Harmony Valley Farm
By Andrea Yoder
Happy February! It’s hard to believe another month has passed us by since our last farm update, but here we are approaching the end of February. Despite the slower pace of winter, we’ve actually had a lot going on over the past month. Here’s what we’ve been up to.
Polar Vortex Sunrise on January 31, 2019
First, we’re happy to report we survived the Polar Vortex of 2019! For those few bitter cold days, our valley was eerily quiet and still. I have to admit they were also several of the most gorgeous, sunny winter days we’ve ever experienced! The skies were bright blue and totally clear. The sunrises in the morning were gentle as the sun woke up and shined a rosy smile upon our valley. The trees were so cold we could hear them cracking and moaning in the crisp, bitter cold morning air. Before the cold set in we made sure the animals had extra bedding in their shelters and the cows got some of their “chocolate” hay to encourage them to stay inside the barn for shelter and warmth. We made sure furnaces were working, drained any water pipes not in use and were diligent about doing frequent checks of employee houses as well as the packing shed. All in all, it wasn’t so bad and we realize others in the region experienced much colder temperatures than we did.
Snow Mountain after clearing snow this Thursday.
I’ve lost track of just how much snow we’ve actually had throughout the month, 4-5 inches here, 6 inches there….the bottom line is it’s really starting to pile up! As we started this week, our snow piles looked more like snow mountains and on Wednesday we got another 5 inches. While we all enjoy a good snow day, it has made it difficult to get our winter work done. Nonetheless we’ve tried to make the most of our days and the packing shed crew and office staff have been working their way down the winter to-do lists. The packing shed crew did a thorough top to bottom cleaning of the shop and lunch area….wow what a difference! Everything looks much brighter and we love clean! Nearly all the greenhouse flats have been washed and sterilized. The potting soil arrived at the end of January and we have three big bags thawed out and ready to go. We had hoped to start planting in our first greenhouse earlier this week, so last week the crew did a thorough cleaning of the nursery and finished setting up the heat table system on Monday.
Simon checking the water temperature as he sterilizes seeds.
Our plans didn’t quite play out as we had hoped for this week.
On Monday we received a couple big wholesale orders, which we are grateful to have.
Everyone shifted gears and we worked hard to wash over 1,000 pounds of burdock, a few bins of sunchokes, along with a few cases of radishes, turnips, and shallots.
Now that the orders are filled, our focus is back on getting some seeds planted!
This morning Simon set up our super high-tech (ok, not so high tech, but it works) seed sterilizer to hot water treat our onion seeds to remove any seed borne diseases.
We are happy to report we were able to start planting this afternoon! Beatriz, Moises and Gerardo are enjoying a sunny day of greenhouse work. They filled and pre-watered flats in the morning and Gerardo started planting this afternoon! It was so refreshing to walk into the greenhouse after lunch and smell the wet potting soil! It will take awhile to get all the onions planted and then we’ll need to move on to celeriac, leeks, lettuce, kohlrabi and more!
Snow falling on our Curly Willow & Fantail Willow Hedgerow
This month’s crop report will be brief.
We’re happy to report the deer fence around the overwintered
spinach field is upright, intact and doing its job to keep the deer out. The spinach is nicely insulated with all this snow, so lets all cross our fingers and hope we have a good harvest this spring!
Last fall we were also able to lay the reflective plastic mulch and drip tape for this year’s onion field.
We put a deer fence around it as well to keep them from tromping across the field poking holes in the plastic.
Very soon we need to get out to the field to trim our willow hedgerows, but all of this snow will make it a bit of a challenge!
I have to say, the fantail & curly willow trees look pretty cool against the white backdrop and add some texture to the landscape!
Mike changing one of the tractor tires.
We’ve also taken advantage of winter down time to get some tractors repaired. One of our little IH Super C cultivating tractors was hauled to a shop last week for repair. This week the two Allis Chalmers WD 45 tractors that pull harvest wagons got new tires. Thank you to Mike & Mark from our local Cenex station for helping us with this repair project!
Andrea spent several days this week visiting some of our buyer partners in the Twin Cities and scouted out our two new CSA sites including The Power House at St. Louis Park & Roseville City Hall! Kelly & Gwen continue to process CSA orders and have been working hard on getting our promotional materials up to date, putting together this year’s CSA calendar, and a whole host of other tasks! We’re still working on finalizing our Thursday CSA route in Madison, but we’re almost finished! We’re happy to have added new sites in the DeForest/Windsor and Waunakee areas. We also have new sites on the northeast side of Madison as well as one on Sherman Avenue and another near Monroe St. We’re excited to be partnering with several business locations as well. Some locations are for employees only, however we do have several that are open to the public including one in Middleton! Thank you for your patience as we have been working to put together all the logistics for this new route. Now it’s time to fill the truck!
On March 17 we’ll be attending the Fairshare CSA Open House, now called the Find Your Farm event
If you live in the Madison area, we hope you’ll stop in to say hello.
This is a great event to share with anyone who may be considering joining a CSA but hasn’t yet made the commitment.
That’s a wrap for this month. In case you’re wondering, we’re only about 10 ½ weeks away from the first CSA delivery week! Keep that in mind as we gear up for another winter storm this weekend!
Hello from Harmony Valley Farm! As I write this, the snow has blanketed our valley in bright white! While our fields are resting peacefully, we are reminded that our growing season officially starts in about 3 weeks with our first greenhouse planting AND we’re only 15 weeks from the first CSA delivery week! Yikes…we better keep moving!
We’ve been hard at work preparing for the upcoming season, but wanted to take a moment to connect with you and share a little glimpse into our winter world. We also want to tell you about some of the exciting things we’re looking forward to for the 2019 CSA season. Before we jump into 2019, lets take a brief look back at our 2018 CSA year.
First CSA box of 2018, with 2 bunches of ramps!
Last year set the record for being the latest first planting date in the history of Harmony Valley Farm! After getting a foot of snow on April 18th, we were relieved to watch it melt quickly allowing us to finally get into the fields to start planting just one week later on April 25th. It took focused determination and a lot of team work to get caught up, but we were able to pull it off and get back on track pretty quickly. One of the benefits to a late spring is that the ramp harvest season was also several weeks behind, but just in time for our first week of CSA deliveries! We were able to pack not one but TWO bunches of ramps in each of the first three boxes of the season. We also had an awesome asparagus season that started the second week of CSA deliveries. Our new fields produced very well and we were able to pack generous amounts of asparagus for 5 weeks! Despite the spring challenges, Mother Nature came through for us and we were still able to deliver very nice spring boxes with good value.
Every year of farming has its own set of challenges, most often related to the weather. That’s just something you sign up for when you choose to be a farmer! After pushing through the late spring, we reached our weather climax with two big rain events late in August/early September that proved to be our biggest weather challenge of the year. Nonetheless, we stayed in the game and were still able to pack beautiful, plentiful CSA boxes for our full 30 weeks of deliveries! Over the course of the season we delivered about 64 different types of vegetables, and that doesn’t include the multiple different varieties of some vegetables such as seven different varieties of winter squash, three colors of beets, etc.
As we look back, we are also reminded of some of our 2018 farming victories including a delicious 4-week strawberry season, 9 weeks of potatoes, and 7 weeks of sweet & beautiful sweet potatoes! We try to include some of the more staple vegetables more frequently over the course of our 30 week season. Last year we delivered some type of onion & garlic in EVERY CSA box ranging from chives, overwintered onions and green garlic in the spring to delicious white Spanish onions mid-summer and a plentiful supply of red & yellow storage onions as well as shallots and red cipollini onions to wrap up the season. Two-thirds of the boxes included carrots and about one-third of the boxes included broccoli. We also had a nice 10-week run on tomatoes starting late July and running through the end of September! All in all, I’d have to say it was a pretty amazing season!
Black Futsu Pumpkin
photo from High Mowing Organic Seeds
So what’s in store for 2019? First, we have a pretty new radish called “Diana.” Diana is a fresh radish that’s round and has purple shoulders and a white bottom. They are described to be “crunchy and sweet with just the right amount of spicy.” I’m also excited to try the “Black Futsu” winter squash (also referred to as a pumpkin) which is a Japanese vegetable with “unique black, warty skin and nutty, fresh flavor.” One source describes it to have “very smooth, fine grained flesh and a fruity flavor at harvest that lends itself to thinly sliced raw or pickled preparations…With its very edible thin skin, it doesn’t require peeling.” We have a few more new winter squash varieties to trial including two new personal-sized butternuts called “Butterbaby” and “Brulee,” thought to be as delicious as our beloved Honeynut Butternut, but with better yields and longer storage potential. We are also interested in trying “Tetsukabuto” which is described to be “the squash of choice for the Apocalypse!” The word means “steel helmet” in Japanese. With a name like that, it sparked our interest and I guess whomever is left after the Apocalypse can enjoy this “sweet and nutty” squash that is “versatile in the kitchen” and has “exceptionally long storage.”
Last June's celtuce harvest
We’re also looking forward to refining our techniques for growing some crops we’re less familiar with or would like to improve upon. Last year was our second attempt at growing celtuce. It was a lot of fun, but we learned a few things and think we can do a better this year. Even after 40 plus years of growing sweet corn, Farmer Richard continues to set his standards high for growing the most delicious sweet corn. We’ve secured our preferred varieties and Richard and the crew have refined their strategy to protect the crop from pests. Last year was a pretty good year of sweet corn, but we hope this year will be even better!
Of course we continue to consider more ways we can develop greater resilience to the erratic weather patterns we fear are our new norm. We have watched our soil and fertility end up in the creek bottom or road ditches after heavy downpours of rain that come too fast for the moisture to be absorbed. We think about this a lot—what else can we do to keep our soil in place and prevent erosion? We have tried a new approach of planting permanent short grass and clover in between beds of vegetables and pathways around and within fields where water drains off the fields. We had some success with this last year and are planning to expand this practice this year.
Farmer Richard & CSA kids at the Harvest Party 2018
While we realize CSA may not be for everyone, we believe it can be a good fit for many and is intended to be a different model that goes beyond the act of just buying food.
Rather, the whole point of CSA is to connect an eater to the source of their food and a greater community.
This can become a much deeper and more meaningful experience for both the consumer and the farmer with values and benefits that far exceed that of a simple dollar.
We are excited to have the opportunity to continue growing for our CSA members as it really is the most meaningful part of our business.
We know there are values and benefits associated with participating in CSA that are hard to measure, but include health benefits of having a wide variety of plant foods in your diet, learning more about how and where your food is grown, visiting the farm and connecting with both the place and people, participating in the act of preparing your own food and doing so as a family.
These are just a few of the additional benefits CSA members have shared with us about their experiences, but I’m sure there are more.
We are curious how our CSA boxes compare to shopping at a retail grocery store. Every year we ask a CSA member to be our “Secret Shopper.” Each week this individual compares the contents of the vegetable box we deliver to three different types of retail grocery stores which include a local food co-op, a larger natural foods grocery and a traditional grocery store. We took a look at these reports as well as our own data from last year and wanted to share some of the results with you.
CSA box #19 from 2018 included 3 items not found in
grocery stores: fresh edamame, broccoli Romanesco, and
orange Italian frying peppers
Lets talk about dollar value first.
Our weekly CSA vegetable share costs $1050 and includes all 30 weeks of deliveries.
The average cost of a box is $35, although some boxes may have a value a little less than that while others might have much greater value.
If you were to have purchased everything that was delivered over the course of the season at one of these other retail outlets, you would have paid approximately $1300 at the food co-op and traditional grocery store or about $1200 at the larger natural foods grocery store.
Additionally, if you had purchased all of the box contents at our market stand you would’ve paid $1315.
The take home message here?
CSA members receive a value of 14-25% above the actual dollars paid for the share and would have to pay the higher price if they were to make the same purchases at a retail store.
Sun Jewel Melons ready to be packed in CSA boxes
We also found that 13% of all items sourced at the large natural foods store were not organic and at the traditional grocery store 28% of the items were not available organic.
The food co-op was the only store where someone would be able to purchase all organic.
There were also items included in our CSA shares that were not available at any of the comparison stores.
This rate was lowest at the food co-op, but we still found that 22% of the items were not available.
At the other two locations about 30% of the items were not available at all.
Some of these items include some of our seasonal favorites like green garlic, sweetheart cabbage, sun jewel melons, French Orange melons, fresh edamame, purple beans, orange Italian frying peppers, broccoli Romanesco and colored cauliflower. We strive to provide a wide variety of vegetables over the course of the season to keep things interesting and fun, but also because it’s important to eat a wide variety of foods for their nutrients.
As the first month of this new year comes to a close, we thank you for being part of our community.
If you have already made the decision to sign up for a CSA share for this year, thank you!
If you are still in the contemplative stage, we want to remind you that we have an Early Bird Sign Up
offer available until February 14.
We also have two new sites in the Twin Cities area and are still working on refining our new Thursday route into Madison.
Some of our new sites for this route have been confirmed, so check out our sign-up form for these locations.
Be well and enjoy this winter season!---Farmers Richard and Andrea
Packing CSA Vegetable shares
This week we’ll be packing and delivering the final CSA box of the 2018 season.
I (Andrea) still remember sitting at my desk on the night of April 19.
It had snowed over 10 inches that day and I was having a hard time imagining just what we were going to pack in our first CSA box that was just two weeks away.
Fast forward through ramps, asparagus, strawberries, tomatoes, sweet corn, melons, peppers, leeks, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts and here we are in December, wrapping up another bountiful season of delicious vegetables.
Richard and I would like to thank each one of you for allowing us to be your farmers and grow food for you and your families this year.
Growing vegetables for our CSA families is the most meaningful part of what we do and we consider you, our CSA members, to be a very
important part of our farm.
As we look ahead to 2019, we have some updates to share with you about next year. It’s no secret that CSA memberships, across the country, have been declining over the past 8-9 years. This has been true for our farm as well, but we do not believe that CSA is a dying model. Rather, we believe CSA is a very valuable model, for farmers, individuals, and our community. CSA is unique, it’s not for every farmer and it’s not for every eater. We’re thankful for our longtime members who have shown us just how important CSA has been in their lives. We feel privileged to be able to watch so many beautiful CSA kids grow into bigger CSA kids as they become intelligent, beautiful individuals who are having and will have a positive impact in this world. Over the past twenty-five years we’ve seen the results that come from “eating out of the box.” Children that learn how to cook and feed themselves. Adventurous eaters who are willing to try new things and enjoy eating a diverse diet. Members who visit the farm and form a connection with where their food is grown. Families who take the time to eat meals together, even in the midst of their busy lives. Individuals who regain and maintain their health simply by eating more vegetables out of the box. These are just some of the ways we know CSA can change and impact lives in a positive way. We’re not giving up on CSA, rather we’re holding on to what we believe is a good thing and we’ll do our best to continue growing for our CSA families, making whatever positive impact we can in our little corner of the world.
Andrea with grower Mas Masumoto, Rick & Kathie (Co-Op Partners)
One of the difficult decisions we have made for the 2019 season is to discontinue offering Fruit & Coffee shares. Those of you who have enjoyed these shares may be saying “WHAT!!!” We are grateful for the partnerships we’ve formed with other producers that have allowed us to offer these shares for many years, however as we look at the “big picture” of our business we feel it’s time to retire these shares and focus on what we love the most and do the best, grow vegetables. Producing fruit is not an easy job and we have a great respect for the excellent growers we’ve had the opportunity to work with. Farmer Al at Frog Hollow Farms, Mas Masumoto, Gena Nonini at Marian Farms, Rich Johansen, Reusch Century Farm, and the list goes on. Rick Christianson, our friend and buyer at Co-Op Partners’ Warehouse in Minneapolis, has been our conduit to these many excellent fruit growers. He’s sourced fruit for us that is special, unique and sometimes in limited supply. He’s connected us with these growers so we can have personal conversations with them and then pass their stories onto our members. His job has not been easy and in many ways it continues to become more and more challenging as he deals with changes in the marketplace, challenges with transportation to get the fruit to us, etc. Fruit is a delicate commodity and maintaining quality can be challenging. We face quality issues with our own vegetables, that’s the life of farming. The difference is we have more control over quality with our own products than we do with products we source elsewhere. We hope our current and past members will continue to support our awesome, talented, skillful fruit producers when you see their fruit at your local co-op or maybe even do a special purchase on line…you know, for those extra special Warren pears.
TJ & Caleb, Kickapoo Coffee owners.
We’ve also enjoyed our relationship with Kickapoo Coffee and are excited to see their business grow and flourish while they hold tight to their foundational beliefs.
They not only source some of the best quality coffee in the world, but they do it with integrity, fairness and respect for the producers.
They also happen to be pretty darn good at roasting it to perfection.
We’ll certainly continue to start our day with a delicious, rich cup of Kickapoo coffee and we hope you’ll consider doing the same (if you’re a coffee drinker).
They have an awesome subscription service too, so sign up for that and they’ll deliver it right to your door!
Now that we have that announcement behind us, lets get back to vegetables! At the end of the day, growing vegetables is what we love to do and we want to continue to invest our time, energy and resources in doing the best job that we can while continuing to learn and improve each year. We will be offering a similar line-up of vegetable share options for the 2019 growing season and have decided to hold our pricing steady with our 2018 prices for next year.
We are also excited to have room in our week to offer a weekday delivery option for the Madison area. This is something we’ve been considering doing for the past few years, but it just hasn’t felt right and honestly, we just weren’t sure where or how we’d squeeze it into the week! Our decision to discontinue packing fruit shares has opened up more labor hours and space in the packing shed on Wednesdays to allow us to pack boxes for a Thursday delivery into Madison. This Thursday delivery route will hopefully open up some opportunities we haven’t previously been able to explore with our Saturday route. In particular we’re hoping to add some business and workplace delivery locations. This route is still under construction, and we’d value your input! If you have a suggestion for a business location we might be a good fit for, please let us know as soon as possible so we can reach out to them. We’ll also be offering several residential delivery sites. If you’re interested in the possibility of hosting a CSA pick up site, please let us know so we can consider your location as we put together the route.
In closing, we want to wish everyone a joyful and peaceful winter season. We will be working with focused determination to prepare for another growing season and we look forward to being your farmers in 2019!
Richard & Andrea
Cooking With This Week's Box
Red Cipollini Onions: Balsamic Roasted Cipollini Onions (see below)
This is it, our final box of the season. This week’s box is packed full of storage vegetables that will keep well into the next month. Take a moment to read this week’s newsletter to find out how to best store each item. Lets start this week’s cooking with the Red Cipollini Onions which are this week’s featured vegetable. This is a special onion that is at its best, in my opinion, when roasted. My simple recipe for Balsamic Roasted Cipollini Onions (see below) is my favorite way to prepare these onions and is a great dish to serve alongside buttered noodles, grilled steak or roast chicken. I featured this recipe way back in 2007, but it’s still a keeper!
Celeriac and Apple Soup with Tarragon
photo by Linda Xiao, food52
On the same website, Smitten Kitchen, I found this recipe for Cabbage & Mushroom Lasagna. The recipe uses thin slices of potato as the “lasagna” noodle layer. I’m going to substitute thin slices of celeriac instead. If you don’t use all your celeriac for this recipe, consider making this simple Celeriac and Apple Soup with Tarragon.
I love finding interesting ways to eat root vegetables throughout the winter, including ideas for salads. I’m excited to try this recipe for Spiced Beet Salad with Citrus Ginger Dressing. In this recipe the beets are tossed in a citrus vinaigrette that is seasoned with coriander, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes and turmeric. Once roasted, the beets are served topped with a dollop of yogurt, a drizzle of the dressing, mint and pistachios.
Buy a few extra pistachios so you can try this recipe for Simple Kohlrabi with Pistachios and Sage
. This kohlrabi tastes so sweet and delicious when roasted and this simple recipe will be easy to pull off with little time to invest. Serve it with rice or alongside poached salmon or even just a simple fried egg.
If you’re looking for a recipe that can handle variations in ingredients and still be delicious, this recipe for Sesame Noodles with Seasonal Variations
is a good one to try. I featured this recipe in the newsletter several years ago and it’s a good one. The recipe is written to include storage turnips as well as carrots, but you could also include beauty heart radishes and/or kohlrabi if that’s what you have available.
If you didn’t have a chance to make the recipe for Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuit Topping
that we featured in our last newsletter, be sure to save it and give it a try this winter. It’s a great way to incorporate a lot of different root vegetables into a meal including turnips, celeriac, carrots, and any other root you want to include!
Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette
This week some boxes will receive butternut squash and others will receive festival squash. If you receive the butternut squash, or have some remaining from a previous delivery, consider making this Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette
. We featured this recipe on our blog last winter. You’ll have to scroll to the bottom of the blog post. This is a delicious creation that takes a little time to make, but is really quite easy. If you receive the festival squash, consider making this recipe for Vegan Stuffed Acorn (sub Festival) Squash
. The squash are filled with a mixture of quinoa, cranberries, apples and pecans.
We’re one vegetable away from cooking everything in this week’s box. We’re down to sweet potatoes and I have one sweet and one savory suggestion. I couldn’t resist this recipe for Sweet Potato Buttermilk Pie
and for all you Midwesterners…Breakfast Hot Dish
featuring sweet potatoes!
Friends, I’m signing off for a little winter rest. I hope you have fun cooking up creative winter meals and I look forward to meeting you back here in this space again next spring as we start another season of delicious, seasonal eating! Happy Holidays! –Chef Andrea
Vegetable Feature: Red Cipollini Onions
As you unpack the contents of this week’s box, don’t think the beautiful red onions packed in a brown paper bag are just another red onion. These are a special onion that have a more flattened shape and are known for their higher natural sugar content in comparison to other storage onions. Cipollini onions are at their best when slowly roasted to develop these natural sugars, leaving them silky, soft and so sweet they’ll melt in your mouth.
This is not an onion you want to chop up— it’s one to be featured whole in soups, side dishes, roasted alongside beef, pork or chicken, or on kebobs. Roasted cipollini onions can be served as a side dish on their own— flavored with balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, marinade, or simply tossed with olive oil or butter and salt and pepper. While I think this onion is best roasted, you can also boil or braise them. They add flavor and color when braised in the cooking liquid of pot roast or pork roast along with other root vegetables. Smaller cipollini onions can also be added to soups or stews.
As with any other onion, the papery skin needs to be removed prior to cooking. They are kind of challenging to peel by hand without peeling off an outer layer of onion flesh. There is a trick to making them easier to peel. The first step is to trim the stem and root ends with a paring knife. Next, pour boiling water over them and let them set for 5-10 minutes. This helps loosen the skin and you should be able to slip it off easily. Now the onions are ready to be used as you wish.
Balsamic Roasted Cipollini Onions
Yield: 4-6 servings
1 pound cipollini onions
¼ cup balsamic vinegar, or as needed
2 tbsp butter
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 375°-400°F.
- Prepare onions by trimming both ends and removing the skin. In a baking dish, toss onions with vinegar, salt and pepper. Cover and put in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes or until start to become tender.
- Remove cover and add butter. Allow the butter to melt, then toss it in with the onions and bake, uncovered, until onions are tender and the liquid has reduced. You may need to add more vinegar if the liquid has reduced and the onions are not yet done baking. Serve hot.
Recipe by Chef Andrea Yoder
By Andrea Yoder
“People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.”—Wendell Berry
Since the 1990’s our food supply has changed dramatically. When I was a kid Cheerios were pretty safe to eat, but now they are laced with glyphosate residues. Now foods made from GMO (genetically modified organisms) crops are widespread within our food system and until recently we had no way of knowing if a food contained GMOs or not. Some products are now labeled, but there is still a big void for most consumers about the negative impact GMO crops and their production system are having on both human and environmental health. The six main GMO crops being produced now are corn, soy, cotton, canola, sugar beets and alfalfa. Additionally, GMO salmon, papaya, potatoes, apples, sweet corn, zucchini and yellow squash are also being produced but in lesser amounts.
Jeffery Smith is the founder of The Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT), which has become “a world leader in educating policy makers and the public about genetically modified (GM) foods and crops.” Mr. Smith recently released a film entitled “Secret Ingredients” that is now available to the public. Richard and I had the opportunity to watch the movie earlier this week and would like to share a little glimpse of the movie as well as encourage everyone to take the time to watch it.
Kathleen DiChiara (photo from her website
The goal of the movie was to bring greater awareness to the public about the relationship between foods containing GMOs and toxic chemicals, such as glyphosate, and the vast array of chronic illnesses and health problems that are on the rise in our country including obesity, infertility, cancer, digestive disorders, autism, brain fog, skin disorders, gluten sensitivity, allergies, chronic fatigue, asthma, anxiety and many more. The movie starts off with the story of Kathleen DiChiara and her family including three young sons. Kathleen was a well-educated person, a loving mother, an athlete attentive to health and thought she was eating a healthy diet. Then the health of her family started to unravel. She herself experienced an array of debilitating symptoms leading to a surgery that left her with paralysis as well as chronic pain in addition to the other symptoms she was experiencing including irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, rashes and more. She went from participating in triathlons to being in a wheelchair and lost her job due to her disabilities. At the same time she was trying to raise a young family, but was challenged by caring for her oldest son who was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder, an autism spectrum disorder. She also had a son struggling with asthma as well as a third son who had extensive and painful skin rashes covering his body. Altogether, their family of 5 had 21 chronic health disorders. As she and her husband struggled to figure out how to heal their family, her research led her to their food. She didn’t realize the food she was eating and feeding her children was what was making them so sick. When their family committed to eating an organic and GMO-free diet, their bodies healed and they were able to regain their health. Their story is both heartbreaking as well as full of joy as they now living strong, vibrant lives they can enjoy. In the movie, Kathleen made the statement “I chose to take my family out of this human experiment.”
This movie also included interviews with physicians including Dr. Michelle Perro, author of “What’s Making Our Children Sick?” and Dr. David Perlmutter, renowned neurologist and author of multiple books including his most recent entitled “Grain Brain.” Both of these physicians have years of clinical experience and have seen the dramatic improvements on health in patients who remove GMO foods from their diet and eat only organic food. They speak extensively in the movie about the gut microbiome. The healthy bacteria in our bodies are the gate keepers for our system, keeping our digestive tract intact and preventing foreign proteins, toxins, and allergens from entering our system. They regulate inflammation in our bodies and have an extensive role in our brain chemistry. The problem is that the chemical glyphosate, which is used extensively in conjunction with GMO plants, relies on a pathway to kill plants (weeds) called the shikimate pathway. Humans don’t utilize this pathway, thus it has been said that GMO crops and glyphosate are safe for humans. Unfortunately, this is a lie. The bacteria in our gut are impacted by this pathway and exposure to GMO crops and glyphosate can cause extensive damage to our gut microbiome, leaving our systems vulnerable to attack from all the things these bacteria are meant to protect us from.
There is much more depth of information in the movie than I can present here, but I do encourage you to take the time to watch the movie and see it for yourself. Throughout the movie, it becomes clear that organic and non-GMO food is no longer just a lifestyle, but rather can be a life saver. They also acknowledged that food can be deceiving. If you put organic food and GMO foods side by side you likely won’t be able to tell the difference. You can’t see the pesticides and herbicides they contain and you can’t see the allergens or novel proteins that can harm you. Food is supposed to be our life force and bring vitality, not disease and destruction to our bodies. Kathleen made an interesting point that it can be “Socially Inconvenient” to eat organic. It’s hard to eat out and it’s hard to eat on the go or when you are traveling. However, for those who are committed to eating this way, there are ways to overcome these challenges. Kathleen and her family are very intentional about their diet. They eat before they go out or pack snacks to take with them. If going to a birthday party or the like, they take their own dessert made with organic ingredients. They’ve also made friends with other families who are like-minded and they have dinner parties together. They have experienced first-hand the impact high quality, nutrient dense food that is free from chemicals and GMOs can have on their health and ability to enjoy their lives, and that isn’t’ something they’re about to trade for a little bit of convenience.
I’m going to close with a few lines from a song that was played at the end of the movie. The lyrics are simple, but powerful. “Health is wealth, it’s the gift we give ourselves. Health is wealth, don’t leave it to no one else….Give me food that’s grown on farms with butterflies & bees.”
Cooking With This Week's Box
Scarlet Turnips: Chicken Pot Pie (see below); Cornish Pasty (Meat Hand-Pies) (see below)
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Did you stick with the familiar traditional foods or did you try some new recipes? We’re entering into our final month of the year, the cold has set in and the snow is flying. Doesn’t it make you want to hunker down and cook comfort food?!
Lets kick off this week’s cooking adventure with two traditional recipes for winter comfort food that will make use of the sweet scarlet turnips which are this week’s featured vegetable. The first recipe is my version of a Chicken Pot Pie (see below). While I usually make pot pie with chicken, you could also turn this into a vegetarian dish by omitting the chicken and using vegetable stock. Pot pies usually have a pie crust topping, but I’ve never been a fan of that so I always make mine with a crispy biscuit topping that includes a little cheddar cheese. This is hearty enough for a full meal, so we generally just eat it for dinner with a little bit of cranberry jelly on the side to complement the rich, creamy gravy. The second featured recipe this week is for Cornish Pasties (pronounced past-E) (see below). These are kind of like the original hot pocket and are a traditional food of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula thanks to the Cornish miners who immigrated there in the 1800’s. Pasties are one of their national dishes and they took them with them for lunch when they were working down in the mines. They generally consist of some kind of beef and/or pork along with potatoes, rutabagas or turnips, carrots, onions and in modern versions there may be some dried herb and garlic. They have a flaky, crispy, buttery pastry that encloses a hearty filling. They are sturdy enough that you can hold them in your hand and they reheat well. In one source, I read that they would sometimes cut the initials into each one of the person who was intended to eat it so they didn’t get them confused! In the original recipes, the pasties are quite large which makes sense for a hardworking man. In the recipe below, I offer the suggestion to make them half of the original size, which I find to be a more manageable size for those with a smaller appetite.
Roasted Black Radishes with Brown Butter & Rice
Moving on, I’m going to tackle the mysterious black Spanish radishes next. Earlier in the spring I featured a recipe for Roasted Black Radishes with Brown Butter & Rice
. My original recipe was written for spring cooking and included chives. You can omit them since they are out of season! If you taste the black Spanish radish raw and think it’s too strong for your tastes, give this recipe a try. The black radish will mellow out when it is roasted.
Chili-Lime Sunchoke Salsa with Pan-Roasted Salmon
This week we have another root vegetable that may be less familiar to some and may be mistaken for a piece of ginger. This vegetable is the sunchoke, otherwise known as a Jerusalem artichoke. I will forewarn you if you’re trying them for the first time, they contain inulin. Inulin is a non-digestible fiber that is really good for our bodies as they feed prebiotic bacteria in our colon and help to maintain our digestive health. It is best to eat them in small quantities at first as some may have a bit of digestive discomfort if they eat too much. I recommend making this Chili-Lime Sunchoke Salsa
which is great on pan-roasted salmon or as a topping for tacos. Another great recipe that is fitting for this week’s box is this Cabbage & Sunchoke Pizza
Festival Squash with Kale & Sausage
Photo from epicurious.com
This recipe for Festival Squash with Kale & Sausage was shared by a member in our Facebook group. If you don’t have any kale or collards hiding in your refrigerator, try substituting green savoy cabbage for the kale. The original recipe calls for acorn squash, but the festival squash in this week’s box is an acceptable substitute. Some boxes this week will also receive spaghetti squash. I want to try this recipe for Spaghetti Squash Fritters
. As with most fritters, we’ll probably eat them with a little scoop of sour cream and they’ll probably go with either a quick seared pork chop or maybe a burger!
I love roasted garlic and am anxious to try this recipe for Roasted Garlic Hummus. This will make for a quick lunch spread on a piece of toast or a bagel or simply served with slices of raw carrot and kohlrabi.
As with your cabbage, you’ll also likely get several meals from the kohlrabi. In addition to the Kohlrabi & Cabbage Slaw mentioned above, you could use kohlrabi to make this Quick Kohlrabi Kim Chi Salad
or try cooking kohlrabi with this recipe for Cider-Braised Kohlrabi
This week is the last week we’ll be including parsnips in the share. I always tend to keep it simple when preparing parsnips and roasting is my favorite method, such as in this recipe for Roast Parsnips with Chili Maple Butter
That’s it for this week. Stay warm and I’ll see you back here in two weeks for our final box of the 2018 CSA season!
Featured Vegetable: Storage Turnips
Friends, it’s that time of year. We’ll be ushering in the first day of December before the week is finished. We are officially done harvesting vegetables, but this week’s box is still brimming with abundance as we pull from our stores of roots, cabbage, alliums, squash, etc. We plan for this time of year and make sure we have plenty of vegetables stashed away when the snow starts to fly. This is a new season of local fare and this week I want to turn our attention to the humble storage turnip. Some vegetables seem to scream “Look at me!” while others, such as turnips, seem to hang out in the shadows. But turnips are an important part of our winter diet and deserve a mention. They are much different from the tender, mild baby white salad turnips we grow in the spring and early fall. Storage turnips are much more dense and have a stronger flavor. They also have the ability to store for months (literally!) in cold storage. We grow three different colors of storage turnips including the classic and familiar purple top turnips, golden turnips, and the hot pink sweet scarlet turnips included in this week’s box. Purple top turnips have the strongest turnip flavor while golden and sweet scarlet turnips are more mild. Golden & sweet scarlet turnips are our two preferred varieties, which is why we’ve chosen them for your last two boxes of the season!
Yes, we realize turnips are sometimes a challenging vegetable for CSA members to embrace. I’ve heard longtime members say “I can conquer everything in the box, but those late season turnips are a challenge for me!” Most likely this stems from a bad experience early in life. Perhaps overcooked turnips or canned turnips. Turnips are part of the Brassica family and, like many other vegetables in this family, it’s important not to overcook them thereby releasing those strong sulfur compounds that can be strong and unpleasant. I hope you’ll approach turnips with an open mind this year as they have a lot of great health and culinary qualities and can be used in a wide variety of ways throughout the winter.
Turnips are seldom a featured vegetable in a meal, rather they play their greatest role by hanging out in the shadows of your culinary creations. If you’re still learning how to use and appreciate turnips, use them in recipes where they are combined with other ingredients as opposed to being cooked on their own. Turnips pair well with apples, cheese, cider, cream, garlic, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, and lemon as well as other root vegetables, bacon, ham and roast beef. They make a delicious addition to winter soups, stews, root vegetable gratins, root mash and pot pies. Turnips are also a great vegetable to use in a winter stir-fry, or pickle them and use them as a condiment for sandwiches or alongside rich meats, etc.
If you’re looking for a recipe and not sure where to start, I’d like to suggest the recipe in this week’s newsletter for Chicken Pot Pie
(see below--may also be adapted to be vegetarian). My other all-time favorite recipe utilizing turnips is the Birchwood Café’s recipe for Apple & Turnip Quiche
. I serve this frequently during the winter. Richard also likes this simple one-pan recipe for Pan Seared Pork Chops with Turnips, Apples & Cider Cream Sauce
and if you really like the flavor of turnips and want to give it more of the center-stage, try Roasted Turnip Ganoush.
Turnips should be stored in a plastic bag or container in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. I seldom peel turnips, however if you find their flavor to be more pungent than your liking, peeling may help decrease some of the characteristic turnip bite. Also, with extended time in storage you may find some turnips may develop some browning due to oxidation or some surface scarring, which is sometimes a reason to peel the turnip. The defect is often only on the surface and the rest of the turnip is totally usable. If your turnips start to dehydrate a little bit in storage, either re-hydrate them in a bowl of cold water in the refrigerator or cut them up and put them in a stew or soup.
We hope you’ll choose to embrace turnips this year and try some new and different ways to prepare them!
Cornish Pasties (Meat Hand Pies)
Yield: 6 large or 12 small pasties
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling dough
1 cup butter or shortening
Salt, to taste
1 cup cold ice water
12 ounces ground beef (uncooked)
½ cup carrot, small dice
½ cup turnip or rutabaga, small dice
½ cup parsnips, small dice
½ cup potato, small dice
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper
1 large egg, beaten
- For the pastry: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Cut in the butter or shortening using a fork or pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add half the water and stir gently with a fork. Add the remaining water and bring together the dough into a large ball. Flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine beef, small diced vegetables, thyme and season with salt and pepper. Thoroughly mix to combine and set aside.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide into 6 even pieces (if making large pasties), or 12 pieces (if making small pasties). Flour a work surface and roll out each ball of dough into an 8-inch circle (for large pasties). Put about ¾ cup filling on one side of the circle of dough. Fold the dough over to cover the mixture and crimp the edges to seal the pasty. You may flute or gently roll the edges for a decorative touch. Carefully lift the pasty onto a baking sheet (lined with parchment for convenience if you wish). Repeat with remaining pasties.
- Brush the pasties with the egg wash using a pastry brush. Cut 3 small slits in the top of each pastry to prevent steam from building up and splitting the dough. Bake for 1 hour until the crust is golden brown and flaky and the filling is firm and thoroughly cooked. Serve warm, with ketchup or brown gravy if you like.
- If you have leftovers, wrap in foil and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze in an airtight container for up to 2 months. You can reheat these in a 350°F oven.
Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuit Topping
Yield: 4 servings
½ cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 pints chicken stock
½ tsp dried thyme
2 ½ cups root vegetables (turnip, carrot, parsnip, celeriac, rutabaga), medium dice
8 ounces cooked chicken, diced
Sea Salt, to taste
Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Biscuit Topping (See Recipe Below)
- In a small sauce pot, melt 2 Tbsp of butter. Sweat onion and garlic in butter until softened. Add the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter and melt. Stir in whole wheat pastry flour to make a roux. Gradually add chicken stock, stirring constantly to combine. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to keep from scorching the bottom of the pot.
- Add thyme, diced vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Stir in chicken and pour into an 8 x 8 inch baking dish. Drop spoonfuls of biscuit dough evenly on top of filling. Bake in a 400°F oven for 35-40 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
2 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
3 Tbsp unsalted cold butter
½ cup buttermilk
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or fork until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
- Add cheese and toss to coat. Add buttermilk and stir to combine. Mixture should be stiff.
Recipe by Chef Andrea Yoder, Harmony Valley Farm
The article that follows was written by Shizue, Content Coordinator at Kickapoo Coffee Roasters. In last week’s coffee newsletter, Shizue shared a glimpse into how pricing works in the coffee industry, connecting issues associated with commodity pricing to the impacts a volatile market have on the coffee producers. We invited her to share a slightly expanded version of this article with our broader membership as her article represents issues in our food system that apply to all of us, whether you are a coffee drinker or not. Commodity pricing plays a role in agriculture, perhaps more than any of us may realize. Anything from raisins to chocolate, coffee to potatoes, avocadoes to lettuce, milk, and the list goes on. As a farmer with fixed costs and family members to feed, working off of a volatile commodity market is less than reassuring and in many cases proves to be less than sustainable. When prices are based on perceived values and market demands instead of the true cost of production, it often leaves producers holding all the risk.
In this article, Shizue poses the basic question “How do we value our producers?” We encourage everyone to be an informed consumer and eater. The system will only change when we as consumers demand the change. How we value our producers—both those growing and producing in our local markets as well as those more distant from us who grow products we consume are important. The fact that many producers around the world are forced to sell to a market at a loss for their hard work is heartbreaking. Are we willing to pay the price our producers need to stay in the game and live a sustainable life? We’re not talking about their ability to build extravagant homes, take vacations and drive expensive cars. We’re talking about making sure the return they get for the product they produce is enough for them to continue to farm in another year, feed their families and provide for their basic needs, and hopefully have a little bit left over so they can invest in their future. The reality is, if we don’t support our community of growers, we will continue to lose more small farmers. We hope you’ll take a moment to read this article and want to thank you for being part of a more sustainable food system!—Farmers Richard & Andrea
WHAT’S IT WORTH?
By: Shizue Roche Adachi, Kickapoo Coffee Roasters
On August 20th, the international price for green coffee (C-Price) plummeted to less than 97 cents per pound, the lowest it’s been in 12 years. And it’s not bouncing back. With an average cost of production hovering around $1.04 per pound, the market is now paying most farmers less than it costs to grow, cultivate, and process their coffee. Coffee farmers are already the least economically empowered players in the coffee supply chain, and now they are being asked to carry the financial burden of a system that’s failed them.
A coffee farmer walks his fields in Peru.
So, how did we get here? Like many industries, the true economy of coffee has been manipulated by speculation. Composed of a relatively small group of individuals, the financial sector holds an immense amount of economic power over the market. And they wield that power for their benefit, profiting off of a volatile commodity price while producers face uncertainty and instability.
At its foundation, the coffee industry is made up of an intricate web of relationships that tether coffee farmers and farmworkers to millers, roasters, exporters and retailers, and ultimately to coffee consumers worldwide. But the needs and interests of this interconnected community have been drowned out by those of speculators, traders, and investors. The C-Price, as with any commodity, dips and jumps in relationship to perceived value. It bears no responsibility to the true value of a coffee bean. And this is why our farmers can grow coffee in good faith, only to have to sell to the market at a loss. The market is not invested in the long-term sustainability and success of the coffee industry. It is interested in short term profits.
In an article published by the Specialty Coffee Association, the SCA’s Chief Sustainability Officer posited that we may lose half of our coffee farmers by 2030, forced out of livelihood that may have supported multiple generations before them. This loss is not only threatens the world’s coffee supply, it threatens the welfare of coffee producers around the world and the future of coffee farming as we know it.
While explaining the fluctuations in the C-Market demands a fuller explanation than can be captured here, what it really comes down to is a question of how we value producers. This is what happens when the market isn't held accountable to farmers. This is what happens when the industry confuses opportunities for quick profits with good business. This is what happens when we fail our producers and take their livelihoods for granted. And this is when Kickapoo Coffee's commitment to #RaisetheBar by setting a minimum price to farmers irrespective of the C-Price holds real weight.
In 2017, Kickapoo Coffee announced a guaranteed minimum price of $2.75 per pound to our farmers. This baseline commitment creates the economic security for farmers to see a future in coffee. And now, even though the C-Market price has fallen, we’re raising our minimum. This year, we’ll be writing contracts with a minimum price of $2.85 per pound.
While we can never rid ourselves of the commodity market, the specialty coffee industry can divorce itself from this degrading pricing model. Specialty coffee depends upon the producers who dedicate themselves to furthering their craft and exceeding market standards. And yet most industry players continue to base their prices on the commodity market.
This expectation to follow the commodity market is like expecting a local farmer selling heirloom varieties of popcorn to determine their price per pound according to the price of corn harvested for livestock feed. Or like asking an artisan chocolate maker to price their truffles based on the price of the Hershey’s bar at the gas station. Not only is this a ridiculous expectation, it’s a degrading one, with significant financial repercussions to those least empowered in the trade of coffee: the smallholder farmer.
The market won't change until we make it. Someone, somewhere, is always paying the true cost. So let’s put people above profits and give our farmers the dignity of a living wage.
Kickapoo Coffee co-owner, Caleb Nicholes, visits with a
member of the Adenisa Association in 2018.
Cooking With This Week's Box
Red & Yellow Onions: Spaghetti with Roasted Butternut Squash & Tat Soi (see below)
Tat Soi: Spaghetti with Roasted Butternut Squash & Tat Soi (see below)
It doesn’t seem possible that we’re down to our last three CSA boxes. Weren’t we just harvesting ramps not too long ago? Thanksgiving will be here next week and Christmas will follow close behind. Whether you’re looking for recipes to make for the holidays or just looking to find some tasty, seasonal recipes to try for weekly meals, this is a great time of the year to collect recipes from blogs, cooking magazines, etc. One of my favorite sites to peruse this time of year is Food52.com. I’ve already made a list of new recipes to try from their Food52 Thanksgiving Menu Maker. Check it out and you’ll find a lot of really good ideas for fall and winter vegetables.
Ok, time to get cooking with this week’s box and first on the list is our featured vegetable, the beautiful tat soi! If you aren’t familiar with tat soi, please take a moment to read this week’s vegetable feature article. Tat soi is a tasty and versatile green. This week I used it to make the featured recipe below, Spaghetti with Roasted Butternut Squash & Tat Soi (see below). This turned out to be a pretty simple dish to make and very beautiful with contrasting colors of dark green, orange and purple from the red onions. Unlike many pasta dishes that contain dairy, this dish is not only vegetarian but also vegan. The chopped nuts with lemon zest that are used as a garnish is a perfect finishing touch to complete the dish. This can stand alone as dinner itself or is tasty side dish with a seared pork chop, grilled salmon or roasted chicken.
The other green in this week’s box is collards. Farmer Richard always tells us to “eat your greens every day,” so we’re doing our best to extend greens season as long as we can! This week I want to use them to make this recipe for Collard Greens with Lime & Peanuts. This is a simple, tasty recipe we featured in a previous newsletter. I like it served over rice and will sometimes add a little fish or chicken as well.
It’ll be awhile before we see those pretty little fresh red radishes again, so we turn our attention to storage radishes to get us through the winter. This week’s box contains beauty heart radishes which are more mild and sweet than other winter radishes. If you aren’t familiar with this radish and aren’t sure what to do with them, you might want to refer to this article in a previous newsletter from several years ago which includes a list of things you can do with a beauty heart radish. This radish has become a staple ingredient at Richard’s family’s Thanksgiving celebrations. We eat them as snack food when we travel during the winter---radish slices with cheese. It has to have more antioxidants than a wheat cracker!! You could also use this radish to make this simple, attractive salad for Winter Radishes with Sour Cream Dressing & Poppy Seeds. This is a tasty salad to enjoy throughout the winter when you’re looking for something fresh and crunchy.
If you don’t already have something in mind for this week’s celeriac, consider making one or two of my favorite dishes for celeriac. Throughout the winter we often make Celeriac and Apple Remoulade. Basically, it’s a creamy slaw made with shredded celeriac and apples. I also like to put fresh, chopped cranberries in it. It is simple enough to make for a regular, weeknight dinner, but classy enough that you could use it for a holiday dinner as well. I also like to take leftover chicken or turkey and add it to this Wild Rice & Celeriac Gratin. Consider putting this on the menu for the week after Thanksgiving.
Celeriac and Apple Romoulade
Photo from Romulo Yanes, MarthaStewart.com
What are you going to do with those rosy pink shallots? We packed these in this week’s box so you’d have something a little extra special to use for your Thanksgiving creations. There are a lot of fun things you can do with shallots. You could give them center-stage and make Herb-Roasted Turkey with Shallot Pan Gravy. If you’re making a traditional green bean casserole, consider trading those canned onions for Crispy Fried Shallots. Shallot Marmalade is another option that could add some class to a leftover turkey sandwich or serve it as an appetizer with bread and cheese throughout the holiday season. Lastly, this Roasted Butternut Squash and Shallot Soup offers a more reserved and simple option that is simply delicious.
Lets move on and tackle the orange vegetables in this week’s box starting with the carrots which are large, crispy, sweet and delicious! If you’re into spiralizing, these might be a good carrot to sprialize into a salad. This week I want to use these big carrots to make Carrot Fries. These will go great with grilled cheese or a cheeseburger. I also want to make these Apple and Carrot “Superhero” Muffins featuring oatmeal and almond meal. The blog this recipe comes from also includes options for using whole wheat flour in place of the almond meal. Serve these for breakfast or brunch.
Last year I made Deborah Madison’s Sweet Potato Flan and it’s on the list to make again within the next two weeks! While it’s intended to be a decadent dessert, I also like eating it for breakfast! Bake it in squatty half-pint canning jars so you can put a lid on it and send it in the kids’ lunch…like pudding. Earlier this week I came across this recipe for Chili Lime Sweet Potato Gratin with Goat Cheese which would be great for Thanksgiving or just a regular weeknight!
Sweet Potato Flan, photo from food52
I’ve already suggested a few uses for the last orange vegetable in the box, butternut squash. If you aren’t feeling like Roasted Butternut Squash and Shallot Soup or Spaghetti with Roasted Butternut Squash & Tat Soi (see below), may I make my annual suggestion to try my Grandma Yoder’s Squash Pie. I think about Grandma a lot this time of year and am thankful she shared this and many other family recipes with me that our family continues to enjoy.
We have reached the bottom of the box, so all that’s left is to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! We’ve been very blessed this year to have the opportunity to be your farmers and I’ve enjoyed sharing recipes and cooking ideas with you each week. I hope you’ve found nourishment for your bodies as well as your souls throughout the season. Please meet me back here again in two weeks as we roll into the home stretch of the 2018 CSA Season with our final two deliveries. Happy Thanksgiving—Chef Andrea
Featured Vegetable: Tat Soi
Tat soi is one of my favorite fall vegetables. This is a gorgeous vegetable, but it’s also delicious and packed with nutrients. You’ll recognize the tat soi in your box this week as the large, dark green flower-like vegetable with long slender light green stems and rounded spoon-like leaves. Tat soi is a relative of bok choi and has a mild mustard flavor that has been sweetened by a few frosty nights. Both the leaves and the stems are tender and may be eaten raw or cooked.
Tat soi is one of the last greens we plant during the season with the intention to harvest it from the field as late as possible—early to mid-November. As the temperatures start to decrease, the plant lays itself flat to hug the ground for warmth. The result is a very open, flat rosette that has a deep, dark green color that intensifies with cold weather. Tat soi is very resilient to cold temperatures and can recover after being frozen. We did put hoops and a field cover over them to offer them some protection from the really cold nights. If you see some outer leaves on your tat soi that have a white to grayish hue, you’re looking at a little frost damage. You might also see some stems that have kind of a wrinkled, loose appearance. This happens sometimes when the stem freezes and then thaws. These stems and leaves are still good to eat and those frosty, cold nights are what make this green taste so mild and sweet! We hope you’ll be forgiving of a few frosted leaves as you appreciate the beauty and taste of this late season vegetable.
Bok Choi Salad with Sesame Almond Crunch
Try this salad with the Tat Soi in place of Bok Choi!
If you’re looking for recipes that use tat soi, you’re search will likely turn up pretty slim. Expand your search to include recipes that feature bok choi, spinach or even chard and you can use the tat soi in place of these greens. Tat soi leaves and stems are tender enough to be chopped and eaten raw as a salad. You can make a beautiful winter salad with tat soi, shredded carrot, slices of beauty heart radish and a light sesame-soy vinaigrette or even just a simple lemon vinaigrette. I like to make a simple salad like this and turn it into an entrée by adding seared flank steak or grilled salmon and some chopped toasted almonds or sesame seeds. Tat soi is also tasty used in stir-fries or wilted into brothy soups such as miso soup or hot and sour soup. In a previous newsletter we featured recipes for Tat Soi & Chicken Stir Fry and Pan-Seared Sesame & Garlic Marinated Tofu with Wilted Tat Soi. While I have a tendency to gravitate towards Asian ingredients and flavors when cooking tat soi, it also goes well with other flavors such as fennel, chiles and lemon as in the recipe for Spaghetti with Roasted Butternut Squash and Tat Soi (see below) featured in this week’s newsletter. We have two recipes in our archives that have been very popular amongst our members and were written to feature bok choi. You can use this week’s tat soi in place of bok choi in this recipe for Spicy Ginger Pork Noodles with Bok Choi or this recipe for Bok Choi Salad with Sesame Almond Crunch.
To prepare tat soi for use, turn it over with the bottom facing up and carefully trim each stem from the base. Wash the stems and leaves vigorously in a sink of clean, cold water. Remember, tat soi lives very close to the ground so there is often dirt on the stems at the base of the plant. Once the leaves and stems are clean, spin them dry in a salad spinner or loosely wrap them in a large kitchen towel and shake them to remove excess water. If you are cooking the greens, it is a good idea to trim the stems from the leaves and put them in the pan first to give them a 1-2 minute head start before you add the leafy portion. To store your tat soi, place it in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
Spaghetti with Roasted Butternut Squash & Tat Soi
Yield: 3-4 servings
2 ½ to 3 cups butternut squash, medium diced
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
¾ cup red wine
1 tsp fennel seeds
¼ - ½ tsp red pepper flakes
4 cups thinly sliced tat soi leaves & stems
8 oz dried spaghetti
Salt & Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Juice and zest of one lemon
½ cup toasted walnuts or almonds, finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Put diced butternut squash in a mixing bowl and drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil. You want just enough to lightly coat all pieces. Season with salt and pepper and spread the squash in a single layer on a baking pan. Roast for 40-50 minutes or until the squash is tender and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the finely chopped nuts along with ½ tsp salt and the zest of one lemon. The lemon zest is best done on a microplane so it is very fine. Alternatively, chop the zest finely with a knife. Set the nut mixture aside to use as a garnish when serving this dish.
- Next, put on a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Cook spaghetti until al dente. Before draining the spaghetti, remove one cup of the pasta water and set it aside. Drain pasta and set aside.
- While the squash is roasting and the spaghetti is cooking, heat 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil in a medium to large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté lightly until they are softened and starting to caramelize. If they start to brown, reduce the heat. This will take about 15-20 minutes.
- Once the onions are caramelized, add the red wine, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes. Simmer until the wine is reduced by half.
- Add the roasted butternut squash and tat soi to the pan. Place the cooked spaghetti on top and stir to combine all of the ingredients. Add some of the pasta water and continue to cook over medium heat until the tat soi is wilted and tender.
- Season with salt and pepper and add 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice. Add a little more pasta water if necessary and simmer for another 4-5 minutes. Taste and further adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and/or more lemon juice.
- Serve the pasta warm and topped with the mixture of toasted walnuts/almonds and lemon zest.
Recipe by Chef Andrea Yoder
By Andrea Yoder
Last week a research paper entitled “Association of Frequency of Organic Food Consumption with CancerRisk: Findings from the NutriNet-SantéProspective Cohort Study”
was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association
This paper was written by a group of researchers in France.
The research presented in this article is part of a large-scale prospective web-based study that was launched in 2009 and is ongoing. The purpose of this large-scale study is to “study associations between nutrition and health, as well as the determinants of dietary behaviors and nutritional status.”
The volunteers in this study were recruited from the general French population and participate in the study by completing online self-administrated questionnaires.
The purpose of this portion of the study was to “prospectively examine the association between consumption frequency of organic foods….and cancer risk” in the participants. This is the first research study of this type to be done prospectively. The authors acknowledge that cancer rates worldwide continue to rise and are one of the leading causes of mortality in France. Environmental exposure to toxic chemicals is considered by some to be a risk factor for cancer, however the focus of exposure in this context is most often related to occupational exposure. However, there is a growing body of evidence linking cancer development to pesticide exposure and there is now some published research documenting pesticide residue levels in food as well as urinary markers of pesticides in humans. What is not well documented is how the dose and/or effect of chemical cocktails impact cancer development in humans. Thus, the purpose of this study was to observe the correlation between eating organic food and the development of cancers.
If you are interested in reading this paper yourself and understanding more about the study design, population size and demographics, statistical evaluation, etc, the article is available in full text online
For the purposes of this report, I’m going to jump to their conclusions.
Researchers found that participants with higher organic food scores (ie those who ate more organic food in their diet) were associated with overall heathier lifestyles with diets rich in nutrients.
They also found that those with high organic food scores had an overall lower risk of cancer.
With regards to specific types of cancer, they found that those with high organic food scores had a lower incidence of postmenopausal breast cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and all lymphomas.
No associations were observed with other cancer sites.
The researchers commented that “Epidemiological research investigating the link between organic food consumption and cancer risk is scarce, and, to the best of our knowledge, the present study is the first to evaluate frequency of organic food consumption associated with cancer risk using detailed information on exposure.”
They also comment that “While there is a growing body of evidence supporting a role of occupational exposure to pesticides for various health outcomes and specifically for cancer development, there have been few large-scale studies conducted in the general population, for whom diet is the main source of pesticide exposure.
It now seems important to evaluate chronic effects of low-dose pesticide residue exposure from the diet and potential cocktail effects at the general population level.
In particular, further research is required to identify which specific factors are responsible for potential protective effects of organic food consumption on cancer risk.”
Farmer Richard with some of our gorgeous, nutritious
radishes earlier this spring.
So what is the take-home message here?
It’s been eleven years since I worked as a clinical dietitian at a major medical university hospital on the east coast.
However, during my time as a clinician it was often a challenge to get the medical community I worked with to even acknowledge the major role even basic good nutrition plays in health both for disease prevention as well as healing and rehabilitation.
I recall little if any discussion of food quality, let alone discussion about the pros and cons of food produced in an organic system.
In that world, the sentiment always seemed to be that a calorie is a calorie and a carrot is a carrot.
No distinction was made between an organic carrot versus a conventional carrot.
So, for those who still question whether or not food produced without dangerous toxic chemicals has a positive impact on human health, I think it’s great that we are finally starting to discuss this topic and do the prospective research needed to fully evaluate this question from a scientific perspective.
I am also encouraged that this paper has been published in a major medical journal in this country.
I count this as progress and am hopeful that this research and these discussions will continue to move forward in a way that ultimately impacts our population in positive ways through greater knowledge and hopefully changes in dietary recommendations given by health professionals.
It’s obvious that Richard and I have a biased opinion about this topic as we have clearly chosen to produce food using organic methods. We also seek out organic food for our own diets and believe that it is the best way to feed and nourish our bodies both by limiting exposure to potentially cancer-causing chemicals as well as providing our bodies with nutrients that help prevent cancer. So, as always, we encourage everyone to make their own informed decisions about their food. For this reason I hope we continue to see more research reports from well-designed studies to help us understand these issues surrounding the way our food is produced and the ultimate outcome for our health.
Cooking With This Week's Box
Escarole: Escarole & Bean Soup (see below); Pasta with Gorgonzola, Radicchio, Walnuts, and Orange (see below)
This week’s box is packed full of fall goodness and while we’re moving into November, we are thankful to still have some delicious greens to enjoy! This week we’re featuring Escarole or Radicchio. I like bitter greens and this is by far my favorite time of year to enjoy them. We can use the escarole to make this very simple Escarole & Bean Soup (see below) or use escarole or radicchio in this recipe for Pasta with Gorgonzola, Radicchio, Walnuts, and Orange (see below).
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos
photo from eats well with others
We all like an easy recipe or two to have on the back burner for a busy evening when you don’t have a lot of time to make dinner. This recipe for Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos
is pretty easy. You could even roast the sweet potatoes in advance so you would just have to warm up the components and assemble the tacos. Serve this with the Carrot, Beet & Apple Salad
we featured in this week’s fruit newsletter and you have a quick, simple and very healthy option for dinner!
A few weeks ago I came across this recipe for a Butternut Apple Cranberry Sandwich
. This is a vegetarian sandwich based on slices of roasted butternut squash layered with fresh apples, dried cranberries a handful of arugula or other greens and a bit of quick pickled red cabbage. Not only is this filling, but it’s packed with nutrients!
Tis the season for butternut squash, and I’ve had my eye on this Butternut Squash & Bacon Breakfast Casserole. I love a good egg dish and would likely never have thought to put butternut squash in a dish like this! The recipe calls for spinach, but the author suggests substituting kale instead. Conveniently, we can use this week’s lacinato kale tops to complete this recipe! Serve this along with Brussels Sprouts with Maple & Cayenne for a tasty brunch on the weekend.
With this week’s parsnips, I’m going to make two things. First, this recipe for Chardonnay Braised Chicken Thighs with Parsnips
which we featured in our newsletter previously. This recipe will use about a pound of the parsnips, but you have 1 ½ pounds in this week’s box. So, lets take the remainder, shred them and use them to make these Parsnip Muffins!
Even people who do not like parsnips usually enjoy this recipe!
What are you going to do with all these onions? Make Caramelized Onion Jam
! Make a big batch of this jam for the holidays. Serve it on bread or crackers with goat cheese or another soft spreadable cheese of your choice. You might also want some of this after Thanksgiving to use as a smear on bread for that after-Christmas TV Marathon.
Last, but not least, we have one head of garlic remaining in the box! Keep yourself healthy this winter. Use garlic in your diet every day and you’ll reap the health consequences for sure! Check out this recipe for Garlic Soup!
We’re determined to stay healthy this winter!
Have a great week and we’ll be back in two weeks!
Thank you—Chef Andrea
Featured Vegetable: Chicories--Escarole & Radicchio
As we push into the final months of the year, our Midwestern seasonal diet shifts more to hearty roots and storage vegetables and fresh greens become more sparse. But don’t think we’re done with greens yet! This week we’re happy to be able to include some late season, cold-hardy chicories including either escarole or radicchio. Both of these greens are bitter, cold-hardy greens that are best suited for growing in the fall and are sturdy enough to be able to take some frosty, cold nights. In fact, we don’t even think about harvesting them until they’ve had some chilly nights! The flavor of these greens changes dramatically after they’ve had cold treatment. They are bitter greens, but don’t let that deter you. When you harvest them after a frost, you’ll find their flavor profile to be bitter, but it’s a much more mild, well-balanced and slightly sweet flavor. We have had temperatures down into the lower twenties. These greens do just fine uncovered when freezing temperatures are in the low 30’s and high 20’s, but they can sustain some damage when we get a hard freeze. So, we do cover these plants to protect them from freezing too hard on those really cold nights. We don’t want the cover to rub on the leaves, so we have to put wire hoops over the beds to keep the cover off the plants. The deer in our valley like to eat their greens every day and when their food sources are limited, they do enjoy a nice nibble on some escarole. While we like to support our local wildlife, we do not like to share these greens with them! So, the crew put a tall deer fence around the perimeter of the field to protect them.
Escarole resembles a head of green leaf lettuce. The center leaves are sometimes light green or slightly yellow and the outer leaves are more broad and a bit more thick when compared to leaf lettuce. There are several different kinds of radicchio, but this year we grew the round type that is supposed to make a little round head, similar to a Boston lettuce. The leaves are dark red and even the outer leaves of the plant may be eaten. Radicchio has a pretty long growing season and some years it’s hard to get them to full size. They are very light and small right now, but it doesn’t look like we’re going to have enough more warm, sunny days to make much of a difference in their size so we decided to harvest them while we can.
Both escarole and radicchio may be eaten raw or cooked. If you don’t mind a little bit of the bitter taste, you will enjoy eating these greens as a salad. Cooking mellows out the bitterness and accentuates the sweet qualities in these greens. Both of these greens are used more in Italian cuisine. There’s a classic preparation for escarole that some Italian cooks call Scarola Affogata, which means “smothered escarole.” In this dish, garlic is sautéed in olive oil until golden, then chopped escarole, salt and red pepper flakes and seasoning are added to the pan. The greens are cooked until they are soft and tender. This is then served as side dish, or you can use the greens for another purpose, such as on top of a pizza!
Escarole and radicchio pair well with other fall vegetables and fruits such as apples, pears, persimmons, lemons, oranges, garlic, onions, beets, potatoes and butternut squash. They are also often included in dishes with white beans and lentils. Additionally, they pair well with hazelnuts and walnuts as well as butter, prosciutto, bacon, cheese (including blue cheese, Parmesan, and gruyere). Escarole is often used in soup, such as in this week’s featured recipe. Radicchio is often used in pasta dishes, on top of pizza, or raw in salads.
Store escarole and radicchio in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until ready to use. You will need to wash the leaves as you would wash head lettuce. We hope you enjoy these unique, late season greens and the vitality you get from eating them!
Escarole and Bean Soup
Yield: 6 servings
Author’s note: “This is probably the fastest soup you'll ever throw together. I sometimes add sausage to make it a little heartier.”
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 head escarole, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1-15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1-ounce chunk of Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
Crusty Bread, for serving
- Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the escarole and saute until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth, beans and chunk of Parmesan cheese. Simmer until the beans are heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Ladle the soup into 6 bowls. Drizzle 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil over each portion. Serve with crusty bread.
Recipe borrowed from Giada de Laurentiis’ book, Giada’s Family Dinners.
Pasta with Gorgonzola, Radicchio, Walnuts, and Orange
Yield: 4 servings
1 cup chopped walnuts
Salt, to taste
8 to 12 oz pasta, such as penne or gemelli
¼ cup olive oil
10-12 oz radicchio and/or escarole, cut into 1-inch-wide ribbons
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 oz crumbled gorgonzola or other mild blue cheese
½ cup chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
Zest of 1 orange, plus the juice (optional)
Grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano, for serving, optional
- Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts and toast them over medium-low heat for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently so they do not burn. Remove and set aside. Wipe out skillet.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt and return to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente according to the package directions.
- While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce: Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the radicchio and/or escarole and season with salt and pepper. Cook the radicchio until it begins to wilt and brown, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the gorgonzola and cook for 2 minutes. Add ½ cup of the pasta water directly from the pot and simmer for 3 minutes more. The water should emulsify the cheese and create a velvety texture.
- Scoop the cooked pasta directly into the skillet (alternatively, drain, reserving plenty of the pasta cooking liquid) and toss to combine the pasta with the sauce. Add the walnuts and parsley and toss again until glossy, adding ¼ cup of pasta water or more (up to 1 cup), as needed to loosen up the sauce. Add the zest and toss to combine. Taste. Adjust as needed with more salt and pepper.
Cooking With This Week's Box
Celeriac: Wild Rice & Celeriac Gratin (see below); Celeriac Salad with Buttermilk Dressing (see below)
It’s time to transition to hearty fall and winter fare. Braised vegetables and meats, casseroles, hearty stews and crispy root vegetable winter salads. Lets dive into this week’s box and tackle celeriac first. You may be surprised by how far even one medium celeriac will go, and it’s a pretty versatile vegetable to use. I really enjoy the how the flavors of wild rice and celeriac go together as both are very hearty and slightly earthy. You’ll enjoy this combination in this week’s featured recipe for Wild Rice & Celeriac Gratin (see below). This dish can stand on its own as a main dish or you could serve it as a side dish along roast beef or braised pork. The other recipe we’re featuring this week is for a simple raw Celeriac Salad with Buttermilk Dressing (See Below). This recipe calls for celery, which I don’t have right now so I’m going to use shaved carrots instead. If you don’t have fresh pomegranate seeds, you could also use fresh or dried cranberries in place of them.
Kohlrabi & Chickpea Curry
Photo from DishingUpTheDirt.com
Wait until you taste the kohlrabi in the box this week! We don’t always grow kohlrabi in the fall, but thought we would include it this year so we have another crispy, crunchy option to enjoy in salads and just as a raw vegetable after all the other fresh vegetables are harvested. If it seems too big for you, don’t think you have to use it all at one time. Just cut off the portion you want to use and return the remainder (unpeeled) to the refrigerator, well wrapped to keep it from drying out. Richard’s been asking for Kohlrabi slaw, so this week I want to make this Kohlrabi and Apple Slaw using some of the apples we got in our fruit share last week. I’ve never used kohlrabi in any kind of a curry dish, so I’m intrigued by Andrea Bemis’s recipe for Kohlrabi & Chickpea Curry.
I have a big jar of red lentils on my shelf, so this week I’m going to make Red Lentils with Winter Squash & Greens. We featured this recipe in a previous newsletter and recommended using mustard greens or spinach. We’re done with both mustard greens and spinach so I’m going to use the green curly kale in this week’s box.
A few weeks ago I made this simple Carrot and Potato Mash and it was so delicious! I usually put about 4-5 different roots in our root mash, but opted to keep it simple and the result was so good. It’s light, fluffy and slightly sweet. We’re going to have this for dinner this week with pot roast, with a little gravy of course.
Blueberry Beet Muffins
Photo from TheLeanGreenBean.com
I usually opt for simple steamed beets or a beet salad, but I have to try this recipe for Blueberry Beet Muffins! I never would have paired beets and blueberries together, but think about all the antioxidants you’ll get in these pink muffins! This was a recipe a member shared on our Facebook group. Thanks for sharing this Greta!
I have really been enjoying trying new spaghetti squash recipes this year. Thankfully these squash have been storing well despite the fact that this variety historically is one that we try to use sooner than later. This week I’m going to try this recipe for Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai.
I hope you enjoy trying some of the Japanese sweet potatoes this week. We don’t have many, but we’re going to include a little bit in as many boxes as we’re able to. I want to try this recipe for Japanese Sweet Potato Oven Fries with Wasabi Aioli. Of course this recipe will work with regular orange sweet potatoes as well so I’ll be using both, which will look really beautiful along with some white and black sesame seeds sprinkled on top. These will go well with Fried Fish Sandwiches with Radish Slaw. The recipe for the radish slaw calls for salad turnips, but I’m going to use kohlrabi instead.
We’ve reached the bottom of yet another CSA box and have quite a variety of recipes in the lineup for this week. Just because we’re heading into the season of storage vegetables doesn’t mean our meals can’t still be diverse, flavorful and exciting to prepare and eat! Have a great week and start thinking about Thanksgiving. It’s time to start planning the menu and getting the recipes lined up!—Chef Andrea
Featured Vegetable: Celeriac
Celeriac, or celery root as it is also known, can be a bit intimidating if you’re encountering it for the first time. However, as with all vegetables, there’s really no need to be intimidated…it’s just a vegetable! Celeriac is in the same family as celery. The difference is that celeriac is grown for its root and celery is grown for its stalks. The stalks on celeriac resemble celery and have a lot of delicious flavor in them, however they are more tough and fibrous than celery and are not usually eaten as you would eat a celery stalk. While this week’s celeriac do not have tops, we do sometimes deliver green top celeriac. If you ever get celeriac with the tops still on, don’t throw them away! Their flavor can add depth to a pot of stock or soup.
Now for the root bulb. First, scrub the exterior of the root the best you can. Next, thinly slice away the top and bottom of the root so there is a flat side on the top and the bottom. You’ll probably need to take a little more off the bottom to get past the majority of the roots and get into the more usable bulb portion of the root. At this point, I usually cut the root in half or into quarters so it is easier to handle. Using a paring knife, carefully trim away the outer skin. Once you’ve removed the outer skin, rinse the remaining piece of celeriac and clean your cutting board if there’s any residual dirt. The inner portion of the root is white, solid and entirely edible.
Celeriac has a subtle celery flavor that provides a background to soups, stews, and root mashes. It also makes a delicious soup or gratin on its own or combined with potatoes or other root vegetables. It can also be eaten raw in salads and slaws paired with other fall fruits and vegetables and a simple creamy dressing. There is a classic French preparation called Remoulade which is basically a creamy celeriac slaw. I like to make a slaw based on this concept, but add apples and fresh, chopped cranberries as well as parsley when available. I’ve noticed more “paleo” recipes are encouraging the use of celeriac as a substitute for starchy potatoes, noodles, etc.
Celeriac stores quite well, thus it is an important part of our seasonal winter diets. It can actually be stored for up to 6 months! Keep it in your refrigerator loosely wrapped in plastic or in the crisper drawer until you are ready to use it.
Celeriac Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
Yield: 4 side salads
1 celeriac (about ¾ pound)
¾ cup Buttermilk Dressing (recipe follows)
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 cup peeled and shaved celery
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Recipes borrowed from The Broad Fork, Recipes for the wide world of vegetables and fruits by Hugh Acheson
- Use a vegetable peeler to peel the celeriac, and then finely julienne it. In a bowl, dress the celeriac with ½ cup of the buttermilk dressing.
- In a small bowl, combine the pomegranate seeds, parsley, celery, olive oil, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt, and toss well.
- Spoon 1 Tbsp of the remaining buttermilk dressing on each plate, and spread it out with the back of your spoon. Divide the dressed celeriac among the plates, and then spoon the pomegranate, parsley, and celeriac salad evenly over the top.
Yield: 1 cup
½ cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp crème fraiche
½ tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Combine the buttermilk, mustard, lemon juice, mayonnaise, crème fraiche, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk to combine, and serve. The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days.
Recipes borrowed from The Broad Fork, Recipes for the wide world of vegetables and fruits by Hugh Acheson
Wild Rice and Celeriac Gratin
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
¼ cup minced shallot or onion
3 Tbsp butter or oil
2 Tbps flour
1 ½ cups milk, scalded (can be nondairy milk)
½ tsp sea salt
Freshly milled white pepper
½ tsp grated nutmeg
1 Tbsp butter
1 small celeriac, peeled and grated
Juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
Sea salt and freshly milled pepper
3 cups wild rice, cooked
½ cup grated Gruyère
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan
- Cook the shallot in 3 Tbsp butter in a small saucepan over low heat for 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes more. Whisk in the hot milk all at once, then cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently, or for 30 minutes in the top of a double boiler. Season with ½ tsp salt, a little white pepper, and the nutmeg. Set the sauce aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly butter or oil a baking dish. Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the celeriac with the lemon juice, garlic, and parsley and cook until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Combine the wild rice, celeriac, and sauce and stir in the cheeses. Turn into the dish and bake until firm, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
Recipe adapted from The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
By Chef Andrea
Last weekend we had our first hard frost with temperatures dropping down into the twenties. We also saw snow flying and on Saturday we were pelted with snow, rain and sleet as we unloaded the harvest wagons when the crews came in for lunch! Needless to say, now that the chill is on it’s time to truly acknowledge we’re shifting seasons. While some may scowl at the thought of winter weather, the changing of seasons is one of the beauties of living…and eating in the midwest. As CSA members, you are probably some of the most seasonally informed eaters as we follow the cues nature gives us as we harvest and plant across the wide range of seasons we experience from spring to summer and then fall and into winter. Nature gives us what we need, when we need it and now we’re entering into the season of the year where the daylight hours are dwindling, the temperatures are dropping, and it’s time for us to slow down and keep warm. In The Birchwood Café Cookbook, they call the transition from summer to fall the season of “Dusk” and mark the transition to winter with the onset of the first frost. I like the description they use: “…out in our fields, ghosts of the harvest—stalks and vines, a few errant squash—are coated with silver and glisten in the morning sun. The sudden cold snaps our appetites into action. Hungers surge, and we start roasting roots and cooking whole grains and working with farmstead meats.” This description is what we woke up to Sunday morning and those “ghosts of the harvest” were evident. Stalks and stems once vibrant and alive now with frosted, wilted leaves frozen and motionless. Our field work is dwindling, but we’re well-stocked with plenty of delicious vegetables to sustain us through the winter.
Kohlrabi harvest from Saturday, complete with snow.
“Bittersweet. That’s fall in a nutshell. Leaves are dropping, along with the temperatures, and the lush plants bursting with life such a short time ago look all used up. Yet after summer’s frenetic growth, I can’t help but welcome fall’s slower pace. I’m ready to be indoors, spending a little longer by the warm stove…Vegetables that love the cold—like Brussels sprouts and braising greens—are coming into their prime, sweetened by the cold nights and occasional fall frosts that encourage sugar development. Roots are sweeter now as well. I do still serve some fall vegetables raw, especially those first Brussels spouts and kale leaves. But I’m more likely now than in early months to turn up the stove and transform the vegetables with heat.” This is an excerpt from Joshua McFadden’s book Six Seasons in which he introduces the changing of seasons and cooking in the fall. He’s right, the slower pace of winter can be a welcomed relief. We replace quick vegetable sautes and grilled vegetables with roasted vegetables, baked sweet potatoes and squash and slowly simmered soups and stews. While there are still some quick preparations for roots and the like, many of these vegetables need some time to become soft, tender and for their flavors to develop. That being said, I do encourage you to continue to enjoy some things raw. Even though we don’t have spinach, lettuce and salad greens anymore, we can still enjoy fresh, crunchy vegetable salads. Now is the time to get creative with cabbage slaws, shredded carrot salads, Kohlrabi and celeriac slaws and even beet salads. We also have some hearty fall greens that are frost-tolerant, such as escarole and tat soi. There are so many interesting ways to prepare these vegetables in their raw form. Combine them with different flavorful oils such as hazelnut or walnut oil. Mix them with winter fruit like apples, pears, and citrus. Add some additional crunch with toasted squash seeds, roasted nuts, croutons or crispy shallots.
Escarole Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette, Pears,
With the holidays upon us, it’s also a time of the year to come together to celebrate and enjoy the company of friends and family. Spend some time cooking and eating together. It’s good for the soul and remember, part of this whole CSA concept is community! I’m reminded of the beauty of community every year when we receive an invitation to the annual Verona Root Party. This is a party hosted at the beginning of December every year for…well I’m not sure how many years but I’d guess it could be as many as 20 or more! This is a group of CSA members who have “grown up” together, sharing in the beauty of friendships and community as they’ve helped each other raise their children, watched them grow up and move out to go to college and find their place in this world. Every year they take the time to celebrate not only their community, but the food and relationship they have to our farm. Their meals are delicious, creative and beautiful.
One Pot Kabocha Squash and Chickpea Curry
So as we move into yet another season, I hope you’ll pause to consider how fortunate we are to be able to eat through the different seasons, experiencing the best that nature has to offer us. Our own experienced Farmer Richard has learned a lot of farming “tricks” over the years that allow us to extend the perimeters of our farming season by working with nature and being willing to try different vegetables that may not be so common. We started off the season with ramps, sorrel and nettles and we’ll end it with Brussels sprouts, cabbage, storage kohlrabi, sweet potatoes, winter squash and a plethora of hearty roots. These vegetables will sustain us as we move through winter and welcome the arrival of another spring….and then we’ll start the cycle all over again. Thank you for choosing to eat seasonally. As we finish out the final two months of CSA deliveries, we’ll be stocking your refrigerators and pantries to prepare you for the winter. We hope you enjoy this season of fall and winter culinary creativity as you prepare delicious, hearty, nourishing meals.
Brussels Sprouts in the field covered in snow.
Cooking With This Week's Box
Russet Potatoes: Green Cabbage Soup with Potatoes and Sour Cream (see below)
Green Savoy Cabbage: Green Cabbage Soup with Potatoes and Sour Cream (see below); Roasted Cabbage with Bacon Gremolata or Toasted Walnut Sauce (see below)
Here we are, almost at the end of October! The past week has been a chilly one which makes me really ready to fully transition to fall and winter cooking. Lets kick off this week’s discussion with a super-simple recipe for Green Cabbage Soup with Potatoes and Sour Cream (see below). Deborah Madison is well-known for simple, vegetable-centric recipes. This soup is no exception. From beginning to end it only took me 35 minutes to prep all the vegetables and simmer the soup. No blenders, no complicated steps and very limited ingredients. This is nothing fancy, but it’s nourishing and delicious. I followed Deborah’s suggestion to garnish it with a dollop of sour cream and freshly chopped parsley. You could grate Parmesan cheese on top or you could add a can of cannellini beans to the soup if you wanted to add a little more protein or body. We enjoyed this warm soup with a piece of rustic bread and a light salad made with our salad mix tossed with vinegar and oil.
The other cabbage recipe we’re featuring this week is a combination of recipes from Andrea Bemis’s book, Dishing up the Dirt, and Sarah Britton’s book, Naturally Nourished. Andrea has a delicious recipe for Roasted Cabbage with Bacon Gremolata (see below). This is another very easy recipe that doesn’t take much time to prepare, you just have to be patient while the cabbage roasts. If you don’t care for the Bacon Gremolata, try Sarah’s Toasted Walnut Sauce(see below). Sarah has a similar recipe for charred cabbage in her book and garnishes the cabbage with this sauce which I think is a great vegan option for the roasted cabbage recipe. This dish could stand on its own for any meal of the day if you served it with a piece of toast and a fried egg, or you could serve it in a smaller portion as a side dish.
Carrot Corn Muffins
Photo from Creative Culinary
It’s chili season! This recipe just popped into my inbox, Smoky Squash Chili with Quinoa, Pinto & Black Beans. This is a hearty vegan chili that uses the sweet, rich honeynut butternut squash for a bit of sweetness. The smokiness comes from chipotle adobo sauce and fire-roasted canned tomatoes. This will be delicious served with chunks of fresh avocado, which we conveniently have in this week’s fruit share! I’m going to add a few slices of fresh lime as well (also in our fruit share) and serve it with these Carrot Corn Muffins.
While I was poking around on The First Mess blog after reading the post about the Squash Chili recipe, I came across this recipe for Charred Broccoli & Tofu Stuffed Avocados with Sweet Curry Lemon Sauce. This sounds like a delicious, flavorful recipe to make with some of the last broccoli of the season paired with avocados from the fruit share. If you don’t care for tofu, consider substituting tempeh or even chicken if you prefer. This recipe also calls for fresh apricots, which are not available now. I’m going to substitute chunks of fresh Jonagold apples instead.
Any time you can incorporate vegetables into your breakfast, you earn an automatic win for the day. Check out this simple, yet flavorful recipe for Sweet Potato Skillet Hash. This recipe is from Sarah Britton. While most of her recipes are vegan, she does on occasion incorporate organic free-range eggs, which is the case with this recipe. This is a hearty way to start the day or have it for weekend brunch and make a little extra that you can quickly heat up for breakfast on Monday morning.
Curried Cauliflower Pizza
Photo from Naturally Ella
You know I like a good, unique pizza! This week lets try this Curried Cauliflower Pizza! I can’t say that I’ve ever had pizza with cauliflower on it, but I made one earlier this year with salad turnips so why not try this one! Of course you could also use the Broccoli Romanesco for this recipe as well.
Throughout the week round out your meals with a simple side salad using the Baby Arugula in this week’s box. Make a simple homemade vinaigrette to have on hand so you have something quick and easy to use to dress your greens with. Perhaps a sweet and tangy Pear Vinaigrette or a fruity Apple Vinaigrette.
Enjoy your cooking adventures this week and get ready for more hearty cold-weather fare next week. While we enjoy our final days of fresh greens, we’ll start to transition to more root crops to go along with our sweet potatoes and winter squash. Have a great week!—Chef Andrea
Featured Vegetable: Green Savoy Cabbage
Green Savoy Cabbage vs Red Cabbage
This week we’re featuring one of our favorite fall & winter greens, green savoy cabbage. While many growers choose to grow “kraut cabbage” which is the standard smooth, green cabbage, we choose to grow savoy cabbage. The term savoy refers to the ruffled leaves which we think are beautiful! We also like this type of cabbage because it has more texture when eaten raw or cooked. In addition to green savoy cabbage, we have a red savoy cabbage variety as well. Despite the fact that this is a great variety, both beautiful and has long storage potential, the seed producers have chosen to discontinue seed production. This will be our last year to grow and deliver red savoy cabbages as we have planted out the remainder of the seed we had in storage and cannot get any more. We’ll be delivering red savoy cabbage in late November or December.
Cabbage has long been known as a staple vegetable necessary for surviving a long winter in cold climates. It stores well and has a wide variety of uses. Additionally, cabbage is packed with nutrients including vitamins C and K, fiber B6 as well as antioxidants. When it’s too cold to harvest other greens, we can rely on cabbage to get us through until spring!
Thai-Style Slaw with (or without) Chicken
Green savoy cabbage may be eaten raw or cooked. In the raw form, use this cabbage to make a traditional creamy cole slaw along with carrots and/or other root vegetables such as celeriac. You can also use this cabbage to create some main dish salads such as this recipe for Thai-Style Slaw with (or without) Chicken which was featured in one of last year’s newsletters. You can also use this cabbage to make a quick pickled salad or shred it, salt it and turn it into a simple slaw to eat with tacos.
Green savoy cabbage may also be cooked. You can add it to soup, such as in this week’s newsletter or use it to make Beet Borscht. I also like to use this cabbage in stir-fries over the winter. Combine it with beauty heart radishes, thinly sliced turnips, carrots and onions to make a delicious winter vegetable stir-fry served with rice. I also like to use cabbage throughout the fall and winter to make Farmer Skillet. The recipe on our website is for a Summer Farmer Skillet, but you can use this concept to make a winter version of this using root vegetables with thinly sliced cabbage as the green on top.
Store your cabbage in the refrigerator loosely wrapped in a plastic bag. If you don’t need to use the whole head at one time, just trim off the portion you need and put the remainder back in the refrigerator. If your cabbage starts to get soft or a little dehydrated, don’t throw it out! It’s still good and is perfectly usable for making soup or any other dish where you’ll be cooking the cabbage.
Green Cabbage Soup with Potatoes and Sour Cream
Yield: 7 to 8 cups
5-6 cups green savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
2 to 3 Tbsp butter
1 ½ cups sliced leek or diced yellow onion
2 cups diced potato (russet potatoes are preferred)
1 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
Freshly grounded black pepper, to taste
Sour cream or yogurt, for serving
Minced parsley or dill, for serving
- Melt the butter in a soup pot. Add the leek or onion and potato, give them a stir, and cook for a minute or two, then add the cabbage and 1 tsp salt. Pour over 5 cups water, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, cover, for 20 minutes or until the potato is tender.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper.
- Ladle the soup in to bowls, then add to each a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkling of fresh herbs, and a final grinding of pepper.
- Add 5 juniper berries and 2 tsp finely chopped rosemary to the leek/onion and potato. Serve the soup with an extra pinch of rosemary.
- Reduce the water by ½ cup and at the end replace the sour cream with crème fraiche or cream.
Recipe adapted from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen, by Deborah Madison.
Roasted Cabbage with Bacon Gremolata Or Toasted Walnut Sauce
We’re offering two suggestions for serving this roasted cabbage. If you enjoy meat, try the Bacon Gremolata with Parmesan cheese. If you’re looking for something a little lighter and/or a vegetarian option, try the Toasted Walnut Sauce.—Chef Andrea
Yield: 4 servings
1 medium-sized head of cabbage, sliced crosswise into 1-inch thick rounds
2 Tbsp olive oil
Bacon Gremolata and Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese or Toasted Walnut Sauce (see below)
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Brush both sides of the cabbage rounds with olive oil. Place them on a baking sheet and roast until they are tender and browned on all sides, 35 to 45 minutes. Toss halfway through cooking.
- To serve, sprinkle the roasted cabbage with the gremolata and Parmesan or drizzle with Toasted Walnut Sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Recipe from Dishing up the Dirt, By Andrea Bemis.
4 strips good-quality thick-cut bacon
¾ cup roasted unsalted almonds
3 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
Pinch of kosher salt
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until it is slightly crispy on both sides. Transfer the bacon to paper-towel-lined plates to drain, and when it’s cool enough to handle, chop it into small pieces.
- Finely shop the almonds into small pieces. Add the chopped nuts to a bowl, along with the bacon crumbles, minced parsley, lemon zest, and pinch of salt. Set aside.
Recipe from Dishing up the Dirt, By Andrea Bemis.
Toasted Walnut Sauce
Yield: Approximately 1 cup
1 cup raw, unsalted walnuts
1 garlic clove
2 Tbsp cold-pressed olive oil
4 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp pure maple syrup or raw honey
2 generous pinches of fine sea salt, plus more as needed
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Spread the walnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast until they are golden and fragrant, 7 to 10 minutes, watching them carefully so they do not burn. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
- Add the toasted walnuts, garlic, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup to a blender. Blend on high, adding 1 cup of water to thin the dressing as needed—you are looking for the consistency of melted ice cream. Season with salt. Store in an airtight glass container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Recipe from Naturally Nourished, by Sarah Britton.
By Farmer Richard
Fall is here! The trees are turning beautiful colors. It seems quiet now that the humming birds, swallows, dragonflies and butterflies have all left for warmer climates in the south. We look forward to their return in the spring! We heard a few whippoorwills as they passed through on their way south, but now the resident Great Horned and Bard owls keep us company as they talk to us every morning and at night.
It is proving to be a very wet fall encompassing multiple flood events followed by weeks of wet days.
The damage caused by the floods at the end of August and first of September created quite a mess for us to clean up!
The powerful waters blew out field protecting berms, washing away as much as five inches of the best topsoil and depositing sand, rock and driftwood in its place.
It’s a mess to say the least!
So we have spent the last three weeks clearing not only piles of driftwood and rocks from fields, but also removing most of the trees that have grown up in the creek bed over many years.
This is a huge job involving six crew members daily for three full weeks.
Our little spring fed creek normally is only six inches deep and six feet wide, but when the run off from the surrounding woods and poorly managed ridgetop fields pours into our valley, the result has been devastating.
This year we saw significant damage to fields that have not been flooded since 1952.
The NRCS staff that cost-shared our streambank repairs in 2006 and again in 2008 admit they did not understand how to prevent future damage.
Together we figured it out and are working to improve the landscape before the next substantial weather event.
We removed all trees that impeded water movement.
We left single trees of apple, walnut and majestic shade trees and a few black locust to use for future wood and fence posts.
We made sure there are no two trees left side-by-side that could catch drifting logs and create a dam effect.
The concept is to let flood water easily spread rather than forcing a bank to wash out or overflow into our fields.
The result is actually attractive.
Our neighbors say it looks like a park!
It will now grow more soil protecting grass for our cows to eat instead of the willow thickets and junk trees that blocked water movement previously.
One of our other challenges is that we have to put the topsoil back where it washed out. We have a plan, but it depends on dry weather! We have a forecast for several dry, windy days this week, and maybe more. But HVF doesn’t operate on maybe! We are full out harvesting the roots that we need for fall and planting a rye cover crop on the fields as soon as we can to provide for winter protection. We have our garlic seed cracked and ready to plant. Please, please, just a few more days of dry weather to get it in! A few more days to plant horseradish and sunchokes would be appreciated. And at the same time our root harvest progresses even though a bit muddy, less than ideal, but if we can, go for it. Most carrots are in, celeriac is smaller than we like, but in. Cabbages are in and look great. Brussels sprouts now sweetened by several frosts are limited but yet to harvest.
We’re hoping to finish harvesting beets tomorrow (Wednesday) and will then move on to more parsnip, burdock, turnip, beauty heart radish and a very nice crop of the very large kohlrabi for December boxes. We still have hopes for some more spinach and a long shot gamble on other greens that would only make it if we had a nice, warm “Indian summer.”
We’re doing the best we can in less than ideal conditions. Despite the challenges, we’re still bringing in some beautiful vegetables! We still have five more CSA deliveries after this week and we’re confident these boxes will continue to be filled with beautiful vegetables. We’ll continue to make the most of each day and do our best to finish the season strong. Our guys are anxious to return to Mexico to see their families, but we need to get our fall work finished first. Keep your fingers crossed that we get those dry days we need!
Cooking With This Week's Box
Garlic: Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Coconut Curry Soup (see below)
Baby Spinach: Roasted Autumn Sweet Potato Salad (see below)
Salad Mix: Roasted Autumn Sweet Potato Salad (see below)
Burgundy Sweet Potatoes: Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Coconut Curry Soup (see below); Roasted Autumn Sweet Potato Salad (see below)
The moment we’ve all been waiting for…SWEET POTATOES! After we lost our entire crop two years ago, we all hold our breath until we know for sure the sweet potatoes are harvested and stored away safely in our greenhouse. If you haven’t already, please take a moment to read Farmer Richard’s article this week. We have a great crop this year and we’re excited to start sharing them with you this week. Our featured recipes this week give you two options to start your sweet potato cooking season. The first is a delicious, and simple, recipe for Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Coconut Curry Soup (see below). In this recipe you roast the sweet potatoes before adding them to the soup which adds a little extra layer of sweetness and flavor. The other recipe is for Roasted Autumn Sweet Potato Salad (see below). I think this is a great recipe for this week with our fall spinach or salad mix. You could even add a little crumbled bacon if you like.
I continue to collect winter squash recipes and appreciate this recipe for Acorn Squash Quesadillas with Tomatillo Salsa that was shared by a member in our Facebook Group. Of course we don’t grow acorn squash, but you can use the sweet and delicious sugar dumpling squash in this week’s box in place of it. This is a perfect recipe this week to wrap up our season with peppers and tomatillos. You can use both in this recipe along with a jalapeno or the Korean chili peppers.
Acorn Squash Quesadillas with Tomatillo Salsa
photo from Smitten Kitchen
The other winter squash selection in this week’s box is the beloved little honeynut butternut squash. This is another one of our sweet specialty squash varieties that is really quite good just baked and enjoyed with a little salt and a pat of butter. Of course, you could bake it and use the flesh to make this delicious Chai Spiced Bread, a recipe that a member shared with us several years ago. I’m warning you…it’s delicious!
I’ve really been enjoying the carrots this summer and fall and I think the thing I appreciate the most about them is how easy it is to prepare a delicious, simple dish because the carrots themselves are so good! This week I am into roasting and want to try this recipe for Honey-Maple Roasted Carrots. Enjoy these as a simple side dish to make a meal as simple as a seared pork chop, the carrots and a salad made with this week’s salad mix.
I’ve seen recipes for Cauliflower “tater” tots before, but they always seem complicated. This recipe for Cauliflower Tots actually seems pretty manageable, so I’m going to give them a try this week! Serve these with a burger or grilled cheese sandwich for an All-American meal! As for this week’s broccoli or broccoli Romanesco, these will be used to make a simple dinner of Sheet Pan Chicken & Broccoli. Serve this with steamed rice for an easy dinner.
Sheet Pan Chicken & Broccoli
photo from Overtime Cook
This is the time of year when some of our Asian greens that are a little spicy taste the best. This week’s boxes include mizuna, either green or red. Check out Early Morning Farm’s list of 7 Ways to Use Mizuna including this recipe for Mizuna Quinoa Salad with Lemon Scallion Vinaigrette. Of course we don’t have scallions now, but red onions would work as well.
We did it! Another week of delicious, nutritious and tasty meals. Do you ever just stop to consider how many different vegetables you’ve consumed over the course of the season? This is our 24th week of deliveries. If anyone goes back and counts how many different things we’ve had to cook with, please let me know what number you come up with! We still have more delicious vegetable tricks up our sleeves as we finish out the season. Have a great week!—Chef Andrea
Vegetable Feature: Sweet Potatoes
This week we’re excited to be packing sweet potatoes in your boxes! Sweet potatoes, which are actually a tropical vegetable, are an important part of our fall and winter diets. If stored properly you can eat sweet potatoes all winter! The ideal storage temperature for sweet potatoes is 55-65°F. They can get chill injury if stored at temperatures below 55°F, so if you don’t have the perfect location to store them at their ideal temperature, it’s better to store them on your countertop in your kitchen instead of putting them in the refrigerator.
Straight out of the field, our sweet potatoes tasted pretty good, but not good enough to eat. That’s right, we have a rule around here that you don’t really eat sweet potatoes for at least two weeks after they are harvested. When they are first harvested the potatoes are starchy, not very sweet or tasty, and the skins are very tender requiring careful handling. Sweet potatoes aren’t truly sweet potatoes until we “cure them.” Curing is a process by which we hold the sweet potatoes at high heat and high humidity for 7-10 days, basically it’s kind of like a sauna for sweet potatoes! During this time the starches in the potatoes are converted to sugars and the skins become more stable for long term storage.
Sweet potatoes are less starchy and more sweet and moist than a regular potato and have a wide variety of uses. You can simply bake them whole until fork tender and eat the flesh right out of the skin. They are also delicious cut into bite-sized pieces and roasted or cut them into wedges or thin slices and make roasted fries or chips. If you’re going to do this, it’s best to put the wedges or slices of sweet potatoes on a rack in a pan. If you do this, the air and heat from the oven can better circulate on all sides of the sweet potato making it more crispy and less soggy. Sweet potatoes also make delicious, hearty soups and stews, may be added to chili, shredded and fried like hash browns, or just simply cook and mash or puree them.
Sweet potatoes can also be incorporated into baking. Sweet potato pie is a decadent way to eat a vegetable. If you’re going to make pie, consider this Sweet Potato Pie with Pecan Topping featured at MarthaStewart.com. It’s delicious served with Bourbon Whipped Cream. You can also use sweet potatoes to make biscuits, rolls, quick breads, cookies, bars, cheesecake and more!
Sweet potatoes pair well with a wide variety of ingredients, which makes them so versatile in their use. They pair very well with apples and pears as well as other root vegetables, bitter fall greens, dried beans and greens such as kales. They also go very well with coconut, ginger, chiles, butter, cream, citrus and nuts of any kind.
If you haven’t read Farmer Richard’s main article for this week, please take a minute to do so as it will help you understand more about what it takes to actually grow this tropical vegetable in a northern climate!
Roasted Autumn Sweet Potato Salad
Yield: 6 side salads
2 cups ½ inch cubed sweet potato
2 cups ½ inch cubed red onion
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 sprigs of fresh sage
1 tsp kosher salt
A couple cracks of black pepper
1 Tbsp salted butter
½ cup panko
1 ½ Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp pure maple syrup
Pinch of kosher salt
A couple cracks of black pepper
3 Tbsp olive oil
5 oz spinach (or substitute salad mix)
½ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
¼ cup dried cranberries or tart cherries
¼ cup goat cheese or crumbled feta
Fresh thyme leaves (optional)
- Prepare the roasted vegetables. Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the prepared potatoes and onion on the baking sheet. Add all the remaining roasted vegetable ingredients to the pan; toss to coat. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly charred, stirring halfway through.
- Make the crushed croutons. In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add the panko and toast until golden, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
- Make the dressing. In a serving bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients until emulsified (until the oil and vinegar become one). This can be made 3 weeks in advance and stored at room temperature.
- Assemble the salad. Add all the greens ingredients into the salad bowl along with the roasted vegetables (including the crispy herbs) and crushed croutons. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.
Recipe borrowed from Melissa Coleman’s book, The Minimalist Kitchen.
Sweet Potato Red Lentil Coconut Curry Soup
Yield: 4 servings
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into small pieces (about 5 cups)
2 ½ Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable stock or water
1 (15-oz) can coconut milk
1 ½ Tbsp red curry paste
1 (15-oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup red or yellow lentils
Salt, to taste
Lime juice, to taste
Cilantro, chopped, for serving
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss sweet potatoes with 1 ½ Tbsp of olive oil and roast for 25-35 minutes or until golden brown and tender.
- Meanwhile, in a medium pot, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Sauté the ginger, onion, and garlic in oil until softened. Add the coconut milk, red curry paste, tomatoes and red lentils. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Add roasted sweet potatoes and continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Use an immersion blender or regular blender to blend until smooth or to desired consistency. Thin with additional water if needed. Season with salt and the juice of one lime. Stir to combine. Adjust seasoning to your liking with more salt and/or lime juice as needed.
- Serve hot, garnished with chopped cilantro.
Recipe adapted from Elizabeth Stein’s book, Eating Purely.
By Farmer Richard
Every year is different. How was this year’s crop? Well, considering we had a cold, wet spring followed by a wet late summer which continued into fall, what would you expect for a tropical, hot and dry loving plant? Maybe a crop failure? Surprise! From the 16,000 slips, planted on 1.5 acres of sandy river bottom ground we brought in a surprising 33,300 pounds of very nice sweet potatoes! Less than the average yield from North Carolina or California, the leading sweet potato producers in the US, but our unique production system of planting into raised beds covered with green plastic really surprised us! Even though it was far too wet when we harvested them the excess water had drained off between the beds, so under the raised plastic beds, the soil was only moist and the sweet potatoes had happily produced a nice “banana bunch” like cluster. We only used our buried irrigation lines to deliver a bit of fertilizer and a new organic product to deter the worms that had previously produced deep holes in the developing sweet potatoes. Well, something worked! You’ll notice there are almost no holes this year! Thanks to Kyle’s feedback (Madison CSA member) about the holes on some of our sweet potatoes last year, we tried to address the problem and appear to have succeeded! We listen, we try.
Sweet Potato Harvest, 2017
Last year we did a more extensive trial of new varieties and asked for feedback on your favorites. Based on last year’s trials and your feedback, we chose two varieties, “Burgundy” and “Covington,” both available from our certified organic friends at New Sprout Farms. We also added a small amount of the Japanese white fleshed variety “Murasaki” on Andrea’s insistence. They produced only ⅓ of the volume of the best two, but they are so “unbelievably sweet” even before they were cured. Despite the meager yield, this is by far the best yield we’ve ever seen on this potato and they actually produced sizeable potatoes this year! We hope to pack a few in your boxes this fall.
After last year’s variety trials, which you can read about on our blog, we find that our refractometer reading for “Brix” does not always reflect the eating experience. The fact that different varieties have different levels of the 3 sugars, sucrose, fructose, and maltose actually plays into the eating experience. The Brix measurement we get only reflects overall sugars, but does not give us an indicator of the overall sensation of sweetness. So while we do still measure brix levels, we’re really left with just cooking them and eating them to see how they taste! We did “cure” them for a full 10 days at 85°F and 90% humidity. We burned up a bunch of wood and some propane in the process, but we think it was worth the wait!
Look forward to an abundance of sweet potatoes in all remaining boxes and feel free to order extras for winter. We’ll offer them as a produce plus item before Thanksgiving and again in December. We plan to eat them until spring. Of course, we always appreciate your feedback, so let us know what you think!
One little side note in closing, our sweet Captain Jack, “The Dog,” has developed a very strong liking for dried sweet potato slices when we tried to find healthy chew treats for him. So with Jack as tester, I have developed the precise method of slicing, baking, and drying for a shelf stable, healthy organic treat for special dog friends. Of course, made from the “not so pretty” sweet potatoes, but just a tasty. If you have a four-legged friend that might be interested in trying these, watch for this offering from me & Captain Jack later in the season.
Cooking With This Week's Box
Carrots: Curried Spaghetti Squash & Chickpea Toasts (see below)
Sugar Dumpling Squash: Stuffed Winter Squash (see below)
Spaghetti Squash: Curried Spaghetti Squash & Chickpea Toasts (see below)
While we managed to skirt the first potential frost last weekend, we do find ourselves in the first week of October! Fall is here and summer vegetables are nearly gone while fall crops are filling their void. Sweet potatoes should be ready for delivery next week! This week though, our focus is on winter squash. Lets kick off our cooking escapades with the two featured recipes. Spaghetti squash is often used in casseroles or other preparations as a substitute for pasta. I appreciated this recipe for Curried Spaghetti Squash & Chickpea Toasts (see below) because it is something different! You could make these to serve as an appetizer, snack, a light dinner with a salad, or even breakfast with a fried egg! The other squash recipe featured this week is most appropriate to make with the sugar dumpling squash. Alana Chernila’s recipe for Stuffed Winter Squash (see below) is pretty easy to assemble once you have prepped the filling ingredients and have cooked the squash. This would be an easy recipe to prep at the beginning of the week and then just assemble some night during the week when you need to pull together dinner quickly.
I love onions and can’t imagine having too many, but sometimes they start to pile up which means it’s time to choose a recipe where they can take the center stage. So this week, clean up your extra onions with this recipe for Pasta with Braised Onion Sauce
. Also on Food52, I found this recipe for Cauliflower Patties
. I’m going to make these for dinner and serve them along with this Apple, Pecan Arugula Salad
using the Honeycrisp Apples that are in our fruit share this week from our local Hoch orchard.
For my next recipe suggestion, I turn to Andrea Bemis’s blog, Dishing Up the Dirt
. If you haven’t read this week’s main newsletter article, please do. I talk about Andrea’s Local Thirty
challenge and her experiences with sourcing more of her food from local sources. This is her recipe for Wine Braised Beets with Garlic Mashed (smashed) Potatoes
. Serve this on its own or Andrea recommends serving it with meat (such as a grilled steak) or lentils. Mash the potatoes gently as this week’s potato varieties are more on the waxy side which means the potatoes may get sticky if you work them too much. Unless you still have potatoes and/or baby beets from last week, you may need to scale the recipe back a bit as the quantities she calls for potatoes and beets are a little more than is in your box this week. The beets are small enough that they can be braised whole.
We’re happy to have the baby white turnips back for their fall appearance! If you didn’t have a chance to try this recipe for Turnip Greens Pesto Pizza
that we featured earlier in the spring, now’s your chance! Of course these pretty little things are also delicious when simply steamed along with their greens and served with butter.
So sad to see pepper season end, but before they’re gone I want to try this recipe for Cheesy Fajita Chicken Bake
. The recipe calls for bell peppers, but we can use this week’s sweet Orange Italian Frying peppers and poblano peppers. Serve this with Spanish rice or even some simple roasted potatoes.
Every week needs a quick pasta dish and this week’s is Romanesco Cacio e Pepe
, a fancy Italian way of saying simple pasta dish with cheese and black pepper! Of course the real star of this dish is the cool Broccoli Romanesco, which is described as the “Lady Gaga of Broccoli” in the article featuring this recipe.
And once again we’ve cooked our way to the bottom of another CSA box. Have a great week, eat well, and get your sweet potato recipes ready for next week!—Chef Andrea
Vegetable Feature: Winter Squash
Fall is definitely in the air, nights are cool and the trees are starting to show signs of turning. That means it’s time for us to get serious about fall vegetables...including winter squash! We are thankful to have had a bountiful harvest this year and our greenhouse where we store them is filled with a colorful array of different varieties. Before we go any further with delivering winter squash I want to pause and talk a little bit about general tips and info for storing and using winter squash, as well as a little more information about the varieties in this week’s box.
First of all, lets talk about storage. The ideal temperature for long term storage of squash is between 45 and 55°F in a dry location. This is a bit more chilly than most of your homes, so know that it’s ok to store them on your kitchen counter at a warmer temperature as long as you keep your eye on them. You do not want to store squash in the refrigerator or in an uninsulated garage where the temperatures could dip below 45°F once winter sets in. At temperatures less than 45°F squash is vulnerable to chill injury. What does it mean to “keep your eye on the squash?” If you notice any sort of a spot starting to form or any signs of deterioration, you need to intervene immediately. A small spot doesn’t mean the squash is bad or needs to be composted, rather it means you need to eat it right away! Just cut away the bad spot and use the rest. If you leave it unattended, the spot will continue to grow and consume your squash….which is what we do not want to happen! Even if you are not quite ready to eat the squash, I encourage you to cook it anyway. Winter squash is a great vegetable to cook in advance and freeze. It’s super quick and easy to pull precooked squash out of the freezer in the middle of the winter and heat it up to eat as a side dish or incorporate it into baked goods or other dishes. The main thing is, don’t let it go to waste! If I have a pile of squash on my counter, I like to bake a lot at one time….the oven is already hot and if you’re going to make a mess it’s better to clean up just once!
There are certain varieties of winter squash that store better than others. In general, varieties with a thinner skin and higher sugar content are going to be the most perishable. You’ll want to eat these sooner than later, usually within a few weeks of receiving them. Some of the varieties that fit this description include this week’s sugar dumpling as well as the orange kabocha squash we delivered previously. Soon you’ll be receiving honeynut butternut squash in your boxes, and this is another one to eat soon. Regular butternut squash, butterkin and festival squash are usually the ones that last the longest, so these are the ones you might choose to store into winter. You’ll notice I didn’t mention spaghetti squash. This squash is not the sweetest variety and the skin isn’t terribly thin, however our experience is that this squash may not store as long as the butternut and festival. While you may have a little more time, I wouldn’t recommend planning to store this one into the winter months.
Winter squash is easy to cook. The method I employ most frequently is to simply cut the squash in half and scrape out the seed cavity. I place it, cut side down, in a baking dish and add a little bit of water to the pan, enough to cover the bottom of the pan and come up about ¼-½ an inch on the squash. I bake it in the oven at about 350°F until it is tender when poked with a fork. Once tender, I remove them from the oven and flip them over so the cut side is up. I allow them to rest until they are cool enough to handle, then scoop out the flesh. When you scoop the seed cavity out, remember that the seeds are edible as well. Squash that have smaller seeds that are more tender may be rinsed, dried and then toasted.
There are other methods of cooking squash including roasting or steaming it. Depending on the end result you may choose to peel the squash first. Roasted squash is a sweet treat and can be made just as you would roast any other vegetable. You may also choose to peel the squash and cut the flesh into pieces to add to soups, stews, curries, etc.
This week we’re delivering spaghetti squash and sugar dumpling squash. We grow a variety of spaghetti squash that is smaller than the ones you generally see in the store, thus it’s a bit more manageable to use and consume! Spaghetti squash differs from other squash in that the flesh can be scraped away from the skin in strands that look like spaghetti, hence the name. It has a very mild flavor and goes well in many savory preparations.
The other squash in this week’s box is sugar dumpling squash. This is one of our sweetest most flavorful varieties. This one is delicious just baked and served with salt, pepper and butter! It’s also a good one for stuffing, and is a good one to use in this week’s recipe for Stuffed Winter Squash.
There are so many different ways to incorporate winter squash into your diet this fall and winter, so we encourage you to get creative and try some new recipes. Soups, stews, curries, simple purees, gratin, root and squash mashes, roasted, incorporated into ravioli, pasta dishes, baked goods, pies and desserts. The list could go on. If you find some recipes you like, we always appreciate it when you share them with us!
Stuffed Winter Squash
Yield: 4 Servings
2 sugar dumpling or festival squash, cut in half through the stem and seeded
2 tsp olive oil, plus more for rubbing the squash and oiling the dish
¾ tsp kosher salt
6 oz chorizo, sweet sausage, or bacon crumbled or cut into small pieces
1 medium red onion
1 cup chopped apple (1 to 2 apples)
Freshly ground pepper
2 cups sliced tender greens (spinach, tat soi, kale, Swiss chard), cut into ribbons
4 fresh sage leaves, coarsely chopped
2 cups cooked millet, rice, or quinoa
½ cup grated Cheddar cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375° F. Rub the flesh of each squash half with olive oil, and oil an ovenproof dish or baking sheet. Sprinkle the whole baking dish with ½ tsp of the salt. Lay the squash flesh side down in the dish and bake until it is very tender when pricked with a fork, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and raise the oven temperature to 425° F.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the meat and fry until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the onions to the hot oil and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the apple, remaining ¼ tsp salt, and pepper, and cook for another minute. Add the greens, sage, cooked grains, and reserved meat. Cook for another minute, stirring to combine, and remove from heat. Taste, and adjust the salt and pepper if needed.
- Turn the cooked squash over in the baking dish so it is flesh side up. (Be careful, as steam will escape when you turn it.) Scoop the filling into the cavity of each squash half, piling it into a mountain so that it holds as much as possible. Sprinkle with cheese and bake until the cheese melts, about 10 minutes.
Recipe borrowed from Alana Chernila’s book, The Homemade Kitchen.
Curried Spaghetti Squash and Chickpea Toasts
Yield: 6 servings
1 spaghetti squash (2-3 if small) (about 2.5# pounds), halved and seeded
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp crushed red pepper
½ tsp finely grated orange zest
1 ½ tsp Madras curry powder
One 15 oz can chickpeas, drained
½ cup water
½ cup chopped cilantro
Grilled peasant bread (Italian or French Bread)
Toasted pumpkin or squash seeds, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Place the halved spaghetti squash cut side up on a baking sheet and brush the cut side with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper. Roast the spaghetti squash for about 45 minutes, until the flesh is tender and lightly browned in spots. Let cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil. Add the chopped onion and carrot and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until they are just softened, about 5 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, crushed red pepper, grated orange zest and curry powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the drained chickpeas and the water and simmer until the vegetables are very tender and the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
- Using a fork, rake the squash into strands; you should have about 2-2 ½ cups of squash. Add the cilantro and squash to the curry and season with salt. Serve the curried squash over grilled bread, garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds.
Recipe by Jonathon Sawyer as published in Food & Wine annual cookbook 2012.
By Andrea Yoder
For those of you who have been members with our farm for awhile and read the newsletter pretty regularly, you may already know that I first came to the farm back in 2007 as the summer farm chef. I knew very little, much less than I realized at the time. I came because my two favorite things to cook were fish and vegetables, the latter being the focus of my attention when I accepted the position. I didn’t know much about what it meant to be certified organic or why I would come to value eating certified organic food, but I was eager to learn and accepted the challenge. I don’t recall Richard every telling me that all the food I purchased and prepared for the crew had to be 100% certified organic, but it seemed a bit contradictory for it to be any other way. So I raised the bar and strived to achieve it with each menu I planned and each purchase I made.
But that wasn’t the only thing I had to figure out. There was this thing called ‘seasonal eating’ that also factored into my cooking. It snowed the first week I was here, so there wasn’t much coming out of the fields. No worries, there was a pallet of “extras” waiting for me in the cooler. Carrots, sunchokes, black radishes, beets….notice I didn’t mention potatoes. That’s right, I cooked for several months without a single potato. As I kicked off the season, I quickly learned that I really enjoyed the challenge of seasonal cooking and worked really hard to incorporate as many of the vegetables we were growing into the meals I was preparing for the crew. Sourcing certified organic ingredients wasn’t too hard, but it did mean that there were some ingredients that just weren’t available for me to use. Somewhere along the way I also began to value sourcing ingredients locally. Maybe it was the fun of trading with other vendors at the farmers’ market. Maybe it was the experience of going over to our friends’ farm, Jim & Phyllis, to help them catch the chickens they had raised for us and then helping Elizabeth butcher them. I valued each and every chicken that I prepared that summer and not a morsel went to waste. Along the way Richard challenged me to take the concept of a CSA Cheese Share and turn it into a reality. I called a lot of cheese producers, asked them a lot of questions and was finally able to narrow down the list of farmers that met our qualifications. Of course I wanted to make sure we knew what we were distributing, so I visited each producer so I could see for myself that they were the real thing….and they were. Over the course of time my diet and outlook on food has changed. I can’t say that I know the origin of every single ingredient in my kitchen, but I can usually identify the majority of what we eat and I continue to challenge myself to keep searching.
Chef Andrea getting ready to process beets.
Andrea Bemis, from her website dishingupthedirt.com
Andrea Bemis is a vegetable farmer, along with her husband Taylor, at their small farm in Oregon. She also has a food blog and a cookbook, both titled Dishing Up the Dirt. I follow her blog regularly and have adapted, referenced and shared quite a few of her vegetable-centric, simple recipes over the past several years. Earlier this year she announced a challenge that she called “The Local Thirty.” For the month of September Andrea and Taylor challenged themselves to source all their food within 200 miles for 30 days. She did allow herself 10 “cheat items,” partly because there are some very enjoyable foods that were part of her diet that can’t be sourced locally (like coffee and chocolate) and because the challenge wasn’t about deprivation as much as it was becoming more informed about the foods she was consuming. She identified “three pillars” that are the most important considerations when choosing food. These include wellness (Is it good for the body?), sustainability (Is it good for the planet?) and community (Is it good for other people?) The closer you are to the source of your food, the more opportunity you have to know more about the people who are producing and/or distributing the food as well as the intricacies related to how it’s being produced. At the end of her announcement about her personal challenge, she stated “For the 30 days of September I’m going to source all of my ingredients from a 200 mile radius of where I live. I’m hoping that in doing so I will find a more grounded sense of place and a community of folks that I never knew existed.”
Well, the month of September is officially over and so is Andrea’s challenge. I applaud her for keeping up with this project in the midst of the growing season, but she did it and managed to document her experiences intermittently on her blog as well as more frequently on Instagram. In one post she commented "As we navigate through finding local resources for some of our favorite ingredients I'm learning that this month isn't going to be perfect. But that's okay. We are meeting so many amazing folks who are making our community a better place. And the community is reaching farther than our tiny corner of the world as I get to be a part of so many of your local journeys as well." She recently posted on her blog about her experience of getting to go tuna fishing. In this post she commented “When I began really exploring where my food comes from, I started to realize that this is not so much about the ingredients for me anymore. It’s about these people (most often strangers) and how little pieces of their world make up mine.” Her comment struck me. She’s totally right.
There are many reasons to eat locally, we’ve all heard the lingo. “Keep your food dollars local.” “Know your farmer, know your food.” If you’re curious about your food and your community, or if you really just want to have a source for the best tasting food, local is the way to go. In this region we are so blessed with a rich supply of really great food! If we take a little time to look around, it’s easy to find some awesome people making some really great food that is special. Special because it’s made with care, passion and sincerity. Special because you get to connect with the people behind it. At our recent Harvest Party I had a conversation with a member about the beauty of an egg laid by a happy chicken on pasture. Grocery store eggs, even most organic ones, are not the same. She asked me “how do I get these eggs.” My simple answer, “You need a supplier. You have to talk to farmers, find someone who’s doing it right and get on their list.”
Our Dane County Farmers' Market crew!
When we sit down to eat, we really enjoy eating chicken from our friend Gretchen, roasted vegetables from our farm tossed with sunflower oil produced by our friends at Driftless Organics. We enjoy Castle Rock cream from the Kostka family in our morning cup of coffee, roasted locally by our friends at Kickapoo Coffee. I’m not trying to be high and mighty here, just agreeing with Andrea B. that it’s really cool to be able to identify where my food comes from and to think about and appreciate the people who work hard to bring it to my table. It’s much more satisfying than opening a package from afar and not knowing much if anything about what I’m putting into my body. If we do choose to eat food grown outside our local area, there's opportunities to source these things carefully as well. For instance, Frog Hollow Farm in California, one of our fruit share producer partners, also makes olive oil with the olives they produce on their farm. Marian Farms, also in California, is my source for raisins and almonds. While these foods can't be sourced locally, I appreciate the opportunity to at least purchase them directly from the producers, especially because I have had the chance to talk to them personally and want to support what they're doing! Food is personal, at least I think it should be.
While Andrea didn’t intend to do this in the beginning, she actually connected with some filmmaker friends who traveled with her and documented some of her experiences associated with her challenge. She’s turning it into a documentary that will hopefully be done before the end of the year! I look forward to hearing more about her experiences, reflections, etc. In the meantime, I encourage each of you to take a look in your backyard and see what you can find. You might be surprised by what you find. If you already have some sources for awesome local foods, share them with your friends and neighbors so they too can support these local producers and together we can do our best to build a strong community and a strong food system! Of course, along the way you'll glean nourishment for your soul and some really great meals!
By Farmers Richard & Andrea
Fall is one of our favorite times of the year and we were happy to have been able to share a beautiful fall day with some of our CSA members last Sunday at our Harvest Party. Saturday night and Sunday morning were on the cool side, but the sun came out and shone bright all day giving us just enough warmth to make for a comfortable, beautiful day for the festivities! For all of us, this is a special last party of the season. No, we are not done harvesting for the year, we actually have quite a lot of vegetables still to harvest and we’re still working on our storm clean-up projects. Nonetheless, it’s always nice to take a pause in the midst of the fall harvest to spend a special day with you, our members. The energy and encouragement we gain from spending time with you will keep us strong as we finish out the season.
"Jack the Dog" waiting for someone to play "stick" with him.
We want to thank all of the members who took time to attend the party. It was great to meet new members who were visiting the farm for the first time and we were happy to see some of our longtime members who make an effort to visit the farm every year. It’s the people that make this party special to us and in many ways it’s like having a homecoming! Their excitement is contagious as they eagerly ask questions such as, “Where are the pumpkins this year?” and “Can we dig sweet potatoes?” One of our younger members (2 years old) was at our Strawberry Day event back in June and came back for another visit this fall. She came camping with her mother and they arrived at the farm late Saturday afternoon. When her mother took her out of the car, she took a look around and it was super-cool for Andrea to see the excitement wash over her face. Her eyes were twinkling and a smile quickly formed on her face followed by excited chatter when she realized where she was. She squealed “Farm” and “Jack the Dog.” We went up to the office where Jack was still taking his afternoon nap. He woke up quickly and greeted our sweet, young member with kisses while she gave him lots of pets.
We kicked off our party on Sunday with our annual potluck. Angel, one of our longtime crew members, is responsible for preparing the delicious roasted pork we enjoyed in tacos. The pork was raised on our pastures and Angel slow-roasted it in our underground brick oven which he lined with cactus leaves. On Saturday afternoon he prepared the pork by seasoning the pieces with salt, pepper, garlic and onion and then slathering it with a mild guajillo sauce he made. The pork was then wrapped in packets and lowered into the oven which was tightly covered for the night. The next morning Angel, with the help of his visiting cousin Francisco, opened up the oven and pulled the packets out. When we opened them up we were pleased to see tender, juicy meat! We served the meat with a simple cabbage slaw on tortillas with a choice of three different sauces featuring our tomatillos and Korean peppers (that was the hot one). The table was filled with so many delicious dishes members brought including some very interesting things like gorgeous raw butternut salad! It truly was a “Feast for Kings.” While we ate we enjoyed the gentle, mellow music of Sonic Love Child. Dave, Shirley & Nicole have been with us for several years, sharing their musical talents with us which really changes the ambiance of the party and has become a signature part of our fall event. We appreciate their willingness to make the journey to the farm every year to be part of this special day.
Farmer Richard and Manuel M teaching children how to dig
Once our bellies were full, we were off to the fields! Sweet potatoes were our first stop. As much as we love seeing our adult friends, the sweet potato field is where the kids take center stage. They take turns helping us dig clusters of sweet potatoes, which we refer to as “Wisconsin Bananas.” They love pulling the clusters out of the soil, grasping the moist sweet potatoes and shaking away the dirt to see just how big it really is! Each potato is different, each finding a welcome hand to pull them from the moist earth. It looks like a very, very nice crop which we finished harvesting on Monday afternoon. They are in the greenhouse, also known as the “Sweet Potato Sauna House,” where we’ll “cure” them for the next 7-10 days at 85°F and high humidity. This helps set their skins and develop the starches into sugar.
Vicente helping some children cut their pumpkins from the vine
Before we left the sweet potato field area we pulled a few celeriac, cut a celery and harvested a little bit of kale.
Then we loaded up the wagons and headed to the carrot and chard fields.
“Dig this one for me!”
“Wow, this carrot is big!”
“This one is crooked!”
“This one is purple!”
“How do you pick chard?
It is so pretty!”
Wait, let us show you how to twist off one stem at a time, don’t pull up the whole plant!
It was so awesome to hear all the questions, see the excitement and watch everyone enjoy being in the fields and being able to harvest things for themselves.
We also had some very observant members who found a few artifacts in the field.
“What is this rock?”
“Farmer Richard says it is a ‘chip’ from a stone tool maker who lived here a thousand years ago!”
This area is now our pumpkin field which was filled with some very nice pumpkins!
There were big Jack-O-Lanterns with fat handles, many warty “Knucklehead” pumpkins and the silky “Winter Luxury” pie pumpkins that many sought out with visions of pie in their heads.
There were plenty for all and we still have a lot remaining!
Butternut Squash Cupcakes with Chai Buttercream frosting
from Bloom Bakeshop
We made our way back to the farm, the kids now tired from lugging their pumpkins out of the fields, pulling sweet potatoes, stomping in mud puddles and running through the soft, muddy parts of the fields. There’s something special about playing in the mud and the farm is one place it’s ok to do that! Back at the farm we enjoyed more music while we ate our afternoon treat which was Butternut Squash Cupcakes topped with Chai Buttercream frosting. These were made special for our party by our friend Annemarie and her crew at Bloom Bakeshop in Madison. They even used our own HVF butterscotch butternut squash to make them! We washed them down with iced maple latte featuring Kickapoo Coffee. We also enjoyed kombucha made with HVF Sweet Sarah melons. The kids spent more time with Captain Jack playing his favorite game of “stick.” Some members meandered around the farm, picking Concord grapes, checking out the pile of sweet potatoes in the greenhouse, walking through the bins of winter squash and admiring the gorgeous green cover crop now growing in the cold frame greenhouse.
We also played a little game of “Guess the weight of the Vegetables.” We made a beautiful display of some of the vegetables we’re harvesting now, but carefully selected either really big ones or really small ones. We told you we’d announce the winner of the game in this week’s newsletter, so here you go. Briana Burton from Madison, Wisconsin was the member who got the most answers correct without going over. For those of you who are wondering, here are the actual weights and counts of the vegetables we had on display:
Listada Eggplant: 2.38#
Red Savoy Cabbage: 5#
Kabocha Squash: 5.92#
Butternut Squash: 5.26#
Burgundy Sweet Potato: 3.6#
There were 183 red grape tomatoes in the one pound jar.
There were 41 Mexican heirloom tomatillos in the one pound jar.
Briana nailed the tomatillo count with an exact match! Nice job Briana! Watch the mail for your $10 HVF Gift Certificate!
Richard & Andrea chatting with members in the pumpkin field
We truly had a great day and enjoyed spending time with some really awesome people.
As we reflected on the day while we ate dinner Sunday evening, we both had to agree that we have some really great members. There were several families who enjoyed our Hammel Lane campsite Saturday night and everyone seemed to have a pretty good night’s rest as they were lulled to sleep by the owls.
Of course, we have a special place in our hearts for the children and time and time again we’re blown away by CSA kids.
They are intelligent, pleasant to talk with and so very insightful!
From the smallest ones exploring the farm and all its wonders for the first time to the older kids who have been coming to the farm for several years, or most of their lives in some cases!
They aren’t afraid to try new things, embrace new experiences with zeal, and are very aware of their surroundings as they take it all in.
Richard had an opportunity to talk with one of our super-awesome CSA kids who’s been eating our vegetables his whole life.
As he reflected on the farm, he made an effort to seek out Richard and share his thoughts.
He thanked me (Richard) sincerely for the opportunity to visit and expressed that the day “put him in a zone,” a good zone that he needed.
In touch with the fields of vegetables, the sky, the trees, a good “zone” to be in.
Healthy, intelligent kids who are alive and aware.
We’re grateful for them as well as their parents who have chosen to make organic food a priority in their households and carve out time in their busy schedules to visit the farm and allow us the opportunity to form long lasting connections.
We truly believe these kids are going to grow up and do great things in this world to change it for the better.
We’re really proud of them and look forward to feeding them and following their journeys for many years to come!
Cooking With This Week's Box:
Collard Greens: Collard, Carrot & Raisin Salad (see below)
If you read this week’s newsletter article, you’ll know that our sweet potatoes are all harvested and are currently being “cured.” This is a process we use to develop their starches into sugar and set the skins so they store longer. We’re excited to start eating them, but not yet! So, get your sweet potato recipes ready, they’ll be coming soon. While we impatiently wait for sweet potatoes, we have plenty more delicious vegetables to enjoy. This week our featured vegetable is collard greens, an interesting green that is kind of like kale and kind of like cabbage. This week I’ve featured southern Chef Vivian Howard’s recipe for Collard, Carrot & Raisin Salad (see below). This is a way to use the collards in their raw form to make a light, bright, flavorful salad that would go well with grilled beef or pan-fried fish.
This recipe for Meatless Baked Ziti with Red Kuri Squash popped into my inbox shortly after last week’s feature about kabocha squash. Red Kuri squash is very similar to orange kabocha squash and can be used interchangeably. This is a pasta dish I’m sure every member of the family will enjoy with a lot of fresh flavors from tomatoes, squash, mushrooms, and of course cheese. Serve this with some Roasted Broccoli Romanesco and dinner is set!
I had forgotten about this recipe for Charred Cauliflower Quesadillas until I stumbled over it last week while looking for a different recipe. This recipe calls for poblano peppers. If you have some from a previous delivery, great—use them! If not, consider using this week’s sweet peppers instead. If you still want a little heat, you could add a few pinches of cayenne or chile powder to the cauliflower.
If you’ve been reading these weekly articles throughout the year, you’ll know Richard and I are big fans of Breakfast Burritos. We eat them for breakfast frequently, but have also been know to have them for lunch and dinner too! I was thrilled when I saw this blog post all about Breakfast Burritos on Smitten Kitchen. So this week I’m going to encourage you to use your potatoes and bell peppers to create your own breakfast burritos to enjoy at whichever meal of the day fits your fancy. In her recipe she calls for spinach, but you could also easily substitute collard greens or any other green you have. And finally….chopped fresh tomatoes to finish them off.
There you have it friends….yet again we’ve managed to cook our way to the bottom of another CSA box. Have a super-awesome week and I’ll see you back next week for more delicious recipe talk!—Chef Andrea Yoder
Featured Vegetable: Collard Greens
I grew up in Indiana, a region where collard greens are not a staple part of local diets. We had one neighbor who grew up in the south and grew collards in his garden. His name was Brooks and he stayed true to his southern roots and ate his fair share of collard greens along with mustard and turnip greens, which were also not amongst the regular vegetables in our regional fare. Despite his influence, it wasn’t enough to convince my mother to try them and they remained a foreign vegetable to me until I came to Harmony Valley Farm. Collard greens are available from late June through October or early November, but we usually reserve them for eating in the fall. Collards are in the Brassica family and get sweeter as the temperatures cool off. They feature large, round, flat leaves that resemble a flat cabbage leaf. While they are related to cabbage and have a flavor similar to cabbage, they never form a head. Collard greens, as with many other leafy green vegetables, are packed with nutrients including Vitamins A, C, E, K and B6 as well as riboflavin, calcium, iron, manganese, thiamin, niacin, magnesium and potassium. With a nutrient profile like this, we have to find a way to incorporate them into our diets!
In this country, many associate collard greens with southern cooking where this green is considered more of a regional staple ingredient. In fact, South Carolina voted to make it the official state vegetable in 2011! Collard greens are thought to have originated in Asia, a descendant of a wild cabbage. This vegetable then spread to other parts of the world and likely made it to America by way of ship and European settlers. Collard greens are now eaten in many other parts of the world including India, Brazil and throughout Europe.
Collard greens have a thicker leaf than some other greens we grow such as spinach or chard. They usually require a longer cooking time to soften and tenderize the leaf. In southern cuisine, collards are often cooked with some sort of pork cut such as salt pork or a ham hock. The meat is the flavoring agent used to cook the greens, which are cooked for quite awhile until they become dark green and very soft. The remaining liquid is called pot likker and is seldom discarded. Rather it is soaked up with a biscuit or cornbread or some may even drink it. While collards do require a little more cooking, you don’t have to cook them until they are super soft to enjoy them. You can also stir-fry or lightly saute them just until bright green. They’ll have more texture to them and not be quite as soft, but are still quite delicious. Because of the broad leaf, collards may also be steamed and then the leaf can be used as a wrap to hold a filling. You can also use them as you would use a grape leaf to make Middle Eastern dolmades (stuffed grape leaves).
Collard greens obviously pair well with all salty, fatty pork products. They also go well with garlic, ginger, chiles, coconut and spices including coriander, cardamom and turmeric, lending to some of their uses in Asian and Indian cuisine. Of course, they also pair well with black-eyed peas, white beans, corn, potatoes, and roasted peanuts. Slice them thinly and use them to make a creamy cole slaw to accompany BBQ pork sandwiches. Use them raw in salads, cook them into flavorful bean soups, use them to make collard kraut, or cook them in more of a traditional southern way.
Store collards in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them.
Collard, Carrot, and Raisin Salad
Yield: 4 servings
3 cups collard leaves, stems removed, leaves cut into 1-inch dice (1 bunch)
1 cup shredded carrots
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp shallot, sliced into ⅛-inch rounds
¼ tsp chili flakes
¼ cup raisins
½ cup crushed pineapple
¼ cup orange juice
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp smooth Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
¾ tsp salt
⅓ cup salt-roasted peanuts
- In a medium bowl, combine the collards and the carrots. Set aside.
- In an 8 to 10 inch saucepan or skillet, heat the olive oil, shallots, and chili flakes over medium heat until they really start to sizzle. Just before they begin to brown, add the raisins, pineapple, orange juice, vinegar, dijon mustard, honey, and salt. Bring that thick mixture up to a boil and pour it over the collards.
- Toss together and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight. Just before serving, stir in the peanuts.
This recipe was borrowed from Vivian Howard’s book, Deep Run Roots. Vivian is the co-creator and star of the award-winning PBS series A Chef’s Life, which tells stories about the people, food, and culture of the Carolina Coastal plain where she grew up.
Cooking With This Week's Box:
Kabocha Squash: Kabocha Nishime (see below) or Kabocha Squash Bread with Toasted Walnut Cinnamon Swirl (see below)
We have made the transition to fall, it’s official. Our Harvest Party is coming up this weekend and we have orange kabocha squash in this week’s box! This is one of my favorite squash varieties and this week I’m sharing two recipes with you from Amy Chaplin’s beautiful book, At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen. The first one is for Kabocha Squash Bread with Toasted Walnut Cinnamon Swirl (see below). I make this bread throughout the winter and we eat it for breakfast with a hard-boiled egg or sometimes have it as dessert with lunch or dinner! It’s delicious on it’s own, but even better spread with soft butter or coconut oil. It calls for spelt flour, which I really like, but I would guess you could also just use all-purpose flour. If you’re not into baking and sweet things this week, consider trying Amy’s recipe for Kabocha Nishime (see below). This is a Japanese preparation for kabocha squash where the squash is steamed until tender and very delicately flavored with kombu, fish stock and mirin. You can eat it on its own or turn it into a bento bowl by serving it with rice, steamed kale and pickled vegetables.
Carbonara with Leeks, Lemon & Bacon
This week I went back through our recipe database because I was looking for a few recipes I thought we had featured before. I found several recipes that I had forgotten about including one we featured last year for Carbonara with Leeks, Lemon & Bacon
. This recipe calls for sweet corn, which we don’t have, but you could easily substitute edamame or carrots instead. This is a rich dish, but very delicious with the silky leeks, the sweetness from the peppers and the tang from the lemon.
Another recipe I came across that I haven’t made for awhile is this one for Aloo Gobi (Cauliflower & Potatoes)
. This is kind of like a quick, Indian vegetable stew with cauliflower, potatoes and tomatoes seasoned with curry powder and garnished with cilantro. It’s flavorful, warming and can be eaten as is or along with rice or a flat bread.
I guess I’m starting to feel the chill of fall which makes me want to eat more soup. This week I’m going to make Andrea Reusing’s recipe for Carrot Soup with Toasted Curry & Pistachios
. This is a very simple soup, yet so delicious. If you have some carrots remaining from a previous week, use them to make this recipe for Carrot & Broccoli Salad with Miso Ginger Sauce
. This recipe will make great use of not only carrots, but also this week’s broccoli and the last of the edamame.
Kale Chips with Almond Butter & Miso
Lets talk about snacks for a bit. Fall is the time of year when I like to make kale chips as our Sunday afternoon snack as we prepare for the week ahead. I really like this recipe for Kale Chips with Almond Butter & Miso
. I prefer to make kale chips with green curly kale, but I’ve talked to other members who prefer Lacinato kale! I’m sure they’re delicious with either variety and no reason to feel guilty eating chips! The other snack food I want to make this week is Mini-Sweet Peppers Stuffed with Feta, Avocado, & Golden Grape Tomatoes
. Mini Sweet peppers are great for stuffing with a lot of things, so if you don’t like this recipe, make up your own or just eat them with cream cheese!
Some boxes this week may receive Orange Italian Frying peppers while others will receive poblano peppers. For those of you who get the poblano peppers, consider making Poblano Pepper Jack Cornbread
. Serve it for brunch or a light dinner with scrambled eggs and fresh slices of tomatoes.
I have some exciting news to share with you….sweet potato harvest is coming very soon! Rafael dug some gorgeous sweet potatoes yesterday! If the rest of the field looks like the samples he dug, we’re going to have a great sweet potato harvest this year! We haven’t eaten any yet, remember we have to cure them first to convert their starches into sugar. Start gathering your recipes, they’ll likely be in your box within about three weeks or so. Have a great week and we hope to see you at the party this weekend!---Chef Andrea
Featured Vegetable: Orange Kabocha Squash
This week we’re packing one of our longtime favorite squash varieties, orange kabocha. The varietal name for this squash is “Sunshine,” something we will take in any way we can get it given the recent rains and gray skies! You’ll recognize this vegetable by its bright orange skin and rounded, disc-like shape. This variety is also sometimes called a Japanese Pumpkin and is similar to other squash varieties such as orange kuri and buttercup. This squash has a thick wall of flesh and a small seed cavity. The flesh is dark orange in color and has a silky, custard-like texture when cooked.
This is a very versatile squash and may be used for a variety of preparations including soup, puree, baked goods, curries, stews or simply roasted. You can often use this squash variety in recipes that call for buttercup, butternut, or orange kuri as well as any recipe calling for pumpkin. The flavor of this squash is excellent and surpasses even the best tasting pumpkin.
You’ll find kabocha squash to be a very dense squash that will require a little bit of effort to cut into. Unlike some other winter squash, kabocha squash has a very thin skin that can be either peeled away or just eaten. The skin is most tender shortly after harvest and toughens up the longer it is in storage, thus may not be as desirable to eat. There are several ways you can cook this squash. My go-to easy, low maintenance method is to just cut the squash in half, remove the seed cavity and put the squash halves, cut side down, in a baking dish. Add a little bit of water to the pan and bake the squash at 350°F until the squash is soft and tender when pierced with a fork. Remove the squash from the oven and turn the halves over so they can cool. Once cool enough to handle, scoop the cooked flesh out of the shell and either mash or puree the flesh. Once the flesh is cooked, you can use it to make a simple squash puree seasoned with spices of your choosing and a pat of butter. Orange kabocha puree can also be used in baked goods and desserts. This rich, sweet flesh makes a delicious pie filling and yields rich, moist, flavorful quickbreads, muffins, pudding and soufflé.
Aside from baking, kabocha squash may also be roasted or simply steamed. In Japanese cuisine, kabocha squash are also referred to as Japanese pumpkins. Known for their simple, clean preparations, you’ll find Japanese recipes for kabocha squash to be equally as simple with just a few ingredients. Slices or chunks of kabocha squash are often steamed or simmered in a simple dashi broth with kombu seaweed and sometimes miso, soy sauce and sometimes sake. This week we’re featuring Amy Chaplin’s recipe for kabocha nishime which is made using this type of method for steaming. Amy recommends including this as a component in a nourishing Bento Bowl, a Japanese way of eating a variety of simple preparations including steamed rice and/or beans, steamed greens and pickled vegetables. You can also roast kabocha squash as you would prepare any other root vegetable or potato for roasting. When prepared this way the exterior of the squash gets nice and crispy while the flesh inside stays moist and sweet.
This squash is also delicious when used in soups, stews and curry dishes. It is also really easy to preserve. I like to cook a lot of squash at the same time and then puree the flesh. I pack it in quart freezer bags and then lay them flat in the freezer to freeze them in “pillows.” I can thaw these bags really quickly and then use the squash as a quick side dish during the winter—just heat and add salt, pepper and butter. It’s also super quick to pull out a bag of the prepared squash and turn it into bread, cookies, pie or some other tasty treat.
I’ll take a minute to mention squash seeds. While we usually encourage you to save the seeds from your winter squash and roast them to make a crunchy snack, I have to admit I don’t care for the seeds from a kabocha squash. They have a thicker hull and are more tough and less enjoyable to eat. Save your efforts for some of the other squash that will come later such as the sugar dumpling, festival and butternut squash.
For longer storage, winter squash is best stored in a cool, dry location at about 45-55°F. However you can also keep them on your kitchen counter and enjoy their beauty if you are going to eat them within a few days or weeks. I would encourage you to eat this week’s selection sooner than later. Watch them and if you notice any spots starting to form on the exterior, cut that area out of the squash and cook the remainder immediately.
Kabocha Squash Bread with Toasted Walnut Cinnamon Swirl
Yield: One 9-inch loaf
Photo from Amy Chaplin's book,
At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen
Cinnamon Walnut Swirl:
1 cup toasted walnut halves, chopped
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp maple sugar (may substitute brown sugar)
2 Tbsp maple syrup
½ to 1 medium kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, and cut in ½-inch dice (about 3 ½ cups raw)*
2 cups spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp milk (dairy or non-dairy)
½ tsp sea salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
- Make the Cinnamon Walnut Swirl: Place walnuts, cinnamon, maple sugar, and maple syrup in a bowl; mix to combine and set aside.
- Make the Batter: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a loaf pan and line bottom and two longer sides with a sheet of parchment paper; set aside.
- Steam squash for 10 to 12 minutes or until soft. Place in a medium bowl and mash with a fork. Measure out 1 ½ cups cooked squash and set aside. *(see note below)
- Sift spelt flour and baking powder into a medium bowl and stir to combine. Add olive oil, maple syrup, milk, salt, vanilla, and egg to the mashed squash; whisk until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, fold flour mixture into squash mixture until just combined. Spread half of batter over bottom of loaf pan. Layer cinnamon-walnut mixture evenly over batter and top with remaining batter. To create a swirl, use a small rubber spatula or butter knife to zigzag back and forth through the batter (across pan) and one stroke straight through the center of the loaf (lengthwise).
- Place in oven, and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow loaf to sit 5 minutes before carefully turning out and placing on a wire rack. Slice and serve warm.
*Chef Andrea Note: Alternatively, you can cut the squash in half and put the two halves, cut side down, in a baking dish with a little water in the bottom. Bake in a 350°F oven until tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and turn the squash over so they can release steam and cool enough to handle. Scrape out the seed cavity and discard it. Scrape the remaining flesh away from the skin. Mash it with a fork or puree it in a food processor. Measure out 1 ½ cups cooked squash for the bread and refrigerate or freeze the remainder for another use.
This recipe comes from Amy Chaplin’s book At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Celebrating the Art of Eating Well.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Photo from Amy Chaplin's book,
At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen
Note from author: Nishime is a Japanese cooking style that means “long-cooked with little water.” In macrobiotic cooking, it is said to create strong, calm energy and restore vitality. This amazingly simple method is perfect for root vegetables and winter squash, as they become super-sweet and meltingly tender.
2 pound kabocha squash
4-inch piece kombu
¾ cup water
1 tsp mirin
1 tsp tamari
Pinch sea salt
- Remove seeds from squash, leave skin on, and cut into 1 ¼-inch wedges. Cut each wedge in half to make triangles. Place kombu in bottom of a medium-large pot or one that will snugly fit all squash in one layer. Lay squash skin-side down over kombu and arrange in a circle, with pointy end of squash facing the center.
- Pour in water, and add mirin, tamari, and a pinch of salt to center of pot. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until squash is cooked through. You can test it with a toothpick or tip of a small knife; cooking time will depend on the thickness of the flesh. Remove from heat and carefully lift squash into serving bowl
- The cooking liquid you are left with is sweet and flavorful and can be poured over the squash when serving. Or you can simply drink it, as I love to do.
This recipe comes from Amy Chaplin’s book At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Celebrating the Art of Eating Well. She recommends including this squash as a component in a simple meal mirrored after the Japanese bento meal concept where different components are served in a lacquered box with divided compartments for each component. To simplify this dish, skip the box and just create your own bento bowl. Amy suggests choosing several different components such as steamed rice, the kabocha nishime, pickled vegetables and/or steamed greens. Create a bowl for each diner with the components each desires. This is a simple way to make a beautiful, nourishing meal.
Cooking With This Week's Box:
Potatoes: Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken with Potatoes & Sweet Peppers (See below)
Here we are in mid-September and while the trees are still mostly green, you can see they’ll be transitioning to their fall colors soon. Yesterday we finished winter squash harvest and our greenhouse is filled with bins of colorful squash! We hope you’ll consider joining us for our Fall Harvest Party coming up on September 23. Come and see the farm and enjoy delicious food, great conversation with other CSA members and tour the fields!
Lets kick off this week’s cooking extravaganza with a focus on this week’s featured vegetable, the beautiful mini-sweet peppers. These little gems are delicious just on their own, but they are also really great when roasted. This week I suggest using most of your mini-sweet peppers to make Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken with Potatoes & Sweet Peppers (See below). This is a simple recipe featuring herb-roasted potatoes, mini-sweet peppers and sweet onions, but very tasty and filling.
Spaghetti Squash & Leek Skillet Gratin
I’m excited that we have both spaghetti squash and leeks in this week’s box so we can use them to make Spaghetti Squash & Leek Skillet Gratin.
I have shared this recipe with anyone who tells me they don’t care for spaghetti squash and everyone who’s tried it has had to admit it’s a pretty good way to prepare this unique squash! This dish is easy to put together and includes sweet peppers as well as spaghetti squash, leeks and garlic. Leftovers are pretty good the next day too. You might want to save one leek to make this recipe for Apple, Leek & Cheddar Quiche
which we featured several years ago in a newsletter. I had forgotten about this until one of our members reminded us about this recipe in our Facebook Group last week. This will make a great weekend brunch item with some leftovers for breakfast on Monday morning.
While the tomatoes in this week’s box aren’t technically green tomatoes, most of them were a bit on the under-ripe side when they were picked. We know tomato season won’t last forever, so I’m going to pull the trigger on making our annual dinner of Fried Green Tomatoes
. This recipe also includes a simple sauce to serve alongside.
When I was a kid, one of the church ladies’ go-to recipes for snacks at church events was a cold Veggie Pizza
. This is a great way to incorporate a lot of vegetables into one preparation. This could serve as a light dinner or lunch, but might also be a good thing to send in school lunches for the kids or just have it in the refrigerator for an after-school snack. The recipe calls for using canned crescent rolls for the crust. You could also use puff pastry as the base or make your own crust. You can top this with any fresh vegetable you like, but I’d suggest using carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and sweet peppers from this week’s box. You could also use edamame for a pop of green color.
Caramelized Poblano Chile & Onion Dip
This will likely be the last week we’ll be able to deliver tomatillos. Several years ago when Chef Chelsea worked at the farm, she introduced me to the beautiful combination of roasted poblanos and tomatillos. So this week I think I’ll just keep things simple and make Roasted Poblano & Tomatillo Salsa Verde
. This will likely become our Sunday afternoon snack eaten with chips, but you could also use this salsa as a sauce over grilled chicken or pork chops or include it in a breakfast burrito. The other poblano pepper recipe I have to mention every year is Caramelized Poblano Chile & Onion Dip
. I like to make this at least once every year and I use it in a variety of ways. First of all, it’s really good as a dip with mini-sweet peppers, but it’s also good on quesadillas, on top of roasted potatoes, or use it as a base for something similar to the veggie pizza mentioned above. This week’s sweet onions are one of the best varieties to use for this recipe.
We’re nearing the end of edamame for the season. I’ve enjoyed having these sweet, tender beans over the past few weeks. If you’re looking for a simple vegetable snack for the kids, this is a good one. Otherwise, this week I’m going to follow this simple suggestion for Edamame & Veggie Rice Bowl
. You could eat this warm or at room temperature. Basically you pile brown rice in a bowl and top it off with roasted vegetables (such as carrots, broccoli, sweet peppers or grape tomatoes). Serve it with chunks of avocado and dress it with a citrus lime vinaigrette. This is a nice light, nourishing alternative to some of the more rich dishes I’ve recommended throughout the week.
Here’s another suggestion for something a bit on the light side. If you get the red cabbage in your box this week, pair it with carrots to make this Thai Sesame, Red Cabbage & Carrot Salad
. It’s a basic salad consisting of cabbage, carrots, fresh herbs and a light vinaigrette. You could turn this into a meal by adding some shredded chicken or salmon.
Lastly, if you didn’t have a chance to try the Korean Peppers last week, I’d encourage you to do so this week. We’ve sent them as a choice item, so pick up a small handful and use them to make the HVF Korean Chile-Garlic Sauce
or Salt-Cured Chiles
we featured on the blog last week. You can also read more about this chile and how to use it in the same blog post.
Alright friends, we’ve cooked our way to the bottom of yet another CSA box. I haven’t cooked any of our Kabocha squash yet, but I am thinking they’ll likely land in next week’s boxes, so start transitioning your thoughts to more fall cooking. Have a great week!—Chef Andrea
Featured Vegetable: Mini-Sweet Peppers
These sweet little gems have become something many of our members look forward to every year, and what’s not to like about them! They are cute, colorful, sweet and easy to eat. They travel well, require very little if any preparation, store well on the countertop during the season and are easy to preserve. They are delicious raw, roasted, sautéed and are excellent for dipping or stuffing. If I had to choose just one pepper to grow, this would be the chosen one.
For those of you who have been members with our farm for several years, you likely remember the story about how this vegetable came to be part of our repertoire. It’s a relatively new addition to our crop plan and we’re grateful to one of our longtime CSA members who introduced us to them. Upon his suggestion, Richard picked up a pack of these peppers at the co-op and saved the seeds from them. Please note, each pepper only has a few seeds inside, so the amount of seed we had to start with was pretty slim. He planted out the seeds that year, selected more peppers to save seeds from and thus began the process of developing our own line of seed. At the time he first saw these peppers, they were not very wide-spread in the stores as they are now and seed was not commercially available in this country. Times have changed and mini-sweet peppers, or snacking peppers as they are also called, are much more mainstream. Seed is now commercially available in this country. Several years ago we purchased some seed to try. We grew it side by side with the seed we had saved and when we looked at the plants in the field, they were pretty similar. We almost had ourselves convinced that we should just purchase seed and stop spending time painstakingly picking 4-5 seeds out of peppers at the end of every summer so we have seed for the next year. But then we tasted them. One bite of the purchased variety stopped us in our tracks. It was an acceptable sweet pepper, but it did not have the level of sweetness or the depth of flavor we experienced with the variety we’ve been developing. Deal breaker. We haven’t purchased seed since then and will continue to refine the seed we save every year as it seems to be doing pretty well in our growing environment.
So what do you do with this little pepper? Well the easiest thing to do is to just eat it as a snack. I usually don’t even cut them or trim away the top. I just use the stem as a handle and eat around the seeds. One of Richard’s favorite ways to eat this pepper is stuffed with cream cheese or other soft cheese. You can eat peppers stuffed in this way raw or pop them under the broiler for a bit to warm them up. This pepper is also great roasted, such as in this week’s recipe. Lastly, you can use this pepper as you would any other sweet pepper.
I mentioned above that it can also be preserved. This is actually one of the easiest things to put away for winter. All you have to do is wash them, let them air dry a bit and then put them in a freezer bag and freeze. That’s it. When you’re ready to use them, take out the portion you need and leave it on the counter at room temperature for just a few minutes so it softens enough for you to cut them. I use these throughout the winter as a topping on pizza, added to soups and stews, or chopped and added to rice and pasta dishes.
We hope you enjoy this sweet little gem as much as we do!
Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken with Potatoes & Mini-Sweet Peppers
Yield 4-5 servings
4 cups diced potatoes (about 1 ½ pounds)
2 cups mini-sweet peppers, stem removed & quartered (about ½ pound)
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried parsley
½ tsp dried rosemary
½ tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp salt, divided
Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
3 Tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil, divided
6 pieces chicken thighs, legs, wings or a combination, skin-on
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Combine potatoes, mini-sweet peppers, and onions in a medium mixing bowl. Add dried herbs, freshly ground black pepper and about ½ tsp salt. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp oil. Toss the vegetables to thoroughly mix the vegetables with the herbs and coat everything with oil. Spread the vegetables evenly on a sheet pan and set aside.
- Put the pieces of chicken in the same bowl you mixed the vegetables in. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp oil and sprinkle with about ½ tsp salt as well as freshly ground pepper. Mix well with your hands and make sure all sides of the chicken are thoroughly coated with oil and seasonings.
- Put the pieces of chicken on top of the vegetables, skin side up.
- Put the chicken and vegetables in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. If necessary stir the vegetables a bit so they brown more evenly. Return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes or until the vegetables are golden brown and tender and the chicken is golden, crispy and cooked through.
- Remove from the oven and serve hot.
By Chef Andrea, Harmony Valley Farm
By Gwen Anderson
The story we want to share with you this week is filled with hope and encouragement. It has been exciting for us here at Harmony Valley Farm over the past few weeks as we’ve dug deeper into this rich story. There is far too much for us to be able to sum up in one article, so we’ve shared some resources for you at the end of the article and encourage you to dive into this story and learn more. The story is about a small township called Mals, which is (to our knowledge) the first municipality in the world to ban pesticides. We first leaned about Mals when we read about it in an article in September’s issue of Acres U.S.A. The article was an interview with Philip Ackerman-Leist, a farmer and professor of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems at Green Mountain College in Vermont, who is also the author of A Precautionary Tale. Ackerman-Leist is very familiar with the area surrounding Mals, since he lived and worked in the area as a farmer in the early 1990s. In both his book and the article we read, he highlights the struggles Mals went through on its long and difficult journey to become a pesticide free municipality. Their story is one of perseverance, tenacity, convictions, and the desire to, as Farmer Richard would say, “do the right thing.”
Mals (pronounced Mahltz) is a township located in the Upper Vinschgau Valley of the Italian Alps, in a region called South Tirol. The township is made up of 11 villages ranging in altitudes of 3,000 to 5,500 feet. The largest of the villages lends its name to the municipality, so the villages are collectively known as Mals. Even though the township is in Italy, the inhabitants speak German and retain their Austro-Hungarian heritage. The residents of Mals have been farmers for 30-35 generations, tending their small family farms and carrying on traditions of rotating grain crops with vegetable crops and keeping their soil healthy. Most of the farms are small dairy farms, owning 8-12 cows, who grow their own vegetables and have a handful of fruit trees near their homes. The area surrounding Mals is also the driest in the Alps, with only about 50 days of rain a year, but the water coming down from glaciers and easy access to irrigation have made this a prime agricultural region.
Ulrich Veith became mayor of Mals in 2009. He was elected because of his desire to create a sustainable municipality while keeping with the local traditions. The township was building a micro-hydro-system to generate green energy to power their homes, businesses, and the new Swiss-built train that brought their long abandoned rail system back into use. The train brought tourists who were interested in Mals’ picturesque landscape and the town responded by making bike trails and opening South Tirol’s first organic hotel. It was a new renaissance period for the people of Mals.
Elsewhere in South Tirol, there was another sort of renaissance happening. Climate change warmed the Alps and made South Tirol a perfect place to grow fruit, and apples were becoming the biggest money maker around. The farmers’ cooperatives were building their brands and spreading their markets across Europe and Russia. They borrowed the efficient tree trellis method developed by the Dutch and the small 3-4 acre orchards were rolling in money. With money in hand and looking to expand, the apple farmers set their sights on Mals and the valley below, where they could snatch up land at a low price. With the apples came the pesticides. Apple farmers are able to legally spray up to 30 different pesticides, each one being sprayed 12-14 times a year. While the rest of South Tirol was using 35 pounds of pesticides per acre per year, Mals was making a wide-spread movement to organic agriculture.
Gluderer family's herb farm, Castle of Herbs
photo from vinschgau.net
The valley below Mals, which had once mirrored Mals’ picturesque medieval farm landscape, had transformed into a sea of commercial apple orchards. Urban Gluderer and his family, whom had started an organic herb farm down in the valley in the 1990s, were soon surrounded by conventional apple orchards and quickly found the pesticide drift was spreading to their land. They planted hedges to protect their herbs, but the produce was still too tainted by pesticides to sell. After several attempts to speak with government officials in the provincial capital failed to provide an adequate response, the Gluderers spent a quarter of a million dollars to cover their farm with greenhouses as a means to protect their livelihood from the chemical trespass.
In 2009, Günther Wallnöfer, an organic dairy farmer in Mals, watched as two commercial apple orchards went in next to his hay fields. He didn’t feel the legal requirement of a 3 meter (10 feet) buffer between fields was going to protect his farm, and stories like the Gluderer’s only gave him justification to worry. As Ackerman-Leist said in the article, “You can’t even turn your tractor around in a 10 foot radius!” The next year, Wallnöfer had cuttings of his hay tested for pesticides. The first came back tainted, as did the second and third. Wallnöfer went to see the new mayor and asked him to do something. In a community that has a wind named after them, everyone knew that no one was safe from chemical drift. Per Ackerman-Leist, “Pesticides represented the death knell to the renaissance that [Veith, Wallnöfer] and others had worked so hard to bring about.” So Veith went to the provincial and local governments for assistance. What Veith received were two test orchards, supposedly to test pesticide drift, but also to trial new fruit varieties. The people of Mals didn’t want more orchards, and didn’t see the need for further testing when there was already enough evidence of the dangers pesticide drift presented. In the summer of 2012, much to the chagrin of the township, the test orchards were built. In the end, the test orchards brought talks about changing the buffer law, but nothing substantial ever came from them.
Dr. Johannes Fragner-Untherpertinger
It was clear that the provincial government didn’t have its sights on the same goal, so the citizens rallied; not just the farmers and environmentalists, but small business owners, the local medical community, and concerned parents. The Advocacy Committee for a Pesticide-Free Mals was born in February of 2013, and Dr. Johannes Fragner-Unterpertinger, the local pharmacist, was elected as the spokesperson. The Advocacy Committee started talking about a possible referendum to ban pesticides in Mals. Speakers from around the world were brought in to educate the community of Mals on pesticides, from toxicologists (Dr. Irene Witte) and entomologists (Dr. Hans Rudolf Herren), to an EU food safety expert (Hermine Reich) who supported “safe pesticide use.”
In the summer of 2013, Dr. Unterpertinger, together with fellow activist Dr. Elisabeth Viertler, a pediatrician, wrote a Manifesto of Doctors and Pharmacists calling attention to the health dangers that pesticides present.
It was signed by 51 members of the local medical community.
Ackerman-Leist quoted the pharmacist as saying “When I see something jeopardizing the population here, which is coming in tiny increments, just in the same way the medicine I give out is prescribed in tiny increments, there is no way that I see that as appropriate.” “None of these pesticides are harmless,” Dr. Unterpertinger said. “Providing this information over the last years has borne its fruit. The community now understands how dangerous pesticides are. If you have a bit of a conscience, you cannot stay silent as a doctor.”
Meetings and education were not the only form of activism in Mals. A group called Adam & Epfl (or Adam & Apple in English, is a play on words for ‘Adam and Eve’ in the local dialect) held cultural events to showcase Mals’ unique culture and support the sustainable economic development the township was striving for. They have also been known to use a guerrilla art tactic or two, leaving painted snakes around the towns and apple orchards as a reminder not to be tempted by the “promises” of the Big Apple (a term coined to describe the commercial apple industry modeled after the term “Big Ag” in the US)
5 members of Hollawint, from left: Pia Oswald, Dr. Elisabeth
Viertler, Beatrice Raas, Martina Hellrigl, and Margit Gasser
Photo from thelexicon.org
Martina Hellrigl and Beatrice Raas, the founders of a woman’s group called Hollawint
(which means “Stop right there!”), wrote letters to the local newspapers pleading for the mayor to protect their health after the first submission of the referendum was declined.
Their first letter, which appeared multiple times with over 60 different signatures, read: “The increasing use of pesticides and herbicides in the municipality of Mals has us highly concerned for our health and especially the health of our children.
We ask our Mayor, who is responsible for the health of our citizens, to ensure that our environment and our health are not endangered.” Another of their letters
, sent to government officials during the referendum vote in September of 2014, focused on the highly profitable tourist trade: “We wish for everything that the tourist brochures have long promised: highly valued, healthy, and diverse foods that are grown in healthy soil and embedded in a landscape in which people, animals, and plants all have the possibility of a healthy life. We request that you publicly give us positive support in public and act accordingly.”
During the same time Dr. Unterpertinger was releasing his manifesto, the women of Hollawing hung over 100 recycled bedsheets throughout Mals stenciled with slogans promoting a pesticide-free future.
Hollawint also borrowed the guerrilla art tactic from Adam & Epfl by placing hay-stuffed pesticide suits sporting signs explaining the dangers of pesticides in high traffic areas around the township, and painted sunflowers to remind people to vote “Ja!” (or “Yes!”) for the pesticide ban referendum.
Eco-tourism was also a huge weapon the residents of Mals had in their arsenal. “Probably the biggest mistake Big Apple made was overestimating their actual economic importance,” Ackerman-Leist stated. “Agriculture only accounts for 6% of the South Tirolean economy, while tourism is closer to 25%.” Elsewhere in South Tirol, stories were emerging about bicycling tourists being sprayed by pesticides while riding the countryside. In April of 2013, a Swiss newspaper ran an article saying pesticides were ruining South Tirol as a vacation spot, which the region’s governor scoffed at. Germany and Austria are also a huge tourism market for the South Tirol area. When the Environmental Institute of Munich ran a campaign in April last year declaring many of the areas in South Tirol too filled with pesticides to visit, the South Tirolean government and tourism office were up in arms. The institute then sponsored a bus trip to the villages of Mals in an effort to support their pesticide-free initiative. A German tourism magazine interviewed Mayor Veith, which Ackerman-Leist summed up: “He essentially said, ‘We offer the perfect opportunity for eco-tourists. Why wouldn’t you come to Mals, where you don’t have to worry about pesticide drift in your hotel or being sprayed when you’re out bicycling?’”
Once Big Apple realized the citizens of Mals were serious about their referendum and were not going to just go away, groups were formed to fight back and put pressure on the government to intervene in their defense. While the first attempt to submit a referendum failed, the second gained almost 3 times the signatures of support required in 2014. In response, a media campaign called A Farmer’s Future was launched by the commercial fruit industry and allies of the South Tirolean Farmers Association. This group tried to stop the referendum vote by requesting that the government invalidate Mals’ town council’s decision to allow the referendum only weeks before the vote. The South Tirolean officials themselves had already stalled the vote on the referendum once by refusing to give Mayor Veith the voter list, saying the referendum was inadmissible. When Veith countered the officials, they found an error on the request form and reminded the mayor that the voter list request must be completed, correctly, 45 days before the vote, thus forcing a reschedule.
Finally in September 2014, the citizens of Mals were able to pass the referendum to ban pesticides with 76% of voter’s support, but it still wasn’t enough to make it a law. Mayor Veith and the town council had laid the groundwork for a referendum passed by the people to become law in 2012, but the change in the municipal code did not guarantee the referendum would be turned into law, only that it must be considered. The ordinances imposing the referendum weren’t passed until March 2017. According to Ackerman-Leist “it took more than a year and an election of town councilors before they actually voted to develop the ordinances to implement the referendum.”
Part of the issue slowing the referendum being turned into law was legal uncertainty. The town council’s vote to change the municipality laws failed twice, in no small part due to lawsuits against the referendum (and a number of the activists) being paid for by the South Tirol Farmer’s Association, which supported commercial interests. In 2016, the provincial courts even declared that the referendum was illegal because it was sponsored by the Advocacy Committee, six months after Mayor Veith and the town council had drafted the ordinances. “The Malsers saw that as a technicality,” Ackerman-Leist stated. “The ordinances for a pesticide-free Mals were not overturned.”
Lawsuits were not the only backlash the Mals activist saw. Mayor Veith, a member of the region’s most prevalent political party, was under constant political pressure. Dr. Unterpertinger, whose family had been pharmacists in the area for hundreds of years, received death threats and required police protection. His garden was destroyed and his family’s graves were vandalized. Ägidius Wellenzohn, another prominent activist, has been an organic fruit grower for 30 years. Someone entered his orchard and sprayed it with glyphosate, not only destroying his crop for that year but also compromising his organic status for the next several years. “Obviously, this is not something I ever wanted,” Ackerman-Leist quoted Wellenzohn as saying, “but I also realize that this is the price sometimes you pay for activism. It’s still worth it to me to have been this involved.”
The town pulled together to support Wellenzohn, just as they had been supporting each other throughout the rest of their fight to live a life free of pesticides.
“I have the right not to be poisoned.
It would seem normal, but it’s something we need to fight for, not to be poisoned,” Dr. Unterpertinger says in a video from Friends of the Earth
“They say that Bertol Brect says ‘[he] who fights may lose, but [he] who doesn’t fight [has] already lost.’
To say ‘Oh, well, there is nothing I can do,’ is unacceptable.”
Mals is a lesson for us all on how education and collective community persistence can win against even the seemingly unbeatable Goliath powers of commercialism and industry. When we consider the negative impact “Big Ag” has in our own country, it can seem impossible that “we” can ever find success in opposing their efforts to influence government and support their cause with the power of the almighty dollar. Mals’ success story is one that many European groups, including the Pesticide Action Network and Friends of the Earth, are trying to spread with the hope that this story will be emulated in other communities, much to the delight of many of the people of Mals. “I see it almost as a gift, what happened here,” Martina Hellrigl says in the above video. “It’s a beautiful story and we hope this beautiful story acts like a seed. I hope Hollawint’s seed grows in other places also.”
Cooking With This Week's Box:
Korean Peppers: Salt-Cured Chiles and HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce (see below); Chile & Leek Stir-Fry with Ginger (see below)
It’s been an eventful week to say the least! While the rain fell Monday night, I distracted myself by experimenting with the Korean chiles in my kitchen! I hope you’ll take the time to read this week’s article about Korean peppers and consider trying the recipes for Salt-Cured Chiles and HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce (see below). These are great condiments to have in your refrigerator and I offer several resources in the article for finding recipes and ideas for how to use them. You can also use this chile in the recipe for Chile & Leek Stir-Fry with Ginger (see below). It seems like gentle, delicate leeks and hot chiles are on different ends of the spectrum, but they actually complement each other quite nicely in this dish. This recipe calls for tofu, but you could make it with chicken if you prefer.
If you don’t use the leeks to make the stir-fry, then you might want to use them to make Alice Water’s Classic Potato Leek Soup. Her recipe calls for yellow potatoes, but I specifically included the Purple Viking potatoes in this week’s box because I think they’re one of the best varieties for this soup!
Roasted Beet & Avocado Salad, photo from Food & Wine
This week we are fortunate to have avocados in the fruit share. Avocados and beets pair together very nicely in dishes such as this Roasted Beet & Avocado Salad. Don’t throw away the green tops! Wilt them with in olive oil and use them as the base for serving this salad.
I have been craving roasted red peppers and this is the week to make this recipe for Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo with Linguine. While the recipe calls for roasted peppers from a jar, please do yourself a favor and roast your orange Italian frying peppers and/or red bell peppers for this recipe! This recipe also includes onions as the base and this week’s sweet yellow onions will really enhance this dish.
I shared some edamame with a friend last week who had never had them before. As I was telling her how to cook them I mentioned how when you roast them you can add different seasonings. In my early days at the farm, I created this recipe for Wasabi-Roasted Edamame to honor Richard’s love of wasabi. This makes a nice little snack in the afternoon.
Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Photo from Land of Noms
Hopefully you still have a little fresh basil remaining in your herb garden. If so, pick a little and use it to make this recipe for Pesto Stir-Fried Carrots, Cauliflower & Cherry (Grape) Tomatoes. This dish makes use of some of your carrots as well as cauliflower (or substitute broccoli Romanesco) and the grape tomatoes in this week’s box. Serve this dish as a vegetable side to go along with grilled chicken or fish.
I hope you enjoy this week’s cooking adventures. Lets cross our fingers that we’ll be able to harvest peppers and tomatoes for a few more weeks, but it’s also time to start preparing your plans for some of our favorite fall vegetables! Spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, Kabocha squash, celeriac and more still coming your way!—Chef Andrea
Exploring a new ingredient, HVF Korean Peppers
By Chef Andrea
Dang Jo Cheong Yang pepper photo from the
Osborne Seed catalog.
This week your CSA boxes include a beautiful bright red Korean Pepper called Dang Jo Cheong Yang. Every year we look for some new, interesting vegetables to grow. Last winter, as we were pouring over seed catalogs, this pepper caught my eye. The picture in the Osborne Seed catalog showed a long, dark purple pepper that looked to be pretty prolific. They described it as “a unique Asian pepper that is similar in pungency and appearance to a serrano. The fruit are purple in color and ripen to a deep dark red color. They are easy to harvest and uniform. Outstanding yield and good ripening ability in the Pacific Northwest make this a nice addition to a hot pepper program.” We thought it would be fun to try something new and we don’t have any purple peppers so why not give it a try! We have found that the plants are very prolific producers and just as the picture shows, they set on quite a lot of dark purple peppers. Our next mission was to decide when to harvest them. Since we’ve never experienced this pepper before we are basically doing our best to assess the qualities of the pepper at different stages and make our best judgements as to when it’s at its peak of ripeness. I started trialing this pepper when it was just purple and found that it really didn’t have much flavor. It tasted like a very green hot pepper. Nothing really remarkable about it. So we decided to let it ripen more and see what happened. Now that they are fully red, the flavor has really changed and it not only has heat, but a much more complex flavor than when it was green.
As with every new vegetable we grow, we not only have to figure out how to grow it and when to harvest it, but we also have to figure out how to best put it to use in the kitchen. Before we go any further, I should offer the disclaimer that I am very much a novice when it comes to the cuisine of most countries in Asia. Yes, I had “Cuisines of Asia” in culinary school and I have a handful of Japanese, Thai and Chinese cookbooks, but I have to admit that I’m not very familiar with many of the cooking techniques and ingredients that are used in these cultures. I’m also not familiar with the languages of this part of the world, so I just assumed this was probably some sort of a pepper from China. I started researching more about this pepper, starting with the seed company. Unfortunately they didn’t have much to offer beyond the description in their catalog. When I looked up the name of the pepper, it actually pointed me in the direction of Korean cuisine. So, based on my research I have concluded that this is likely a pepper variety coming to us from Korea. Aside from knowing a few people from Korea and eating kim chi, I am not very familiar with the cuisine of Korea. Thus began another culinary food adventure! So for those of you who are in the same boat as I am and don’t know much about Korean cooking and ingredients, I’m going to do my best to share some of the information I learned from my research. If you have more experience with Korean food and have additional information to share with me, I’d welcome your input, recipes and culinary expertise.
Gouchujang I brought home from Minneapolis
One basic thing I learned about Korean cuisine is that it includes quite a lot of fermented foods as well as spicy hot foods. Korean cuisine and its influence on food and cooking in the United States has been growing over the past few years as we see Korean influences crossing over into dishes from other origins, such as Korean tacos and pizza. I suspect Chef Roy Choi holds some responsibility for this influence based on the success of his food truck business in Los Angeles, California that started with a Korean short rib taco and has now grown to include multiple food trucks as well as a catering business, restaurant and many features in cooking magazines and other media outlets. Chefs and home cooks are taking some basic Korean ingredients and cooking techniques and applying them to other preparations. One of these ingredients is called gochujang. Gochujang is a savory, sweet, spicy condiment used in Korean cuisine. It is considered a backbone ingredient to Korean cooking and one source I read likened it to sriracha mixed with miso, but with a more complex flavor. Traditional gochujang takes quite a while to make because the complexity of its flavor comes from a fermenting process. It’s made with glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, salt and the traditional dried Korean peppers. If you’re interested in learning more about how this is made, you can find more description and pictures on this blog written by a Korean woman who is a simple home cook sharing the cuisine of her country. Gochujang is used as a condiment in sauces, soups, dipping sauces, marinades and with roasted meats. I am seeing this ingredient more in some of my cooking magazines, although I have limited experience using it and have not seen it in any of our local stores. Last winter when I was in Minneapolis for sales meetings I found a jar of gochujang at one of the food co-ops. It wasn’t organic, but it was made with non-GMO soybeans so I picked up a jar so I could see what it was like. I have only used it once, but am glad I have a jar of it now that I’m learning more about what it actually is!
So back to the little bag of peppers in your box this week. First of all, I want to make sure everyone understands that this is a hot pepper, with the heat level similar to a serrano pepper. You can use this pepper anywhere you might need a fresh hot chile and I have been using it in recipes that call for jalapenos as well as fresh Thai chiles. They have added a nice background heat to fresh salsas, scrambled eggs, Thai curry dishes and fried rice. If you prefer less heat, just use a portion of the pepper or remove the seeds and white pith. As with all hot chile peppers, handle them carefully and don’t rub your eyes with your hands for awhile after handling them!
Chile Ristra, photo from heb.com
In Korea, this pepper is often used as a dried chile. This makes sense because it has a thinner wall which means it dries very easily. I’ve actually dried some that have just been hanging out on my countertop, but you could also intentionally dry them in a dehydrator or low heat oven. You could also use them to make a beautiful dried chile ristra. Checkout this website for a step-by step guide for how to make a chile ristra. You can string up the fresh chiles and hang them in your kitchen to dry naturally. Once they are dried you can use them as a dried chile pepper including grinding them with a spice grinder to make hot chile flakes. If you aren’t into hot peppers, you could also enjoy your dried chile ristra just as a decoration in your kitchen or use it as a Christmas gift for someone who does like a spicy culinary adventure!
This week we’re featuring two different recipes that use these Korean peppers in their fresh form. The first recipe is for Salt-Cured Chiles. I’ve made these before using a fresh Thai chile that is actually very similar to these Korean chiles. This is a quick, easy way to preserve your chiles and I like it for several reasons. First, all you need are the chiles and salt. Second, if you use a food processor this recipe will take you maybe 10 minutes to make, including clean up. Third, these chiles will keep in your refrigerator for months and retain that fresh chile flavor. You don’t need much to add heat to dishes, so a little jar can last quite a long time. You can use them to add heat to stir-fries, marinades, sauces or use them to make your own homemade hot sauce.
photo from KIMCHIMARI
The second recipe is for a preparation I’m calling HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce. It’s based off of a recipe that is a quick version of gochujang that anyone can make at home. This is another quick and easy recipe to make. I think it only took me about 10-15 minutes to make it and clean up. This sauce will keep for a couple weeks in the refrigerator or you can portion it into smaller containers and freeze it. Traditional gochujang is a thick paste, but this sauce made with fresh chiles is more of a sauce and less of a paste. The flavor of traditionally fermented gochujang is more complex, so I don’t want to misrepresent this recipe as the way to make traditional gochujang. I do think this is a really tasty chili-garlic sauce and it can be used in any recipe that calls for gochujang. It is pretty spicy, so when you use it in recipes, adjust the quantity to the amount that fits your tastes. If you’re interested in learning more about how this condiment can be used, I’d encourage you to check out the blog I mentioned earlier that includes recipes such as Korean Tacos. There is also a nice article entitled “10 Fresh Ways to Use Korean Gochujang.”
I had a lot of fun learning more about this pepper and a little more about Korean cooking. I hope you have fun experimenting with this pepper in your own kitchens. I invite you to share your experiences in our Facebook group so we can all learn a little more about this pepper as well as experiment with different recipes and ways to use our own homemade Salt-Cured Chiles and HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce! Have fun and thanks for trying something new!
Yield: ½ cup
4 oz fresh Korean peppers
1 Tbsp kosher salt
- Thinly slice peppers with a knife or roughly chop them and then use a food processor to chop the peppers into smaller pieces. If you use a food processor, process just enough to coarsely chop the peppers. You do not want to make pepper paste or puree.
- Put the peppers in a small bowl and add the salt. Mix very well with a spoon. Cover the bowl with a plate or a clean kitchen towel and leave out at room temperature for 24 hours.
- After 24 hours, move the bowl to the refrigerator and mix the peppers once a day for 5 days, or until the salt has dissolved and the now softened chiles are completely covered in liquid.
- Transfer to a glass jar with a lid, tamping the chiles down so that they remain well below the level of the liquid. These will keep for several months in the refrigerator.
This recipe was adapted from Andrea Reusing’s book, Cooking in the Moment, although she credit’s Fuchsia Dunlop (author of Land of Plenty) with this simple method for preserving chiles for use long into the winter months. Reusing suggests pureeing some of the salted chiles along with cider vinegar, garlic, and a little sugar to make your own hot sauce. Of course you can use these chiles anywhere you need a little heat. Add them to soups, stews, marinades, stir-fry, dipping sauces, vinaigrettes, etc.
HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce
Yield: 1 cup
4 oz fresh Korean peppers
4 cloves garlic
⅓ cup miso
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
- Remove the stem and roughly chop Korean peppers into one inch pieces. Put the peppers in a food processor or blender along with the garlic cloves and roughly chop them until they are a fine, yet chunky paste.
- Add the miso, maple syrup, and tamari. Blend together until smooth.
- Taste and adjust the flavor as needed to your liking. Add tamari for more depth of flavor, maple syrup for more sweetness, garlic to get more “zing” or salt if it just needs a little enhancement to wake up all the other flavors.
- Put the sauce in a glass jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Alternatively, you can freeze it in smaller portions as a means of preserving it for later use.
Note: You may use this in place of the Korean fermented chili paste called gochujang. It’s pretty hot, so a little bit will go a long way!
Recipe adapted from minimalistbaker.com
Chile & Leek Stir-Fry with Ginger
Yield: 4 servings
8 oz firm tofu (drained)*
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sherry or dry vermouth
2 tsp honey
⅔ cup vegetable stock
2 tsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp sunflower oil
3-4 leeks, thinly sliced
1 red Korean pepper, sliced thinly
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and shredded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Cut tofu into cubes. Combine the soy sauce and sherry or vermouth in a medium bowl. Add the tofu and stir to make sure the tofu is well coated. Leave to marinate for about 30 minutes.
- Strain the tofu from the marinade and reserve the marinade and juices in a measuring cup. Mix the marinade with the honey, stock, and cornstarch to make a paste.
- Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan and when hot, stir-fry the tofu until crispy. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Reheat the oil and add the chili, ginger and leeks. Stir-fry over high heat for about 2 minutes, moving the vegetables frequently to keep them from burning. Stir-fry just until the leeks have softened.
- Return the tofu to the pan together with the marinade and stir well. Continue to simmer the mixture, while stirring frequently, until the liquid is thick and glossy. Serve hot over rice or egg noodles.
*Note: You may also substitute chicken breast meat for tofu.
This recipe was adapted from Christine Ingram’s book, Vegetarian and Vegetable Cooking: The definitive encyclopedia of healthy vegetarian food.
Last week we reported on the status of our farm after receiving 8” of rain earlier in the week. This week I wanted to update you on our status over the past week. Thankfully we had a few dry days at the end of last week. We performed a few magic tricks to dry out some beds enough that we could do our scheduled weekly plantings on Friday, including our first planting of fall spinach. We were proud of our efforts, accomplishments and had smiles on our face at the end of the week! We had an immediate rain of 1.5” but thankfully the skies cleared on Saturday afternoon and we managed to harvest some beautiful winter squash and finished the potato harvest. We have an abundant winter squash crop this year and we were pleased to find out it tastes really good just a few days after harvest! Usually we wait several weeks to eat any as it needs a little time to cure and sweeten up. All indications are that it is going to be a tasty winter squash season! We also managed to fix all our field roads and after several days all our animal fences were fixed as well.
Unfortunately, we got more rain and severe storms again Monday night! Thankfully it was only 4” of rain this time, but it came hard and fast and in several places the wash-outs were worse. We had to cancel harvest on Tuesday morning and diverted all available operators and equipment to clean up and fix roads, etc. We made it through the last event without the bulldozer, which has been in the repair shop. This time, however, there was some work that was best done with the bulldozer as tractors and skidsteers would’ve just sunk into the mud. I called the shop and asked them to return it. They dropped it off Tuesday afternoon and I was able to move enough mud from below our land dam with hopes that we could get through the night without problems if the predicted rain and storms really moved through our area. Felix G was a trooper and worked with me throughout the day doing a lot of handwork and shoveling to clean up a fence line and clear debris and mud away from the inlet to our land dam that was plugged from the night before. We were also able to resume harvest Tuesday afternoon!
We did have about 1.5 inches of rain Tuesday night, but it wasn’t as much or as hard and fast as originally predicted so we fared pretty well. Our total rainfall over the past two weeks is at about 15 inches now. We have several days of sunny, dry and cool weather in the forecast, which will be a welcomed relief.
We’ve been pretty fortunate to not have lost as many crops as in previous events, but we are already seeing disease spots on many crops because of the prolonged hot/wet and humid weather. We could still see more rot and disease spread in some areas if it doesn’t dry out soon. Please be aware that the shelf life on some of your vegetables may not be what you’re accustomed to simply because of the wet conditions these crops have had to persevere through. If you notice a spot forming on a tomato or pepper, that’s your cue to use them quickly. This might be the week to make a batch of tomato sauce or saute all the peppers at one time and use them throughout the week.
I am writing this weather update to simply let you know what’s happening on our farm, which for our CSA members is also “your” farm. We aren’t looking for pity, we only want to keep you informed and let you know we value your continued support. Our crew has had some hard days and we all are in need of a spirit lift. We appreciate the cards and emails of encouragement we have received. They really help!