Sunday, January 25, 2015

Roasted Cabbage and Michael Phillips

Scott got to meet one of his farmer-heros yesterday, at the Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference. His name is Michael Phillips. He is an apple grower and he really is an inspiration.

We've had his book "The Apple Grower" for several years now. It's dense with information and real life farm experience. Scott purchased his more recent book "The Holistic Orchard" at the conference and got him to sign it.

Before I geek out farmer style too much, I'll throw up a link to his website (also the website of his wife, Nancy Phillips, a super awesome lady in her own right) and move on to the share description.

Here is the link to learn more about Michael and Nancy Phillips.

As for the share, it will include the following: Carrots, Rutabaga, Cabbage, Uncle Dave's Dakota Squash, Honey Bear Squash, Winter Radishes, and Dried Greens.

I thought very seriously about skipping the cabbage this week, especially because week six was rescheduled and I know that more than a few members are feeling buried in cabbage. I decided not to for a couple reasons. First, there is only one leafy green vegetable (at least only one that I know of--let me know if I've missed something) that can be boxed up in November, put in cold storage, and pulled out two and a half months later just as crisp and delicious as it was when it was packed up. That rocks. It needs to be embraced. It deserves to show up every week in the winter share. Also, I became part of a "What should we do with all this cabbage?" conversation with a couple members last week in which one of them mentioned that he likes to roast his cabbage much the way I roast Brussels sprouts. Why didn't I think of that? I had to run with it. (I did, you'll see the results below.)

Other, less leafy, things are gracious keepers as well. The winter radishes that will show up in the shares this week are mostly purple daikon. Our winter radish harvest was a little smaller than we'd hoped this fall. They mostly drowned in all the late summer rains. Those that didn't drown were devoured by deer. Who knew? At least that was our only major deer loss this year. Anyway, we knew they would keep well so we hung on to a box of them to provide a little variety for the later winter shares. They are still sweet and hot. If you aren't sure what to do with them, check out this apple radish slaw recipe from 2013. If you don't like the heat they're also great cooked, which mellows them. Roasted, sauteed or braised with other root vegetables are good ways to go.

And, of course, a good way to keep green leafy things usable in the winter months is to dry them (did you see how I tied that all together there?). Members will receive a small package of dried mixed greens (mostly kale and chard) this week. They're not seasoned in any way, so they can be used in all sorts of recipes. I like to toss dried greens into scrambled eggs, spaghetti sauce, cheesy grits, or soup.

Which leaves me back at cabbage. Last week I suggested stuffed cabbage, which I hope you agree was a pretty yummy idea. It is also pretty time consuming. Roasting cabbage is definitely not time consuming.

Roasted Cabbage
  • 1 medium head cabbage, cored and cut into wedges
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar (this is optional)
  • sea salt
  • pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees

You probably noticed that I didn't include any quantities in the ingredient list. This is more of a drizzle and sprinkle kind of recipe. Exact quantities are not that important here.

Spread your cabbage chunks on a baking sheet and drizzle on olive oil and balsamic vinegar (if you want to use the vinegar) you need just enough olive oil to coat the cabbage. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper, then stir to make sure that everything is more or less evenly coating the cabbage.

Mine looked like this right before I put it in the oven.
Roast for 15 minutes, stirring the cabbage about halfway through. 

If you follow my directions you will have cabbage that is still crisp, cooked just enough to bring out it's sweetness and give it a roasty flavor.

It will look like this when it's done.
If you would like a more thoroughly cooked roasted cabbage, reduce the oven temperature to 350 and roast for 25 to 30 minutes.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Week 6: Problems Solved--Thanks to Patience from our Members

Thank you thank you, gracious members, for allowing us a week to solve our winter storm problems.

When we checked in on things (by things, I mean the building where we store all the winter share produce and do all of the processing work for Wintergreen Foods) last Saturday we found a flooded basement and power outages.

The burst pipe was easy to find. Scott found it right away and redid some of the plumbing so that it will never be an issue again. He rocks. But the electrical issue was harder to track down. It seemed logical that the well pump and sump pump overloaded a breaker, but there were no tripped breakers. Flooded wires would have resulted in a tripped breaker too. It was perplexing.

It took a bit of sleuthing but Scott finally found the problem. The wind took out one of our power lines. It was kind of a duh moment when he figured it out because a downed line is an obvious thing to look for when the power is out, but we just weren't looking for two separate problems.

In the end, it was the best thing that could have happened. The power must have gone out pretty close to the time that the pipe burst, stopping the well pump and limiting the amount of water in the basement. We also got by with reasonably cheap repairs, since the lines are the power company's responsibility.

Thanks again to the members for giving us the time to work all that out. 

Now that you know what we've been up to this week, I'll get on with the share description.

For week 6 members will receive: Carrots, Potatoes, Rutabaga, Cabbage, Dried Onion OR Dried Tomatoes, and a Choice of Squash.

Members have probably become pretty familiar with these items. The winter gets a little routine. Some may be excited to know that we have pretty much gotten through all of the giant cabbage, most of the cabbage we distribute this week will be under 4 lbs. Also, this is the last week for potatoes. 

The squash are going to vary this week. The plan was to give everyone a long pie pumpkin in week six.

They make good pie and good ears.
They grew really well for us, and, once pureed, they bake into fabulous pies. However, they did not keep well for us. This is the first year we've grown them and our storage conditions have been colder than ideal for squash. We will give them another chance in 2015, but this year only about 12 made it into January. So, 12 members will get a long pie pumpkin. The rest of the members will have a choice of some "odds and ends" squash that have kept well for us including some sweet dumplings, hooligans, and delicata.

I know that some of you are getting tired with the delightful winter staple that is cabbage. Have you stuffed any yet? It makes the cabbage much more exciting.

You can make this recipe vegetarian by substituting cooked lentils for the beef. 

Wintergreen Style Stuffed Cabbage
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin
  • 1 head cabbage, cored but otherwise whole
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 ounce dried tomato, broken/chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 16 ounce can crushed tomatoes
Prepare one cup brown rice according to the package instructions. Add the salt and whole cumin at the beginning of the cooking time.

Like this.
Bring a large (large enough to contain your cabbage) pot of well salted water to boil. Once the water is boiling, cook the cabbage head for about 3 minutes, or until the cabbage is slightly tender. Set the cabbage aside to cool.

Heat 1/2 tablespoon butter in a small saute pan. Saute the garlic, onion, dried tomato, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes in the butter until the onion is just beginning to turn translucent.

It will look like this.
When the cabbage is cool, peel about twelve leaves off and remove the thick midribs of each leaf. Chop remaining cabbage and place in into the bottom of a large baking dish with a lid, like a dutch oven or a deep casserole dish.

The inner leaves get tricky, but broken leaves taste just as
good as whole leaves.
Once the rice is cooked and cool enough to touch, combine the still raw ground beef, cooked onion mixture, and cooked rice. Place about a half a cup of the beef and rice mixture into each cabbage leaf.

Then fold the leaf around the filling.

Like this.
The cook books all have fancy methods to use for folding the cabbage leaves around the filling, but I don't think it really matters. It will all cook up just fine.

Place each cabbage roll in the baking dish that already contains chopped cabbage. I ended up with two layers of cabbage rolls over a giant mound of chopped cabbage, but I used one of the mammoth cabbages. Once you have made all the cabbage rolls pour crushed tomatoes over the top of them.

Like this :)
 Bake, covered,  in a 350 degree oven for one hour. I had to bake mine uncovered for the first 15 minutes because the dish was too full for the lid to fit on (the cabbage on the bottom softened after 15 minutes and I could get the lid on).

Even the lumpiest rolls were delicious.