Growing the good stuff in Athens, GA since 2006

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

CSA Pickups -- Week 11 -- Onions

Roots Farm CSA Week 11: July 12 & 15

This Week:
-Beans!: Rattlesnake Pole Beans, Blue Coco, & Red Noodle!
-Kale: Winterbor, Red Russian, White Russian, Rainbow Lacinato
-Sweet Onions (“Vidalia-type Yellow Granex)
-Garlic: California Early
-Cucumbers: Lemon
-Okra!: Burgundy & Clemson Spineless
-Melons: Diplomat, Sun Jewel, Hannah’s Choice, Jenny Lind
-Tomatoes!: SunGold Cherry, Juliet Roma, various hybrids
-Eggplant!: Nadia, Nubia, Pingtung Long

On the Farm . . .
The bean plataspids attack! So there are these small, round-ish brown bugs out there that really like our bean plants and kudzu. You may have seen them around town. They look kinda like Darth Vader’s helmet and associate with kudzu. They’re a known pest in Asia, and in 2009 appeared in Georgia, lucky us! (kidding). Well, up until today, I just thought of them as a nuisance because they cover the plants and then fly off in a cloud into your face while you’re picking beans, and well, that’s disconcerting. Today we discovered that they also excrete some sort of substance that can cause welts and itching. Yikes! We think it’s the same substance that causes the stink bug smell, which they also have. They give it off when they feel threatened. Itchy, welty, ugh. They also can cause vine wilting and poor seed set/pod development in the beans. Darn you, plataspids!

Otherwise, we’re at a sort of in-between time crop-wise. Looks like corn, watermelons, and our other melons are ripening, soon to be ready. The tomatoes slowly trickle in. The cucumbers are on their way out, so enjoy them while they last. Also soon to be done is the kale, which is falling prey to our top kale pest, the Harlequin bug--another stink bug, this one black and orange. You may have seen it’s black and white, barrel-shaped eggs on the underside of some of your kale leaves. Keeping the kale heavily picked and thin has seemed to help hold them at bay, but we’re not sure for how long. In better news, eggplant is beginning to appear! Yay! Green peppers are sizing up on their bushes. And green figs cover our fig trees. More goody is on the way, but it’s taking its time to get here.

Fall Planning Begins!
You wouldn’t think that July is the time when you plan for your Fall crops, but here in Georgia, that’s exactly when you do it, if not sooner. We just had our big Fall planning session, and we’ve got lots of ideas for our Fall and Winter production for 2011. Haven’t had enough our our CSA yet? Well, good. We’ll be offering Fall and Winter shares after our Summer Session ends, and will be featuring things like broccoli, butterhead lettuces, chard, kale, carrots, radishes, arugula, and more! We’ll keep you posted on the details as the time gets closer. Let the veggies continue!

Is finally beginning to appear. We’ve got 3 varieties for you this year: Nadia, a traditional Italian deep purple kind; Nubia, a purple-and-white streaked Italian sized and shaped eggplant that we’re trialing (so let us know if you like it or not); and Pingtung Long, an Asian variety that is lavender and long and thin and delicious. Hope you enjoy them.

Saturday Workday
We had a lovely time on-farm Saturday morning. Three delightful ladies appeared and we weeded and processed garlic and enjoyed the cloudy weather together. Nice farm fellowship. Don’t miss our next one--Saturday, August 13. Mark your calendars and come spend the morning with us. We’d love to have you out, and August is when we start planting our Fall crops . . .

Beaverdam SlowDown Dinner--July 30th & 31st!
You are invited to another Beaverdam SlowDown, hosted by the Roots Farm. Come join us for a gastronomic adventure celebrating local food right at the source. Enjoy the opportunity to relax on our serene 13 acre farm located just outside of Athens, GA. Sit back and enjoy a gourmet meal prepared by local
chefs from local ingredients. Experience the place where your food comes from; meet the farmers who grew the food you are eating.

This meal is about connection…the connection between food and place…the connection between farms and food…a connection between yourself and the people who grow your food…and the connection of a community of like minded people sharing a memorable evening together.

WHEN: July 30th & 31st, Saturday & Sunday night 7pm

WHAT: A sumptuous five course meal served over a leisurely two hours filled with: a short farm tour where you can see where your dinner came from, discussions of local food and farming issues, great opportunities to learn more about sustainable farming, and slow foods from local practitioners. The food for your vegetarian meal will be sourced almost exclusively from the fields of the Roots Farm as well as other local farms. Due the seasonal nature of this event, it is not possible to say exactly what will be on the menu for your SlowDown experience. Expect a tasty mixture of seasonal produce.

HOW: Reserve your seat now for this unique event! For reservations, contact us: Email Chris Lutz: This event is a fundraiser to benefit the activities of the Roots Farm. In exchange for your experience we ask for a $45 donation.

Are in the spotlight this week. You’ve been getting onions for at least 11 weeks continuously now, so I thought you might be interested in some onion-specific recipes. Enjoy these sweet babies while they last--our supply is beginning to dwindle. Onion-y Info: there are 300 species of onion within the allium genus, 70 of which are native to North America. They vary in shape, size, taste, and smell, and include our familiar kitchen varieties, scallions, shallots, leeks, onions, and garlic. The onions you’ve been getting are a sweet, Granex variety, better known as “Vidalia” onions when grown in the official Vidalia area. The amount of pungency in a onion reflects the amount of sulphur in the soil in which it was grown. Apparently, Vidalia has a particularly sweet soil which grows particularly sweet onions. Ours are the same variety, but grown in a different soil, which can make quite a difference. I still think they’re sweet and mild. Here are some onion-full recipe ideas for you to use yours.

Onion Poppy Seed Drop Biscuits
oil or butter for greasing the baking sheets
2 large eggs
½ cup canola oil
2 large yellow onions, grated over a dish, liquid reserved
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup poppy seeds
2 Tbsp water
2 tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat 2 baking sheets with oil or butter. Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Stir in the oil and the grated onions with their liquid. Sift in the flour, then add the poppy seeds, water, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Stir the ingredients just until they are moistened but not completely smooth. (Do not overmix the batter, or it will become stretchy and your biscuits will be tough.) Drop the mixture by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake until golden brown, 10-15 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 40 small biscuits. From Farmer John’s Cookbook.

Onion Gratin
2 Tbsp butter or olive oil
3 lbs white or yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
pinch ground cloves
½ tsp dried thyme
salt and freshly milled black pepper
1 cup dry white wine
2 eggs
3 Tbsp flour
1 ½ cups warm milk or vegetable stock
⅔ cup grated Gruyere or Fontina cheese
¾ cup fresh bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a 2-quart gratin dish. Warm the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, bay leaf, cloves, and thyme. Turn the onions over several times to coat, season with salt and pepper, then reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden and soft, 30-40 minutes. Add the wine, raise the heat, and cook until it has completely reduced. Remove the bay leaf. Whisk the eggs with the flour, ½ tsp salt, and a little pepper, then stir in the warm milk or veggie stock. Combine with the onions and cheese and transfer to the dish. Cover with the bread crumbs and bake until set and the crumbs are browned, about 25 minutes. *NOTE: eggs give the gratin a glossy golden top. The same filling can be made without the eggs for those who don’t eat them. This filling can also be baked in a crust to make a savory pie.* Makes 4 servings. From Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

Vidalia Onion Custard
6 medium Vidalia onions, halved and thinly sliced
4 Tbsp butter
1 cup milk
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pepper, to taste
chopped chives or green onion for garnish

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook onions in butter, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden in color. Let onions cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs and egg yolk, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Add cooked onions; stir well. Transfer to a well-buttered 1 1/2-quart baking dish or large deep-dish pie plate. Bake at 325° oven 40 to 50 minutes, or until lightly golden and a clean knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Sprinkle with chives or green onion. Serve hot. Serves 4.

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