May Share Sneak Peak (+ Recipes!)

April showers bring May flowers… and our first vegetables! Want in on some of our earliest harvest? May Share is a two-week pick-up the last two weeks of May (May 22 and 29), and is a great way to get a head-start on what the growing season has to offer. The mild weather means tender young greens, fresh spring radishes, and more.

Here, we’re giving you a sneak peek into some of the crops you can expect to see in the May Share, along with a few recipe ideas:

 French breakfast radishes are tender and juicy

French breakfast radishes are tender and juicy

Baby Bok Choi
These bite-sized bok choi are lovely in a quick saute. Follow this basic idea, or try adding ginger and fresh chili to the garlic and replacing the water with mirin or soy sauce. Finish with a squeeze of lime. Or halve and simmer into this lemongrass-turmeric soup.

French Breakfast Radishes
These beauties are a treat, however you slice them. Add them to your favorite salad; slice them thinly and quick-pickle with a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime for a fantastic taco topping (or try your hand at these fun pickles!); layer sliced radishes onto a sandwich of crusty bread and good butter -- or enjoy them fresh and whole.

Red Butter & Oak Leaf Lettuces
Small tender head-lettuces are on the way! Use in your favorite salad, or try this one with radishes and buttermilk dressing.

Rhubarb
If all goes well with our newest perennial patch, we hope to have some tart ruby-hued rhubarb for you at the end of this month! Not familiar with this delectable spring vegetable? Try a classic strawberry-rhubarb crumble, or get fancy with this rhubarb honey panna cotta or these rhubarb bars with cream-cheese shortbread crust.

Popcorn!
Go classic, or try topping your popcorn with a dusting of curry powder, Old Bay seasoning, nutritional yeast, or salt + sugar for kettle corn. Never made popcorn on the stove before? Here’s a fun step-by-step guide. Try using a heavy-bottomed pot and oils with a high smoke-point for best popping results. (Editor's note - if you can't give up microwave popcorn, shop around for a silicone popping bowl...I have one, I use it with my home-grown corn, and it's great.)

Click here to sign up for May Share (or any of our other CSA shares), or here to submit a recipe you’d like to share with fellow shareholders!

 Rhubarb centers just starting to unfurl new leaves

Rhubarb centers just starting to unfurl new leaves

 Baby bok choy

Baby bok choy

Grower's Row: May Means Plant Sale

By Lauren McDonald

Happy Spring… hopefully?

 Broccoli babes

Broccoli babes

 Tunnels starting to fill up with cucumbers

Tunnels starting to fill up with cucumbers

For much of April, the cold weather has kept us from getting into the ground, delaying our planting schedule by two, then three weeks -- which has been fairly nerve-wracking. While waiting for the soil to warm up, we’ve been preparing for the Plant Sale, and continuing to transition the high tunnels from arugula and radishes to main season crops like tomatoes and a moderate planting of cucumbers. We wouldn’t have been able to get this work done in such good time without help from four dedicated Vassar students and our two new crew members from Nubian Directions (whom we will introduce in next month’s newsletter). Finally, a break in the weather gave us one day (!) to get three weeks’ worth of plants in the ground -- and we did it! One acre, eleven hours, and 18,000 plants later, and our farm is finally starting to look like… well, a farm.

Now that the first planting push is behind us, we’re all getting excited for the next big event: our Plant Sale! This week we’ve been potting up hundreds of flowers, herbs, and vegetables from open trays into pots. Even after moving thousands of plants out to the high tunnels, the propagation greenhouse is busting at the seams.

 It's "thyme" for the Plant Sale!

It's "thyme" for the Plant Sale!

Here are some highlights you can look forward to!

 Calendula seeds

Calendula seeds

  • 20 varieties of heirloom tomatoes of every color of the rainbow! Most of these grow well in containers with some trellising (even in a 5 gallon bucket), so if space is limited you can still give them a try. We’ve chosen varieties that are known for their flavor, productivity, and/or disease resistance.
  • More flowers that are great for drying: Statice, Strawflower, and Calendula. Harvest the blooms from these when they are partially open and hang them upside down on lay flat on screens to keep their stems straight.
  •  Flowers that are deer resistant. We know deer are a challenge for many gardeners in our area, so we’re growing several flower and herb varieties with strong odors, bitter flavors, or tough leaves that are less palatable to deer.
  •  Flowers that are especially good for pollinators. (Pollinator habitat is something we’d like to promote in the region.) Look for these flowers that fall in both categories: Alyssum, Bee Balm, Blue Balloon Flower, Blue Flax, Cosmos, Heliotrope, Lupine, Marigold, California Poppies, and Yarrow
  • All of the usual favorites, from arugula and artichokes to yarrow and zucchini, plus melons, strawberries and herbs.

In case the dates aren’t already on your calendar, the sales are the first two Saturdays in May (May 5th and 12th) from 9am-2pm. Come visit us and pick up a few plants to take home! Or take a walk around the farm with us, and admire our newly pruned and mulched blueberry patch, and all of the new baby plants that will soon be appearing in May Share and main-season CSA distributions. (If that’s not reason enough, did we mention there will also be a food truck?)

Hope to see you there!

 Our first planting: 18,000 plants in the field!

Our first planting: 18,000 plants in the field!

Join Us for Spring Fever 2018

We are super excited about our 2nd Annual Spring Fever Family Day and Book Fair on ***May 19th*** (please note we postponed this event to May 19th, rain or shine!). This day of festivities for children and families coincides with the second day of our Plant Sale and will run from 10am to 2pm. We will celebrate nature, animals, gardening and taste delicious fresh snacks! There will be fun workshops for children from 4 to 12 years old offered by local community organizations. Register for the workshops here. Spring Fever is a FREE event; however, we will be accepting donations to help cover the costs of the event. Want to volunteer at Spring Fever? Sign up here.

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Ongoing activities throughout the event will include:

  • Book Fair: Browse and purchase new books at discounted prices with Inquiring Minds Bookstore.
  • Bubbles Bubbles Everywhere! Come join The Art Effect to learn about printmaking and make a unique print from colored bubbles.
  • Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Family Services. Learn the history of the holiday and create traditional paper flowers.
  • Plant seeds to take home with the Childcare Council of Dutchess and Putman Counties!
  • Make native seed balls with clay, soil, and native seeds to plant around town with the Student Conservation Association.
  • Visit with and pet miniature donkeys with Little Brays of Sunshine from Donkey Park.
  • Help make a giant clay flower pot by decorating a coil of clay and adding to the coils other children have made with Art Centro.
  • Taste fresh vegetables with differently seasoned dips with Eat Smart NY.
  • Browse and purchase fresh vegetables and fruit on the Mobile Fresh Market with Dutchess Outreach.
  • Stop by the smoothie station for tasty fruit and vegetable-based smoothies with Poughkeepsie Farm Project (by donation).
  • Get some delicious snacks or lunch from two food vendors: Essie’s Restaurant and Farmers and Chefs Food Truck.
  • Take photos as Super Veggie or as one of our local beaver neighbors.
  • Nature body paint: Get pollinators, flowers, or vegetables painted on your face or hands with the Environmental Cooperative.
  • Plant Sale: Browse and purchase PFP-grown flower, vegetable, herb, and fruit plants for your garden or as gifts.

In addition to all of that, there will be four children’s workshop options in each of the three sessions. Registration is required for the workshops which include the following:

All about Donkeys: Hang out with the Little Brays of Sunshine and learn interesting facts about miniature donkeys including what they eat and how to care for them. For children 7-12 with an adult.

Eat the Rainbow: Celebrate of the rainbow of vegetables and fruits that you can grow in your own garden! Learn how to prepare a colorful snack-wrap using produce of all shapes and colors with educators from Poughkeepsie Farm Project. For children 4-12 with an adult.

Worms Rule: Come investigate real live worms. We’ll learn about their life cycle, what they eat, and how you can use their natural gifts at home for compost. For children 8-12. Presented by Poughkeepsie Farm Project.

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Pollinator Power: Learn all about native plants, the pollinators they benefit, and actions that you can take to beautify your environment and provide habitat for local pollinators. There will be an opportunity to build bee hotels on a first-come first-served basis. For children 8-12. Presented by The Environmental Cooperative.

Garden Explorations: Explore many vibrant wild weeds and cultivated Spring-time plants growing in the Discovery Gardens! Join a wild plant scavenger hunt, open your senses with herbs in the Meditation Garden, and create your own flower crowns! For children 4-12 with an adult. Presented by Poughkeepsie Farm Project.

Whoa, Go, Slow with the Very Hungry Caterpillar: What does it take to transform into a beautiful butterfly? Join us as we read the classic story and find out what foods can help us become strong and beautiful butterflies. We will sort food into categories, talk about eating the rainbow and make our own yummy butterfly snack. For children 4-7 with adult. Presented by Eat Smart NY.

Tales of the Rainbow Forest Musical Reading: Sing, dance, and read with local author McKenzie Willis and his musical story Tales of the Rainbow Forest in the Meditation Garden. For children 3-8 with adult. Presented by Inquiring Minds Bookstore.

Children’s Farm Tour: Explore Poughkeepsie Farm Project's fields on this guided farm tour. Look for pollinators, taste the freshest veggies, and discover the magic of plants! All ages. An adult must accompany any child on the farm tour.

We hope you will join us for this fun family festival!

*Activities and schedule are subject to change.

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Grower’s Row: The Joy of Watching Seeds Grow

By Aozora (Zoe) Brockman

The heat mats in the greenhouse are now covered with little seedlings. Swathes of dirt-filled trays filled with baby green plants are spread across low black tables. The newly re-potted tomatoes—hybrid, heirloom, and cherry varieties—relish the cooler air on pallets underneath the tables.

Soon every inch of the greenhouse will be taken up by tiny morsels of life, growing stronger and bigger each sunlit hour. And before long, the tomatoes will be transplanted into the tunnels, and the onions, beets, scallions and other spring crops will be pressed into the tilled dirt of the field.

 Newly sprouted onion seeds

Newly sprouted onion seeds

Spring is a time for quiet birthings, and for me, a time of exuberant joy. Watching onion seeds I dropped three at a time into plugs peek their heads up from a layer of vermiculite, then sprout like little green hairs, floods me with maternal happiness. I wish for them to keep growing towards the light, to eat and eat and drink and drink, to reach their white roots far and wide.

 A little bigger...

A little bigger...

It feels like a miracle, how a little seed knows to grow into an onion. Not just any onion, but a highly specific one: a gold, round, Cortland onion, for instance. And how marvelous it is that this onion, planted in the spring, will last until next spring, stored throughout the winter.

 Now we're cookin'!

Now we're cookin'!

I smile thinking of how perhaps the hand who seeded a Cortland onion will one day place it onto a wooden chopping board, sizzle it in oil, and salivate as its aroma fills the kitchen. Or perhaps you will feast on the onion that was birthed in our greenhouse, that bulbed under the sun and rain in the black soil of our fields.

As the rush of spring and summer speeds towards us, I want to hang on to this time of seeding, of youth. In the calm before the storm, I hope to myself that we will all remember, when we eat, the journeys of the vegetables that sustain our bodies, that keep us growing, that keep us strong.

PFP's Garden Clubs Launch in Poughkeepsie Schools

By Chris Gavin, Garden Educator at Clinton and Krieger Schools

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Recently the Poughkeepsie City School District was selected as a recipient of the Empire State After-School grant to bring extended learning time to its students for the next five years.  And PFP couldn’t be prouder to be one of the community organization chosen to work with the district on this new project. Since December, we’ve been bringing our love of food and farming to Poughkeepsie’s four elementary schools, and we are expanding our after-school programming to include the middle school and high school as well.  This is as large an undertaking as it sounds, and to support this ambitious endeavor PFP has welcomed eight new garden educators to its farm family. I count myself lucky to be a part of this new team that brings together farmers, educators, food rights advocates, local college students, and longtime members of the Poughkeepsie community.

Our after-school program is called “Garden Club”, though that simple name doesn’t convey the depth and range of learning we are bringing to our students. The established teaching gardens at each site are the foundation for our work, but as you may know, food connects to virtually any academic discipline and touches so many aspects of our daily lives.  Through Garden Club, our students gain practical hands-on skills as they develop positive social and emotional tools that can help them throughout their lives. We connect our lessons to the natural sciences and English Language Arts so that our program supports classroom learning. Most importantly, our club helps create a community where our students can feel safe and comfortable being themselves, where they can develop strong relationships with their peers, and where they can build social skills like kindness and respect.

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The theme of our program is “FOOD IS LOVE”, and everything we teach connects to this central idea.  Cooking and eating food together is a way to build community and show people that you care about them.  Sharing recipes is a way to celebrate our own cultural traditions and learn about those that are different from our own.  Learning healthy eating habits is a way to love and support our bodies so that we can be our best selves. Growing food in a way that helps rather than hurts our environment shows our love for all living things.  These are some of the ideas we are sharing with our youth participants, and we hope that they will in turn share what they learn with their families and community.

On a personal note, I am a lifelong resident of the City of Poughkeepsie and I attended Poughkeepsie public schools for my entire K-12 education. To return as an educator to the schools that I attended as a child has been a powerful and humbling experience for me.  Sharing the joy of food and love of nature with the next generation of kids in my hometown brings me a level of pride and fulfillment that I haven’t before experienced in my professional life. I am so proud to be a part of the team that brings this educational experience to so many youth throughout the district.  Here’s to four more years of transformative learning!

 That's Chris and her son!

That's Chris and her son!

Staff Highlight: Sonya Key

Sonya (neé Katie) Key loves everything about wholesome food! She enjoys creating opportunities for collective return to health through personal connection to nature. With over 15 years of experience in hands-on and out-of-school time education, she weaves trust-building games and songs into participatory growing and cooking workshops for all ages. Uplifting ancestral African, African American and indigenous foodways is primary to her approach.

Sonya was professionally trained in health-supportive raw vegan cuisine at RawSoul of Harlem. She designed a non-traditional culinary education with multiethnic cuisine courses and a French culinary study abroad. She created and ran Sweet Mama’s vegan desserts in a women of color run co-op kitchen before branching out to provide creative personal cooking and private event catering throughout NYC, Westchester and the Hudson Valley.

As a child, you could find Sonya out in nature, the kitchen, library or onstage. Today, all these passions come to life while teaching in Poughkeepsie Farm Projects’ after-school garden clubs, farm-to-school program, community cooking workshops, and Jr. Chefs’ Cooking Club!

Winter Sweets and Treats

Welcome to March, and to the next-to-last CSA distribution. To celebrate, we’ve got a few exciting offerings for our Winter Share members:

Spring-dug Parsnips! During the long cold winter, parsnips pump themselves full of sugars (which act as a natural antifreeze) to prevent their cells from freezing. Overwintered parsnips are candy-sweet.

Sunchokes! Also called Jerusalem artichokes and earth apples, these little nuggets are the tubers of a flowering plant (Helianthus tuberosos) related to sunflowers. They’re sweet and earthy, low in starch, and rich in inulin.

Cake! Well, a recipe for cake from one of our fellow CSA members. (We ourselves were lucky enough to sample it, and can vouch for its delicious-ness.)

Have a favorite recipe of your own? Share it with your fellow Winter CSA members! If you’ve got a favorite recipe you’d like to share, submit your recipe here!

Happy cooking and baking!

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Featured Recipe Ideas:

Parsnips:

By now you’ve probably got plenty of parsnip ideas. These super-sweet overwintered parsnips are best prepared simply, to allow their natural candy-sweetness to shine.

  • Cut into rounds (slicing bigger rounds from the top root into quarters for even-sized pieces)
  • Toss in coconut oil (with a dash of cumin or curry) or olive oil (with sage, salt and pepper)
  • Roast at 350 for 30-45 minutes until soft, tender, and slightly caramelized.

To prevent drying out, it helps to cover with foil for the first 15-20 minutes.

For more recipes including baked parsnip fries with rosemary, root vegetable tarte tatin, and spicy honey-glazed parsnips, click here.

 Spring-dug parsnips are candy sweet

Spring-dug parsnips are candy sweet

 Sunchoke flowers in late September

Sunchoke flowers in late September

Sunchokes:

Sunchokes sweet, earthy, nutty flavor is simply and wonderfully showcased in roasting. Pair with roasted potatoes and celeriac, mushrooms, or add to a roasted chicken.

  • Wash and scrub clean (no need to peel)
  • Cut into even-sized chunks, cutting out any discolored ends where the stems attached
  • Toss in olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt (also: pepper, thyme, sage)
  • Roast at 350 until tender and slightly golden in color.

For a slightly more rich and adventurous dish, try this Sunchoke Gratin featured in the New York Times:

  • Slice 1 lb sunchokes into ¼ inch thick rounds and grate ½ cup Gruyere cheese.
  • Bring 1 cup milk & 1 cup water to boil. Add sunchoke slices, reduce heat to simmer, and cook until tender but still firm (about 8 minutes).
  • Drain, and arrange in a buttered baking dish.
  • In small saucepan, heat ½ cup cream with a halved clove of garlic and dash of nutmeg just barely to a boil. Remove garlic and pour over Bake at 375 until lightly browned and bubbling (about 20 minutes)

Shirley’s Rutabaga Nutmeg Cake

1 c packed grated rutabaga
3 eggs
¾ c sugar
½ c plain, full-fat yogurt
½ c vegetable oil or melted butter
2 tsp vanilla
2 ½ c all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Grease a 9” square tin and line with parchment
  • Beat eggs, sugar, yogurt, oil or butter, and vanilla in a large bowl
  • Stir in grated rutabaga, breaking up the shreds
  • Sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt
  • Stir gently to combine, making sure there are no streaks of flour
  • Pour into prepared cake pab and bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean
  • Cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then turn over and remove parchment paper. Cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Cream together ¼ c cream cheese and ¼ c soft butter
  • Sift 4 c powdered/confectioners sugar
  • Gradually add sifted sugar and 1-2 tsp vanilla to the butters
  • If necessary, thin out with milk or cream, a teaspoon at a time

Another similar cake calls for brown butter frosting. Thanks Shirley for sharing your recipe!

 Carrot cake can easily substitute shredded rutabaga for carrots

Carrot cake can easily substitute shredded rutabaga for carrots

Grower's Row: Spring is Springing!

March Grower’s Row: Spring is Springing

By Lauren McDonald

Happy almost spring! Just in case you missed the weather last week, here’s a quick recap:

It was 40. Then it was 80. The next day it was snowing.

Ah, March. It should come as a surprise to precisely no one than you, you wild crazy month, are responsible for this trickery.

Despite having experienced all four seasons in the span of a few days, it is still officially winter (we had to check the calendar to make sure) – but not for long. Increasingly longer days mean that our winter routine is already giving way to the considerations of spring.

 Precision seeder with Brassica greens mix

Precision seeder with Brassica greens mix

 Newly germinated greens in the high tunnel

Newly germinated greens in the high tunnel

Over the winter, our days have been occupied with harvesting greens and washing roots for our bi-weekly Winter CSA, and filling wholesale orders (including deliveries to Vassar College, where our produce appears in the dining halls). Thanks to our Vassar students and volunteers, we’ve also been chipping away at projects like fence clearing, bed prepping, organizing, and cleaning. On particularly inhospitable days, we take cover indoors to update our record keeping, prepare for the arrival of new staff, and prepare ourselves for a change in responsibilities, as many of us transition to new roles.

Now, as the days lengthen, we’ve been watching things shift in the high tunnels. The few remaining Asian greens are starting to flower, meaning we get to eat the delicious raab, or flowering stalks. Beds that have been cleared of winter greens have been direct seeded with arugula, mustard mix and radishes – which are germinating beautifully, and will hopefully grow fast enough to be harvestable and cleared out by the time we need to plant tomatoes in early April.

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Yes. That means we are seeding tomatoes THIS WEEK, the very first week of March. About 3 weeks later we’ll pot them into larger cells, and by early April they’ll go into the protected grounds of the tunnels. Some of these tomatoes—as well as a diverse array of other vegetables, herbs, flowers, deer-resistant plants (ones that often have strong oils or textures that deer can’t digest) and plants that are good for pollinators—will be destined for our Plant Sale in early May.

This will be our second year growing high tunnel tomatoes, and we’ve learned a lot from last year. Here are a few changes we’re making to incorporate lessons we learned last season:

  • We’re growing heirloom varieties that are more consistent and better suited to tunnel production
  • We’ve timed our plantings to better balance wholesale markets and CSA needs
  • We’ve adjusted our bed spacing plans and pruning methods to use the systems that worked best last year

If all goes well, we’ll harvest them from July through October. Hard to picture that right now in March!

What’s even harder to believe is that we’re also starting seeds for CSA crops that members won’t actually eat until September (onions), October (leeks), and even next January (celeriac)! Between tunnel and CSA plantings and plant sale crops, we’ll be starting 50,648 seedlings during the first three weeks of March.

In short, spring is most definitely springing… and we, too, are springing to action, ready to meet it. To get in on the fun, sign up for your 2018 CSA share here, and mark your calendar for the PFP Plant Sale May 5 and 12. It’s not too soon to start thinking about your own gardens, or about welcoming the summer bounty that we’re already setting in motion.

Pass the Potatoes

March’s Harvest of the Month is potatoes. Harvest of the Month is an initiative of Poughkeepsie Farm Project’s Farm to School program. A different local farm product is served in school meals at area schools each month and we are helping to promote these locally available farm products.

Pass the Potatoes

By Allison Herries, Dietetic Intern, The Sage Graduate School

Potatoes! We love them mashed, fried, baked, smashed, boiled, and roasted.  So how did these humble tubers become one of the most popular vegetables in the world?

Potatoes are the most consumed vegetable in the United States.  The average American eats about 48 pounds of potatoes per year, but mostly in the form of fatty French fries or potato chips.  This has led to potatoes getting a bad rap as a food that is expanding our waistlines and contributing to the obesity epidemic.  However, potatoes are naturally fat free and chock full of nutrients that are good for our bodies.  They are also an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium when consumed with the skin intact.  One medium baked potato with the skin contains about 620 mg of potassium or about 20% of the daily requirement.  This is more potassium than a banana which only has about 420 mg! Research suggests that diets high in potassium and low in sodium may help reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. By limiting fried foods in our diets, such as French fries and potato chips, and focusing on healthy cooking techniques, potatoes make an excellent addition to a balanced diet.  

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White potatoes make up most of the potatoes eaten in the United States.  But did you know that potatoes come in almost every color, including white, yellow, orange, red, and purple?  Different varieties of potatoes boast different nutrition contents.  For example, sweet potatoes are known for their beta-carotene (aka vitamin A) and fiber.  In fact, beta-carotene gives the sweet potato its vibrant orange coloring.  However, no one type of potato is best for health.  Focus instead on including a variety of different types of potatoes in your diet. 

Fun fact: Potatoes originated in South America thousands of years ago! The Spanish imperialists returned to Europe with the potato crop which flourished and eventually became a staple in many European cultures.  Today, there are still about 4,000 varieties of potatoes that grow in the Andes Mountains of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile.   

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Here at our farm, we grow a variety of potatoes including whites/yellows, reds, and blues.  Each variety has its own differences and strengths, but in general, they are all good for soups, roasting, boiling, and mashing.  Our potatoes are planted in the spring at the end of April.  Fun fact- some say that potatoes should be planted when the first spring dandelions start to bloom. Each potato plant starts from a single seed potato.  What exactly is a seed potato? A seed potato is a piece of a potato leftover from the previous growing season.  A new potato plant sprouts from the eyes of the potato seeds.  You may have noticed this process occurring if you ever left a potato on the counter too long and it started to grow another plant!  Since potatoes are highly susceptible to disease, it is important to choose a reliable seed potato.  Look for “certified seed potatoes” when planting potatoes in your own garden.  We get our seed potatoes from Sparrow Arc Farm in Copake, NY.

The potatoes are harvested once the plants start to die in the fall, usually at the beginning of September through October.  Since it is the tubers that we are interested in eating, the potatoes are collected by digging them out of the ground.  Digging potatoes is a favorite activity of many of our CSA shareholders!  We also invested in a new potato digger last season which makes harvesting potatoes faster and safer.  Potatoes can last a long time when stored under the proper conditions.  This allows us to distribute our potatoes throughout the fall and winter months. 

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At the PFP we love roasted potatoes for their wonderful flavor and nutrient content.  Roasted potatoes also make a great comfort food, which is great for these last few weeks of winter!  Furthermore, it couldn’t be easier to make roasted potatoes.  Simply begin by preheating the oven to 450˚F.  Cut potatoes into cubes and toss with oil (we prefer olive oil for heart health!), pepper, rosemary (preferably fresh), and a pinch of salt. Spread in one layer on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasional.  You can also experiment with a variety of different spices and herbs, making roasted potatoes a versatile dish that can accompany any meal.  Enjoy!

And potatoes are never boring.  With so many varieties and colors to choose from, there is a potato for every occasion. Not feeling like roasted potatoes tonight? Check out these additional recipes for another of our favorite vegetables, sweet potatoes, instead!

Sources:
https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/ag-and-food-statistics-charting-the-essentials/food-availability-and-consumption/
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-berardi-phd/potatoes-health-benefits_b_7010712.html
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/02/types-of-potatoes_n_4877050.html
http://www.grandstreetcsa.org/2010/07/just-foods-veggie-tip-sheets.html

February is for Fermentation

Hello, Winter CSA Members!
This week, we are providing you with nearly all of the ingredients you’ll need to try your hand at simple, safe fermentation: try your hand at sauerkraut, kimchi, or “kraut-chi”, a creative combination of the two!

Simply put, fermentation “cooks” the food, making certain nutrients more available to us and adding/changing the probiotic character of the food, using microbes instead of heat. Yogurt, bread, beer, wine, sake, cheese, meat and pickles are all products of fermentation.

Fermentation is a great way to add vibrant flavors and textures to your plate (without the addition of fats or processed seasonings), get creative in the kitchen, and diversify gut bacteria to aid in digestion. If you’ve never made your own sauerkraut or kimchi before, we hope this week you’ll consider giving it a try.

Have a favorite recipe of your own? Share it with your fellow Winter CSA members! If you’ve got a favorite recipe you’d like to share, submit your recipe here !

And now, let’s get the creative (and culinary) juices flowing:

Parsnip and Celeriac Soup

For those of you who won’t be trying your hand at fermentation this week, we suggest this Parsnip and Celeriac Soup: a sweet-and-savory winter soup with a creamy potato base.


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Sauerkraut & Kraut-Chi

Making sauerkraut, while it may seem intimidating at first, is really something anyone can do! Put simply, you’re using a salty brine solution to keep out the “bad guys” and allow the “good guys” (the microbes that occur naturally on the cabbage) to work their magic.

For step by step instructions with photos, read “Kraut-Chi: A Step-by-Step Guide” from From The Land We Live On which offers some helpful tips, or “Making Sauerkraut” from Wild Fermentation from the fermentation guru himself. Here’s the basic process you’ll follow:

  • Remove the outer two leaves and clean off any damaged, discolored or otherwise bad-looking spots. Reserve one whole leaf for later.
  • Using a mandoline or a sharp clean knife and a clean cutting board, slice your cabbage very thinly into a big (clean) bowl.
  • Sprinkle in some salt . Be sure to use non-iodized, also “canning” or “pickling” salt. You’ll want 1.5-2 tsp per pound of cabbage.
  • Massage salt into cabbage with clean hands until it starts to release liquid. This is your brine.
  • IF MAKING KRAUT-CHI, follow additional steps below.
  • Pack cabbage and brine into a clean (sterilized) glass jar, ideally one that has just come out of a dishwasher or been washed thoroughly and swirled with boiling water.
  • Massage a pinch of salt into that whole cabbage leaf you saved at the beginning, and fit it down over the sliced cabbage like a cap .
  • Use a smaller jar filled with pebbles or some other heavy material to press and weight the kraut down: your goal is to keep the cabbage submerged below the liquid. Any chunks of cabbage sticking up in the air could begin to mold.
    • If after 6 hours your cabbage hasn’t generated enough brine to cover itself, make a salt solution to supplement. Mix 1 heaping tablespoon salt with 2 cups boiling water, allow to cool fully (this is important, as you don’t want to cook your microbes!), and pour over kraut.
  • Put a large paper bag, if you have one, over the jar. It helps prevent any ambient dust from settling into the kraut. I Also I enjoy writing fun things like “Ssshh I am fermenting” or “Burp me often!” on the bag.)
  • Now, wait. Let it sit. In 1-2 days you’ll see bubbles forming, and can press down on the weight to “burp” your kraut if the brine is in danger of overflowing. It should stop bubbling in 2-5 days.
  • Start tasting after a week. The longer you leave it out, the more sour it will get. You can start eating it at any time it tastes good to you. If you want to slow/stop the fermentation, put a lid on it and place it in the refrigerator.

Kraut-Chi Additions

Note: Some processes call for salting your cabbage, letting it sit, draining it, rinsing it, and then proceeding with the following steps. For the sake of simplicity, we’ve omitted those steps here.

  • Add any/all of the following: Chinese cabbage or bok choy (thinly sliced), daikon or other radish (thinly sliced/shredded/julienned), scarlet turnip or carrot (thinly sliced/shredded/julienned), green onions/scallions (chopped), garlic and ginger (finely chopped), gochugaru (or some red pepper flakes or finely chopped fresh hot pepper), and/or seaweed flakes or fish sauce (optional).
  • A more complicated process calls for making a paste out of the garlic, ginger, green onion, chili/gochugaru, fish sauce, and some of the vegetable brine, and stirring this into the sliced cabbage/radish/carrot mixture. This gives kimchi its distinctive reddish color. Make your own, or you can purchase kimchi paste from any number of sources.

To make straight-up kimchi, which traditionally includes the draining process and paste-making, check out ”How To Make Easy Kimchi At Home” from The Kitchn .

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Tips and Notes on Safety

Fermenting vegetables is a very safe, low-risk endeavor. Sandor Katz, the guru of Fermentation (and author of Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation), asserts that, according to the USDA, there has never been single documented case of food poisoning from fermented vegetables. That said, here are some tips regarding cleanliness and safety.

Cleanliness is key! Make sure all materials (knives, cutting boards, jars, hands) are clean and/or sanitized with hot water or vinegar. There are ample online resources that provide information on best practices with regards to safety.

Smell: A funky, stinky-but-yummy fermented smell is good! Bad bacteria will smell… well, bad. Trust your nose, which should tell you if something is off.

Mold: Any material not submerged in the protective brine could start to mold. If you see any mold, just pull these pieces out, or skim off the top until what’s left looks fine. A little mold on top shouldn’t compromise the kraut that’s submerged.

Sliminess: Slime is bad! The kraut should have firm texture, and the brine should stay thin, like salty water. If anything gets slimy (and smelly), compost it and start again.

Happy Fermenting!