Thursday, January 13, 2011

CSA Week 7

     Howdy ya’ll! Time is quickly approaching for us to meet! I am excited about your visit to “your” farm. God richly blessed us with our heart’s desire of a farm in 1999 after 18 years of praying. So every time I see a wild flower blooming or a new species of bird on our place, it is like a new gift from His generous open hand.
     As I write this I miss my home…most of our family is at an old fashioned camp meeting on Sand Mountain in Georgia. For the first time our oldest boys are not with us full time as they are fully committed to the farm, and serving you. What a blessing for a Momma to have sons that are dedicated to family and to the farm! We’ll regroup in time to spend a long day Friday gathering your shares.
   Before I left for the camp meeting I began to experiment with beets on the grill. How fun! I even steamed some of them and put them in the refrigerator whole (skins still on) for quick meals. During the week as I wanted them, I would pull them out, quickly slip the skins off by gently squeezing them, took off the top and taproot with a paring knife and use them in whatever recipe I wanted…but grilling them became my favorite way. (Can you tell I am enjoying my new grill?)
    There are soooo many ways to use beets! Their sweet and “earthy” taste pair up with so many other vegetables and fruit (like pineapple).  (I’m inserting this Friday evening…today after packing your shares there was 3 stray beets, 1 turnip and 1 kohlrabi left over. I steamed them, combined them and put a pad of butter over it. What a combination! It was a treat to the eye as well as the pallet!) The greens and bulbs are high in beta-carotene, vitamin C, iron and calcium. I encourage people to stay away from all the “healthy” supplements and just eat right! These nutrients are best assimilated into our bodies from natural sources, not a chemically based pill!
       I would like to help you also to preserve your bounty for the winter ahead. Even if you just have a small freezer, you can freeze your beets for the winter. We just invested into a 24.9 cubic foot freezer, slightly larger than our 29 year old one! When I don’t have a lot of one vegetable to put up, I freeze. Otherwise, if the vegetable cans well, I can or dry most of our produce. Beets are simple to preserve. How to freeze beets: Remove tops, leaving ½ inch stem. Wash, steam/or cook in minimal water for 25 minutes until andante. Cool, peel, slice, shred, or cube. Pack in appropriate size freezer bags. Freeze flat on a cookie sheet. When frozen you can stack flat, saving space.
     When you receive beets in your share, you are really getting two “different” vegetables…the bulbs and the greens. (The boys cut the beet greens off the beats today.)  If you aren’t cooking them both for one meal, don’t throw the other out! Put in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Your beets will keep for weeks if you want to freeze a larger batch or you know you’ll have company coming in a few weeks.
     Read through the entire recipe for Double the Blessing Beets, it took a lot of words to describe how to make them, but they are easy and quick to make.
1 Bunch beets with the greens
1 inch salted water (we use sea salt) in a medium sauce pan
1 inch water in a “2 qt.” sauce pan
Optional: 1 egg, boiled, shelled, and cubed
     Trim off all but 1-inch of the greens, set aside. Wash beets, leaving the tap root on the beet. Place in 2 quart sauce pan. Bring to a boil. While beets are boiling, wash the greens, Roll a few leaves up together and place on a cutting board. Slice the greens into ½ inch pieces crosswise, then a few times lengthwise. Set aside. Once the beets begin to boil reduce heat and simmer gently, partially covered, until beets are just tender. Medium to small beets take about 30 minutes. Drain and cool, trim stem and root, peel by gently slipping off the skin with a paring knife. Cube. Set back in the saucepan with a “pad” of butter and let sit while you steam your greens. Steam or stir fry your greens for 3-4 minutes until wilted, but not mush. Pour greens onto a serving platter. Sprinkle cubed beets over the greens. Optional: Sprinkle cubed boiled eggs over the mixture for a high protein garnish.

     If you follow my suggestion to cook your beets and store the bulbs in the refrigerator here are a few ideas to use them as a quick side dish mid-week.
·          Simply slip the peel off the bulb, slice, and reheat quickly in the microwave or better yet, on the stove top. Serve with a small pad of butter on each serving.
·          If you are grilling, slip the peel off, slice larger ones into medium cubes, leaving small ones whole, and spear onto a bamboo or other Ka-bob stick. Lay the beet kabob on the grill and reheat. I like to put slices of onion between each beet. This makes a special side dish.
·          If you have a vegetable tray for your grill, try just grilling sliced beets. As the summer goes on we can add summer squash, onions, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, etc. Slip the skins off, and slice the beets. Spray your vegetable grill plate with “Pam”. Grill till heated through. Try planning a whole meal using your grill, its fun!
·          Dice peeled beets into a macaroni salad, or top a fresh green salad.

As soon as things settle down when we get home I am going to try:
1 qt. canola oil
3 medium beets
Coarse sea salt
In a large, wide pot heat oil to 375 degrees (oil should be 1 inch deep). Meanwhile, peel beets and slice them as thinly and evenly as possible. A kitchen mandolin or food processor is helpful but not needful. A sharp knife and a steady hand will do the trick. Place a cooling rack over a baking sheet near the stove to drain beets after cooking. Place a few slices at a time in the hot oil. Let fry till crisp. Remove to rack and sprinkle with salt. These are bound to be better than the ones in the store…the problem will be warding off the boys until they are all fried!
     Well, we’re home now and we are all a bit damp as it has been STORMING. The family has rallied to harvest your shares and is working on cleaning and packing. Let me just say a word about our cleaning. We are a family farm, not a mega farm. We “field wash”, which means, PLEASE wash your vegetables before using. They look pretty, but the water didn’t when we were washing them. J
     When you come to visit Thursday, please bring your side dish with the recipe written out on a 3 X 5” card. Everyone will benefit from your efforts, even the Market Square’s new cookbook!! Please also bring lawn chairs, cameras, and wear appropriate footwear.
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. “ Matthew 11:28-30

                                           Abundant Blessings,
                                           Your Farmer’s Wife    II