Monday, December 8, 2008

Newsletter #26 - aloha!

Red Springs Family Farm
December 4, 2008, Week #26

This week:
Chinese Cabbage Lettuce Kale mix
Daikon Radish Parsley Mizuna or Cilantro
Butternut Sweet Potatoes Potatoes

The season has come into its natural decline. Short gray wet days have stunted the plant growth. The garden is too wet to walk in. We gardeners are tired and ready to turn our attention elsewhere. This will be our last regularly scheduled delivery. Should January turn mild – we may offer more greens now and then – but mostly it is time for us to study seed catalogs, tend to the fences, and dream of spring.

If you have not remembered to return your surveys to us today, please do us the favor of mailing them in! Your feedback means so much to us. You could even just drop us an email with the questions answered and it would make us very happy.

Since we’ve asked you to review the season for us, we will also tell you our thoughts on the growing time of 2008. Over-all, we have been thrilled with the progress of this season. We felt better focused and streamlined in our field work. There were some early season disappointments (radishes and spinach failed to thrive), and a little lag while we really got ontop of the scaled up production that needed to happen. Spring weather was low and slow, but it served the summer veggies wonderfully. We weren’t convinced that the Sugar Buns corn was anything exciting until we tasted it, and though it was a treat, we probably won’t grow it again. Same goes for a few of the eggplant and tomato varieties. We learned a few things about how to conduct our variety trials, so hopefully we won’t be short of tomatoes or eggplant next year. We still haven’t found the perfect zucchini for our gardens, but we’ve got a good lead from some neighbors. Same goes for spinach. We would love to have a beautiful big productive spinach bed, but it just hasn’t happened yet. Conditions, and results, are improving, but there’s still room to be better. Broccoli was successful this year. It was a labor intensive and time consuming project, and the end result of so many lovely heads of broccoli gave us great satisfaction. We hope it was as much a delicacy for you as it was for us. The fall garden has been delightful. Even though we missed the beautiful window of cool wet weather to plant out in August, the greens have superseded our expectations. Last plantings of green onions got smothered beneath the remay, and the timing of the snow peas still didn’t work quite right, but next year’s garlic planting is abundant and healthy looking already.

Organizationally, we felt like we made good progress as well. The blog has proven to be a good tool, as has the excel spreadsheet, and the pay by the month system took a little bit of the guess-work out of the program. We would like to take it further next year and really be liberated to just GROW for you. Less last minute emails means more beautiful food.

As for your basket this week, we have a few comments. First, the kale – three kinds of greens are in here – the dark, rough textured “Nero Di Toscano” Italian kale, the wowee purple “Red Russian” kale with frilly leaves that get more purple as the season gets colder, and the huge, deeply lobed leaves of a “Rapa” cabbage. This one did not become what we thought it would, but we’re happy with its texture and flavor and think you will find it enjoyable as well. These three are not evenly distributed in your packages, but hopefully you can identify each. You can separate these out or blend them all together for a healthy steamed green extravaganza. The Nero is particularly fine in soups. Russian may be well suited for an omelet, and Rapa is a nice meaty side to mashed potatoes.

Isn’t the Chinese Cabbage awesome? Some of the tips of the tops have been frozen abit, but after you cut them off, you can just wrap this cabbage tightly in a plastic bag and it will keep for a long time in the fridge! We’ve heard accounts from a friend’s farm of the inner head of a Cabbage like this keeping in the fridge for 9 months! We’ll be back with more veggies in less than nine months, but it is hopeful to know that such good keeping quality is a possibility!

If you want to make quick use of your cabbage, you might consider making Kim chi. Kim chi is Korean sauerkraut, made simply by brining cabbage and daikon with ginger root and as much onion, garlic, and hot pepper as you like (we use very little hot pepper, so that Lulah will eat it too). If lacto-fermentation is not your style, then you might also try using cabbage leaves in your salads. Thinly sliced, then lightly ‘massaged’, these cabbages blend well with lettuce and parsley and dress fine with balsamic and feta cheese. The crisp ribs are even a good replacement for cucumbers!

Here are some suggestions:
Basic Kim chi – adapted from Wild Fermentation and Nourishing Traditions
1. Prepare vegetables. Shred the head of Chinese Cabbage. Grate or finely slice the daikon. Chop or finely slice an onion. Mince a few cloves of garlic. Grate a cup of carrot if you want it. Also grate at least one tablespoon of ginger root (we use more). Powdered or flaked hot peppers can be added at your preference – a little bit goes a long way in this context. Mix all these together in a large bowl.
2. Pound the vegetables. Sprinkle at least a tablespoon of salt (we prefer sea salt or Real salt) over the mixed veggies. You can use your hands and squeeze the veggies, or a meat hammer, but one way or another, just work the veggies over until they have released some water. Taste them to see how salty they are. Adjust to your flavor preference.
3. Pack the kim chi into a crock or a jar and weigh it down so that the veggie water covers them completely. Cover the container so that bugs stay out and leave it in the dark at room temperature for at least three days before transferring to refrigeration. Enjoy at will!

We’ve had some questions about how to use Choi and Chinese Cabbage. Here’s a yummy suggestion that will give you the basic idea of how to stir fry just about anything:
Stir Fries with Mushroom and Cashews from The Real Dirt on Vegetables
¼ cup coarsely chopped unsalted cashews 8 oz. Dry rice noodles
6 Tbsp. peanut oil, divided 1 med. Choi or Chinese cabbage, sliced
8 dried or fresh shiitake mushrooms diagonally into ¼ - ½ inch strips
(if dried rehydrate in hot water 20 min 3 scallions, sliced
Strain and slice, reserved liquid) ¼ water (soaking water from mushrooms)
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar (or lemon juice) 2 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil sugar (optional) and cilantro for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350. Toast cashews in a heavy skillet until they begin to brown. Cool off heat.
2. Cook the rice noodles according to directions on the package.
3. Meanwhile, heat a wok or deep skillet over high heat for 2 minutes. Add 3 Tbsp. peanut oil and let it heat for 30 seconds. Add sliced cabbage stems and stir fry for 2 minutes.
4. Add mushrooms, scallions, and cabbage leaves. Add water. Cook, stirring constantly, until most of the liquid has evaporated – 8-10 minutes.
5. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 3 Tbsp. peanut oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and toasted sesame oil. Add a little sugar to taste if desired. Pour over the veggies in the wok and toss until well combined.
6. Drain the noodles and add them to the wok along with the sauce. Toss to thoroughly combine. Serve warm or chill for 1-2 hours. Garnish with the cashews and cilantro just before serving.

I’m out of room! Look for another great butternut recipe on the blog.
Thank you all for being a part of this season.

All the best,
Paul, Coree, and Lulah Entwistle

“…the most fundamental requirement for a healthy physical body is food to supply what the body needs and, it goes without saying, food that does no harm.” – Sally Fallon

here's the other butternut recipe!

Puree in Blender:
Large butternut squash, roasted or microwaved,
then remove seeds and scoop out the flesh

1/2 c. chopped onions, sauteed in tablespoon butter in large pot
3 c. broth of choice
1/2 c. evaporated milk

Return to pot, warm and season to taste with: salt cinnamon nutmeg


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