Friday, November 21, 2014

Birch Point Fall-Winter CSA Week 4&5: Rolled into one box!

Remember: this week's box is the DOUBLE share, and next week (Sat. Nov 29), there is NO CSA pickup.  In case you missed earlier communications, members (you) voted to double up on this week's box, to ensure extra bounty for Thanksgiving!  And also to skip next week, since many folks will be out of town for Thanksgiving, and/or still in a food coma from Thursday :)

In this week's double share:

Beets: either giant specimens suitable for roasting or grating fresh, or smaller roots for boiling/roasting/steaming
Carrots: Rainbow mix of orange, purple, and white, many of which are small and perfect for roasting whole.
Potatoes: either gold or redskin
Onions: either yellow, red, or cipollini
Leeks: Life is bleak without a leek.  Use interchangeably with onions.  Stores well! (and don't believe anyone or any recipe who says to only use the white parts-- the green parts are totally edible and useable; just slice across the grain finely and cook a minute longer)
Cabbage: a savoyed (crinkly-leaved) variety called "Dead On," one of our faves! Use for slaw OR cooking.
Brussels sprouts: as per earlier note, be sure to double check sprouts on the lower end of the stalk for quality-- we sorted as much as we could, but may have missed some funky sprouts.  Slice in half to examine the insides.  Halved, caramelized sprouts make a lovely Thanksgiving dish on their own OR with cubed, roasted winter squash and sauteed leeks/onions, and sherry vinegar.  If your stalk happens to have leaves on it, slice them up and include them with your Brussels sprout dish and/or with your kale- delicious!
Kale: Holy kalesicles, batman!  Harvesting frozen solid kale from under the snow is an adventure, as you might imagine!  It also means the kale will be a little wilty when it reaches you-- never fear, just thaw out (if it's still icy), store and/or prepare as usual, and it'll be delicious-- extra sweet from the cold.
Winter Squash- You may see either Buttercup/Kabocha (dark green outside, with dry, flaky orange flesh inside-- makes the BEST "pumpkin" pies!!!), Potimarron (red, teardrop shaped, sweet and creamy), Sunshine (also red, but a kabocha type so a little dryer than Potimarron, which it closely resembles), or Blue Ballet- a baby hubbard-type, blue-gray, moist fleshed, and an excellent keeper, if you need to store it rather than use this week.
Celeriac- the funny-looking, alien-like root with hairy skin (requires peeling!) that tastes like celery but cooks up like a potato. In fact, mashed potatoes WITH celeriac is one of our fave Tday dishes!  They'll store reliably for a good long while, so no rush to use them up.  Once you're in the mood for a winter soup, celeriac will be happy to help.
Garlic-- also delicious with mashed potatoes. Or just about anything for that matter!
Parsnips- the tannish-white root veggie that resembles a fat carrot.  Look carefully at the long, white roots in your box-- some are parsnips; some may be white carrots!  Parsnips are slightly scraggly-looking (usually) with tan overtones. Carrots have a much thinner skin and slightly crispier texture.  You can always taste them to get a positive i.d- carrots taste like carrots; raw parsnips are similar but much earthier AND denser and slightly fibrous.  Cooked, parsnips are even sweeter than carrots, but raw parnsips are only for the hardiest palates and jaw muscles.
Last but not least- organic Apples from our friend Gene Garthe in Northport!  These are a variety know as Spy Gold, and excellent eating OR cooking apple.  Firm and slightly tart, they're delicious out of hand but also make an amazing pie or applesauce.  We hope you enjoy this special addition to our own farm-grown produce.

We hope you'll enjoy some lovely ROASTED ROOTS,
Cabbage-Apple-Pomegranate Salad,
Squash pie,
Caramelized Brussels sprouts with Squash and Cranberries,
Kale and Leeks (perhaps with chickpeas?)
and Apple-Celeriac Slaw
with your family and friends this week.

Thank you SO much for being part of the farm this fall!  Remember: no CSA pickup next week (Nov. 29).  We'll see you the following week (Dec. 6) as usual.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Birch Point Fall-Winter CSA weeks 1-3

Happy SNOW DAY!!!  Welcome to the first fall-winter CSA newsletter, in which you'll find a list of each week's share items, recipe suggestions, announcements that you need to know, and news from the farm. We'd been working to get the fields cleaned up (irrigation lines in, trellises down, the very last cover crop sown) before this snow, and mostly succeeded, though this is more snow than we'd anticipated for this early in November! Today's challenge was harvesting and cleaning produce from the snow-covered beds.  Things like root vegetables, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and leeks don't mind sub-freezing temperatures, but once the ground and the stalks freeze solid, as you can imagine, it's harder to pick them!  So we've got a bunch of crops harvested and in cold storage, but we'll continue to chip away at the greensicles in the field as long as possible, to bring you the freshest (if coldest) veg possible.  I have to say, as sexy as hoophouses are (and you'll see some baby greens from the hoophouse before this CSA session is over), I am WAY more impressed by plants that survive in the field in these conditions and continue to provide hearty, nutritious food until the snow/ice is so solid that we can't get to them, or the deer mow them to the ground. We hope you're enjoying the selection of delicious winter food so far-- your feedback is always appreciated!

Last week: 3 items may require explanation:
1. Braising Mix or Napa cabbage: some shares got sweet little napas; others got braising mix. We spoke with most of you in person about it, but if not, just FYI, that was a spicy mix! Intended for a quick steam or saute rather than as salad. Of course if you like it spicy, braising mix makes a fine salad, too ;) Napa makes a fine salad, slaw, or stir-fry-- the best of both worlds of lettuce and cabbage.
2. Celeriac-- the knobby, hairy root that smells and tastes like celery (the leaves look just like celery too)- the best winter stew, soup, or stock veggie!  Besides soup, celeriac is wonderful roasted or boiled and mashed with potatoes, and/or shredded and fried with potatoes.  It also keeps for several weeks (or more) in the fridge or in your root cellar. You'll see more celeriac this fall, so no need to hoard them.
3. Sunchokes/Jerusalem Artichokes-- not an artichoke at all, resembles ginger, and may stump you if you've never had them.  They are a tasty root veggie, native to North America, in the sunflower family, and you can use them any way you'd use a potato: bake, boil, fry, roast, OR (unlike a potato) eat raw- grated or thinly sliced into salad=yum. Here's a wonderful blog entry from a Brooklyn blogger about sunchokes- enjoy!

In this week's share:

Potatoes- Possibly the most versatile food ever...?  You'll continue to see a mix of various redskins, golds, German butterballs, fingerlings, etc.
Beets-either small with tops (fresh harvested!) or giant w/out tops (from storage). See below for a simple borscht recipe.
Cabbage-purple, green, or Deadon, which is a savoyed (crinkled) leaf cabbage that fades from robust purple outer leaves to pale green, tender inner leaves- one of our favorites.
Kale or Collard Greens- frozen and oh so sweet!  sometimes I wonder why we bother eating greens before they've been frosted-- cold temps turn starches to sugars, bringing out the best flavor possible. The leaves were a little zorched (read: soft) from freezing, but they are delicious as ever.
Leeks- Did you know you can use leeks exactly the same as onions?  They are slightly milder than most onions, hold up as well or better, and (I think) are more elegant.  and YES you can use the green parts!  I don't know why people say you can't- they're perfectly good. IF they're slightly more fibrous than the white sections, just slice them finely across the grain and saute a minute or so longer.  Or if you don't want green color in a dish you're preparing with leeks, be sure to save the green part for making soup or stock.
Onions- you'll continue to see a mix of red, yellow, and/or cipollini--tiny, flattened Italian heirloom onions-- note: they aren't always this small; the drought this summer was hard on them. In fact, there's a song about this year's cipollini (you'll get the tune): One-two, one-two, tell the people what we grew: We grew some itsy bitsy, teeny weeny, microscopic Cippollini.  But they're still delicious and perfect for roasting whole or halved ;)
Brassica Surprise: Either broccoli OR cauliflower OR romanesco (the green, fractalicious cousin of cauliflower- prepare the same way). As most things, harvested frozen solid from the snow- enjoy!
Hot peppers- yes, you've gotten a good amount already, and you may get more!  It turned out to be a good hot chile year.  If you can't use all those chiles in a week, try drying or freezing.  To dry: cut in half (large or juicy hot chiles), use a dehydrator or oven set at the lowest temp available with the door slightly ajar, dehydrate til dry.  Or thread onto a string (small, thin-skinned chiles), hanging in a well-ventilated, dry spot until dry.  Store in an airtight jar once thoroughly dry. To freeze: cut in half (or not), freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet or plate in the freezer, then seal in bag when frozen andreturn to freezer (IQF, or Individual Quick Freezing, to avoid a frozen pepper brick-- easier to remove individual peppers later, as you need them!)

Farmer John's Holmski Borscht Recipe ( 

Makes 6 servings

Farmer John's Holmski Borscht

Recipe Ingredients for Farmer John's Holmski Borscht

2tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3tablespoons (canola or olive) oil
1medium onion (chopped)
2large carrots (sliced)
4cups cabbage (shredded about 4 cups)
2tsp salt (and 20 whole pepper corns)
1potato (1 or 2)
1/3cup dill (plus 4 bay leaves and parsley)
2cloves garlic (minced)

Recipe Directions for Farmer John's Holmski Borscht

  1. Bring large pot of water to boil over high heat.
  2. Grate beets and saute for 10 min. in large skillet with half the oil and add the cider vinegar. Set aside.
  3. Put the rest of the oil in a skillet and add sliced carrots and onions and saute until onions are just translucent and carrots have browned on both sides.
  4. When the water boils add in cabbage and cook until tender (about 10 min.)
  5. Add potatoes and cook until tender 15 to 30 minutes.
  6. Add beet mixture and when soup returns to boil carrots and onions, 4 bay leaves and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook for 4 or 5 more minutes
  7. Remove from heat. Stir in dill, parsley, and garlic.
  8. Let soup stand for 20 minutes.
  9. Garnish with sour cream and dill

CELERIAC, POTATO, LEEK & APPLE SOUP from CSA member Diane Samarasinghe

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 leeks, white and light green part only, halved lengthwise, cleaned and sliced or chopped
Salt to taste
2 pounds celeriac, peeled and diced (retain tops for bouquet garni and garnish)
1 large russet potato (about 3/4 pound), peeled and diced
2 granny smith or braeburn apples, cored, peeled and diced
2 quarts water, chicken stock, or vegetable stock
A bouquet garni made with a bay leaf and a couple of sprigs each thyme and parsley, and a stem or two of the celery from the celery root, if still attached
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Slivered celery leaves for garnish
1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat and add the onion, leeks and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the celeriac and a generous pinch of salt, cover partially and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often, until the celeriac has begun to soften. Add the potatoes, apples, water or stock, salt to taste, and the bouquet garni. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 1 hour, or until the vegetables are very tender and the soup is fragrant. Remove and discard the bouquet garni.
2. Blend the soup in batches in a blender (cover the top with a towel and hold it down to avoid hot splashes), or through a food mill fitted with the fine blade. The soup should be very smooth. Strain if desired. Return to the pot. Stir and taste. Adjust salt, add freshly ground pepper, and heat through. Serve in small bowls or espresso cups, garnished with thin slivers of celery leaves.
Yield: 16 to 18 demitasse servings or 8 bowls
Advance preparation: You can make this a day or two ahead and reheat. The soup can be frozen, but you will need to blend it again when you thaw it.
Nutritional information per serving (8 servings): 134 calories; 2 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 0 grams polyunsaturated fat; 1 gram monounsaturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 28 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams dietary fiber; 128 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 3 grams protein
Nutritional information per serving (16 servings): 67 calories; 1 gram fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 0 grams polyunsaturated fat; 1 gram monounsaturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 14 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 14 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 2 grams protein