Sweet Soil Organic Farm; 2016

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New Moon * New Year ~ CSA Week 4

December 30, 2016

Happy New Year! And happy New Moon.  Just after Christmas, on Dec 28th, we had a new moon.  Traditionally in the Ashtanga practice, we take this day to rest to honour the beginning of a new cycle and to recognize the force of the natural world in the intense gravitational pull that is exerted by the new and full moons.  By observing these resting days, the yogi brings him or herself into alignment with the natural unification between the opposing forces of sun and moon; Taking the time to observe and to become aware of bringing opposite forces into balance.  Doing this twice a month means that, slowly, it becomes more and more comfortable to stop, to notice and to reflect on the natural cycles that are at work around and within us.  By observing the movements of the sun and moon, the process of the seasons, the growth of our food, we become connected to something beyond ourselves or our perception of our selves.  This recognition of natural rhythms slowly becomes the recognition of our own internal rhythms, patterns of thought and of behaviour.

 

 

The new moon can also be a time to renew intentions, goals and ambitions for the coming cycles of weeks, months or years.  With the year coming to an end and most of us enjoying at least a few days of vacation or rest at this time, this is an opportunity to take stock and look at the year in review.  The Winter is said to be a time when wisdom gathers, when we stockpile energy in anticipation of planting seeds in Spring.  Sometimes it is difficult to sink into silent times by ourselves, especially when it is completely common and accepted to be continually tuned into technology.  Take advantage of the natural conditions that allow for introspection and rest.  Take the time to reflect on the path of your life and cultivate visions of where you'd like to go next; Practice slowing your thoughts in order to see beyond the chatter of the mind.    

 

 

To offer some inspiration, I'll choose these words, translated from the first book, fifteenth verse of  the Hatha Yoga Pradipika to send you into the New Year.  The ancient recipe for success, for helping yourself along ... 

 

“Take care in what you allow in, discerning what you see and hear.  Non-attachment is the mastery over the craving for objects.  Being conscious of this self-mastery over what is seen and heard is the heart and power of renunciation.”  


This Week:

 

Ripbor Curly Kale (1/3 lb)
I went out to Windy Hill on a mild day this week hoping that my kale would have emerged from under the snow and be ready for harvest.  The leaves that I could get to were in great condition, having been insulated and cooler by the snow.  However, an immediate lesson: If I plant earlier,  maybe 40 days earlier, the kale stalks will be taller and stronger and better able to stay upright as the snow piles up.  Even though there wasn't much snow on the ground when I went out to harvest, my kale plants were only 3 months old when the snow began and so were easily knocked over, becoming permanently stuck under the accumulating layers.  I was only able to harvest about 4 lbs from my own crop.  Luckily, Alyson had some older plants that grew tall enough to tower above the snow and I was able to harvest another 7 lbs!  Thank you Alyson!

 

 

 

 

Carrots  (3 lbs)
A few more facts about the nutritional benefits of carrots to help you get through the post-holiday heaviness.  Fibre!  You need it to move things along and keep your digestive system running smoothly.  You need both insoluble and soluble fibre to   support the digestive system and carrots (especially raw) are high in soluble fibre.
“Soluble fiber acts by soaking up water in your intestines, creating a slow-moving gel. This process slows down digestion, which allows essential vitamins and minerals to absorb in your gut.” 
It often happens that after heavy meals and lots of snacking on foods that are low in vitamins and minerals that we feel tired, low energy and irritable.  The body will be crying out for nutrients and raw vegetables can provide what the body might be missing.

 

 

Merlin & Touchstone Gold  Beets (3 lbs)
Another star source of fibre for digestive health – the beet!  Here's an interesting take on the nutritional benefits of beets from Martha Stewart herself.  In the preceding paragraph she does mention that, although beets are ugly, they shouldn't be underestimated.  Great advice.

“For centuries, people have used beets as a remedy for ailments from constipation to blood-related problems. In the 1950s an enterprising Hungarian physician treated his cancer patients with a regimen based on a daily quart of raw red beet juice. While his methods were questionable, the idea of beets as cancer fighters isn't far-fetched.Red beets get their garnet color from antioxidants called betalains. These vivid pigments help your body detoxify potentially cancer-causing substances; studies show that betanin, one type of betalain, is effective in preventing lung, liver, and skin cancer.
The other medicinal claims for beets make sense, too. A good source of fibre, including a type of soluble fibre called pectin, beets keep your digestive system running smoothly. They also contain iron, essential for red blood cell production, as well as potassium and folate, known respectively for regulating blood pressure and protecting your heart. Whatever you do, don't discard the greens. They also contain folate and plenty of fiber, potassium, beta-carotene, and vitamin K, which is necessary for proper blood clotting.”

 

 

Bilko Chinese Cabbage (1 large or 2 small)
Somewhere between a salad green and a cabbage, Chinese Cabbage is crunchy, with a very mild taste.  I find it to be one of the best performing Fall crops, though it can be ravaged by pests (grasshopers, cabbage moth) if not protected properly.  My favourite way to use this cabbage is raw, in a salad, covered in a creamy dressing.  It can be chopped and added to soup if you like the wilting vegetable effect, but to retain its texture, it's best not to overcook, adding it to a stir fry near the end or steaming for just a few minutes.

 

 

Garlic (2 large bulbs)
I've moved my garlic storage from down in the cellar to out in the cooler, where the humidity is higher. I'm noticing a slight amount of drying out and want to remedy the issue so I can prolong the storage life of the bulbs.  The temperature, which stays at about 8 degrees downstairs seems fine for keeping the garlic from sprouting, but the humidity is only at 45%.  Garlic likes slightly higher humidity, which is why it is commonly kept in the kitchen.  But, the temperatures are usually higher (from 20 degrees and higher) in a main living space like the kitchen, so the garlic will only store well for 1 -2 months.  For long term storage, it's best to pair mid-range humidity (about 60% or the same humidity required to keep squash) with cool and dry conditions where 0 C is considered best!  So I've moved my garlic from the overly dry cellar, into the cooler, where the temperature is lower and the humidity is higher because of all the respiring vegetables.  Next year, I will invest in another coolbot cooling system to create a storage area for squash, garlic and onions.  If I've learned anything this year, it's that colder (but not freezing) is better, even for squash, because higher temperatures definitely speed up the spread of rot and disease.

 

 

Spaghetti Squash (1 large or 2 small)
This Squash is very versatile.  The skin is tough so the inside flesh is really the only edible part, unless you like extremely crunchy skin!  The best way to cook is to halve the squash and lay the halves, skin side up, on a lightly oiled cookie sheet or in a casserole dish.  At 350, it will take between 45 minutes to one hour depending on the size of the squash.  Once the flesh is cooked, you can scoop it out and put the spaghetti like, dark yellow meat into a variety of recipes.  It's most common use is as a replacement for pasta, but the stringy squash isn't really exactly the same.  You can also use the cooked squash to thicken a stir fry or soup if you want to give it a creamy texture.  The other night, I used the spaghetti squash, mixed with nutritional yeast, as a cheese substitute on a vegan pizza.  It was surprisingly satisfying and the recipe is included below.

 

 

Mix Blue Oyster & Shitake Mushrooms from Moonlight Mushrooms, Spicy Tomato Sauce or Wild Fruit Jam

 

Saturday Delivery
This week you'll receive a delicious mix of shitake and Oyster Mushrooms from my friends at Moonlight Mushrooms.  A 1/2 lb can go a long way so if you plan to keep the mushrooms for a while in the fridge, they need humidity and ventilation.  To make sure they don't dry out you can keep them wrapped in a clean dish towel in one of the humidity controlled drawers in your fridge.  Check out the chowder recipe from the last newsletter for a unique way to use the mushrooms.  

 

Monday Delivery
For those of you who received mushrooms last delivery, you'll get the spiced tomato sauce this week.  I made several batches, never measuring the addition of the dried cayenne peppers, as is my style,  so I can't predict which jars will be spicier than others.  Test it out to see if you like it and if it's too intense, you can always use small amounts at a time to flavour other pasta, pizza sauces or even tomato soup!  Remember that this recipe is meant for freezer storage, so keep it there unless you use it right away.

 

Sackville & Riverview Delivery
This week you'll receive organic wild fruit jam.  I made two small batches with various wild harvested berries from Windy Hill Organic Farm.  Both recipes are low in added sugar and the sugar that is added is organic raw brown sugar.  Only natural pectin from boiled down crab-apples or hawthorn berries was used.  The recipes come from a wonderful book called “Edible Wild Nuts and Berries of Canada”.  I get all of my jam and jelly recipes from this book and absolutely love it!  So far I've made an autumn mix of Elderberry, Cranberry and Crab-Apple, and a Black Currant jam, thickened with Crab-Apple juice.  I've included a really easy home-made bread recipe from an excellent book “Home Bakebook of Natural Breads & Goodies”.  This bread is dense and goes well with jam and sharp cheese!

 

 

 

Experimenting With Recipes

 

Dairy-free Spaghetti Squash Pizza
(Putting to use your tomato sauce, onions, mushrooms, garlic and squash!)

 

There are many options for creating a crust so use your favourite, a mix or follow the link to find a recipe and prepare first:

 

Store Bought:  Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix

 

Gluten free:  http://www.shelikesfood.com/1/post/2015/05/the-best-easiest-gluten-free-pizza-crust.html

 

Regular Pizza Dough: https://www.ricardocuisine.com/en/recipes/2049-homemade-pizza-dough

 

Roast the spaghetti squash in a pie pan with a few Tbsps of oil, until the meat can be easily scooped out.  Return the squash (without the skin) into the pie plate, taking advantage of the leftover oil in the pan.  Add 3/4 cup of nutritional yeast (available at any grocery store in the natural food section).  Return the mixture back to the oven (at 400) for 10 minutes or until squash bubbles.  This will create a cheese-like mixture that can be spread on top of the pizza after you add other toppings.
For added toppings, caramelize mushrooms, garlic and onions or add raw.  Also, chopped kale (without the stems).
Return the topped pizza to the oven and bake until the squash mixture is slightly browned.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

Basic Whole Wheat Bread
(To go with your jam or pesto)

 

 

 

1 Tbsp Dry Active yeast
3 1/2 Cup warm water
2 Tbsp Raw sugar
2 tsp salt
7-8 Cups Whole Wheat flour (I use Red Fife from Speerville)

 

Grease two large loaf pans (9'' x 5'' x 2 3/4'')

 

In a large mixing bowl, pour warm water and sprinkle yeast.  Set aside and allow yeast to dissolve (about 5 minutes).  

 

Add sugar, salt and 4 cups of flour, mixing with a wooden spoon.  Continue adding flour (about 1/2

cup at a time), stirring until the dough becomes stiff and pulls away from the side of the bowl.  
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead steadily for 6-7 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic (won't stick to your hands).  Continue dusting the dough with flour ( I also add some ground flaxseed ) so the dough doesn't stick the the counter-top.  
Divide the dough into two equal parts, shape and place in loaf pans, covering with a dish towel or two and place in a warm spot to rise until about double in bulk (about 1.5 - 2 hours)  

Bake at 350 F  for 40-45 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow.  Remove from the pans and let cool.  Store in a plastic bag in the fridge or freeze immediately after cooling.  If you leave it out on the counter it will turn into a giant brick!

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