Tuesday, September 25, 2012

CSA Week 16

1 bunch kale
1 bunch carrots
mixed fall roots
savoy cabbage
sweet peppers
hungarian hot wax peppers
red onion
The amazing, cranking summer of 2012, has smoothly transitioned into a so far, so great kind of a fall on the Kettle Bluffs.  The cool nights and clear days, with the best blue skies and glorious clouds that pull me away from my work for a brief moment every single day to just stare, breath, and feel good, have provided a space for reflection and moments to take stock of this whacky roller coaster of a season from delicious splendor (sungold cherry tomatoes!) to hard times (washed out field!) and nutty farm activities (chasing pigs under the moonlight!  True story, just ask Samantha.)
And now, dear community, here’s where you get to know your farmer, where BKF checks it’s ego at the barn door and after all the general whooping and high fiving about the yummy,yummy, yummy and oh so abundant food that we have been eating, it’s time for full disclosure.  

I have been dreading this moment for a while now and just have to cut to the cabbage and own it....there is no winter squash this season from Black Kettle Farm.  At all.  After having a very low yield last year, I tried a new planting method, which was cruising along great, until the squash bugs found the huge stand in the middle of the field.  Even with the organic method of applying kaolin clay to mask the plants, the bugs found all our of delicata, butternut and acorn and hit it hard, beyond recognition.  Usually, if something does poorly at least the crew will get a few morsels, even if the crop never makes it to CSA or market.  This was not even the case for the winter squash this season, it was a complete and total crop loss.  This was hands down the buggiest year I have ever come across as a farmer, every pest seemed to be nothing short of relentless on almost every single crop at some stage of the game.  The cukes and summer squash had a great start, but they went down early due to beetles and the watermelon never really did much with so much pest pressure.  All these plants are related, and the winter squash is the longest in the ground, thus the most exposed to the pesty vermin, thus the biggest failure.  I am majorly feeling the loss of this fall staple, not only monetarily, but culinarily and vibrationally.  Who isn’t ready to wear their favorite dark green sweater and cozy up with some squash soup?  This farmer sure is.  With forty different vegetables and tons of different varieties it is pretty much impossible to make it all line up, sad to say, the winter squash was the major causality of the season and it will go down in the record books as such.

Now that major blow is out of the way, I’ll just keep the over-sharing coming!  Remember, the fennel from the early season?  Hey, me either!  It got planted, weeded and loved, but never, ever grew.  Pretty much same story for the napa cabbage and try as I might, I apparently can’t grow a beet to save my life this season.  Also, the rutabagas have rot, or mildew or some sort of funk from all the humid weather, so they will never make it into your roasted roots mix.  This whole farming gig is a real lesson in letting go and giving thanks for the victories (kale, carrots, lettuce, sweet peppers, tomatoes galore!) and embracing all that can be improved upon (fortress around the butternut squash.)  
Because the good drastically outweighs the bad and we always, always have to end on an appreciation, I could not be prouder of all things onion this year or my hard working, dedicated crew.  
Squash aside, we still rule.

Buttered Cabbage
Epicurious  | February 2008
by Darina Allen

1 lb fresh Savoy cabbage
2 to 4 tablespoons butter
salt and freshly ground pepper
an extra knob of butter

Remove all the tough outer leaves from the cabbage. Cut the cabbage into four, remove the stalk and then cut each quarter into fine shreds, working across the grain. Put 2 or 3 tablespoons of water into a wide saucepan, together with the butter and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, add the cabbage and toss over a high heat, then cover the saucepan and cook for a few minutes. Toss again and add some salt, freshly ground pepper and the knob of butter. Serve immediately.

How to Caramelize Onions
Cut the onions into slices about ¼ inch thick―thin enough to ensure that they won’t take forever to cook but not so thin that they’ll become crisp. Don’t worry about crowding the skillet with too many slices; the onions will eventually cook down.
Use about 2 tablespoons of olive oil for each large onion. Cook the onions over medium heat, stirring occasionally but not frequently. During the next 15 minutes, they’ll first soften and become translucent, then gradually turn slightly golden. But they’re not caramelized yet.
As the onions turn darker, stir more frequently (about once a minute) to prevent burning. When they’re almost brown and have an intense, rich flavor, they’re caramelized. The exact amount of time required varies depending on the heat and the amount of onion in the skillet. Expect the process to take at least 25 minutes.

Roasted Root Veggies
A few carrots
A few beets
A few turnips
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon rosemary
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the vegetables into chunks and toss in a roasting pan with olive oil and herbs to coat. Keep the peels on; that's where the vitamins are.  While the veggies are roasting, toss a garlic bulb or two into the pan at about the 20-minute mark. 

Roast for approximately 40 minutes, turning regularly until all sides have turned a golden brown and the veggies are cooked straight through.

Throw anything in and roast it all!  Cube shallots, onions, garlic, potatoes, or sweet pepper and add it to mix with plenty of herbs, like oregano, majoram or herbs de Provence.   Super yummy, hearty and easy!

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