IN YOUR BOX THIS WEEK
Red Napa Cabbage (Large Shares & some Small Shares) // For maximum storage, remove any wilted or browning outside leaves, place in a plastic bag and store in the fridge.
Cabbage (Small Shares that do not receive Red Napa) // Cabbage is one of the best storage vegetables. It can easily last three weeks to two months. You don’t need to do much to it. Keep it in the fridge in the crisper drawer. A plastic bag can help retain moisture, but it doesn’t matter much. The two outside leaves are used as storage leaves. Remove them before eating.
Sweet Peppers // Refrigerate peppers, unwashed, in the vegetable drawer. Moisture makes them spoil faster so don’t store in a plastic bag.
Jalapenos (Smalls Only), Poblanos & Banana Peppers (Larges Only) // Hot peppers keep well in the fridge, especially in the crisper drawer. I often keep hot peppers in a plastic bag so that they don’t spread their heat or flavor to other fridge items.
Beans (Small Shares Only) // Refrigerate in a plastic bag and use as soon as possible. They are quite perishable.
Cauliflower (a few Large Shares) // Cauliflower does not store well. Keep in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge, but try to eat within 5 days. It takes on strange flavors after that. Also, soak the head upside down in cool, salty water before use. Garden bests love to hide out in organic cauliflower.
Broccoli (Large Shares who don’t receive Cauliflower & Some Small Shares) // Store in the crisper drawer of the fridge. The colder the better for broccoli. Try to use within a few days.
Brussels Sprouts (Small 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.
Rutabaga // Store loose in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. You can also store them in an open plastic bag to best retain moisture but they may mold faster. Either way, rutabagas can store weeks if not months.
Celeriac // Store in the crisper drawer of your fridge with the skin (and dirt) left on. Root vegetables store much better before they are washed. You can also store in a plastic bag or plastic wrap to help it keep longer. It should last 4-6 weeks with no issues. After that it will soften but still have great flavor.
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.
Fennel // Remove delicate leaves (also known as fronds) before storage if you plan to use. 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.
There’s only one more week of regular season CSA veggies to go (!!!) and per usual, the weather can never let us off too easy. Rain fell at the big fundraising dinner for REAP, strong winds and heavy clouds turned to mist at the fall harvest party, and every day seems to greet us with some degree of high humidity or precipitation. It’s not the most fun way to end the season: returning to painful memories of last year (to the days and weeks and months spent working in the mud), but learning to go with the flow is a skill you have to develop as a farmer (right along with trusting things will all work out and not borrowing trouble).
All things considered, we’re grateful the rain held off this long. If we really are destined to work in a wetter Wisconsin, the later in the season those rains can fall, the better. As you know by now, the summer weather was next to perfect: mild temperatures to work in, beautiful dramatic skies, just enough rain pretty much exactly when we wanted it. That perfect summer allowed us to hustle hard and keep up with crops that were growing like crazy. As we’ve shared before, the tomatoes and winter squash were the best we’ve ever grown. Bar none.
But as we’ve also discussed in the past and as will be a theme every year we’re farming, it’s inevitable to not have some failure. Even the best seasons will still be plagued with some poorly timed rains or some other dramatic weather event. Even the best seasons will have weed pressure in areas we weren’t expecting, a disease issue that came in on a seed, or a pest population that’s booming. That’s farming. There is no perfect. Ever.
Which is why we so deeply love CSA. It’s a model that inherently understands a diverse crop mix is integral to success. It’s a business model that can accept a different crop mix every year. There will always be some degree of consistency, but every year will look different as a CSA member because every year will look different as a farmer. It’s beautiful.
With the exceptional season we’ve had this year, it has been easy to forgot to talk about the hard stuff, the things that have gone wrong. But some things have been far from perfect, and although one week from the end of a season we’ve adored is an odd time to bring up some of our struggles, we believe in full transparency about all the dimensions of farm life so here we go: some of the hardest parts of 2019.
Without question, the hardest part of this season has been the cabbage loopers: those icky green worms that turn into little white moths. They are the green worms that often hide in heads of cabbage and broccoli on organic farms. As with most pests, cabbage loopers are present on an organic farm every year to some degree. This year was an exceptional year for them. No one ever quite knows why a insect population booms on a particular year, but nevertheless that was the case. Cabbage loopers love tender brassica crops—newly planted broccolis, cabbages, bok choy, cauliflower, kale. They go nuts on them. We row covered these crops longer than usual to try and keep the plants safe, just as we always do, but this year the populations were so large they descended on the crops anyway. This affected pretty much every brassica crop we grew to some extent.
The only solution to this kind of pest pressure is to spray for them. As an organic farm, we can only use sprays approved for organic use and even then, we won’t use every spray that’s approved. We will use the sprays we believe in ethically and honestly, often those are not altogether powerful. The sprays we trust to put into our body aren’t going to be able to take down an insect population. It makes sense. We were able to keep pests down, but they still ravaged the kales. We had to stop selling kale for nearly 8 weeks, and let me tell you, it’s a rare day that a farmer is hoping for more kale. The broccoli and cauliflower were also just not where we liked them yield-wise. Plants with leaves that are holey don’t take up as much sunlight and plants that are stressed from too many pests, just don’t grow as well. Our broccoli yielded much less than usual and our cauliflower is way behind schedule.
Then there were the fall rains. Excessive quantities of rain are just never good for a crop. Roots rot, plants rot, disease spreads, crops are muddier than usual and take much longer to harvest. Too much rain is just never good. Luckily, the rains are falling late enough that far less damage will be done.
The peppers have been affected slightly. Colored peppers are very susceptible to rotting with too much moisture so we’re picking them often and early. It’s why many of your colored peppers are not fully turned. Most of them will have 10% of green on them because if we were to allow them to turn fully, they will rot. With this much rain, there is also some chance of storage root vegetables splitting but we’re working to get things out of the ground much earlier than usual to keep this from happening. We’re also harvesting cabbages early for the same reason. Cabbages filled with too much moisture will literally split and then begin to rot.
The Brussels sprouts again got the perfect storm of the more negative aspects of the season. The cabbage loopers decimated their leaves and because Brussels are a long season crop (meaning they take more than four months to grow) they had greater effects than other shorter season crops. More time in the field means more impact on yields. Fall rain is also pretty bad for what is essentially just a small cabbage. Splitting and rotting were common and our yields in this field were about a quarter of what we expected them to be. We were excited to still get a little over a hundred pounds of lovely Brussels sprouts from our field last week. We’re letting the remaining small Brussels size up (since many of the largest ones split) and hoping to give some of these next week and perhaps in the storage share.
We still wanted more of our members to have an opportunity to get some Brussels sprouts though so we bought it from a friend who harvested hers early (before much of this dramatic rain). However, because she harvested them early, they will not store long. We had to sort these heavily to find the best sprouts and suggest you use them with a day or two for best results.
Over the years we’ve learned that the thing that separates the farms that succeed from the ones that don’t is planning for the failure. Crop failure is inevitable. Pests, disease, inconvenient or dramatic weather; it’s all a part of the equation. It’s all part of farming. Some years are far worse than others. Some years are a bit better. It’s a beautiful, challenging whirlwind of a life we’ve embarked on as farmers, and honestly, we couldn’t be happier to share it all with you.
VEGGIE ID: NAPA CABBAGE ↑
Napa cabbage is not so different than regular cabbage. It's a member of the brassica family (along with broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, Brussels sprouts and so many of our favorite veggies). It comes in a head, loves cool weather and stores exceptionally well. What makes it different is the oblong shape and much more tender leaves. The taste is a little sweeter and milder than regular cabbage while the texture is a bit softer. It cooks down much easier than regular cabbage, but I think where it really shines is in its raw form.
This particular Napa cabbage is a red variety which doesn't change the flavor much but does make it more striking and beautiful. There are a couple recipe suggestions below, but check out this link at Food52 for more options!
VEGGIE ID: CELERIAC ↑
Celeriac is not the prettiest vegetable you will ever encounter and because of that fact, folks often think they're not gong to like it. But celeriac is a wonderful fall veggie with loads of flavor. It's also a long-season crop (meaning it takes over 100 days to grow) with tiny seeds and for that reason, this is our first time actually growing it successfully. It's a hard crop to grow and we have often lose ours to the weeds. This year we transplanted the delicate crop in late May and kept it in a low field with lots of shade and lots of moisture. It did very well here! We're so excited to have celeriac for our members for two weeks!
What does it taste like?
Some people call it celery root as it is essentially a celery plant bred to grow large roots instead of large stems and leaves. It tastes much like celery but with a more nutty, sweet flavor. It's also rather starchy and potato-like.
How do I eat it?
First and most importantly, you are going to need to peel the celeriac and you will want to do so aggressively. I cut off both ends and then peel it with a knife rather than a vegetable peeler. I'll lose a little bit of flesh this way but its a much faster and easier way to peel it. Then the options are limitless! I love celeriac mashed with potatoes. It's great in soups to impart a little creaminess and celery flavor (you can always sub it for celery in soups). Even just roasted with a bunch of other root veggies, celeriac really shines. But if you want to find some more creative ways to use this interesting veggies, head over to Rodale's Organic Life. They have some really awesome ideas for how to use your celeriac!
VEGGIE ID: FENNEL ↑
Fennel is one of those vegetables that everyone thinks they don't like just because they don't know how to use it yet. I know because I was one of those people for a very long time. Fennel is a beautiful vegetable used in a lot of Italian cooking. It's got a white bulb, green stalk and beautiful scented fronds at the top. You can eat all of these things but most commonly folks eat the bulb or the fronds.
The bulb is pretty comparable to an onion (and can be used as such) but has a slightly anise (black licorice) flavor. I think this is why it gets such a bad wrap. Because people hate black licorice (I do too!). But anise is actually a flavor used in lots of common favorites like Italian sausage and pepperoni. When it's subtle it adds a lot to a dish. I know this is a less of a description of a vegetable and more of me begging you to try a vegetable, but I'm begging you people, try the fennel in one of the recipes below! You might be surprised! Also, here's an awesome article from a chef in Columbus, Ohio asking you to do the same :)
So how do I use it?
Because lots of people are stumped by fennel, there are lots of great tutorials online for how to cut it up. You will cut the bulb away from the stalks in an angle matching the shape of the fennel and then slice off the bottom where the fennel sat on the ground. Place the fennel flat on it's base and slice it in half lengthwise. From there you'll see a little core near the bottom of each half. It will look solid and triangular. Remove that and then get to chopping! This link will teach you how to slice, dice and shave it. I most often shave it because I love how delicate it is when added to any dish, but this is much easier with a mandolin than trying to do by hand. This link will teach you how to store and use every part of the vegetable.
What is the best way to prepare fennel?
Honestly, you can keep it so simple with fennel. You can shave it and throw it on pizza or in pasta. You can roughly chop it and throw it in a stew or braise. You can slice it and grill it (I'm so excited to try this over the weekend!). You can use a similar technique and roast it in the oven. You can shave it and toss it with some apple and lemon juice for a quick salad. You can throw it in a quiche or a tart. You can really do a ton.
IN YOUR BOX NEXT WEEK
You can expect 9-10 of these items in your box next week
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.
Chicken Cordon Bleu Soup (with sneaky cauliflower)
2 tablespoons butter
1 leek, diced
1 medium head cauliflower, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4 cups chicken broth
3 -4 ribs celery, finely diced (or bok choy if you have any left)
2 cups plus cooked chicken, diced
2 cups plus cooked ham, diced
1 cup half & half
1 cup milk
¼ cup flour
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ - ½ cup shredded swiss or gouda cheese
Melt butter in a stockpot and saute leek. Add cauliflower, garlic and chicken broth. Simmer until cauliflower is very tender, 20 minutes plus.
Remove pot from heat and puree until completely smooth with an immersion blender.
Return pot to stove, add celery, turn soup to low, simmer 10 minutes. Stir in ham, mustard and half & half.
In a small bowl, whisk together milk and flour until smooth. Add to soup, stir until thickened. Add chicken and shredded cheese. Remove from heat, stir gently until cheese is melted. Adjust seasonings as needed.
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.
One-Skillet Hot Sausage & Cabbage Stir Fry // Uses Napa Cabbage or sub regular Cabbage, add thinly sliced Fennel and any Hot Pepper you feel like, skip the Chives (unless you happen to have some) // A quick one-pan weeknight meal packed full of meat and veggies— what’s not to love here?!
Gluten-Free (with the right tortillas and tamari instead of soy sauce)
Crock Pot Pork Carnitas with Roasted Vegetables // Uses Celeriac (add some more in place of the parsnips), Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, sub Rutabaga for carrots and sweet potatoes // Slow cooker + sheet pan and a boat load of vegetables. My favorite kind of cooking. Simple, healthy, quick to pull together, delicious.
Shaved Fennel & Brussels Sprout Salad with Apples // Uses Fennel, Brussels Sprouts, skip the red onion and dill (use fennel fronds instead if you got some this week) // Oh how I love this beautiful simple salad that only asks you to cut things thinly and then savor all their perfect flavors together.
Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free
Blistered Green Beans with Creamy Tahini & Fresh Hot Sauce // Uses Green Beans, Jalapeno // This is one of my favorite recipes from one of my favorite cookbooks. The heat, the creamy sauce, the char on the beans. It’s perfection. I did blanch my beans for 5 minutes first to ensure they got properly blistered while still being cooked through.
Roasted Rutabaga with Maple Syrup // Uses Rutabaga // Even more than winter squash and sweet potatoes, for some reason the sweet, earthy rutabaga is always the signal of fall for me. There is something about it’s purple top and creamy brown skin that just make me want to roast some veggies and curl on the couch with a warm blanket. Give this simple recipe a try and learn to love rutabaga just as much as me.
Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free
Steak Sandwich with Fennel Slaw // Uses Fennel, skip the red onion (unless you happen to have one on hand) // Hopefully by now you’ve learned I’m on a personal mission to make the world love fennel. I promise it’s easy to love once you get a little creative. I throw it in pretty much every toss salad I eat nowadays but if that’s still a little too daring for you, try it in a simple slaw and throw it on something with a ton of flavor (like a steak). You will learn to love it’s raw, crunchy bite.
Rutabaga Fritters with Apple Compote // Uses Rutabaga (small shares got 1.5# and large shares got 2.5# so use the rutabaga for both the rutabaga and potato called for in this recipe) // Rutabaga are one of my favorite root vegetables because of the way they can go sweet or savory. They caramelize easily and taste amazing with all your favorite fall flavors: apples, cinnamon, brown butter, maple syrup. Enjoy this for breakfast, dinner or dessert. Feel free to leave the cashew cream out or sub in regular old whipped cream.
Pork Chops with Celeriac & Potato Mash + Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Maple Apples and Brown Butter Hazelnuts // Uses Celeriac and Brussels Sprouts // I made this celeriac and potato mash and these pork chops (yes, I brined them the day ahead of time and it was the right decision) then just added some simple roasted Brussels sprouts (halved and roasted for 30-40 minutes at 400 degrees). You could leave those off or include them. Same goes for the maple apples (cubed apples sauted in maple syrup for five minutes) and brown butter hazelnuts (two tablespoons of butter just beginning to brown combined with 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts over medium low heat until it all smells toasty and nutty).
BBQ Butternut Squash & Pulled Pork Pizza // Uses Butternut Squash, Colored Peppers, Poblano or Jalapeno // A few years back, we hosted a pizza night on the farm where I fed CSA members pizza until they felt nauseous. I made six different styles of pizza and loaded everyone up on so many slices. It was such a fun event and I still love each and every one of the pizzas I invented that night, but this one takes the cake. It’s got a bit of everything: sweet, salty, rich, fiery, filling, packed full of veggies. What else could one want?
Hummus with Curried Cauliflower // Uses Cauliflower // Yes, this is a theme of mine. Hummus piled with vegetables with store-bought pitas for dinner. And most of the time, I wind up buying the hummus too. What a quick and easy hack to make a vegetarian dinner in a snap!
Napa Cabbage Noodle Salad // Uses Napa Cabbage, Sweet Pepper, sub a thinly sliced Fennel for garlic and scallions, skip the Daikon, add any herbs you have on hand // This recipe is a dream. Healthy, simple, exotically flavored in ways you might think you’d only get at a restaurant, and packed full of CSA veggies. I made this recipe in June for the first time and have been waiting desperately for our fall Napa cabbage every since.
Gluten-Free with the right noodles
Roast Salmon & Broccoli with Chile Caper Vinaigrette // Uses Broccoli, Jalapeno // I may be so obsessed with this recipe because I have a freezer full of salmon and a fridge full of jalapenos, but I swear to you, once you try this recipe you will never go back to plain old broccoli. It will be roasted and a little charred for the rest of time. And you won’t regret it. I love the simplicity and big flavors of this Bon Appetit recipe.