Thursday, October 30, 2008

Newsletter week #22

Red Springs Family Farm
October 30, 2008, Week #22

This week:
Lettuce Tomatoes HOT Peppers
Swiss Chard Rapini Pink Mustard
Arugula Parsley Mizuna
Radishes Chicory Sweet and White Potatoes

BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! This is the second morning we’ve woken to a twenty-five degree freeze! We can’t even harvest until the sun hits the veggies and thaws them, so I’m penning the newsletter before I know what’s out there. This week was the great cover-up. We spent a day in the sunshine and high winds rolling out hundreds of feet of white poly-spun row covering to protect tender plants. We brought in ALL the winter squashes, garlic, tomatoes, peppers and sorted them into baskets that now line the edges of our living space.

Three years ago, within a couple weeks of Lulah’s birth, BEFORE we built a sizeable addition onto our home, we covered the entire downstairs floor with one layer of peanuts to cure, and the entire upstairs floor with curing sweet potatoes. Fortunately, they all got picked up before Lulah’s early arrival in November, but I always remember waddling over peanuts and sweet potatoes around this time of year.

We were so happy to see so many tomatoes ripen this week! Some of these tomatoes are not free from blemish. We’ve tried to only give those blemished ones if they are perfectly ripe. Hopefully we’ve succeeded. And this really is the end of the tomatoes. That includes these green tomatoes. We love them dipped in egg, then dredged in seasoned cornmeal and lightly fried to tender crisp. Fried green tomatoes are a heavy dish, tho, so we only eat them once a year. If you’d like to do something else creative, green tomatoes pickle well, either water bathed in vinegar with dill seeds and garlic, just like cucumber pickles, or brined in a crock, covered in salt water (again, add garlic and dill seed). Drop me a line if you need more information on these methods, or come to the Wild Fermentation event this weekend (see below).

If anyone is looking for something to do on Saturday, we’ve got an event for you. Sandor Katz, author of Wild Fermentation will be doing a kim chi demonstration in our neighborhood. Long Hungry Creek Farm will be hosting Sandor, and a few other foodie friends, to make a day of it while the Chinese Cabbages are in full display. Bring a potluck offering for lunch (dinner will be covered). A $20 offering is appreciated, children are free, and anyone who wants to brave the chilly weather can camp (rustic). There are B&Bs a couple miles away in Red Boiling Springs, if you want to make a weekend event out of it. Chopping and chatting will begin around 10 a.m. and continue through dinner. A few more details and directions to the farm are available at We’ll be there, and would happily break away to give you a little farm tour of our place if you would like.

Hot Pepper lovers, come and get them! Dry them, freeze them, put them in vinegar and make them last. Love these hot peppers! The yellow ones are a Peruvian variety called Lemon Drop. Cayenne’s and Jalapenos are recognizable, and the little tiny red ones are the Entwistle special J. Watch out, they are a serious hot pepper.

If you go looking for recipes, this sugar loaf chicory (Pan di Zucchero) can be used like a witloof chicory. I have not had the opportunity to cook one yet, but rumor has it that it will cook up surprisingly sweet. Outer leaves will be more bitter. To cut the bitterness, you can boil the chicory until just tender and dress them with lemon juice or vinegar. Good partners for chicories include hard boiled eggs, Asiago cheese, garlic, cilantro, basil, parsley, red pepper, thyme, balsamic or any vinegar of your choice, olives, nuts, or pastas. I will re-post an early season chicory recipe on the blog for you.

Chard with Parmesan (from Alice Water’s Simple Food)
Pull the leaves from the ribs of one of more bunches of chard. Discard the ribs (or save for making stock or another dish), wash the leaves, and cook until tender in abundant salted boiling water, 4 minutes or so. Drain the leaves, cool, squeeze outmost of their excess water, and chop coarse. For every bunch of chard, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a heavy pan over medium heat. Add the chopped chard and salt to taste. Heat through and for each bunch of chard stir in a generous handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Remove from heat and serve.

Easy Greens with Peanuts (from The Real Dirt on Vegetables)

½ pound chard greens, kale, or mixed greens, stems removed (save for stock or other recipes)
½ cup peanuts (toasted if desired)
3 Tblsp olive oil or butter salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Place the greens in a steamer basket set over 1 ½ inches boiling water, cover, and steam until just tender, 5-10 minutes for chard, or 15-20 minutes for kale, depending on the leaves’ thickness.
2. Transfer the greens to a colander and run cold water over them to stop them from cooking. Gently squeeze out the excess water from the greens and chop coarsely.
3. Place the peanuts in a plastic zip-top bag and crush them with a rolling pin or heavy skillet.
4. Heat the olive oil or butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the greens, sauté, stirring constantly, until thoroughly coated and glossy, about 2 minutes.
5. Remove skillet from heat; sprinkle the peanuts over the greens. Season with salt and pepper.

Just a note about sweet potatoes. What a wonderful crop they are! In discussion with Dessa last week, I learned that the sweetness of sweet potatoes is best developed at lower heat. That’s why folks wrap them in foil. If you don’t like foil (like me) a covered oven dish should serve a similar purpose. Also, you can put the sweets into a cold oven and let them warm as the oven heats. This way, the potatoes can take their time getting up to temperature and develop their sweetness to the fullest along the way. I like my sweets without foil so that the skins can puff up and the inner flesh gets to caramelize. There’s really nothing like sweet potatoes! Enjoy!

This time next week, we will know who are next president will be. It’s been such an intense time in this country. It gives us solace in our family to return again and again to the simplest things – another day of sunrise and weather, good company with one another, good work, and good food from the earth, right here. We wish you simple pleasures as well, and thank you for taking part in our harvest.

Your gardeners,

Paul, Coree, and Lulah Entwistle

Overheard: You can drink all the bancha tea you want, be a vegan, say all the right stuff about diet and multinational corporations and recycling and old growth forest, but if you lie to your friends, you damage the earth terribly, much worse than you would if you owned some IBM stock and had a malt every now and then.

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