Here are a few highlights from the first year's CSA newsletters, showcasing the variety of vegetables and preserves that are available throughout the Winter CSA. Each newsletter is an attempt to broaden our understanding and appreciation of these foods as more than just items that are produced, purchased and consumed....
Brussel Sprouts ~or~ Chinese Cabbage (1 Lg or 2 small )
Brussel sprouts keep their health benefits in tact when they are steamed as opposed to being boiled or roasted; Though, I really like roasted brussel sprouts. We've been adding steamed brussel sprouts, as well as chopped chinese cabbage, to rice noodle dishes to make a filling meal with enough green stuff to create balance. You can also add either or these items into pad thai or other traditional noodle dishes with peanut sauce or sweet and sour sauce, depending on what you like. Get creative and add a little green into any of your favourite recipes!
Mumm's Organic Fenugreek Sprouting Seeds
At-home sprouting! The easiest way to grow your own nutritionally dense food, year-round. Here is a great how-to video for those of you who are new to sprouting:
I'll let you find your own jar, but I've included a piece of netting in your bags this week. Instead of using an elastic, you can also use just the jar ring-lid to hold the netting in place. I make sprouts right in the kitchen and often turn the jar upside down to drain any excess water between rinsing. As long as your jar is not in direct sunlight, you should be ok!
Fenugreek seed will take a little bit longer to sprout because the seed is larger. I would say between 4-5 days and even 6 days if you want larger sprouts. Fenugreek is especially good for digestion and these little sprouts can be added to salads, smoothies, wraps, guacamole, hummus or any other dip. Sprouts can be blended as a way to pre-digest them, but I would avoid cooking the sprouts or even heating them because this will kill them! The fact that they are a live food is where most of the benefit come from!
Red Wing Red Onions (2lb)
Allium Cepa: The name refers to the well known cultivated bulb that is naturally a biennial or perennial, but usually treated as an annual and planted and harvested in the same season; Otherwise known as the common onion or bulb onion. There are many other species and the ancestral wild origin is not fully known. The onion was first officially described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753, though the onion is thought to have been used as food for millennia. Traces of onion remains have been found in Bronze Age settlements dating back to 5000 BC. Historians suggest that cultivated onions were being eaten at least 2000 years later in ancient Egypt, when the cultivation of leek and garlic also arose.
And I found this particularly interesting...
“In Ancient Greece, athletes ate large quantities of onion because it was believed to lighten the balance of the blood. Roman gladiators were rubbed down with onions to firm up their muscles. In the Middle Ages, onions were such an important food that people would pay their rent with onions, and even give them as gifts. Doctors were known to prescribe onions to facilitate bowel movements and erections, and to relieve headaches, coughs and hair loss.”
Waltham Butternut or Winter Sweet Blue Kabocha Squash (5-6 lbs)
Curcubita Muschata: Curcubita is the name of the genus that refers to several species of Winter or storage squash (not to be confused with zuchinni, also called summer squash). Butternut squash is part of the subspecies Muschata which also includes Long Island Cheese Squash, Musquee De Provence and Kent Pumpkin. The most popular variety of Butternut, the Waltham Butternut, originated in Waltham, Massachusetts, where it was developed at the Waltham Experiment Station by Robert E. Young.
Winter Sweet Kobocha is part of the Cucurbita Maxima species that also includes Butternut, Hubbard, Lakota and Red Kuri squashes among many others. The Kabocha squashes have thicker, harder rinds that give them excellent storage quality.
Blue Kale (1 bunch)
As you know, kale is choc full of nutrients, including Vitamins B6, K, C & D. This hardy little plant also provides us with dietary fibre and protein. It's super easy to grow and will last for nearly the entire season in your garden. This kale comes from a later planting that I timed to be ready for the first few weeks of November. Getting sweeter with frost, the leaves have just started to reach maturity so are still tender and juicy!
Use kale in smoothies (without the stems), in stir fry, massaged kale salad or dry slowly in the oven to make salty kale chips!
Any leafy green should be stored in the refrigerator in a perforated plastic bag. The dry, cool air in your fridge can cause the greens to go limp, but leaving them in a sealed plastic bags can cause condensation and rotting. Find a happy medium in your fridge crisper drawer or open plastic bag. If the leaves do wilt, you can give them a pick-me-up by putting the stems into a glass of water and leaving them on the counter for a day.
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.
Allium Sativum: This is the bulbous, cultivated garlic that is relative to the onion, chive and leek. There are many different wild species including some that are considered common weeds in North America.
“One of the best-known "garlics", the so-called elephant garlic is actually a wild leek (Allium ampeloprasum), and not a true garlic.”
Porcelain, rocambole and purple stripe garlic are sometimes considered to be part of a different species: Allium ophioscorodon. This group group is defined as “hard neck” garlic. This type is generaly grown in cooler climates whereas “soft neck” garlic is grown in regions closer to the equator.
Cultivated garlic has a long history of use as both culinary herb and medicinal herb. The use of garlic is recorded by Pliny The Elder is his work Natural History where he describes ancient Egyptians using the herb in spiritual ceremonies. In ancient Greece and Rome, garlic was widely consumed among the classes of soldiers, sailors and rural peasants. Over the centuries, garlic became known as a cure-all. And more recently, “Garlic was used as an antiseptic to prevent gangrene during World Wars I and II.”
It continues to be used to treat viral infections, sore throats, colds and high blood pressure.
Bleu De Solaise Winter Leeks ( 3 )
These leeks have been in the ground since May! Sucking up tons of nutrients from the compost rich soil. Leeks are amazingly diverse and with their subtle flavor can be added to soups, soup stalk, stir frye, roasted vegetables, vegetable dips and chopped to be included in sauces for fish and chicken.
The entire leek can be used, from the white stalk to the upper leaves (though the leaves are better used in soup stalks). The B vitamin Folate is dispersed throughout the plant as are antioxidants and a high level of Vitamin K. Like other alliums, leeks are helpful in maintaining cardiovasular health because of their antioxidant polyphenols. Try to use at least 1 cup of chopped leeks in any recipe to receive these health benefits.
Sweet Potatoes (2lbs)
Root vegetables can be transformed into soothing comfort food for this time of year - mashed together or pureed into a soup - while maintaining their benefits. You can do more to maintain the nutritional profile of these foods by knowing what happens during different methods of cooking. For example:
“It can be helpful to include some fat in your sweet potato-containing meals if you want to enjoy the full beta-carotene benefits of this root vegetable. Recent research has shown that a minimum of 3-5 grams of fat per meal significantly increases our uptake of beta-carotene from sweet potatoes.... Some nutritional benefits from sweet potatoes simply may be easier to achieve if you use steaming or boiling as your cooking method. Recent studies show excellent preservation of sweet potato anthocyanins with steaming, and several studies comparing boiling to roasting have shown better blood sugar effects (including the achievement of a lower glycemic index, or GI value) with boiling. The impact of steaming is particularly interesting, since only two minutes of steaming have been show to deactivate peroxidase enzymes that might otherwise be able to break down anthocyanins found in the sweet potato. In fact, with these peroxidase enzymes deactivated, natural anthocyanin extracts from sweet potato used for food coloring may be even more stable than synthetic food colorings. This benefit isn't limited to the food's appearance since the anthocyanins have great health benefits as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients.” So, there you go.
Organic Garlic Scape & Cilantro Pesto
I made this pesto when the garlic scapes were ready for harvest in early June. It has been preserved in the freezer where it can stay until you are ready to use it. If you do thaw the entire jar and put it in the fridge, it should be used within two weeks so the oils stay fresh. This pesto is great with roasted potatoes, rice noodles, on top of baked fish or chicken and in any salad dressing. It has a very strong garlic taste and the pesto does contain organic sunflower seeds from Speerville Flour Mill. The pesto is gluten free!
Lancer Parsnips (2lbs)
Parsnips are an interesting breed, though not at all difficult to grow if they are properly thinned. It is always heartbreaking to pull out the tiny little plants when they are only a few inches tall in hopes that the ones left to grow will produce large, juicy roots. It's inevitable though, because if they are crowded, parsnips will not just push one another out of the way like beets can do, they will simply not grow. When the small plants come up, thin them to at least 2 inches apart to ensure that you have good sized roots for harvest. You can also continue to thin as they grow
Parsnips stay in the ground much longer than carrots or beets and take nearly the whole growing season to size up. You can also leave them in the ground until late Fall as long as you find a variety that is resistant to canker – a fungal rot. High Mowing Seeds sells Organic Lancer Parsnips, the only variety that we use for organic production.
Other varieties include Harris and Hollow Crown, neither of which I have tried as of yet.
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!