Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pre-Freeze Scramble

It's a cold, clammy day today, and we've been staying warm to keep our hands nimble from the numbness as we wash our usual loads of kale, bok choy, and spinach bunches.  But it is surely raining!  A steady yet ample drizzle has been passing over us for the past hour or so, about to end soon.  The ground isn't exactly soaked, but it is definitely wet.  I nice end to the period of dryness we've been enduring.  Not as bad as the full-blown drought of summer.  More rain is on the horizon according to most weather stations, telling us to expect a thunderstorm here Saturday.  It'll be nice to have that boost of water for our veggies as we head on into the colder days!

Speaking of colder days, we are hard at work right now to prepare for them.  Two sets of hoop-house "ribs" are already up in our field, only needing plastic and ties to stretch over them to protect the seedlings there.  Amongst the plants we will be caring for in our season-extension "caterpillars" will be radishes, red choy, bok choy, asian greens; red russian, white russian, and beady's kale varieties; and a whole plethora of other "brassicas", a.k.a. "members of the cabbage family" (also called the "mustard" family).  If you already don't know the extensive list of vegetables which fall into this single family, you would be surprised!  They are: turnips, radishes, broccoli, cabbage, kale, broccoli raab/rapini, arugula, bok choy/napa, most asian greens, mizuna, mustard greens, and collard greens.  In addition to brassicas we may, most likely, cover some lettuces, cilantro, and spinach like we did least year.

This past Saturday was a wild day trying to make do in the face of the low temperatures predicted that night.  We were already wary considering Friday night was forecast to only get down to the 30's in Mechanicsville, but instead it hit way below at 24 degrees!  Most everything seemed fine, though our D'avignon French Breakfast radishes turned to jelly in the ground, our beets looked deflated, and broccoli showed some freeze burns on the leaves.  Minor damage, though unexpected.  The following Saturday night was predicted to be the same: low of 24.  We rushed to pull as many of our huge turnips and storage radishes from the ground, picked four cases of kale bunches, boxed them all up along with our winter squashes, and pulled our biggest and best bok choy heads from the fields (a difficult process, considering most all our bok choy heads by some luck look amazing this year!) stacking everything in the barn and expecting all else to go to hell that night.  We had a very strong epiphany: We have a LOT of food!  We also stayed up 'til past dark getting what we could covered, especially the youngest seedlings we would need to sell through the winter.  Of course, it only got down to 30 that night, and everything was fine.  But hey, now we have quite a bit of food right in our barn, ready to go!  We can now just whip up some turnips or choy for CSA or Co-op orders.  And it's nice to have some cold weather infrastructure set up ahead of time.

The PFI Field Day was a success!  Many people showed up and (I think) were kept entertained and busy.  Everyone sitting in our kitchen and dining area eating a farm meal seemed satisfied and there was a lot of conversation.  Garlic production and season extension was discussed by farmer Derek, the farm-made hoophouses were exhibited, and connections were made in a large farm-wide tour.  Additionally, farmer Will got to showcase his pigs and mushroom structure, and grazed over several topics pertinent to the mushroom growing business as well as explaining how pigs can be helpful to any organic farm.

Fall CSA continues!  We hope you are enjoying it so far, and we have five great weeks to go.  As I said before....we have a LOT of food.  Plenty!  So we think you'll enjoy the selection for the times to come.  New this week are Winter Radishes!  Fresh from the field.  They are the hearty, beefy, more substantial relative to the light tart spring radish.  They are also called "storage" radishes because they are bred more for long-term storage and use throughout the winter. More akin to turnips, these two easily get mixed up; but the winter radish still brings on the heat you know and love in a radish, unlike turnips.

See you all at market!

CSA this week:

  • Kale
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Garlic
  • Spring Radishes (French Breakfast, Easter Egg, or Cherry Belles)
  • Potatoes
  • Red Turnips
  • Purple Top Turnips
  • Winter Radishes (Watermelon, Black Spanish, or Beauty Hearts)
  • Daikon Radishes
  • Bok Choy
  • Beets
  • Winter Squash
...and possibly more!


Recipes


Winter Radish Slaw (abenakispringsfarm.com)

  • 2-3 winter radishes, grated
  • 3 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup carrots
  • 1/2 cup onions (leeks would work)
  • Lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil 
  • Finely chopped herbs of choice (mint, parsley, cilantro)

 In a bowl toss together radishes, cabbage, carrots, onion, lemon juice, oil, herbs, salt and pepper to taste.

A watermelon radish; a colorful example of one of our winter radish varieties.


Turnip Soup with Greens (waywardseed.com)

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound bacon, cut into ½ inch dice
  • 2 cups onion, cut into ½ inch dice
  • 2 cups potatoes, peeled, cut into ½ inch dice
  • 2 cups turnips, peeled, cut into ½ inch dice
  • 4-6 sprigs thyme or 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup greens, torn
  • 1 cup cream
  • salt and pepper
Directions:
In a large sauce pan over medium heat, add bacon. Cover and cook slowly until fat renders, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat.

Return pan to medium heat, add onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Do not brown.

Add potatoes and turnips to cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add thyme, enough water to cover, bring to a boil, and reduce. Cook at brisk simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender.

Meanwhile, cook torn greens in butter or some of the bacon fat over high heat until wilted. Reduce and cook over medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes. Add greens to soup and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add cream, salt, and pepper. Remove bay leaf or thyme and serve.

If soup becomes too thick, thin with broth, water or cream.

From: Don
Serves: 4


 Texas Caviar (saveur.com)
  •  2  15-oz. cans black-eyed peas,
       drained and rinsed
  •  1⁄4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1⁄4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1⁄2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded,
       and finely chopped
  • 1⁄4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper,
       to taste

1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a bowl; season with salt and pepper.
2. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Serve on top of lettuce leaves.

SERVES 6


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 Please tell us if you can't identify something on the market table, don't know what to do with a particular item, have a food allergy we should know about, or if you have other questions or comments. We love to hear from you! 


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