Seeds of Hope Farm CSA Newsletter, Week 13, October 16, 2012

From under the sycamore, Spanish Lake, 10/18/12

This Week you’ll find in Your Share:

• Potatoes

• Garlic

• Onions

• Radishes

•Turnips

• Collards

• Bell Peppers

• Hot and Banana Peppers

• Oregano

• Okra

• Spring Mix

• Melon Option

Next Week You Might Find in Your Share:

• Potatoes

• Onions

• Garlic

• Radish

• Daikon

• Lettuce

• Spicy Mix

• Turnip

• Herb

From Your Farmers…What a delicious fall season. Mornings are cool and afternoons are warm. Persimmons are falling on the trail around Spanish Lake, and the bellies of the squirrels are bulging. How they can stomach raw acorns is beyond me. I haven’t yet taken the time to boil all the tannins out of a pan of acorns, and eat them proper, but just may this year. As for the garden, many summer crops are slow but still alive and the fall ones are picking up. This week you’ll find turnips and radishes in abundance. Lettuce and boc choi are sizing up in the field. My delay in cabbage and broccoli was likely too long, but we really hope to still get some in your share before the end.

Hot peppers…we know we’ve given more than even a heat lover can use. Remember they can be hung to dry or put in vinegar like refrigerator pickles. They can also be used for insect control in the garden. Hot peppers, garlic, and onions, boiled in water, then strained makes an excellent and safe insect deterrent.

Banana Peppers…you can pretty well treat them like sweet peppers. Especially when red, they have much more sweetness than tang of a banana pepper. I suggest cooking them whole with whatever dish you prepare, and picking them up by the stem and taking a bite as you please. This allows for enjoyment of pepper taste without all the time needed to cut and seed a small pepper. We can thank Jehad for this tip. He brought the idea to Farm Lunch, and I’ve rarely sliced a pepper since.

Also, thanks to the farm crew who will be handling and distributing this week’s share. I have a meeting I must attend, but I’m really grateful I get to work with a crew that will see to it that you, our members, will be well taken care of. This crew is Jehad, Randy, and Chelcey. Chelcey is part of CAASTLC’s HR staff who helps smooth out farm operations in a number of ways.

Sweet potatoes: Yes, we grew them. Lots. I planned for about a 700 lb harvest, but highly fertile soil can cause them to grow excessively large, or in shapes that take unexpected turns through the soil. This happened. We’ve dug most of them, and will do more. They are currently curing to sweeten. We will have them in the share at least one week, but if you’d like more of them, we invite you to come on out and dig some more.  The task of curing them will be up to you, but it simply requires immediate storage in a warm humid room for two weeks.  If properly cured, sweet potatoes can have a shelf life without refrigeration up to six to nine months.  Talk about getting you through the winter—and then some!  Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins and minerals and are more nutritious than white potatoes.  If you are trying to reduce your meat intake, they can be a satisfying vegetarian entrée.  Perhaps on a Meatless Monday.

**If you’d like to start drying your herbs this week, the instructions are in the week 11 newsletter. If you didn’t hang on to the paper copy, scroll down at seedsofhopefarm.org.

–Gabriel

Food for Thought…

Time again to discuss a bit of advice from a favorite food writer Michael Pollan.  In his book In Defense of Food, he lays down the fundamental points of a healthy food culture in just seven words: “Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.”  He likes to keep it simple, and so do we at Seeds of Hope Farm.

In the midst of a chain of public health crises–cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity–our community members need support, encouragement, and information to lead healthier lifestyles.  There is much attention paid and much uncertainty about what the latest dietary fad or trend or nutrition revelation has to say about what we should put in our bodies.  At the farm we offer food and we agree with Pollan that cooking food is simply the key to success.

“Eat food.  These days this is easier said than done, especially when seventeen thousand new products show up in the supermarket each year, all vying for your food dollar.  But most of these items don’t deserve to be called food–I call them edible foodlike substances.  They’re highly processed concoctions designed by food scientists, consisting mostly of ingredients derived from corn and soy that no normal person keeps in the pantry, and they contain chemical additives with which the human body has not been long acquainted.  Today much of the challenge of eating well comes down to choosing real food and avoiding these industrial novelties.”

Of his many useful suggestions about how to make this happen, I want to pick out just a couple.  He suggests shopping at farmers markets or subscribing to a CSA to get your cooking ingredients– fresh-picked, diverse, seasonal produce– straight from the source.   (Nice going, reader!)  This advice will make you less dependent on grocery stores, but when you do visit, “Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle.”  He advises, “Most supermarkets are laid out the same way: Processed food products dominate the center aisles of the store, while the cases of mostly fresh food–produce, meat and fish, dairy–line the walls.  If you keep to the edges of the store you’ll be much more likely to wind up with real food in your shopping cart.”

This Week’s Recipes…

With this week’s turnips we have a tried and true preparation adapted from cooks.com:

Cube and steam the turnips until done but not mushy.  Drain off the juice and beat until fluffy, adding cream, sweet butter, salt, and pepper.  Serve hot like mashed potatoes.

This week you have the option to pick up some unripe cantaloupes.  An early frost burned their vines so we decided to do a rescue operation and offer you the opportunity to try something new.  It turns out there are some largely unheard of but potentially very tasty possibilities.  Melons and cucumbers both grow on vines and are in the same family, called the cucurbit family, pronounced ‘Q-curbit.’  You might find the unripeness lends a cucumber flavor, in which case you could pickle chunks or spears and impress your friends with melon pickles.  Try using leftover brine in that jar in your fridge.  Another option is to enjoy an agua fresca, a refreshing blended drink.  Cut the melon into chunks, removing the seeds, and add juice of half a lime, a cup and a half of water, and, since it needs extra sweetness, a few tablespoons of sugar or honey.  Blend until smooth and sweeten to taste.  Then strain into a large bowl and stir in another cup and a half of water.  Refrigerate, then serve this refreshing fruity water over ice, and enjoy the warm weather this week.

-Randy

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