"If you observe well your own heart will answer. "
Greetings from Farmer Tom
Eating locally grown, in-season vegetables and fruits takes on a whole new meaning in the winter. One becomes a lot more aware of the crops we take for granted year round but which may not necessarily be grown in our bio-region. Cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, peppers and eggplant often travel long distances to make it to a grocery shelf near you. Even leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach and arugula may be difficult to get in the middle of winter, as although we are blessed with great weather here in California, crops are all growing very slowly. The short days and the cold nights reduce the uptake of nutrients and bring the activity of soil microorganisms almost to a halt.
It may be a challenge to prepare meals with winter crops, not only do they take a little more time to prepare but you have to become a bit of an adventurer by preparing larger portions that last for several meals. Winter shares are mostly about greens, and although you might feel overwhelmed by them they are the most flavorful and nutritious at this time of year, packed with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals. I love kale; right now the leaves have turned almost red from the frost, but if you try them slightly steamed or even raw you'll be surprised at how mild and sweet they are. The cold converts a lot of the starches into sugars, which in turn helps the plant fend off heavy frosts. Both green and red cabbage, another versatile easy to use winter crop, will be abundant for the next two months.Although grated raw into a salad is popular, I still like to make my mother's favorite recipe, a kind of sweet-and-sour red cabbage. Otherwise, just stir-fry, sauté, or chop them into a soup. The cauliflower we planted in September is all maturing, so right now we have an abundance of white cauliflower. Each share should receive at least one or two of each. We also have some purple cauliflower, but I’m not sure yet how much. Hopefully enough so that some of the shares, if not all, will have purple cauliflower as well.
Since our selection is more limited, and since you will only be receiving a share every other week for the rest of the winter share season, I am planning to increase the quantity of each item in order to carry you through until the next fresh batch arrives. Make sure you take the extra steps to prep and store certain items in order to preserve their freshness, i.e. always take the tops of the carrots and separate the leaves from the beets [don’t pitch those beet greens!! They’re good as chard! – Debbie]. This way the roots will stay crisp much longer.
Much of what happens on the farm now is critical for the growing season ahead. Currently we are pruning the pear trees, the first seedlings of broccoli are emerging in the greenhouse, and most of the machinery is parked and waiting to get overhauled and repaired. Seeds are being ordered, and the bare-root raspberry plants and pear trees which are now arriving will be planted into already prepared and mulched beds. If we get a few more days of nice weather the garlic, onions, and strawberries will get a quick weeding. Now is a good time to weed since they are all just emerging and still small. A small patch of lettuce is growing nicely under the protection of a row cover blanket which keeps the hard rains and frost from damaging the tender leaves. In the February, they should be big enough to make a nice salad. Earlier plantings of broccoli are also starting to mature, and by March who knows... bon appetìt for now!
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Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
Welcome back everyone! I've got a nice lineup of recipes for you, starting with a very interesting recipe which I'm anxious to try called "Lumbardy Pie," a savory beet, cheddar and currant pie.
Member Piper McNulty who submitted this says, “This is an amazing recipe for plain red beets (does not work well with striped or yellow beets, must be solid red). It is a savory pie to be served as a side or main dish. It is from ‘The good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin,’ by John Partridge, 1594 - given to me by my cousin, who was a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism in college. It sounds crazy but it looks gorgeous and tastes amazing - (and I don't like red beets particularly). Slices are a beautiful hot pink and hold together firmly.”
1 1b. fresh red beets, finely grated (about 4 smallish beets)
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. to 1 tbsp. bread crumbs (you can make your own from a bit of bread)
3/4 C sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 C currants
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger or 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, finely grated
3 egg yolks (or you could try 2 whole eggs?)
4 tbsp. butter, melted
1 bottom crust in pie pan [if you want an easy pie crust recipe, see the crust in the “Debbie’s Apple Pie” recipe, which ran in the last newsletter, Winter Share week 3]
Mix all ingredients.
Fill pie crust.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.
Debbie’s Kale with Bacon and Apple
from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
2 fennel bulbs [clearly we have to get Tom to give us more than one at a time!]
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Remove leafy tops and root ends of fennel bulbs. Slice trimmed bulbs crosswise into thin, bite-size slices; place in bowl. Section oranges into bowl, squeezing in extra juice as well. Stir in lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate at least 20 minutes.
Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage (Rotkraut)
Tom talked about this above. Here is a recipe for what he described! It is from a cookbook entitled “The Greenmarket Cookbook” by Joel Patraker and Joan Schwartz
1 head red cabbage (2 pounds), cored and shredded
2 tbsp. bacon drippings (from 2 strips bacon*)
1 small onion, finely chopped
½ C red wine vinegar
3 medium apples, peeled, cored, and cut into half-inch dice
½ C light brown sugar
¾ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 ½ C water
Put shredded cabbage in a colander, pour 2 quarts of boiling water over it, and let drain. Heat the bacon drippings in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the onion until transparent, about 7 minutes. Add the cabbage, vinegar, apples, brown sugar, salt, and pepper and simmer 30 minutes. In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and the water, then stir into the red cabbage. Simmer 5 minutes longer, until no longer cloudy.
from “Farmer John’s Cookbook, the real dirt on vegetables” (adapted from ‘The Ayurvedic Cookbook’)
serves 4 to 5
“For a satisfying, complete meal serve this with saffron basmati rice and dal.”
1 tbsp. ghee or vegetable oil
½ tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. tumeric
½ tsp. sea salt
1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
½ C water
2 tsp. crushed coriander seeds
½ tsp. curry powder
Heat ghee or oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add the mustard seeds. As soon as they start to pop, stir in the tumeric and salt. Add the cauliflower; mix well. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the water, coriander and curry. Adjust the heat to low and cook, covered, for 5 minutes.
Torta Verde (Swiss Chard and Potato Pie)
Meanwhile, mix together potatoes, onions, parsley and feta in a bowl and season to taste. Press chard against colander with a wooden spoon to squeeze out juices. Discard juices and add chard to potato mixture. Mix in eggs and 2 ½ tbsp. oil and set aside.Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil and flour a 14" round pizza pan.
Divide dough into 2 balls, using 2/3 of dough for bottom crust and 1/3 for top. Roll out for bottom on a floured surface to about 15" in diameter, then use pizza pan as a template to trim crust to form a 14" round. Place bottom crust in pan. Evenly spread with filling, leaving 1" of crust exposed around edge. Roll out dough for top to 13" and place atop filling, allowing it to drape over edge of filling. Wet edge of bottom crust, fold in, and crimp to seal. Using a fork, pierce surface of torta several times to allow steam to escape during baking. Use your fingertips to gently indent surface of pie and drizzle with remaining 1 ½ tbsp. oil. Bake until golden, about 35 minutes. Delicious.
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