We'll keep it short this week, with just a few veggie highlights:
- Ginger is making its first appearance in the shares! This is such a satisfying and beautiful crop to grow. The Organic seed comes all the way from Hawaii in early Spring. Upon arrival, we separate the "hands" into small pieces and place in open flats in the greenhouse, covered in potting soil, on heat mats. In a few weeks to a month, the pieces begin to "bud", or sprout, at which time they are planted into a deep trench in our high tunnel and lightly covered. As the greens develop and reach upward, they are continually mounded, whereby over the course of the next couple months the trench is completely filled. During this time, the row of ginger is kept continually moist, and fertilized at least twice. Eventually, after we stop mounding (middle of August), the greens begin to fill out the row and our job is mostly done until harvest. It's a long way to travel and a long time to wait for fresh garlic in an Oregon autumn, but we think it's worth it! There is no cured skin, so peeling isn't necessary. We've left the greens on for you, because they are useful! The fleshy part of the growing stalk can be chopped up and used like you would the root, and the greens themselves are great in soups and/or teas (as one might use lemongrass). The ginger root itself has the most lovely color, texture, and aroma. It is tender, and full of of fresh flavor...so different than dry store-bought ginger. We find ginger to be a welcome addition to the fall kitchen, when our bodies can benefit greatly from its warming, healing, energizing properties. It is used frequently in a simple winter squash curry, or grated into a sweet/salty tamari based sauce for sauteed veggies and rice noodles. Often though, we just enjoy the magic of fresh ginger as a tea, gently simmered in a pot on the stove. Please let us know what you think!
- I know you've seen lots of onions over the course of the season. It is probably my favorite crop to grow and store, so that would explain its prominence on our farm, but I also feel like a good onion (or two) is the beginning of every incredible meal in our kitchen. Also, we are typically exposed to such a small sliver of the mind-boggling diversity of shapes, flavors, and pungency in the onion world. Commercially grown onions, which travel great distances, are handled in large quantities, and are kept for many months, are the culmination of breeding efforts that prioritize traits most suited to this industrial food chain. This is not exclusive to onions, obviously, and what is most often lost when vegetables are bred for durability, consistency and longevity are the delicious subtleties of flavor, texture, and utility. This week, my most favorite onion, "Rosa di Milano," is returning to the line-up. This is a lustrous dusty rose Spanish flat-top onion, with a seductive shape and an incredible sweet/pungent aroma. These are long-keepers, and will last many months, but I can't wait.
- A new addition this week is Celeriac, also known as celery root. This vegetable is not the prettiest, but it is rivaled in depth of flavor and richness maybe only by parsnip. If you like that deep, parsley suggestive flavor, and can handle the peeling and chopping, Celeriac is worth the effort. It shines pureed in soups, or as a "smashed' addition to mashed potatoes. We also cube it and roast it with other vegetables or under a chicken bathed in olive oil. It is the ingredient that people can't identify, but love for its subtlety and uniqueness. We are offering a limited amount of celeriac over the next month, so if it's something you definitely want to try, please be sure to set your preferences in Harvie accordingly.
- The last little note I'd like to make about Fall shares is the return of various greens. For a short time we have Brussels Sprout tops on offer, which are the growing tips of the Brussels Sprout plant, and therefore have an incredible sweetness to them. We chop the whole thing up and saute like any other green. You are also seeing two different types of kale coming back into rotation after a number of months off. These are Italian Lacinato (dinosaur kale), a crowd favorite for its tenderness, flavor, and deep color. Also returning is "Westlander", which is a classic frilly, light green kale with big tender leaves and lots of bulk. I prefer this variety for its cold-hardiness and for all the nooks and crannies that hold dressings in a raw kale salad. For all of our greens, we start with ample olive oil, and at least one onion, sauteed slowly with lots of salt until translucent and barely caramelized. Then we add a finely chopped bunch of greens (or two), and a splash of water to help the greens wilt down into the pan. Then, we saute the greens on medium for a few minutes until tender and fully wilted, finishing with a little splash of lemon juice or Apple cider vinegar...which really brightens up the greens and adds depth. This is our basic approach to cooking hardy greens and a standby for most of our meals. There are endless variations and flavor combinations. If you have any left-over sweet peppers laying around, add those with the onions at the beginning. And don't forget the acid at the end. It makes all the difference.
Thank you all for sticking with us through these trying times. We are so grateful to connect with our community through food. We think there is a lot of hope in sustenance grown with love and care.
Conner + Sarah