Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Greens from your Roots

Just starting to grow
Each winter I suggest that you cut the top of your roots and let the tops regrow for winter greens.  We cut off the top part at about the shoulder (an inch or two down from the top)and set the flat cut side in a saucer or low bowl with water and place the root in the dish in a sunny window.  The tops will regrow - this works with beets, radishes, celery root, rutabagas and most roots (don't eat potato sprouts - the foliage from the nightshade or solanum family is neither tasty nor good for you). 
We really like any members of the brassica (radishes rutabagas) or beet family - delicious.  A great project you gardeners of all ages!

Monday, January 9, 2012

CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This winter box has squash, onions, shallots, garlic, beets, carrots, celeriac, black radishes, potatoes, and micro greens.

Field Notes.  What do farmers do in winter?  This year we were fortunate enough to find a farm sitter so we did get a break together to go visit my parents.  The day we got back I was in the root cellar and at the computer getting the December boxes out, and  Ken planted the micro greens that are in your box today.  We maintain, catch up on the bookkeeping, plan, organize, order seeds, and start planting late winter.

I have just finished the books for 2011, and will be ordering seeds.  Now is the time to send us your special requests for 2012. 

We are also watching the weather.  As nice as these warm temperatures have been, there is no insulating snow cover so if we get an arctic blast the frost can go deep into the ground and postpone spring.  The other concern is for the perennials.  For example if the strawberries become confused and think spring has arrived, they may grow, bloom, get nipped by frost and there will be no fruit.  Ken mulches all the perennials in fall, but this weather is unusually warm.

From the Kitchen Squash!  This was a good year and we have lots of squash.  In addition to baked squash, we make soups, pies. squash bread, cookies, and numerous side dishes.  Today I toasted some of our hazelnuts in a skillet, chopped, returned to the pan with butter and cooked squash left from yesterday.  Warm the squash and flip onto a plate for squash with a toasty buttery topping.  Pecans and walnuts are just as nice as hazelnuts.

I have been serving carrots and frozen peas together as the colors, flavors and textures pair well.  I cut the carrots in matchsticks, cook and add the frozen peas just long enough to thaw and warm.  Drain the cooking water to use in soups later.  Top the peas and carrots with butter or olive oil, dried thyme, salt and pepper.

Beets are a winter staple.  We boil and slip the skins.  Slice and add to a heavy skillet with herbs and butter or oil.  Ken likes fennel seeds with beets.  We also cut into chunks and roast vegetables with or without meat roasts.  Either toss vegetable chunks in oil and place in hot oven, turn frequently, or add vegetables when meat is partly cooked and use the meat juices. 

Celery root is one of my favorites to add in any soup or stew.  I clean and store in the refrigerator and cut off a piece to dice and add wherever a little celery flavor would be a good addition.

Black radishes are a European favorite.  I usually dice and add to winter slaws with thinly sliced cabbage or sprouts with carrots for color and minced shallots for flavor.  They are nice sliced and salted or grated with a bit of vinegar.  Ken loves to pickle black radishes.  Black radishes are the vegetable highest in alkalinity - important to digestive health.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Making Wine

One of the late fall / early winter tasks is making wine.  All those beautiful fruits that I popped into the freezer in the heat of the summer need to make room for the fall meat.  Some years I focus on jams, but since we had used up all our wine (most goes to hostess gifts), I pulled out the fruit, weighed it, calculated batches, and got cheese cloth and buckets ready. 

Here is the first fermentation in buckets.

Then the wine siphoned into glass carboys or jugs for the second fermentation.

Soon I will need to keep siphoning periodically to separate wine from yeast residue.

And then in a few weeks or months I will bottle it up

Acker Night in Prescott, Arizona

While waiting to meet up with Loring

Ken and I met contra dancing; we love to dance! This year in addition to a contra dance, we got a little improv dancing in at Acker night.

The Huffs started taking photos
Each year after the Christmas parade, Prescott hosts a wonderful night of music at various retail outlets in the downtown area. Each location has a large brown paper bag to place
donations for music scholarships. A family with the last name of Acker initiated and funded the costs for the evening.
Loring arrived and other people started dancing

This year we were lucky enough to be in town for the event. It was cold so I dressed in many layers
- padded vest and the works. Ken and Loring were more savvy and kept moving to stay warm. I had made a
thermos of hot chocolate, but many stops had treats and warm drinks.

It was a great night of music that varied from Greek Orthodox choir to tuba group to bluegrass to solo cello and audience sing a long. 

What  fun - two men twirling me!
Thank you, Prescott and thank you Loring!  And thank you to the Huffs for taking and sending us these photos.

Trip to Visit the Folks

What's with the gap in blog posts? Well, we went to visit my parents in Prescott, Arizona - Arizona's Christmas City. thanks to our farm sitter who made it all possible!

My parents are in good health. While there Ken did nearly daily yoga ( I call it the yoga-thon) as my parents give him a class pass and he upgrades to unlimited. I hit the coffee shop two doors down to check and answer emails and other internet correspondence.  And we got to go to a contra dance - hurrah! We also went to Prescott's Christmas parade - always fun to see the cowboys and this year it was snowing. Our friend Loring was in the Christmas Carol float that won a prize!

We also took a side trip to Flagstaff where we went to tai chi classes, galleries, saw a Woody Allen film (they don't get to our area - Ken says they are considered foreign films in northwestern Wisconsin), local museums, and checked out ruins - next trip.   Our return to Prescott included some of Ken's favorite driving through Sedona and Jerome - we try to do that each visit.

Of course we visited natural food stores, and a CSA outlet in Flagstaff. My folks connected us with some Local young farmers and we got to visit their farm and compare challenges and successes - what a pleasure to tour their farm and chat with them.

And Ken cooked up a storm much to parent's delight. They froze some of the soup and are delighted to have ready meals in the freezer.

Christmas time at Keppers

A little late, but here we go! Ken made some great ginger cookies for Christmas - we did not have a cutter for a ginger "person," so he made stars and bells - quite festive!

Now a friend has loaned a ginger person cutter - another batch?