My friends know that I do not enjoy discussing the weather. Weather is a phenomenon of continuous change and yet it becomes a prevalent and mundane topic of constant conversation, which shares very little about our fellow human experiences. It’s hot, it’s cold, or it’s beautiful can basically sum up the Mid-Western mentality of the four seasons.
So, it is quite funny to find myself working in a field (actually) where weather can be a matter of success or failure for the season. Farmers talk about weather as a baseline for how the season is passing and as part of a justification for the booms and slumps of the season. A series of sweltering days can have tomato plants climbing for the sky or a flash flood of rain can destroy a newly seeded bed of lettuce mix. After a few seasons, you notice the subtle impacts of weather patterns over the season. Periods of consistent rain can build moisture and create sustained humidity that increases fungal growth. A streak of scorching hot days just as the next tomato flowers are setting can cause them to drop, creating a gap in tomato fruit production. When the night temperatures stay above 50, we no longer need to lower the sides of the hoophouses each night (and get to the farm extra early to raise them back up).
Even winter weather affects our growing season. A mild winter can lead to an abundance of squash beetles (we’re seeing that this year). An early spring has us working the soil early and hedging our bets about how late the final frost will be — and whether or not we should put the tomatoes in the ground!
The weather of the day plays into our working mindset. The steamy days at the end of July when the tomatoes need trellising trudge along slowly as you climb the ladder from plant to plant to trellis up the tomato leaders. In spring, the first week in the 60s feels like the perfect heat blanket — your fingers are no longer numb after transplanting onions in the soil.
Back when I taught tennis all summer, I would look forward to the occasional rain day as it would be a break, but with farming, plants need tending despite a rain shower. But, the rain is not so bad with a good pair of wellies. The wonder of being outside all day is that you pick up the slightest shifts in weather – a cool breeze sweeping
through, the rising humidity of an approaching storm, and the cool nights of autumn setting in. You realize what’s coming on the horizon. Regardless, as my friend would always say, each day you create your own weather.
Actions which are truly free follow an idea, not a system.
Blistered Green Beans with Garlic and Miso
Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 Tbsp.lime juice
3 Tbsp. white miso
1 Tbsp. coconut or agave nectar
3 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil
1 ½ lb. green beans, trimmed
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Sea Salt, freshly ground pepper
½ cup coarsely chopped cilantro
Mix garlic, lime juice, miso, and coconut nectar in a small bowl to combine. Set garlic mixture aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high. Add green beans and cook., undisturbed, until beginning to blister about 2 minutes. Toss and continue to cook,tossing often, until tender and blistered in spots, 8-12 minutes.
Remove skillet from heat, pour in garlic mixture, and toss green beans to coat. Add red pepper flakes and season with seas salt and black pepper. Transfer to a platter and top with cilantro.
Roasted Red Peppers and Cherry Tomatoes with Ricotta
Adapted from Bon Appetit
4 red bell peppers, halved, seeds removed
6 oil-packed anchovy fillets, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup basil leaves, divided
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp. plus ⅓ cup olive oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
⅓ cup fresh ricotta
¼ pitted small black and/or green olives
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place bell peppers, skin side down, in a shallow baking dish and top with anchovies and garlic. Tear ¼ cup basil leaves over top, season with kosher salt and black pepper, and drizzle with 2 Tbsp oil. Bake until peppers are tender but still hold their shape and are slightly charred around edges, 35-45 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, blend remaining ¾ cup basil and ⅓ cup oil in a blender until smooth, season basil oil with kosher salt and black pepper
Arrange bell peppers on a platter,. Top with tomatoes, ricotta, olives, and more basil, then drizzle with basil oil and season with sea salt and black pepper.
Cucumber and Carrot Vermicelli with Crispy Shallots
Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine
8 oz. rice vermicelli noodles
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 large shallot, thinly sliced into rings
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped ginger
¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, sliced
1 large carrot, peeled, grated
1 cup snap peas, tops removed
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup chopped fresh mint
Cook vermicelli in a large pot of boiling water according to package instructions; drain and rinse with cold water. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl.
Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat; add shallot and cook, stirring, until brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shallot to a paper towel–lined plate and season with salt.
Wipe out skillet and heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil over medium-high heat. Add green onions, garlic, and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool slightly.
Add soy sauce, lime juice, vinegar, honey, and sesame oil to scallion mixture; whisk to combine. Add vermicelli, cucumber, carrot, peas, cilantro, and mint and toss to coat.