CSA September 18, 2013

Notes from the Farm

Most of our farm days are spent harvesting.  We hauled the shallots and most of the red onions in over the weekend, along with a significant amount of winter squash.  The fall harvest is looking lovely so far.  This week we hope to gather more squash, the rest of the red onions, and the yellow storage onions.  These alliums will cure by the end of the CSA and you will find a sampling of each in your boxes.

As some of you have noticed there is a mama sow and her piglets in a pen north of the driveway.  The piglets are free range for the first 6-7 weeks and may wander or bolt out at any time.   We are also starting to let the chickens free range more often now that the majority of crops are harvested.  Our birds believe in the right of the pedestrian (and they don’t like chicken jokes).

The share this week provides a smorgasbord of vegetables from the farm.  You will find fennel bulbs, broccoli, sungold tomatoesradishes, leeks, dock leaves, nardello sweet pepper, Bulgarian carrot chili, red beets, delicata winter squash, and lemon basil.

Storage Notes

The topless red beets are a storage beet so they will last a very long time stored in your refrigerator.  Like other winter squash, the delicata does best stored in a cool dry spot.  Radishes will store longer if you remove the tops first.   Both the fennel and leeks can be stored in the crisper with or without a plastic bag.

Usage Notes

Dock leaves can be added to a salad mix but they also take well to cooking.  When cooking, treat dock leaves as you would spinach.  The notes from June 12 provide a few more ideas on how to use the leaves.  The lemon basil this week will be somewhat dirty.  Pam and Leon do not wash the basil since it is too delicate and would turn black from excessive moisture…so make sure to wash the lemon basil just before using it.

Fennel has a mild anise flavor that makes a great addition to dishes both raw and cooked.  The bulb is used a lot in Italian cuisine but also goes well with just about any seafood.  The bulb is the main part used for eating, but the stalks and fronds can also be utilized.  Please check the fennel page for notes of removing the core and ideas on how to use this tasty vegetable in your meals.

Delicata squash is a delicious winter squash that is small in size with the perfect shape for making edible containers for your favorite stuffing.  This squash also takes well to roasting, grilling, or baking.  The recipe this week is for a simple side dish of sautéed squash that goes well with just about anything.

Egyptians are given credit for first cultivating wild leeks and from there the vegetable spread around the world and are even considered a national symbol for Wales.  The edible part of a leek is the white part plus an inch or so of pale green.  Smaller leeks are more tender, making them perfect for grilling or braising, while larger leeks are perfect for soup and gratins.  Due to how leeks are grown, they often have lots of dirt between the leaves so they need to be washed well.  Cut off the greens an inch above the white part and slice off the roots, leaving a thin piece attached so that the leaves remained joined at the base.  Halve the leeks lengthwise down the middle to the root end.  Rinse well under running water while you fan the leaves to make sure you are getting dirt stuck between leaves.  Cut leaves can also be rinsed after cutting.  If using in a soup, leeks do not caramelize well so they are best lightly cooked.  In addition to the classic Vichyssoise and Cock-a-Leekie soups, leeks go well with potatoes, fennel, celery, capers, parmesan, goat cheese and olives.

This heirloom European pepper looks like a small carrot, thus the name Bulgarian carrot chili.  Also known as Shipkas, the carrot pepper is great for salsas, marinades, pickles, chutneys, roasting or adding to any dish you want to give a kick to since this pepper is spicy.  Please remember to wash your hands well after cutting chilies and be aware of touching your face!

Recipe

Delicata Squash Rings

(serves 2-4)

Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

2 delicata squash

1 1/2 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

chopped fresh herb of your choice or a healthy dollop of pesto

Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler, slice off the end, and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon.  Cut the squash into rings about 1/3 inch thick.  Heat the oil in a wide skillet, add the squash, and fry over medium heat until richly colored on the bottom, about 6 minutes.  Turn and cook on the second side until tender.  Remove to a serving plate, season with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh herbs or your favorite sauce.

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