Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Birch Point CSA Week 16: Only two weeks left! (after this one)

Is it an alien? No, it's celeriac!

      Wow, the season is flying by faster than any other so far.  "Summer" was a flash in the pan; we've been consumed by spring and fall this year. Thankfully, fall is pulling out all the stops and proving to be worth spending the extra time on.  In addition to daily lunchtime Beyonce videos, the farm crew has been enjoying daily readings by Hal Borland, a nature writer whose essays appeared appeared in the NYT from the 1941 through 1978.
      Today's entry, from Sundial of the Seasons (Lippincott, 1964), titled "To Walk in Beauty," begins

        One now walks in Autumn itself, along the suburban street, beside the country road, in every woodland. 
        For Autumn in the time of the fallen leaf, and the leaves are crispness underfoot, brown and red and yellow 
        and sere tan, the leftover of Summer shade, paper-thin jewel flakes that bring the sunlight and the vividness 
        of sunset down to earth.

Celeriac with leaves still on
     And it's starting to feel that way even in the fields- the tomato trellises have fallen (been taken down), the early gardens have been tilled in and seeded to their winter cover crops; onions are curing in the barn, fall greens are taking on the crisp sweetness that only cool temperatures and brisk winds can bring on. We're planning to get every last squash out of the field and starting to cure this week, and looking ahead to many more weeks of harvesting greens, roots, and certain heading vegetables (did someone say "Romanesco"?).  Yes, the Romanesco is on the horizon! It's lagging behind its counterparts, the fall broccoli and white cauliflower, and main-season CSA  may be over before the first fractal-headed beauties are ready, but we look forward to sharing them with our fall-winter CSA members and market customers!  Meanwhile, we hope you enjoy this week's Soup Share, specially composed to make your fall soup a delicious no-brainer.

In this week's share: Everything you need for soup!

Potatoes, large and/or fingerling
Carrots- all orange OR a Rainbow mix
Onions and/or Leeks-- and YES you can use the green part of a leek!
Celeriac, or Celery Root-- this is the thing that will make you say "huh?" -- looks like a hairy alien with vaguely celerey-esque leaves out the top. Flavor=celery times ten! How to use? More like how not to use! First, separate leaves from the root.  That root will store for months if you need it to-- celeriac is classic winter peasant food because of its excellent keeping quality. Those leaves and stems are just as flavorful; they just don't keep as long, so use those immediately-- chop finely across the stems and use in soups, stews, stirfry, or even egg salad (chop finely for that; it is a potent flavor when raw!).  Depending on the size of your soup pot and love for celery flavor, you could choose to ration the celeriac, using one quarter or half the root at a go, or, to quote Stephanie Mills, use the whole thing in one fell soup. Just slice or chop and saute with your onions and carrots in the very first stages of soup making. OR see Recipes below for my favorite non-soup use: Celeriac Remoulade. ATTENTION: SAVE THE PEELINGS! Celeriac peelings are perfect for soup stock--- whether you make it now (when using the celeriac) or later. Just be sure to strain your stock through a fine filter, like a paper coffee filter, if you use the peelings, because it is IMPOSSIBLE to get all the dirt out of all the root hairs and crevices
Parsnips! The very first of these fall sweeties. If you are new to parsnips, the best way to explore them is roasting: chop into bite sized chunks OR cut in half lengthwise, coat with olive oil, and roast in a single layer on a cookie sheet or skillet in a 400-degree oven til they are soft and starting to brown on the edges.  Of course, they're delicious in soup as well, and/or cooked and mashed right in with your mashed potatoes (which is also a great way to enjoy celeriac, according to farm member Flora Biancalana). And don't forget parsnip fries! Oven-baked, just like any French fry.
Broccoli OR Caulilower-  your choice.  The fall broccoli is some of the loveliest I've seen.  The cauliflower, while equally lovely, is much less consistent in maturing--we find a handful sizing up every week.  Hopefully before the end of the season, everyone gets a cauliflower who wants one!  A favorite farm lunch last week was cheesy-broccoli soup, recipe below.
Bok choi- OK, so you've got soup AND stir-fry this week.  The Asian greens are loving this cool, fall weather. Pardon a few insect holes-- the choi is delicious!  Enjoy fresh in slaw or stir-fried OR grilled-- seriously; an entire head of choi, sliced in half lengthwise OR quartered, brushed with sesame oil and face down on the grill til just blackened on the surface may become your new favorite grillable.  Drizzle with hot sauce or sweet-and-sour sauce before enjoying.
Eggplant OR Sweet Peppers- just to make the stir-fry mean something.  Our favorite way to enjoy eggplant: slice into 1/2" thick rounds. Coat both sides with generous amt of olive oil. Generous pinches of salt and pepper. Bake on a cookie sheet in a single layer, at 375 for 30-45 min (depending on size), til browned and caramelized outside, soft and mushy inside. Bon appetit.
Radishes- the fall radishes are finally sizing up! They took their sweet time, but we hope it was worth the wait.  If you aren't yet a radish fan, try them roasted (see parsnip suggestion, above), and get back to me.  Radishes, bok choi, carrots, onion or leek, and celeriac, all grated or matchsticked, make a lovely slaw, by the way, with rice vinegar, sesame oil, and ginger.

Bok choi

Celeriac remoulade--
 this one has carrots in it


1. Sweet Honey in the Barn- next week!  Beekeeper Greg will deliver (fingers crossed) honey here in time for next week's CSA pickup.  Limited quantities of BPF honey available at CSA member-only price (TBA; depends on what we end up paying Greg). Bring a jar with your name on it to CSA pickup next week if you're interested. Sat, Mon, and Wed shares: leave a jar with your name on it in your empty box when you return it; the following week it'll be included with your share. I'll let you know the price as soon as I hear from Greg!

2. A few Fall/Winter shares are still available-- email or call if you're interested.

3. We'll start taking orders for Thanksgiving shares soon- be thinking about whether you'd like to order a box (prob. around $50 worth) of fall goodies (think root veggies galore, squash, onions, herbs, cooking greens, possibly salad greens -weather permitting, etc-- things for your Thanksgiving feast and/or to squirrel away. Pick up at the indoor market the Saturday before Thanksgiving.


Celeriac Remoulade
 from Farmer John's Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables (Gibbs Smith, 2006) by John Peterson and Angelic Organics

1 large celeriac, peeled and cut into matchstick-sized strips
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 c. mayonnaise, preferably home-made
2 Tbsp prepared Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp chopped cornichons
1 1/2 Tbsp capers, drained (and rinsed first if packed in salt)
1/2 tsp herbes de provence
1/2 tsp salt plus more to taste
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1. Toss celeriac and lemon juice in a large bowl.
2. Add remaining ingredients, toss well to combine. Add more salt if desired Let stand for half an hour before serving.
MF note: Remoulade is characterized by the mustard-mayo-pickle tang, NOT ruled by specific ingredients. If you've got the basic sauce (lemon, mayo, mustard, salt, pepper) and at least some amount of brine-i-ness (cornichons, capers), you can sub any matchsticked firm veggie-- celeriac is classic and delicious; but also try adding any mix of carrot, beet (for pink remoulade!), rutabaga, raw winter squash, firm radish, parsnip, you name it.

BPF Lunchtime Cheesy Broccoli Soup

1 med onion, chopped
1 small (or 1/4 - 1/3 large) celeriac, peeled and chopped (note: I save the peelings and tops/tails of celeriac, celery, carrots, parsnips, onions, and leeks to make a veggie broth later-- pop into a plastic bag in the freezer, and keep adding to it until you have a critical mass, then make a batch of stock)
2 med carrots, chopped
2 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 head broccoli, including stem (peel stem if woody),chopped into bite sized pieces, reserving out the tips of the florets
3 med potatoes, cubed
all the cheddar cheese you can stand (1/4-1/2 lb, according to taste-- we are cheesy around here, so you might overdo it if you follow our lead...)
1 c. grated parmesan
2-4 c. stock or water
2 c. milk
lots of salt and pepper

1. In medium, heavy-bottomed pot, saute onion, carrot, celeriac, and potato with thyme and a generous sprinkle of salt, in olive oil or butter over med. heat. Once it's all tender, add garlic and broccoli (keeping the tips of the florets out), saute another few minutes. 
2. Add stock or water, enough to cover everything but not much more. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Simmer until broccoli is just tender.
3. Using your immersion blender, blend everything as smooth (or chunky) as you like. If you don't have an immersion blender, blend in an upright blender in batches, or mash with a potato masher in the pot if you don't mind chunkiness (may have to simmer a little longer to soften broccoli even more in that case). Add bay leaves, reserved floret tips, salt, and pepper, simmer 10-15 min longer.
4. Add milk and cheeses, being sure not to let it boil after that (scalded milk will make the soup taste funky). Determine if it needs more liquid, and add additional water or stock accordingly. Garnish each bowl with breadcrumbs and/or fresh herbs and/or more cheese.

Root Veggie Fries
 Not just for potatoes!
Any root veggies you have- try parsnips, celeriac, potatoes, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, or even winter squash!
Veggie oil or peanut oil
Salt, pepper, any other seasoning you like, e.g. garlic powder, smoked paprika, chili powder, lemon pepper, etc.

Preheat oven to 375.  Scrub veggies well- no need to peel unless you enjoy peeling. Slice into 1/2" wide by 1/4" thick slices (think "steak fries").  Toss with oil, spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt. Bake at 375 for 15-25 min, depending on size of fries (hint: slice potatoes, sweet potatoes, or squash a little thicker than the rest if baking a mixed batch-- they tend to cook a little faster than other roots). Bake til edges are browned and just starting to crisp.  Sprinkle on seasonings as soon as you remove the pan from the oven.  Serve hot with malt vinegar, ketchup, or spicy mayo- 2/3 mayo to 1/3 hot sauce, mixed.

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