New Boxes Are Here!!
It’s silly I know, but I’m really excited about the new boxes. It’s nice to have some sturdy fresh white ones for a change. And thanks again to my friends at Wilmington Box Company for pushing us up in line a bit. I know I’ve probably told everyone this, but I designed that box based (more than just loosely I admit) on the Bojangles Bo Box. There was some trial and error involved, though. The first version was sized so that I could fit a Turner Toter into it, and when Wilmington Box mocked it up, it was enormous. Version 2 was also too big, but we finally got it worked out into what you get every week.
We have quite a few new Members this week, so tomorrow is a big day for me and a first look at the box for them. I’m really happy with the freshness and quality of our offerings. Most people don’t realize how awesome the Winter crops are in our soils and climatic zone here, but this can be a time of plenty with proper crop planning.
I’ve had a couple of requests to grow specific crops like Broccoli Raab (Spring Raab) and a less acidic type of tomato. Please don’t hesitate to make suggestions. I’ve also been getting quite a few TFF Members’ Culinary Creations pics lately, and man do they look good. At some point in the near future, I’d like to start on that Members’ cookbook I’ve talked about before. The formatting of a cookbook has a little bit of a learning curve but I’m getting there. Here are a couple of last week’s pictures from Members below.
This weeks crop selection is very much like last week’s except we are swapping collard green bunches for the mustard greens. Mustard greens will be back next week, though, because I am going to be doing a cooking video that will include preparation of that Massaged Mustard Greens Salad. I can’t wait to try that.
This Week’s Crops
This variety is actually named “Red Meat,” an improved cultivar of the standard watermelon radish. In the field they grow very well in cooler weather and if left in the ground too long they get huge roots. Oddly enough, they are still good like that, but we don’t harvest them that way because the greens get rough looking.
About those greens – who remembers my (in)famous Yes! Eat Our Radish Greens! blogpost from 2018? There’s some really good information there if you are curious about the nutritional and culinary benefits of the not-so-lowly radish.
In this box, I think I’d add the watermelon radish tops in with the mustard and kale and make a sautee wilt. As for the roots, they are great lightly roasted (baked,) alone or mixed with the beets and rutabagas. I really like the simple approach in this Peel With Zeal preparation.
In the field, this Brassica looks like it’s cousin the Turnip, but it’s much longer in the field and really requires a few hard frosts before harvesting.
Rutabagas are high in Vitamin C, Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium. They are also full of antioxidants and the glucosinolates that Dr. Rhonda Patrick promotes so often. Check that out HERE, but be wary, she’s mesmerizingly fascinating.
If you’re new to cooking rutabagas, the easiest thing to do is just cube them and then roast them in olive oil, salt and pepper. Add a little Thyme if you have it. At this point, you can go either sweet or savory depending on whether you add a little syrup/honey or leave it out. Rutabagas have a more complex flavor than a lot of other root vegetables, but don’t let that scare you. There are a ton of ways to prepare as evidenced by this really excellent post from Good Housekeeping. Man, check out the Raw Rutabaga Salad in this post. That looks fresh and simple and all the ingredients you need are in the box.
Beets are in the Amaranthaceae family (sub-family Chenopodiaceae,) which is really just a complicated way to say they are related to spinach and swiss chard. In fact, beet greens are an excellent nutty-tasting addition or substitute to (and for) spinach. In today’s box, though, is the beet roots only.
I know that people either love or hate beet roots, but I really think the haters 🙂 should give them a second chance. First of all, they have some unique health benefits due to their amino acid profile and folate content. Secondly, they have an interesting culinary niche in that they can be roasted, juiced, or simply eaten raw when julienned (thin sliced strips.)
I decided to keep this other Amaranth near it’s cousin above. Rainbow chard is a mixture of several different Swiss chard varieties. One farmer/chef trick is to always mix in the basic, white Fordhook variety because it’s actually the tastiest, though least colorful, of all of them.
Try wilting the chard just like you do spinach. I typically use a stock pot because it takes a lot of fresh chard (or spinach) to make a good family serving. Sweat out some garlic in olive oil first – don’t burn the garlic!- and add the chard. Again finish with some lemon juice, salt and pepper.
One thing to be careful of if you mix the chard with the kale and mustard in this week’s box is that it’s slightly more delicate. While this is a little nitpicky, and I don’t bother with this step when I’m rushed, it’s better to add the chard to a mix wilt after letting the kales sautee for a few minutes first.
Lacinato (Dino) Kale
All the Kales are in the Brassica family with the turnips, mustards, and cabbages. Frankly, this is one of our favorite crops in every aspect. It’s a magnificent field crop – easy to grow, easy to harvest, holds well in heat and cold. We even include it in our baby greens mix and use it as a microgreen.
It’s also the best tasting and most versatile kale, culinarily speaking (in my opinion.) Baby leaf lacinato kale is terrific just raw. The bunch sized leaves can be added to a spinach sautee to make a heartier wilt. I’ve even used the leaves to make wraps, both cold and hot. Check out this easy, beautiful preparation at Eating Well (online.)
Something else to keep in mind about collard and kale during these trying times is that they have the most Vitamin D of any other vegetable except mushrooms (vegetable?) This Lacinato Kale gets my MVP award.
Collards (small leaf)
Collards are very closely related to kales, and they have many of the same properties. They are both very Winter hardy and they both actually taste better after a few hard frosts.
Collards also have the same healthy micronutrient profile that Rhonda Patrick talks about in all Brassicas (cruciferous vegetables.) Our small leaf collard bunches are the younger, more tender and mild version of the big, country, simmer-foerver-with-a-hamhock sized collard.
Our collards are even better than our kale for making wraps. I found a nice webpage called Love & Lemons that has a couple of great ideas that involve crops in this week’s box. Collard Wraps with Carrot Hummus!!?? I am definitely doing that in the Thursday video. BTW, don’t look for that to be up on our youtube channel on Thursday as it takes a while to edit and render.
Carrots with Tops
Carrots are in the Apiaceae family along with celery, parsnip, dill, fennel, coriander, chervil, cumin and parsley. We will always do our best to have carrots for as many weeks of the year as possible. The carrots are larger now, full-sized, but they are still just so fresh right out of the ground. I am doubling up on bunches as I’ve heard that the Membership children really love them. We will also have Rainbow Carrots in the next few weeks.
Carrot hummus??? No way! I am definitely doing that one and using it in a collard wrap with some grated beet and rutabega salad. That’s what I’m talking about. Mmmmm. Check those purple links for general guidelines but you don’t have to stick to that strictly. Use what you have.
REMEMBER: If you are not eating the carrots in the first day or so, remove the tops and store the roots in the crisper. The green tops signify freshness, but when left on too long, they degrade the nutritional value of the roots.
Green Onions (aka Spring Onions)
I have fallen in love with this member of the Alluim family. From a grower’s standpoint, they can be grown several ways. In the past I have cut them small to let them regrow almost like Scallions (which technically are different.) However, what I’m really excited about is seeding them out in paperpot chains and using the paperpot planter to grow a larger version of this same plant that’s known as a “Welsh Onion.” They are similar to leaks in that you grow them larger but bury more of the plant to get more white stalk. Check out this youtube video showing how the Japanese do it.
Culinarily speaking, this crop is so, so versatile. While there are myriad ways to use green onions as a garnish – think salad topper, soup topper, etc. – I love to grill them whole, or, slice lengthwise and pan sear them with olive oil and S&P. I finally found a web article HERE that puts the green onion front and center in the preparation, instead of relegating this MVP to the culinary background.
I really look forward to seeing as many of you as I can tomorrow. Delivery day is my favorite day of the week. 🙂 Thanks so much, everyone.
P.S. If you are reading this and are not a Turner Family Farms CSA Member but would like to become part of the Turner Farm Family, check out our shop page HERE for options and pricing and give me a text or call at 910-552-3467. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to be your farmer. 🙂