Saturday, December 8, 2012

Winter - Week # 3


I hope you are doing well. Our shares this week include; white turnips, green kabocha squash, yellow onions, jerusalem artichokes, mustard greens, celebration squash, russet potatoes, garlic, lettuce mix, black radishes, and carrots.

Everything in the shares this week is new, except the lettuce mix and mustard greens...

White turnips, also known as salad turnips, are one of the most common varieties of turnips. Turnips are in the same family as cabbage and rutabagas, (as well as kale, collards, brussels sprouts, radishes), and have a flavor similar to each. They are wonderfully crunchy and slightly sweet. You can slice them up raw and eat as sticks, use for dip, put into a salad, or slaw. They are commonly used in soups/stews, especially Irish Stew, or meat pies, and they can also be mashed or roasted; which brings out their sweet flavor.

Green kabocha squash, which is also known as Japanese pumpkin, is another variety of winter squash that is known for its especially strong nutty (chestnut) flavor. Like all winter squash, it can be roasted, pureed or boiled into soups, mashed, or stuffed, and goes well with almost any cuisine.

Jerusalem artichokes, also known as sunchokes, are a sweet, starchy, crunchy, native plant that grows so well here that it often has to be controlled so it doesn't take over whole fields. It has been cultivated by Native Americans all across North America for centuries, and I think when you try it you will understand why. They can be roasted, or boiled into soups (which is more popular), with or (more commonly) wihtout the skin. I just received recommendation today to try them steamed with a touch of honey, and I am sure to try that soon.

Celebration squash, which are also known as carnival squash, have a slightly sweet, slightly nutty, mostly mild flavor. They can be prepared like any squash, but their size/share/look makes them especially well suited to stuffing them. Just slice them in half, spoon out the seeds (and roast them! Or at least save them to roast later), and roast in your oven, cut-side down, at ~350 for ~30 minutes. Prepare any kind of filling, take them out of the oven and fill them, then roast some more. I like to roast them long enough so that the flesh is soft and smooth, and can easily be eaten with just a fork. Since they are fairly mild in flavor, they take especially well to spicing, and you will be amazed how delicious they can be just coated in your favorite herbs, some oil/butter, and roasted.

Russet potatoes are also known as baking potatoes, and are starchier, and have tougher skins than other potatoes; which makes them especially ideal for making baked potatoes, fries, chips, stuffed potatoes, or mashed.

Black radishes are the spiciest of common radishes (other than horseradish) and as far as I can tell are the most well-liked also. They can be cooked any way you would a turnip or a rutabaga (both of which are related), or eat them raw, sliced into salads, or slaws. Roasting changes a lot of their spice to sweetness, and gives them a deeply rich flavor (in Russia, they are roasted with honey as a popular home remedy for a cough, and we have a woman who regularly visits our farmstand, and insists it is very effective). I have it on good word that the best preparation is to slice thin and pan fry them like chips.

I am going to go ahead and assume that you know what to do with yellow onions, garlic, and carrots...

Things at the co-operative and the farms are doing very well. This is usually a great time of year for our farmers, as they pull the last of their summer crops from the fields, plant cover crops and certain spring crops, and finally enjoy some respite after an extremely long, hard-working summer. Winter is the time for travel, fixing machinery, doing construction, and starting new projects for our farmers, and the community is busy with all of those things. Most of our farmers have extremely large families, and this is the time of year for road and train trips to visit them, and to have visitors as well. And though our farmers only use draft animals and human power in their farming, they still use a lot of equipment, and a large part of any farmers life is spent maintaining and fixing it, especially this time of year. Sveral of our growers have new building projects under way, Martie Schmucker is building a new barn; which is already almost complete, James Schmucker just built a room for cleaning his produce in the winter, and we are dreaming up plans for a cabin for an intern, and maybe a work-shed, and a greenhouse. In addition to all that, Tobie Schmucker is embarking on a new venture, raising organic milking cows, and Aaron Schmucker just bought a sizeable herd of milking sheep to produce sheeps' milk for Sam and Susie Byler, who are working on perfecting the art of making sheeps' milk cheeses.

We had our all-growers meeting a little while ago, to discuss the season, and the goings-on of the cooperative, and now we have begun one-on-one meetings with each farmer to go over growing plans for next year. We have made great headway in so many ways in our short 4 years, and having these meetings, especially so early, is another great step to improve our coordination for next year.

Please remember to return your bags.

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



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