and the relentless humidity have taken its toll on humans and plants.
Luckily, the malabar spinach, and sweet potato leaves , so far, are stand up plants that thrive in this weather. Hopefully you have been able to enjoy all of these in stir fries, soups and maybe an evening meal of deep dish lasagna.
For the past 3 weeks, we have cured the white and red onions in the barn so that you can use them now or later. We planted the onions in the spring and by July, they were ready to harvest. Keep in a cool , dark and dry location so the curing will continue.
Recently, the USDA has issued a massive recall of onions due to Salmonella contamination on Thompson Farm in Bakersfield, California.
This does not affect our onions which you have enjoyed as spring onions earlier in the season.
Italian Romano Beans
Flat, green and tender, I was introduced to Romano beans by Ms. Betty, an ER clerk at PGHC and an avid gardener. She shared her dinner which included Italian Romano beans which were well seasoned, tender and cooked slowly with tomatoes.and olive oil. I am quite familiar with green beans, but this variety was new to me and one that I decided early on to grow along with tomatoes and onions. Stewed, grilled , in creole sauce or steamed, Romano Beans are flat ,meaty and add Vit C, Vit K, silicon ( bones, hair, cartilage) and fiber to your diet.
More cucumbers? Yes, the Suyo Long cucumbers are still growing like gangbusters! My 19 year old son loves cucumbers with the house vinaigrette, but after a recent visit to my favorite restaurant, I quickly realized that I can also use them in a pickle relish for hot dogs, slaw dogs, subs, or coleslaw. Add the large squash pieces, and the cucumber and squash are solid ingredients for a southern favorite, chow chow.
Roselle, Red Roselle, Hibiscus sabdariffa, Flor de Jamaica, Jamaica Sorrel, this plant has many names and as a native of W. Africa, the leaves and the flower are integral to a variety of recipes. The flower is well known as the basis for Agua Fresca, ,Agua de Jamaica or Zobo. The brilliant red color is the basis for the traditional drink for Juneteenth or a Black family reunion celebrations-red soda water. The leaves are also edible with a slight lemony flavor in new growth and a tart and tangy in the older leaves. This week we have some young leaves that can be used raw in a salad along with the spearmint,cucumbers and tomatoes for a simple summer salad.
Our goal is to grow and show our members how easy it is to eat at least 5 servings of organically grown vegetables/fruit per day and help you create your own family recipes that will become family favorites. 5 A DAY to help keep Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia and obesity away.
"Do you have any sweet potato greens?"
A phrase I had never heard until one day at the Mount Rainier Farmers Market. At that time, the farmers did not have any sweet potato greens and even though we are in the DC area, none of the farmers had ever heard of the benefits , history or culinary use of sweet potato greens .
During the summer, sweet potato greens thrive as the fall root vegetable continues to grow underground. The tender leaves add a tender and delicate flavor without the bitterness common with spinach, kale or any other mustard greens. The greens cook quickly with any dish you can imagine and are great for a quick stir fry .
Along with carrots, andouille sausage and red onions, this is an easy 30 minute meal that brings color, spices, Vitamin A, fiber, quercetin, and protein. Smoked fish or turkey can add another layer of flavor. After all, recipes are just waiting for you to add your own creative flare.
.Rubus fruticosus , a member of the rose family and also known as a blackberry.
The blacker the berry the sweeter the juice AND the duller the berry the sweeter the flavor.Actually, the blacker the drupe the sweeter the drupe. Each berry is a drupe, an aggregate fruit composed of multiple drupelets with an endocarp, like with a peach, cherry or coconut, and then a seed. Just look at a dried blackberry and you will find a tiny hardened endocarp with a seed inside.
Bright and shiny is great for metals but for fruits, especially berries, a duller tint may offer a milder and sweeter flavor.
Despite their nutritional punch, blackberries don't receive the spotlight that they deserve. Native to Asia , Europe, North and South America, blackberries have been part of the culinary and medicinal history of many cultures. The roots and leaves have been used for their astringent properties and as a tonic. Naturally high in pectin, blackberries are a great fruit for making jelly , preserves or jams.
Growing patterns vary -trailing, erect, semi erect- with thorns and thornless,, and in the US grow well in USDA plant hardiness zones 4-9 where the summers are hot. For me, one my earliest food memories is eating a homemade blackberry cobbler made from wild blackberries. Blackberry cobbler is still one of my favorite desserts with its mix of sweet , tart flavors a crunchy crust and homemade ice cream on the side.
In addition to the brilliant color, and taste, blackberries are a great source of Vitamins C and K, soluble and insoluble fiber and the antioxidants ,anthocyanin, which gives them a rich and vibrant color , lutein, zeaxanthin and betacarotene .
Someone in my home loves cucumbers. Once they are washed, the spines brushed away, sliced and splashed with the special house dressing, we can forget about leftovers.
Until now. Welcome Suyo Long cucumbers to the dinner table. A long cucumber that helps fill up a teenage boys stomach for at least a couple of hours. It really is a wonderful vegetable for a snack.
Even though cucumbers are a summer crop in this area, the heat brings out the bitterness in the flavor due to the presence of cucurbitacin- a triterpene compound that gives cucumbers its distinctive flavor and protects it from herbivores. Too much cucurbutacin causes a bitter taste and resulting nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps . After tasting an English, Persian and lemon cucumber, I found an heirloom variety with a unique shape, length , crispy texture and thin skin.
Suyo Long is a parthenocarpic (small seeds) cucumber variety, native to China that thrives in the heat can produce cucumbers as long as 16 inches. The shape varies - straight vs S shaped-depending on the use of a trellis.
Cucumbers are frequently used to flavor water with lime and other flavors but you miss out of some important nutrients.
Vitamin K, beta carotene, lignans. Fisetin, a flavonoid, is one antioxidant found in cucumbers currently studied for its anti-aging, anti inflammatory, chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic properties- in a lab setting. It's a vegetable not a magic pill. As part of a well balanced diet filled with a rainbow of fruit and vegetables, cucumbers definitely deserve a place at the table and in so many cuisines are key ingredients..
Eat The Peel. Suyo Long has a thinner skin than the traditional cucumber found in supermarkets but still contains a substantial amount of insoluble fiber that adds bulk to your intestinal tract which benefit your gut microbiome. As with most vegetables and fruit high in fiber, cucumbers may play a role in the prevention and management of Type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease. Even the seeds contain flavonoids(plant pigments) , carotenoids, calcium, manganese, iron and zinc.
Wash thoroughly. Eat within 24- 48 hours of harvesting to preserve crispness or cut into 6 in pieces and refrigerate in water.
, a tri
On the farm
Growing Healthy Families