Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wet Weeks and Garlic Crackers

Looking back at the last couple weeks, it appears as if we're making up for all the rain we've missed during this summer's drastic drought!  The weather has been wet, and it's been more than welcome.  Our water table could use some more soaking to recuperate from this era of general dryness that's plagued us since the winter.  Sure, last winter was mild and nice...and we sure milked it for what it was worth, stretching our season extension all the way up 'til New Years Eve.  But the lack of snow we experienced means depletion of our underground reservoirs; snow melt is a great contributor to these, as well as natural and drilled wells.  We can only ask for a more normal winter with plenty of snow, in spite of warmer weather having its perks.  Colder temperatures and more freezes this winter would be welcome too...hard freezes give us some help keeping bug numbers down for the coming spring!  This spring season was a farm pest extravaganza.  There is more rain to come on Thursday and we hope it continues being wet!  It would also be a great boost for our plants going into the cold season in general.

Fall CSA keeps chugging along!  We are still bringing tables overflowing with produce to our markets, and we still have tons of food we send twice a week to the New Pioneer Co-ops.  This fall has been an amazing harvest, surpassing our rounds earlier in spring.  Last Saturday was our last 8th Ave Cedar Rapids Market, but the Iowa City Downtown market still continues for a couple weeks here.  We also finished up a big Iowa Valley Food Co-op order last week.  We've really been enjoying selling through them to a customer base we normally don't reach, and we will continue doing so through winter...if you're interested, visit www.iowavalleyfood.com  or click the zucchini squash blossom picture under "Iowa Vally Food Co-op."  To buy from the Echollective or anyone else through IVFC, you must become a Co-op Member first.

Grant Wood Farmer's Market starts soon, although we have heard through the grapevine that if they don't get enough vendors, they will not run this winter!  This is a big bummer for us.  We would have to look into a different drop-off site for our Fall CSA shares, which we will be in touch with our Fall CSA members about.  Nothing's decided yet.  Investigation of  the Mt. Vernon Farmer's Market and Tipton Farmer's Market is underway for potential winter vending places.  We are also thinking about selling right in front of Derek's house on Ginter Ave. in Iowa City...and having CSA pickups there.  That way we could still stay very accessible to our Iowa City customer base!

We are also entering Garlic Planting Season!  In past years, this has comprised of our notorious fall Garlic Parties.  All of us (and whoever shows up) get seated in the chilly barn clustered around 6 gallon buckets with open onion bags, cracking open entire bulbs of garlic and throwing fat cloves into them for planting.  For hours.  And days.  It's an arduous process, resulting in tired hands and blisters that serve nothing more than to protect you against yet more garlic cracking.  Then when garlic cracking is over, you just have these useless blisters.  Anyways, we have obtained a contraption that wards against all of that: a garlic cracker!  Grant Schultz, our farming compadre who brought us this impressive apparatus, had only the following comment in regards to how it works: "It's complex, and has lots of moving parts."  Watching it in action, that's practically the exact same conclusion I came to.  It does a lot of stuff and cracks a ton of garlic, way faster than 6 people seated in the barn could, and it's a process I don't understand even when witnessing it.  It is all very voodoo to me.  But oh well, the job get's done, and it gets done faster!

So we are on our way to garlic planting.  A couple of fields have already been furrowed and tilled for garlic next year, where we will lay out each individual clove, give it protective mulch, and let it sleep through winter until spring.  Now that we've got the machine working...we've just gotta get "crackin'!"

We've got a great spread this week!  First time we are featuring a plentiful helping of mizuna.  You've seen it before in braises and salads, we thought the Asian green could stand on its own two legs for once.  It is plenty succulent, mustardy and delicious!  We will also provide mizuna recipes.  We hope you enjoy. 

See you at market!

What to expect:

  • Mixed Baby Kales
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Garlic
  • Spring Radishes
  • Winter Radishes
  • Daikon Radishes
  • Turnips
  • Head Lettuce
  • Bok Choy
  • Potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Broccoli Raab
  • Winter Squash
  • Tat Soi Bunch
  • Mizuna

Recipes


Mizuna Salad with Aged Gouda & Roasted Portabellas adapted from epicurious.com
 (www.mariquita.com)
  • 3/4 pounds sliced portabella mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 10 cups mizuna, (or other spicy green such as arugula or watercress) washed, dried and torn or chopped for a salad
  • 1 cup coarsely grated aged Gouda cheese

Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle.
Toss mushrooms with 3 tablespoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a bowl. Roast in 1 layer in a 4-sided sheet pan, turning once, until golden-brown and tender, about 15 minutes. Cool mushrooms.
Whisk together vinegar, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and remaining 5 tablespoons oil in a bowl until combined. Toss mushrooms, greens, and cheese with enough dressing to coat.
More Mizuna ideas from The Kitchn
I like it all sorts of ways; it's not as peppery as standard mustard greens so it goes into more things and can be used as a garnish/accent as well as a main ingredient.
It's a good soup ingredient: I make a lot of veggie soups using leeks or onions, a green vegetable, and a starchy vegetable. My favorite combination with mizuna is sweet potato (preferably Japanese sweet potato, but anything works) and onion.
It also holds up a better than lettuce so it's good in salads that need to keep for a few hours or even overnight. I sometimes add it or radish greens to pickled cucumbers. It's good in potato salad, too.
One thing I've done with mizuna:
Heat 3 T olive oil on high, then throw in 1-2 cups thinly sliced summer squash and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring a bit. When somewhat cooked, add 3-4 chopped garlic cloves and a bunch of roughly chopped mizuna, with salt and pepper. Grate a hard cheese (ie Parmesan) to finish off the dish.


Butternut Squash Pizza with Gruyere and Arugula (www.eatliverun.com)
serves 4-6
Print this recipe!

Ingredients:
  • 1 recipe Best Pizza Dough
  • 24 oz peeled and cubed butternut squash (from about one 3lb squash), roasted at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until very tender
  • 6 oz freshly grated Gruyere cheese
  • sea salt
  • red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch arugula

Directions:
Prepare dough according to recipe directions.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Take half of the butternut squash cubes and puree them in either a food processor or high speed blender until smooth.
Roll dough out into a large circular or rectangular shape (I always go the rectangular route!). Top dough with pureed squash, then sprinkle on cheese. Top with the remaining butternut squash cubes, a sprinkle of sea salt and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.
Bake pizza for 15 minutes until bubbly and crust is done. Immediately top with arugula and another sprinkle of sea salt. Let cool before slicing.

Time:
30 minutes (not including time to make and prepare dough)
  

Open-Face Watercress and Winter Radish Sandwiches with Horseradish Cream (www.organicvalley.coop)
  • light rye, sliced thin (or firm white bread)
  • Organic Valley Whipped Butter, softened
  • Beauty Heart radishes, peeled and thinly sliced (or other winter radishes)
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Organic Valley Heavy Whipping Cream
  • horseradish root, Freshly grated (or well-drained prepared horseradish)
  • Lemon juice
  • Watercress sprigs
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Generously butter the bread slices. (To be fancy, you can slice off the crusts first, but that’s not necessary.) Cover buttered surface with sliced radishes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use a very sharp knife to cut them into squares, triangles or halves.

2. Whip the cream until medium-firm peaks form. (See Whip Tips for instructions, but do not add the vanilla or sugar.) Sprinkle horseradish to taste (go easy--you won’t need much, especially if it’s fresh) and a few drops of lemon juice over surface of whipped cream; fold in gently. Place dollops of horseradish cream over sandwiches. Top each with a tiny bundle of watercress sprigs. Transfer sandwiches to a fancy platter. Serve immediately or chill before serving.
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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