Corn Harvest (CSA Week 8)

Things really get crazy for us this time of year. This is the time when I either get reinvigorated by all the great produce which is coming in or I “hit the wall.” I don’t know which way I’m going to go this year, but I appreciate all the things which are finally coming in. This is the first week of tomatoes-albeit only cherry tomatoes and small yellows-as well as good-sized carrots, peppers, and sweet corn. Man, that’s exciting…sweet corn. I’ve only had people asking about sweet corn at the farmers market for about 6 weeks (people get impatient and I run out of excuses), so now it’s finally here.

I have a real love-hate relationship with picking sweet corn. What I love about it is that it’s the first thing I do when I go out to get ready for the CSA or market. This is that time of the morning when I’m all by myself and it’s really peaceful out. Still, I like the action of grasping, pulling, and twisting off cobs in one motion…something really feels good about it. Unlike other crops, corn is really satisfying because you go from an empty crate to a full one in about 15 minutes instead of something like beans where you feel like you’re filling up a mason jar one grain of sand at a time. This is why I have Maree pick all those things 🙂 Like the yellow beans in the box this week and last week…as you see from the picture Mar is trying her hand at pickling them this week. My patience is only so good.
On the other hand, picking corn first thing in the morning can be a cold, wet ordeal. If any of you had to do this, you know what I’m talking about. First thing in the morning, the dew is really heavy, and, instead of sitting in the comfort of home, drinking a cup of coffee and reading the paper, you’re outside wresting 6-foot tall corn plants, getting your clothes soaked through, and getting these little cuts on your arms from the leaves.
All told, I like it more than dislike it. Even when I’m not in the mood, I still like to step back and admire the harvest in the packing shed over some coffee. It just feels good.
In the box:
Sweet corn: There is a mix of two early varieties. The bi-color (white and yellow) is called Native Gem and the all-yellow is called Spring Treat (far from spring, but Mid-August treat just doesn’t sound as good).
Yellow Wax Beans
Flat Italian Beans
Kohlrabi
Red Onion
Carrots: A variety called Little Finger…a fresh eating variety which should not be too big.
A couple cucumbers
Tomato sampler: Some cherries (one variety called sungold is supposed to be orange), a grape if you’re lucky, a couple yellow Taxi, and a few Julia roma tomatoes. Not many, but a start
Some peas: a mix of snow and snap peas, so the pods of each are edible…so don’t try to shell.

Gourmet | August 2009

by Maggie Ruggiero

Sure, go ahead and cook your favorite sausages, but be sure to use every iota of their flavor: Reheat the skillet and work some pork-based magic on a seasonal array of onion, fennel, tomatoes, and corn.

Yield: Makes 4 servings
Active Time: 20 min
Total Time: 35 min

ingredients

4 (5-to 6-ounces) fresh pork sausages
1/3 cup water
3/4 cup chopped sweet onion
1 medium fennel bulb, chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes (5 oz)
2 ears corn, kernels cut from cob
1/4 cup coarsely chopped dill

preparation

Prick sausages a few times. Simmer with water in a 12-inch heavy skillet, covered, over medium heat 7 minutes. Uncover and cook, turning occasionally, until water has evaporated and sausages are well browned and cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes more. (You may need to add 1 tablespoon oil to skillet, depending on sausages.) Transfer sausages to a plate and pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet if necessary.

Cook onion, fennel, and tomatoes with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in skillet over medium heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until onion and fennel are crisp-tender and tomatoes are soft and beginning to burst, about 7 minutes. Add corn and dill and sauté 2 minutes.

Slice sausages and serve with vegetables.

I figured this would be good if you’re still holding onto some fennel from last week.

Racoon War ’08

I was going to write about the ins and outs of organic certification for you’all, but I’ve got coons on my mind right now and I can’t shake them.

A neighbor of mine says that coons are never a problem until the corn gets just right, then they will show up two days before you want to pick it. Well, I’d have to say that his thinking is right. They completely decimated the planting that I was going to pick on Friday…two days before, right on time! Yesterday I noticed that some plants were stripped of their cobs here and there, which was surprising because I’d never had any problems with coons before. I knew that once they had my number that they weren’t going to go away—kind of like zombies in an old horror movie…they just won’t stop. The major outcome
is that the good looking bi-color sweet corn which SHOULD have been in the box today didn’t make it.

With the next planting of corn ripening in another week, I’m guessing what I’ve now dubbed “Coon War ’08” does not end there. My mind is consumed with plotting the next round with these critters. I’ve already told my wife that the dog and I will be sleeping in the machine shed to shoo the racoons away—typically a dog will chase anything most garden-attacking critters, but ours is used to sleeping inside each night. I’m sure if we left him out on his own, he’d just sleep on the deck by the house, so he need a little encouragement. Also, following another neighbor’s technique, I’m looking to set up a polywire fence. Polywire is a tape that carries an electric charge. The trick is to set a single strand just a few inches off the ground. Since raccoons walk with the head down and low, the single strand keeps them out. I like this approach since it is in the organic production mold…pest prevention instead of pest eradication, which needs some form of poison. I’ll stand guard over the next week, and, if all goes well, deliver a slug of corn in your box next Friday—let’s keep our fingers crossed.