I’ll fill you in on a little dilemma we have on the farm. Not a big deal, but definitely an important issue to resolve. In a couple of weeks we are loosing access to electricity at the farm which means we wont be able to run our irrigation pump. Ironically it’s been raining very regularly this Winter so most of our established crops would probably be just fine without irrigation. On the other hand, seeding new beds becomes tricky without access to water. Any success would basically come down to luck. The good news is that we are smart and strong and we have allies and resources to come up with a solution. Will keep you posted.
The line up this week:
Heirloom Beans (yellow and purple)
I’m going to skip on recipes and tips for now because I’m playing catch up, but they’ll be up tomorrow or Saturday!
I realize these CSA posts are a tease for all the people who would like to join but can’t because our CSA fills up so fast. I’d like to mention that we are strategizing on how to make more shares avialable for next season. If you like what you see, make sure to join our mailing list and stay tuned for applications in June!
The line up:
Hon Tsai Tai
Cabbage (choose between Red and Napa Cabbage)
Heirloom Beans (purple and yellow)
Salad Mix (Arugula, Pei Tsai and Nasturtiums)
First of all, lets get the bad news out of the way. Not sure if you read our most recent blog post about how we lost most of our tomato plants, but yeah, that’s what happened. A mix of things led to my decision this week to pull out about half of the plants in the field; not an easy decision. Nematodes, stink bugs, caterpillars and blight were all culprits and to top it all off the chickens on the farm have been breaking in and pecking at the few ripening fruit. I was able to harvest enough tomatoes before the slaughter to give you guys about a pound each this week and I’ve teamed up with a friend farmer in Homestead to source organic heirloom tomatoes for you in the following weeks. So despite the bad news, we’ll all be eating fresh tomatoes this season anyway!
I’d like to talk about the salad mix. It is composed of arugula, which you know well, pei tsai, which you tried earlier in the season (the very mild cabbage relative I like to grow instead of lettuce) and nasturtium leaves and flowers. I think nasturtium leaves will be a nice surprise for you, since it is unheard of in store bought mixes. It has a unique shape (for your visual appetite) and a zesty, mustardy bite to it. The arugula has a bite too, but a very different flavor so I think they’ll mix well. Pei tsai is there to mellow everything out; it should be refreshing. The leaf sizes will vary wildly and I recommend serving as is rather than chopping it up. Large and small leaves create a rustic salad that feels more fresh and “just-picked”. Try it, you’ll see what I mean.
I’m on a roasting kick. Chop it up, or not, oil it and season it, pop it in the oven on 375 for 15-30 minutes depending on what it is and voila. Dinner is served. On it’s own, with meat, over pasta or grains or beans, or both. Last season I suggested this roasted cabbage wedge salad and heard back that is was amazing from more members than usual. Bush beans are also nice roasted. Add a head of garlic worth of whole pealed cloves, a chopped onion, plenty of oil and your choice of herbs (I’ve been into sage sage sage lately).
Anybody have a good salad dressing suggestion?! I’m stuck in an olive oil and red wine vinegar rut, although I’m not complaining, I’m enjoying it. Maybe the same dressing in the roasted cabbage wedge recipe would be nice with our salad mix. If you make it, just make a lot and use it twice.
Today was a sad day at the farm and I feel like writing about it will ease the pain.
I made the tough decision to pull out more than half of our tomato plants because they were just having a hard time in this world. I would like to blame the weather because it has been the rainiest winter I can remember, which means blight, mold and rot for tomatoes, but there were other factors at play, some of which could have been managed better. For example, the chickens have been breaking in left and right, under the fence and over the gate. They peck at the fruit as soon as it begins to ripen and considering the amount of fruit eaten by caterpillars or cracked from too much water, that left practically none for us. We could have done a better job of fencing out the flock from the beginning. We could have also done a better job at spraying for caterpillars. Water under the bridge.
Lets say we had been more on top of the fence and the caterpillars… there were still nematodes and stink bugs, two of the worst tomato enemies and hardest pests to control organically in full swing in our tomato field. I was hoping for a break from these guys because we planted tomatoes in a brand new field, in a new area of the farm, with new soil which was very successfully planted with a Sunn Hemp cover crop over the summer. No such luck.
So here we are mid-season without enough tomatoes for the CSA shares and only a tease at our farmers market table. Se la vie.
The line up:
Purple Top Turnips (with greens)
Stuffed peppers. Cubanelle are perfect for stuffing. They are a mild thin walled pepper with a large cavity for stuffing. My recommendation is chopped onions and mozzarella on the inside, sprinkled with herbs (oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, etc) on the outside and popped in the oven on something like 375 for something like 15 minutes. Yum.
Turnips are not a favorite out there, I know. But they are nutritious and beautiful so lets give them a chance. The tops should be stored separate from the roots if it’s going to be more than a day or two. Use the tops as a spinach supplement, just like I have recommended with radish tops. The roots are typically used in soups, but I fell in love with this recipe for caramelized turnips last week. I used a vegan bouillon and honey instead of the sugar and chicken bouillon in the recipe and it worked great. Also check out this post about turnips from another farm for many many tips and ideas.
Based on the survey I did with the CSA application last year it turns out most people do not appreciate celery in the shares. That said, I planted a lot less celery and will probably only distribute it once this season. Celery is a staple. Don’t hate. It keeps a long time and in some cultures it is as useful as garlic and onions. For example, a Jamaican friend told me that pretty much every Jamaican dish begins with sauteed red peppers, onions and celery. What about making celery salt to have around the rest of the year to sprinkle on toast, eggs, salads or soups?! Look at this simple recipe from 101cooks.com
I hate to tell you but this week marks the halfway point of the season. It’s my favorite time because we have more food in the field than at the beginning or the end. Everything is happening right now. Greens, peppers and tomatoes, cabbage is almost almost ready, carrots, fennel, beans…. everything.
The line up:
Hon Tsai Tai
This Kale Market Salad from 101cookbooks.com is perfect for this week! You might have almost all of the ingredients between last week’s share and this one. By the way, I’ve been trying lots of recipes from this particular blog and whenever I’m missing an ingredient I just make due with what I’ve got and hands down every time it works out for the best. I think it’s because her style encourages incorporating seasonal veggies and improvisation. Give this kale salad a look.
Wow this Caramelized Fennel and Goat Cheese Flat Bread looks easy, simple and so so good.
Galangal grows beautifully in our garden, but it’s uses are limited in the kitchen. Make sure to store it in the fridge and use it soon because it doesn’t stay fresh as long as ginger. Maybe you’re in a soup craze like me, probably due to the cold fronts. Start adding medallions of galangal to your soup bases for an earthy and floral undertone.
Hey CSA members, especially you newbies, do you want to visit the garden where your veggies are growing? You are welcome anytime and we are almost halfway through the season. The fields look beautiful right now. How about a visit Sunday, January 19th? Email me an RSVP or just let me know at the market when you come pick up your share.
The line up:
Hon Tsai Tai
Baby Pac Choi
Eggplant (mixed Asian varieties)
Grapefruit and Tangelos
and an assortment of Herbs (your pick between Lemongrass, Dill, Rosemary, Oregano, Chinese Leeks, etc.)
Feeling overwhelmed with greens? Maybe it’s time to revisit my quiche post.
Everyone seems to really enjoy the baby pac choi. Last week some of our crop went to Michael’s Genuine and they posted an instagram photo that is pretty inspiring. The description reads, “Beautiful @littleriverfarm bok choi grilled with Lila onion vinaigrette, soy, peanuts, yum”. Look at it and try to recreate it!
After you get past the beauty of these eggplants, try cutting them length wise into 1/4 inch slices and baking on high heat with a liberal drizzle of oil, salt and pepper. Bake until toasty on each side; you may need to flip them once. They are good enough to eat alone, as a side dish or as the star of the dinner with greens and maybe potatoes or yucca.
During the growing season I try really hard to keep my Sundays free for family, cleaning and catching up on hammock time, but this past Sunday I made an exception. A large group of great people came by for a farm tour and work session in the field. They brought hats, boots, kids, dogs, cameras and a delicious watermelon we all shared on the deck by the pond. It was truly a beautiful Sunday afternoon.
The Polar Vortex visited us this week and gave our carrots and brassicas a big kiss. They’ll be extra sweet on our plates this week.
The line up:
Baby Pac choi
Remember dukkah, the nutty seed mix I recommended last week to be sprinkled on veggies? Check out this recipe for roasted whole carrots with dukkah and garlic olive oil.
I know the cold front has pretty much passed, but try this Winter Pasta recipe from Heidi Swanson. She makes a raw drippy sauce with a bunch of kale, garlic and goat cheese. In that post she also links to other “green-intensive” recipes inspired by CSA shares with lots of greens!
Ok maybe you’ve noticed I’m a bit obsessed with making green pastes in a food processor. These things are just so easy to make, usually raw and they make a great fast snack on the go that don’t jeopardize nutrition. Here’s another one. Radish slices and edamame spread on toast! It even uses some carrot tops!
FYI, spring onions don’t keep a long time like the onions you are used to from the store. They are harvested young and never form a dry skin to protect them in the long term. Store them in the fridge and use them within a week.
I got two of my wisdom teeth extracted this afternoon. Baby is with grandparents. I get to chill in bed and recover. It is currently 80 degrees and pouring outside, but there is a “polar vortex” sweeping across the country and we are finally really getting a cold front tonight and that is good news for our brassicas and carrots, but bad news for our tomatoes and eggplants. I’m worried about erosion and soil compaction with this rain. I’m worried about mildew and blights on the tomatoes which as of Friday desperately needed to be tried up because they were overgrown and falling over onto the ground. I think it’s safe to say that the past couple of months have been more like summer than anything else in Miami. The amount and intensity of rain has been particularly unusual. Who would have thought that the fruit trees and sugar cane I planted late would have such a fighting chance? Good luck growing lettuce and endives in this weather though. You win some, you loose some.
In the near future we’ll be harvesting red cabbage, broccoli and romanesco! Also, fennel, parsley, more carrots and more bush beans! Not to mention our 27 varieties of heirloom tomatoes which are fully loaded with green fruit at the moment, but showing hints of red and yellow here and there. Our beautiful eggplants are already ready and so are our peppers, some sweet and some chili.
After a brief hiatus for the holidays we are back in business this week. Today was a beautiful day in the garden; it felt great to spend the day huddled close to the soil pulling weeds and babying long rows of pac choi, tiny carrot seedlings and big pillowy napa cabbages.
The line up for this week:
Red Russian Kale
and an assortment of Herbs (your pick between Lemongrass, Dill, Rosemary, Oregano, etc.)
Recently my go to kale recipe is a salad (initially inspired by the kale salad in episode 4 of The Fare Field, but by now it has become my own). I like to rip the leaves apart by hand into big sections. Then I add a mix of seeds and chopped nuts a la Dukkah style, followed by olive oil and red wine vinegar. Dukkah is a combination of ground nuts, seeds and spices that hails from Egypt and is usually served along side bread and oil as a dip, but is also good on anything from meat to roasted veggies to yogurt bowls. There are traditional recipes for Dukkah like this one from 101cookcooks.com and there are limitless variations, including my current favorite, based on a collection of things that happened to be in my pantry. Almost equal parts sesame seeds, ground pistachios (unsalted), hemp seeds, chia seeds and nutritional yeast. So yummy when it mixed with olive oil and vinegar. Try it!
We’re getting a lot of repeats because, well this stuff is in season and it’s really fresh and really good. Bananas and avocados are so easy to eat hence such a great way to add nutritious raw food to your diet. For a to-go lunch try peanut butter, honey and sliced banana sandwiches. Or take your avocado, a lime and a knife along with you for a quick snack on the go.
Craving a cozy wintery hot meal for dinner? Ty this “Abundance Bowl” from mynewroots.com and use the sweet potatoes from this weeks share.