Wednesday, November 6, 2019

What Do You Do During the Winter?

By Chef/Farmer Andrea

Jorge, Jose Luis, Leonardo and Silvestre trimming turnips.
As I began writing this article, the snow was just beginning to fall gently outside my window.  As I do the final edits to this on Wednesday morning, November 6, I am happy to report that we woke up to a beautiful white valley blanketed in about 4 inches of snow!  Yes they said it may happen, but I’m not sure any of us were really ready to accept it.  So this morning we faced the reality that winter is here.  We pulled out the snow shovels and buckets of sidewalk salt, pulled on the snow boots, and started our winter shoveling workout.  Over the past few weeks we’ve watched the weather and strategized.  What do we need to do before it rains?  Will it freeze overnight?  If so, how long will we have to wait in the morning before the air temperature is above freezing so we can send a crew to the field to harvest.  Will the double cover over the daikon be enough to protect it from damage if the temperatures really drop into the twenties?  How many people do we need to get all of the Brussels sprouts harvested before the sun goes down today?  Are we going to have enough dry and somewhat warm days to be able to plant garlic, horseradish and sunchokes for next year?  We’ve hustled, we’ve worked hard, and with the exception of more tat soi and maybe some radicchio in two weeks for CSA boxes, our 2019 harvests are complete.  Miraculously, garlic, horseradish and sunchokes are all planted thanks to our hardworking crew that understands the importance of getting these things done before the ground is covered in snow as it is this morning.  Now what?

All hands on deck to harvest Brussels Sprouts before the big freeze!
“What do you do during the winter?”  This is a common question we get asked every fall, so we thought we’d give you just a little insight into what we all do once the harvests are complete, the ground freezes and the snow starts to fly.  Last weekend the first group of our crew members departed en route to sunny, warm Mexico.  We’re always sad to see them go, but the huge smiles on their faces as they say their goodbyes is all we need to see to know it’s time.  They’re anxious to see their families and ready for a little rest.  Before Thanksgiving we’ll say goodbye to another group and then the final members of our field crew will return to Mexico before Christmas.  I asked some of our guys what they plan to do once they get back to Mexico.  Most of them plan to take a few weeks off to rest, relax and spend time with their families.  Of course there will be some holiday celebrations and at least one family will be celebrating with their sister who’s getting married in December.  After a little R & R, it’s back to work for many.  Some will spend the winter months doing construction on their homes, taking care of repairs, making improvements, etc.  Others will find work driving truck, working on vegetable farms near their homes, or managing their own businesses back in Mexico.  The months will go by way too fast and before we all know it, April will be here and it will be time for them to head north to Wisconsin again.

Nestor and Manuel M. sorting firewood.
Our field work has transitioned from harvest to clean-up and preparation for next year.  This is the time of year we clean up brush piles, cut firewood, pick up sandbags and row covers, clean fallen trees out of waterways, and winterize machinery.  We still need to mulch the strawberry and garlic fields and then we’ll officially be finished for the year!

In the packing shed, we’re still rockin’ and rolling as we whittle away at the pile of storage vegetables we’ve stockpiled in our coolers.  We still have over 350 bins of vegetables in storage, plus sweet potatoes, winter squash, onions and garlic.  We hope to sell out of most items by Christmas time, but we will carryover some vegetables into the new year that we’ll wash and pack in January.  Yes, we do still have a crew in January!  We have about 10 crew members who work with us year round.  During the winter months they take care of all the winter cleaning projects, harvest curly willow and pussywillow, prepare the greenhouses and then start planting in the greenhouses in mid February.

After the holidays are behind us and we ring in a new year, it’ll be time to get serious about laying out the framework for a new growing season.  Amy has already started inventorying the seeds we’re carrying over into next year.  The first seed catalog has arrived and we expect more in the mail any day now!  Richard, Rafael and I need to lay out the plans for next year’s crops.  What crops will we plant?  Which field will we plant them in?  How much do we need? Do we have seed or will we need to purchase it?  Our growing season technically will start when we plant those first onion seeds in the greenhouse in February!  That’s not far away!
Our seed cooler nicely organized and inventoried.

Kelly and Gwen will have plenty to occupy their time with once 2020 CSA sign-ups start rolling in after the first of the year.  Gwen will be working on the new CSA calendar and they’ll be busy processing orders.  Andrea will be doing some traveling to meet with some of our wholesale buyers throughout the region as well as working on improvements to our food safety program.  Richard will be working on his crop plan with Rafael as well as ordering field supplies such as drip tape, row cover, and plastic mulch.  Of course if it snows, we’ll all be spending a lot of time shoveling and clearing snow as well!

Crew harvesting curly willow in February.
While much of our crew will be enjoying sunny Mexico, those of us remaining in the cold of the upper Midwest do hope to have a little time to relax as well.  We’ll take some time off for Christmas and New Years and we’ll close down the farm for one week at the end of January so our crew can have a little winter break.  Hopefully we’ll have some time to do some snowshoeing and build a snowman or two!   Kelly and Gwen haven’t decided where they’ll be going for winter vacation, but I am looking forward to traveling to Italy for the first time with my friend Kay from JenEhr Farm!  Richard is anxious to do some woodworking and has chosen to have a ‘staycation’ so he can work on building a bed frame with a beautiful live edge walnut headboard.

Winter does mean a slower pace for all of us, but the work doesn’t stop.  Animals will still need to be fed, coolers will need to be managed, and we need to work diligently towards our winter goals so we’re ready for another growing season next spring!  While this hasn’t been the easiest year of farming and we’ve had some challenges to surmount, we’ve also had many blessings and many more things that have gone well.  We’re grateful for all our crew members who helped us pull off yet another year of farming.  We wish them all safe travels home and will look forward to seeing them next spring when we’re all refreshed and ready to do it all again!

November 7, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Tat Soi!

Cooking With This Week's Box


Tat Soi: Vegan One-Pot Ramen Noodles with Tat Soi (see below); Spaghetti with Roasted Butternut Squash and Tat Soi

Red & Yellow Onions: Caramelized Onion Biscuits; Roasted Butternut Squash with Spicy Onions

Italian Garlic: Vegan One-Pot Ramen Noodles with Tat Soi (see below); Spicy Sweet Potato Dip; Garlic Butter Biscuits; Roasted Garlic Parmesan Biscuits

Brussels Sprouts: Brussels Sprouts Gratin; Crispy Fried Brussels Sprouts with Honey and Sriracha





Certified organic, gluten free ramen noodles!
Hello Everyone!  I can’t believe we’re down to the final four boxes and we are still having trouble getting everything in the box!  Well, one reason is we have these beautiful tat soi to pack this week!  So lets start off this week’s cooking chat with a simple dish, made in one pot.  Our featured recipe this week is Vegan One-Pot Ramen Noodles with Tat Soi (see below).  This is one of those very adaptable recipes, which has already been adapted several times!  Ok, lets talk ramen for just a moment.  I have to confess, I’ve never eaten instant ramen noodles.  I know, how did I ever survive my college days!?  If you think ramen starts and stops with those little instant packets of ramen noodles, I’m happy to fill you in that ramen is more than those little packets.  Ramen noodles originated in Japan and “ramen” stands for a “pulled noodle.”  I was happy to find a package of ramen noodles in the grocery store that were not only certified organic, but I was also able to buy just the noodles—no mysterious flavoring packet included.  You could substitute udon noodles if you like and you could make this with any green of your choosing.   If you aren’t feeling ramen noodles this week, maybe you’d prefer spaghetti?  This recipe for Spaghetti with Roasted Butternut Squash and Tat Soi was our featured recipe last year!

Shredded Cabbage Salad with Apples
photo from foodfaithfitness.com
As we move into the winter months, cabbage becomes our stand-by green and can end up on our table in many different forms.  Richard always wants cole slaw, but I like to shake things up a bit with recipes like this Shredded Cabbage Salad with Apples.  The name of this salad seems pretty simple, but it’s a classy salad that combines the flavors of an Indian chutney with the creaminess of a traditional cabbage slaw.  It has a creamy curry dressing with raisins and apples blended in for a sweet contrast to the spicy dressing.   Another simple way to use this week’s green savoy cabbage is for this simple Irish recipe for Fried Cabbage & Potatoes.  A little bacon adds some richness and flavor, but the vegetables dominate.  The German Butterball potatoes this week are a great variety to use in this way.  You can serve it on its own or put a fried egg on top!  Eat it for dinner or in the morning for breakfast.  You know what would be good with this dish?  Biscuits!

I’m not sure what has gotten into me, but it’s been a long time since I last made biscuits.  I did some searching and found several tasty vegetable-inclusive biscuit recipes.  Check out this one for Garlic Butter Biscuits or this one for Roasted Garlic Parmesan Biscuits.  I also found a recipe for Caramelized Onion Biscuits which is a perfect fit for this week’s Scout yellow onions.  Serve these biscuits for breakfast, with a bowl of soup, or just on the side of a hearty fall/winter meal.

Carrot Cake Balls, photo by Rocky Luten for food52.com
I’m always looking for non-traditional ways to use vegetables, such as in desserts or for breakfast.  If you didn’t have a chance to make the Oatmeal Parsnip Chocolate Cherry Cookies we featured in the newsletter several weeks ago, add them to your list for this week or for this holiday season.  We don’t think twice about using carrots in cake, but I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of carrot pie.  Google can help you find anything though, so when I went searching I found this tasty recipe for Chai Carrot Pie.  If you aren’t afraid of breaking tradition, you might even decide to add this pie to your Thanksgiving Day line-up of desserts!  If you prefer to keep your carrots in the traditional carrot cake fashion, perhaps you’d at least be willing to try this twist on the traditional, Carrot Cake Balls.  These don’t require any baking and are something a little less indulgent but every bit as decadent.  Use them as a healthy snack or breakfast item to fuel you through the cold winter days.  Ok, one more somewhat non-traditional way to incorporate sweet potatoes into breakfast.  Make a Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowl!  This is super easy.  Just take cooked, mashed sweet potatoes and blend them with nut butter and cinnamon.  Top it off with raisins and cinnamon and you have a warm, nourishing alternative to hot breakfast cereal.

Spicy Sweet Potato Dip
photo from peasandcrayons.com
Despite the fact that there is an endless array of possibilities for how you might use sweet potatoes and butternut squash, I often tend to just cook them and eat them with butter.  So I’m challenging myself to use them in some more interesting ways.  This recipe for Spicy Sweet Potato Dip is described as  “hummus vibe without chickpeas.”   Serve it with pita bread, crackers or fresh veggies for dipping such as slices of winter radish or carrots.  You could also use this as a spread to make a quick veggie wrap stuffed with tat soi, shredded carrot and maybe some leftover chicken.  I also am intrigued by this recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash with Spicy Onions.  Cut the recipe in half to serve 4 as it calls for 4 pounds of butternut and there isn’t that much in the box!  You will roast the butternut and then toss it with herbs and spicy red onions.  Serve it slightly warm or at room temperature—it’s kind of like a salad and kind of like a side.

T
hanksgiving is just a few weeks away!  One thing I like about this time of year is that it’s a great time to collect vegetable recipes!  One of my favorite recipe collections to peruse is Food 52’s Automagic Thanksgiving Menu Maker.  Whether you’re looking for vegetable recipes for Thanksgiving dinner or just to enjoy throughout the winter, there are some good finds in there!  For example, this Autumn Root Vegetable Gratin with Herbs and Cheese is a tasty twist on a traditional potato gratin with the addition of parsnips and butternut squash!  I also found this recipe for a Brussels Sprouts Gratin.  I’ve never used Brussels sprouts like this, but it’s hard to go wrong with a gratin.  If you are looking for something a bit more on the light side, try these Crispy Fried Brussels Sprouts with Honey and Sriracha.  Maybe you’ll discover a fun, new recipe to introduce to your friends and family for the holiday, or perhaps you’ll just have fun trying something new on a regular old day in the kitchen.  Don’t forget, next week is a meat only delivery week.  So, I’ll plan to see you back here in two weeks!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Tat Soi


by Andrea Yoder


I look forward to this vegetable every year and consider it to be one of our staple greens for these late season CSA boxes.  I had never seen tat soi before I came to Harmony Valley Farm.  I remember the first time Richard showed me this vegetable.  It was so beautiful I almost didn’t want to eat it….but that feeling quickly passed and I dove in!  It’s also packed with nutrients which make us healthy, but also give it a rich flavor.  I suppose I should back up and tell you what this gorgeous vegetable looks like!  You’ll recognize the tat soi in your box this week as the large, dark green flower-like vegetable with long slender light green stems and rounded spoon-like leaves.  It is a relative of bok choi and has a mild mustard flavor that has been sweetened by a few frosty nights.  Both the leaves and the stems are tender and may be eaten raw or cooked.

This is one of the last crops we plant during our main season, with the intention to harvest it as late as possible.  Depending on the weather, we are usually able to leave it in the field until mid-November.  While this plant usually grows upright, as the temperatures start to decrease it lays itself flat to hug the ground for warmth.  The result is a very open, flat rosette that has a deep, dark green color that intensifies with cold weather.  Tat soi is very resilient to cold temperatures and can recover after being frozen, which is why it’s a unique selection for this time of the year.  We do put hoops and a field cover over them to offer them some protection from the really cold nights.  If you see some outer leaves on your tat soi that have a white to grayish hue, you’re looking at a little frost damage.  You might also see some stems that have kind of a wrinkled, loose appearance.  This happens sometimes when the stem freezes and then thaws.  These stems and leaves are still good to eat and those frosty, cold nights are what make this green taste so mild and sweet!

If you’re looking for recipes that use tat soi, your search will likely turn up pretty slim.  Expand your search to include recipes that feature bok choi, spinach or even chard as tat soi can be used interchangeably in recipes with any of these greens.  Tat soi leaves and stems are tender enough to be chopped and eaten raw as a salad.  Use it to make a beautiful winter salad with shredded carrot, slices of beauty heart or purple daikon radish and a light vinaigrette.  Turn it into an entrée by adding a protein such as seared beef, fish or tofu.  Tat soi is also a quick-cooking tasty green to use in stir-fry and pasta dishes.  It’s also a nice addition to brothy soups such as miso soup or hot and sour soup or use it in a tasty bowl of ramen such as in this week’s featured recipe.

It’s best to store tat soi in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.  To prepare it for use, turn it over and use a paring knife to cut the stems away from the base.  Wash the stems and leaves vigorously in a sink of cold water.  If you’re using it to make a salad or stir-fry, make sure you pat the leaves dry or dry them in a salad spinner. If you’re using them in a soup or just wilting them, just shake a little water off of them.  Savor the last of this year’s greens!

Vegan One-Pot Ramen Noodles with Tat Soi

Yield:  3-4 servings

This recipe was borrowed from alexandracooks.com with just a few minor changes.  It is her adaptation from a recipe for “Better-Than-Take-Out Stir-Fried Udon” originally published in Bon Appetit magazine.  The original recipe included ground pork, which you could also add to this recipe if you wish.

Alexandra’s recipe calls for green savoy cabbage, but she offers this note:  “This recipe can be adapted to what you like or have on hand. I love draining noodles over things like cabbage and dark leafy greens to soften them just slightly. If you want to add carrots, sweet potato, or other harder vegetables, you could shred them in the food processor to ensure they cook quickly.”  So, I (Chef Andrea) took the liberty of adapting this recipe one more time to include this week’s tat soi!


7-8 cups tat soi or bok choi, leaves and stems thinly sliced
6-8 oz ramen noodles (could substitute rice or udon noodles)
10 ounces Cremini (or other) mushrooms
1 small knob ginger, about an inch long, peeled
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes or more to taste
⅓ cup mirin
⅓ cup soy sauce
1 medium red onion, finely minced
1 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
2-4 tsp toasted sesame oil
Hot sauce, such as Sriracha, for serving
  1. Fill a large, wide sauté pan or Dutch oven with water and bring to a simmer. (Alexandra recommends using a wide sauté pan to make this a one-pot endeavor, but you could also simply use a small saucepan to boil the noodles and then a separate large sauté pan to sauté everything together. Cleanup will still be minimal.)
  2. Place the thinly sliced tat soi in the colander you will use to drain the noodles.
  3. Add the ramen noodles to the simmering water and cook for 30 seconds.  Using a fork, separate them a little bit and continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes.  You don’t want them to be fully cooked, more like 85% done. Drain the noodles over the tat soi, being careful the noodles don’t slip over the sides. Keep colander in sink. Reserve your pan.
  4. Meanwhile: chop the mushrooms and mince the ginger and garlic.  
  5. Heat the 1 Tbsp of olive oil in your reserved sauté pan over high heat. Add the mushrooms, season with a pinch of kosher salt, stir. Let cook undisturbed for 1 minute, then stir and continue to cook at medium-high heat until the mushrooms begin to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add the ginger, garlic and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes to the pan, and stir to combine. Add the reserved noodles and tat soi. Add the mirin and soy sauce. Use tongs to stir and combine.  Simmer for just a few minutes.
  7. Add the onions, sesame seeds, and sesame oil, and using tongs again, stir to combine.
  8. Serve immediately, passing hot sauce of choice on the side.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

October 31, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Purple Daikon Radish!

Cooking With This Week's Box


Purple Daikon Radish: Soy-Pickled Daikon (see below); Daikon Apple Slaw (see below)








Baby Bok Choi: Congee with Chicken and Greens (see below); Congee in an Instant PotVegan One-Pot Ginger-Scallion Ramen Noodles

Red Mustard: Congee with Chicken and Greens (see below); 10 Ways to Use Mustard GreensVegan One-Pot Ginger-Scallion Ramen Noodles


Cilantro: Vegan Butternut Black Bean NachosCilantro Lime Rice; Congee with Chicken and Greens (see below)

Congee in an Instant Pot, photo from smithsonianapa.org
I love learning about new vegetables, and this week we have another purple beauty to share with you! In this week’s box you’ll find beautiful bright purple daikon radish.  Some people love radishes and others are still learning to like them.  If you’re in the latter group, I hope you’ll stick with me and hear me out.  This is a delicious and beautiful radish to eat!  Daikon radishes originated in Asia, so it’s fitting to go to Asian cultures to figure out what to do with them.  One of this week’s featured recipes is for Soy-Pickled Daikon (see below).  These are so very easy to make, so if you don’t do anything else with the daikon, at least make this recipe.  These pickles can hang out in your refrigerator and you can eat them in small quantities as a condiment with vegetables, meat or grains.  While there is some vinegar in the brine, they are more sweet and salty as opposed to sour or overly acidic.  In traditional Chinese cuisine pickled vegetables such as these are often served with rice porridge, which leads me to the next featured recipe, Congee with Chicken and Greens (see below).  I thought this was a fitting recipe to go along with the Soy-Pickled Daikon since Congee is rice porridge!  There is no one single recipe for Congee as it is one of those common household recipes that everyone puts their own spin on.  This version includes chicken and greens, which could be bok choi, red mustard or kale from this week’s box.  Feel free to make it your own and garnish it with whatever toppings you like, such as cilantro which is also in this week’s box.  Serve it with some of these pretty Soy-Pickled Daikon on the side.  Congee is simple to make but has a long cooking time.  If you want something that is more “set it and forget it,” check out this recipe for Congee in an Instant Pot.  I’ve also included a simple recipe for Daikon Apple Slaw (see below).  This is a crunchy, fresh salad with a light vinaigrette.  The tartness of this salad would make it a good accompaniment to fatty, rich foods such as short ribs or grilled chicken thighs.

Brussels Sprouts Ceasar Salad, photo by Alpha Smoot for food52.com
We’re excited to be sending the first Brussels sprouts this week!  Use them to make Roasted Garlic Brussels Sprouts, or use them raw and turn them into this Brussels Sprouts Casear Salad!  Make sure you cut this recipe in half because it calls for 2 pounds of Brussels Sprouts and you only have 1 pound in your box.  This will then serve 3 to 4.

Now that we’ve seen the first snowfall, soups are going to become more of a regular part of our weekly meals, starting with this Silky Ginger Sweet Potato Soup.  This is a good recipe to hang on to and make throughout the winter as it will warm you both by its temperature as well as the warming ginger.  If you want something a little more hearty, use sweet potatoes to make Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili.

Vegan Butternut Black Bean Nachos
photo from thefullhelping.com
Did you see the cute little butternut squash we have this week!?  These cuties are delicious just simply baked, but if you want to do something more with them, turn them into Vegan Butternut Black Bean Nachos.  The nachos are topped with chunks of roasted butternut and there is a sauce, reminiscent of nacho cheese sauce, made from pureed butternut squash.  If nachos aren’t your thing this week, maybe pizza is?  If so, here’s a knock-your-socks-off recipe for Sweet N’ Spicy Roasted Butternut Squash Pizza with Cider Caramelized Onions & Bacon.  There’s a lot happening on this pizza, but all of it will be well worth your time!

Every now and again you just need a simple meal of a good, homemade burger.  What goes with burgers?  Fries!  Jazz up burger night with Carrot Fries with Curry Dipping Sauce!  Life is about balance though, so now that we’ve had our fill of (healthy) nachos, pizza and burgers, lets make sure we eat our greens too!  We are nearing the end of greens season, so lets make the most of these last fresh ones.  Not sure what to do with red mustard?  Check out this article and find “10 ways to Use Mustard Greens”.  If you don’t use them to make congee, you could also use either red mustard or this week’s baby bok choi to make this recipe for Vegan One-Pot Ginger-Scallion Ramen Noodles.  This is simple, warming, nourishing, and who doesn’t love noodles!

(Freezable) Stuffing with Caramelized Onions & Kale
photo by Rocky Luten for food52.com
Don’t forget the lacinato kale!  Have a spaghetti squash hanging around, use it to make Spaghetti Squash with Kale Pesto.  Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away, so you could also get a jump start on cooking for the big day and use the kale to make (Freezable) Stuffing with Caramelized Onions & Kale.  While you’re caramelizing onions, you might as well do some extra and turn them into Caramelized Onion Dip.  You could pre-caramelize the onions, freeze them, and then make the dip the day before Thanksgiving.  You have to have snacks to munch on while watching football, right!?

That’s a wrap for this week.  I’ll see you back next week with one more fresh from the field green and we’ll get started on planning for Thanksgiving!  Have a good week—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Purple Daikon


by Andrea Yoder



It’s been several years since we included daikon radish in CSA boxes, but you know we have an obsession with gorgeous purple vegetables and couldn’t resist trying this purple daikon!  This is our first year growing this variety, called bora king.  Its beautiful purple color, which extends through to the center, is what first caught our attention, but it has some other great qualities as well.  First of all, it’s much smaller than traditional white daikon radish that can grow to be more than 12 inches long!  It’s hard for a small family to eat that much radish and white daikon is one vegetable I don’t like to have remnants of hanging out in my refrigerator due to its pungent aroma.  This purple daikon, however, is much smaller which makes it more manageable to use.  It also has a delicious, slightly sweet, balanced radish flavor.  It does still taste like daikon, but I think it’s a little more balanced flavor than some white daikon that can be pretty pungent.

Daikon radishes are classified as a winter storage radish and are an important part of many traditional cultures throughout Asia.  Because of its ability to be stored, it’s an important winter food both because it’s available but also because it is high in nutrients including vitamin C which can help keep us strong and healthy throughout the cold winter.  Radishes are actually one of the oldest cultivated food crops and there are literally thousands of different varieties.  In the book, Roots, by Diane Morgan, she cites the following history:  “Radishes are likely indigenous to Europe and Asia and are believed to have been first cultivated in the eastern Mediterranean before 2000 B.C., probably in Egypt, where they were reportedly included in the daily rations, along with onions and garlic, given to the workers who built the pyramids.”

Daikon radish can be used in a variety of ways, both raw and cooked.  In Chinese and Japanese culture daikon radish is often pickled, another tactic to help preserve this food and so it is available throughout the winter.  Pickled daikon radishes, such as the recipe included in this week’s’ newsletter, are often served as a condiment. One of this week’s recipes is for Soy-Pickled Daikon, borrowed from the book Phoenix Claw and Jade Trees, a book about traditional Chinese cooking.  The author explains that pickled vegetables, including daikon, are often served with rice porridge.  After reading this I had to go do a little research and found that congee is the name given to rice porridge.  I am by no means an expert on Chinese food, culture or history, but I am always intrigued to find out about traditional dishes.  Congee is often eaten for breakfast, but it really can be eaten at any meal of the day.  It is a dish that came from peasant food and is a way to make a small amount of rice go a long way.  My understanding is that there is no one or right recipe for congee, rather everyone has their own version they identify with and the one they like is probably the one their grandmother made!  This week I have included a recipe for Congee with Chicken and Greens.  This is a fitting recipe to go along with the Soy-Pickled Purple Daikon which can be served as a condiment alongside this dish.  This week’s box also has plenty of greens to choose from (bok choi, red mustard or kale), all of which are appropriate for this recipe.

Now that we’ve talked about congee, lets get back to daikon!  Daikon radish may also be used in salads and other fresh condiments, often paired with other vegetables and dressed with a light sauce or vinaigrette.  Daikon radishes are also used in stir-fries and braised dishes.  It was interesting to learn that in some areas of China daikon is used in braised stews and soups, such as what would be equivalent to our beef stew.  Whereas we would use potatoes, they often use chunks of daikon radish.  Of course, remember daikon has a lot of nutritive value, so adding it to hearty broths and stews is a great way to fortify the soup.  Daikon radishes are also traditionally used in Korean kim chi, which is once again an important food to eat both for nourishment and health throughout the winter.

Store daikon radish in the refrigerator, loosely wrapped in plastic to keep it from dehydrating.  It will store for at least 4-6 weeks if not longer.

Soy-Pickled Daikon Radish


“Pickling in soy brine is one of China’s ancient methods of preserving vegetables.  Any firm vegetable can be used for pickling once its moisture is leached out using salt and sugar.”



Yield: 4 servings as an appetizer, or more as a condiment

1 medium or 2 small purple daikon radish (12 oz)
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar

Soy Pickling Brine
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp white rice vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
  1. Peel the daikon radish (just remove a thin outer layer) and slice it very thin (for the best results, use a mandoline to slice them).  Put the daikon slices in a medium bowl and sprinkle with the salt.  Stir the daikon well to make sure the salt is applied evenly and let it marinate for about 30 minutes at room temperature.  At this point the moisture will have bled out of the daikon and collected in the bottom of the bowl.  Squeeze as much of the liquid out of the daikon as possible and discard all the liquid.
  2. Sprinkle the sugar over the daikon and mix well.  Let the daikon marinate for another 30 minutes at room temperature.  As with the salt, a pool of liquid will form at the bottom of the bowl. Once again squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible and discard all the liquid.
  3. Add the ingredients for the soy pickling brine to the daikon and mix well.  Transfer the daikon and brine to a storage container, cover, and refrigerate at least overnight or for up to a month.
  4. Serve the pickled radish in a small bowl with some of the soy brine.
Recipe borrowed from Phoenix Claw and Jade Trees, by Kian Lam Kho.

Congee with Chicken and Greens


“Congee is a smooth rice porridge, and it’s really all about the toppings.  Even in its plainest form, however, it’s wonderful.  Top with hot sesame oil, Kimchi, scallions, soy sauce, sesame seeds, cilantro, or anything else that calls to you.”



photo from eatingfromthegroundup.com
Yield: 4 to 5 servings

1 cup white rice
10 cups water, stock, or whey
1 Tbsp kosher salt
2 boneless, skinless single chicken breasts (4 to 6 oz each)
1 ½ cups tender greens, cut into thin ribbons (spinach, tatsoi, bok choi, mustard greens, or any other green you have on hand)
  1. Combine the rice and water in a large pot.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium low, and cover.  Cook for 1 ½ hours, stirring every so often.  It will seem like there is too much liquid and not enough rice, but it will thicken.  When it does, add 2 tsp of the salt.
  2. Rub the remaining tsp of salt over the chicken breasts.  Using a sharp knife, cut the chicken into thin slices, about ½ inch.  Add them to the pot, stirring the chicken into the hot rice.  Stir in the greens.  Continue to cook until the chicken turns white and the greens are soft, about 5 minutes.
Note from Chef Andrea:  As indicated in the introduction, you can garnish congee with any additional ingredients you’d like.  I’d recommend some chopped cilantro on top and serve it with the Soy-Pickled Purple Daikon Radishes on the side!

Variations:
  • For a coconut congee, replace 2 cups of the liquid with a can of coconut milk.
  • Replace the chicken with sliced pork tenderloin or tofu.
Recipe borrowed from The Homemade Kitchen, by Alana Chernila.

Daikon and Apple Slaw


Yield: 6 to 8 servings



Sesame Seed Vinaigrette
1 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
3 Tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
2 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp sambal oelek (or any other chili-garlic sauce)
1 tsp sea salt
2 green onions, including green tops, thinly sliced (or substitute thinly sliced red onion)

1 large crisp apple such as Granny Smith
12 oz daikon radish, peeled (2 small or 1 medium)
  1. To make the vinaigrette, using a mortar and a pestle or a spice grinder, grind the sesame seeds to a powder.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the ground sesame, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, oil, sesame oil, sambal oelek or chili garlic sauce, and salt.  Add the onions and stir to combine.  Set aside.
  2. Peel, half, and core the apple and cut into sticks about 3 inches long and ¼ inch thick and wide.  As the apple sticks are cut, add them to the dressing and stir to coat to prevent browning.  Peel the daikon and cut into sticks the same size.  Stir to combine the apples and daikon with the vinaigrette.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.  Cover and refrigerate until chilled before serving, about 30 minutes.  (The salad will keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.)

Recipe adapted from Roots, by Diane Morgan.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

October 24, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Parsnips!

Cooking With This Week's Box


Italian Garlic: Red Lentils with Winter Squash and Greens; Crushed Potatoes with Cream & Garlic; Suspiciously Delicious Cabbage; Sweet Potato Kimchi Pancakes

Broccoli OR Cauliflower: Roasted Cauliflower, Broccoli and Sun-Dried Tomato Salad with Chickpeas

Orange Carrots: Carroty Mac and Cheese; Carrot, Feta and Almond Salad

Peter Wilcox and/or Mountain Rose Potatoes: Green Cabbage Soup with Potatoes and Sour Cream; Crushed Potatoes with Cream & Garlic

Red Onions: Red Lentils with Winter Squash and Greens; Suspiciously Delicious Cabbage; Sweet Potato Kimchi Pancakes

Red Mustard: Red Lentils with Winter Squash and Greens; Sweet Potato Quesadillas

Spinach or Salad Mix: Sweet Potato Quesadillas

Burgundy Sweet Potatoes: Sweet Potato Quesadillas; Sweet Potato Kimchi Pancakes

Mini Butternut Squash: Red Lentils with Winter Squash and Greens; Roasted Honeynut Squash

Parsnips: Parsnip Oatmeal Chocolate Cherry Cookies (see below); Parsnip, Lemon and Poppyseed Muffins with Lemon Drizzle (see below)

Green Savoy Cabbage: Green Cabbage Soup with Potatoes and Sour Cream; Suspiciously Delicious Cabbage

Last week at market it seems like our customers were finally ready to embrace root vegetables.  For the first time that I can remember in the history of HVF, we sold out of both parsnips and rutabagas!  This week we’re facing our first hard frost with temperatures dipping into the 20’s, which makes us all ready to make the transition to hearty fall and winter fare.  Lets kick off this week’s chat with dessert—why not?!  Parsnips are delicious in soups, stews and other savory preparations, but they’re also delicious in baked goods and desserts such as these Parsnip Oatmeal Chocolate Cherry Cookies (see below)!  This recipe is the creation of my friend, Annemarie of Bloom Bake Shop in Madison.  I asked Annemarie to make a special sweet treat for our Harvest Party and the one requirement was to include parsnips.  She knocked our socks off with these delicious cookies.  If you weren’t able to join us for the party, be assured these cookies are worth making!  The other recipe featuring parsnips this week is Parsnip, Lemon and Poppyseed Muffins with Lemon Drizzle (see below).  I made these muffins for the market crew earlier this year when we had overwintered parsnips.  They were so delicious!  Both of these recipes are good ones to tuck away and use for your Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations.  A bit non-traditional, yes, but both recipes that will impress your guests!


Carroty Mac and Cheese, photo by Andrew Scrivani for epicurious.com
While we’re talking roots, lets tackle carrots.  Everyone loves a good mac and cheese, so why not try this recipe for Carroty Mac and Cheese.  It’s rich and creamy, but the carrots add a sweet, earthy balance.  Serve this as a main dish or a side.  If you’re looking for something a bit more on the lean side, consider this recipe for Carrot, Feta and Almond Salad.

Did you notice how gorgeous the red mustard greens are this week!  This is my favorite time of year to enjoy red mustard and one of my favorite recipes to use it in is this one for Red Lentils with Winter Squash and Greens.  You could also use spinach in this recipe, but mustard greens are always my first choice when making this recipe.  It also makes use of this week’s butternut squash.  If you don’t use your butternut squash in the lentil recipe, then consider making this simple Roasted Honeynut Squash.  If you aren’t familiar with Honeynut Squash, this title is referring to a specific variety of mini butternuts called Honeynuts.  They are a personal-sized mini butternut as well.  In this recipe you do nothing more than bake the squash and top them off with cinnamon, salt, pepper and butter.  They are so delicious you don’t need anything more than these few simple ingredients.


We’re always excited to kick off sweet potato season, so pull out all of your favorite sweet potato recipes and lets get started cooking!  We featured this recipe for Sweet Potato Quesadillas featured back in one of our 2007 newsletters.  You build a quesadilla with mashed sweet potatoes, cheese and greens.  You could use either spinach or red mustard in this recipe.  Prep all the components in advance and you can pull off a quick dinner in about 10-15 minutes!  I am also going to mention one of my all-time favorite sweet potato recipes.  If you’ve been with our farm for awhile this recipe will likely not be a surprise, but it’s so good I want to share it with everyone again!  Try these Sweet Potato Kimchi Pancakes.  They are so delicious!

Suspiciously Delicious Cabbage, photo by Julia Gartland for food52.com
Before we move to above ground vegetables, we need to talk about potatoes.  This recipe for Crushed Potatoes with Cream & Garlic is one of my favorite, simple ways to eat potatoes.  I also really like the simplicity of this Green Cabbage Soup with Potatoes and Sour Cream, a recipe we featured last year.  This soup is very simple, but very satisfying.  If you don’t use all of your cabbage to make this soup, consider trying this recipe for Suspiciously Delicious Cabbage.  With a name like that, I have to try it!  There’s a video link for this recipe as well….and you’ll have to check it out for yourself to find out what makes it so delicious!

Now that we’ve dealt with most of the vegetables that grow underground, we can turn our attention to the last item in the box.  Use this week’s cauliflower and broccoli to make this tasty recipe for Roasted Cauliflower, Broccoli and Sun-Dried Tomato Salad with Chickpeas.  Enjoy this salad as a main dish for lunch or serve it in a smaller portion as a side dish.

It’s hard to believe, but after this week we only have five more CSA boxes in the 2019 season.  I’ve already started planning the contents of our final boxes and I have to tell you, we have a lot of vegetables to try and squeeze in before the end of the season!  Have a good week and I’ll see you back here next week for more delicious recipes!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Parsnips


By Chef Andrea

Parsnips fill an important place in our seasonal Wisconsin diets because of their ability to store well through the winter, both in our refrigerators as well as in the field.  Parsnips are one of our largest crops and this year we planted 3.5 acres.  That may not sound like very much, but in the world of parsnips it is quite a lot and will yield tons of food!  Parsnips are a challenging crop to grow because their seeds take about 2 weeks to germinate and we have to plant them early in the spring when the soil is still cold.  They also have a very long growing season which means more management in the field to keep them healthy and keep the weeds under control.  Parsnips are often described as being a white carrot.  While they do resemble carrots, they are not really just a white carrot.  They have a distinct flavor that is much different from a carrot.  They also have the ability to survive if we leave them in the field over the winter.  We’ll harvest most of this year’s crop this fall, but we will leave some parsnips in the field with plans to harvest them next spring.  It’s a little risky, but parsnips can be overwintered in the field and when we dig them in the spring they are even more sweet and delicious than they are this fall!

Spiced Honey Parsnip Bread
photo from dishingupthedirt.com
Parsnips are a versatile vegetable that can be prepared in a variety of ways.  Their sweetness really comes out when they are roasted, which is one of my favorite ways to prepare parsnips.  They also make a nice addition to a fall root mash or mix them with other vegetables in hearty soups and stews.  You can also use them in baked goods, similar to how you might use carrots.  I’ve used them to make parsnip muffins that are similar to carrot cake and this week we are featuring a recipe for Parsnip, Lemon & Poppy Seed Muffins (see below)!  You can also use them to make quick breads such as Andrea Bemis’ Spiced Honey Parsnip Bread.  You can also use them in cookies.  Make sure you check out the recipe for Parsnip Oatmeal, Chocolate, Cherry Cookies (see below) in this week’s newsletter!

Parsnips pair very well with other root vegetables, wine, shallots, apples, walnuts and a variety of spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and ginger.  Some people really like the distinct flavor of parsnips, while others may still be learning to like them.  If you’re in the latter group, I’d recommend that you start by using parsnips in a baked good or use them in small quantities mixed with other vegetables in soups, stews or a simple root mash.

Store parsnips in the coldest part of your refrigerator in a plastic bag.  They will store for several weeks under these conditions, so don’t feel like you need to eat them all right now.  When you are ready to use them, Scrub the outer skin with a vegetable brush and trim off the top and bottom.  If you are making a pureed parsnip soup and want it to be snow white, I’d recommend peeling the parsnips.  If you aren’t looking for an art display presentation, I would recommend skipping the peeling part of the process.  

Parsnip Oatmeal Chocolate Cherry Cookies


Yield:  approximately 40 cookies (2-3 inch diameter)

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour 
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cinnamon
⅓ tsp nutmeg
1 ¾ cups oatmeal
½ cup vegetable oil 
1 cup light brown sugar 
½ cup plus 2 Tbsps white sugar 
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups parsnips, shredded
1 cup finely shredded coconut
1 pkg (10 oz) chocolate chips (1 ¾ cup)
¾  cup dried cherries 
  1. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Stir in oatmeal and set aside.  
  2. In a separate bowl, combine vegetable oil, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Mix until smooth and well combined.
  3. Gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, incorporating well after each addition.  Add the parsnips and stir to combine.
  4. Last, fold in the coconut, chocolate chips and dried cherries.  The dough is going to be very stiff and you may feel like you are not going to be able to incorporate all of these last ingredients.  Trust the recipe and keep working them in.  It will come together!  Don’t forget to scrape down to the bottom of the bowl!
  5. Drop by the tablespoon full onto a cookie sheet.  Do not flatten the cookies, they will spread out as they bake.  Bake in a 350°F oven for 14-16 minutes.  The cookies should still be a little soft in the middle when you take them out of the oven.  They will set up nicely as they cool.  If you want a crispier cookie, bake them a little bit longer.  Let cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.

This recipe was created by Annemarie Maitri, owner of Bloom Bake Shop in Madison, Wisconsin.  Annemarie dreamed up this cookie recipe when I asked her to make a sweet treat for our Fall Harvest Party this past September.  She was so pleased with the creation that she added it to her cookie menu for the fall!  Thank you Annemarie!

Parsnip, Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffins with Lemon Drizzle

photo from veggiedesserts.co.uk

Yield:  12 Muffins
5 oz raw parsnip (approx 1)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
½ cup butter, softened (plus extra for greasing)
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup plain yogurt
¾ cup powdered sugar
4-5 tsp lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease or line a muffin tin.
  2. Peel and finely grate the parsnips. Set aside.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the poppy seeds and parsnip.
  4. In another bowl, use an electric mixer or wooden spoon to beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating each in well. Beat in the zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract, blend well and then add the yogurt and combine.
  5. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet, alternating three times.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cups, filling them ¾ full.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes in the tin and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Make the drizzle topping:  Stir lemon juice, teaspoon by teaspoon, into the powdered sugar until it is a runny consistency. Drizzle over the completely cooled muffins.
This recipe was borrowed from veggiedesserts.co.uk, a very interesting food blog written by Kate Hackworthy.  If you like this recipe, check out her blog where you’ll find more delicious baked goods featuring parsnips as well as other vegetables!