Growing the good stuff in Athens, GA since 2006

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

CSA Pickups -- Week 4 -- Kohlrabi

Roots Farm CSA Week 4: May 24 & 27

This Week:
-Purple Kohlrabi!
-Carrots: Napoli, Bolero, Nelson, Yaya
-Turnips: Hakurei or Scarlet Queen
-Beets: Chioggia or Merlin
-Lettuce: Red & Green Butterheads! Green Oakleaf
-Swiss Chard or Kale
-Sweet Onions (“Vidalia-type Yellow Granex)
-Summer Squash: Zephyr, Yellow Zucchini, Green Zucchini, Magda
-Cucumbers! Marketmore
-Basil or Mint

On the Farm . . .
It’s a mixed review this week, some light, some dark. Here goes . . .

Raves: I like to rave about what’s awesome on the farm, and believe me, there are lots of awesome things--my favorites currently being the weeded and landscape fabric-ed and mulched areas of our Northeastern fields that just look picture perfect now and the lovely array of leafy greens and lettuces in our newest cultivated area. I’m also excited to announce that we just re-opened the CSA for the summer and took on a few more members because it looks like we’re going to have a good season. And we sold all those memberships in a matter of HOURS! Yay! It’s late May and things are looking pretty good.

Challenges: Mixed in with that experience, though, are the challenging aspects of farming. Things to deal with. The squash bugs are back. I’m not surprised--they always appear sometime along the summer--but they are getting pretty heavy in our oldest plantings of summer squash, and it always makes me sad to see the big, beautiful plants go down to insect pressure and age. Sigh. Squash bugs; they smell like amaretto when you smash them and they multiply worse than cockroaches. And the corn. We had to till in all six rows of corn last week. All of them. Gone. We had poor germination again this year, the second year running, and I’m beginning to suspect that it’s because we use untreated seed (most corn seed is treated with a pink fungicide to keep the seeds from rotting in cool, damp soil) and planted too early when the soil wasn’t warm enough yet. Next year, I’ll plant two weeks later. This year, we finally made the call to give up on that planting and start all over again. I planted again today, over a month later than the first sowing. That’ll give us corn in late July if things go as planned. But as Becky would say, “That’s farming for you--things go wrong.” So true. Things go right and things go wrong. No corn for the 4th of July; hopefully we’ll have it before and during August.

Coming Soon!
Garlic! We’re growing 11 varieties in 2011. Who knew there were so many varieties of garlic? There are. And our earliest maturing ones are beginning to be ready to pull. We’ll hand out some uncured garlic when it comes in and we’ll cure the rest. Soon, the garage will be FULL of garlic, fans blowing, plants drying, smelling like a gourmet kitchen. We’ve got over 600 feet of it, which is quite a LOT of garlic to process, so it’s kind of a daunting prospect. We managed it last year, though, so I have hope. The processing begins this week. Fresh garlic will grace your baskets next week. Yippee!

In Your Basket
Looks like we’ve seen the last of the strawberries for this season. They were so early this year! Time to bid them adieu. In their departing wake, a whole new wave of summer veggies is arriving. The summer squash have jumped onto the scene with a harvest today that quadruples what we had last week--over 150 lbs! We’ll try not to overwhelm you too much, but the squash portion of the share is healthy this week as we celebrate its abundance. Cucumbers are also arriving, crunchy and delicious. Carrots and beets are continuing. Lettuce is slowing down a bit. And kohlrabi is making its first appearance. Kohlrabi? Kohlrabi.

What an odd vegetable. It’s not a root, not a fruit, not a leaf . . . it’s a swollen stem of all things. This purple, globe-shaped, sparsely leaf-ed veggie is a brassica, close relative to the cabbage and turnip (which is what the name means in German: cabbage-turnip) and has a similar flavor. It’s mild and crunchy and the greens are good for eating, too. Here are some ideas . . . Storage: if you plan to use it soon, keep the whole thing wrapped in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. If it’s going to be a week or two, separate the leaves and stems from the bulb and keep those in a plastic bag to use within the week. The bulbs can be kept for up to two weeks in a plastic bag in the fridge. Usage: kohlrabi can be eaten raw or cooked. When young, they don’t need to be peeled--as they get older, the skin will become tougher and need to be removed. You can grate them or slice them raw into salads, “kohl-slaws,” and onto raw veggie plates to eat with dips or as snacks. Cooked, they can be baked, steamed, boiled, added to stews or stir fries, or substituted in recipes for carrots, potatoes or turnips. They can also be pickled! We made refrigerator pickles out of some last year and they were amazing. The greens can be cooked and eaten as kale would be. Have fun!

Simple Sauteed Kohlrabi
2 medium kohlrabi bulbs, grated
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter or light oil
1 medium onion, diced (~1/2 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed (~1/2 tsp)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme, chives, or sage

Mix the kohlrabi and salt in a colander and let stand for 30 minutes to drain. Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute more. Stir in the kohlrabi. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium, uncover the skillet, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the fresh herbs. Let stand for a couple of minutes. Makes 2 servings. From Farmer John’s Cookbook. Enjoy!

Kohlrabi “Hashbrown” Cakes with Yogurt Mint Sauce
1/3 cup plain yogurt
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tsp lemon juice
pinch of salt or more to taste
4 kohlrabi bulbs
1/4 cup chopped green garlic (or green onions and 1 clove minced garlic)
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp dried bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
black pepper to taste
oil cooking spray

Mix sauce ingredients in a bowl and chill at least 30 minutes before serving. (I think the sauce would also be good with grated cucumber in it, like a tzatziki sauce, but do what you will.) Meanwhile, peel and shred the kohlrabi. Transfer to a mixing bowl by fistfuls, squeezing out excess moisture as you go--this is ESSENTIAL. Combine kohlrabi with green garlic, eggs, bread crumbs, salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper; stir until blended. Heat a large skillet and spray it generously with cooking spray. Drop mixture by large spoonfuls into the hot pan and fry the cakes in batches until golden brown, 3-4 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot with yogurt mint sauce. Makes 4-6 servings. From the From Asparagus to Zucchini cookbook.

Kohlrabi & Carrot Slaw
1 lb kohlrabi (~4 medium bulbs), peeled & grated
2 medium-large carrots, grated
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small red onion, chopped (~1/2 cup)
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 large clove garlic, minced (~3/4 tsp)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Toss the kohlrabi, carrots, bell pepper, onion, thyme, and garlic in a large bowl. Whisk the sour cream, oil, vinegar, chili powder, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving. Makes 4-6 servings. From Farmer John's Cookbook.

Whipped Kohlrabi & Potatoes
1 lb baking or russet potatoes (4 potatoes)
2 lbs kohlrabi (~8 medium bulbs)
3-4 Tbsp butter
¼- ½ cup milk or cream, depending on how rich and creamy you like it
½ tsp salt plus more to taste
freshly ground black pepper

Boil the potatoes and kohlrabi separately (use two pots if needed) until tender, 20-35 minutes depending on size. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the liquid from either vegetable. Peel the potatoes and kohlrabi. Mash them together in a large bowl. (Larger, more mature kohlrabi should be run though a food mill to remove fibers.) Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat. Add ¼ cup of the milk or cream. Heat until almost simmering and remove from heat. Pour the butter mixture over the potato mixture. Add ½ tsp salt and pepper to taste and beat until fully combined and smooth. Add another ¼ cup of milk or cream for more rich creaminess, if desired. If you want a smoother texture, slowly stir in the reserved cooking water until it reaches the desired consistency. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Makes 4 servings. From Farmer John’s Cookbook.

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