November 5, 2019

What’s in this Week’s VEGGIE BOX: Bok Choy, Leeks, Turnips, Delicata Squash, Parsley, Garlic, & Potatoes

What’s in your FLOWER BOUQUET: Globe Amaranth, Dahlias, Marigolds, Zinnias, Celosia, & Cockscomb

What’s in your FRUIT BAG? Apples, Persimmons, Pomegranates



This Week on the Farm

What does the farm look like on this beautiful autumn day?  Wandering about the farm, I can see all the happenings of the last several weeks remembered in the landscape.  Most notable are the effects of the wind event that also started the Kinkaid fire in Sonoma County.  Also showing up are the lack of fall moisture and its effects on the feeding habits of the larger wildlife and insect life and the growth of the vegetation.  This would be a tired looking farm without the earth’s water that we have pulled out from its resting place far beneath us.

As the sun rises this morning it is perfectly still and has been each morning for the last several days.  Without the constant hum of the traffic that I remember from so many other places I have lived, the occasional startup of a tractor at the neighbor’s place or a vehicle passing is a noticeable change.   The hustle and bustle, rustle and conversation in the shop packing area is a comfortable small area of noise that travels just a short distance beyond the walls of the barn.  This is a marked difference from the summer when every morning is greets us with a list of tasks that must get done before noon and another that that cannot wait until tomorrow, each undertaking accompanied by the roar of a tractor or 4 wheeler or van heading off to carry us to our busy-ness.   So the stillness of the morning, fitting hand in glove with the sighs that we are all exhaling in thanks for having made it through another summer, is the perfect symbol of what Autumn means for the farm.

At the same time, there is another element to the stillness.  There is a sense of anticipation, and sense of knowing that this balance between the seasons, the stillness of the air as it slowly warm under the sun’s rays is just a transition moment.  It is just a short time when all hangs in balance before the scales tip, before the growth ends, before the droughts or the floods or the fogs of a brief or endless winter begin.  I think that that is what I love about the fall, that balancing of so many parts of the living world.  The balancing of anticipation of the future and relief from the past, the balancing of the air movement that allows the woodsmoke to hang suspended over the fire, the balancing of the outgrowth of summer and the inward retreat of the winter, are just the first to come to mind.  Obviously, on the farm it becomes a time for us to relax the tension of modern production, to remember where we are, to recuperate from too many hours of accomplishment and too few hours of sleep.

All these are images drawn from the farm where we live and the landscape contributes to these images.  After that wind, every deciduous broad leaf on the farm hung limp and tattered if it hung at all.  Even some of the evergreen leaves hanging tightly to weather out the storm, fell whirling to the ground in the blasts.  While the huge fading leaves of the winter squash plants were all tattered to tiny ribbons of stalk leaving only viney trailers of green snaking between the butternut, Delicata, pumpkin and Spaghetti squash fruits, the orange trees had a decided loss of leaf to windward, showing bare green sticks to the north.  The winter squash still matured and the twigs of the oranges show tiny buds that will burst into new leaves at the appropriate time.  Of course, the self-styled caretaker of this farm worries about a future filled with this ‘excessive weather’ phenomenon, as if he or she could will it to be different.  I worry that too many of these events will deplete the reserves of the oranges, will tatter and burn the leaves of the bok choy, radishes and lettuce even beyond their present condition.  Will the feed for the deer and turkeys be reduced to the point where, in their frantic need for food for the coming dark times of winter, they force their way through or over the fences that protect our crops?  In our zeal to provide year round food for the people to whom we are committed while at the same time maintaining living space and conditions for life around us, will we contribute to the final overtaxing of the vast underground aquifer that sustains us?  These are questions that hang in the balance now in the autumn when we have moved beyond the Summer and are living before the Winter.  Because we farmers are human and as such are gifted with a memory of the past to learn from and also with a sense of the impending future, we will be doing more than just asking those questions.  To the best of our ability, we will be looking for an active path that appreciates the present, the balance of the moment, while searching for what it will take to support a fertile future.  Have a good week and thanks for all your support.  Jeff


Miso Soup with Sweet Potato, Bok Choy, & Shrimp

Soups hearty, light, and sweet are enjoyed, especially made with root vegetables. Before under-ripe, bland vegetables and fruit were flown from warmer countries to be sold in the local market or grocery stores, root vegetables were one of the few sources of fresh food found during the colder months, especially the glorious sweet potato. In this recipe, sweet potato and shiitake mushrooms add their characteristic hearty and rich sweetness to a light miso broth. Toward the end, buckwheat noodles, fresh bok choy and shrimp are tossed in the soup. It’s a fresh fast food type of recipe.
2 to 3 tablespoons peanut or neutral oil
1 tablespoons toasted sesame seed oil
1 small onion; thinly sliced
1 garlic; minced
10 to 12 oz. fresh shitake mushrooms; sliced thick
1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
A dash of crushed red pepper
Salt and fresh black pepper; to taste
25 to 30 oz. low sodium chicken stock; enough to cover the ingredients
1/8 to 1/4 cup white miso
1 dried red chili pepper
1 medium to large sweet potato or yam; peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium to large bok choy; cleaned and sliced into about 1/4 inch wide; the thicker bottom end roughly chopped
1/2 lb. medium shrimp; peeled and deveined; either previously cooked/defrosted or uncooked; sliced lengthwise in half
4 to 6 oz. Wheat/Buckwheat Soba Pasta (cooked al dente according to the manufacturer’s directions
In large pot, heat both the peanut and sesame oils over medium to high temperature. Add the onions and stir until translucent, about a few minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds, before they turn golden brown. Add the shitake mushrooms, salt, fresh black pepper, crushed red pepper, and ground ginger. Stir until the mushrooms just begin to soften. Whisk together the chicken stock and the miso. Pour into the large pot with the onions, mushrooms, and seasonings. Add the red chili pepper and sweet potato. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature to simmer while covered. Cook for a few minutes until the potatoes begin to soften. Add the bok choy and cook for a couple minutes. If cooking raw shrimp add them in this step. Reduce temperature to a low heat. Mix in the pasta (If using precooked shrimp, add them in this step). Bring soup to a low simmer then turn heat off. Ladle soup into individual bowls. Garnish with scallions and/or toasted sesame seeds.


Fragrant Rice Noodle with Vegetables

Southeast Asian inspired sauce with colorful strips of leeks and mixed vegetables in a creamy, peanut-lime sauce.

1 ½ quarts water


2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon freshly grated lime peel

½ cup peanut butter (preferably smooth)

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 cup vegetable stock

½ teaspoons salt

3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

6 ounces ¼ inch wide rice noodles (or linguini if rice noodles are not available

2 leeks, well rinsed

2 small zucchini

2 small yellow squash

3 tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup water

In a covered pot, bring the water to a rapid boil. When the water boils, add the noodles and cook for 3-5 minutes, until just tender. (I have found that really all you need to do with rice noodles is bring the water to a boil, turn off the heat and place the noodles in the hot water and let set until tender.) Drain, rinsed briefly under water, drain again and set aside. Combine the sauce ingredients and mix them by hand or puree them in a blender until smooth. Cut the leeks in half long ways; wash the insides looking for dirt under each layer. This recipe calls for squash, but this time of year you could replace with kohlrabi, fennel, carrots or any other in season vegetable. Cut the vegetables into sticks 5-6 inches long and ¼ to 1`/2 inch wide. Heats the oil in a wok or large skillet, and stir fry the leeks on medium high for 2-3 minutes. Add the vegetables and continue to stir fry for about 3 to 4 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender. To prevent scorching or sticking add about ¼ cup water while stir frying. Add the noodles and the sauce and toss well until heated through. Serve at once. From Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home


Pickled Turnips

Pickled turnips are a popular Middle Eastern mezzes (a style of dining in the Mediterranean resembles a collection of Spanish tapas and other small plates meant to stimulate your appetite. Mezze often makes up an entire meal, combining both cold and hot, vegetarian and meat items). Adding a beet slice to each jar turns the turnips pink; you can omit this step if you like.

2 1/2 pounds turnips, peeled and cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick wedges or sticks (about 8 cups)

6 slices peeled beet

3-6 whole large cloves garlic, sliced

3 cups distilled white vinegar or cider vinegar

3 cups water

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sea salt

2 tablespoons sugar

Divide turnips among 6 pint-size (2-cup) canning jars or similar-size tempered-glass or heatproof-plastic containers with lids. Add 1 beet slice to each jar (this dyes the pickles pink) and divide the garlic slices among the jars. Combine vinegar, 3 cups water, salt and sugar in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until the salt and sugar dissolve. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Carefully fill jars (or containers) with brine to within 1/2 inch of the rim, covering the turnips completely. (Discard any leftover brine.) Place the lids on the jars (or containers). Refrigerate for at least 1 week before serving. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. From EatingWell: July/August 2010 Makes 6 pint jars (about 12 cups). Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 month. | Equipment: 6 pint-size (2-cup) canning jars or similar-size tempered-glass or heatproof-plastic containers with lids. Active Time: 30 minutes | Total Time: 30 minutes


Love Pears & Apples? Learn How to Cook Quince

Pears and apples may get the spotlight, but we're jonesing for rosy and aromatic quince this fall. Quince may resemble pears and apples, but unlike their fruit brethren, raw quince are incredibly tannic and sour. This means you do have to cook them, but the transformation is dramatic, and well worth your efforts. Poached quince is so tender, aromatic, and rosy that you’d hardly believe the raw fruit is white, fibrous, and hard as a rock. To remove the quince core without also removing a finger, follow these three simple steps. Remove the yellow skin from ripe quince with a vegetable peeler. If you're making quince jelly, membrillo (quince paste), or other preserves, save the skins—they contain a lot of pectin and can be wrapped in cheesecloth and added to jams or jellies to help them set.  Quince are very hard, making it difficult to cut so stand quince up so it's resting on the bottom, making sure it isn't wobbling around (you can slice off a bit of the bottom to create a flat surface, if necessary). Using a chef's knife, cut down alongside one side of the core to separate flesh. Continue cutting around core to remove two to three more lobes. Try to work quickly so the white flesh doesn't discolor and save the cores and seeds for jelly-making. Now you are ready to cook them in many of your fun recipes.


Harvest Fruit Compote

<p>Looking for a way to use up all that fall fruit? Try this simple, healthy compote for an all-natural sugar fix. </p>The thing about fruit compote is that it's almost impossible to create a "recipe." So much is based on personal taste and what's on hand or in season. Sometimes people sub out apples for pears, or peaches or nectarines, or cherries for strawberries, and so on. Think of this as a starter version where you can mess with the balance. Like apples? Add an extra one. Hate strawberries? Take 'em out. Like some crunch? Take it off the heat sooner. This compote is pure fruit—no added sugar.

6 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped

1 quince

2 pears, chopped

1/2 orange, zested

1/4 lemon

In a large pot with a heavy bottom and solid cover, layer fruit—apples on the bottom, then nectarines, then plums. Cover with orange zest and squeeze lemon over top. Turn heat to medium-low and cover. Let cook for about 10 minutes. Uncover and stir, evenly distributing fruit. Compote is done cooking when apples have softened just to the point that they can easily be broken in half with a spoon but aren't total mush. Add strawberries and cover. Turn down to low heat for 1 minute, then turn off the heat and let sit. Serve hot or chilled. Makes 6 cups in Less than 1 hour. Great over pancakes or waffles for breakfast.