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Week 16 Newsletter

September 27, 2012

In your box:

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Kale, “Winterbor”
  • Leeks
  • Pie pumpkin
  • Salad mix
  • Turnips

A sharp cold front came whistling through last weekend, bringing an end to our growing season late on Saturday night, the 22nd, with a low around 30 degrees that killed off all of our frost-sensitive crops. This first freeze is a week or two ahead of average, but still a week later than 2012. We woke up the next morning to rows of dead cucumbers, zucchini, beans (good riddance!), peppers, eggplant, and basil. All of our outdoor tomatoes died, but thankfully our brand-new hoophouse provided enough warmth to shield nearly all of the 190 tomato plants inside from freezing. Most of those plants are still doing well, but with the shorter days and cooler temperatures this time of the year, there’s not much prime ripening weather for them. We have just a few to pass out this week, and we’ll keep giving them as long as they produce. With no frost/freeze temperatures forecast for the next ten days, we could still be picking tomatoes in October! I’d personally prefer apples, myself, but our trees still have a few more years before they produce a decent crop.

Our boxes this week reflect the change of weather and season to help us usher in autumn. We have a few new crops this week, and some we haven’t seen since the cooler weather of late spring.

We have a new variety of Kale this week, “Winterbor.” This frilly leaf is, unfortunately, most commonly seen as a decoration. According to the internet, which has yet to be wrong on anything, the largest consumer of kale in the U.S. is Pizza Hut. Of course, they haven’t switched to topping their pizzas with kale or lightly steaming it for a side dish—it’s used as an ornament atop the salad bar. Some of you might prefer to see it on the floor, as a doormat, but I’ll let that pass. Give it a chance! Use this just like other varieties of kale, or set it atop your dresser and pretend like you live in Pizza Hut.

We welcome back Turnips this week, though these are the usual tangy variety and lack the raw goodness of the sweet turnips in spring. We had hoped to give rutabagas this week, but unfortunately they have grown too large to fit in the boxes! I don’t imagine that most of you are too eager to cosume a rutabaga as big as your head, so we’re grateful to offer their smaller cousins instead. Try these steamed, mashed, baked, boiled, or grated raw. They don’t need to be peeled, and should be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks. The greens are delicious and nutritious, and can be used like any other cooking green.

We have our first Leeks in this box, as well. As pretty much everyone knows, leeks are the official emblem of the country of Wales. No one seems to know why the Welsh have adopted an extra-smelly onion as their symbol, but my favorite story involves a celebrated battle victory against the Saxons in a field of leeks. Imagine the aroma! The Welsh also believed that carrying a leek offers protection from lightning strikes. I think it would also offer protection from forming a normal relationship with any other human. So your best bet is to eat them. Their flavor is much like their onion cousins, but with a little more earthiness. Like scallions, they are entirely edible but the white part and central stalk are most commonly used. Leeks are delicious in soups.

We also offer a Pie Pumpkin, which is a sort of winter squash and used in the same ways. Unlike large pumpkins, these are quite tasty and should be baked into pies, soups, or—my favorite—pumpkin pancakes (see below).

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