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Week 17 Newsletter

October 9, 2014

In your box:

  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • Garlic, “Chesnook Red”
  • Onion
  • Red Onion
  • Salad mix
  • Tat soi
  • Turnips

While I would never use the contents of your CSA box to insist you try a particular meal, this box certainly leads in one direction. It’s cold outside. You’ve got beets and cabbage here. Potatoes are cheap. It’s time to make Borscht.

Unless you’re of German extraction, in which case you’ll be making Beetenbartsch. Or if you’re Latvian, then it’s borscs. Russian? Drop the ‘t’ and call it borschch. Whatever your pronunciation, it’s time to throw some beets, cabbage, potatoes, and soup stock into a pot and try your hand at it.

Borscht is probably Ukrainian in origin, though it’s claimed by the Russians (both borscht and Ukraine, I suppose), eastern Europeans, and Jews as part of many national cuisines. As the premise of a beet-based soup spread, it picked up ethnic peculiarities as it traveled. While borscht is usually served hot, in Russia, Ukraine, and Poland it is commonly served cold. In Belarus, tomatoes or tomato juice are added to the mix. In China, the beets drop out completely and it is a tomato-based soup. The Lithuanians add dried mushrooms. The Romanian version is sour, with lots of fermented wheat bran. In outer space? Russian cosmonauts left earth’s orbit with squeeze tubes of condensed borscht. Delicious.

The Kirkmans? We like it hot, thick, and with plenty of sour cream on top. I’ve included our usual recipe below, but be sure to peruse the internet for other flavors or to find an old Russian grandmother for the best recipe.

Oh look, more tat soi. This week I found two more areas where tat soi has volunteered itself for our CSA. One bed had tat soi planted in 2013, the other has never had tat soi planted in it. I know we’re probably overdoing it with tat soi, and one or two of you might still have some from a couple weeks back taking up space in your fridge. But consider: I didn’t plant this tat soi. I didn’t weed it. I never watered it. And yet it has grown at least as well as the crop I intentionally planted! And, seeing as how I’ve never found it in any grocery store, this is almost certainly the last tat soi you’ll have for at least eight months….

Turnips are the purple/white roots in your box this week. Turnips are closely related to rutabagas and have a similar taste, though with a little more snap to them. They can be steamed, roasted, baked and blended with mashed potatoes, or chopped into a soup. They should be kept in the fridge in a bag or hydrator drawer for up to a month.

Don’t forget, this is your second-to-last box of the season. Please gather up any stray boxes you have around the house and return them to your drop site during the last week. As long as they are in decent shape, we’ll clean them and reuse them for next season. And Thursday folks—remember we’re skipping next week so I can take something called a “vacation.” I don’t know much about these, but I’ve been promised we get to take a squeeze tube of dehydrated borscht along for the ride. Fun for the whole family.

Also, you may wish to bring a bag to your delivery site for the last box, if you don’t regularly, to take your last week of produce home. That way, you won’t end up with a box in your way all winter.

We will send out a survey at the end of the season with questions and ideas for improvement. You will also be able to reserve a spot with our CSA for 2015 at that time.

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