Monday, April 28, 2014

CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This box has salad and braising greens, potato onions, shallots, potatoes, carrots, beets, celery root, parsnips, sun chokes and gobo.

Field Notes.  It looks like nearly a week of rain.  this will melt snow and start things greening up all around.  The only exception is that it is very dry in the greenhouses and Ken will need to irrigate.  Now that the irrigation ponds are open and temperatures are warm enough the pump will start, Ken can do this.  Last week we shoveled the granular snow on the sides of the mobile high tunnel and put baskets of snow in the walkways between the plants.

We also have dug the over wintered roots.  This is the latest either of us can remember being able to dig them. We had some warm days earlier, but just as the snow was melting we got an additional eight inches.  The snow has been going into the ground rather than running off, and the irrigation ponds are filling up.  It feels so good to start the season with all this moisture.  Because Ken has been building organic matter in the soil, it is more like sponge and can soak up and retain moisture during dry times, and it is easier to work soon after rain.

Usually by now Ken has planted peas, but the soil was pretty cold and damp, and had he done so on the last fruit day, they would be rotting in the field during this cold rain.  Once the rain stops and the soils dries a bit, he will plant them.

From the Kitchen.  Spring dug roots are a real treat.   The parsnips and sun chokes and gobo add variety and I have more cooking choices!  Parsnips are a white root from the carrot family.  They are sweet and even sweeter when allowed to winter in the soil for spring harvest.  Usually parsnips are big, and people worry that the centers are tough and woody.  This year we had to plant a second crop and some were not thinned, so we have some small parsnips.  These are the elite - delicate and quick cooking.  I have scrubbed, topped, steamed about three minutes, drained sliced lengthwise and cook with butter in a heavy skillet just to the point when they turn golden and slightly brown - caramelizing with the butter is sweet and rich.  Delicious!

Sun chokes are also known as Jerusalem artichokes - neither from Jerusalem, nor related to artichokes.  In fact they are indigenous tubers that are related to sunflowers.  They have a crisp nutty quality, and I often use them in place of water chestnuts.  They can be eaten raw, cooked or pickled.  I do not peel - just scrub where the skin overlaps to remove any soil.  

My favorite is to scrub, cut into thin slices, saute with a fat or oil that will take heat, and add minced garlic and tamari or soy sauce just before serving.  Ken makes pickles with a salt brine, turmeric, garlic and hot pepper; the pickles retain their crunch and the slight nutty quality really comes out.  These roots are also sought by people as they contain inulin, related to insulin that often helps with blood sugar issues.

Burdock root, known as gobo in Japan.  There people consider it a health food - good for a spring blood cleanse and toner.  Add burdock to soups, stews, and also cook gobo and carrots cut in match stick shapes in a style called kinpira that uses vegetables of the season - squash in fall, peppers and eggplant in summer, and gobo and carrots in spring.  The kinpira recipe can be found here

This weekend is our spring opener - fresh pots and vegetables!  If you have a hankering for more vegetables, eggs or pottery please come by and tell your friends.  Here is a photo of some of the pottery. 

We now start weekly harvests  - 'Til Next Week, 

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