CSA Newsletter: Week 17

IMG_9647.JPG

IN YOUR BOX THIS WEEK

Plum Tomatoes // Store at room temperature for up to a week. Do not refrigerate. Use heirlooms or blemished tomatoes much more quickly, within a day or two if you can.

Colored Bell or Italian Frying Pepper or Oranos // Refrigerate peppers, unwashed, in the vegetable drawer. Moisture makes them spoil faster so don’t store in a plastic bag.

Broccoli (Some Full & Half Shares) // Store in the crisper drawer of the fridge. The colder the better for broccoli. Try to use within a few days.

Brussels Sprouts (Full & Half Shares who do not receive Broccoli) // Take out of plastic bag and store in a bowl or open container in the fridge. Do not trim or discard outer leaves before storage. Brussels sprouts should last up to a month this way. The outer leaves might get a little shriveled but you typically remove them anyway.

Fennel (Full Shares + Most Half Shares) // Store the bulbs in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Store the leaves in a moist paper towel in the fridge and use within a week.

Lacinato Kale (Full Shares Only) // Lasts at least a week if kept moist. Kale doesn’t taste as good once it’s dried out. Keep it in the crisper drawer of your fridge or loosely in a plastic bag to seal in the moisture.

Rainbow Chard (Half Shares Only) // Do not wash chard before storage. Wrap in a plastic bag and try to remove most of the air from the bag. Store in the fridge and try to use within a few days.

Butternut Squash // Store winter squash in a cool, dry place and try to use within a week or two. Do not store in the fridge! This will cause it to spoil much more quickly.

Mixed Bag Potatoes // Store just like you’d store any bag of potatoes from the grocery store: in a cool, dark place. Out of the light, they should keep for at least a month.

Radishes (Half Shares who did not receive fennel) // Store for us to 2 weeks in a plastic bag in the fridge. Store greens separately, ideally gently wrapped in a damp paper towel. Use the greens as quickly as possible.

Leeks // Store in the fridge and try to use within a week. Store in a plastic bag for best storage.

Shallots // Store in a cool dark place until ready to use. These have been cured and should store for months, though you should use within a month for best quality.

Oranos_ sweet peppers.jpg

 

What a truly magnificent welcome to fall weekend (discounting the Packers game). The weather couldn’t have been more perfect for working (and playing) outside. We took the weather as an indicator to get out to the farm and finally finish digging the potatoes!! On Friday and Saturday, we dug up the last two beds of potatoes: two hundred feet of truly beautiful Oneida Golds. It was our first time growing this variety and we’ll definitely be growing it again. It yielded almost double what the other beds did and it means more potatoes for you! We weren’t sure if we’d be able to put regular potatoes in your box again this week but this “bumper crop” allowed for it. We’ll wait a week to give those sweet potatoes which will only enhance their sweetness and flavor.

We started digging the sweet potatoes on Monday. It proved just about as difficult as we thought it would. We’ve never grown them before so we didn’t really know what we were doing. We knew most farmers planted their sweet potato slips into plastic. Sweet potatoes are actually a tropical plant so they want it to be super wet and super hot. The plastic around them creates that environment while having the added benefit of suppressing weeds.

IMG_9552.JPG

We don’t use plastic on our farm. We know it makes life easier and perhaps one day we’ll move to this reality, but for now, we are really focused on keeping as much plastic out of our production as possible. Instead we use landscape fabric that has to be stapled down. It creates much of the same effect as plastic but is a bit more difficult to get up at the end of the year. Weeds tangle around the edges and you have to roll it back up for reuse instead of just tearing it away. We used landscape fabric in our sweet potato field and getting that out of there pre-harvest has been a feat. We had to top the sweet potato vines (since they are covering both the fabric and the staples that need to be removed pre-rolling), then remove the staples, move the fabric off to the side, and then dig the sweet potatoes. We made it through two beds on Monday night before the Tuesday rains.

And then we had to figure out how to cure them. Sweet potatoes can be eaten straight out of the ground but then they are going to taste more like an extra starchy potato. Sweet potatoes need to be cured to turn some of those starches to sugar and give them their sweetness. Again, because they are a tropical plant, these babies want to be cured in a hot and steamy environment which obviously fall does not provide. We still have winter squash curing in the greenhouse so we didn’t want to crank the heater up to 90, but even if we didn’t, we weren’t sure how to get the greenhouse super humid. Instead, we stacked crates of sweet potatoes into our newly built germination chamber (another farm space intended for making things hot and steamy). It’s not huge so we can only cure a few crates at a time, but we can use a bucket heater (in a bucket of water) to get the temperature and humidity high for optimal curing.

All of the above is why Kyle always said no when I begged to do sweet potatoes in the past. In this, our sixth year as growers, we finally feel like we’ve gotten enough of our production under control that we can give this new complex crop a try. Fingers crossed everyone! Things are looking great so far! The yields are a bit less than we expected (likely because of our very heavy soils; sweet potatoes much prefer sandy soil), but still looking like we’ll be able to give them to you easily for two or three boxes!!

Speaking of new crops, you may remember there were two new crops we were over the moon excited for this year. Sweet potatoes were one of them. Do you remember what the over one was? Did my enthusiasm sell these beauties a little too hard in the spring only to totally screw up the crop throughout the summer? Have you been waiting anxiously all year for the tomatillos?

Yes, that’s right, we somehow are doing a fine job at sweet potatoes (a crazy complex crop) and a miserable job at the crop that literally grows like a weed (tomatillos). Our tomatillo mistakes were few, but significant. The actual plants grew beautifully putting out loads and loads of small paper-skinned tomatillos. The issue was that we didn’t lay landscape fabric between the rows in an effort to not lay down too much fabric this year (because it is a beast to take up in the fall). Our theory was that we could put the tomato and tomatillo rows far enough apart that we could mulch directly around the plants and then mow the weeds that grew between the mulch. We did this with the tomatoes. It didn’t work perfectly, but it worked fine. But with the tomatillos, we didn’t really know how they grew.

We didn’t know they sprawled out like a bush instead of vining up like a tomato plant. Even with trellising, they still drooped and spread over the ground where we wanted to mow thus allowing the weeds to grow and crowd out the plants. Once we did decide to mow anyway, we massacred half the plant and fruits and the weeds pretty much took over anyway. We got about 10 pounds a week this September, not enough to ever give to CSA and instead sold them to a local restaurant. But now we know what to do differently and can pretty much guarantee these lovelies will make it into the box next year!

-L&K

P.S. Did you see that we’re having one more fabulous party at the farm?! Come join us!

IMG_9620.JPG

IN YOUR BOX NEXT WEEK

You can expect 9-11 of these items in your box next week

Plum Tomatoes

Sweet Peppers

Hot Peppers

Napa Cabbage

Beans

Broccoli

Brussels Sprouts

Butternut Squash

Sweet Potatoes

Watermelon Radish

Shallots

Garlic

IMG_9635.JPG

VEGGIE ID: leeks ↓

Leeks are the super tall vegetables in your box this week that look almost like a giant green onion. These are one of my all time favorite veggies and I hope you learn to love them too!

They are in the allium (onion, garlic, shallots, etc) family so have that delicious allium flavor. They can be used any place where you would use an onion but I LOVE them in potato leek soup! To use them, you want to cut a tiny bit of the bottom off (the fringy part that was in the ground) as well as the leaves (use the parts that are white and pale green, skip the parts that are dark green- though they can be used for soup stock) and you can then cut them into rings or slice the leek in half and slice it much as you would an onion.

For more info on leeks and how to cut them, head over here!

IMG_8343.jpg

KATHY'S RECIPE CORNER

Early on, Lauren's mom instilled in her a great love of cooking. She's always had a garden and knows what to do with abundant produce better than anyone. We hope you enjoy her classic Wisconsin preparations of summer abundance. 

Italian Country Supper Omelet // Potatoes, Leeks, Shallots, Peppers

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

4-5 Italian style sausages – hot or sweet, your preference

12 ounces + potatoes, peeled if necessary and thinly sliced

1-1/2 cup diced leek, shallot, onion or combination

2 sweet peppers, cut into ¼” strips

8 large eggs

½ cup water

Salt & pepper

  1. Prick each sausage in a few places. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet with ovenproof handle. Cook sausages until browned on all sides and cooked through, 10 – 15 minutes. Remove from skillet, let cool slightly. Slice into ¼” slices when cool enough to handle.

  2. Meanwhile, add remaining tablespoon oil to drippings in skillet. Add potatoes, onions, and peppers. Cook over medium heat, about 12 minutes, stirring frequently, until potatoes are almost tender.

  3. Whisk together eggs, water and salt. Return sausages to skillet, stirring gently to distribute evenly. Pour in egg mixture, cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes until egg is set on bottom and sides.

  4. Heat broiler. Place skillet about 5-6” under broiler. Broil about 3 minutes until top is puffy and egg is just set.

IMG_9636.JPG

box inspiration:

Every week I'll share the links to some of my favorite recipes for the produce in your box from my own blog as well as my favorite bloggers and chefs. I am a master recipe substituter so be sure to read my notes before clicking through to see what vegetables I am swapping for others and how I adapt favorite recipes time and time again with whatever is in season! Though some of the recipes I share may look complicated, I also love sharing tips for streamlining or suggesting other preparation suggestions in the notes of the recipes.

 photo by: Half Baked Harvest

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

Rejuvenating Winter Broccoli Salad // Broccoli, Kale (or Chard), Sweet Peppers, sub half Shallot for garlic, sub Roasted Butternut Squash or Radish for Carrots // This gal is really trying to take the lead for my favorite blogger. Her salads are some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen and there are always 3+ CSA veggies in every one. This one calls for carrots, which you aren’t receiving, but roasted butternut squash or radishes will make a fine substitution. It also isn’t quite the time of year for citrus or pomegranates yet, so feel free to substitute apple and/or dried cranberries/cherries if you prefer.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

 photo by: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Leek & Swiss Chard Tart // Leeks, Swiss Chard (or Kale) // I love pretty much every Smitten Kitchen recipe there has ever been, but I must say her vintage recipes are my favorite. They are somehow even simpler and more elegant than her recent gems. This beauty is rich, hearty, takes no fuss and looks effortlessly beautiful thanks to the frozen pastry. Voila! Dinner is served!

Vegetarian

 photo by: Bon Appetit

photo by: Bon Appetit

Spicy Grilled Chicken with Crunchy Fennel Salad // Fennel, Sub Shallot for onion, Sub Jalapeno from last week for red chile and Sub 1 cored Tomato for tomato paste in sauce for chicken // I’ve been waiting ever so patiently for months until we had fennel to give again so I could share this simple, elegant, super delicious meal where spicy chicken and fragrant fennel share center stage. Those of you who are receiving fennel this week are only receiving one so take this salad recipe and halve it, still using a full shallot for the half onion. You won’t be disappointed.

Gluten-Free

 photo by: Alison Roman for Dining In Cookbook

photo by: Alison Roman for Dining In Cookbook

Raw Broccoli Salad with Peanuts & Shallots // Broccoli, Shallots, add Kale if you feel like it // I made this recipe last week subbing rice wine vinegar for lime juice, adding a bunch of kale (which I massaged with the broccoli in the simple dressing, and leaving out the herbs altogether (because I didn’t happen to have any on hand). It was heavenly. Or you could just fry your shallots and eat them all in 2 minutes. Whatever you feel like.

Vegetarian, Vegan

leek-soup-with-shoestring-potatoes-and-fried-herbs.jpg

Leek Soup with Shoestring Potatoes // Leeks, Potato, skip the Garlic and Parsley // A CSA member reminded me of this favorite recipe over the weekend and I’m so overjoyed that they did. I made it for a farm to table event a few summers ago without the fried herbs (mine just turned into a greasy mess) and added a simple jalapeno oil (poblano oil would also be fabulous). The soup has a lot of butter and a lot of cream, actually a lot of dairy generally, but don’t let that stop you. It’s the best leek soup you will ever eat.

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free

 photo by: New York Times

photo by: New York Times

Winter Squash & Tomato Gratin // Tomatoes, Butternut Squash, Leek for red onions // I wait all year for the winter squash to overlap with the tomatoes so I can share this beautiful recipe with you! It’s so simple and so tasty. You can use any winter squash and any tomatoes (though the winter squash we gave this week really should be peeled before use).

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free

 photo by: New York Times

photo by: New York Times

Penne with Brussels Sprouts, Chile & Pancetta // Brussels Sprouts, sub Shallots for garlic, add Jalapeno if you still have one lying around // Only some of you received Brussels Sprouts this week (and not a ton) so I thought I’d include a recipe that stretches these beauties. It calls for a chile pepper, use a jalapeno or poblano if you still have one lying around (or maybe even half of one of those habaneros). Use a bit of colored peppers if you don’t. Oh and don’t forget that pancetta is just a fancy word for bacon; feel free to use that instead.

IMG_9605.jpg

Favorite Kale Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Apples & Cheddar // Lacinato Kale, Butternut Squash // I shared my favorite kale salad recipe many newsletters ago. It had tiny pieces of cubed apple and cheddar cheese with a simple lemon juice dressing. Now that it’s fall I’ve tweaked this awesome salad ever so slightly adding roasted squash and a sweet tangy vinaigrette of apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and olive oil. An upgrade suitable for fall indeed!

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free

IMG_4454.JPG

Brussels Sprouts with Harissa & Pickled Shallots // Brussels Sprouts, Shallots // Or if you want to just use all your Brussels in one fell swoop, roast them up and toss them with some harissa sauce (spiced with tahini and loads of earthy seasonings) and quick pickled shallots. It will be too many shallots but guaranteed you can use them on pretty much anything.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

IMG_9273.jpeg

Leek & Pepper Pretzel Dip // Leek, Colored Pepper, Jalapeno // Many thanks to CSA member and worker share Amy who reminded me putting random vegetables into cream cheese is ALWAYS a great idea. Leeks, jalapenos and a sweet pepper (if you still have one lying around) are a match made in heaven.

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free

 photo by: Country Living

photo by: Country Living

Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Fennel // Potatoes, Fennel, add Shallot for second fennel bulb // Just like onions, fennel tastes stupendous caramelized. I know you’re probably thinking it will still be a bit too strong of a flavor served any which way so here it is tossed into a giant vat of mashed potatoes thickened with butter and cream. The decadence offsets the strong fennel flavor for a complex yet delicious batch of mashed potatoes.

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free