Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This week's CSA box has freshly dug parsnips, greens, potatoes, squash, celery root, rutabaga, daikon and black radish, onions, garlic, and cabbage.

Field Notes.  Ken has been planting seeds in the mobile high tunnel. Some of the seeds have already germinated!  We are waiting to see how over wintered greens do this spring.  

And Ken has some onions nearly ready for their first 
'haircut!"  So spring is moving right along here.

Last time Ken was setting up to tap maple trees for sap to boil down to syrup.  He has been boiling and now I am finishing and bottling

From the Kitchen.  Parsnips!  Parsnips are related to carrots.  They are sweeter and get even sweeter when over wintered in the field.   Some times their cores are tougher so I cut them lengthwise in quarters and slice out the centers if they seem tough.  We are growing older open pollinated varieties as they have better flavor and we will be able to save the seed.  The traditional way to prepare parsnips is as follows: scrub, slice and parboil to the al dente stage.  Drain.  Saute in butter in a heavy skillet until they just start to brown and caramelize.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve. 

Ken also uses parsnips for pie!  After making pie crust, he takes the parsnips and scrubs, slices, boils and runs through a food mill.  Then he follows a pumpkin or squash pie recipe except he cuts the sugar to less than half.  He usually uses a bit of cinnamon and mace.

Gobo or burdock is often daunting at first.  Each spring I repeat our kinpira recipe we learned in Japan. It is well work the effort!


What is kinpira? Kinpira is a Japanese cooking technique. In spring one uses carrots and gobo - burdock root - cut into matchsticks. In summer chefs combine thumb sized pieces of Asian eggplant and green pepper. And in fall squash like our buttercup cut into thin crescent shapes is common.

Start with a cast iron or heavy skillet. Toast some sesame seeds and set aside. Use a cooking fat or oil that can take heat, and add some dried hot red pepper flakes if desired. Add the vegetable that takes the longer cooking time (gobo in spring and green peppers in summer). Cook over high heat, and keep stirring. Add the second vegetable. Cook to al dente. Add a teaspoon to tablespoon of sugar, Stir to caramelize, but don't burn. Add a splash at a time of a sweet cooking wine like Japanese mirin or sherry. I use homemade parsnip wine. Finally add some good quality tamari or soy sauce. Top with the toasted sesame seeds and serve.

The sequence is important as the sugar and sweet wine seal in the flavors. Experiment as everyone seems to like a different ratio - some like it hotter, others like it sweeter or saltier. The end result is a toasted sweet, salty glazed vegetable with a bit of crunch. Delicious!

'Til April 6th, Judith 

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