October 22, 2013

CSA News for the Week of October 21st

Reminder: This week we are distributing vegetables. Next week we'll be distributing vegetables, eggs and dairy.

This Week's Vegetable Share:
  • Lettuce Heads
  • Acorn Squash (grown by our neighbor, Brad Paulson, and harvested by us)
  • Red Cabbage
  • Beets
  • Dill
  • Leeks
  • White Salad Turnips

Farm Journal
Late October is the time of year when we talk about "putting the farm to bed". This is how we refer to the many tasks that must be completed before winter sets in. These tasks include shutting down the irrigation system and draining all the pipes, removing plastic mulch from the eggplant and pepper fields, pulling up and stacking tomato stakes, turning crops under, spreading compost for next year's crops, sowing rye as a cover crop on late-harvested fields, planting garlic, winterizing tractors, covering lettuce and other greens with protective frost fabric, and harvesting potatoes, sweet potatoes and squash for storage. On Friday, in anticipation of a freeze, the Grayslake crew spent the afternoon covering sensitive crops with frost fabric, while, up in Brodhead, Matt and I spent the afternoon harvesting acorn squash. These days it seems we don't often have a chance to work together just the two of us. But on Friday it was kind of like the old days, the two of us working side by side to bring in the harvest. As we worked, we talked about how much we are looking forward to the quiet and the rest that winter will bring. But we also talked about how much we will miss working outside, feeling the sun on our faces and the dirt on our hands. It's a bittersweet time of year, and we're determined to savor every moment.

Have a great week!  --Peg

Some of the Grayslake crew members return from the fields after an afternoon spent covering crops with frost fabric. from left: Donna, Adam, Jeff, Nadia and Scott.

Meanwhile, in Brodhead, I take a break from harvesting squash to wander over to the cow pasture and have a quick chat with the mama cows and their calves. Matt catches me in the act and snaps a picture to use as more proof that I really do need to get out more!

In the Farm Kitchen: Tips for Making the Most of your Share

Like most of the other crops we harvest throughout October and November, the flavor of beets continues to improves with each frosty night. Beets are at their sweetest right now so it doesn't take much to enhance their flavor. In my opinion, beets are best enjoyed in simple dishes rather than fussy ones. One of the easiest ways to prepare beets is to drizzle them with olive oil and roast them, wrapped in foil, in a 400 degree oven until they're tender. Pair roasted beets with any of the following flavors and you're likely to have a winner: dill, mint, parsley, greens, goat cheese, blue cheese, lemon, cumin, wine vinegar, orange juice, lemon juice, horseradish, smoked fish, sour cream, hazelnuts, walnuts, and pinenuts. Another easy and delicious way to enjoy beets is to grate them raw (and unpeeled) into a salad. Use 2 cups of grated beets, 1 teaspoon of fresh dill, and 2 teaspoons finely chopped onion or shallot. Season with your favorite vinaigrette.

This Week's Featured Recipes

German Sweet-and-Sour Red Cabbage
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 leek, white and light green parts sliced thinly
1 apple, peeled, cored, chopped
4 cups thinly sliced red cabbage (about 3/4 pound)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leek and apple and sauté until soft, about 7 minutes. Add cabbage, vinegar, sugar and celery seed and cook until cabbage is crisp-tender and liquid is reduced to glaze, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Beet and Turnip Greens with Bacon
1 bunch beet greens, coarsely chopped
1 bunch turnip greens, coarsely chopped
6-8 slices bacon, chopped
1 leek, white and light green parts sliced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Cook bacon in a large skillet. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate; pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet. Add leek and cook until softened. In three batches, add beet and turnip greens and cook until tender. Season with salt and pepper and stir in bacon.
Borscht with Beets, Red Cabbage and Dill
1 1/2 pounds beets, unpeeled
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 leeks (white and light green parts only), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 head red cabbage shredded
1 bay leaf
One 16-ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes (with liquid), roughly chopped
9 cups beef or vegetable broth
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 to 1/3 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
In a large saucepan, cover the beets with cold water by l inch. Stir in 1/4 cup of the vinegar and 2 tablespoons salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, until very tender, about 30 minutes. Drain, cool, and peel the beets. Dice the beets and set aside.

Heat the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, garlic, and caraway seeds and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the cabbage and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaf, beets, tomatoes, and broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons vinegar and the remaining 2 teaspoons salt. Season with pepper to taste. To serve, divide among soup bowls, top with dollops of the sour cream and sprinkle with the dill.

Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... potatoes, Swiss chard, celeriac, lettuce, arugula, radishes, shallots, and more!