Friday, November 22, 2019

November 21, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Black Futsu Pumpkin!

Cooking With This Week's Box

Black Futsu Pumpkins: Creamy Cider & Black Futsu Pumpkin Soup (see below); Maple-Sage Roasted Black Futsu Pumpkin (see below); Winter Slaw

Maple-Sage Roasted Black Futsu Pumpkin
(see recipe below)
Did you notice the unique little pumpkins in this week’s box?  It’s the Black Futsu!  I’ve been looking forward to this vegetable all season long.  It’s a new one for HVF and I think it might have earned a place in next year’s line up as well!  I have two Black Futsu recipes to share with you this week.  The first recipe is Creamy Cider & Black Futsu Pumpkin Soup (see below).  This is a simple recipe to make, but you do need to give yourself time to caramelize the onions and bake the black futsu pumpkin in advance.  Once those two things are accomplished the rest of the soup comes together very quickly.  It’s delicious served on its own, but I chose to serve it with wild rice and toasted pumpkin seeds as a main dish.  This soup would also be lovely to serve as a starter for Thanksgiving dinner, or serve it after Thanksgiving along with a turkey sandwich.  The second recipe is for Maple-Sage Roasted Black Futsu Pumpkin (see below)  This is another simple recipe that just requires a little patience to allow time to roast the black futsu pumpkin wedges until they are golden, sweet and crispy around the edges.  With this recipe, you do eat the skin which is part of the overall effect.  Once the pumpkin is nearly roasted to completion, brush it with a mixture of maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and whole grain mustard.  After this you put it back in the oven for 7-10 minutes.  When you pull them out, the wedges will have a light glaze on them that seemingly transforms them into something so delicious it’s hard to stop popping them in your mouth!

Sheet Pan Chicken with Sweet Potatoes, Apples,
and Brussels Sprouts, photo from
We’re happy to have enough Brussels sprouts to send them to you one more week.  It seems everywhere I looked the past few weeks I was seeing recipes for Brussels sprouts paired with sweet potatoes!  Here are two of my favorites that stood out, both from  The first is Sweet Potato Pasta with Brussels Sprouts.  This is a one pan pasta dinner, quick and easy enough for a weeknight vegetarian main dish yet classy enough to incorporate into holiday celebrations.  It’s topped with crumbled feta, dried cranberries and sage.  The other recipe is for Sheet Pan Chicken with Sweet Potatoes, Apples and Brussels Sprouts.   Everything gets roasted on a sheet pan, seasoned with a touch of rosemary.

The next two recipes for tat soi were shared by members in our Facebook Group, and they look delicious!   Tatsoi Saag Paneer is a classic Indian dish typically made with spinach, but this version uses tat soi instead.  This recipe is also made with tofu instead of the traditional paneer cheese, so it’s vegan.  Serve this with naan bread or rice.  The other recipe is for Sweet Potato and Tatsoi Soup.  Several members made this recipe and it seems to be a winner.  It calls for celery, but you could substitute celeriac in this week’s box.

Winter Slaw, photo from
I love making crunchy vegetable slaws during the winter and am anxious to try this Winter Slaw that uses red and/or green savoy cabbage along with apples to make a tasty slaw topped with Parmesan cheese, dried cranberries and toasted pumpkin seeds.  The recipe calls for 1/3 cup of pumpkin seeds, which is about the amount you’ll get if you save them from 2 (medium) Black Futsu pumpkins.  Don’t throw those seeds away, put them to use!

If you’re looking for a classy vegetarian dish for Thanksgiving, consider this Savory Potato Tart with Celeriac & Porcini.  If you don’t have porcini mushrooms, substitute another dried mushroom of your choosing.  While we’re talking mushrooms I thought I’d share this recipe for French Onion Stuffed Mushrooms.  This recipe would make a great appetizer and is a good way to use up onions if you have a pile building up in your pantry!

With Thanksgiving coming up, I couldn’t resist adding shallots to this week’s box.  A special holiday requires a special onion. No shallots are not just another onion, although they are in the same family.  Balsamic Roasted Shallots is a classy vegetable side dish that will go nicely with Thanksgiving dinner.  Or you could always make this decadent Caramelized Shallot Gravy!

Baked Tater Tots, photo from
I’ve had these two recipes for homemade tater tots in the cue for several months, waiting for the canela russets.  Tater tots take me back to my childhood and I never considered making them myself.  The first recipe for homemade Fried Tater Tots is most like the Ore Ida tater tots I remember from my childhood.  These are formed into the traditional tot shape and then fried in oil on the stove top.  The other recipe is for Baked Tater Tots that are made in mini muffin tins.  With this recipe you get all the flavors of tater tots, including the crispy exterior, but in a little lighter version.

Beauty heart radishes, also referred to by some as “watermelon radishes” are a flashy vegetable to brighten up our winter meals.  If you don’t know what to do with them, you might want to start by reading this article:  Watermelon Radish... What Do I do With it?  This Watermelon Radish, Orange and Goat Cheese Salad is also a showstopper, or you could always keep it simple with these Roasted Watermelon Radishes.

Carrot Cake Cheesecake, photo from
Red Cabbage Vegetable Quinoa Stew just might win the prize for “Recipe containing the most items in this week’s box!”  I think you could incorporate up to seven of this week’s vegetables in this recipe alone!  Since this is such a healthy stew, you could balance off this meal with dessert.  What might that be?  Carrot Cake Cheesecake!

Well friends, we have reached the bottom of the box.   I hope you have a nourishing, relaxing Thanksgiving holiday and are able to take a little time to reflect on the many things you are grateful for in this year.  I will see you back here in December for our final two boxes of the season.  Happy Thanksgiving!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Black Futsu Pumpkin

by Andrea Yoder

This week I’m excited to introduce you to the beautiful, unique Black Futsu Pumpkin!  This is a heirloom Japanese squash variety that caught my attention in the High Mowing Seed catalog last winter.  What was this odd looking pumpkin shaped vegetable with skin that was a grayish, charcoal color mixed with tan?  After a little research indicating it has good flavor and is revered by chefs, I convinced Richard we needed to try it.

When we harvested these black futsu pumpkins, their skin was starting to show some signs of changing to a buff tan color, but they were more of a mysterious gray.  We weren’t quite sure what to expect.  Will they store well?  Will they continue to ripen in storage?  We didn’t have a lot of information to work with, so we had to just figure it out on our own.  I had planned to work them into the schedule much earlier, however when I cooked one and tasted it, it really was pretty bland and did not match the flavor profiles I had read.  So we left them alone for a bit.  We were pleasantly surprised to find this variety actually holds up very well in storage!  They also continued to ripen and now they have very little to no gray coloring on the skin. 
Baked Black Futsu Pumpkin 
When I cooked one recently, I was surprised to see the color of the flesh had changed to a darker, bright orange color and the flavor was much different than my first experience!  So it seems we made the right decision to wait!  I tried cooking this pumpkin different ways and the options for what you can do with these little guys is endless!  The flesh is dense and holds up well to roasting and pan-frying.  When baked, either whole or cut in half, the flesh was moist, smooth, creamy and sweet.  The descriptions I read also indicated that the skin was edible.  It does have a very thin skin and given the bumpiness of the exterior, I didn’t want to attempt to peel it.  When pan-fried or roasted the skin gets nice and crispy and offers a nice contrast to the soft, smooth flesh.  When I baked the pumpkin whole and scooped out the flesh, I ate a little piece of the skin.  While it was edible, I didn’t find it as delectable and did discard it.

Pumpkin Overnight Oats, photo from
So what are you going to do with these cute things?   As I mentioned before, this variety is delicious when roasted.  You can either cut them into wedges or chunks, toss them with oil, then roast them on a sheet tray.  I’m not usually a fan of pan-frying squash, however this one is a candidate for this method.   I would recommend cutting thin slices about ⅛ - ¼ inch thick.  Cooking them on a griddle or in a cast iron pan in butter yields a nice crispy, golden final product.  You can also cut them in half and bake them in the oven.  Honestly, if you don’t want to mess with anything else, just bake them and eat the flesh seasoned with a touch of salt and pepper and a pat of butter.  It’s delicious just like that, however you could also stuff the pumpkin halves with a filling of your choosing.  Of course, you can scrape the cooked flesh out of the shell and use it to make a wide variety of things.  In one of my trials, I used a paring knife to cut a circle around the stem, about 1 ½-2 inches in diameter.  I lifted this little section out and used a spoon to scoop out the seeds, then put the little lid back on and baked the pumpkin until the flesh was tender.  If you are careful when you scoop the flesh out of the skin, you can use the skin as a little bowl to hold your pumpkin creation.  With the holidays coming up, this would make a festive and eye-catching presentation.  I wouldn’t serve soup in it, but you could serve Pumpkin Hummus, Pumpkin Goat Cheese Dip with Caramelized Onions or even Pumpkin Fruit Dip!  Don’t be afraid to eat pumpkin for breakfast too.  I found some tasty recipes for Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal with Maple and Pecans, Pumpkin Overnight Oats, or even Pumpkin Cream Cheese to spread on a bagel or toast!

Black Futsu Pumpkin seeds:  clean, dry and ready to roast
Store your black futsu pumpkins at room temperature and use them as a decoration until you’re ready to eat them!  Once you’re ready to cook them, give them a little scrubbing and then get to work.  I forgot to mention that the seeds are also edible.  Before cooking, extract them from the flesh, rinse them and lay them out on a tea towel (the seeds will stick to the towel, so don’t use paper or anything fuzzy) or a plate to dry.  Once dry you can toss them with a little oil and season them with salt and pepper or seasonings of your choosing before toasting them in a 350°F oven.  These seeds really are tasty and, in my opinion, worth the effort to extract them.    If you have children, this is a great kitchen job for them! One more tidbit of information I gathered from my experiments is that one medium sized black futsu pumpkin will yield about ¾-1 cup of cooked flesh.  I hope you have fun experimenting with the Black Futsu!

Creamy Cider & Black Futsu Pumpkin Soup

Yield:  4 servings

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup peeled, chopped apple (2-3 small to medium)
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp smoked paprika
1 pinch nutmeg
1 cup non-alcoholic apple cider or hard cider 
1 ¾-2 cups cooked black futsu pumpkin flesh
2 cups water
½ cup cream or coconut milk
2-3 cups cooked wild rice (optional, for serving)
Seeds of 2 black futsu pumpkins, toasted (optional, for serving)
  1. Gently heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the thinly sliced yellow onions and 1 tsp salt.  Evenly distribute the onions on the bottom of the pan.  You want to hear them sizzle gently, but make sure the heat isn’t too high.  You do not want to brown them.  Cook gently, stirring periodically, for 20-30 minutes or until the onions are soft, reduced in volume and starting to turn more of a beige color.  The goal is to caramelize the onions slowly to develop their sugars.  
  2. Next, add the chopped apple, cinnamon, smoked paprika and nutmeg.  Stir to combine and then add the cider.  Turn the heat up to medium high so the liquid is at a rapid simmer. Continue to simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the apples are soft and the liquid has reduced by about half.  Remove from heat.
  3. Next, you will use a blender to combine the soup.  First, put the pumpkin puree in the blender.  Carefully add the onion and apple mixture.  Add the water, cover the blender and blend on low speed, increasing to high speed gradually.  Blend until the soup is smooth.  
  4. Pour the soup into a medium saucepan and return the soup to the stove top.  Bring the soup to a simmer over medium heat.  Simmer for about 10 minutes or until hot.  The soup should be thick enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon.  If the soup is too thick for your liking, add a little water to thin it to the desired thickness.  If the soup is too thin, continue to simmer for another 5-10 minutes or until it reaches the desired thickness.  
  5. Stir in the cream or coconut milk.  Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings by adding more salt and pepper.
  6. If you are serving the soup with wild rice, make sure the rice is hot.  Put ½-¾ cup rice in each bowl.  Ladle the soup around the rice and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds if you wish.
Recipe by Chef Andrea 

Maple-Sage Roasted Black Futsu Pumpkin

Yield:  5-6 servings

2 medium black futsu pumpkins
2 Tbsp sunflower oil
¾ tsp salt
1 ½ Tbsp dried sage
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp whole grain mustard
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Cut the black futsu pumpkins in half and scoop out the seed cavity.  Cut the pumpkins into wedges no more than ½ inch thick.  Put the pumpkin wedges in a large bowl and toss with sunflower oil to generously coat all the pieces.  Sprinkle salt and dried sage over the pumpkin.  Combine to evenly distribute the seasoning.
  2. Spread the pumpkin wedges out on a baking sheet.  Try to separate the wedges so they are in a single layer.  Roast for 30-40 minutes, turning once about half-way through.
  3. While the pumpkin is roasting, mix together the maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and whole grain mustard in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  4. Once the pumpkin wedges are tender and light golden, remove the pan from the oven.  Brush the maple syrup mixture over all the pieces using a brush.  Turn the pieces over and brush the other side.  Return the pan to the oven and roast for an additional 7 to 10 minutes to glaze and finish roasting.  Remove and serve immediately while the pumpkin is still warm.
Recipe was adapted from The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen by Sean Sherman.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Meet the Nash Family!

By Chef/Farmer Andrea

From left to right: Rohan, Dina, Griffin,
Caden, and Corey Nash
This week I’m excited to introduce you to one of our awesome CSA families.  Meet Corey & Dina Nash along with their sons Griffin, Caden and Rohan.  Corey and Dina joined our CSA when Griffin, now in 8th grade, was only 2 years old.  Shortly after becoming part of our CSA family, their family grew to include Caden and Rohan who are now in the 6th grade.  Over the years the Nash family has made it a priority to include a visit to Harmony Valley Farm for a farm event nearly every year.  They’ve made the effort to connect with their farm, not just the place but also the people.  Over the years we’ve enjoyed watching their children grow and change and every year we learn a little more about each person in their family as we catch up on the past year while sipping iced maple lattes or standing in the pumpkin field enjoying another Fall Harvest Party.  We look for their names on the RSVP list and are always happy to see them walking up the drive way, smiles on their faces and ready for another day of adventure at the farm.  We look forward to talking to Griffin, Caden and Rohan, three very articulate young men who are a pleasure to converse with.  One of the great joys we have in our work is getting to know the people who eat the food we work hard to grow.  CSA is a lot of work for a farm to pull off, and it requires some additional effort from the members as well.  Is the extra effort worth it?  From our perspectives it is a definite “Yes!”  If you were to ask any member of the Nash family the same question, I think they’d echo the same.  This past June I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with the Nash family after our Strawberry Day party.  I wanted to know more about their decision to make CSA a priority for their family, why CSA is important to them, how they make it work for their household, and the benefits they reap from being CSA members with our farm.  I learned a lot from them and am excited to share some of their thoughts and insights.

The young Nash boys enjoying tomatoes from their garden!
While they now live in Minneapolis, Dina & Corey Nash grew up in rural Minnesota where they had access to fresh vegetables.  When it came time to feed their own family, they knew fresh food needed to be a priority.  Recognizing fresh vegetables contain valuable nutrients, they asked themselves “what can we do to maintain the nutrient value of our food?”  One obvious answer was to reduce the carbon footprint their food left due to travel and source their food from as close to its origin as possible.  They also wanted to support local, smaller farms to help keep them in business while reaping the taste and flavor benefits reminiscent of the homegrown vegetables they grew up eating.  They decided to join a CSA for all these reasons as well as seeking to build a connection with the place and people who were growing their food.

Griffin, munching on a garlic scape in the field. 
HVF Strawberry Day 2019
If you spend a little time with the Nash family, you’ll quickly realize they are a family of very willing and adventurous eaters.  No, they may not “love” every food, but they keep an open mind and have a willingness to try new things.  We’ve watched Griffin, Caden and Rohan munch on freshly dug carrots in the field.  I’ve helped them cut their own head of celery, taught them how to pick kale, and they are now old enough that they even do some of their own self-guided field tours when they come to the farm.  This fall they returned from a little side excursion to a nearby field munching on leaves of spicy mustard greens they had just picked!  But wait, kids aren’t supposed to like and eat vegetables!  That’s the difference and these kids debunk that myth!  The Nash boys have been exposed to a wide variety of flavors and foods from a very early age.  I asked Corey and Dina how they managed to pull this off.  For starters, set a good example.  “They’ll do what you model, not what you tell them to do.”  They also have a “One Bite” house rule which says that you have to at least taste something once.  Why is this important?  Dina shared that she believes tasting new things is so important to training tastes as children grow and develop.  There aren’t any food battles at the table because the kids know what vegetables taste like and there is no cover up mission underway to get the kids to eat them.  Cheese sauce is a treat to complement the flavor of vegetables as opposed to trying to cover them up.  No trickery involved, they really enjoy the taste of vegetables!  Dina also commented that they have tried to capture the real taste of food for their children in the early years as opposed to skewing their taste buds with artificial flavors.  In fact, their kids don’t’ care to eat at McDonalds or other fast food places because in their opinion, the food has too much salt and sugar and doesn’t taste good to them.  When I asked the boys about this, Griffin’s response was “That’s what happens when you know what good food is!”

Strawberry-stained hands of the Nash family
at HVF Strawberry Day! 
Another thing Dina and Corey have been intentional about is creating an awareness for their children of their own bodies and the way food makes them feel.  When they eat healthy food, such as vegetables from their CSA box, they stay healthy and have both physical energy and mental stamina.  They are able to excel in their school work and still have energy to participate in activities after school!  They have tried to teach them to make better choices on their own by pausing to think about the positive and negative consequences of their choices.  During this part of our conversation, Caden chimed in to add “Sometimes I think, ‘Yes, I want to eat that,’ but then I ask myself, ‘do I REALLY want it?’”

So how do Corey, Dina and their sons make CSA work for their household?  For starters, they take advantage of the weekend to wash, cut and prepare the vegetables from their box so they are either ready to eat or ready to use in meals throughout the week.  Dina and Corey also make use of the weekly “What’s In the Box” email and newsletter.  They try to read through the information in the newsletter before they pick up the box as this helps them start planning what they want to do with that week’s box contents.  They have also found our private Facebook Group to be a safe and approachable place to go for help with finding uses for unusual vegetables.  They describe it as a great place to ask questions, as there is probably someone else out there who has the same question!

Captain Jack, happy to spend quality time with the Nash boys!
Now that we’ve talked about some of their food choice tactics and philosophy, lets come back to where we started—visiting the farm.  If Dina and Corey had not made it a priority to come to the farm, we may have missed out on the opportunity to get to know this family.  From their perspective, there are many reasons to make the effort to come to the farm.  First, the kids love being able to eat out of the field which has helped build their excitement for learning where their food is grown.  They have fond memories of picking their own vegetables, digging carrots and picking pumpkins.  They also enjoy the fun games, spending time with Captain Jack the Dog, and being out in nature.  Richard had the opportunity to spend some time talking to Caden at our Harvest Party last year (fall 2018).  As he was getting ready to leave he thanked Richard sincerely for the opportunity to visit and expressed that the day “put him in a zone,” a good zone that he needed.  In touch with the fields of vegetables, the sky, the trees, a good “zone” to be in.  This may seem like a simple statement, but it was a golden moment for Richard who wishes every CSA kid in our membership would have the chance to come to the farm, play in the dirt, eat & pick vegetables right out of the field and have the opportunity to experience the beauty of being in nature.

Dina Nash and her boys,
all smiles after a day at the farm!
We look forward to continuing to be a part of Dina, Corey, Griffin, Caden and Rohan’s lives.  We appreciate our connection to their family as well as the many other families we have formed connections with through CSA.  We applaud the parents who have made the decision to make CSA and organic vegetables a priority for their families.  We appreciate the individuals who have chosen to make that 2-3 hour drive to the farm so they can see and experience the farm for themselves.  I am admittedly jealous of Griffin, Caden and Rohan as well as all of the other kids who get to grow up as “CSA kids.”  I think Dina and Corey hit the nail on their head when they commented “You have to slow down and make the investment.  That’s what CSA is, it’s worth it for healthy kids who are productive and articulate.”  We’re willing to make the investment and we hope more individuals and families will choose to do the same!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

What Do You Do During the Winter?

By Chef/Farmer Andrea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cooking With This Week's Box

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vegetable Feature: Tat Soi

by Andrea Yoder

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

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

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

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

Vegan One-Pot Ramen Noodles with Tat Soi

Yield:  3-4 servings

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

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

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