September 28, 2011

CSA News for the Week of Sept 26th

This Week's Harvest:
  • Acorn Squash (from Genesis Growers in St. Anne, IL)
  • Rainbow Swiss Chard
  • Carrots or Cauliflower
  • Red Head Lettuce
  • Leeks
  • Radishes
  • Tomatoes
  • Red Bok Choy
This Week's Fruit Harvest:
  • Bosc Pears
  • 'Reliance' Grapes (Red Seedless)
  • 'Neptune' Grapes (White Seedless)
  • 'Empire' Apples

Important:  Next week is the final week of the Summer Vegetable Season, the Summer Egg Season, and the Fresh Fruit Season. The Fall Vegetable Season and the Fall Egg Season start on October 12th/13th.

Notes from the Farm Kitchen
Our fall greens absolutely love this chilly, wet weather. The new planting of Swiss chard looks amazing (no insect damage at all!), and the head lettuce is crisp, tender and delicious! This week each CSA member will also receive one small head of red bok choy. This red variety grows smaller than the green type that you received last week. The amount is perfect for adding some crunch to a fresh green salad but probably isn't enough for a stir fry.

Each year we work with Vicki Westerhoff of Genesis Growers to provide winter squash for our CSA members. Vicki and her crew began the winter squash harvest last week. Acorn is one of the first varieties to come out of the field, so that's what will be in your share this week. I love acorn squash because its shape naturally lends itself so well to stuffing. I've included two recipes, one vegetarian and one with sausage, in this week's newsletter. In addition to stuffing, you can prepare acorn squash in a number of other ways. Try slicing it in rings and roasting it with a maple syrup glaze. You could also roast acorn squash halves and then scoop out the cooked flesh for use in soups. Another favorite around here is to bake the squash and then use it to make quick breads and muffins.

Leeks are one of my favorite fall ingredients. I am especially grateful for our abundant leek crop this year given that our onion crop has been a bit of a disappointment. It appears that our bulb onions contracted a disease which caused many of them to spoil in storage. Interestingly, the problem seems to have affected neither the shallots nor the leeks. This means that you'll be seeing more leeks and fewer bulb onions in the fall CSA share this year. Fortunately, leeks are much more versatile than many folks give them credit for. Of course there are the classic recipes, such as potato-leek soup, in which leeks play a prominent role, but they can also be a great stand-in for bulb onions in regular, everyday recipes. There's really no reason to be intimidated by them or to seek out recipes that call specifically for leeks. I just chop 'em up and use them whenever I would otherwise use a bulb onion. 

If winter squashes, crisp greens and pungent leeks weren't enough to get me excited about spending time in the farm kitchen this time of year, Mick's beautiful apples and pears would do the trick all on their own. While I'm a big fan of some of the newer apple varieties such as Honey Crisp, I'm really an old-fashioned apple girl at heart. While the Empire apple is not exactly an antique variety (it was introduced in 1966), it does remind me of McIntosh, one of my old-fashioned favorites. It is juicy and bit tart like a McIntosh but slightly sweeter. It's perfect for snacking, but it also works really nicely for saucing and baking. Remember to refrigerate your apples until you are ready to eat them.

The Bosc pear is another example of a fruit that is perfect for snacking as well as cooking. In contrast to the Bartlett which needs to be fully ripe to achieve optimum flavor, the Bosc is sweet even when it's still a bit crisp. This is nice for those of us who like their pears a little on the firm side! The Bosc is also a good cooking pear because it doesn't turn mushy when poached or roasted, and it has such a lovely, slightly spicy aroma. To ripen Bosc pears, leave them at room temperature and only refrigerate after the pears have ripened.

Our fall plantings of cauliflower and carrots are just starting to mature. Many of the plants in these fields are not quite ready to harvest yet, but we harvested a small amount of each this week. This means that you'll receive either one head of cauliflower or one bunch of carrots this week. There will be more of these crops to come!

I couldn't help myself--this is one of my all-time favorite carrot photos. It was taken a few years ago. As you can tell from the photo, I believe in getting kids on the vegetable-eating bandwagon at a young age!

More Farm Photos

Tuesday morning's agenda included harvesting and washing a thousand leeks. Rain or no rain, the job needed to be done, so we all trooped out there with our rain gear and mud boots on to begin the job. In this photo, Jeff pulls off some of the mud that clings stubbornly to the leek's long roots.

I looked over at Kate, pictured above, halfway through the morning and wondered if she ever regrets quitting her office job!!

Tyler, our employee of more than five years, knows exactly how to handle these extra-muddy leeks. Here he is prewashing them before taking them into our packing shed to be washed one more time. Our entire crew has worked hard to bring you another beautiful share this week. We hope you enjoy it!

This Week's Recipes
Acorn Squash Stuffed with Sausage, Chard and Apples
Acorn Squash Stuffed with Tomatoes, Chard and White Beans
Savory Bread Pudding with Leeks and Chard
Apple and Radish Salad with Cider Vinaigrette
BLT Salad

Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... carrots, mushrooms, lettuce mix, spinach, parsley, raspberries, white turnips, broccoli, fennel, Honey Crisp apples and more!