In your box:
–Bok choy (full shares)
Our incredible fall weather continues for yet another week, which makes this farmer mighty relieved. Our packing shed is an open structure, meaning that there’s really no protection from mosquitoes, wind, or extreme cold. Some mornings we have to wait to harvest until the temperature rises above 32 degrees so the plants thaw out. Other harvests we run inside to dodge thunderbolts as horizontal rain slams in from the north. I’m not going to talk about the time an aggressive bee swarm decided to move in to the packing shed halfway through that day’s delivery. Some mornings we have to boil water inside the house and bring it out to the sink to mix with hose water, just so that we don’t immediately lose all sensation in our hands while scrubbing carrots.
And then there’s 2015. We’ve had some chilly mornings, but all of my fingers are still frostbite-free. It looks like I might continue not complaining about the weather right up through the last delivery this year. Except for the tornado, of course. But we did indeed get four nights of successive frosts last week, bringing an end to our tomatoes, peppers, and a few other summer crops still growing in the garden. The crops still to be harvested include hearty greens, roots, and a few members of the cabbage family (broccoli, cauliflower, etc.).
We have Brussels sprouts! This is the seventh year I’ve attempted to grow Brussels sprouts, and only the first time I’ve succeeded! I’ve had a crop that matured on Thanksgiving, I’ve had big stalks with tiny sprouts, I’ve lost crops to floods, and I’ve had tiny stalks with just a few sprouts. But finally I’ve grown a crop of really big stalks with really big sprouts. So listen—maybe you think you don’t like them. Maybe you really don’t like them. But I have tried for SEVEN YEARS to grow these for you. So if you won’t eat them for yourself, please eat them for me.
I’ve added your Brussels sprouts to your arugula bag to save a little plastic (all our bags are compostable and recyclable, by the way), so you’ll have to separate those out. The key to sprouts is to not overdo it. We usually boil ours for three minutes, and anything over five is dangerous. You’ll want them warm, but not mushy. You can also roast them—just coat them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spread the sprouts on a lightly greased pan. Roast them for 30-45 minutes, stirring or shaking the pan occasionally to get them roasted on all sides.
This week brings our only celeriac of the year. Celeriac is, obviously, a close relative of celery, but it has been bred to emphasize its root mass. The green tops of celeriac can be used just like celery, but the root itself is what really distinguishes this crop. To use it, first remove the top growth and store that in a bag in the fridge. The root should be peeled to remove all root hairs and any dirt residue. Once it’s cleaned up, we run it through a medium cheese grater and add to soups, stews, or pretty much anything in the crock pot. It adds a great dose of celery flavor but with a consistency and texture closer to potatoes.
I hadn’t planned to harvest chard any more this year, especially since the plants have usually died off by this late date. But our proud chard crop continues to maintain its growth, so I thought we’d give one last offering of its great color in your box this week. And, most importantly, we have a great recipe this week that will make even the most chard-averse among you reconsider your hostility toward cooking greens. At our Fall Festival two weeks ago, the potluck event was totally upstaged by an egg dish prepared by CSA-veteran Heather Copps. I’ve included the recipe below, so you have no excuse for letting your chard rot in your fridge all winter. Thanks for passing on the recipe, Heather!
We have one last harvest of arugula this week, one last burst of spicy flavor before we settle for a long winter of microwaved hot dish and iceberg lettuce. Arugula loses its spicy kick after a freeze, which we’ve usually had at this point in the year, but the frosts last week only knocked back its flavor a little bit. If the taste is a little too intense for you, it can always be substituted for basil in any pesto recipe. Some of the leaves have turned reddish, but they are fine to eat as well.
Next week will sadly be our last delivery of 2015. I’m expecting an acorn squash, more Brussels sprouts, lettuce, turnips, cabbage, beets, and greens. I will follow up the following week with some harvest totals and highlights from the year, as well as a brief survey as we start planning for 2016.