Wednesday, November 17, 2021

November 18, 2021 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Tat Soi!

 


Cooking With This Week's Box

Red & Yellow Onions:

Garlic:

Covington Sweet Potatoes:
Photo from food52.com

Asterix Potatoes:

Autumn Frost Squash:

Orange Carrots:

Red or Chioggia Beets:

Celeriac:

Beauty Heart Radishes:

Brussels Sprouts:
Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad with Apples (Substitute fresh baby ginger for ground ginger!)

Tat Soi:
Photo from theroastedroot.net
Wild Rice and Roasted Squash Salad with Tat Soi (See Below)

Fresh Baby Ginger:

Collards:


Happy Thanksgiving!  

As a kid, Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday of the year.  I loved to help my Mom make Thanksgiving dinner, complete with all the family favorites such as Prune Dressing (my mom’s side) and Cranberry Jello Salad (my dad’s side).  As I got older and started subscribing to food magazines, the Thanksgiving issues were always my favorites.  Of course the pretty pictures that made all the Thanksgiving spreads look so beautiful and inviting were fun to look at, but these issues were packed full of tasty recipes that were fun to cook all winter!  So whether you’re making a big dinner or not, this is a great time of the year to pick up some new recipes in magazines, on blogs, etc.  Over the past week my inbox has been flooded with notices of blog posts packed full of great Thanksgiving recipes.  So, there’s a few more recipe suggestions on this week’s Cooking With the Box list because I just couldn’t let a good idea pass you by!

Photo from brooklynsupper.com
Before we go any further, we need to talk about this week’s featured vegetable, Tat Soi!  If this is your first time using tat soi, let me remind you to never be intimidated by a vegetable!  It’s a big, gorgeous fall green that can be eaten both raw and cooked, but as far as using it it’s very similar to other greens such as spinach and bok choi. This week’s featured recipe is for Wild Rice and Roasted Squash Salad with Tat Soi (See Below).  This recipe is my slightly adapted version of Amanda Paa’s original recipe featured on her blog, heartbeetkitchen.com.  Her recipe called for spinach.  Tat soi is very similar to spinach when eaten raw, and when you swap it out for the spinach this recipe is a beautiful example of how lovely fall salads can come together!  If you live in one of those households that is still learning to like greens, perhaps you’ll appreciate this recipe for Mac & Cheese with Greens.  

We have been blessed with an abundant ginger crop this year!  If you want to include it in your Thanksgiving dinner, consider making this Cranberry Sauce with Ginger and Maple.  If you are looking for an interesting cocktail to share with friends, check out this Spicy Ginger Pomegranate Paloma.   If you have a little extra time over this long holiday weekend, have a little fun making these Ginger Sesame Chicken Potstickers.  And lastly, if you want to just cuddle up on the couch and enjoy some peace and quiet after all the festivities, make yourself a cup of Hot Ginger Lemon Tea.

This week’s squash variety is the beautiful Autumn Frost.  It’s very similar in use to a butternut squash, but may also be substituted for pumpkin in most recipes.  I’ve given you several dessert suggestions this week that would be tasty to make using Autumn Frost.  If your oven is full of other Thanksgiving dishes, consider making this No Bake Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake.  If you’re more if a traditional pie person, perhaps you’ll enjoy this Butternut Squash Pie.  Of course, you could skip dessert and use the squash to make these Fluffy Butternut Squash Rolls with Sage.

There is quite a pile of sweet potatoes in this week’s box!  Does anyone else think this recipe for Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole with Sweet N Savory Bacon Pecans sounds good!?  I recently had a member ask me about eating the sweet potato skins.  I typically don’t eat the skins, but this recipe for Simple, Salty Sweet Potato Skin Chips may change that going forward!  Turn the sweet potato skins into fried or baked chips!  They may not look terribly pretty, but I guarantee they’ll be tasty!

I hope some of this week’s suggestions inspire your culinary creations this week, whether on your table for Thanksgiving or every day.   We still have two more vegetable share deliveries coming up after Thanksgiving, so be sure to mark your calendars so you don’t miss anything! 

Happy Thanksgiving!!!  Chef Andrea 


Vegetable Feature: Tat Soi

by Andrea Yoder

Description:  Tat soi is a gorgeous fall green with spoon shaped dark green leaves and light green stems extending from the base.  It is related to bok choi and has a mild mustard flavor.  We reserve it for the very end of our season because it is more cold hardy and, in our opinion, the flavor is best after a bit of cold treatment!  Nearly the entire plant, leaves and stems, are edible and you’ll find both to be tender enough to eat raw as well as cooked.  

Growing Information:  While tat soi can take some cold weather and frosty nights, repeated cold exposure can result in frost damage.  Each fall we take a little extra time to put wire hoops in the field to support a large cover that drapes over the crop, anchored with lots of sandbags to keep it in place.  The tat soi may still freeze under the cover if the temperatures are cold enough, but it isn’t as hard of a freeze and thus it recovers more favorably.  You may notice some discoloration on the tips of some of the leaves.  This is from a little bit of frost damage, typically where the cover may have been resting on the plant.  It can sometimes be tricky to harvest it as you have to time the harvest to coincide with a warm afternoon when the tat soi have thawed!  

Preparation & Use: Prior to 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.  

Spaghetti with Roasted Butternut Squash & Tat Soi
As mentioned above, tat soi may be eaten both raw and cooked.  It is very similar to spinach and bok choi, so consider using it in recipes or preparations where you may use greens such as these.  In its raw form, I like to use tat soi in tasty salads with lots of fall vegetables such as winter radishes (daikon or beauty heart), carrots, cabbage, etc and a simple, light vinaigrette.  Turn it into a meal itself by adding nuts, seeds and/or meat such as grilled steak, roasted chicken or seared salmon.  

Tat soi is one of nature’s fast foods, as are most greens, and it can be stir-fried, steamed and sautéed in just a few minutes.  The stems may need a slightly longer cooking time, so it’s best to add those to the pan first.  The leaves cook very quickly and need just a few minutes to become silky and tender.

I tend to use tat soi in dishes with some Asian influences, and rightfully so as it pairs well with ginger, miso, soy, sesame, etc.  But it also pairs well with other ingredients including lemon, beans, grains, pasta, winter root vegetables, etc.  Of course you may also choose to incorporate it into casseroles, hot dishes, egg preparations such as quiche and scrambled eggs, pasta dishes, etc.

Storage:  It’s best to store tat soi in a plastic bag or a covered container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.  



Wild Rice and Butternut Squash Salad with Tat Soi

Yield:  6 servings

               Dressing:
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil or sunflower oil
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp sea salt
Scant ½ tsp ground black pepper
½ Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 clove garlic, minced


                Salad:
5 cups peeled and diced butternut squash*
2 - 3 Tbsp olive oil
Sea Salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
3 cups thinly sliced tat soi (or spinach)
½ cup thinly sliced red onions
½ cup dried cherries or dried cranberries
3 cups cooked wild rice, room temperature to slightly warm
¾ cup coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts or almonds
  1. To make the dressing, add all ingredients to a jar and use an immersion blender to puree.  Alternatively, combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk thoroughly by hand.  Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F.  In a bowl, toss squash with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread onto a baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes, stirring once, until fork tender and slightly golden on the edges.  Remove from oven and cool to room temperature
  3. Just before serving, combine the following ingredients in a large serving bowl:  tatsoi, onions, cherries or cranberries, wild rice and roasted squash.  Drizzle with salad dressing and toss to combine.  You want enough dressing to lightly coat all of the components, but not so much that it gets soggy.  Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding additional salt and pepper to your liking.  
  4. Garnish with chopped nuts and serve at room temperature.  

*Note:  May substitute other similar squash varieties such as Butterkin and Autumn Frost.

This recipe was adapted from Amanda Paa’s version as featured on her blog, heartbeetkitchen.com.  We had the pleasure of spending some time with Amanda when she came to the farm to do a photoshoot several years ago.   If you aren’t familiar with Amanda’s blog, go check it out!  She has a lot of really great, healthy recipes AND she is a dynamic person so you can absorb some of her good energy!  
  

Wrapping Up the Season….The Bounty & The Blessings

By Andrea Yoder
Aerial view looking down our valley

It is simply amazing just how much food can be produced off of our 110 acres of land tucked away in a valley.  In comparison to some of the large produce farms out west, 110 acres is just a little drop in a bucket, and yet we can produce tons (literally) of food!  It doesn’t matter how many seasons I go through, I think it will always amaze me to see how the seeds that we store in one small room can, over the course of the season, be turned into tons of produce that at times comes close to exceeding our storage facilities!  This week we wanted to give you a little glimpse of what’s been happening on the farm this fall.

The past seven weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind of activities.  Up until about the last week of October we continued to harvest some herbs, greens and other fresh vegetables.  Thankfully we had a pretty mild fall and some of our late planted gamble crops of cilantro, red radishes, baby bok choi and mustard had enough time to mature so we could harvest them.  While we continued those harvests, we also had to prioritize harvesting our crops to put into storage!  First it was a push to get all the sweet potatoes in, totaling around 30,000 pounds.  Next it was burdock root.  This is a high dollar value crop that is very important to our farm.  We can store it for almost an entire year and there are only a few growers in this country who produce burdock root so we have many customers who depend on us!  It also has very long roots so it’s best to dig it when conditions are dry.  We started harvesting some in mid-September, but really did a push to get it all out by the end of the first week of October.  Thankfully we managed to get it all dug before we had rain and our harvest came in at well over 60 bins or about 25,000-30,000 pounds!  That’s a lot of burdock root and to think it came from only about 8 pounds of seed!

Rows and rows of
Beauty Heart Radishes!
Beauty heart radishes were also a priority and with the warm fall we had, they were growing rapidly pushing them close to the edge of being too big.  But we know they are best after some cold weather so we tried to hold off until we got a few frosty nights.  Thankfully we did get that little bit of cold and we started the harvest.  The other tricky part of harvesting beauty heart radishes is they can be very brittle.  If we machine harvest them we often lose a lot that crack in the process.  So we made the decision to maximize our yields and harvest them all by hand this year.  Overall we harvested well over 20,000 pounds and we still have about 14,000 pounds remaining in the cooler that we’ll continue to wash for orders and CSA boxes we’ll be delivering through the end of the year.  

Brussels Sprouts on the stalk,
going into storage
As our main cooler started to fill up, I knew it was almost time to transition our warm temperature cooler to a cold storage area.  No problem, except at that time we were storing about 30 bins of potatoes in that cooler!  I held off as long as possible, but then Richard declared it time to harvest Brussels sprouts.  In late October we saw the first forecasts for temperatures dipping into the low 20’s.  While Brussels sprouts can withstand multiple frosty nights, dangerously low temperatures in the 20’s can cause damage.  In Richard’s 30 plus years of living in this valley, he also knows that a forecasted temperature of 25 degrees can mean an actual temperature of up to 10 degrees colder in the valley.  Brussels sprouts are too important of a crop to lose, so we started loading up wagon after wagon with bins to bring them in on the stalk.  It takes a lot more storage space, but it’s a much faster harvest and on frosty mornings we can snap them off the stalks.  Just before the first load came in, we emptied the potato storage cooler and moved all the potato bins to a refrigerated trailer that we use once a year in the fall.  I decreased the temperature in our previously warm cooler to 34 degrees and it was ready to store Brussels sprouts.  I lost track of how many bins we harvested overall, but it was around 40 or maybe a little more.  We still have about 20 bins in the cooler and overall we’ll yield about 5,000-6,000 pounds of sprouts!  

As we closed out the month of October, we’d fill up our already full coolers at the beginning of the week as we prepared to pack CSA boxes on Wednesday and ship wholesale orders for the first part of the week.  We had to get creative, we had to remain very organized.  Everything had to have a place and there were some days when there was one way into a cooler and one way out.  On a few occasions, we had 20-30 bins of root vegetables stacked outside at the end of a busy harvest day.  But after the crews unloaded we always managed to find more space to get everything into the appropriate storage environment.  At the end of the day on Wednesday after we had loaded all the trucks, we’d breathe a sigh of relief only to wake up the next morning and do it all again for the end of the week!  While our rutabaga crop was mostly a loss and this year’s carrot crop was a disappointment with very low production, we have still had a very bountiful fall harvest and year overall!  So facing the challenge of exceeding storage capacities is actually a good problem to have!   

The majority of our crops are in now.  We still have a little tat soi in the field along with our little planting of specialty crosnes.  Aside from that, our mission now is to trim, wash, pack and deliver all these vegetables!  This week we’ll be delivering about 52,000 pounds of vegetables total including all of our CSA deliveries as well as orders we’re sending to our wholesale and retail partners.  That’s a lot of vegetables!!   Our crew has been working very hard all season, but especially over the past few weeks to help us get everything harvested as well as working diligently so we can fill our orders, pack CSA boxes and meet all of our deadlines.  We’ve already said goodbye to 11 of our H2A crew members who returned to Mexico at the end of October.  This week we’ll be sending 14 crew members back to their families who are very anxious to welcome them home!  We’ll be taking a little break next week to celebrate Thanksgiving, but we’ll be back at it the next week washing and trimming more vegetables, finishing the last of our field work and some of the other outside missions still remaining on the list.  It’s been a busy, yet very rewarding fall.
2021 HVF Crew Photo (brief moment without masks)

Thus is the nature of our business, the push and the pull, the cycles and the seasons.  As we move into winter we look forward to a little bit of rest and rejuvenation.  We also pause to reflect on the many blessings we’ve received this year, the bountiful harvests we’ve brought in and the thousands of people who have received nourishment from the food that has come off our land.  As we celebrate Thanksgiving next week, it’s an understatement to say we have a lot to be thankful for this year.  

As we wrap up this growing season, we’re already working towards next year.  Our garlic, horseradish and sunchoke crops are planted as is our overwintered spinach.  Fields have been composted and planted to cover crops.  Irrigation equipment is tucked away in storage and we have a list of supplies that need to be ordered to be ready for next season.  Now we’re focusing on cutting and storing firewood, maintenance and repair projects and cleaning up some brush and field perimeters of overgrown trees, etc.  We’re also working on the 2022 CSA season and will be sharing more information about that with the next CSA delivery in December.  

We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving in whatever way you choose to celebrate.  We are grateful for your support of our farm and hope you have enjoyed the bounty of the 2021 season.  Take care and we’ll see you in December to officially wrap up our 2021 CSA Season!

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

November 4, 2021 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Radicchio!

 



Cooking With This Week's Box

Red & Yellow Onions:  

Italian Garlic:  

Burgundy Sweet Potatoes:  
Maple Gochuhang Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Photo from dishnthekitchen.com
Sweet Potato Kim Chi Pancakes 

Brussels Sprouts:  

Radicchio:
Radicchio and Caramelized Onion Quiche (See Below)

Peter Wilcox or Purple Viking or Gold Carola Potatoes:

Fresh Baby Ginger:
Gingery Sesame Noodles  (Substitute Kale for the spinach)
Maple-Sage Roasted Black Futsu Pumpkin

Lacinato Kale:

Black Futsu Pumpkin:

Parsnips:

Orange Carrots:

Green Savoy Cabbage:

Hello Everyone!

We’re rolling into the home stretch with only three more CSA vegetable boxes remaining after this week!  As I write these words it is frosty and cold outside, the coldest morning we’ve had this fall!  We’re nearly finished with our field work, but we do still have some vegetables out in the field that we hope will be ok after this frosty morning so we can harvest them over the next few weeks.  In two weeks when we deliver the next CSA Box, we hope to include a harvest report so you know what our fall has been like!  Until then, lets turn our attention to this week’s box which includes a couple exciting items!  First of all, lets talk about the gorgeous heads of radicchio!  So this week’s “green” is actually not green, but rather a gorgeous magenta/burgundy color.  If you are not familiar with this vegetable, take a moment to read this week’s vegetable feature article.  As for recipes, our featured recipe this week is a Radicchio and Caramelized Onion Quiche (See below).  It takes a little time to make a quiche, but none of the steps are complicated and leftovers are always a plus!  If you’re looking for some other ideas for how to use radicchio, check out this article entitled 36 Radicchio Recipes That are Ridiculously Good.

Gingery Sesame Noodles
Photo from halfbakedharvest.com
Another exciting item in this week’s box is Fresh Baby Ginger!  If you’ve never had our ginger, please take a moment to read a little more about it in our 2020 Baby Ginger Feature Article.  Last year we featured recipes for making Ginger Syrup and Homemade Pickled Ginger.  Of course you could also use it in your meals this week to make Gingery Sesame Noodles or this Ginger Garlic Soup!  Fresh baby ginger is different than ginger you typically buy in the store.  Because fresh ginger has a thin skin, it’s best to use it within one week while it’s at the peak of quality.  We recommend storing it at room temperature until you use it.   If you won’t be using it all within a week, you can also preserve it by freezing it.  I usually cut the ginger into small 1 inch pieces before freezing it.  This allows me to remove one or two smaller pieces when I need them without having to thaw the entire piece.  When you’re ready to use frozen ginger, just let it rest at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before you cut it for use.

Brussels sprouts are another frequently loved vegetable in this week’s box.  If you used some of your Korean chili peppers to make your own Gochujang (Korean chili-garlic sauce) and you still have some remaining, pull it out and make these Maple Gochujang Roasted Brussels Sprouts!  The other recipe I included this week is for Grilled Brussels Sprouts.  I’ve never even considered grilling Brussels sprouts, but I have to admit this sounds good!  Be sure to either thread them onto a skewer or put them in a grill basket while grilling them, especially if they are small.

Now that we’re into chilly weather, it’s time to pull out some of those classic, warm, nourishing comfort foods such as Coq au Vin Chicken Meatballs or Classic Homemade Beef Stew.  Both of these recipes make use of carrots as a “behind the scenes” ingredient to flavor the cooking liquid.

That’s a wrap for this week’s cooking recommendations.  Of course there are more delicious recipes in the list, so hopefully there is something that resonates with your preferences this week.  The next delivery will be November 18/19/20, just one week before the big Thanksgiving Day holiday!  Get ready as we’re going to start sifting through all the Thanksgiving recipes to find some gems we can use not only this month, but throughout the winter!

Have a good week, stay warm and eat well!

---Chef Andrea 


Vegetable Feature: Radicchio

By:  Andrea Yoder

Description:  We don’t grow radicchio every year, but it holds a special place in our seasonal lineup as a late “green” and we like a good challenge!  Radicchio is a bitter green that does best when grown in cool months, which is why it is one of the last crops we harvest late in the fall.  It is a popular winter vegetable in Italy and there are many different varieties and shapes.  Many varieties are named for the regions in Italy which they are thought to have originated or where they are grown.  Our winters are more extreme than the mild winters in most parts of Italy, thus not all varieties are conducive to our growing region.  The variety that is best suited for our growing conditions is Chioggia Radicchio, named for the city of Chioggia which is a coastal town located in northeastern Italy along the Adriatic Sea.  This variety is similar to Boston lettuce in the way it grows round, compact heads, although a head of Chioggia radicchio is usually more densely packed than Boston lettuce. 

Growing Information:  One of the reasons it is best to grow radicchio in cool weather is because the cold treatment helps to balance the bitterness with a touch of sweetness making the overall eating quality much better.  The challenge for us though is protecting it from critters and extreme cold temperatures.  Deer are particularly fond of this crop, so we put up a tall fence to deter them.  Some years we also have to cover the radicchio with a double layer field cover held up off the crop by wire supports for additional frost protection.  In Italy, many people harvest radicchio from their gardens all winter long.  We have a shorter window for growth and harvest and while radicchio can take some frost, very low temperatures in the teens and twenties can cause frost damage.  If you see a bit of browning on the edges of the outer leaves, that’s the cause.  The other challenging part of growing radicchio is that the rate of growth slows significantly with cool temperatures making it difficult to grow a sizeable head before our winter truly sets in.  This year, however, we were thrilled to be able to harvest pretty good sized heads that are densely packed!

Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions & Radicchio 
Nutritional Benefits:  Radicchio is rich in minerals and vitamins.  The compounds which lend to its bitterness also help aid digestion and help support the liver in detoxifying the body.  One article found at lacucinaitaliana.it describes radicchio as “a precious ally for our health because it is a true mine of antioxidants, able to counteract free radicals and cellular aging….”  If you are not a fan of bitter vegetables, you may take one bite of raw radicchio and say “Andrea, why did you give me this vegetable?!”  To answer your question, “Because it is good for you AND can be very delicious!”  

Preparation & Use:  The key to preparing bitter vegetables is balance.  Bitter is balanced by sweetness, acidity and fat, so while you may not find a big bite of a leaf to be to your liking, you may find you really like this vegetable when it is incorporated in dishes with other ingredients that help to balance and complement the bitterness. I also prefer to thinly slice radicchio instead of eating it in big pieces.  Lastly, cooking can help to mellow out the bitterness and techniques such as grilling and roasting help to bring out some of the sweetness in this vegetable as well.  

Given radicchio’s popularity in Italy, many of the classic pairings and ways radicchio is used go back to Italian cuisine.  Radicchio may be eaten both raw and cooked.  In its raw form, radicchio is often paired with other greens as well as fruits such as apples, pears, figs, oranges and persimmons to make delicious fall salads.  It is also often incorporated into pasta dishes, risotto, savory pies, omelets, baked au gratin, or used as a topping for focaccia or pizza.  Many dishes will pair radicchio with other ingredients such as walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, chestnuts, fatty cheese such as Parmesan, Gorgonzola (blue cheese) or Taleggio.  It is also often paired with seafood as well as bacon or other pork products, eggs, olive oil, olives, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and caramelized onions.  

Storage:  While we encourage you to use the radicchio within a week or two, you’ll find it stores pretty well and you can likely keep it for several weeks.  Store it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator to keep it from wilting.  You can use the entire head, including the core.  Carefully peel back the layers, wash well and pat dry before using.

Radicchio and Caramelized Onion Quiche


Yield:  8 servings

1 recipe Perfect Piecrust (see below)
1 large egg white
3 Tbsp grated Gruyere cheese (about ¾ ounce)
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced 
1 ¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp sugar
1 medium radicchio, halved and thinly sliced (about 8 ounces)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
3 large eggs
1 ½ cups heavy cream
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
Pinch fleur de sel (Flaky sea salt)

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.  On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to a ⅜-inch thickness and press into a 9-inch pie pan.  Line the dough with foil and fill with pie weights, rice, or dried beans.  Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the weights and foil and bake for additional 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly golden. 
  2. Take the crust out of the oven and brush the bottom of the crust with the egg white and sprinkle on the Gruyere cheese in an even layer.  Return the crust to the oven and bake for 10 to 13 minutes, until lightly browned.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pan, heat 2 Tbsp of oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, ½ tsp salt, and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and browned, about 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in the radicchio and the remaining tablespoon oil and ¼ tsp salt and cook, stirring constantly, until the radicchio is very wilted and jammy, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the balsamic vinegar and cook 1 minute more.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, nutmeg, the remaining ¾ tsp salt, and pepper.
  6. When the crust is lightly browned and the cheese is melted, sprinkle on ½ cup of the radicchio-onion mixture and carefully pour in the custard.  Dot the top with the butter pieces, sprinkle on the fleur de sel, and return to the oven.  Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the top of the quiche is puffed up and golden and the middle is almost set.  Allow the quiche to cool slightly, about 10 minutes, before serving with the remaining radicchio-onion-mixture sprinkled on top.

Recipe created by Melissa Clark as featured in her book, Cook This Now.


Perfect Piecrust
Yield:  1 (9-inch) single piecrust

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp kosher salt
10 Tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch pieces
2 to 5 Tbsp ice water

  1. In a food processor, briefly pulse together the flour and salt.  Add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms chickpea-size pieces (3 to 5 1-second pulses).  Add the ice water, 1 Tbsp at a time, and pulse until the mixture is just moist enough to hold together.
  2. Form the dough into a ball, wrap with plastic, and flatten into a disc.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour before rolling out and baking.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

October 28, 2021 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Sweet Potatoes!

 


Cooking With This Week's Box

Escarole:  

Porcelain Garlic:  

Yellow Onions:  

Poblano Peppers:  

Guajillo Peppers:  

Russet Potatoes:  

Butternut Squash:  

Brussels Sprouts:  

Burgundy Sweet Potatoes:  
Sweet Potato Muffins with Pecan Streusel (See Below)
Gold Beets:  

Green Curly Kale:  

Purple Daikon: 

Hello Everyone! 

It’s finally time to send sweet potatoes your way!  This year’s Burgundy sweet potatoes are quite sweet and tasty, as well as unique in appearance.  These may be the most interestingly shaped sweet potatoes we’ve ever grown!  Nonetheless, I’m excited to share this recipe for Sweet Potato Muffins with Pecan Streusel (See Below).  I discovered this recipe last winter and I’ve made them countless times.  They never get old!  One thing I really like about this recipe is its versatility.   The original recipe is vegan, but it works well with dairy items (milk and butter) as well, so I often use whatever I have on hand.  You can also change up the nuts you use.  I often use almonds, but walnuts, hazelnuts, etc. would work too.  Now this week we’re focusing on sweet potatoes, so you really should make your first batch using them.  That being said, I’ve made this same recipe using winter squash puree in place of the sweet potatoes.  Butternut squash, Orange Kuri, Kabocha, or the Tetsukabuto squash we’ll send your way in December are all good varieties to cook, puree and use to make these muffins.  I’ve also made this recipe using bananas and applesauce as well---you guessed it, equally as delicious!  Ok, two more modifications I want to share.  I like to substitute ½ cup of almond flour for the spelt flour.  It makes a light, very tender muffin.  The last time I made this recipe I realized I didn’t have any muffin liner papers.  Yes, you can grease the muffin tins, but honestly I’d really recommend using the papers for this recipe as they are much easier to extract without falling apart.  Instead of making muffins, I used a small Bundt pan (6 cup capacity) and made a cake!  I poured the batter in the pan and then put the streusel topping on top.  After it was baked I turned it out onto a plate so the streusel was then on the bottom.  With this cake strategy, you can turn this recipe into a nice dessert or coffee cake!  If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I really like this recipe!
 Photo from Brussels Sprouts Hash and Eggs

Time to move on as there are a lot of other great recipes to try this week!  I know we’re going to be eating these Sheet Pan Sweet Potato, Poblano and Black Bean Quesadillas for lunch later this week.  Quesadillas are a quick and easy item to make and then reheat in a toaster oven.  Perfect for a quick lunch or keep them in the fridge for the kids to heat up after school!   The other fun recipe I came across this week was for these Garlic Pizza Sliders Dip.   They are ooey-gooey, cheesy delicious!  Great for the kids, great for game night, or movie night.

Brussels sprouts are another exciting crop this week!  I love vegetables for breakfast, so I’m going to make this Brussels Sprouts Hash and Eggs.  My other breakfast dish idea for this week is this Chickpea and Kale Shakshuka.

This week we’re sending Russet potatoes, one of the few drier, starchy potatoes we grow.  This is the variety traditionally used to make baked potatoes.  My favorite way to eat this is baked with a salt crust.  If this interests you, check out this article, How To Make Salty, Crispy Skinned Baked Potatoes.  

Ok, that’s all I’m going to comment on today.  Take a look at this week’s recipe suggestions and see for yourself if anything looks good!  Have a great week and I’ll see you next week to celebrate the first week of November and ginger harvest! –Chef Andrea



Vegetable Feature: Sweet Potatoes

By:  Richard deWilde

Most Midwest farmers would not even consider growing a tropical plant like sweet potatoes or ginger (spoiler alert…coming in next week’s box!).  But we’ve never fit the profile for a typical Midwest farm and we’ve attempted many unconventional challenges and new crops.  Learning how to grow sweet potatoes has been one of our more favorable attempts.  Still, every year presents a new set of challenges to overcome and we continue to learn from each experience.  

Sweet Potatoes starting out this spring
Of the many varieties of sweet potatoes from around the southern parts of the world, only a handful stand a chance of producing in Wisconsin.  We have tried them all and will continue to try any new ones available.  For now we have settled on two varieties that consistently produce a yield in our unconventional system.  We start our sweet potato crop from plants called “slips.”  We depend on slips grown in outdoor beds by two organic growers in North Carolina.  Time is of the essence for us as we need to maximize the growing season.  Thus, we want to plant as soon as possible after the last frost date in May.  When we order, we hedge our bets and divide our order between the two suppliers.  They are affected by weather too and in years past they’ve been hit by tropical storms, cold weather snaps, etc. which affects the timing and quality of the slips they are harvesting.  But, if all goes as planned, we get the slips by the end of May.  We transplant them into raised beds covered with dark green plastic which helps hold heat to make the plants think they’re in their preferred tropical environment!

Jose Luis & Oscar showing getting ready to 
start picking up the sweet potatoes
I mentioned we have two favorite varieties and those are Burgundy and Covington.  Covington is a dependable producer of nice banana-bunch like clusters of four to six potatoes.  They typically have nice shape and size, but generally fall slightly below in “brix,” which is a measure of sweetness.  Burgundy has moved to the top of the list with its deep orange color and sweetness for several years.  It tends to lag behind in yield, only producing two to three nice tubers in a cluster, but we love their rich taste and sweetness so are willing to compromise a bit on yield.  

Every year is different and this year defies these typical descriptions in many ways!  It was very dry and hot when we planted them, just what sweet potatoes like!  We have a water line under the plastic cover to deliver water and nutrients, but sweet potatoes do not require much fertility and we know that excess water produces thin, stringy potatoes and few tubers.  So we refrained from too much water based on the readings we took from our moisture sensors.  The vines were very prolific, vines on top of vines that were knee high!  In September when we cut them back to dig a test cluster, it was disappointing.  We only found one to three potatoes on each plant.  So in early October, we put a cover on them to trap in heat and prevent frost damage.  No frost came, but fearing wet and cold weather, we removed the cover, chopped the vines and dug them!  It took most of three days with a crew of ten to carefully lift and crate them.  Approximately 30,000 pounds went into the greenhouse where we “cured” them for about ten days.  This means we held them in an environment with temperatures around 85°F with very high humidity for 8-10 days which helps set the skins so they are more stable for storage and the starches in the tubers are converted to sugars enhancing their sweetness.  

Digging a few samples and digging the whole crop are pretty different.  The covers and waiting definitely produced more size to tubers, but it did not change the number of tubers in a cluster.  The Burgundy that is in this week’s box was a mystery to watch come out of the ground as I followed behind the digger.  The initial clusters remained at only 1 or 2 nice tubers, but below, very deep, about 18 inches was another crop of sweet potatoes that were long, skinny and beautifully twisted.  Needless to say, they are less than perfect in shape, but they still taste delicious! So while they may not look like the standard graded sweet potato you may see on a store shelf, we chose to include them in your boxes and hope you’ll embrace the unique individuality expressed in each one!  

This year the Covington and Burgundy both came out of the field with a Brix of 8-10 where we usually see 4-6.  After the curing process they both measured fairly equal at 11-12.  These two varieties do have different natural sugar profiles, so even if they measure similarly with a Brix reading, they can be two very different flavor and tasting experiences.  So, you be the judge!  Let us know what you think about the flavor of the Burgundy and compare it to the Covington variety we’ll be sending to you in several weeks.   

It’s best to store sweet potatoes at room temperature.  We do not recommend storing them in the refrigerator as they are susceptible to chill injury.  And that’s this year’s sweet potato story.  We hope you enjoy this year’s unique crop as you use them in soups, casseroles, tacos, desserts, baked goods and so much more over the next few weeks.  



Sweet Potato Muffins with Pecan Streusel


photo from thefirstmess.com
Yield:  10-12 muffins

Streusel Topping:
½ cup pecan halves, chopped
5 Tbsp coconut sugar or brown sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch fine sea salt
2 ½ Tbsp cold butter or vegan substitute

Muffins:
2 cups light spelt flour*
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp fine sea salt
1 ½ cups mashed, cooked sweet potato flesh
½ cup maple syrup
 cup melted coconut oil or butter, at room temperature
2 Tbsp milk or non-dairy alternative 
1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Lightly grease 10 cups of a standard size muffin tin and set aside.  Alternatively, line the muffin tin with muffin papers.
  2. Make the streusel topping.  In a small bowl, mix together the chopped pecans, coconut sugar, salt and cinnamon.  Add the butter to the bowl and mix it in with your fingers, or use a pastry cutter.  Break up the bits of butter and cut them into the sugar and pecans.  Once you have a sandy, crumbly texture, and the streusel sticks together when you pinch it with your fingers, set aside in the refrigerator.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the spelt flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt.  Stir with a spatula to evenly mix.
  4. In an upright blender, combine the mashed and cooked sweet potato, maple syrup, coconut oil, milk and vanilla.  Blend on high until totally smooth and creamy.  Alternatively, whisk these ingredients by hand in a medium mixing bowl.
  5. Pour the sweet potato mixture into the large bowl with the flour mixture.  Use your spatula to get all of the sweet potato mixture you can out of the blender.  Gently stir and fold everything together until JUST combined.  
  6. Divide the muffin batter evenly among the 10 prepared muffin cups.  Remove the pecan streusel from the fridge and divide it evenly amongst the tops of the muffins.  Press it in a bit with your fingers.  
  7. Bake the sweet potato muffins for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are domed, slightly golden and a pairing knife or cake tester inserted into the middle of one comes out clean.  Let the muffins cool completely before enjoying!
*Note Regarding Spelt flour:  If you do not have this type of flour available, you may substitute standard all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flower or gluten free flour of your choosing.

Recipe adapted slightly from TheFirstMess.com.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Farm: A Convergence of Nature and Humanity, a Living Organism


Richard & Andrea checking out the roots in a field
planted with a cover crop

By Andrea Yoder

Back in early August our friend John Peterson posted an article on the blog for his farm, Angelic Organics.  The title of his article was “Farmer John Writes:  Do You Eat Data?  If you have a minute, I’d encourage you to read his article.  If you receive/ed a CSA box on October 7/8/9, October 14/15/16 or October 21/22/23, you may have made the connection between this Farmer John I’m citing now and the Farmer John who grew the carrots in your box these weeks.  We share many parallel thoughts and perspectives on farming with John and want to take a moment to share some of his thoughts with you, after all its his energy and that of Angelic Organics that comes with those carrots to your table!

Fall Garlic Planting
In his article, John challenges us to consider the difference between viewing a farm as a living organism as opposed to a collection of data points.  His definition of a farm is a little different from the dictionary definition.  The dictionary defines a farm as “a tract of land devoted to agricultural purposes.”  John defines a farm as “a convergence of nature and humanity.”  I have to say, John’s definition resonates with us much more closely than the textbook definition of a farm.  You see, a farm is more than just “a tract of land.”  It truly is a living organism that needs to be nurtured, cared for, guided, protected.  It needs someone to commit to caring for it, a steward or rather stewards.  This is where the concept of a farm as a living organism comes to life.  It’s where humans commit to connecting to nature in a way that is bilaterally supportive and beneficial.  It’s where the perspective of a farm supersedes the data and our eyes are opened to the dynamic, complex nature of a farm.  It’s where food becomes more than just a product and becomes a way of connecting to nature, to community, to something much greater and more meaningful.

Silvestre counting the number of seeds per foot
the planter is putting out to make sure the
planting rate is correct.

 

Lets pause for a moment and revisit the concept of viewing the farm as a collection of data points.  We do use data every single day.  Our farm is a collection of every subject in school.  Most of us carry calculators in our back pocket.  We have all kinds of forms and documents where we record data—every single day.  We look at harvest yields and efficiency.  We consider bed feet and the quantity of seed needed to plant a specific plot of land.  We titrate mixes of nutrients to feed plants through drip irrigation, utilize metric tools to do repairs on machinery, apply concepts of pressure changes and temperatures to managing refrigeration, and of course we have to look at the bottom line on a Profit & Loss report to make decisions that help us keep the farm profitable, self-sustaining and ensure it has a future.  But with as many data points as we utilize every day, there are just as many considerations and aspects to viewing a farm as a living organism that are less tangible and more difficult to measure as a data point. 

What about the people?  As we look at our farm, we’re not just talking about ourselves who have been labeled “The Farmers.”  We alone are not the only caretakers of this land, and thank goodness as it’s a job that far exceeds our capabilities alone!  As we consider the convergence of nature and humans at Harmony Valley Farm, it’s vital to broaden our perspective to include you, our CSA members, as well as our employees and those within the community who support the innerworkings of our farm. This ranges from the guy who delivers parts from Auto Value to the truck drivers who pick up produce from our farm each week and everyone in between.  Yes, our relationships are laced with transactions.  We issue paychecks biweekly to our employees.  We pay invoices for services we receive.  We process payments from you when you submit money to purchase your CSA shares.  It can stop there if you want it to, but we hope you look a little further. 

We all need the food that comes off this farm.  This is the food that sustains our bodies, keeps us healthy, supports the growth and development of children, strengthens our immune systems and helps us function in our highest capacities.  People who eat well, feel well and, we hope, go on to do good things in this world.  This is where the meaning and connection, the convergence of humans and nature, becomes a beautiful, dynamic, living organism with a reach and impact that goes beyond what we even realize.

The Nash family enjoying our 
Fall Harvest Party in 2019

Over the years we’ve heard many stories about how participating in CSA has impacted people’s lives in positive ways.  CSA kids who grow into beautiful, healthy adults, families who have built memories around the meals they’ve shared and the moments they’ve spent at the farm.  Members who have become our close friends and loyal supporters.  You see, there’s an energy that comes with that food and we hope you understand the food we produce comes with a big dose of commitment, dedication and desire to truly nurture and care for this organism.  But we also hope you understand that we feel the energy you send back to us!  Your gratitude, whether spoken or unspoken, the ways you go on to do good things in this world, the ways you use these vegetables and connections to enhance your own lives.  It all matters. 

What about the many hands that work here, our employees?  Farmworkers are often overlooked and underrepresented.  One of our longtime buyers made a comment one time that every time a consumer takes advantage of cheap food, someone along the supply chain is exploited.  I don’t have a data point to demonstrate this point, but I can tell you that in the industry of fresh market vegetables, labor is the greatest cost of producing food.  Thus, it’s also the line item on a Profit & Loss statement that often stands out the most and is subject to being cut.  This farm would not run without the efforts of our employees.  

Luis is happiest when he's operating a tractor!

Their physical strength as well as their positive, “can-do” attitudes, problem-solving abilities, refined skills and even their jokes and laughter are what fuel our days.  Your dollars and continued support of our farm in turn supports these workers and their families.  The majority of our employees come from Mexico and many of them have worked with us for many years.  We care for each other and while as employers it’s not our responsibility to be concerned for the families of our employees, we can’t deny the fact that their families are just as much a part of this farm as we are, as you are.  So yes, we do think about them, their needs, their well-being and send them gratitude at the end of every season.  Gratitude for sharing their loved one with our farm, to care for the land and contribute to producing food for our community.  Last week we had all of our chimneys professionally cleaned. We’ve had the same person clean them for several years now and he caught me off guard as we were closing up the deal when he was finished.  As I handed him the check for his services, he told me he loves coming to our farm every year.  He said “everyone is so nice and you can just tell they are happy and want to be here.”  Needless to say, my heart melted and his words confirmed just how much our employees contribute to the spirit of this farm.

Nitrogen nodules forming on the roots of cover
crop plants, plus millions of bacteria you 
cannot even see!

I could write volumes about the opportunities we all have to connect to the natural side of Harmony Valley Farm, but I’m going to condense my thoughts today and just highlight one of the many amazing natural aspects of our farm that exemplifies the convergence of nature and humans.  We are surrounded by a vast and complex community of microorganisms, fungus and beneficial bacteria.  This network of organisms extends from our forest land to our fields and everywhere in between.  We can’t see it with our naked eye, but we know it exists in the soil beneath our feet.  This network functions on our behalf, keeping our soils alive, helping to make nutrients available to the plants and continually contributing to the regeneration of our farm.  The benefits we reap from this vast underground system of microbes far exceeds the understanding of our humble minds, and yet it’s a part of what makes this farm a complex living organism.

Get a copy of Farmer John's
Cookbook packed with 
farm stories and seasonal 
recipes!

Thank you Farmer John for challenging us to “think outside the box.”  Yes, there are many in the world that view a farm as a data point, a tract of land, a factory in a sense that produces food.  But lets not lose sight of the bigger, broader view of a farm as a living organism.  One that generates food, yes, but also represents the convergence of nature and humanity.  One that we care for and support and in turn it supports and cares for us.  It’s a pretty meaningful bite to swallow.  On behalf of all of us on this side of the partnership, thank you for choosing to be part of this farm.  We appreciate and value you, we think of you and hope your lives are enhanced through this connection.