Friday, October 8, 2010

The penultimate share...

Hi all:
We have Internet access again so I figured I'd post a quick blog update for this week's share. Many of the items are the same as last week which is good because I didn't have the camera this morning. Luckily, I took photos last week.
Here is a shot of the radishes just after they are harvested. This is how I count in the field. Bunching them in the field and keeping track of the bunches is the only way I've been able to keep track. This is much easier than guessing and having to come back out to the garden from the packing shed if I don't get enough.
Here is a nice shot of the top of the garden. This is just before the radishes were harvested. You can see the new greenhouse in the background. Happily, I've now completed the doors and end wall on the two ends and I'm in the middle of putting up the superstructure inside. It's much more secure now than it was in this photo. In the foreground you can see some of our low-tunnels which we use to cover things until the greenhouse tomatoes die off from frost and I can move the greenhouses over the fall/winter crops. Many of the things that will be available to our Winter Club members will come from this section of the garden which I can easily access in the cold, snowy winter.
Regarding this week's share, I first want to mention the leeks. Since I didn't have access last week, I hope everyone figured out a few things about the leeks. First, leeks are an amazing vegetable. They are a member of the onion family, they are beautiful, store well and hold in the field throughout the winter months if treated properly (i.e. mulched heavily). Most importantly, they are delicious and smell amazing when sliced and cooked. A couple of things you should know about leeks.
The first is the myth that only the white part is edible. I am continually shocked by the types of people who perpetuate this. Eliot Coleman himself mentions this in one of his books. The ENTIRE leek is good! And it all tastes like leek! There, now that's out of the way. The recipe I have for potato leek soup calls for 6 leeks. The recipe is considering only the white part of the leek. I've made the soup before with 2 medium sized leeks and used the entire leek. It's better. The photo above shows where I would cut the leek. The yellowish part above my finger is what I would discard, the rest is perfectly edible and tasty.
Next, due to the way leeks grow, are harvested and cleaned, they retain soil between the leaves. There is no way around this other than washing them thoroughly when you prepare them. As you can see in the above photo, this is one way the leeks collect water and other nutrients.

Here is one way to clean them. In the photo above, my ring finger is pointing at the outer layer which is often not worth keeping as it's mushy or damaged. You can peel it off like a banana peel. In my thumb and forefinger I'm pulling back a section of leek. You can do this and hold it under running water until it is clean. You will have to do this with each layer. A much better method in my opinion is possible if you are preparing an entire leek for something like potato leek soup. Simply cut the leek into medallions or any other cutting style you like. They put the pieces into a colander and rinse them that way, very thoroughly. You may even consider floating the pieces in a sink full of cold water for a while, then rinsing them in the strainer. It's more work than an onion but totally worth it.
You'll also find some winter squash in the share this week. If you are one of the folks who said you would like conventionally grown squash you'll have Buttercup in there (the green one). Everyone also got some Butternut (the yellowish one). The Butternut is actually from our beyond organic gardens. Those ones did alright after all. Brittany pulled them all from the garden this week and when I got there that day I was pleasantly surprised at how much we actually had. It didn't look like that much in the garden.
You'll also find two mixes. One is a small greens mix which contains Endive, Red Lettuce, Baby spinach and baby beet greens. The other is a braising mix containing Red Russian Kale and Mixed Chard.
Also in this week's share is the dwindling tomato crop. Frost is expected on Saturday night so we (and by we I mean Brittany-thank you Brittany) worked this week to pull all good tomatoes off the garden, green or not. They are all in the milk house, hopefully ripening. You will have received some green tomatoes today too probably (not everyone got green ones with their cherry bunches). You can put them in a darkened place, keep an eye on them and eat them as they ripen. Please note that not all green tomatoes will ripen properly. Simply discard the ones that don't.
Also, this week is the last of the zucchini and summer squash. I know some of you haven't enjoyed that part of the share. I am sorry about that but I have to say it's one of my favorite parts as the farmer. There really are few plants that I know of that will produce as much food from one plant as a zucchini plant. There are lots of options for zucchini of all sizes and perhaps this winter I'll have a chance to get some recipes together for them. That will help next year!
As always, please let me know if you have any questions. Next week is the last week of the CSA season for 2010. Please remember to return all bags and sign-up for the Winter Club.

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