Seasons Are Changing
Boy, what a beautiful day, today. It appears that the weather is changing and, of course, the days are getting longer. The extended forecast does look like a consistent warming trend. This means new crops are on the way in the next few weeks, so there will be a significant change in the box contents. I’ll update everyone on the specifics in next week’s post.
I got a message from one of my college fraternity brothers, Mike Lampros, the founder of Gunther’s Gourmet. He had just uploaded his first youtube video featuring unique ways to use his salsas, sauces, dressings and marinades. When we first started out with the CSA, we had some samples of his salad dressings in the first couple of boxes. I’m going to try to work something out with him on that soon. Believe me when I say everything Mike makes is out of this world. He became famous for his original Chesapeake Bay Crab Salsa, but followed that up with equally unique and wonderful offerings like Black and White Bean Salsa, and my favorite, the Pinapple-Orange Hot Sauce which while spicy is delicate enough to use on shrimp and seafood. Sue and I were the first to try his Bloody Mary Mix with Blue Crab when it was in development and it’s hands-down the best I’ve ever had.
When Mike told me he was doing videos, I knew it was going to be good becaue, frankly, he’s one of the funniest human beings I know. In this first one, you get a little bit of the dry sense of humor as he shows how to use his salsas to make a simple and quick pizza. I suspect he’ll have us laughing out loud as the series continues. At some point in the near future, Mike and I will be doing a video together. I’m hoping to take him a CSA box and get some Chef Mike culinary creations. Check out his new video below. I can’t wait to try this one myself.
TFF Members’ Culinary Creations
As always, I really enjoyed seeing as many people as I could last week on delivery day. I received a bunch of great pictures and recipe ideas. The Rutabaga Spice Cake from two weeks ago was a hit for sure as a couple of Members have tried that one. I loved it. I made the Carrot and Beet Soup from last week’s post and it was terrific, too. For this week, don’t forget those Rutabaga Fries that Jerry made – especially if you just want to try something simple. I’m told that preparation is fantastic and better than regular potato french fries. You could even do a mixture of Rutabagas and Sweet Potatoes for that.
This Week’s Crops in the Box
A couple quick notes here:
I added some cabbages to the box last week without mentioning them in blogpost. They are beautiful variety from Seedway called Bartolo. Also, I made the collards this morning, Southern style with a ham hock, and discovered they are really tender. It’s not necessary to cook these long. I only simmered mine for an hour. They are so tender and sweet that I’m tempted to just use them as wraps.
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.
I’m still amazed by how complex and delicious Cyndie’s Rutabaga Spice Cake is. I promise you it is easy to prepare and so worth it. Check out that recipe HERE from two weeks ago.
For simplicity, give Jerry’s Rutabaga Fries a try. Rutabaga fries have significantly fewer carbs (if that matters to you) so the keto crowd prefers them, but I’m told they are just plain tastier than potato fries. Jerry uses an air fryer, but you can bake or sautee them too. There’s a nice post about it HERE, though the website is a little busy with ads.
Sweet potatoes are the main edible plant in the Convolulacaea (Morning Glory) family. The other is an Asian Water Spinach, aka “Swamp Cabbage” that I think is probably better left in that distant hemisphere. Next year we will be growing some specialty white and red sweet potatoes.
One of the easiest and best ways to prepare sweet potatoes is to cook them in the microwave before finishing them in the oven until they are roughly 200 degrees on the inside, then move to a 425 degree oven to bake for an hour. Seems like a lot I know. I got this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated magazine/website and I consider them the best resource for all things culinary. THIS POST HERE is EXCELLENT. I promise it’s worth reading. If you’re like me, you want to understand the “why,” and Cook’s always gives you the best information.
I promise. You’ll never forget this preparation and you’ll make the best sweet potatoes you’ve ever had every time from then on.
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.
Southern “Cabbage Collards”
This Southern variety, when grown traditionally, has a very long season. When planted in the early Spring, it isn’t uncommon for the farmer to pull off the outside leaves all Summer long, then allow them to “head up” going through the Fall and into the Winter.
These Collards are so good you don’t want to overcook them, in my opinon, anyway. I had great results this morning. Just cut or tear them up, but not too small. Sweat some diced onions – I used the white part of our green onions – in a big stock pot with olive oil. Add in ham hocks or any fatty smoked ham if you have it. I add the collards and a little more olive oil if they need it and stir up occasionally with a big set of tongs. The second you smell even the slightest bit of burning onion, add water and/or chicken stock to cover. Bring it just to a boil and then cut back to a low simmer. Taste them after about an hour. Mine were finished and absolutely delicious. And as I mentioned above, these are so tender they can certainly be used for wraps just as they are.
Hail to the Kale Mix
Technically, because these are brassicas and not lettuce type greens, most people would consider this a braising mix, but, these kales are so fresh and so cold-sweet that I would make a salad preparation similar to our Massaged Mustard Greens Salad.
Try this. Pour out whatever amount of Kale Mix you need onto a clean surface like the cutting board in this picture to the left. Take a rolling pin and roll over the greens a few times before tossing them into a bowl . Make yourself a simple red or white wine vinaigrette by whisking a half cup of olive oil into a quarter cup of red wine vinegar mixture (mix has S&P, honey to taste, dijon mustard dollop for emulsifier, and whatever herbs you like.) Just remember the 2:1 ratio of oil to vinegar, don’t forget the emulsifier, and you’re good to go after that with whatever aromatics you choose.
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.
Big beautiful regular orange carrots this week!!!
These would be great to make Carrot Hummus from our video series, or just a nice carrot salad. These big ones would also store well, so, if you choose to hold them past two or three days, be sure to remove the greens. They will taste better and last longer.
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.
Green Cabbage (Farao variety)
All cabbages are in the Brassica family, cousins to collards, kales, mustards and turnips. Like kales in particular, they do well in colder temperatures and actually get tastier.
We will be getting into some of the more exotic ways to prepare cabbages soon, including making krauts and kimchis, but for now the best way to use this super fresh green cabbage is in a simple sautee.
I don’t know who this Erin Clarke lady is, but she has a beautiful, uncluttered and clearly written blog page. I’d like to be able to write as pretty as this. And she does a sauteed cabbage recipe HERE.
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. 🙂