Farm News (9/23/13)


This Week's Vegetable Harvest:

  • Winter Squash (Acorn and/or Sweet Dumpling)
  • Colored Sweet Peppers
  • Shallots
  • Baking Potatoes
  • Celery Root/Celeriac
  • Tomatoes
  • Parsnips
  • Asian Cabbage
  • Swiss Chard
  • Garlic

This Week's Fruit Harvest:

  • Green Seedless Grapes
  • Bosch Pears
  • Bartlett Pears
  • Empire Apples
  • Yellow 'Smoothie' Apples
  • Italian Plums

Announcements and Reminders:

  • Our new Lake Forest pickup site, effective this week, is 994 Meadow Lane, just a few blocks from the old pickup site.
  • The final summer dairy and egg deliveries will be next week. The final summer vegetable and fruit deliveries will be the week of October 7th. 
  • We are sold out of all fall shares. (Thanks, everybody!)  Information for next season will be posted on our website this week.


Fall Farm Report

There's no doubt about it--the summer season is drawing to a close. Cooler temperatures and shorter days mean that the sights and smells of summer are quickly fading. We're picking the last of the tomatoes, peppers and eggplant this week. Soon these plants will be tilled in and the soil spread with a blanket of nourishing compost in preparation for next year's crops. Donna, Jeff, Scott and the rest of the harvest crew have recently turned their attentions to picking crops we haven't tasted since February--winter squash, parsnips and celery root. Though we will miss the tastes of our beloved summer vegetables, we are definitely looking forward to savoring the flavors of fall, and we hope you feel the same!

Have a good week.  --Peg


A Couple of Fun Farm Photos

While harvesting parsnips this week, Donna discovered just how long parsnip roots can grow. These two specimens were practically as tall as she is!

Earlier in the week, Jeff and Gavin shared a quite moment next to the compost spreader. (You know, where all quality father-son time happens.)

In the Farm Kitchen: Peg's Tips for Making the Most of your Share

Tokyo Bekana is the name of this week's Asian cabbage. Despite its name, I treat it much more like a head of lettuce than a head of cabbage. Warm temperatures in late summer can sometimes cause summer-grown lettuce to taste bitter. For this reason, we rarely plant lettuce in August. (The first lettuce heads from the fall planting will be ready to harvest in another week or two.) Our favorite substitute for greens salads at this time of year is Tokyo Bekana. It is mild, crisp and juicy, with just the barest hint of cabbage flavor.

Parsnips are closely related to carrots. In fact, they sort of look like big white carrots. Although they can be eaten raw, their fibrous texture means that they are  definitely best when cooked. They are slightly sweet and nutty and are particularly well suited to roasting and mashing. I also use them in place of carrots when making carrot cake.

Both acorn and sweet dumpling squash naturally lend themselves to stuffing. In addition to stuffing, you can prepare acorn squash in a number of other ways. Try slicing it in rings and roasting it with a maple syrup or brown sugar glaze. You could also roast acorn squash halves and then scoop out the cooked flesh for use in soups. Another favorite around here is to bake the squash and then use it to make quick breads and muffins. Your squash will store best if you refrigerate it until you are ready to use it.

While I'm a big fan of some of the newer apple varieties such as Honey Crisp, I'm really an old-fashioned apple girl at heart. While the Empire apple is not exactly an antique variety (it was introduced in 1966), it does remind me of McIntosh, one of my old-fashioned favorites. It is juicy and bit tart like a McIntosh but slightly sweeter. It's perfect for snacking, but it also works really nicely for saucing and baking. Remember to refrigerate your apples until you are ready to eat them.

The Bosc pear is another example of a fruit that is perfect for snacking as well as cooking. In contrast to the Bartlett, which needs to be fully ripe to achieve optimum flavor, the Bosc is sweet even when it's still a bit crisp. This is nice for those of us who like their pears a little on the firm side! The Bosc is also a good cooking pear because it doesn't turn mushy when poached or roasted, and it has such a lovely, slightly spicy aroma. To ripen Bosc pears, leave them at room temperature  and only refrigerate after the pears have ripened.

Celeriac, also known as celery root, is not the most attractive vegetable in the world, but it is very tasty indeed. It has a wonderful mild celery flavor with a hit of nuttiness. In fact, I prefer the flavor of celeriac over stalk celery in many dishes because of its very smooth flavor (no sharpness or bitterness like stalk celery sometimes has). It is prized in Europe, especially in France, where it features prominently in the classic Celeriac Remoulade, a dish composed of shredded celeriac, mayonniase and Dijon mustard. (Check out this post by David Liebovitz for more on making this delicious salad.) I know some of you will be suspicious, but don’t be put off by celery root's ugly exterior. Use a sharp kitchen knife to trim the outside layer from the celeriac bulb before chopping it. (A vegetable peeler just doesn't do the job here.) The greens can be cut off and used to flavor vegetable broth or other soups. Here are some ways to use the bulb:

  • Roast with carrots and potatoes and serve with roast chicken or pork.
  • Boil celeriac pieces and mash them with an equal amount of boiled potatoes. Season with salt, pepper and butter. (This is heavenly!)
  • Combine with grated carrots, shredded cabbage, or other root vegetables to make flavorful autumn slaws.

The celeriac bulb will store for a long time in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.


Tuscan Ribollita with Swiss Chard

Ribollita is a hearty Italian vegetable soup mixed with pieces of toasted rustic bread. This version is healthy, filling and delicious!

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling on bread

1 small onion, or 1 shallot, chopped 

1/2 cup finely chopped celery root leaves

2 carrots, chopped

4 ounces pancetta or bacon, chopped

2 cloves garlic, 1 minced and 1 whole 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 tablespoon tomato paste 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 bunch Swiss chard or beet greens, chopped

1 (15-ounce) can cannelloni beans, drained  

1 teaspoon dried thyme

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock 1 bay leaf

1 (3-inch) piece Parmesan rind

4 to 6 ciabatta rolls, halved lengthwise or 1 loaf, sliced

grated Parmesan, for serving

Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery root leaves, carrot, pancetta, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook until the onion is golden brown and the pancetta is crisp, about 7 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir until dissolved. Add tomatoes and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the brown bits. Add the chard, beans, thyme, stock, bay leaf, and Parmesan rind. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle the ciabatta halves with olive oil. Toast until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and rub the top of the toasts with the whole garlic clove. Place the toasts in the serving bowls and ladle the soup over the toasts. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve immediately.


Creamy Celery Root and Apple Soup

2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 large shallot, finely chopped

1/4 cup white wine

1 large celery root, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

6 sprigs thyme

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup water

1 cup cream

Salt and freshly ground white pepper


Melt butter in a medium pan over medium heat. Add shallot; cook, stirring, until soft but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add wine; simmer until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add celery root, thyme sprigs, broth, and water; bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until celery root is soft, about 20 minutes.

Remove from heat, and discard thyme sprigs. Transfer to a food processor; puree until smooth. Return soup to pan; stir in cream. Place over medium heat until heated through. Season with salt and white pepper.


Mashed Parsnips and Potatoes with Caramelized Shallots

4 tablespoons butter

2 shallots, thinly sliced

5 parsnips, peeled, sliced

4 large russet potatoes, peeled, sliced

1 cup milk, heated


Melt 1 tablespoon butter in medium skillet over  medium heat. Add shallots and cook until tender and deep brown, stirring often, about 12  minutes. Cover and let stand at  room temperature.            

Bring large pot of salted  water to boil. Add parsnips and potatoes; boil until tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain well. Return vegetables to pot; mash. Add half of the warm milk and 3 tablespoons  butter; stir until smooth. Stir in onion mixture. Add more milk if desired. Season with salt and pepper.  


Glazed Winter Squash

vegetable oil, for baking sheets      

2 acorn or buttercup squashes, halved, seeded, and sliced into 1-inch-thick crescents

coarse salt and ground pepper

1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil, and brush with oil.

Lay squash pieces on baking sheets. Season with salt and pepper; sprinkle squashes evenly with half the sugar. Roast until sugar has melted, about 5 minutes. Remove baking sheets from oven. Using tongs, turn over pieces. Season with salt and pepper; sprinkle evenly with remaining sugar. Roast until tender, about 20 minutes.


Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... lettuce, radishes, peppers, mushrooms, green cabbage, carrots, butternut squash, turnips, apple cider and more...



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  • Margaret Sheaffer