Monday, March 31, 2014

Final Match-Up for the Winter Vegetables

     It was an eventful weekend in terms of our vegetable bracket so before we jump into today’s big game, let’s recap the weekend events and look at our bracket below! In the battle between sweet potatoes and the honeynut butternut squash, sweet potatoes pulled ahead with the win. Broccoli romanesco and Brussels sprouts battled it out on Saturday but the broccoli romanesco pulled ahead with the ‘LIKES’. The weekend finished off with rutabagas nearly sweeping the board against the celeriac.

     Today we have our final match-up before the 8 elite vegetables start competing for the title of champion in our vegetable bracket. It’s another game of colors today with the Beauty Heart Radishes trying to out shine the Red Beets.  As all honorable matches start, let’s meet the competitors!

     The beauty heart radishes bring a crisp, colorful, sweet and mild kick to the table. Versatile, like many of the vegetable competitors, these vibrant radishes are great for both stir-frys and as on-the-go snacks with a veggie dip.  They also make a great topping for pizzas and salads! Beauty and Heart are exactly what these radishes are bringing to this match-up.

     Fighting the Beauty Heart Radishes we have the infamous Red Beets. These beets keep a few tricks up their sleeves – I mean leaves! Not only do they work great on salads and in soups, they also work wonders for fermenting and, shocking to some, are a hidden gem for many desserts! Chocolate beet cake anyone? It’s not easy to beat the beets, but today’s match-up will show us just how true that really is!

    So vegetable lovers, who is going to be our final competitor joining the elite 8 vegetables – the kicking beauty heart radishes or the unbeatable red beets? Head back to our Facebook page and place your vote!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Moving into the Winter Division Match-ups!

As the sweet sixteen are whittling down, we only have two more match-ups to complete the elite eight line-up.  Today we move into the Winter division with two of the farm favorites, Rutabaga versus Celeriac.

On the 'Like' side, we have the humble Rutabaga, known to many as “Grandma’s Favorite Vegetable.” Mmm, I can still smell Grandma’s Shepard’s pie with mashed rutabaga topping!  Farmer Richard is a fan of mashed rutabagas, simply cooked until tender and mashed with a little cream and butter.  We leave them in the field until they get a light frost to make them sweet and tasty.  They are a very solid vegetable and store well for a very long time to sustain us through a long Midwestern winter.

On the 'Share' side, we have the gnarly looking, but great tasting Celeriac (aka celery root).  Many people are intimidated by the outward appearance of celeriac with it’s bumpy peeling and knobby root base.  Don’t be intimated….celeriac is actually a very gentle vegetable and will serve you well in soups, stews, salads, and warm creamy gratins.  With its mild, sophisticated flavor and creamy white flesh, it seldom steals center stage.  Celeriac prefers to stay in the background offering subtlety to dishes and taking its role as a supporting actor very seriously.  Similar to the rutabaga, celeriac is known for its long storage potential to bridge the long gap between winter and spring.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Second Fall Division Match-up

To get to the elite eight, we have to eliminate another vegetable from our list.  Today we’ll finish up the fall division by pitting two of my personal favorites against each other.  This is going to be a tough one…..Broccoli Romanesco versus Brussels Sprouts!

On the 'Like' side, we have the unique, one-of-a kind Broccoli Romanesco.  For those of you who are intrigued by math and science, you’ll find the natural fractal pattern of this vegetable to be rather interesting.  I think it resembles a Christmas tree with it’s pointy spirals and lime-green color.  While the flavor is similar to cauliflower, it stands alone with a bit more of a “nutty” flavor, especially when roasted and topped with a little Parmesan cheese.

On the 'Share' side we have my personal favorite (at least for today), our frost-kissed Brussels Sprouts.  I know these little cabbage-like vegetables have gotten a pretty bad rap with the general public, but it’s really not their fault.  You see, they have been terribly misunderstood and far too many cooks have overcooked them thereby giving them a bad reputation.  Cooking time is key when dealing with Brussels sprouts….they are very delicate and can quickly go from sweet, crunchy & delicious to mushy and overcooked if you aren’t paying attention.  I love to pull those little balls off the stalk, cut them in half and fry them in a little butter for a short time and, in my house shred a little cheese on top.  Are you noticing the cheese theme in my house, the Wisconsin stereotype rings true for me - we love cheese!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Moving to the Fall Division Match-up!

We continue to make our way through the seasons to narrow the field to our eight elite vegetables.  Today we move into the Fall Division of the bracket to see the Sweet Potatoes go up against the Honeynut Butternut Squash.  This will be a sweet victory for either vegetable that makes it on to the next level in this round!

On the “Like” side (Captain Jack is calling them the “Home Team”)  we have Captain Jack’s favorite vegetable….Sweet Potatoes!  Sweet potatoes encompass so many things that Jack loves…..starting with digging!  When Farmer Richard gives the “OK” to start the dig, everyone puts on their serious faces and the race begins to get all 2 acres of sweet potatoes dug within a few days.  Jack keeps track of how many tons of potatoes are harvested in a day and everyone breathes a sigh of relief when they are all in.  After a week of curing in the greenhouse, these sweet beauties are ready to eat.  Jack’s favorite…..sweet potato fries!  Jack not only loves digging, but he is also a fan of catching sticks of any kind….and sweet potato fries qualify as sticks in this case!

Jack making sure the crew is doing a good job!

On the “Share” side, we have the Honeynut Butternut Squash bringing some stiff competition to this round.  The Honeynut Butternut Squash is our smallest squash, but has quickly won our hearts with its sweet, flavorful rich flesh.  This is not just any old butternut squash.  It’s a personal-sized beauty that only gets to be about 4-5” long.  There is a lot of natural sweetness concentrated in this little package and it seldom needs anything more than a pat of butter and a sprinkle of salt.  Just cut them in half, bake and serve…..they are so rich the flesh tastes like pumpkin pie!  Oh, and don’t forget about roasting the seeds inside to make a crunchy, nutty snack.  So much to offer in a vegetable that fits in the palm of your hand.  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Vegetable Madness Continues with Summer Division Match-Ups

     Yesterday’s game was a close one but it looks like the mini sweet peppers will be moving on to the next round in the Vegetable Madness games! Here is how the bracket stands so far:

     So who will the Mini Sweets be playing next? It’s time to find out! Today’s competition pits the bright, delicious Sungold Tomatoes against the beautiful Fresh Garlic! Both of these vegetables bring quiet a lot to the table – Let’s pull a few highlights on each of these teams that are fighting for their chance to battle the mini sweets:

     First up we have the Sungold Tomatoes! These small tangerine-orange tomatoes pack an “intense fruity flavor” that is unlike any other tomato of the season! These are great just popped in your mouth or dried and saved for a special treat to enjoy in the winter. I think the intensity of these tomatoes is going to shine through as they try to run up the number of ‘Likes’ in today’s match-up.

     And competing against the Sungold Tomatoes we have the Fresh Garlic! Don’t let the fact that the garlic has been resting all winter fool you - when these fresh bulbs make their way to the surface, they never disappoint! The juicy, mild flavor that comes out of this garlic is something you won’t soon forget. The Fresh Garlic has come to today’s competition looking to be shared and doesn’t plan to disappoint.
     Both of today’s competitors may seem small, but I think they will each put up quite a fight. Our office alone is split on who we think is going to pull out ahead in this game. Let’s see which vegetable brings their all and continues on to battle the Mini Sweet Peppers for winner in the summer vegetable division!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Second Match-up Complete, Third Match Competitors

In a much closer match in the Spring division, the Sugar Snap Peas edged out the Kohlrabi to move on to a match later against the overpowering Ramps.  I am just looking forward to eating all of these soon! Here is how we are currently standing in the bracket.

Remember Capt Jack picked all the vegetables and he is eagerly awaiting the results. You can see he is contemplating his bracket picks below.  Can you guess which vegetable he wants to win?

Now for the next round of contestants - both hailing from the Summer division of the Vegetable Bracket. Our first vegetable is the mouth-watering, sweet and adorable Mini Sweet Peppers. These little peppers are not only cute and colorful, but are terribly sweet when eaten raw or cooked.  What is my favorite way to eat them you ask (when they make it into my house)? I would have to say raw with a little garlic and herbed Brebis cheese stuffed in them. Yum!! This vegetable is a true team player, you just can't eat one!! We plant ½ acre of these little sweethearts and with all the colors, the rows look like little Christmas trees when they are loaded with ripe peppers.

The second vegetable contestant is not quite as flashy as the mini-sweet pepper, but equally beautiful and plentiful in its own way.  As the green beans come to the playing field, they recruited their yellow bean counterpart to join them on center-stage to add a little color to the competition against the mini-sweets.  Who doesn't love a fresh green or yellow bean?!  Green & yellow beans are usually considered to be more of the “old favorite” vegetable that has stood the test of time and comes back as a customer favorite year after year. One planting is never enough, so we plan to plant as many as 6 different crops each year!  If the weather cooperates, that means everyone will eat beans until they are coming out your ears!  Quickly sautéed with garlic, roasted until golden brown, or simply tossed with a light vinaigrette…..the crisp, fresh, mild flavor of green & yellow beans will always find their place on the summer dinner plate.

 So the real questions is.....  Who will the winner be!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

First round results and Second match line up!

Results after the First Match-up

At the end of the first match-up, ramps took an overwhelming lead right from the start and never looked back.  They beat out the overwintered spinach by an embarrassing margin. This does make me a little sad, as I do love both of them, I was hoping for a closer match.  I am also a little partial to the extra sweetness of the  overwintered spinach.  But, the votes are in and we move on to our next match-up in the Spring division!  

In this round, we have the ever versatile Kohlrabi. In is raw state it is has a crisp sweet and clean taste that can be eaten out of hand or shredded into a slaw (and so much more). Kohlrabi can also be cooked and adapts beautifully to cooking styles as different as Indian and German. Kohlrabi translates to 'cabbage-turnip' in German. As you can see in the picture below, it is also an exotic looking vegetable. Do not be intimidated by its bulbous stalk and collard-like green tops. You may think this is a root vegetable, but don't be fooled, that bulb you see grows above ground. 

And competing against the Kohlrabi we have the beloved Sugar Snap Peas.  At my house, these peas never make it to the front door from my garden.  Who can resist the sweet, fresh taste of a newly picked snap pea from the garden? Certainly not me, and I have no idea how the crew gets any back from the field for our CSA members at all.  Of course peas can also be cooked.  . . . . . .

So the big questions is, who will win today's match-up?

Monday, March 24, 2014

March Madness Fun!!

We have decided to to join in the March Madness Tournament Bracket excitement with a vegetable version of our own.  Each day we will post a new match-up of vegetables as chosen by Capt. Jack to our Facebook page.  Since we are a little late this year, we had Jack choose his version of the 'Sweet Sixteen". Join us each day on Facebook to make your selection for favorite vegetable overall.

You will notice that we have had Jack choose four vegetables from each season. Once we have a winner from each season, we move on to the Final Four showdown, then the overall winner will be chosen. You will have the option to either 'LIKE' or 'SHARE' to cast your vote to that vegetable listed in the match-up.  We will post the bracket updates as they come in here and the final winner will be posted here as well as on our Facebook page.