Monday, July 9, 2012

Week 4: The Vegetables are Here

A lovely foggy morning in the field.
Last week one of our members asked "So, is it pretty much just greens again this week? No vegetables yet?" He is a lovely man, and we're sure the question was posed with the purest of intentions. But, I still feel the need to mention that kale, lettuce, and arugula *are* vegetables. Yummy and nutritious vegetables at that.

But I'm guessing most CSA members know that :)

I am curious to know though whether any of you might have an idea as to what this is about:

Our chard, which is generally a no fuss crop, is suffering from something
unpleasant this year.
We wanted to include chard in the shares this week, but it all looks like the plant pictured above. We've never seen anything like this. Have you? Our theories include virus and heat damage, though I don't really think the heat would do this. Research led me to a virus that only strikes beets and chard growing in arid regions of the country (our weather hasn't been that strange this season, right?) and aphids. The damage seems to fit the description of aphid damage, but I haven't seen a single aphid out there...hmm. Always something to learn in this line of work.

Happily, there are several items that look great for the share this week. Greens and vegetables. This week  members can expect to receive: Lettuce, Bunching Onions, Spicy Salad Mix (Arugula and Mustard), Parsley or Sorrel, Baby Pac Choi, Radishes, Snow Peas, Root Vegetable Combo (turnips, carrots, and beets or kohlrabi), Cauliflower, and A Hoophouse Treat. 

Though the weather has tempered for now, the cauliflower, which prefers cooler weather, began heading when it was still very hot out and the heads do show signs of stress. They are smaller than we would like and have a bit of a purplish tinge to them. I recommend using them cooked rather than raw (they would work very well in the curry recipe below if that strikes your fancy) because some of them have an extra strong cabbage flavor due to stress. Cooking will help to reduce that.

Things are starting to trickle out of the hoophouse in small quantities, so there is a wide selection of potential hoophouse treats. Members will be able to choose between tomatoes, eggplant, purple sweet peppers, jalapenos, tomatillos, and ground cherries.

A smattering of potential hoophouse treats.

The items in the photo that look like tiny tomatillos are the ground cherries, also called cape gooseberries. Other than a few plants in a tiny vegetable garden my parents let me grow many years ago, this is the first time Scott or I has grown ground cherries, so we are still learning the ropes with them. My guess is they are new to most of you too. Ground cherries are members of the tomato family that are used as fruits, rather than vegetables. They taste like a cross between tomatillos (which they are very closely related to) and pineapples (which, I hope you already realized, they are not even slightly related to). They can be made into pies, jams, and dried to use like raisins. However, the most anyone will get this week is one pint of them, so my guess is all the ground cherries going out will be munched upon plain, or possibly sprinkled on top of a salad.

I have to admit it is a little difficult to tell if they are ripe. The idea is that the ripe ones fall off the plant, so I pick up the fruits on the ground - most of those are golden and delicious. Many fruits fall off the plants at the slightest touch - most of those are golden and delicious too. Some of the fruits in both of those categories are still a bit green though. I find these green fruits are still pretty good, they just taste a lot like tomatillos and nothing at all like pineapple.

Root Vegetable Curry

The medley of root vegetables you are receiving this week may seem more fit for the fall. We planted them early in the hoophouse where they enjoyed the "cold" spring weather (there were a few stretches of proper weather) and then appreciated the heat - as long as we made sure they had plenty of water. Though they are traditional soup and stew ingredients, soups and stews are not really fitting this time of year. I think this mild curry is just the thing. Serve it over rice.

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced, or the bunching onions from your share 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 jalapeno (or more or less to taste) cut into thin rounds
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 to 1.5 pounds root vegetables (carrots, kohlrabi, turnips, and beets in whatever combination you choose), peeled as needed and diced into 3/4 inch cubes
  • 1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
  • Water
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste

Melt the butter over medium/low heat in a medium saucepan.

Add the diced onion, garlic, ginger, jalapeno (if using), and curry powder. Stir well to coat with butter. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and just beginning to turn translucent.

Add the root vegetables to the saucepan, stir well to coat with butter and seasonings.

Pour the coconut milk into the saucepan. Fill the coconut milk can about half full with water (which should be about 6 or 7 ounces of water). Stir the tablespoon of tomato paste into the water until it is evenly combined. Add the water and tomato paste to the saucepan and stir well.

Turn the heat up and bring the curry just to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender, approximately 20 minutes.

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