Saturday, November 10, 2012

Winter - Week # 1


I hope you are doing well. I want to welcome you to our Winter CSA. I am Mark, the CSA Coordinator, and I handle all aspects of the CSA--except the most important part; which is growing the produce. Our cooperative is organized as a group of growers working together to plan, sell, and distribute their produce, and I work on all of those things, but must let you know--I am not a farmer. I do have the great pleasure of working with our farmers though, and I will try my best to keep you updated on what is happening in the lives of our farms, farmers and cooperative. Every other week, you will receive a newsletter, like this one, describing what is in your share, what is happening with our farms/farmers/cooperative, and reminding you to pick up your share, as well as any other information we may wish to share. I want to encourage you to reach out to me if you ever have any questions, comments, or concerns. This is somewhat of an odd arrangement, since it is likely that I will never meet the vast majority of you, but I do hope you will not hesitate to keep in touch despite that.

Our shares this week have green cabbage, watermelon radish, red onion, sweet potatoes, mixed beets with greens, sweet dumpling squash, and mixed lettuce. Next, I normally list what is new this week, then go on to describe those things for you, but since this is the first week--I will just go through everything.

Green cabbage is certainly the most ubiquitous variety, and this year we had an excellent crop, and a lot of the heads turned out very large. Cabbage is an excellent fall/winter green; it loves cool weather, and stores for an extraordinary length of time. The leaves will loose moisture and dry out in your fridge, so it will keep best wrapped (I put mine in a grocery bag) or in the crisper. The outer leaves will also be the first to slowly deteriorate, and if you use a leaf or two a week, it will stay good for up to a couple months. A lot of people like to cut them in half, but that will severely cut short it's shelf life, it's much better to peel off the outside leaves instead. Cabbage is commonly used in soups and stews, pierogies, haluski, cole slaw, sauerkraut, as a wrapper for wraps or stuffed cabbage, roasted, or mixed into stir-fry. It has a slightly sweet flavor and pleasant crunch. If overcooked, it has a tendency to release a chemical that has a terrible smell--but if cooked correctly, or coated in oil, or used in a soup/stew, it will not get smelly, and will just soften up and get tasty.

Watermelon radishes are some of our customers' favorites. They have a surprisingly watermelon-colored interior, and a very pleasant, slightly sweet, slightly spicy flavor. As with all radishes, the spicyness goes away and transforms into sweetness when cooked, especially roasted. They can be eaten raw in salads, shredded into slaws, cooked into stir fry, or (as with almost any root veg) cut into chunks and roasted with oil and herbs.

Red onions are very similar to yellow onions; which you are probalby more aqcainted with--they just have a slightly spicier flavor.

Sweet potatoes (which are not yams, nor are they related), can be cooked any way you would a potato; should not be stored in the fridge, and should last a while in your pantry--but not nearly as long as 'normal' potatoes.

These are some of the most beautiful beets I thnk we have ever had. They are sweet, with an earthy flavor, that I think is quite delicious, but easily overpowers anything they are mixed with. They are great raw, sliced up, used as sticks for dip, shredded into slaw, stewed into borscht, or coated with herbs/oil and roasted or candied. The greens are related to swiss chard, and also have a slightly sweet, earthy flavor, though far less intense, and will not overpower other flavors. They are great cooked into soups/stews, mixed into stir fry, roasted, or marinated and served raw in a salad.

Sweet dumpling squash have a slightly sweet flesh, and are great for stuffing, but can be used any way you would any other winter squash--roasted, mashed, sauteed, baked into pies/muffins/cookies etc. They should be stored outside of your fridge, and can last for several months, though how long they actually do last seems largely up to chance. To cook, just slice in half, spoon out the seeds (which are excellent spiced and roasted), coat with herbs/salt/sugar, and roast, cut side down, ~350 degrees, until tender to your preference. If you are stuffing, I recommend roasting until it is pretty easily pierced by a fork, then inserting the stuffing and roasting some more--when it is done, the flesh should almost melt off the skin when touched with a fork--so that the squash will mix with the stuffing, and you don't need a knife to eat it.

The lettuce is a mixed leaf lettuce; which is something of a treat, given the cold nights we have been having (lettuce freezes in the fields pretty easily), please enjoy it while you can, it is likely our last of the year.

Future newsletters will include more updates on the farms, but this one is already extraordinarily long, so you will just have to wait.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me.



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