Welcome New Members!
We have added quite a few new Members to the Farm family in the last couple of weeks and it’s been very exciting meeting all the new people, and, as always, delivery day is my favorite day because I get to check in with all my existing Members.
With the help of my tech guru, Ed, I have recently uploaded the first of three culinary videos we finished on Sunday. I made the mistake of shaving recently so I definitely have giant fat face syndrome, but hey, the video itself is pretty good and the Massaged Mustard Green Salad turned out fantastic. I highly recommend it. The next two videos will be an awesome, and I do mean awesome, carrot hummus and then a raw beet salad which is surprisingly tasty.
Ed is teaching me to film, edit and render these videos myself, so after the Raw Beet Salad video there’s going to be a drop off in quality for a while, but I’m betting that I can at least make them watchable. This week, we have sweet potatoes and mustard greens returning. I had to go through a few boxes of sweet potatoes from one particular field because they hadn’t been completely cured. I’d like to thank one of our Members, Cyndie, for letting me know there was a problem as I had stopped eating them for a while so I didn’t notice. Please let me know anytime there is a defect in any box item. Crops grown organically, while much fresher and cleaner, can be more susceptible to storage problems since they are untreated and definitely non-GMO. Your input is greatly appreciated and an important part of quality control.
For fun, here are some TFF Members’ Culinary Creations sent in from last week’s box. Incredible stuff.
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.
The cool thing about sweet potatoes from the farmer’s point of view is thatthey occupy a unique plant family niche in the crop rotation – Convolvulaceae. Basically, they are a type of morning glory, which, when you consider the viney-ness of them actually makes sense. The other unique thing about sweet potatoes is how drought hardy the plants are. If the farmer plants the “slips” (sort of like cuttings) on a day when it’s expected to rain shortly after planting, then no irrigation is ever necessary. If rain is not expected, then they must be watered-in, but that’s all that’s needed.
The best way to cook them? Well, I’m open to all suggestions from the Membership, including dessert recipes, but my go-to preparation is explained best by the terrific chefs at Cook’s Illustrated, and, as always, they give you some of the science behind their preparation. Check that out HERE.
Rainbow Chard is an Amaranth just like spinach. It grows much more vigorously in the field and high tunnel than spinach, but it doesn’t have anywhere near the cold-hardiness. Nonetheless, it’s an excellent crop both full-sized and as baby greens.
One thing you want to look for in Rainbow Chard is a decent amount of the white Fordhook variety mixed in. While it’s less colorful than the pink, yellow, purple and red varieties, it is the tastiest. Farmer’s “in the know” always have the white in the mix.
When I’m in a hurry, I usually just make a wilt (saute) like with spinach, but there are a ton of great ways to use this tasty and nutritious crop. I’ll be doing a video on it in the future, but for now, check out these 13 Creative Swiss Chard Recipes from Bon Appetit.
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. 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.
You can also use kale in lieu of or in combination with Green Mustard in the Massaged Green Mustard from the video above.
Mustards are also Brassicas, but of a slightly different makeup. I’ve mentioned before that combining certain greens together amplifies their individual nutritional value. Mustard is the catalyst that brings out that effect in kales, broccoli, collards, and turnip greens. There’s another terrific Dr. Rhonda Patrick video explanation HERE on her site.
Our latest video was inspired by this fascinating recipe at Eating Well (online) called Massaged Mustard Greens Salad. I can tell you for a fact that the mustard greens were significantly less hot/spicy after that preparation. And man was it good – even very reminiscent of a Caesar salad. Don’t skip the anchovy paste if you have it. You can’t really taste it but it provides mucho umami.
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.
This week’s carrots are probably best eaten raw or in salad, just because they are so fresh, but you can’t really go wrong with a quick sautee or roast either. And the greens on these would go very well in a pesto or added to a salad. By the way, the carrot cousins, parsley and celery can be added too.
I’ll be releasing a carrot hummus video next week and I can honestly say that it is a terrific preparation. It’s interesting to me that cumin goes so well with carrots when I remember that they are both Apiaceae.
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 hope this information is helpful to everyone. I know some of it is the same as last week (and maybe even the week before) but I do like keep it fresh with new culinary ideas and farm news. I greatly appreciate all the wonderful text pictures of our TFF Members’ Culinary Creations. I really am going to make a cookbook out of all that great content later this year.
As always, I look forward to seeing everyone tomorrow on delivery day. 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. 🙂