**I just sent out Members’ emails regarding this post and I really don’t like how our Farmigo system does that. I’ll be doing it manually until those bugs are worked out and I apologize for the (unexpected) long string of attached email information……….—- Steve
To all our wonderful CSA Members, past, present, and future. This blogpost’s featured image is some artwork left in one of our returned boxes. I think it had to be from Azure’s household because it was from my delivery route. We have it pinned up in the packing shed and Ian and I get a big kick out of it.
It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve sent out the CSA blogpost. Ian and I have been working 70 hour (plus) weeks recently trying to keep up with the planting schedule. We are still able to make all the CSA deliveries on Thursdays but we may be adding another day soon. We start the day out in Brunswick Forest at Mrs. Bell’s, work our way back through Carolina Beach and up through Wilmington – catching our CSA resident-in-chef Elizabeth – then on up to Surf City and Holly Ridge (Sandy,) and finally to our newest members, the Phelps, in River Landing. It’s quite a day, but it’s so much fun getting to see our Members.
We had a really full box today. Ian was doing some final harvesting this morning while I was doing the expediting – packing boxes. I know there were some regular sized boxes that I could hardly get all the produce into.
As you can see, the salad mix is back. We had some really nice carrots with tops, some giant turnips with tops, mustard greens, radishes with tops, sweet potatoes, spring onions, and rainbow chard!
Next week we should have some cucumbers and squashes. The corn and tomato plants look good in the field so they should be on schedule, too.
You may not know this, but our CSA Members get preferential treatment (of course) on Wednesdays at the Farmer’s Market at Poplar Grove. Our tent is right next to the main entrance. Come on out and say “hi” to Ian and me, and visit with some of our local food artisan friends like Charlotte Evans of Cravings, and Betsy and Alexis Fouros of Feast for the Gods. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone, but I happen to know that Charlotte is putting some of her famous treats into next week’s CSA box. This young guy below seemed to think kale was a real treat!
Back to this week’s box. There’s some re-hashing below on recipes for the produce, but I’ve been gathering some suggestions from our Members, some of whom are exceptional cooks, and I’ll be adding in their recipes very soon.
Spring Onions. All onions are part of the Allium family, including leeks, garlic and shallots. They fit a unique niche in our plant rotation and succession as they are a small family – especially compared to Brassiccas and Curcurbits – and they are typically in the field a long time. These are important considerations for the farmer’s overall crop planning.
That said, we all know the culinary importance of the allium family. These spring onions can be used diced fresh and added to soups and salads, but this time of year when people are outside, a lot of folks grill them with olive oil, salt and pepper. That’s definitely my favorite way.
Radishes withtops – Not everybody loves the tangy heat you get when you bite into a radish, but, everyone should eat the greens. YES! I SAID EAT THE RADISH GREENS! Not only are they a really tasty addition to a wilted salad or to bulk up your spinach, they are chock-full of B6, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, calcium, vitamin A, potassium, and folic acid.
Ok, so radishes and radish greens are nutritious and healthy, right? Well, they are tasty, too. Chef Alexis Fouros told me years ago that the traditional French preparation for a cast-iron pan-seared steak is to deglaze the pan after removing the meat with a radish (with greens) sliced down the middle and used as a garnish. Since then, that’s what I do with radishes, beets, and even carrots. There are myriad great recipes online for radish greens preparation. Here are some of my favorites (with links) below:
Mustard Another terrific Brassica well-known throughout the South, though, the mustards, generally, are considered a sub-group. Our variety is the very common Green Wave. They are easy to grow and they get hotter as the Summer heat comes in.
Mustard can be added sparingly to salads for spiciness, but most people wilt them in a saute pan with olive oil. Check the turnips with tops explanation below for another way to prepare them in combination. Keep in mind that mustard greens are softer than, say, kale or collards, so be careful not to overcook them. Add them at the end of any wilt/saute.
Rainbow chard is a mixture of swiss chards with colored stems. It is in the Amaranthaceae family like beets, spinach, and celosia (the flower) which is also edible. It’s a fascinating crop from a farmer’s perspective because it fits a unique niche in the crop rotation with both cold-hardy and heat tolerant characteristics. In the summer, we add a close cousin, Red Leaf Vegetable Amaranth to our salad mixes and as a summer spinach substitute.
Nutritionally speaking, like spinach, chard is unusual in that it has all three of the main minerals (magnesium, iron, and potassium,) and it is a good source of vitamin K. I think Popeye would have been just as well served with chard. It tastes a bit like spinach too, but it’s prettier on the plate.
For cooking, you can wilt chard just like spinach, or just add chopped leaves to any salad. You can also add it to soups near the end of preparation, and I’ve even seen it in quiche, pasta, and omelettes. I think a simple saute-wilt is my favorite and I found a link here that is very similar to how I prepare it.
Sweet potatoes are from another unique plant family, Convolvulaceae. Basically, they are morning glories with tuberous roots. As far as I know, they are the only plant in that family worth eating, so, they too fit nicely in a crop rotation where a farmer tries to separate plants in the same family through space and time. – I could write a book on the complexities of a proper crop rotation. 🙂 They are usually grown from “slips” grown out of seed sweet potatoes. They are amazingly drought resistant and, though we do irrigate ours, it’s not absolutely necessary.
Nutritionally speaking, the sweet potato is lower on the glycemic index than Irish potatoes and are more nutritious. We haven’t used the young shoots in salads yet, but they are not only edible but tasty. My favorite way to prepare them is to just roast (bake) them and serve them like a baked Irish potato with butter, however, we know the sweet potato lives in both the sweet and savory worlds, so it’s just as useful as a dessert. My friends Betsy and Alexis of Feast for the Gods gave me a terrific but very simple recipe for white or regular sweet potatoes in our blogpost here.
Turnips with Tops Another Brassica, and when mixed with the Mustard greens in today’s box, they work together to provide a powerful punch of anti-oxidants, anti-carcinogens, and anti-inflammatory effects. For an in-depth explanation, check out Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s explanation here.
Oh, they taste good, too. Turnip greens are a regional favorite. Typically, what I do is roast a chicken, or chicken thighs, and when they are finished I remove an appropriate amount of the rendered fat and then add in the turnip roots (diced) back into the roasting pan and return it to the 350 degree oven. When the turnip roots are almost fork tender, I add the greens to the pan, stir them around a bit, and return the pan to the oven to finish for just a few minutes – not too long!! This way the seasoning and fond from the chicken will season your turnips with tops. If you are a vegetarian, just skip the first step and use olive oil, salt and pepper, and whatever other seasoning you like. In order to get the most health benefit, mentioned above, add the mustard greens to the turnip greens. Don’t overcook the greens!
Carrots with tops! Carrots are in the Apiaceae family along with celery, parsnip, dill, fennel, coriander, chervil, cumin and parsley. It’s not the easiest crop to grow as it takes a long time to germinate and we need to create weed free beds in which to plant them, otherwise the weeds take over before the carrots have a chance to get established. Once you get it figured out, growing carrots is very rewarding. We grow several varieties including Napoli, Yellowbunch, Malbec, Purple Haze, Mokum, Hercules and Romance.
Culinarily speaking, carrots are good raw (typically sliced thin,) roasted/baked, glazed and sauteed. The tops are a great addition to salads when used judiciously, or in smoothies. I have a couple of really good new recipes to share. The carrot bisque is from Chef Erin at Porches Cafe, and the other is a really cool carrot greens pesto I found online a while back. In the next couple weeks, we are going to be working with Chef Dean Neff on some recipes and I know he’s keen on teaching a really simple root vegetable glazing method, and I’m certain that our carrots will be featured prominently in his vegetable glazes.
Salanova Salad Mix This is new to the CSA box but something that we have grown for a long time. We use both red and green varieties in rosette heads and frilly-incised heads. This mix gives a variety of colors, shapes and textures. In the warmer months, we like to add amaranths, and even young sweet potato shoots for a TFF signature mix. From time to time, we will also offer these lettuces in full size heads.
Different from our brassica mix, these are true lettuces. My chef buddy, Alexis Fouros, likes to lightly grill lettuces and frisees. I don’t know. I’m pretty adventurous, but with the Salanova mix, I think I’d stick to whatever nice salad dressing you like and go with a traditional salad. I’ll try the grilling/wilting soon and I’ll be your canary in a coal mine on that one. 🙂
Thanks Everyone! Don’t forget to come visit us at the Farmer’s Market at Poplar Grove every Wednesday from 8am to 1 pm. CSA Members get extra goodies when we see them. 🙂