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The Middle of August

Updated: Nov 16, 2021

This week we are featuring flowers from Chatfield Farms. Today we are heading down to harvest with Josie Hart, the flower farmer there. She is an incredibly creative and talented grower who has inspired and supported us and this farm. For seven years Josie and Phil managed agricultural growing at Chatfield and each year Josie's cut flower beds took on just a little more ground, escaping their fenced confines and becoming a beloved focal point at the site. If you haven't been there before, go immediately. Chatfield is a vibrant and vital part of the farming community in this region, having employed, taught, assisted and nurtured so many of the local farmers here.

We jarred up the rest of the honey we collected and we are thrilled to offer some for sale, $10 for a half-pint jar. We were talking with a friend who studied beekeeping in Slovenia and she said first year honey is known to be the best. We concur thus far. Let us know if you want us to save you a jar, since we have a limited supply.

If you've ever been to a farmers market in this region in August and September, you know the intoxicatingly smoky-sweet aroma of fire-roasting Hatch chiles. This time of year, roadside stands pop up everywhere with vendors selling laundry baskets full, roasting them on site. You may have even been to a Hatch chile festival. There exists a bitter rivalry between New Mexico chiles vs. Colorado chiles, more specifically, Hatch chiles vs Pueblo chiles. I've been scolded by fellow Coloradans before for even speaking about Hatch chiles in Colorado. According to tradition, the governors of both states battle every August. Because we are in Colorado, should we be loyal to the Coloradan pepper? Is one actually better than the other? We're growing a New Mexican variety because that's what seed we had this winter but please, seek out both and decide for yourselves. I realize this may evoke strong emotions in some of you and can hardly wait to hear your thoughts on this century-old discord. As growers, we're delighted to see people so fired up over a vegetable. What makes these chiles unique? They are the perfect balance between heat and sweetness. They are best when consumed green, as the red fruit begins to take on bitter properties. Fire-roasted, these chiles add a unique smoky-sweet regional flavor to any number of items like green chili, cornbread, salsas (particularly sweet corn salsa or peach salsa), egg dishes, mac n' cheese, pestos and dips, biscuits, burgers, chile rellenos, huevos rancheros, chowder, chimichurri, grilled cheese sandwiches, and on and on. There's basically nothing a New Mexican won't add green chili to. The variety originates in the sparsely populated Hatch Valley in southwestern New Mexico, perhaps as early as the 1580s. The tiny town of Hatch (population less than 2,000 people) is considered widely as the chili capital of the world. Some Hatch loyalists insist that it is only a true Hatch chile if it was grown in the Hatch Valley's unique terroir. Because New Mexico's varieties have been around for centuries, their heat levels are more consistent from fruit to fruit on a single plant unlike capsaicin roulette with the newer Pueblo varieties. New Mexican chiles generally run milder and Pueblo hotter, the former's fruit hangs down and the latter's fruit grows upwards. Some Hatch loyalists claim that the Pueblo seed originally came from New Mexico in the first place. The plants only produce green fruit for a fleeting six weeks or so, so that's typically why people load up on them and freeze them for year-round cooking purposes. There's nothing quite like the taste of a hot, New Mexico summer in the middle of a cold winter to warm the soul a bit. They freeze well ... I usually put roasted Hatch in freezer bags together and chop off chunks as needed year-round. We don't have a roaster (yet!), but there are ways to replicate the fire-roasting process at home in order to recreate the flavor profile that we all love so much. One way is to broil them for 10 minutes in the oven. Place them single layer in a glass baking pan, coat them in a clean-burning oil like sunflower oil and salt, place them under the broiler on high for 5 minutes, flip them over, and do five more minutes until they are properly blistered. Otherwise, fire-roast them on the grill, turning often to achieve uniform blistering. You'll want to take the tough skin entirely off. (Biting into the roasted skin almost feels like biting into plastic). The best way is to steam the peppers immediately after they've come off of the roasting source. Essentially, you can put the piping hot peppers into a large glass Ball canning jar through a canning funnel and seal it tightly for until about 20 minutes until they've cooled. Once the roasted and steamed peppers have cooled, the skins slip off easily. And just a friendly PSA to please protect your hands when you're handing hot peppers; gloves are ideal but a baggie will also work in a pinch. No matter how tough you think you are, the capsaicin in hot peppers does leach into your fingertips, and can be painful (especially later if you wear contact lenses and forget that you were handling hot peppers earlier). Trying to wash it off with water only typically spreads the oil around onto your whole hand. There are a bunch of messy home remedies for spicy fingers, but it's best to take preventative measures and avoid the scene altogether. Every year I think it'll be fine if I handle hot peppers with bare hands, and every year I'm ... not.

Harvest List: Hatch chiles Tomatillos Lettuce Carrots Potatoes Bok choy Thai basil Dragon's tongue beans Summer squash Please note this list is dependent on weather and crop conditions, not guaranteed or comprehensive.

Recipe: Roasted Tomatillo Salsa INGREDIENTS: tomatillos hot peppers (Hatch or ancho) garlic onion cilantro lime juice salt DIRECTIONS: Cut the tomatillos into wedges, coarsely chop the hot peppers, and toss a generous handful of unpeeled garlic cloves all together in oil on a baking sheet. Broil the whole works for about 10-15 minutes until things start to soften and blister. Peel the garlic and let all the roasted goodies cool before putting into the food processor or blender. Add lime juice, fresh cilantro, raw onion, and salt. Buzz it up until it has salsa consistency and try to resist drinking it.

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