A Busy Week and a Terrific Box!
There’s an unexpected surprise in this week’s box. I got a call this morning from Justin Powell who manages Cottle Organics in Rose Hill. He offered me some extra flats of strawberries picked this morning to give to the Members. I wasn’t about to turn that down! We will be planting our first strawberry plot since 1982 next Fall. The Turner Farm, run by my beloved grandparents Margaret and Manley Turner, was known in this area for it’s exceptional U-pick strawberry fields. Until then, we are most thankful to Herbie (Cottle) and Justin for their awesome offerings.
This week’s onions are the best I’ve seen so far this year. That got me thinking. I bet that a fresh strawberry (balsamic?) vinaigrette would be amazing over this week’s arugula salad – garnished with some thick sliced spring onion!
Also this week, our wonderful Member, Cyndie, of Rutabaga spice cake fame :), has donated a whole new batch of veggie scrubbies. I love these and they last forever. They were a really big hit when she gave them to me to pass out last time.
This Week’s Crops in the Box
Strawberries are actually in the Rosaceae family and are one-of-a-kind in the farmer’s crop rotation. When I was a little boy visiting my grandparents at the Turner Farm, Grandaddy grew the strawberries as perennials. In the 1980s, nearly everyone switched over to growing them as annuals in fertigated plastic mulch, replacing pine straw mulch. In fact, until hurricane Floyd in 1999, the old farmhouse was flanked by pine tree plots on both sides that Grandaddy had planted specifically to harvest the pine straw as strawberry field mulch.
As a kid, I loved to eat the frozen strawberries that Grandma had mascerated in tupperware and then “put up” in the old chest freezer. I still think a really cool way to use SOME of these strawberries would be in a seasonal combination with the spicy arugula in this week’s box.
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 that point, you can go either sweet or savory depending on whether you add a little syrup/honey or leave it out. I really like the looks of THIS raw Asian style preparation because it uses two other ingredients that are in this week’s box – carrots and green onions (in place of scallions. And don’t forget that next week I’ll have the recipe for making that Rutabega spice cake.
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.
Again, I apologize for not having Miss Jean’s beet and carrot soup recipe for you this week, but it’s gotten late and I want to talk it over with her so I get it right. See the beautiful picture above.
Last year, I did an unusual preparation on our TFF youtube channel by baking them whole in rock salt. And of course, check out the Raw Beet Salad above.
Another wonderful brassica. This one is a real gem in the farmer’s rotation. While it is normally associated with the arrival of Spring, we actually grow it in the high tunnel during the Winter along with spinach and Asian mustards.
Arugula salad is a true treat when paired with semi-sweet dressing. To my mind, it’s too delicate to sautee like the other brassicas – kales and mustards.
If you are serving it to anyone who really doesn’t like the spiciness, maybe try the Massaged preparation from our youtube video below.
Note: not my best video but the results were great.
Hail to the Kale Mix
Our current Kale Mix is a blend of baby Winterbor, and Lacinato varieties.
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.
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.
Rainbow chard is another MVP crop. It’s easy to grow. It has a long growing season. It’s nutritious and it tastes great. It took a hit in the cold last month, but it bounced back nicely after we put row covers over it for a few weeks.
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.
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.
This collard makes an excellent wrap because it’s sturdy. This crop has been the best I’ve ever had, and, they are so tender that they can easily be overcooked.
This preparation from A Fork’s Tale, is the old school, traditional way to make Southern collards. When I do it this way, I like start with some chopped bacon in the bottom of the stock pot. Once it’s renedered out a lot of the fat, I add the green onions (from the box) chopped, and once they are cooked down a bit, I deglaze with either white wine or (even better) vermouth. Then add the collard greens, wilt them, add the water and bring to a boil, reduce the temp and simmer for 45 minutes or so.
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.
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.
From Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Yellowstone variety carrots this week. A new favorite on the plate and definitely in the field. It does exceptionally well in our area.
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.
All the Kales are in the Brassica family with the turnips, mustards, and cabbages. Regular Green Kale is my second favorite to Lacinato, but it does almost as well. It’s a solid field crop – easy to grow, easy to harvest, holds well in cold. We even include it in our baby greens mix and use it as a microgreen.
This time of year, all of our kales are still tender enough to eat raw, but a nice saute wilt in some olive oil is my favorite easy preparation. If you want to get fancy with it, though, there are a million ways. I really like this Love and Lemons website which shows some great preparations 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 new 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. 🙂