There are 4 pickups remaining in our Veggie Lovers’ Club program this fall: November 21, 28, Dec. 5 & 12.
If you still have a $100 installment payment owing, they are due this week. I haven’t gotten around to cancelling and returning the debit machine and so will have that on hand if you’d like to pay with debit! At this point we can safely say I’ll just keep it until Dec. 12th, so plan to use it if that’s more convenient for you!
–Sorry, the pre-order period has CLOSED for this week!-
If you always miss the order window, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can add you to my weekly reminder email!
Orders for the Tuesday pickup can be placed until Monday at noon.
Spoiler Alert: Stop reading NOW if you want to keep the contents a surprise!
In your Veggie Lovers’ Club bag Nov. 21st:
*As always, contents may change before Tuesday pickup!
Sunflower Shoots (small bag)
Rainbow Carrots (2 lbs)
Rainbow Beets (2 lbs)
Spaghetti Squash (1 medium)
Frozen Basil (1 x ice cube)
Shallots (small bag)
You can click the links above to view more info about each item, or visit our online Veggie Guide!
Teri’s Veggie Lover Tips & news from the farm:
The other day, Mom and I both wrote up a few notes of what we planned would be included in the upcoming Veggie Lovers’ Club bags this fall. Completely separately and unplanned. When we realized we had both done this, we compared notes and lo and behold, the lists were nearly identical! Even down to specifics like “rainbow beets”. One of the best parts of my job is getting to work with my Mom. We work really well together and are almost always on the same page!
Sunnies aka Sunflower Shoots are a great way to make those winter veggies pop! They are great added on top of finished dishes– just like the hot sauce, you can put that stuff on everything! Soups, salads, sandwiches, or just on their own. They will keep a good long time in your fridge, but are best eaten quickly to preserve the maximum amount of nutrients. Also, they are very high in folic acid, which is great for women who are expecting or expect to be expecting… soon!
Taste the Rainbow… Beets and Carrots!
This week you get a rainbow of carrots and a rainbow of beets! One of the original Veggie Lovers, Judi, raves about the grated carrot and beet salads made with our colorful veggies. I must admit that Jon’s carrot allergy prevents me from ever making this salad, but I know it’s good and delicious, and we make the beet-only version all the time! You can shave the veggies thinly on a mandoline, or you can just grate them– even in the food processor if you need to save time (who doesn’t?!).
Rainbow beets and carrots need no special treatment in storage (keep in a container or bag in the fridge), but they may require some accommodation in the kitchen. Make sure to apply some citrus to your cut colored beets to prevent them from oxidizing and turning black– A little squeeze of lemon will do! (that goes for Celeriac, too, if you are eating it raw– thanks to Veggie Lover Jenn for that one!). If you grate them, squeeze some lemon and give them a stir to coat. With colored carrots, be wary which you use for soups or stocks: purple ones will make your broth-based soup turn the most unappealing shade of grey. Sometimes they turn things anywhere from green to purple, so when using purple carrots, raw or roasting is best if you want the color to stay put!
As far as I’m aware, this week is the last week you’ll be forced to take beets home. There are 2 more farmer-selected bags before the final 2 bags which you will have the option to select what you’d like to take home with you! So, if beets are unwelcome hitchhikers in your life, the end is near!
If you’re not keeping up with your bags at this time of year, at least you can just put all the squash aside for a later date! If you’re wondering what order to eat it in, know that Spaghetti is one of the longest keepers!
Squash Storage Estimates:
There are no hard-and-fast guarantees or rules about how long squash will keep as it depends highly on how it was handled from the time of harvest to consumption. The lists below are based on personal experience storing our squash, and what keeps longest. It is just to give you an idea of which squash are longer keepers than others– I’ve had shorter keeping squash last all winter and vice versa!
Shortest Keepers (eat by Christmas or before): Delicata, Pie Pumpkins, Buttercup, XL Zucchini, Vegetable Marrow, Musque de Provence, Cheese Pumpkin
Longest Keepers (may keep until February or later): Hubbard, Red Kuri, Butternut, Spaghetti, Kabocha, Acorn, Kogiku, Pink Banana.
If you are storing your squash for later, make sure you examine it regularly for signs of rot. Generally, it will start to rot at the stem end or the blossom end, especially if either end is damaged. Occasionally you may find healed scrapes or cuts on your squash, those can be vulnerable sites as well. If you check your squash regularly (pick them up and turn them around, because just looking can lead to missing squishy bottoms), you will catch any that are going South and be able to make use of them before you lose them completely!
(side note: sometimes I don’t heed my own advice, and a squash will get away from me. My personal squash stash is stored on top of my cupboards. It makes for a very gross discovery, as it’s usually from goo starting to drip down my cupboards!)
My Mom’s sisters are known as “The Barracudas”. There were 5 and after losing Aunt Nancy this fall now there are 4 (but there are really still 5, because the remaining 4 will speak loudly enough to make up for Nancy’s absence!). They are masters of the domestic domain, loud and opinionated, and all of them are incredible cooks. So, you know if a recipe comes from the Barracudas it’ll be a good one. The first time I ate this was the first time I really enjoyed Spaghetti Squash!
Here is Aunty Jayne’s Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash Recipe:
1 3-4 pound spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup sliced black olives
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Place spaghetti squash cut sides down on the baking sheet. Bake until you can poke a sharp knife into the squash with little resistance, about 35-45 minutes. Remove squash from oven and set aside to cool. (OR: bake whole by poking a couple holes in it and placing on a baking sheet, you can cut it in half after it’s cooked and scoop out the seeds, as it can be hard to cut through when it’s raw!)
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic, and saute for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes and cook briefly, about 1 minute. You only want to warm the tomatoes.
Use a large fork to shred the “spaghetti” from the squash and place the strands in a large bowl. Toss with the sauteed vegetables, feta cheese, olives, and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.
You know what would go really well in that recipe above?? Some Basil! Lucky for you I managed to get some into the freezer and so we are sending a bit along for you this week. What I did was puree fresh basil with a little splash of water (basically, I washed it in bottled water and then immediately pureed it while it was still wet), and pour it into ice cube trays to freeze. (Thanks to Jon for washing the ice cube trays after, I promise I will never do that again!). So, that little dark green or black ice cube is summer preserved in an ice block. It will be in a bag when you get it, but if you want to keep it for more than a month you should place it in a freezer bag to prevent freezer burn. Keep it in the freezer until you are ready to use it. If you want to use less than the entire cube, let it thaw for a little while until you can (carefully!) break it apart with a butter knife.
A good use for these “basil pucks” is to throw them into pasta sauce. Tomato based sauce is great, but you can also make a cream based sauce with basil that is very nice. Simply make a roux with butter and flour, add garlic and stock and milk or cream, and stir in the basil at the very end until it is melted into the sauce.
We might label the pucks, if only because it just drives me crazy to think of them going into your freezers unlabelled. Seriously, I am a bit obsessive about freezer organization- I blame my time as a Fresh Specialist managing the entire realm of perishable food in an organic grocery store. Disorganization is death to fresh food. Rotation is key to reducing food waste! The rule with my own home chest freezer is “What goes in must come out within a year”, because there’s no point in putting it in the freezer and wasting all that space and electricity to store it if you’re not going to eat it! We eat about two pigs a year and I always make sure to completely reorganize my freezer each time we put one in, to make sure all the older meat gets eaten first and that nothing gets tucked away and ignored. The first things to get ignored in my freezer are the items that are unlabelled, or poorly labelled. (I asked for a label maker for my upcoming birthday! Jon and I nearly got divorced when I found a container labelled both “Chicken Stock” and “Pineapple Juice” on the same sticker!).
Can you make pesto with it? I’ve never attempted pesto with frozen basil, but you could sure try! It turns black where the air touches it but should still be green on the inside. If you let it completely thaw it, it might turn completely black. If you do try, let me know, I haven’t had a chance to experiment much with these pucks. We used to get them in our CSA in Nova Scotia, I know the summery taste of basil is always appreciated in the dead of winter!
The basil pucks come to you from Brown Sugar’s new 25 cubic foot chest freezer! That’s big enough to hide about 4 dead bodies in, in case you are wondering (see me trying it out? For when Jon gets fed up with me nit picking over home freezer labelling procedures!). We have always preserved items for ourselves and over the years we’ve had enough people asking (and buying our personal stash!) that we’ve started preserving a bit extra. Right now in the freezer we have a few hundred pounds of tomatoes, a few dozen bags of beet leaf buns, frozen beans, strawberries, parsley, corn, peas, baby dill, cantaloupe, enough frozen edamame for the Veggie Club, and my large stash of frozen kale for smoothies. Not all is for sale, and some will be used to make preserves in the winter, like salsa and mustard bean pickle– because Mom is busy enough in cucumber season, it’s nice to defer some of the work!
It’s great to have this new piece of infrastructure on the farm! As we name everything, we are currently taking suggestions for the new van and the new freezer! It’s much easier to direct someone where to find something when you can say “Go get the frozen dill from Bertha” rather than “the freezer in the shed on the left”. Our first “coolers” were two household fridges named “Dumb” and “Dumber”, until at the end of the first year we got the walk-in cooler, which was immediately labelled “Smart”!
Shallots taste like a cross between onion and garlic, and so they are an excellent addition to many dishes. You can substitute shallot in place of onion in many recipes. Generally they will have a stronger flavour than onions, but less garlic flavour than true garlic. They are also great slow roasted until they are soft, and because of the small size I like to keep some on hand to throw in the crock pot with roasts and stocks. They keep a long time and will do fine in a dark well-ventilated place like your cupboard.
Shallots (aka “multipliers” or “bunching onions”) are also a great way to quickly grow green onions– you first saw shallots in your bags in July, though you may not have realized! We use these to produce the first green onions of the year. You could actually place the root end in a glass of water and grow some yourself indoors this winter! Green onions from sprouting onions and shallots become a late-winter staple in our house!
Why not store shallots, onions and garlic in the fridge? The cool temperature in the fridge signals to these alliums (onion family) “time to sprout!”. So, contrary to what you’d think, cooler isn’t better for storing absolutely everything. You will find this especially true with the hardneck garlic (the purple one with the easy to peel skin). It will sprout at this time of year regardless of where you keep it, but quicker if in the cool fridge. We have already planted all of our hardneck garlic, which gets planted mid-October and then covered with a thick mat of flax straw mulch. Under the mulch it will sprout roots in the cool soil (cool like your fridge!) before it eventually freezes solid. Timing is key, because if it is planted too late and doesn’t have a chance to sprout roots it will just freeze solid and then rot in the spring. Too soon and the sprout may break the soil surface, which is unnecessary and only sets it back. Planting in the spring doesn’t allow the garlic long enough to complete it’s growth cycle, nor would it keep long enough to be planted in the spring. (Softneck garlic, however, is planted in the spring, but is always the first crop to go into the ground! I was planting this year’s with Mom on May 5th, 4 days before Myrah arrived! This year’s planting will be much easier.)
Fat ‘n happy chewing on a lamb bone. Baby led weaning is going great! MJ is going to be a foodie.
Farm Update: Myrah has been in a schedule of waking at 4 am for some time now, and that’s such an irresistibly tempting time of day for me! Today I gave into it and got up. I love getting up early, it’s my favourite thing to have a full french press of coffee and sit down at my computer to write (newsletters, blog posts, or emails– I do a lot of correspondence). I try not to give in too often these days as 4 am is a bit early to rise for the day and I don’t need to get up that early, so I have been sleeping in as much as possible (which is not all that much!) for the past 6 months. But I have missed my morning routine and time to myself in the dark wee hours of the morning!
Jon goes back to work in a little over a week, so that will be a change for us and our family. I think he is going to miss Myrah a lot! He is used to spending lots of time with her, and as much as hanging out with a baby can be trying at times, only a few hours away and we miss her! I am always disappointed if I get home on Tuesdays and she’s already in bed. Funny how set their schedules can be… Ever since the time change, she’s been sticking hard to her routine of 7:30 pm bedtime (which is now 6:30, and earlier than is convenient for us). We try to push it later and it is just met with meltdowns and super cranky baby, so it’s been easier to just get her to sleep when she wants to go. At least she’s going to bed easily and staying there with 2 wakings for a total of 12 hours!
The Vegetable Nazi: Yup, that’s me. Well, that’s my nickname here on the farm, anyhow. In no disrespect, only in the referencing-Seinfeld’s-soup-nazi kind of way. As the person who is responsible for the majority of email replies on the farm, I am on the front lines for inquiries. We get quite a few, especially as the markets end for the season and people are wanting to get veggies for the fall and winter. When items are in short supply, we save them for our best customers– you! So, this year we knew that we had a good supply for about 40 Veggie Lovers going into the fall. The total number is slightly over 40 and so we knew things might be a bit tight. We want to sell the veggies as quickly as possible so there is minimal loss (shrink) for us in storage, balancing that with retaining enough variety to keep things exciting and appealing for you. I’ve had to turn a lot of people away this fall, including some who have been long-term customers! We value your commitment to the farm, and you get first priority on many of the items, and we’re not afraid to do what it takes to defend them against hungry local veggie seekers!
Jon and I ordering seeds, January 2014
Mom, Jon and I are working on our seed orders. This is about 2 months ahead of schedule which is really exciting, because it’s nice to get tasks done before the absolute latest deadline! We are doing it early so that Jon can participate in the seed selection and production plan for next year when he will be a full-time part of the operation. Our plan always was that I would be the one who would work off-farm in the winters and Jon would look after the kid(s). With nursing it’s easier this winter for him to work, but come spring Jon will join the Brown Sugar team full time.
Last week we discussed crops that we grew this year, what worked and what didn’t, and anything that we are thinking to change for next year, including how and where things will happen as we continue the transition to our place. Because our building wasn’t finished, most of the packing work was still completed at Mom’s farm this year, but that will change next year. Also, we grew some of everything at both places for the most part, because Janelle was on the team and able to do everything including irrigation and tractor work. Next year we can’t count on finding someone like that and so we are arranging things so that we can accommodate a regular employee who will require supervision (we are taking applications now, if you happen to know of anyone who might fit the bill!). So, Mom’s farm will be growing some storage crops like beets and carrots, onions, half of the squash, as well as pickling cucumbers and some garlic. It will be planted to allow for quick and easy tractor cultivation, which will minimize our time required there– hopefully less than 2 days per month in the busy season. With two locations we either need 2 teams (like this year), or one well-organized team and a plan that is mindful of efficient logistics. We are lucky that we have experience working on a poorly-organized farm with multiple locations and so got to learn a lesson of what not to do on someone else’s dime! Employees and farmers going between locations without a concrete plan gets exponentially inefficient really quickly, and so we work hard to do things smartly and in as little trips as possible.
I am completing this newsletter early this week as I’d also like to get the survey results finished and posted this week. I have reviewed all of your responses and carefully combed through the results, which we use to help inform some of our production plan and crop choices. In terms of general feedback about crops, for next year we will be growing less kale, chard, and herbs for you, and more head lettuce, zucchini, and cabbage. Broccoli will be added to the mix, as well as Sweet Potatoes, more peppers, different winter squash varieties, and another Rutabaga attempt. We all said No to Cauliflower, though it was tied with broccoli for “most requested crop of 2017”. Broccoli would have been a “No” as well, save for Jon being willing to try it again for you! Mom and I hate row cover and those crops need to be grown under it, which makes them labour and input-intensive for us. Anyhow, I have the rest of the results mostly summarized and so will work on publishing that this week, as we work on our seed orders and wash carrots and beets. Thanks again for all your input!!
Have a great week and see you on Tuesday!