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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Most Perfect Vegetable

Today I picked the perfect tomato.  I’m sure of it.  There were six of us, crawling along our four hundred foot beds of tomato plants, in a field we call, ‘Maine,’ and I found it. The one.  I was working opposite one of our regular harvest volunteers.  We were making our way down the row, one bucket at a time, both of us on our knees-- my left leg in the lead, working together with my left arm that held tightly to the harvest bin for support, my right leg being towed behind my body, trying to keep up with the picking that my right hand was doing.  It was raining slightly and I imagined what kind of crazy song and dance Donald O’Connor might do with the wild choreography that comes naturally when we are picking tomatoes.

In the midst of this tangle of limbs and bins and rows that go on and on, I reached into the middle of a beefsteak plant and extracted the most beautiful tomato of the season.  Deep red, at least 10 ounces, folded slightly up on its stem.  It resembled a kidney bean or a heart, with a slight blemish on the bottom of the fruit that had been healed over cleanly.  The perfect tomato.  I held it up, admiring it, showing it off to my harvest partner across the trellised row from me.  To my astonishment, he was not as wowed as I was.  I exclaimed that it was indeed the perfect tomato and he gave his best effort to offer me a small shred of agreement.  But a minute later, held up his own version of a perfect tomato, exclaiming with that same pride and wonderment that I had felt about my find.

How do you know the perfect tomato when you see it?  Or the perfect squash? Or pepper, or eggplant or any vegetable? All season we harvest thousands of pounds of vegetables, each one unique, beautiful, oddly shaped, hilarious, rotten, or sweet smelling.  Sometimes I find them perfect because I remember seeding them and I am in awe that they grew.  Sometimes I find them perfect because they were one covered in weeds, but were freed by our crew and thrived--becoming this beautiful food.  Sometimes it is the day, the light, or the person I am picking with who may see beauty where I may see imperfection.

Here at Powisset, I have picked so many perfect tomatoes, and peppers and onions and kale and cabbage...  They are perfect because I feel connected to this food we grow and the land from where it comes.  When I shop at a grocery store or even at a farmer’s market, I am not so quick to find perfection in those crops.  I often wonder (or hope) if someone else held that chard bunch in her hand, admiring it for just a moment too long, filling her heart with inspiration before packing it in a bin and sending it off. 

I wonder if you ate that perfect tomato that I picked.  I wonder how many perfect tomatoes you have found on our share table, or cherry tomatoes out in the fields, or carrot bunches, or heads of lettuce?  Maybe tomorrow I will pick the next most perfect tomato of the season.  Maybe you will.

See you in the fields,

Meryl & the Powisset Farm Crew

bushel + crumb pies
The pies are back this week, with the promise of a new delicious, sweet flavor. To celebrate the last days of summer, the bakers have prepared a plum frangipane. As usual, if you have a pie share, please collect your pie; and if you are interested in purchasing a pie, we'll have a small number for sale at the farm store. Below is a little more information about the pie and its inspiration from the bakers themselves:

Fall is in the air with cooler nights and beautiful, crisp days.  While the seasons may be about to change, we're not quite ready to give up on summer and it's bountiful fruits.  So this week's pie celebrates great late summer stone fruit in a plum frangipane pie.

Frangipane is a nutty pastry cream most commonly made with almonds that pairs especially well with stone fruits.  Almonds are in the same plant family as stone fruits like plums, peaches, and apricots.  If you can successfully crack open the pit of a peach you'll see an almond shaped seed inside and the botanical connection becomes obvious.  There's a great new cookbook by acclaimed author Deborah Madison called Vegetable Literacy that explores this very idea that shared plant families can be a good indicator of interesting flavor combinations.  Check it out if you want to learn more about the botanical connections between different fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers, learn some great new recipes, and look at vegetables in a totally new light.  

Ride for Food!

Hi. My name is Deb Albenberg and I've been thrilled to help out at Powisset this season weeding, planting, and harvesting since May. I wanted to reach out to CSA members, Powisset friends and all the folks who help make this farm the amazing place that it is. I'm asking for your support now because next Sunday I'll be biking 25 miles with my uncle with the Ride for Food. The ride supports local food pantries like the Dedham Food Pantry, which Powisset donates to and Open Table, where my uncle works. The food that comes out these fields is a blessing to us all. Please help me in supporting the amazing work local food pantries take on and help us all share in the bounty. 

Thanks everyone!

What's in the share:
in the barn: lettuce, carrots, hakurei turnips, maybe broccoi, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, 
kale or napa cabbage
in the fields: husk cherries, the last of the cherry tomatoes, parsley, dill, raspberries

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