Good bye!; Oct 26 2017

This is the last delivery for our May-October CSA shares.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for being members of our farm. We truly appreciate your commitment to our CSA.  We could not farm without you.  We hope you enjoyed the adventure.

Many of you registered for continued deliveries with our Extension and Storage shares.  We will be in touch with more information as those deliveries approach.

We will open registration for our 2018 season by early December.  Watch for emails from us.  In the meantime, you can continue eating our produce through the winter.  Our stored cabbage, carrots and other roots will be on the shelves at these stores: Willy Street Coop (Madison, Middleton), Outpost Natural Foods (Mequon and Milwaukee area), Basics Coop (Janesville), Whole Foods (Madison only, with deliveries beginning soon), Good Harvest Market (Pewaukee), and Health Hut (Brookfield).

Love,
Beth and Steve

Best year ever (maybe).  Highs and lows

This is a good moment to evaluate the season.  I think the title above says it all.  2017 was a terrific season for us.  With a few exceptions, the crops were abundant.  Even the weather wasn’t too bad.  The ‘maybe’ in the title simply indicates that our work is not finished yet.  Our big storage harvests stretch over the next few weeks.  We have a lot of good-looking crops in the field and hope to have our coolers stuffed full by Thanksgiving.  Keep your fingers crossed for dry weather.

We sat down with the crew to brainstorm the highs and lows of this season.

HIGH – Best crew ever.  Most of our 22 farmhands and managers were returning employees, and our three new hires brought a combined 50+ years experience in growing vegetables.  Wow.  Together, this crew has deep, deep knowledge of vegetables.  Having so much experience on the farm took the pressure off Steve and me, allowing us to relax a bit and enjoy our work in a new way.
HIGH – Steve was healthy, pain-free and energetic this year.  He spent the 2016 season in pain from a bicycle mishap, and limited in the energy he could muster for farming.  He began working with a new physical therapist this past winter with amazing results.  She showed him new techniques like “nerve flossing” that sped his recovery.  He feels like a new man.
HIGH – I love our new experimental prairie planting.  It was a fascinating new hobby and I did not even realize how much I need a hobby.  Nevermind that it involves plants and field prep and transplanting, it still counts as a hobby.
HIGH – As mentioned above, most of our crops grew very well this year.  The moderate weather helped.  Even during the mid-summer rainy spell, most of the rain came at night, making work easier and more pleasant for all of us.  A dry start to the summer plus dry fall weather kept crop diseases in check.  Usually a whole bunch of different crop diseases explode in fall.  Not this year.  As a result, our fall brassica crops have been amazing!  We’ve never had this much broccoli and cauliflower to share in the CSA boxes.
LOW – Unfortunately, a troubling new disease appeared during that mid-summer rainy spell.  For years I’ve told Steve “If we can get through our farming careers without Phytophthora capsici (Pcap) showing up, I’ll be happy.”  Well, Pcap showed up this year, wiping out entire melon fields and eliminating all the late melons we planted for you.  That was painful.  I have photographs of those fields but I am not going to share them with you.  This is a family-friendly newsletter and the photos are like a snuff film.
LOW – Pcap also damaged about a third of our peppers.  Our pepper crew wore uncomfortable plastic booties over their shoes for months to confine Pcap to the infected fields.  That was a low for all involved.
HIGH/LOW – Daily use of the word “bootie” inspired one crew member to endless baudy jokes.
HIGH – There was a shining moment when six of our farm pickup trucks were working.  That’s extraordinary.  Of course, it only lasted one day before one of them broke.  We use a combination of tractors and wagons plus pickup trucks for our harvests, giving each field team something for transport.  The number of operating pickups directly affects our collective quality of life.  Life is good when the pickups are running.
LOW – There was a dispiriting day when only one pickup was operating.
LOW – One day, a door suddenly fell off one of the pickups!  The crew managed to realign it and lock it in place.  We haven’t opened that door again.  Fixing it is a winter project.
HIGH – The 2nd staked tomato field and the 3rd kale plantings were genuine high points.  Those two fields just kept on giving.
HIGH – A garter snake took up permanent residence in one of the zucchini fields, appearing reliably during each zucchini harvest.
LOW – The garter snake always showed up in the row worked by the crew member who is terrified of snakes.
HIGH/LOW – One time, the crew found a garter snake with a toad in its mouth.  The toad was still alive, feebly gasping and waving its arms.  That’s the stuff of legends or nightmares or at least persistent farm memories.
HIGH – Poblano chiles.  Wow, they were abundant this year.  That’s why we could pack them in the boxes two times.
HIGH – Best farm lunches ever!  A woman in Madison cooks lunch for our crew two days per week.  She has cooked for us for years but was on a roll this year, with creative, abundant dishes.  Thank you Gen!
HIGH – Finger weeders!  Steve set up finger weeders, a new type of cultivating tool that does an amazing job.  We weeded quite a few fields just by tractor, with no follow-up hand weeding, saving so much effort.
HIGH – Due to the finger weeders, we had beautiful, weed-free cabbage fields situated near the buildings where we could look at them every day.  Ah, so nice.
LOW – Lake Tipi.  Somehow, we ended up with an enormous, truck-devouring pothole.  We have got to fix that.

That’s all I’m going to share.  The crew had many more ideas but their highs and lows were getting pretty obscure (“Remember the time Billy caught a corndog in his mouth when you threw it from the porch?”, etc., etc.)  You don’t need to hear these things!  Thank you again for being Tipi-people this year.  Beth.


Fractally beautiful Romanesco at harvest.  That’s Charlotte in the background.


It’s likely to frost tonight, so we stripped the pepper field of the last peppers.  Above, Raul and Jory bring in the harvest.  Look at Jory’s feet – you can just see his boot covers behind the basket.  The valiant pepper crew wore boot covers for months to avoid spreading a new disease beyond the infected fields.  A big thanks to Simone, Jim, Raul and Jory for making the effort.  We know it was uncomfortable.


We’re preparing for our big, big carrot harvests.  The wooden bins are repaired and ready to go.  Steve’s worked over the carrot harvester.  We have someone coming tomorrow to do preventative maintenance on our storage coolers.  Carrot and root harvests start this week and extend into mid-November.  We can’t afford any downtime during these critical weeks.  Wish us luck!  We should have enough cabbage, carrots and other roots to supply our store customers through the winter.


The cover crops are so vibrant right now.  They protect against erosion during the winter, then revive and grow again in spring to nourish the soil.  If you review the four photos above, the color green pops out.  The farm glows on sunny days.  It’s not too shabby on cloudy days either.

VEGGIE LIST and VEGGIE NOTES 
(Oct. 26/27, 2017; week #24, purple EOW)

Sweet potatoes, 2 – 2.5 lb
Butternut squash
Red cabbage
Brussels sprouts, 1 lb
Romanesco
Celeriac
Purple daikon radish
Green bell peppers, ~2
Yellow onion
Shallots, 1 – 3
Baby ginger, 1 knob

This is the final box of our regular CSA season.

Romanesco (pale green conical head, possible tinged with purple) – This is the prettiest vegetable we grow.  Look at it closely to appreciate its branched beauty and repeating spiral pattern.  It is closely related to cauliflower which it resembles in flavor and texture.
Preparation: Like broccoli and cauliflower, it is fine eaten raw or cooked.  It requires cooking times intermediate between the two.  Don’t overcook it.  I usually steam it, then dress it simply with a butter-lemon-garlic-mustard sauce.

Celeriac (knobby, round, bizarre-looking vegetable which smells like celery) – Flavorful celeriac is good raw or cooked.  It is excellent in mixed roasted veggies or in soup.  It’s especially good in cream soups, alone or mixed with potatoes.  Grated raw celeriac is a great starting point for winter salads.  Celeriac will store in your refrigerator for months.  Cut off chunks as you need them.  Peel before using.

Shallots – These look like small red onions.  They can be round or oblong.  Store at room temperature.  This is the first time we’ve grown these!  They seemed like a fun thing to try and have turned out nicely.  Honestly, I am a novice with shallots but from what I’ve read (and eaten at restaurants) they are good in salad dressing, and caramelized and used to top dishes or sandwiches.  Have fun!

Baby ginger – This is baby ginger, bright white and pink because it hasn’t grown a brown epidermis yet.  The ginger in stores is grown for a long season in warm places like Hawaii.  Baby ginger is special because it has the full ginger flavor and spiciness but almost no fibers.  That’s why it’s used to make the pickled ginger served with sushi.  I asked the crew to wash it lightly to avoid bruising.  Expect to do a final wash before using it.
Storage:  Eat soon; baby ginger is perishable.  Wrap in a damp cloth or paper towel, and keep in the refrigerator in a plastic bag.  You can also freeze your ginger, then grate as much as you need from the frozen knob.


Baby ginger

RECIPE LOG

Visit our Recipe Log, a list of all our 2017 recipes.

LOCAL THYME RECIPES

Comforting Classics

Romanesco Gratin
Chicken or Tofu and Brussels Sprout Stir Fry with Ginger
Rice Bowl with Romanesco, Bell Pepper, Cabbage and Fried Egg
Celeriac Ribbon Remoulade

Outside the Box Recipes

Romanesco Polonaise
Brussels Sprouts Braised in Nutmeg Cream
Red Cabbage and Apple Soup
Celeriac, Smoked Mozzarella and Prosciutto Salad 

Quick and Easy Meal

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts with Miso Vinaigrette

RECIPES FROM LAUREN

DEEP DISH HARVEST PIZZA
If there is anything I love more than taking every vegetable I have and throwing it into one mess of a beautiful deep-dish pizza, I don’t know what it would be. This recipe is simple, insanely versatile and (as usual) fit for a crowd. It only makes one pizza so you won’t think it’s a lot of food, but trust me, this baby is dense. If you aren’t vegetarian, I totally recommend throwing some bacon on there. Enjoy! Lauren.

Serves 6-8
Takes 1 hour, 15 minutes

4 cups peeled and chopped butternut squash
2 cups water
2 teaspoons Kosher salt, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for drizzling
2 cups halved and quartered brussels sprouts
1 head romenesco, cut into bite-size florets
1 green pepper, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups favorite pizza cheese (I used a blend of havarti, munster and Parmesan but mozzarella is also great on its own)

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. If making pizza dough from scratch, begin the dough now (see below). If not, skip to the next step.
  3. In a medium sauce pan, combine winter squash, water and 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes until squash is very soft. Drain and return to pan.
  4. Drizzle two tablespoons olive oil on a baking sheet. Add brussels sprouts, romanesco, green pepper, pepper and 1 teaspoon Kosher salt. Roast for 25 minutes, turning once for even cooking.
  5. While the winter squash simmers and veggies roast, melt a tablespoon of butter in a large cast-iron skillet. Add shallots along with remaining 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt. Cook for 5-10 minutes until beginning to char in places. Add to drained winter squash along with maple syrup and red pepper flakes. Mash with a potato masher (or fork) until mostly smooth.
  6. Remove veggies from oven and bump temperature up 500 degrees.
  7. Drizzle cast-iron skillet with a bit of oil and then press pizza dough into pan and up the sides. It will stretch and sink but just keep pushing it up the sides until it stays about 2/3 of the way up. Let rest for a couple minutes while you shred the cheese.
  8. Add half the cheese to your pizza crust. Top with mashed winter squash and spread into an even layer. Add roasted veggies followed by remaining cheese.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes until crust is golden and cheese is bubbling. Serve warm.

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Pizza dough:
1 cup warm (but not hot) water
1 packet instant yeast (or 2-1/2 teaspoons)
Pinch sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups all-purpose flour

  1. Combine water, yeast and sugar together in a small bowl or measuring cup. Let sit for 5 minutes so the yeast proofs and becomes all yeasty.
  2. Add salt and olive oil to the yeast mixture.
  3. Pour flour into a large bowl (preferably your mixing bowl if you have one). Slowly stir in yeast liquid and stir until clumpy dough forms.
  4. Turn out dough onto counter and knead until smooth, and shape into a ball.
  5. Grease bowl you used to make dough and place dough ball in it. Cover with plastic and set in a warm place (like the warm oven that’s roasting your veggies) until ready to use. For me, this was 40 minutes and it was perfectly doubled in size.

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SWEET POTATO CABBAGE BOWL WITH CASHEW LIME DRESSING

Takes 45 minutes
Serves 4-6

2 pounds sweet potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
1 yellow onion, cut in chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup lentils
1-1/2 cup water
1/2 red cabbage, shredded
1 purple daikon, quartered and very thinly sliced
2 avocados, sliced
Sesame seeds, optional

Cashew Lime Dressing:
1/3 cup cashew (or almond or peanut) butter
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lime juice (about 3 limes)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari)
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Drizzle baking sheet with olive oil and add sweet potatoes, onion, black pepper and 1 teaspoon Kosher salt. Roast for 25 minutes, turning once for even cooking.
  3. Rinse quinoa and add to a medium saucepan along with lentils and remaining 1 teaspoon Kosher salt. Toast over medium heat about 5 minutes, until little to no moisture remains. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Turn off heat, but leave lid on and continue steaming for 5 minutes.
  4. Prepare dressing by combining all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Add water if it’s too thick.
  5. Build bowls by placing about 1/2 cup of quinoa and lentil mixture in each bowl. Top with a quarter of the sweet potatoes and onions, a generous amount of cabbage and daikon, and half an avocado. Drizzle with sauce and sprinkle sesame seeds on top (if using).

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