CSA Newsletter: Week 23 of 28 from Valley Flora!

  • Acorn Winter Squash
  • Pink Mini Daikon Radish - a new variety trial this season, and we love them! The thick magenta skin is perfectly edible but also pretty spicy, so if you want to dial down the heat a little then peel them. Beautiful streaked pink flesh inside. 
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Carrots - and now they're itty bitty instead of jumbo-lunker!
  • Head Lettuce - we only have another couple weeks of lettuce left in the field, all of which is at the mercy of a hard freeze, hail or pelting rain at this point. With any luck we'll be able to keep you in salad until Thanksgiving. We're harvesting a limited number of "winter" varieties now, so you'll mostly see our red-leafed winter crisp (pictured above) or little gem from here on out.
  • Yellow Onions
  • Red Potatoes - not the prettiest variety this year, unfortunately, so be prepared to get out your peeler here and there. We were unable to source our standby red variety last spring so had to plant a new variety, which we don't love. I'm ordering my seed 
  • Kale
  • Chicory - As lettuce winds down, the chicories ramp up. Think escarole, radicchio, endive: this family of cold-hardy heading greens are a wonderful winter staple and a great strategy for keeping salad on the table well into the darkest corner of winter. They can be somewhat bitter, but if you are averse to that there are ways to circumvent it. For raw eating, cut your chicory into ribbons and soak it in cold water for 10 minutes to leach out the bitterness. You can also grill, roast and braise chicory, addit to soup, pasta, lasagne and risotto. Cooking all but eliminates any trace of bitterness. The chicory in the your tote this week is a "gateway" variety: a sugarloaf type that is less bitter, more lettucey. Epicurious.com has a good guide to chicories and how to use them, as well as lots of yummy recipes, here: https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/how-to-cook-with-chicories-endive.... A good rule of thumb when you're making a chicory salad is to pair the greens with things sweet, rich and salty: fruit (fresh or dried), candied nuts, hard-boiled eggs, smoked salmon, bacon/lardons, and a bracing vinaigrette or a creamy rich dressing (think caesar, blue cheese, etc). The combo of bitter/sweet/salty is delicious.

On Rotation

  • Cauliflower

A Love Letter to Chicories

We love things for different reasons, not all the same. Sometimes we love things that are completely perplexing to others. Now and then we learn to love something we never imagined we could have the capacity to love. That's a remarkable feat of growth, testimony to the wonder of the human heart.  

One of the things I love is chicories - something that many of you may not love, may never love - but perhaps if I tell you why I love them it will spark your curiousity, and from there love might be just around the corner. As a farmer whose very being is tied to the magic of seeds, the miracle of gerimation and photosynthesis, the vibrancy of plants and the wax and wane of seasons, this time of year can be accompanied by a tiny trace of grief. It's marked mostly by senescence, things dying, going dormant. All around me the life force of the farm is drawing inward, downward, going quiet. There is no longer the robust energetic noise of seeds sprouting everywhere, new plants popping out of the ground, an endless list of colorful new things to harvest. And sometimes there's a subtle feeling of loss that attends that shift. Also, and without a doubt, I enjoy this time of year immensely because it means we finally get a little break from the madness (picture cozy fire lit in woodstove, soup on stove, reading books with my kids in the evening, hallelujah!).

But also, that tiny trace of grief...

So here are the exceptions to the inevitability of senescence right now: 

  1. cover crops (sprouting and growing like crazy in all the fields, delighting me); 
  2. parsnips and celeriac (not my favorite crops, but yes I'm glad they're out there gearing up to be dug for Thanksgiving); and
  3. chicories

Perhaps the best way to explain my love for chicories is with a photo or two, and save us all a few thousands of words:

The colors! What else is flaming magenta or bridesmaid pink at this time of year, contrasted against the black sky of a pacific storm on the march?

What else withstands hard frost and holds up against the fiercest squall?

What else can you turn into a fantastic, fresh salad in pastel pink and deep purple, at Christmas - or even Valentine's day no less!?

In short: What's not to love?!

There is enormous diversity in the world of chicories, and often quite a bit of phenotypic variability within a given variety. They are beautiful, startling, a gift of winter. You'll see a couple other varieties in your share in the coming weeks and I hope they win you over - if need be, with a little help from bacon.

Here's an icebreaker recipe to get you started down the path to love: Chicory, Bacon and Poached Egg Salad