Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Birch Point CSA Week 12-13: Parties and fall shares on the Horizon

Grow garlic.JPG.jpgSave the date! Sat. October 18: Garlic Planting, Harvest Celebration and Farm Member Appreciation Potluck at Birch Point. You and your family are cordially invited to join us for the afternoon and/or evening in planting and mulching garlic, sharing food together, or both.  Rain date: one week later, Sat. Oct. 25.

In Your Share This Week:

Beets w/ greens: click here for one of the most comprehensive and tantalizing (and simple) list of beet preparation ideas from NYT food writer Mark Bittman
Scallions: see below for choi slaw recipe.  YES you can use the entire thing- tip to tail!  Some restaurants even use the roots as garnish-- they DO taste good even if they look funny on the plate.
Sweet Onions: Fresh or cooked, it's hard to beat a sweet onion.
Leeks: Time for soup! See here for a simple potato-leek soup recipe. and YES you can use the entire leek- don't ever let anyone tell you the green part is not edible- it is completely edible and delicious.  In larger/older leeks, sometimes the green part can get fibrous; not to worry, just chop finely, crosswise against the "grain" and saute a minute or two longer than the white part. If you can't bear the idea of green leeks in your dish, save the green part to make soup stock- it is packed with flavor.
Potatoes: Finally a critical mass of spuds have sized up!  You'll see a good mix of potatoes in your share over the next several weeks; let us know your favorites so we can plan accordingly for next year.  This week you'll get the hot pink "Strawberry Paw," large tan-skinned Anushka, smaller tan Bintje, or planetary-looking Purple Viking. Try each variety boiled or roasted (to roast: cut into bite-sized pieces, or leave small spuds whole, toss with olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper, roast in a single layer on a cookie sheet at 400 for 30-45 min, depending on size of pieces, test for doneness-- centers should be tender; edges caramelized).
5150mei_qing_choi.jpgMei Qing Choi (similar to Bok choi): one of our favorite chois (there ARE enough chois to have favorites); mei qing, or MQ as it's affectionately called here, is a lovely light green, small, relatively fast growing choi, excellent in stir-fry OR fresh in slaw (see recipe below) OR used as a dipping vehicle-- serve whole leaves WITH stems with an Asian dipping sauce ( I like Annie's ginger-sesame salad dressing, but anything vaguely sesame-esque and/or spicy and/or peanutty is delicious here). Dip stems, crunch, enjoy. Yes, it DOES encourage double-dipping, as stems are long- if you worry about that sort of thing, just serve individual dipping cups. Leaves themselves may be left on or removed and used in salad or stirfry; it is the stems who are the stars in the dipping scenario.
Lettuce, either green or red butterhead. Lovely butterheads, some of our favorites!
Swiss Chard or Kale: the green, leafy crops have been loving the moist, cool weather lately! Expect to see more of these (various cooking greens) over the next several weeks.  See below for preparation tips.
Sweet Peppers: are ripening all at once, finally!  We've had a ton (still do!) of green peppers on the plants much of the summer, just waiting for HEAT that never really came, in order to ripen. Despite cooler temps, some of these crisp, gorgeous sweeties are finally changing color anyway, and we're happy to share the bounty with you. If you prefer green (i.e. unripe) peppers to colored (i.e. ripe) peppers, please let us know-- there are tons with your name on them ;)  In addition to standard bell peppers, you may see Carmens (long, skinny SWEET red beauties), red or orange Pimientos (small, Cinderella-pumpkin-shaped, thick-walled, SUPER sweet), Lipstick peppers (red or yellow, med-small, with a distinctly pointed end, also thick-walled and super sweet), or Chocolate peppers (the ugliest sweet pepper of all- brown, sometimes lumpy, medium sized, not too pointy, but DELICIOUS! and very productive!)
Heirloom tomatoes have been a delectable if not overwhelming (in quantity) part of the harvest this season.  At this point in the summer, only a few varieties are still going strong-- you might see Garden Peach, Green Zebra, Black Zebra, Costoluto Genovese, Kellogg Breakfast, Amish Paste, or Pink Beauty (not an heirloom but a favorite nonetheless), among a smattering of others who have peaked and declined already. Due to the late planting date and cool summer temps, tomatoes tended to ripen only toward the end of summer. We're still harvesting, but many plants are already on the decline.  Such is the fate of a cool summer-- happy, bountiful kale and lettuce, not so many tomatoes.  I hope you've enjoyed the varieties you've tried so far-- let us know your favorites!  We probably won't offer canning/preserving shares this year, due to the low yield.  I'll keep you posted if that changes.  If we get a hot summer and good yield next year, we'll be back in the canning/preserving share business!
Cherry tomatoes: always a favorite, still producing though also slowing down, due to cooler temps and shorter days.  What did you think of the new Bumblebee Tomatoes? those are the slightly-larger-than-average-cherry-tomato, striped (yellow and pink OR red and gold) newbies.  They've been quite productive, and beautiful; if you've tried them, we'd like YOUR feedback on flavor and texture.

Green Zebra
Black Zebra
Kellogg Breakfast

Garden (or "Wapsapinicon") Peach

Costoluto Genovese

Amish Paste

Pink Beauty

Bumblebee tomatoes

1. Sat. October 18: Annual Garlic Planting Party and Farm Member Appreciation Potluck at Birch Point.  Mark your calendars!  Garlic planting in the afternoon (2-5ish) followed by a potluck for CSA members and farm investors in the barn (5:30ish til 8ish). All are welcome- if you missed the pre-season member meeting, this is a great chance to take a farm tour and see where your food has been growing all summer.  Who has a cider press we can borrow for the day? We'd like to continue the tradition of pressing apples that day-- everyone bring a crate or bag or handful of apples to contribute, and a jug, jar, or mug to take cider home. Rain date: one week later, Sat. Oct. 23.

2. Sat. Oct. 4: Grawndezvous!  Brenin Wertz-Roth and his dad Tom Wertz are your hosts for the annual cookout, potluck, bonfire, and musical extravaganza at the farm in Grawn.  CSA members and friends welcome-- if you've never been to the Grawn farm, this is a great chance to take a tour (come on the early, i.e. daylight, side) and see the fall crops still in the field.  Tom grows hops there, and Brenin has been farming annual veggies as well as a small perennial nursery there for the past four years. This year after Brenin and I joined forces, we focussed on fall crops that require minimal attention in Grawn-- things like leeks, potatoes, cabbages and Brussels sprouts, hot peppers, and potatoes, several of which will still be in the field in early October.  It could be chilly; be prepared!

3. Fall/Winter Shares available: Join us for eight weeks of fall and winter bounty (yes, "winter bounty" is a thing when you have a hoophouse!).  Starting Saturday November 1st, pick up shares every Saturday at the indoor winter market at Bldg. 50 @ The Commons (Sat. 10 am- 2 pm; market runs November through April).  Fall/Winter shares will include plenty of root veggies like potatoes, carrots, beets, leeks, onions, turnips, radishes, celeriac; as well as leafy greens like kale, collard greens, spinach, Asian greens, lettuce, cabbage, Brussels sprouts AND greens; winter squash, herbs like parsley, thyme, and rosemary, sexy hoophouse greens like arugula, baby salad mix, baby spinach, and possibly a few surprises. Shares cost $250 and are intended to feed 2-3 adults or a small family. Since there will be so many storage crops, don't worry if you have a small household and can't use the entire share in a week; many things will keep well for weeks or months if you have a root cellar or cool storage area.

4. Going to the Earthwork Harvest Gathering this weekend? As Seth Bernard said, don't pack your coolers too full this year!  Birch Point Farm and several other grower/producers will be at the First Annual Harvest Gathering Farmers' Market, located on the northeast corner of the woodlot camping area at the festival.  We'll have fresh produce for snacking and for cooking on your campstove, as well as flowers to lively up your campsite!

Recipes: Asian Slaw w/Peanut Sauce, 50 ways to enjoy Kale and Co.

Asian Slaw w/Peanut Sauce (note: this is VERY  similar to the recipe in the last blog post; the only major difference is the Peanut Sauce-- our farm crew loved this dish so much today for lunch they thought it belonged in the blog!)
1 lg or 2 sm heads Bok Choi (or Mei Qing or any other choi or Asian greens you've got), finely chopped 
1-2 carrots OR beets, grated
1 sweet onion, sliced thinly
1/2 c. peanuts, chopped and lightly pan roasted
1/4 c. sesame seeds
1-2 tsp red pepper flakes OR 1-2 fresh minced chiles (heat to taste!)
the juice of one fresh-squeezed lime
1/2 lb. firm tofu, cut in bite-sized pieces, pan fried to perfect crispness in toasted sesame oil and/or veg oil, with a good splash of soy sauce/Bragg's/tamari added partway through cooking

Toss all these things together.

The peanut sauce: 
1 c. peanut butter, creamy or crunchy will do
1/2 c. boiling-hot water- mix w/pb to make it more mixable w/other ingredients
1/4 c. tamari/soy sauce/Bragg's
1/4 c. rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
1/4 c. toasted sesame oil
2-3 cloves minced garlic
2-3 tsp. minced fresh ginger or 1 tsp ground ginger powder
1-2 scallions, sliced on a thin diagonal OR 1/3 c. minced onion
1/4 tsp ground cayenne

Mix all these things together and taste-- does it need more tang? add a little more vinegar. more salt? add more soy sauce. more heat? add more ginger AND cayenne. more peanuttiness? add more peanut butter OR just the peanut oil that's on the surface of the pb in your jar/tub. Perfect? toss thoroughly with slaw to coat every surface. Enjoy room temp or cold.

50 Ways to Enjoy Kale and Other Bodacious Leafy Greens
OK, not actually 50- BUT you can modify these suggestions to create over 500 variations of your own. Note: wherever it says "kale" below, freely substitute Swiss chard, collard greens, beet greens, or any other cooking greens you've got.

1. Raw: remove kale from rubber band. Wash. eat.  Variation: Chop first, toss with any acidic condiment of your choice (note: adding an acid makes the iron more bio-available). Variation: Chop finely, massage by hand in a bowl with coarse salt first, then dress, enjoy. Variation: add any companion veggies, e.g. onion, garlic, tomato, olives, herbs, etc.

2. Steamed: Wash, chop, steam, enjoy with any of the abovementioned modifications. Please eat stems- just chop finely and cook perhaps a few minutes longer. they are delicious.

3. Sauteed: Wash, chop, add to med-hot oil along with veggie companions like onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, corn, etc.  OR go the other way and toss with toasted walnuts and dried cherries instead of garlic, tomatoes, peppers.

4. Smoothied: Wash, add to blender/vitamix along with other smoothie ingredients. Try a little at first, then gradually work your way up to more!

5. Juiced: Wash, run through juicer. My fave combo: kale, apple, parsley, optional carrot or beet.

6. In Lasagna: EITHER chop and add to tomato sauce, OR chop and lay kale right in the lasagna as a layer all on its own (can be just kale or you can stir in an egg or two and some ricotta and/or cottage cheese first, then spread that mixture as a layer)

7. In Soup: I can't think of a single soup that wouldn't be tastier and/or more interesting with a little (or a a lot of) kale tossed in.  For brothy, thin soups, add finely shredded/chiffonaded kale leaves early-ish in cooking so they are tender and not overwhelming. For thick chunky and/or stew-like soup, chop coarsely and add any time you like; they won't overwhelm if everything else is also chunky or substantial.  

8. In EGGS- the universal vehicle for any new veggies or for loads of greens.  Wash, chop, add to scrambles, to omelets, steam first and then serve poached or sunny-side-up eggs on a bed of it, saute and add to egg sandwiches, or my fave: Greens Patties.  Chop and massage a LOT of greens, perhaps an entire bunch of kale or collards or chard or anything you've got.  Add some chopped onion and garlic, salt and pepper, fresh chiles or ground cayenne if you like.  Add a good handful of flour and mix  very thoroughly.  Add just a few eggs (1-2 per bunch?) and mix well-- you want to coat every surface with egg, but it's just a binder; you're not making Egg Foo Young.  Heat oil in a skillet over med heat, scoop out a handful of mixture, form a patty.  Lay gently in pan, use spatula to coax escaping bits back into the circular shape.  Flip when thoroughly cooked on one side and can be turned. Serve with spicy mayo or ketchup or hot sauce or.......

9. Kale Chips- wash, dry, rip into chip-sized pieces.  Either spritz with an atomizer/mister of olive oil, OR toss with oil, coating every surface, but be careful to go easy on the oil- you don't want soggy chips.  Sprinkle with salt OR mist/atomize lightly with soy sauce/Bragg's. Lay in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 300 until crisp-- maybe 10-20 min depending on size of pieces AND how drenched in oil/salt they are- check often to make sure they're not burning. There is a fine line between dried/crisped and burnt. I sometimes use an even cooler oven and essentially dehydrate them instead of baking, just to be sure not to burn them. A dehydrator would be even safer, if longer.

10. As a garnish- just kidding!  Did you know Pizza Hut is the largest restaurant-consumer of kale?  They use it to garnish their salad bar. I wonder if anyone ever thinks to put it on a pizza. We do!  It's delicious, chopped and layered UNDER the cheese, so it doesn't dry out or burn on the edges if exposed.


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