FIRST CSA DISTRIBUTION
We’ll begin the 2012 CSA season by home-delivering our January share this week, a nice diverse set of seasonal storage produce with some fresh items made possible by the mild weather so far (we don’t use hoophouses).
We intend to start writing up and including more recipes for items as the year goes on, but are still rebuilding our website for now and so haven’t gotten to that yet. For now, Google and personal cookbooks will offer plenty of suggestions for recipes & uses, though I did find three recipes in our blog archive that rely heavily on share-included items:
Parsnip-sweet potato shepherd’s pie
Sweet potato curry
Spiced squash soup
Here’s a look at what shares will include, depending on individual requests (CSA members have the ability to opt out of items they don’t like/want). Images don’t necessarily reflect quantity distributed. NOTE: many root crops will have some dirt remaining on them, as it’s just not practical to fully scrub these outdoors in winter conditions. Much easier for each household to wash a pound of roots in a warm kitchen with warm water; we did a basic wash to remove clods, numbing our hands in the process, but you’ll want to finish them. That’s the reality of farm-fresh food sometimes.
Garlic heads: A selection of multiple garlic heads, drawn from good storage varieties still on hand. Siblings of these garlic heads are already in the ground growing, and this is the time of year when the biological clocks of some of the remaining storage heads also realize that it is time to sprout and try to grow. Heads can last until March or longer, but if you notice that one is beginning to sprout, just use it first. Green sprouts may have a more pungent flavor than the rest of the clove if used raw.
Here’s a key to the shorthand on the labels:
All shares requesting garlic should have one of each of these:
SIB: Siberian, excellent cooking variety which should be featured, not buried in the background.
FIRE: Georgian Fire, spicy raw variety with strong flavor when cooked.
SAM: Samarkand, one of the best varieties for storage.
Full shares also have one big or two small heads from among this collection:
TOCH: Tochliavri, milder variety good for raw uses like pesto and salad dressing.
BRIC: Brickey–Only a small supply, and thus we haven’t sold it before, but we’re quite fond of its robust flavor. From a woman who has been growing garlic in the area for years and was kind enough to give us a head back in 2009. Look for more in 2012.
CRYST: Georgian Crystal, a good general purpose garlic.
For other information on garlic varieties, you might review this post.
Onions: A mix of red and yellow onions, small quantities but very tasty.
Carrots: Sweet cold-weather carrots with plenty of uses. They’re a mix of sizes in part because the grasshoppers devoured numerous rounds of seedlings back in late summer, and we kept reseeding to fill in gaps. The small ones are true baby carrots, not the lathed things that get passed off as such in the store. A shredded carrot salad is a nice way to feature these, or simply enjoy the sweetness with a pile of carrot sticks. No need to peel, just scrub.
Parsnips: Excellent roasted, alone or in a root vegetable mix. We really enjoy parsnip soup, which we make as a creamy blended soup that’s rich and filling on a cold winter day.
Sweet potatoes: Great for roasting alone or with other roots; big ones can also be baked. There are two varieties, one with orange flesh and one with white flesh; we think the latter are especially sweet with a nice texture. We especially like roasted sweet potato fries: Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Scrub potatoes and cut out any blemishes, but there’s no need to peel. Cut small potatoes into rounds, larger ones into cubes or strips of somewhat uniform size. Toss with oil/fat of choice, sprinkle with salt and maybe a touch paprika or cinnamon. Roasting time is usually ~20-25 minutes. Stir after 10 minutes and check again at 20.
Butternut squash: These didn’t store as well as we hoped, and are showing their age, but should still have good flavor & nutrition for those willing to work around any developing softness. Offered as seconds-quality to those willing to take a chance on them. We’d recommend baking them whole (poke a few holes), removing any obvious bad spots, pureeing them, then using the puree in soups, breads, or other uses where the squash is combined with other ingredients. Anything that isn’t taken by members, we’ll use the above procedure on and freeze for later use.
Leeks: Tasty mild alliums, adding a different flavor to dishes than onions. These are excellent sliced thin and sauteed in butter, or used as the base for leek-and-potato soup. Wash before use to remove any grit that might have gotten between layers. The easiest way to do this is to cut lengthwise in half and rinse under running water.
Cowpeas or cornmeal: Specialty items that are inefficient to grow but fantastic from a culinary point of view. We’re offering members a choice of small quantities, one or the other. Cowpeas are similar to black-eyed peas, and should be featured in cooking rather than buried in something like a chili; they also make a nice hummus base when cooked very soft. Cornmeal will be fresh-ground from heirloom corn, especially good for cornbread or polenta. If making the former, use all cornmeal (no wheat flour) to accentuate and appreciate the flavor.
Daikon radishes (not pictured): Long, large white radishes with a sweet/mildly spicy flavor. Great for stir fries, pickling, and certain salads, though they may be strong raw for some palates. Can also be shredded as a topping for wraps.
Spinach: Harvested fresh from overwintering beds that have done really well in the mild weather. Would not have predicted that we’d be able to pick field-grown spinach in mid January. Delicious sweet winter flavor, almost like candy; don’t waste this on cooking, just enjoy as a nice fresh green salad. We rinse greens and send them through a salad spinner (because they store better if they’re not soggy), but we always recommend that you wash greens again in your kitchen to remove remaining grit, bits of mulch, etc. Thanks to one of our dedicated employees, Kim (in background), for freezing her hands alongside us this day!
Herbs: Snow is melting off now, but haven’t had a chance to check on all of them yet. Thyme is in harvestable condition for sure.
Eggs: These aren’t directly included in the CSA but are available for purchase by members. Only some hens are laying right now, and we can easily personally go through 3 dozen a week, but we’ll have a few dozen extras available.
The next distribution won’t be until March or later depending on weather & crop conditions, but this early batch of farm-sourced food will be a nice treat for all involved.