Blue. Blue. Blue. This color brings me such joy this time of year, you know it friends, dyeing season has come to the hollow. I will not write in depth about my obsession with the plant Japanese Indigo (polygonum tinctorium) because I daresay I have done that in this space more than once already. Let’s suffice to say we are having an awesome year of natural dyeing. By nature, the process of harvesting color from plants and using it to dye wool is complex and unpredictable. As a farmer and mother however I am quite comfortable with working while never knowing quite sure of the outcome, and therefore love the nature of natural dye work. Raising a plant, harvesting it, and using the leaves to dye wool yarn from the sheep raised here on our pastures, well, it is just thrilling. We have spent every spare moment processing yarn this past week. In August, lest we forget, there aren’t really a lot of spare moments: life is full to the brim with maintaining summer plantings and establishing the fall gardens. It was well into the wee hours that I found myself tying skeins of yarn to ready them for dyeing, scouring the skeins, and managing the dyeing process that takes many hours. Paul himself was in the wood shop developing some items to aid our process and together, along with the awesome crew on the farm, we had a great week. 66 skeins of blue yarn hang drying and more importantly we have our system perfected. We are ready for our first ever natural dye workshop next saturday.
Fall plantings are number one on our list right now, despite our obsession with blue, we have worked diligently to cultivate the young arugula, turnips, cilantro, lettuce that will fill your baskets in the weeks ahead. The first wave of kale has been transplanted in the high tunnel and we work to transition the garden beds. Potato digging is slow going but near completion and our tables are full of young seedlings: more lettuce, swiss chard, broccoli, cabbage. If you are exhausted thinking of all this I have to say the weather took a turn for the better and with cool nights and sparkling days, we are all super energized and excited about all of our goings on. It has been a heck of a year friends, but now, just now, all is good. I wish the same for each of you!
week fifteen in your basket:
Pasta with Eggplant, Tomato & Peppers
4 T. olive oil
1 large eggplant (about 1 lb.), cut into 3/4-inch pieces
3 large or 4 medium red bell peppers, cored, seeded & cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 lbs. tomatoes, peeled, seeded & chopped—juices reserved
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1 lb. Fusilli, Penne or Rigatoni
Heat 2 T. of oil in a large, deep-sided skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the eggplant, and cook for several minutes, stirring and turning occasionally, until browned on all sides. If the eggplant is sticking, or seems a bit dry, add a bit of the remaining 2 T. of olive oil.
When the eggplant is golden all over, remove to a plate and add the remaining oil to the pan. Add the tomatoes along with their juices. Because the pan is still quite hot from sautéing the eggplant, the tomatoes will bubble furiously when they hit the pan. This is as it should be, you are trying to concentrate the tomatoes a bit. Cook the tomatoes—regulating the heat to maintain a rapid simmer—stirring from time to time, until thickened—about 10 minutes. Return the eggplant to the pan along with the bell peppers. Stir and season to taste with the hot pepper flake, salt & pepper. Cover and simmer gently until the peppers are tender, the flavors have blended and the sauce is no longer brilliant red in color—about 1 hour.
Just before the sauce is ready, bring 6 quarts of water to the boil in a large stock/pasta pot. Add 2-3 Tablespoons of salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss well. Add some pasta water if the sauce seems dry. If you like, stir in some extra virgin olive oil to enrich the sauce and add a nice sheen. Taste and correct the seasoning. Serves 4 to 6.
(Recipe adapted from Bistro Cooking by Patricia Wells)