Monday, August 25, 2014

Week 8: A little Ecology with your Potatoes

Once upon a time, Scott and I went to college. Me for botany and Scott for fisheries and wildlife. (I think back to school season is making me nostalgic.)

We met in an ecology class at Michigan State, which ties into the thing I wanted to share with you all this week. This thing:

While enjoying this week's share (which includes Chard, Purple Beans, Peas (the second planting is producing), New Potatoes, Rutabaga, Summer Squash, Mini-Cabbage, Cucumber, Fresh Herbs, Lettuce and Tomatoes) please consider the above video.

As sustainable farmers, we try to grow your food in a way that works with and maintains the feedback loops of the environment around us. For example, we encourage predatory insect populations instead of simply killing every pest on our farm with broad spectrum insecticides. That's why you generally see a few bug holes in your leafy greens. If we killed off all the pests, the predators would have nothing to eat. And we love the predators.

Especially ground beetles, which are very prolific this year.

Another thing we give a lot of thought to is, of course, soil health. Especially the organic components of our soil, or the humus that was mentioned in the video. Of course, a large portion of the plants that we grow on our farm are eaten. They don't get a chance to rot in our fields and become humus. That's why compost is such an important component of sustainable farming. Compost heals the feedback loop that was disrupted when we (or our customers) stepped in and ate the vegetables we grew. Synthetic fertilizers make plants grow, but only by further disrupting the feedback loop that builds healthy soil and healthy plants.

(On a related note, Scott and I get kind of irked when people describe unharvested vegetables as food waste. There is certainly an amount of economic waste involved, but the nutrients in the vegetables go back to the soil--entirely unwasted. Food that ends up in landfills is a different story.)

If you have read this far, thanks for following me along my educational tangent. I hope you found it helpful. Now back to the potatoes, and rutabaga.

I know a few of you have been wondering what you should do with your rutabaga. I have been waiting for this week so I could give you my favorite answer: Mash it up with potatoes. It couldn't be simpler.

New potatoes are coming at you this week.
I feel like I've been kinda big on the unrecipes this year, but it's been a very busy season, what with growing more than twice the acreage we've grown before and everything.

That half acre of storage carrots we planted is coming along nicely!
I am comforting myself with the knowledge that all of our members have a lot of busy days too, so hopefully you appreciate the quick simple recipes as much as the more intricate ones.

Mashed Rutabaga and Potatoes

I remember when I was little my mom only made mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving. It was a slow process that involved peeling potatoes and boiling them whole until they were tender. I don't do it that way. The way I do it is as fast and easy as making pasta.
  • 1 large rutabaga (about a pound) trimmed and cubed
Like this.
  • 1 pound potatoes (new or otherwise) diced to about the same size as the rutabaga pieces
  • salt to taste
  • butter to taste (I used about half a stick)
  • milk to taste (I used about half a cup)
Boil the diced rutabaga and potatoes until they are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the rutabaga and potatoes, then return them to the pot you cooked them in. Add salt, butter, and milk, then mash away. I like to use an old fashioned potato masher for the coarse texture and ease of clean-up, but a rotary mixer makes a creamier texture that many people prefer. 

Pair them with the meat of your choice.

We went with sliders. They work in our repurposed diner.

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