Newsletters: 5 Oct., 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 5 Oct., 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the belly
I’ve written about CSA shares before, but this seems like a good time to remind you of all the great vendors we have who are joining the CSA parade. Mostly I’ve spoken of the advantages to the farmers and other producers, who love to have those advance sales and a little predictable income, and also just enjoy having a personal relationship with their best customers. This time I’m going to say a little about the advantages to the customer, beyond the discount. You, too, benefit from a personal relationship with your farmer (or baker, or soap-maker, or…), with special frills such as first-of-the-season produce, limited-run specialties, farm news, and deals on, or first shot at, additional products. A traditional produce CSA can also help you eat better, because you’ve got this huge box of beautiful vegetables and there’s another one coming! You get to try new things with the help and advice of your personal farmer, often including preparation instructions and recipes in your CSA newsletter. Not sure you want to try new things? Most farmers will let you trade what you won’t use for something you will.

In the kitchen
How about recipes from CSA newsletters to go with the CSA information? Here are some late-season selections from our two “anchor” farms. No, it’s not at all that I’m rushed and lazy, they just fit in so well… OK, it’s because I’m surrounded by half-packed moving boxes and don’t know where I put the inspiration.

Creamy Potato and Parsnip Gratin
8 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
8 parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, halved
1 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper to taste
2 c whipping cream or yogurt
Generously butter a 13×9-inch baking dish and rub with garlic. Arrange a single layer of potatoes in dish. Sprinkle lightly with a little of the thyme, salt and pepper. Add a layer of parsnips. Sprinkle with seasonings. Repeat layers with remaining vegetables. Pour in enough cream to come three-quarters up side of dish. Place on baking sheet and bake, covered, in 375 degree F oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes longer or until top is brown and crusty and potatoes are cooked through.
Variations: Butternut squash, kohlrabi, or celeriac may be added to the vegetables. Maple syrup may be added to the cream.
From: Left Foot Organics CSA News, October 16, 2008

Sweet and Sour Peppers
1/4 cup catsup
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon corn starch dissolved in 2 tbsp water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups very thinly sliced onions
2 large red bell peppers, cut into thin strips
2 large green bell peppers, cut into thin strips
1 can baby corn, drained
1 1/2 cups cashews
Combine catsup, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, water, and cornstarch to make a sauce. Heat oil in wok or large skillet and stir-fry garlic and onions for 3-4 minutes. Add peppers; add 2-3 tablespoons water if necessary to prevent scorching. When peppers and onions begin to soften, add corn and cashews. Stir fry 1 minute, then add sauce mixture and let simmer another minute.
From: Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, as quoted in The Kirsop Farm news, October 14, 2009

Red Cabbage with Apricots
2 1/2 lbs. red cabbage, sliced thin
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup dry red wine
Salt to taste
Combine cabbage and apricots in a slow cooker. Mix honey and juice; drizzle over cabbage mixture. Add wine; cover slow cooker and cook on LOW until cabbage is very tender (5 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours). Season to taste with salt.
From: Left Foot Organics CSA News, October 22, 2009

Fennel with Parmesan Cheese
2 pounds fennel bulbs, washed and trimmed
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons butter, in small pieces
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Blanch or steam fennel 8-15 minutes, until tender but firm. Cool and quarter, leaving a thin layer of the core to hold the bulb together. Arrange cut side up in a buttered 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Cover with cheese and butter and season with salt and pepper. Bake 20-25 minutes until cheese is lightly browned.
From: Victory Garden Cookbook, as quoted in The Kirsop Farm news, October 13, 2010

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Newsletters: 16 Dec, 2010

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 16 Dec, 2010. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

About that food…
I’ve been playing with an idea I had awhile ago when I first tried celeriac — I think it would be nice cooked like scalloped potatoes. So I’ve did a little research and discovered that scalloped potatoes — or, more properly, gratin dauphinous (which my limited French and Shakespeare combine to interpret as potatoes topped with crumbles made out of either dolphins or princes… Where was I?) Anyway, the recipes I’ve found all seem to be just potatoes sliced and baked in cream or milk. My sister-in-law made a similar dish over Thanksgiving, Jansson’s frestelse (only it wasn’t really, because she left out the anchovies in deference to my squeemishness), with a mix of potatoes and celeriac and it was pretty good. I can’t get away from the idea that it should have something more… saucelike on it, though — no doubt because I’ve only ever had scalloped potatoes out of a box and if there’s nothing but dried milk in the sauce packet what’s the point of a mix? So the next time my guinea pig… I mean, when my very good friend visits again, I think I’ll try using a basic cream sauce instead.

In the meantime, since it’s December we have to talk about fruitcake (I’m sure I saw that in the rules somewhere).

Fruitcake has become more joke than a treat in these days of pretty mail-order bricks in sugar mortar, but a nice homemade fruitcake, still fresh and soft, kept properly wrapped and cool, is worth the effort. I don’t really associate it with Christmas, though, because my mother always kept some on hand to put in my father’s lunchbox when she ran out of other dessert items. I won’t put the whole recipe in the newsletter because it’s a little long, but you can find it here in the Market recipe pages.*

For actual recipes-in-the-newsletter I have a couple of interesting things I came across while researching the gratin idea.

Leek gratin
6-8 medium leeks, dark green and all but 2 inches of light green removed
1 c heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
Cut leeks in half lengthwise and rinse out any grit. Arrange them cut side down in a baking dish just large enough to hold them in a single layer; some can be turned on their sides if necessary to fit. Top with cream and season to taste. ake at 375F until the cream has thickened and mostly been absorbed by the leeks, about 35 min., basting leeks with the cream a couple of times and pressing them down to prevent exposed parts from browning and getting tough.
From: Vegetables / James Peterson. William Morrow and Co., c1998.

Pommes Anna
12 Tbsp. (1.5 sticks) butter, clarified
2.5-3 lb potatoes, peeldd and sliced 1/8 inch thick
salt and pepepr to taste
melted butter (optional)
Pour the clarified butter into an 8-inch cast iron skillet (unless you have the special pan designed for this dish) to a depth of 1/4 inch. Set over low heat and arrange potato slices in layers. Build the bottom layer especially carefully so the slices overlap and look nice. Sprinkle each layer with salt, pepper, and more butter as desired. When complete, butter or oil a pot lid slightly smaller than the pan and press in firmly on top of the potatoes. Cover the pan and place in a 425F oven on a baking sheet in case of drips. Bake 20 min, remove from oven and press the potatoes again. Bake uncovered until the sides are brown and crisp, 20-25 min. Pour off any excess butter, holdign the potatoes in the pan with the lid. Invert onto a plate and serve in wedges.
From: Joy of cooking / by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker. Scribner, c1997.

And one more, for those who are already thinking ahead to New Year’s Eve. Here’s something I came across in a book a friend of mine is getting for Christmas (what, don’t you read your gift books before wrapping them? How else can you make sure there’s nothing obscene or offensive in them, like deep-fried Mars bars or cheese sauce on broccoli?):

Chocolate martini
3 oz. plain or vanilla vodka
1.5 oz. clear creme de cacao
2 Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped
Place vodka and creme de cacao in a cocktail shaker with ice and stir togther until cold. Strain into two martini glasses and garnish each with a Kiss. You can also add half a teaspoon of Cointreau or other clear liqueur of your choice to influence the flavor.
From: The chocolate deck : 50 luscious indulgences / by Lori Longbotham. Chronicle Books, c2005.

Winter reading, winter dreaming
Kristen Suzanne’s easy raw vegan holidays : delicious & easy raw food recipes for parties & fun at Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the holiday season / by Kristen Suzanne. Green Butterfly Press, c2008.

Gourmet game night : bite-sized, mess-free eating for board-game parties, bridge clubs, poker nights, book groups, and more / by Cynthia Nims. Ten Speed Press, 2010.

In giving is the true enlightenment.
-Santideva (Sikshasammuccaya : Ratnamegha)-

If you don’t tell me what you want, you will get socks.
-source unknown-

Gifts allow us to demonstrate exactly how little we know about a person. And nothing pisses a person off more than being shoved into the wrong pigeonhole.
-Pam Davis, House M.D., It’s A Wonderful Lie-

A tule fog
fills the sky–
Yuletide. ”
-Michael P. Garofalo, Cuttings-

Do give books – religious or otherwise – for Christmas. They’re never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal.
-Lenore Hershey-

“Great bore, Christmas, isn’t it? All the people ones hates most gathered together in the name of goodwill and all that.”
-Dorothy Sayers (Strong Poison)-

——-
*The recipe pages were lost with the old website; I’ll try to dig up the recipe and post it in the blog when I get a chance. dh.

Corn chowder

3 slices bacon, chopped
1/3-1/2 medium onion, chopped, or a generous sprinkle of onion powder
1 large or 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 small can corn, creamed if available — if a small can is not available, a regular can may be used
about 2 cups milk or cream

Slowly brown bacon and onions in soup kettle or large saucepan. Stir in potato(es) and corn, and add enough water to cover. Boil gently until potatoes are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add milk, tempering it first (i.e. pour milk into a separate bowl and carefully add spoonsful of hot soup until milk is warm enough to be added to the pot without curdling). Carefully heat soup to eating temperature without letting it boil.

From Dorothy Huffman.
This was originally a clam chowder recipe, made with canned clams instead of corn.

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Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Potatoes

native to: Andean mountains
in season here: late summer-fall
DSCF1992_700
Potatoes are a member of the Solanaceae or nightshade family, related to tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers. The potato plant will produce an inedible fruit resembling a tomato, but its true value lies underground — harvesting potatoes is a bit like digging for buried treasure. Potatoes are generally thought of as mature potatoes, generally larger and with a thicker skin, or new potatoes, with a thinner skin that is usually eaten.

Spanish explorers brought potatoes home from South America in the 16th century, using them to prevent scurvy during voyages. They were slow to catch on in Europe, many people viewing them with suspicion as related to nightshade and reputed to cause leprosy. In the 18th century, a French agronomist named Parmentier and a Royal Society member named Count Rumford came up with schemes to popularize potatoes, including the invention of mashed potatoes and a mush of potatoes, barley, peas and vinegar, both designed to disguise the vegetable. Irish immigrants probably brought the potato to the U.S. in the early 18th century, but it didn’t catch on here until the 1880s.

We think of potatoes as comfort food and not a very healthy choice, but most of the problem is the grease the fries or chips are cooked in and the assortment of fats and salt that we add to them. Plain boiled or roasted potatoes — a nice potato soup, for instance — are actually pretty good for you.

Potatoes have more potassium than bananas, protein of a very complete and easily-digested form, fiber, and vitamins B6 and C. They also contain plenty of antioxidants; red and purple potatoes have lots of anthocyanins while carotenoids are more abundant in yellow and red potatoes. They also provide thiamin, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. They also provide a particular kind of starch that is not readily digested in the small intestine and thus benefits the colon and supports those probiotic bacteria that are so good for the gut.

Avoid sprouting potatoes and those with a greenish color; they contain solanine, a toxic alkaloid caused by exposure to sunlight. Store potatoes in a cool, dry, dark place, away from onions (they both emit gases that are bad for the other), in a paper or burlap bag. Wash them only when you’re ready to use them. Freezing potatoes, cooked or raw, is not recommended.

Read more:
label-style nutrition information for raw potatoes
label-style nutrition information for cooked potatoes
World’s Healthiest Foods
Washington State Potato Commission

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Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.