Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Research Update: Organic Food Consumption and Cancer Risk

By Andrea Yoder

Last week a research paper entitled “Association of Frequency of Organic Food Consumption with CancerRisk:  Findings from the NutriNet-SantéProspective Cohort Study” was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).  This paper was written by a group of researchers in France.  The research presented in this article is part of a large-scale prospective web-based study that was launched in 2009 and is ongoing. The purpose of this large-scale study is to “study associations between nutrition and health, as well as the determinants of dietary behaviors and nutritional status.”  The volunteers in this study were recruited from the general French population and participate in the study by completing online self-administrated questionnaires.

The purpose of this portion of the study was to “prospectively examine the association between consumption frequency of organic foods….and cancer risk” in the participants.  This is the first research study of this type to be done prospectively.  The authors acknowledge that cancer rates worldwide continue to rise and are one of the leading causes of mortality in France.  Environmental exposure to toxic chemicals is considered by some to be a risk factor for cancer, however the focus of exposure in this context is most often related to occupational exposure.  However, there is a growing body of evidence linking cancer development to pesticide exposure and there is now some published research documenting pesticide residue levels in food as well as urinary markers of pesticides in humans.  What is not well documented is how the dose and/or effect of chemical cocktails impact cancer development in humans.  Thus, the purpose of this study was to observe the correlation between eating organic food and the development of cancers. 

If you are interested in reading this paper yourself and understanding more about the study design, population size and demographics, statistical evaluation, etc, the article is available in full text online.  For the purposes of this report, I’m going to jump to their conclusions.
Researchers found that participants with higher organic food scores (ie those who ate more organic food in their diet) were associated with overall heathier lifestyles with diets rich in nutrients.  They also found that those with high organic food scores had an overall lower risk of cancer.  With regards to specific types of cancer, they found that those with high organic food scores had a lower incidence of postmenopausal breast cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and all lymphomas.  No associations were observed with other cancer sites.  The researchers commented that “Epidemiological research investigating the link between organic food consumption and cancer risk is scarce, and, to the best of our knowledge, the present study is the first to evaluate frequency of organic food consumption associated with cancer risk using detailed information on exposure.”  They also comment that “While there is a growing body of evidence supporting a role of occupational exposure to pesticides for various health outcomes and specifically for cancer development, there have been few large-scale studies conducted in the general population, for whom diet is the main source of pesticide exposure.  It now seems important to evaluate chronic effects of low-dose pesticide residue exposure from the diet and potential cocktail effects at the general population level.  In particular, further research is required to identify which specific factors are responsible for potential protective effects of organic food consumption on cancer risk.”

Farmer Richard with some of our gorgeous, nutritious
radishes earlier this spring.
So what is the take-home message here?  It’s been eleven years since I worked as a clinical dietitian at a major medical university hospital on the east coast.  However, during my time as a clinician it was often a challenge to get the medical community I worked with to even acknowledge the major role even basic good nutrition plays in health both for disease prevention as well as healing and rehabilitation.  I recall little if any discussion of food quality, let alone discussion about the pros and cons of food produced in an organic system.  In that world, the sentiment always seemed to be that a calorie is a calorie and a carrot is a carrot.  No distinction was made between an organic carrot versus a conventional carrot.  So, for those who still question whether or not food produced without dangerous toxic chemicals has a positive impact on human health, I think it’s great that we are finally starting to discuss this topic and do the prospective research needed to fully evaluate this question from a scientific perspective.  I am also encouraged that this paper has been published in a major medical journal in this country.  I count this as progress and am hopeful that this research and these discussions will continue to move forward in a way that ultimately impacts our population in positive ways through greater knowledge and hopefully changes in dietary recommendations given by health professionals.

It’s obvious that Richard and I have a biased opinion about this topic as we have clearly chosen to produce food using organic methods.  We also seek out organic food for our own diets and believe that it is the best way to feed and nourish our bodies both by limiting exposure to potentially cancer-causing chemicals as well as providing our bodies with nutrients that help prevent cancer.  So, as always, we encourage everyone to make their own informed decisions about their food.  For this reason I hope we continue to see more research reports from well-designed studies to help us understand these issues surrounding the way our food is produced and the ultimate outcome for our health. 

November 1, 2018 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Chicories

Cooking With This Week's Box

Orange Carrots: Carrot, Beet & Apple Salad

Red & Yellow Onions: Caramelized Onion Jam

Italian Garlic: Garlic Soup

Chioggia Beets: Carrot, Beet & Apple Salad 

Escarole:  Escarole & Bean Soup (see below);  Pasta with Gorgonzola, Radicchio, Walnuts, and Orange (see below)

This week’s box is packed full of fall goodness and while we’re moving into November, we are thankful to still have some delicious greens to enjoy!  This week we’re featuring Escarole or Radicchio.  I like bitter greens and this is by far my favorite time of year to enjoy them.  We can use the escarole to make this very simple Escarole & Bean Soup (see below) or use escarole or radicchio in this recipe for Pasta with Gorgonzola, Radicchio, Walnuts, and Orange (see below).

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos
photo from eats well with others
We all like an easy recipe or two to have on the back burner for a busy evening when you don’t have a lot of time to make dinner.  This recipe for Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos is pretty easy.  You could even roast the sweet potatoes in advance so you would just have to warm up the components and assemble the tacos.  Serve this with the Carrot, Beet & Apple Salad we featured in this week’s fruit newsletter and you have a quick, simple and very healthy option for dinner!

A few weeks ago I came across this recipe for a Butternut Apple Cranberry Sandwich.  This is a vegetarian sandwich based on slices of roasted butternut squash layered with fresh apples, dried cranberries a handful of arugula or other greens and a bit of quick pickled red cabbage.  Not only is this filling, but it’s packed with nutrients!
Tis the season for butternut squash, and I’ve had my eye on this Butternut Squash & Bacon Breakfast Casserole.   I love a good egg dish and would likely never have thought to put butternut squash in a dish like this!  The recipe calls for spinach, but the author suggests substituting kale instead.  Conveniently, we can use this week’s lacinato kale tops to complete this recipe!  Serve this along with Brussels Sprouts with Maple & Cayenne for a tasty brunch on the weekend.

With this week’s parsnips, I’m going to make two things.  First, this recipe for Chardonnay Braised Chicken Thighs with Parsnips which we featured in our newsletter previously.  This recipe will use about a pound of the parsnips, but you have 1 ½ pounds in this week’s box.  So, lets take the remainder, shred them and use them to make these Parsnip Muffins!  Even people who do not like parsnips usually enjoy this recipe!

photo from Wellness Mama
What are you going to do with all these onions?  Make Caramelized Onion Jam!  Make a big batch of this jam for the holidays.  Serve it on bread or crackers with goat cheese or another soft spreadable cheese of your choice.  You might also want some of this after Thanksgiving to use as a smear on bread for that after-Christmas TV Marathon.

Last, but not least, we have one head of garlic remaining in the box!  Keep yourself healthy this winter.  Use garlic in your diet every day and you’ll reap the health consequences for sure!  Check out this recipe for Garlic Soup!  We’re determined to stay healthy this winter!

Have a great week and we’ll be back in two weeks!

Thank you—Chef Andrea

Featured Vegetable: Chicories--Escarole & Radicchio

As we push into the final months of the year, our Midwestern seasonal diet shifts more to hearty roots and storage vegetables and fresh greens become more sparse.  But don’t think we’re done with greens yet!  This week we’re happy to be able to include some late season, cold-hardy chicories including either escarole or radicchio.  Both of these greens are bitter, cold-hardy greens that are best suited for growing in the fall and are sturdy enough to be able to take some frosty, cold nights.  In fact, we don’t even think about harvesting them until they’ve had some chilly nights!  The flavor of these greens changes dramatically after they’ve had cold treatment.  They are bitter greens, but don’t let that deter you.  When you harvest them after a frost, you’ll find their flavor profile to be bitter, but it’s a much more mild, well-balanced and slightly sweet flavor.  We have had temperatures down into the lower twenties.  These greens do just fine uncovered when freezing temperatures are in the low 30’s and high 20’s, but they can sustain some damage when we get a hard freeze.  So, we do cover these plants to protect them from freezing too hard on those really cold nights.  We don’t want the cover to rub on the leaves, so we have to put wire hoops over the beds to keep the cover off the plants.  The deer in our valley like to eat their greens every day and when their food sources are limited, they do enjoy a nice nibble on some escarole.  While we like to support our local wildlife, we do not like to share these greens with them!  So, the crew put a tall deer fence around the perimeter of the field to protect them.

Escarole resembles a head of green leaf lettuce.  The center leaves are sometimes light green or slightly yellow and the outer leaves are more broad and a bit more thick when compared to leaf lettuce.  There are several different kinds of radicchio, but this year we grew the round type that is supposed to make a little round head, similar to a Boston lettuce.  The leaves are dark red and even the outer leaves of the plant may be eaten.  Radicchio has a pretty long growing season and some years it’s hard to get them to full size.  They are very light and small right now, but it doesn’t look like we’re going to have enough more warm, sunny days to make much of a difference in their size so we decided to harvest them while we can.

Both escarole and radicchio may be eaten raw or cooked.  If you don’t mind a little bit of the bitter taste, you will enjoy eating these greens as a salad.  Cooking mellows out the bitterness and accentuates the sweet qualities in these greens.  Both of these greens are used more in Italian cuisine.  There’s a classic preparation for escarole that some Italian cooks call Scarola Affogata, which means “smothered escarole.”  In this dish, garlic is sautéed in olive oil until golden, then chopped escarole, salt and red pepper flakes and seasoning are added to the pan.  The greens are cooked until they are soft and tender.  This is then served as side dish, or you can use the greens for another purpose, such as on top of a pizza!

Escarole and radicchio pair well with other fall vegetables and fruits such as apples, pears, persimmons, lemons, oranges, garlic, onions, beets, potatoes and butternut squash.  They are also often included in dishes with white beans and lentils.  Additionally, they pair well with hazelnuts and walnuts as well as butter, prosciutto, bacon, cheese (including blue cheese, Parmesan, and gruyere).  Escarole is often used in soup, such as in this week’s featured recipe.  Radicchio is often used in pasta dishes, on top of pizza, or raw in salads.

Store escarole and radicchio in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until ready to use.  You will need to wash the leaves as you would wash head lettuce.  We hope you enjoy these unique, late season greens and the vitality you get from eating them!

Escarole and Bean Soup

Yield: 6 servings

Author’s note:  “This is probably the fastest soup you'll ever throw together.  I sometimes add sausage to make it a little heartier.”

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 head escarole, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1-15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1-ounce chunk of Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
Crusty Bread, for serving
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the escarole and saute until wilted, about 3 minutes.  Add the chicken broth, beans and chunk of Parmesan cheese.  Simmer until the beans are heated through, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Ladle the soup into 6 bowls.  Drizzle 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil over each portion.  Serve with crusty bread.

Recipe borrowed from Giada de Laurentiis’ book, Giada’s Family Dinners.

Pasta with Gorgonzola, Radicchio, Walnuts, and Orange

Yield:  4 servings

1 cup chopped walnuts

Salt, to taste

8 to 12 oz pasta, such as penne or gemelli

¼ cup olive oil
10-12 oz radicchio and/or escarole, cut into 1-inch-wide ribbons
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 oz crumbled gorgonzola or other mild blue cheese
½ cup chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
Zest of 1 orange, plus the juice (optional)
Grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano, for serving, optional
  1. Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium heat.  Add the walnuts and toast them over medium-low heat for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently so they do not burn.  Remove and set aside.  Wipe out skillet.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt and return to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente according to the package directions.
  3. While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce: Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the radicchio and/or escarole and season with salt and pepper. Cook the radicchio until it begins to wilt and brown, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the gorgonzola and cook for 2 minutes. Add ½ cup of the pasta water directly from the pot and simmer for 3 minutes more. The water should emulsify the cheese and create a velvety texture.
  5. Scoop the cooked pasta directly into the skillet (alternatively, drain, reserving plenty of the pasta cooking liquid) and toss to combine the pasta with the sauce. Add the walnuts and parsley and toss again until glossy, adding ¼ cup of pasta water or more (up to 1 cup), as needed to loosen up the sauce. Add the zest and toss to combine. Taste. Adjust as needed with more salt and pepper.

This recipe was borrowed from, with recipe featured on

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Dusk…Fall…Frost… Winter

By Chef Andrea

Kohlrabi harvest from Saturday, complete with snow.
Last weekend we had our first hard frost with temperatures dropping down into the twenties.  We also saw snow flying and on Saturday we were pelted with snow, rain and sleet as we unloaded the harvest wagons when the crews came in for lunch!  Needless to say, now that the chill is on it’s time to truly acknowledge we’re shifting seasons.  While some may scowl at the thought of winter weather, the changing of seasons is one of the beauties of living…and eating in the midwest.  As CSA members, you are probably some of the most seasonally informed eaters as we follow the cues nature gives us as we harvest and plant across the wide range of seasons we experience from spring to summer and then fall and into winter.  Nature gives us what we need, when we need it and now we’re entering into the season of the year where the daylight hours are dwindling, the temperatures are dropping, and it’s time for us to slow down and keep warm.  In The Birchwood Café Cookbook, they call the transition from summer to fall the season of “Dusk” and mark the transition to winter with the onset of the first frost.  I like the description they use: “…out in our fields, ghosts of the harvest—stalks and vines, a few errant squash—are coated with silver and glisten in the morning sun.  The sudden cold snaps our appetites into action.  Hungers surge, and we start roasting roots and cooking whole grains and working with farmstead meats.”  This description is what we woke up to Sunday morning and those “ghosts of the harvest” were evident.  Stalks and stems once vibrant and alive now with frosted, wilted leaves frozen and motionless.  Our field work is dwindling, but we’re well-stocked with plenty of delicious vegetables to sustain us through the winter.

Escarole Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette, Pears,
and Almonds
“Bittersweet.  That’s fall in a nutshell.  Leaves are dropping, along with the temperatures, and the lush plants bursting with life such a short time ago look all used up.  Yet after summer’s frenetic growth, I can’t help but welcome fall’s slower pace.  I’m ready to be indoors, spending a little longer by the warm stove…Vegetables that love the cold—like Brussels sprouts and braising greens—are coming into their prime, sweetened by the cold nights and occasional fall frosts that encourage sugar development.  Roots are sweeter now as well.  I do still serve some fall vegetables raw, especially those first Brussels spouts and kale leaves.  But I’m more likely now than in early months to turn up the stove and transform the vegetables with heat.”  This is an excerpt from Joshua McFadden’s book Six Seasons in which he introduces the changing of seasons and cooking in the fall.  He’s right, the slower pace of winter can be a welcomed relief.  We replace quick vegetable sautes and grilled vegetables with roasted vegetables, baked sweet potatoes and squash and slowly simmered soups and stews.  While there are still some quick preparations for roots and the like, many of these vegetables need some time to become soft, tender and for their flavors to develop.  That being said, I do encourage you to continue to enjoy some things raw.  Even though we don’t have spinach, lettuce and salad greens anymore, we can still enjoy fresh, crunchy vegetable salads.  Now is the time to get creative with cabbage slaws, shredded carrot salads, Kohlrabi and celeriac slaws and even beet salads.  We also have some hearty fall greens that are frost-tolerant, such as escarole and tat soi.  There are so many interesting ways to prepare these vegetables in their raw form.  Combine them with different flavorful oils such as hazelnut or walnut oil.  Mix them with winter fruit like apples, pears, and citrus.  Add some additional crunch with toasted squash seeds, roasted nuts, croutons or crispy shallots. 

One Pot Kabocha Squash and Chickpea Curry
With the holidays upon us, it’s also a time of the year to come together to celebrate and enjoy the company of friends and family.  Spend some time cooking and eating together.  It’s good for the soul and remember, part of this whole CSA concept is community!  I’m reminded of the beauty of community every year when we receive an invitation to the annual Verona Root Party.  This is a party hosted at the beginning of December every year for…well I’m not sure how many years but I’d guess it could be as many as 20 or more!  This is a group of CSA members who have “grown up” together, sharing in the beauty of friendships and community as they’ve helped each other raise their children, watched them grow up and move out to go to college and find their place in this world.  Every year they take the time to celebrate not only their community, but the food and relationship they have to our farm.  Their meals are delicious, creative and beautiful. 

Brussels Sprouts in the field covered in snow.
So as we move into yet another season, I hope you’ll pause to consider how fortunate we are to be able to eat through the different seasons, experiencing the best that nature has to offer us.  Our own experienced Farmer Richard has learned a lot of farming “tricks” over the years that allow us to extend the perimeters of our farming season by working with nature and being willing to try different vegetables that may not be so common.  We started off the season with ramps, sorrel and nettles and we’ll end it with Brussels sprouts, cabbage, storage kohlrabi, sweet potatoes, winter squash and a plethora of hearty roots.  These vegetables will sustain us as we move through winter and welcome the arrival of another spring….and then we’ll start the cycle all over again.  Thank you for choosing to eat seasonally.  As we finish out the final two months of CSA deliveries, we’ll be stocking your refrigerators and pantries to prepare you for the winter.  We hope you enjoy this season of fall and winter culinary creativity as you prepare delicious, hearty, nourishing meals. 

October 25, 2018 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Celeriac

Cooking With This Week's Box

Burgundy and/or Japanese Sweet Potatoes: Japanese Sweet Potato Oven Fries with Wasabi Aioli

Russet Potatoes: Carrot and Potato Mash

Baby Red Beets: Blueberry Beet Muffins

Spaghetti Squash: Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai

Celeriac: Wild Rice & Celeriac Gratin (see below); Celeriac Salad with Buttermilk Dressing (see below)

Green Top Red Radishes: Fried Fish Sandwiches with Radish Slaw

It’s time to transition to hearty fall and winter fare.  Braised vegetables and meats, casseroles, hearty stews and crispy root vegetable winter salads.  Lets dive into this week’s box and tackle celeriac first.  You may be surprised by how far even one medium celeriac will go, and it’s a pretty versatile vegetable to use.  I really enjoy the how the flavors of wild rice and celeriac go together as both are very hearty and slightly earthy.  You’ll enjoy this combination in this week’s featured recipe for Wild Rice & Celeriac Gratin (see below).  This dish can stand on its own as a main dish or you could serve it as a side dish along roast beef or braised pork.  The other recipe we’re featuring this week is for a simple raw Celeriac Salad with Buttermilk Dressing (See Below).  This recipe calls for celery, which I don’t have right now so I’m going to use shaved carrots instead.  If you don’t have fresh pomegranate seeds, you could also use fresh or dried cranberries in place of them.

Kohlrabi & Chickpea Curry
Photo from
Wait until you taste the kohlrabi in the box this week!  We don’t always grow kohlrabi in the fall, but thought we would include it this year so we have another crispy, crunchy option to enjoy in salads and just as a raw vegetable after all the other fresh vegetables are harvested.  If it seems too big for you, don’t think you have to use it all at one time.  Just cut off the portion you want to use and return the remainder (unpeeled) to the refrigerator, well wrapped to keep it from drying out.  Richard’s been asking for Kohlrabi slaw, so this week I want to make this Kohlrabi and Apple Slaw using some of the apples we got in our fruit share last week.  I’ve never used kohlrabi in any kind of a curry dish, so I’m intrigued by Andrea Bemis’s recipe for Kohlrabi & Chickpea Curry.
I have a big jar of red lentils on my shelf, so this week I’m going to make Red Lentils with Winter Squash & Greens.  We featured this recipe in a previous newsletter and recommended using mustard greens or spinach.  We’re done with both mustard greens and spinach so I’m going to use the green curly kale in this week’s box.

A few weeks ago I made this simple Carrot and Potato Mash and it was so delicious!  I usually put about 4-5 different roots in our root mash, but opted to keep it simple and the result was so good.  It’s light, fluffy and slightly sweet.  We’re going to have this for dinner this week with pot roast, with a little gravy of course.

Blueberry Beet Muffins
Photo from
I usually opt for simple steamed beets or a beet salad, but I have to try this recipe for Blueberry Beet Muffins!  I never would have paired beets and blueberries together, but think about all the antioxidants you’ll get in these pink muffins!  This was a recipe a member shared on our Facebook group.  Thanks for sharing this Greta!

I have really been enjoying trying new spaghetti squash recipes this year.  Thankfully these squash have been storing well despite the fact that this variety historically is one that we try to use sooner than later.  This week I’m going to try this recipe for Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai.

I hope you enjoy trying some of the Japanese sweet potatoes this week.  We don’t have many, but we’re going to include a little bit in as many boxes as we’re able to.  I want to try this recipe for Japanese Sweet Potato Oven Fries with Wasabi Aioli.  Of course this recipe will work with regular orange sweet potatoes as well so I’ll be using both, which will look really beautiful along with some white and black sesame seeds sprinkled on top.  These will go well with Fried Fish Sandwiches with Radish Slaw.  The recipe for the radish slaw calls for salad turnips, but I’m going to use kohlrabi instead.

We’ve reached the bottom of yet another CSA box and have quite a variety of recipes in the lineup for this week.  Just because we’re heading into the season of storage vegetables doesn’t mean our meals can’t still be diverse, flavorful and exciting to prepare and eat!  Have a great week and start thinking about Thanksgiving. It’s time to start planning the menu and getting the recipes lined up!—Chef Andrea 

Featured Vegetable: Celeriac

Celeriac, or celery root as it is also known, can be a bit intimidating if you’re encountering it for the first time.  However, as with all vegetables, there’s really no need to be intimidated…it’s just a vegetable!  Celeriac is in the same family as celery.  The difference is that celeriac is grown for its root and celery is grown for its stalks.  The stalks on celeriac resemble celery and have a lot of delicious flavor in them, however they are more tough and fibrous than celery and are not usually eaten as you would eat a celery stalk.  While this week’s celeriac do not have tops, we do sometimes deliver green top celeriac.  If you ever get celeriac with the tops still on, don’t throw them away!  Their flavor can add depth to a pot of stock or soup. 

Now for the root bulb.  First, scrub the exterior of the root the best you can.  Next, thinly slice away the top and bottom of the root so there is a flat side on the top and the bottom.  You’ll probably need to take a little more off the bottom to get past the majority of the roots and get into the more usable bulb portion of the root.  At this point, I usually cut the root in half or into quarters so it is easier to handle.  Using a paring knife, carefully trim away the outer skin.  Once you’ve removed the outer skin, rinse the remaining piece of celeriac and clean your cutting board if there’s any residual dirt.  The inner portion of the root is white, solid and entirely edible. 

Celeriac has a subtle celery flavor that provides a background to soups, stews, and root mashes.  It also makes a delicious soup or gratin on its own or combined with potatoes or other root vegetables.  It can also be eaten raw in salads and slaws paired with other fall fruits and vegetables and a simple creamy dressing.  There is a classic French preparation called Remoulade which is basically a creamy celeriac slaw.  I like to make a slaw based on this concept, but add apples and fresh, chopped cranberries as well as parsley when available.  I’ve noticed more “paleo” recipes are encouraging the use of celeriac as a substitute for starchy potatoes, noodles, etc. 

Celeriac stores quite well, thus it is an important part of our seasonal winter diets.  It can actually be stored for up to 6 months!  Keep it in your refrigerator loosely wrapped in plastic or in the crisper drawer until you are ready to use it.

Celeriac Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

Yield: 4 side salads

1 celeriac (about ¾ pound)
¾ cup Buttermilk Dressing (recipe follows)
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 cup peeled and shaved celery
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt

  1. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the celeriac, and then finely julienne it.  In a bowl, dress the celeriac with ½ cup of the buttermilk dressing.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the pomegranate seeds, parsley, celery, olive oil, and lemon juice.  Season to taste with salt, and toss well.
  3. Spoon 1 Tbsp of the remaining buttermilk dressing on each plate, and spread it out with the back of your spoon.  Divide the dressed celeriac among the plates, and then spoon the pomegranate, parsley, and celeriac salad evenly over the top.
Recipes borrowed from The Broad Fork, Recipes for the wide world of vegetables and fruits by Hugh Acheson

Buttermilk Dressing

Yield: 1 cup

½ cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp crème fraiche
½ tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine the buttermilk, mustard, lemon juice, mayonnaise, crème fraiche, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.  Whisk to combine, and serve.  The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Recipes borrowed from The Broad Fork, Recipes for the wide world of vegetables and fruits by Hugh Acheson

Wild Rice and Celeriac Gratin

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

¼ cup minced shallot or onion
3 Tbsp butter or oil
2 Tbps flour
1 ½ cups milk, scalded (can be nondairy milk)
½ tsp sea salt
Freshly milled white pepper
½ tsp grated nutmeg
1 Tbsp butter
1 small celeriac, peeled and grated
Juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
Sea salt and freshly milled pepper
3 cups wild rice, cooked
½ cup grated Gruyère
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan

  1. Cook the shallot in 3 Tbsp butter in a small saucepan over low heat for 3 minutes.  Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes more.  Whisk in the hot milk all at once, then cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently, or for 30 minutes in the top of a double boiler.  Season with ½ tsp salt, a little white pepper, and the nutmeg. Set the sauce aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Lightly butter or oil a baking dish.  Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the celeriac with the lemon juice, garlic, and parsley and cook until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Combine the wild rice, celeriac, and sauce and stir in the cheeses.  Turn into the dish and bake until firm, about 25 minutes.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

Recipe adapted from The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Farm Update

By Farmer Richard

Fall is here!  The trees are turning beautiful colors.  It seems quiet now that the humming birds, swallows, dragonflies and butterflies have all left for warmer climates in the south.  We look forward to their return in the spring!  We heard a few whippoorwills as they passed through on their way south, but now the resident Great Horned and Bard owls keep us company as they talk to us every morning and at night.

It is proving to be a very wet fall encompassing multiple flood events followed by weeks of wet days.  The damage caused by the floods at the end of August and first of September created quite a mess for us to clean up!  The powerful waters blew out field protecting berms, washing away as much as five inches of the best topsoil and depositing sand, rock and driftwood in its place.  It’s a mess to say the least!  So we have spent the last three weeks clearing not only piles of driftwood and rocks from fields, but also removing most of the trees that have grown up in the creek bed over many years.  This is a huge job involving six crew members daily for three full weeks.  Our little spring fed creek normally is only six inches deep and six feet wide, but when the run off from the surrounding woods and poorly managed ridgetop fields pours into our valley, the result has been devastating.  This year we saw significant damage to fields that have not been flooded since 1952.  The NRCS staff that cost-shared our streambank repairs in 2006 and again in 2008 admit they did not understand how to prevent future damage.  Together we figured it out and are working to improve the landscape before the next substantial weather event.  We removed all trees that impeded water movement.  We left single trees of apple, walnut and majestic shade trees and a few black locust to use for future wood and fence posts.  We made sure there are no two trees left side-by-side that could catch drifting logs and create a dam effect.  The concept is to let flood water easily spread rather than forcing a bank to wash out or overflow into our fields.  The result is actually attractive.  Our neighbors say it looks like a park!  It will now grow more soil protecting grass for our cows to eat instead of the willow thickets and junk trees that blocked water movement previously.

One of our other challenges is that we have to put the topsoil back where it washed out.  We have a plan, but it depends on dry weather!  We have a forecast for several dry, windy days this week, and maybe more.  But HVF doesn’t operate on maybe!  We are full out harvesting the roots that we need for fall and planting a rye cover crop on the fields as soon as we can to provide for winter protection.  We have our garlic seed cracked and ready to plant.  Please, please, just a few more days of dry weather to get it in!   A few more days to plant horseradish and sunchokes would be appreciated.  And at the same time our root harvest progresses even though a bit muddy, less than ideal, but if we can, go for it.  Most carrots are in, celeriac is smaller than we like, but in.  Cabbages are in and look great.  Brussels sprouts now sweetened by several frosts are limited but yet to harvest.

We’re hoping to finish harvesting beets tomorrow (Wednesday) and will then move on to more parsnip, burdock, turnip, beauty heart radish and a very nice crop of the very large kohlrabi for December boxes.  We still have hopes for some more spinach and a long shot gamble on other greens that would only make it if we had a nice, warm “Indian summer.”

We’re doing the best we can in less than ideal conditions.  Despite the challenges, we’re still bringing in some beautiful vegetables!  We still have five more CSA deliveries after this week and we’re confident these boxes will continue to be filled with beautiful vegetables.  We’ll continue to make the most of each day and do our best to finish the season strong.  Our guys are anxious to return to Mexico to see their families, but we need to get our fall work finished first.  Keep your fingers crossed that we get those dry days we need! 

October 18, 2018 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Green Savoy Cabbage

Cooking With This Week's Box

Garlic: Roasted Cabbage with Bacon Gremolata or Toasted Walnut Sauce (see below); Smoky Squash Chili with Quinoa, Pinto & Black BeansCharred Broccoli & Tofu Stuffed Avocados with Sweet Curry Lemon Sauce    

Broccoli Romanesco or Cauliflower: Curried Cauliflower Pizza

Baby ArugulaPear Vinagrette or a fruity Apple Vinaigrette

Burgundy Sweet Potatoes: Sweet Potato Skillet Hash

Russet Potatoes:  Green Cabbage Soup with Potatoes and Sour Cream (see below)

Green Savoy Cabbage:  Green Cabbage Soup with Potatoes and Sour Cream (see below);  Roasted Cabbage with Bacon Gremolata or Toasted Walnut Sauce (see below) 

Here we are, almost at the end of October!  The past week has been a chilly one which makes me really ready to fully transition to fall and winter cooking.  Lets kick off this week’s discussion with a super-simple recipe for Green Cabbage Soup with Potatoes and Sour Cream (see below).  Deborah Madison is well-known for simple, vegetable-centric recipes.  This soup is no exception.  From beginning to end it only took me 35 minutes to prep all the vegetables and simmer the soup.  No blenders, no complicated steps and very limited ingredients.  This is nothing fancy, but it’s nourishing and delicious.  I followed Deborah’s suggestion to garnish it with a dollop of sour cream and freshly chopped parsley.  You could grate Parmesan cheese on top or you could add a can of cannellini beans to the soup if you wanted to add a little more protein or body.  We enjoyed this warm soup with a piece of rustic bread and a light salad made with our salad mix tossed with vinegar and oil.
The other cabbage recipe we’re featuring this week is a combination of recipes from Andrea Bemis’s book, Dishing up the Dirt, and Sarah Britton’s book, Naturally Nourished.  Andrea has a delicious recipe for Roasted Cabbage with Bacon Gremolata (see below).  This is another very easy recipe that doesn’t take much time to prepare, you just have to be patient while the cabbage roasts.  If you don’t care for the Bacon Gremolata, try Sarah’s Toasted Walnut Sauce (see below).  Sarah has a similar recipe for charred cabbage in her book and garnishes the cabbage with this sauce which I think is a great vegan option for the roasted cabbage recipe.  This dish could stand on its own for any meal of the day if you served it with a piece of toast and a fried egg, or you could serve it in a smaller portion as a side dish.

Carrot Corn Muffins
Photo from Creative Culinary
It’s chili season!  This recipe just popped into my inbox, Smoky Squash Chili with Quinoa, Pinto & Black Beans.  This is a hearty vegan chili that uses the sweet, rich honeynut butternut squash for a bit of sweetness.  The smokiness comes from chipotle adobo sauce and fire-roasted canned tomatoes.  This will be delicious served with chunks of fresh avocado, which we conveniently have in this week’s fruit share!  I’m going to add a few slices of fresh lime as well (also in our fruit share) and serve it with these Carrot Corn Muffins.

While I was poking around on The First Mess blog after reading the post about the Squash Chili recipe, I came across this recipe for Charred Broccoli & Tofu Stuffed Avocados with Sweet Curry Lemon Sauce.  This sounds like a delicious, flavorful recipe to make with some of the last broccoli of the season paired with avocados from the fruit share.  If you don’t care for tofu, consider substituting tempeh or even chicken if you prefer.  This recipe also calls for fresh apricots, which are not available now.  I’m going to substitute chunks of fresh Jonagold apples instead.

Any time you can incorporate vegetables into your breakfast, you earn an automatic win for the day.  Check out this simple, yet flavorful recipe for Sweet Potato Skillet Hash.  This recipe is from Sarah Britton.  While most of her recipes are vegan, she does on occasion incorporate organic free-range eggs, which is the case with this recipe.  This is a hearty way to start the day or have it for weekend brunch and make a little extra that you can quickly heat up for breakfast on Monday morning.

Curried Cauliflower Pizza
Photo from Naturally Ella
You know I like a good, unique pizza!  This week lets try this Curried Cauliflower Pizza!  I can’t say that I’ve ever had pizza with cauliflower on it, but I made one earlier this year with salad turnips so why not try this one!  Of course you could also use the Broccoli Romanesco for this recipe as well.

Throughout the week round out your meals with a simple side salad using the Baby Arugula in this week’s box.  Make a simple homemade vinaigrette to have on hand so you have something quick and easy to use to dress your greens with.  Perhaps a sweet and tangy Pear Vinaigrette or a fruity Apple Vinaigrette.

Enjoy your cooking adventures this week and get ready for more hearty cold-weather fare next week.  While we enjoy our final days of fresh greens, we’ll start to transition to more root crops to go along with our sweet potatoes and winter squash.  Have a great week!—Chef Andrea

Featured Vegetable: Green Savoy Cabbage

Green Savoy Cabbage vs Red Cabbage
This week we’re featuring one of our favorite fall & winter greens, green savoy cabbage.  While many growers choose to grow “kraut cabbage” which is the standard smooth, green cabbage, we choose to grow savoy cabbage.  The term savoy refers to the ruffled leaves which we think are beautiful!  We also like this type of cabbage because it has more texture when eaten raw or cooked.  In addition to green savoy cabbage, we have a red savoy cabbage variety as well.  Despite the fact that this is a great variety, both beautiful and has long storage potential, the seed producers have chosen to discontinue seed production.  This will be our last year to grow and deliver red savoy cabbages as we have planted out the remainder of the seed we had in storage and cannot get any more.  We’ll be delivering red savoy cabbage in late November or December.

Cabbage has long been known as a staple vegetable necessary for surviving a long winter in cold climates.  It stores well and has a wide variety of uses.  Additionally, cabbage is packed with nutrients including vitamins C and K, fiber B6 as well as antioxidants.  When it’s too cold to harvest other greens, we can rely on cabbage to get us through until spring!
Thai-Style Slaw with (or without) Chicken
Green savoy cabbage may be eaten raw or cooked.  In the raw form, use this cabbage to make a traditional creamy cole slaw along with carrots and/or other root vegetables such as celeriac.  You can also use this cabbage to create some main dish salads such as this recipe for Thai-Style Slaw with (or without) Chicken which was featured in one of last year’s newsletters.  You can also use this cabbage to make a quick pickled salad or shred it, salt it and turn it into a simple slaw to eat with tacos.

Green savoy cabbage may also be cooked.  You can add it to soup, such as in this week’s newsletter or use it to make Beet Borscht.  I also like to use this cabbage in stir-fries over the winter.  Combine it with beauty heart radishes, thinly sliced turnips, carrots and onions to make a delicious winter vegetable stir-fry served with rice.  I also like to use cabbage throughout the fall and winter to make Farmer Skillet.  The recipe on our website is for a Summer Farmer Skillet, but you can use this concept to make a winter version of this using root vegetables with thinly sliced cabbage as the green on top.

Store your cabbage in the refrigerator loosely wrapped in a plastic bag.  If you don’t need to use the whole head at one time, just trim off the portion you need and put the remainder back in the refrigerator.  If your cabbage starts to get soft or a little dehydrated, don’t throw it out!  It’s still good and is perfectly usable for making soup or any other dish where you’ll be cooking the cabbage.

Green Cabbage Soup with Potatoes and Sour Cream

Yield: 7 to 8 cups

5-6 cups green savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
2 to 3 Tbsp butter
1 ½ cups sliced leek or diced yellow onion 
2 cups diced potato (russet potatoes are preferred) 
1 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
Freshly grounded black pepper, to taste
Sour cream or yogurt, for serving
Minced parsley or dill, for serving
  1. Melt the butter in a soup pot.  Add the leek or onion and potato, give them a stir, and cook for a minute or two, then add the cabbage and 1 tsp salt.  Pour over 5 cups water, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, cover, for 20 minutes or until the potato is tender. 
  2. Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper.
  3. Ladle the soup in to bowls, then add to each a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkling of fresh herbs, and a final grinding of pepper.

  • Add 5 juniper berries and 2 tsp finely chopped rosemary to the leek/onion and potato.  Serve the soup with an extra pinch of rosemary.
  • Reduce the water by ½ cup and at the end replace the sour cream with crème fraiche or cream.

Recipe adapted from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen, by Deborah Madison.

Roasted Cabbage with Bacon Gremolata Or Toasted Walnut Sauce

We’re offering two suggestions for serving this roasted cabbage.  If you enjoy meat, try the Bacon Gremolata with Parmesan cheese.  If you’re looking for something a little lighter and/or a vegetarian option, try the Toasted Walnut Sauce.—Chef Andrea

Yield: 4 servings

1 medium-sized head of cabbage, sliced crosswise into 1-inch thick rounds
2 Tbsp olive oil
Bacon Gremolata and Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese or Toasted Walnut Sauce (see below)
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Brush both sides of the cabbage rounds with olive oil.  Place them on a baking sheet and roast until they are tender and browned on all sides, 35 to 45 minutes.  Toss halfway through cooking.
  2. To serve, sprinkle the roasted cabbage with the gremolata and Parmesan or drizzle with Toasted Walnut Sauce.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Recipe from Dishing up the Dirt, By Andrea Bemis.

Bacon Gremolata

4 strips good-quality thick-cut bacon
¾ cup roasted unsalted almonds
3 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
Pinch of kosher salt
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the bacon and cook until it is slightly crispy on both sides.  Transfer the bacon to paper-towel-lined plates to drain, and when it’s cool enough to handle, chop it into small pieces.
  2. Finely shop the almonds into small pieces.  Add the chopped nuts to a bowl, along with the bacon crumbles, minced parsley, lemon zest, and pinch of salt.  Set aside.

Recipe from Dishing up the Dirt, By Andrea Bemis.

Toasted Walnut Sauce

Yield: Approximately 1 cup

1 cup raw, unsalted walnuts
1 garlic clove
2 Tbsp cold-pressed olive oil
4 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp pure maple syrup or raw honey
2 generous pinches of fine sea salt, plus more as needed
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Spread the walnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.  Toast until they are golden and fragrant, 7 to 10 minutes, watching them carefully so they do not burn.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
  3. Add the toasted walnuts, garlic, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup to a blender.  Blend on high, adding 1 cup of water to thin the dressing as needed—you are looking for the consistency of melted ice cream.  Season with salt.  Store in an airtight glass container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Recipe from Naturally Nourished, by Sarah Britton.