csa week 14

Late August, the days are starting to feels shorter, school has started up again, the apples are sweet and you can smell the ripening leaves in the air: time for the grand finale on the region’s historic cash crop: tobacco. Nicotiana tabacum has a long and significant history here in Kentucky. The hills and hollows of our region offer the perfect climate for Burley tobacco and it has long been the cash for the sustainable homesteads. For generations, folks around these parts raised and put up all of their own food living off what the land offered them. A large vegetable garden, a milk cow, a hog for meat and lard, chickens for both meat and eggs. The tobacco was their dollars. Each leaf was valued and would be used for all they could not raise themselves. The longer I have lived here the more I treasure these tales of an era passed and the more I respect the tobacco plant and its role in Kentucky’s agricultural history. The narcotic does have a legitimate bad rap and I am a staunch non smoker myself, but as a Kentucky farmer, I do find myself mesmerized by tobacco as a plant, as a crop and as an integral part of a package that sustained generations before me. Tobacco remains one of the few crops in farming that must be harvested by hand. It is a well orchestrated process that requires many. First there is the person cutting: using a tool called a tobacco knife, hatchet like with a sharp short heavy blade, the 6 foot tall plant is cut at the base and passed to the person “spearing”. A short sharp metal point is held onto the end of a tobacco stick ( a four foot length of solid hard wood). The stalk of the tobacco plant is pierced through the spear point and held onto the stick. Once 6 plants are on the stick, you move to the next stick and on and on you go row by row, acre by acre. Then you need to really get the neighborhood involved as you load thousands of these sticks onto the wagons and haul them to the barn for housing. Tobacco must cure (either with air or smoke depending on the type). Around here it is air cured, hung from barns in tiers. Passing the tobacco up the tiers to hang in the very eaves of the barn and below is a sight to behold. Straddling the tier posts and passing sticks weighing upwards of 50 pounds over your head to the person above you…I am always on the ground passing up and hoping my husband stays safe up there, far above my head! Our neighbor needed extra hands to get his crop in this past week and our crew was more than happy to join in: working in tobacco is a Kentucky agricultural rite of passage. Wishing you all the best in these final days of August, the leaves are falling and autumn is just around the corner.
In your basket:
summer squash
swiss chard
Fresh Beet Salad with Cilantro
5-8 raw beets medium sized to be peeled and sliced.
Large pot of water
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon sugar
juice of one lemon
2 garlic cloves
3 scallions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (preferred) or parsley
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Place peeled, sliced beets in pot, add enough water to cover.
Add sugar and salt and allow to come to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to cook on a medium simmer until they are just fork tender – maybe 10 minutes depending upon how much you are cooking at once.
Strain reserving juice. Place now cooked beets into bowl and allow to cool completely in the refrigerator.
Once chilled,take out and add vinegar, chopped garlic, chopped scallions and chopped parsley, stir till combined. Add additional salt if necessary and serve.
Basil Balsamic Beets
2 pound(s) beets
1 1/2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs chopped fresh basil
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tbs brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
In 13″ by 9″ roasting pan, toss beets with olive oil. Roast in preheated 450 degrees F. oven 1 hour or until tender. Cool beets; peel and discard skins. Dice beets; toss with basil, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and salt

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