December 2, 2009

CSA News for the Week of November 30th

This Week's Vegetable Harvest:
  • Spinach
  • Parsnips (from Harmony Valley Farm in Viroqua, WI)
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Green Onions
  • Scarlet Turnips and White Turnips
  • Broccoli
  • Red Beets
  • Leeks
  • Celeriac
  • Golden Delicious and Jonathan Apples (from Molter Farms in Watervliet, MI)
    REMINDER: Next week is the final week of the season. CSA renewal forms for next season are due by December 11th.
Late November in Photos

As November draws to a close, folks in our neighborhood naturally start thinking about things like putting up their Christmas lights, sending out invitations to holiday parties and, of course, fitting in one final prairie burn before the snow flies. We were treated to this dramatic scene recently when Prairie Crossing's team of experts burned part of the wetland area south of the farm.

We're preparing for winter in ways that are a little less dramatic too. Like cleaning out
the chicken coop. Upon returning from our Thanksgiving getaway (during which the only activity that counted as physical exercise was the old fork-to-mouth routine), we were itching to get outside and do some work. Cleaning out the chicken coop fit the bill perfectly. Our laying hens now have lots of clean, warm straw to help keep them toasty during the cold winter months ahead.

Another task Matt likes to check off our list before the onset of cold weather is to make sure the heaters in our hoophouses are working properly. As you can see in the background, we've still got some beautiful salad mix and arugula for next week's CSA share. So far this fall we haven't needed to use the heaters in any of our hoophouses. There's no need to worry about our hoophouse greens as long nighttime temperatures stay above the mid-20s. (This time of year our spinach, lettuces, and other hardy greens routinely freeze during the night and then thaw out during the day without suffering any ill effects.) However, with temperatures predicted to fall below 20 degrees this weekend, it's nice to know that the heaters are ready just in case we need to fire them up.

Notes from the Farm Kitchen

This week's share contains two kinds of turnips--white and scarlet (actually more of a pink color). They can be used interchangeably. Recently we've been enjoying turnips in homemade cornish pasties. There's a good recipe for pasties on our website. I also like to use turnips in dishes where they are paired with apples. The sweetness of apples mellows the sharpness of the turnips. Try roasting apples and turnips together using a glaze of butter, salt and apple juice.

Celeriac, also known as celery root, is a knobby beige vegetable. While it is undeniably homely, it is prized by cooks for its wonderful celery flavor and good keeping ability. Don’t be put off by its exterior. Use a sharp kitchen knife to trim the outside layer from the celeriac bulb before cooking with it. Because celeriac has a mild celery flavor, it can be used in place of celery in many soups and stews. Wrapped in plastic, celeriac will store for a long time in the refrigerator. Here are some other ways to use celeriac:
--Combine with carrots and turnips and serve with roast chicken or pork.
--Boil celeriac pieces and mash them with an equal amount of boiled potatoes and turnips and season with salt, pepper and butter.
--Combine with grated apples, carrots, shredded cabbage, or other root vegetables to make flavorful autumn slaws.

The parsnip is a sweet, nutty member of the carrot family. In fact, it looks rather like a large white carrot. Parsnips taste best in the cold months of the year when their starch has been converted to sugar. One simple way to enjoy parsnips is to sauté thin slices in butter and then season to taste.

Remeber that beets are very versatile in the kitchen. They can be roasted, boiled, grilled, pickled and grated raw into salads. Beets pair well with flavors such as onions, dill, citrus, raspberry, horseradish, walnut and more. Of course, beets also feature prominently in one of my all-time favorite desserts—beet chocolate cake!

Leeks are a very cold-hardy member of the onion family. They can be used in place of onion in many different recipes. It’s also nice, though, to use leeks in dishes in which they really stand out on their own such as cream of leek soup or simple braised leeks.

This Week's Recipes
Throughout the course of the season I've managed to compile a pretty good number of recipes online. Click here to search for more recipes for vegetables in this week's CSA share.

Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... carrots, cabbage, red potatoes, salad mix, arugula, kohlrabi, tomato puree, onions, rutabaga, popping corn and more!