To all of our awesome CSA Box Members – past, present, and future – I apologize for a bit of an absence. I’ve discovered that I’m too old, and maybe still too fat, to work 8 to 10 hours in the field and then come in to do all the office work, though, I seem to be getting a second wind this week.
So, we have a really good box for you this week. You might get a hint from the featured image above as to what’s just come into harvest. We are also very close (next week we hope!) to our first ripe tomatoes, too. The first ones will be a wonderful, orange, Roma-shaped variety called Sunrise Sauce with slicers like Pink Berkeley Tie Dye and Cherokee Purple to follow shortly after.
Since we are speaking of tomatoes, I had a visit out at the Teachey Farm from my great friend and mentor, Jim Letendre. He and Dave Denson started the legendary Sunny Slope Greenhouses company in 1979 near Siler City and were very well known for their incredible tomatoes and their growing methods. Dave has since passed away much too early and taken with him a wealth of knowledge. In August of 2018, I wrote a pretty comprehensive blog post about what we learned from Jim and Dave, and, even though I wrote it, there’s some good information in there about varieties, determinate vs. indeterminate, growing methods, and finally, an explanation of “what the heck is a hothouse tomato.” It’s worth a read HERE. I promise. Since we are no longer doing tomato production in Teachey, Jim is going to advise us on converting the River Bluffs greenhouse into a worthy tomato production unit.
Back to this week’s box. There’s some re-hashing below on agricultural and culinary information on the produce for the produce,
Yellow Squash – This Southern mainstay has a long run in the field during the summer and we plant several successions during that time. It is in the Cucurbitaceae family along with many, many of it’s cousins – see Zucchini below.
Culinarily speaking, it’s an outstanding complement to any dish and is more nutritious and healthful than people realize. There’s a great article here on the health benefits.
<<<Since we all know what yellow squash looks like, I used a picture from one of our CSA Members who has a Spiralizer that makes those wonderful zuchinni/squash noodles. I’ll have to ask him if he added pasta sauce to this. Man, I bet that would be terrific, especially with some of our tomatoes.
Red Cabbage – All cabbages are in the Cruciferaea family, also known as Brassicas. For us at Turner Family Farms, it’s such a satisfying crop because of it’s heft. You just feel like you’re putting a lot of food into that CSA box when these come into harvest. They do require good fertility which makes them a little harder to grow in the sandier soils, but they are worth it.
I typically either make slaw or just a simple saute with cabbage. I found a great recipe HERE for people who are not (yet) fond of cabbage. It’s not a vegan one. I need to talk to our health and wellness guru, Stacie Morrison soon for more vegan options. Stay tuned on this next week.
Fingerling Potatoes and Yukon Gold – All potatoes are in the nightshade, or Solenacaea family. They are closely related to tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. In fact, if you let potatoes go to flower-fruit, you will see tiny tomato looking fruit. Don’t eat them; they are toxic. By the way, “Irish” potatoes like these are completely unrelated to Sweet potatoes which are a type of morning glory – of all things.
We were not able to harvest enough of each type of potato so some boxes got purple and some got the yukon gold. Both are exceptional and potatoes that just came out of the ground are just terrific as some of the sugars in them have not turned to starch yet.. Personally, I like to roast my potatoes like I did above in the potato.radish, beet roast. I typically do this at or near 400° to be sure to get a little carmelization. I use small ones whole and I cut the larger ones into similarly sized pieces so they all cook evenly. Honestly, olive oil, salt and pepper is all you need. If you got one type of potato but think you prefer the other, don’t worry. You’ll be seeing all types of Irish potatoes in the weeks to come!
Zucchini – Or if you grew up in the region, “green squash.” Zucchini is in the large Cucurbitaceae family which includes both summer and winter squashes, pumpkins, and all melons. Like the Brassicas, it’s such a large crop family that it can be difficult to fit into a proper crop rotation.
Culinarily speaking, well, it’s a mainstay of so many side dishes. Sauteed zucchini mixed with yellow squash and onions or thinly sliced carrots could once be found on the side of every restaurant dish from TGIFridays to Appleby’s and even upscale places. There’s a reason, though. It’s good, and it’s an easy way to prepare it.
One different idea is to broil or grill halves or quarters of zucchini sliced longitudinally and just seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper. And, I absolutely love that Spiralizer idea (see squash above.)
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.
Sweet Corn. Sweet corn, as opposed to “feed corn,” is the only true grass (Poaceae) in our crop rotation, although we may grow sweet sorghum in 2020. It’s a fascinating plant with a long history living alongside humans. Michael Pollen, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, posits an interesting theory that we aren’t growing corn, corn is using humans to spread across the world. That sounds odd, I know, but the next time you’re driving through Iowa, (or rural N.C.,) you may find yourself agreeing.
The variety in this week’s box is a wonderful bi-color called Peaches & Cream. – straight out of the Burpee catalog. I like mine grilled in the husk and slathered in lime butter, but, there are myriad ways to prepare it. There are some really great ones on this Southern Living site. I particularly like the way they present their corn with the husks on. This one is very much worth a browse.
*We are not sure this will be included and won’t know for sure until tomorrow morning. If we can’t harvest them this week, we will definitely have them next week. And, the bulbs are much larger than the ones pictured here. Keeping our fingers crossed tomorrow.” – Farmer Steve
Green Onions (Spring Onions) This is a fun plant to grow. It’s one of the first things to go in the ground in late Winter. Onions are in the Allium family along with leeks, garlic and chives. It’s one of the few monocots we grow – the other is corn, of course.
In my opinion, the best way to enjoy these onions by themselves is by grilling them. Again, Food & Wine has a great article HERE on this method. If you want to make it simple, just use a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and set them on the edge of your grill – preferably next to a steak! – apologies to all our vegan friends.
Spring onions are also good chopped thin all the way down to the white and added to salads, soups, and anything else where you want a little fresh onion spice.
Almost midnight and that’s all I’ve got folks. It’ll be a long day of deliveries tomorrow. We will be returning to the Farmer’s Market at Poplar Grove every Wednesday from 8am to 1 pm. CSA Members get extra goodies when we see them. 🙂 Apologies for being absent the last two weeks as Ian and I have been focused on production/planting/harvesting for the CSA Boxes.