• Sarah Elizabeth Smith

December Produce: Newsletter 4

Welcome to your Winter CSA

~ Some Medicine for the Holidays Week Four

I have a bad cold, so am in no position to be giving health advice for the holiday season! But, often a sickness can come about when rest is needed. I always seem to get sick at this time of the year and it happens to be the only thing that helps to slow me down and recover from the extreme expenditure of energy during the main farming season. So, in my experience, this is the most difficult time of the year to gauge what the body and also the mind need to stay in a good balanced place and sometimes we are forced into situations that make us stop and re-evaluate in order to slow down and connect with what's happening as the seasons change. It's easy to ignore the cyclical flow of the seasons if our lifestyles don't allow us to recognize and adapt to the change of pace that are reflected in the natural world. In Ayurvedic medicine, the Winter can bring out the Vata element of dryness and Kaphic elements of heaviness and moisture, resulting in possible coughs and colds, dry skin, feelings of loss in energy, even depression and anxiety. In Ayurvedic philosophy, the approach to balancing our system in relation to the world around us, is to balance the elements, so eating warm foods, oils and fatty foods to balance the cold & dry conditions. But, in the case of Kapha – a predominantly slow, heavy type of energy – it's important to also include bitter foods to keep the digestive system moving, hot foods to also ignite digestion and metabolism and the avoidance of eating heavy foods in excess. Everyone is different and the Ayurvedic science takes into account the unique make-up of each person's body, emotional and personality characteristics and mental state, including the effects of your outside environment. So, when working toward an awareness of what you need to stay healthy and connected to the seasonal forces around you, a mix of intuition and research can be helpful. Take time to notice thought patterns and their effect on your emotions and how certain foods effect your sense of physical wellness, level of energy and mental state. Above all, time is the common denominator in any season; Taking the time to slow down and notice what is needed to bring your own unique self into balance. Try, amidst the parties, social and family events and abundant supply of chocolate and gifts to be alone for a small amount of time to tune into what is happening within and around you. It will make a big difference :)

Happy Holidays!

This Week:

Merlin Beets ( 2 lbs )

This week's recipe is pickled beets (see below). An excellent way to utilize extra beets, the ones that have been in the fridge for too long or to use all those extra glass jars that you have lying around. You can pickle or ferment almost anything and I would highly recommend the books by Sandor Katz “Wild Fermentation” and “The Art of Fermentation”. We had so many extra beets from the field this season, that were half chewed by mice or too ugly to sell, that my mom and I spent alot of time in September (Well mostly my mother!) cutting, spicing and pickling the beets. Many people for pickled beets for Christmas this year! Pickled foods and fermented foods are digestive aids, especially if they are prepared in a simplistic, traditional way, without the addition of preservatives or high amounts of sugars and salts, as in store-bought pickled products. Here is an excellent resource on the health benefits, nutritional profile and history of pickled foods:

Red Express Cabbage (1 Lg or 2 small )

Although Cranberry sauce and pickles are staples at the Christmas table or during holiday festivities, we've started making cold cabbage, cranberry & apple salad to have with the otherwise heavy, gravy-layden traditional dinner. This is a crunchy, refreshing alternative to sugary or overly processed cranberry sauce. You'll need organic or locally grown cranberries (in abundance in the maritimes and available at the Dieppe & Moncton markets), local apples, cabbage, nuts of choice, but walnuts are preferred and finally red onions and carrots. Everything should be grated finely – cranberries, apples and walnuts can be chopped - You can be creative with the dressing, anything from a simple orange and vinegar dressing to a creamy, coconut cream based, sweet balsamic dressing. Cabbage is good for you! Steamed, it can be kind of boring, but paired with other delicious, especially sweet fruits and nuts, cabbage adds a juicy, crunchy boost to your digestive system and immune system.

Bolero Carrots ( 3lbs )

Hopefully you're enjoying all these carrots. I have nothing more to say about carrots this week as my cold (ongoing for three weeks now!) has robbed me of my creative inspiration for coming up with interesting things to say. Eat carrots, juice carrots, cook carrots, carrots anyway – just keep eating them!

Porcelain Garlic (1 bulb)

Any allium (onions, leek garlic) will do you good at this time of the year to support the immune system and ward off cold and flu bugs. Eaten raw, the medicinal properties of garlic are strongest, but if you have trouble swallowing a clove of raw garlic every day, you can include raw garlic (chopped) in salad dressings or on top of home-made nachos or roasted potatoes, after they come out of the oven. Making pesto is also a great way to hang onto the immune-boosting properties of garlic. In the blender, the garlic essential oils are released and, if kept in the fridge and eaten within a week, the oils will retain their quality. Instead of cooking the pesto with potatoes or pasta, add some to your salad dressings or stir into your dish after cooking is complete. Heating any oil will cause the antioxidants and other medicinal properties to begin to degenerate, so best keep heat low, or find an oil that will retain it's structure under high heat (like high quality olive oil).

Red Wing Red Onions (1lb)

Many of the recipes below include red onion and you can also use them in kimchi or fermented recipes or pickle them on their own to add to salads and dressings.

Waltham Butternut Squash( 4-5lbs)

Most popular as a soup squash, the butternut is very moist with a delicate flavour.; Not, the best for roasting, as the meat tends to be very juicy and soft. Mixed with parsnip, sunchoke or celeriac - to give the soup an earthy, nutty flavour - peeled butternut squash can be turned into a hearty meal in just minutes: Immersion blender works best!

Purple & Yellow Sunchokes (1 lb)

Also called Jerusalem Artichokes, these funny root vegetables from the sunflower family are often mistaken for ginger root at the farmer's market. They come in many shapes and sizes, but you know it's been a good yield if the plants produce many, large tubers. The two varieties don't really vary in taste and their health benefits are many. Especially good for diabetics, these roots are high in non-carbohydrate starches, low in cholesterol, and high in oligo-fructose inulin. “Inulin is a zero calorie saccharine and inert carbohydrate which does not undergo metabolism inside the human body, and thereby; make this tuber an ideal sweetener in diabetics and dietetics.” Also, to fuel your Winter activities, Jerusalem Artichokes are filled with electrolytes and minerals including copper, potassium, and iron (one of the highest amounts of iron in any of the common root vegetables). Finally, on the subject of dietary fibre, sunchokes have one of the highest percentages of soluble and insoluble fibres, helping to retain moisture in the gut, remove toxins from the intestinal tract and avoid problems with constipation. You can eat these raw or roasted but be warned, they will make you fart!

Nero Tondo Black Spanish Radish (1lb)

A bit more spicy than the white Daikon radish, these little radishes have a tough black skin that make them wonderful storage vegetables. They are crispy and juicy and can be added, sliced or grated, to salads, coleslaw or traditional salads. I have found these to be very effective in liver and kidney cleansing when eaten raw. You can also pickle or ferment these radishes, adding them to traditional kimchi, a mix of sliced vegetables, steeped in salt brine.

Melford Rutabega (2 lbs)

Some fun facts about the ol' rutabega: “This ordinary root vegetable is thought to have originated in Bohemia in the 17th century as a hybrid between the turnip and wild cabbage. Rutabaga's most significant nutrient comes from vitamin C. One cup contains 53% of the daily recommended value, providing antioxidants and immune system-supporting functions that help protect the cells from free radical damage. Although rutabagas provide only 5% of the iron needed for healthy blood on a daily basis, vitamin C enhances its absorption, while helping to form both collagen and the thyroid hormone thyroxine, which protect cells against damage, encourage wounds to heal, fight infections, and promote healthy bones, teeth, gums, and blood vessels”. We have this recipe that has become very popular in our family over the last few years in our home, aptly called “root mash”, this is a healthy casserole type dish that leaves room for all the creative licence that you desire. Any and all root vegetables and even grains, like quinoa, couscous, millet or amaranth can be added. Slicing and boiling any vegetables that you desire and mashing them all into a casserole dish, you can sprinkle cheese on the top and bake in the over for up to 30 minutes!

Herbed Tomato Sauce ~ or ~ Spicy Pickled Green Beans

This is freezer tomato sauce and although it was water canned (so the lid is sealed) I would keep it frozen until you're going to use it. In the fridge it will last for about a week. The pickled beans are made with garlic, dill flower, vinegar and cayenne pepper. They are water bath canned so you can keep them in a dark, cool place until ready to open. They make a tasty appetizer or side dish with something salty like nachos, pizza or quesadiallas!

Experimenting with Recipes

I'll be lazy this week and give you the links for some of my favorite blog recipes instead of writing them all out:

Here you go:

Pickled Beets:

Butternut Squash Soup:

Leftover Christmas Chili:

Thai Cabbage Salad:

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