Thursday, January 13, 2011

CSA Week 6

Greetings once again from our mountain farm…Colvin Family Farm! I pray you are not getting tired of my constant chatter. J I can’t wait to meet each of you when you visit on June 17th. I love the stories my men bring home…the school teacher that didn’t do her homework, but earned extra credit by including a picture and description of her first share  on her blog; the jolly seemingly carefree couple that delights in picking up their share; the thoughtful shareholder that sent flowers for me, and the stories go on and on. I pray you are all enjoying the challenge of belonging to a CSA, and not any CSA, but OURS!
     I was excited about this week’s vegetable (beets) until the boys returned from the field and changed it to turnips. “Hmmmm”, I thought, “Turnips are not very exciting!” So now I’m going to try and make them exciting. Next week I have some neat recipes for beets. I guess I’ll have time to experiment with my new grill and beets…oh, I’ve let the secret loose!
      As I thought about turnips, I remember back over the years to some of the “old timer’s” gardens here on the mountain. People don’t garden now like the old timers once did. Steve’s uncle once brought me A LOT (and that’s saying something if I think it’s a lot) of turnip and collard greens. On the bottom of those turnip greens were the most beautiful turnips. He proceeded to pull out his knife (all “real” mountain men carry them) and peal a turnip for the children to eat, “like apples”. They were sweet and of course the children relished every bite. I spent the next few days canning all those greens (and all the greens he left at kinfolk’s homes, as no one wanted theirs) for the long coming winter. I know it added up to over 100 quarts! Those greens became one of our mainstays for the winter. If you are on a budget, or simply a wise consumer, you’ll learn to can/freeze/dry the bounty of the harvest.  Many a mountain family had a large patch of turnip greens in the fall. It looked like they just sowed them like a cover crop. None of these folks ever went wanting, for they learned to “make it do, do without, or wear it out.”
     The boy’s won’t know until this is printed that I’m going to sneak a snap pea recipe or two in here. We LOVE snap peas. For years, I grew two kinds of peas…snow peas and English peas. Snow peas didn’t stay around long since we all loved them and my 8 little boys thought they were their personal snack growing outdoors for them. We included them in our stir fries and also our egg rolls (very untraditional egg rolls…we call them Colvinese). Then the English peas took HOURS to shell and get one meal! Now I love the old path picture I have in my mind of sitting on the porch shelling peas for supper…but I have too much to do to spend so much time with very little results.  (Another time I’ll just have to tell ya’ll about the afternoon we decided toill a chicken for supper like the old mountain women used to do! But that’s another story for another letter.) Snap peas were a delight to discover. We raised them in our raised beds…..little ones still sit hidden in the rows and munch on the bounty just hanging too temptingly at their eye level, but who can begrudgea darling 2 and 4 year olds a few peas? They get the rare opportunity to see God’s hand blessing them. They are a delight to see and eat. Nowadays I still sit on the porch preparing my peas for supper…snap the ends off and any string that may be there will come off with the stem. But now, I don’t cook a fraction of what I picked!
     If you happen to know you won’t use what is given you in a coming week, just simply freeze your share of snap peas. If you do this a couple of times during the season you can do as the Colvin family did this past Christmas…enjoy snap peas!  To freeze your peas, wash and remove stems and strings (pull stem end gently down the side of the pea) leaving the pea whole. Blanch (place in boiling water, return to a boil and set timer for 2 minutes). Coool immediately in a sink or large bowl of ice water. Place on towels to air dry. Package in freezer bags, label, then freeze flat on a cookie tray. When they are frozen you can either store upright or lay flat compactly.
Now ya’ll have probably come to see that I’m a plain country cook. I learned from the old mountain women who didn’t know about all these fancy ingredients that are shipped in from all parts of the world. Our family likes simple…so my recipes will reflect that. The Bok Choy salad was a real stretch for my men!  Snap peas can easily be used in most recipes that call for snow peas. Raw is best, so try to make your share stretch by adding them as toppers to your fresh salads. Include a handful when you sauté your Bok Choy. But we enjoy them best steamed or stir fried all alone with a touch of butter. If your children are reluctant vegetable eaters, read them the part of the letter that describes how my little ones eat them in the garden. Put a few in a small bowl and let them try them this way as a snack .  When they visit the farm we’ll let them sit and munch a few straight from the vine! The basic stir fry recipe I gave you last week should come in handy this summer. You now have one more vegetable to add! Soon there will be many more. J

Simple Steamed Snap Peas
Aproximately 2 cups snap peas, ends and strings removed
Enough water to steam (I have waterless cookware, so I have a hard time dictating amounts needed.)
     Steam lightly, (preferably in a steamer basket if you don’t have waterless cookware) Do not drench with water. The vitamin/mineral content goes into the water and you have watery tasting vegetables.

Simple Stir Fried Snap Peas
Wash and remove ends and strings from approximately 2 cups of snap peas. In a heavy skillet or wok, add 1-2 Tablespoons olive or canola oil. When the wok is heated, add your peas. Stir constantly until the peas take on a bright green luster and are al Dante. Optional: Add fresh or canned mushrooms, sliced onions, or garlic.

     We’ve had another busy week on the farm. The Lord has been good to send the needed showers, for you see, we don’t have modern irrigation yet. It is a goal we are working towards, but for now, we pray a lot and have a dozen watering cans hanging from the beam in the packing shed. The crops are looking beautiful, and so are the weeds. The guys (all ages) spend HOURS hoeing and pulling weeds within the beds. Levi (4) now is an experienced weeder. He saw an onion bed that had a few weeds in it and told his Daddy so. Farmer Steve promptly told him to do something about it then. He dropped his little two wheel bike and weeded the bed! Now that he has showed himself faithful he even has his own hoe! Ours is an old-fashioned farm compared the farms around us and God is blessing our efforts. On Memorial Day we had our church family out for a cookout and worship service.  It is always a blessing to see our farm through other’s eyes.
     Okay, on to the unromantic turnips. Basic instructions to cook them go like this: “Bring 1-inch of water to a boil. Add 3-4 cups cubed turnips and ½-1 teaspoon salt or to taste. Return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes. Cook small whole turnips approximately 20 minutes. Serve plain, buttered, or with white or cheese sauce.” The Practical Produce Cookbook page 286. I like to treat them like white potatoes and mash them with a good pad of butter to flavor.
     I do have a new recipe I will try. With sugar included it should be a hit.  We buy our natural cane juice crystals in bulk 50 pound bags. Something similar is found in most grocery stores if you want to add vitamin and minerals to your sweet dishes.
Glazed Turnips
3 cups diced peeled turnips
¼ cup water
1 cube chicken bouillon
1 Tablespoon butter or more as needed
2 Tablespoons “white sugar”
     Place the turnips into a skillet with the water and chicken bouillon cube over medium heat, and simmer until the water has evaporated and the turnips are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the butter, let melt, and sprinkle on the sugar. Gently cook and stir the turnips until the butter and sugar cook into a brown sticky coating on the turnips, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.
Amount per serving: Calories 79/ Total Fat 3g/ Cholesterol 8 mg

    Again, my visit is about over. Please remember to put June 17th on your calendar! We are looking forward to your visit. I’m excited about learning from YOU during your visit. We’ll be having a recipe contest that evening. Start experimenting and bring your family’s favorite dish you have made with what you receive as a share that week. (Extra vegetables will be available so you can cook a large side dish to bring.) We’ll provide the meat, drinks, and dessert.  For more details of our first shareholders field day, Review the e-mail we recently sent out.. RSVP needed as soon as possible. Please be faithful to respond positive or negative on our website.

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, tht shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption: but he tht soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Galatians 6:7,8

Abundant Blessings,
Your Farmer’s Wife,