Sunday, January 15, 2012

Badger Rock Farm Veggie Share Newsletter - Week # 20


Week #20 is upon us. I can hardly believe it has been 5 months since you began receiving your veggies! What a season it has been. I am very grateful for your patience and good humor as I have worked my way through the learning curve that's been the first year of this veggie share program. I hope that you have enjoyed it. This week brings with it some of the traditional fall veggies, such as root crops (onions, radishes, parsnips and some Jerusalem artichokes), and winter squash. Also included are basil and fennel. Here's hoping that this winter treats all of us kindly. If you expressed interest in participating in 2012's veggie share season, I will get in touch with you in the latter part of the winter with details. Thanks has been my pleasure working with you this summer!!


Jerusalem Artichokes & Onions – Also known as sunchokes or sunroots, these tuberous veggies are in the sunflower family (the plant that grows from them looks similar to the familiar sunflower) and are native to North America, having been cultivated by Native tribes long before European settlers arrived on this continent. Opposite what their name suggests, they are not actually artichokes at all, and they are not connected with Jerusalem. Early explorers compared their flavor to artichokes, however, and it is believed that that is how that portion of the name came to be. The Jerusalem reference might have come from the Italian word for sunflower: girasole. Over time, the word is guessed to have morphed into Jerusalem, and it stuck. They can be used similarly to potatoes (though they will not keep as long), and can be eaten raw in a salad if sliced thinly. They may also be steamed and eaten, or used in soups. Here is a recipe, that also uses the onions in your bag, to try:

Cheesy Artichoke Soup
1 lb Jerusalem artichokes
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 stalks celery
1 medium onion
6 tbsp butter
2 ½ cups chicken broth
3 tbsp flour
1 ½ cups cheddar cheese
2 tsp dry mustard
½ cup cream
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
salt, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste

Wash, and roughly chop Jerusalem artichokes and keep in water to which lemon juice has been added until ready to use (to prevent browning). Chop celery and onion and cook in 2 tbsp of the butter until slightly wilted, approx 10 minutes. Add the artichokes and 1-1/2 cups chicken broth to your pan, cover, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until they are cooked through. Puree in a blender or food processor. In a medium-size saucepan, melt 4 tbsp butter, add flour, and cook for 2 minutes without browning. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 cup of the broth, then cook for another 5 minutes. Add the cheddar cheese and mustard and stir until blended. Stir in your artichoke mixture and cream and cook until soup is heated through. Season with salt, cayenne pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.

Parsnips – As you might guess from their appearance, parsnips are relatives of the more familiar carrot. Ideally, it is harvested after more exposure to freezing temperatures, as the cold causes some of the vegetable's starches to convert to sugars, making it sweeter. Our 90 degree September/October has been short on cold, so you can store your parsnips in your fridge for a week or so (in a plastic bag in the crisper to keep them fresh) to duplicate cooler fall temps. You don't have to do that to enjoy them, however. To prepare parsnips, you can peel them, shred and add them raw to a salad. Or you can chop and steam them, as you might a carrot. They can also be shredded and sauteed with a little bit of olive oil and water until they are tender. You can even make “fries” out of them by peeling and slicing them into fry-shaped pieces. Put them into a bowl with some olive oil, salt and pepper and stir them around until they are coated in oil. Place them on a baking dish and bake at 450 degrees, stirring every 10 minutes or so to prevent burning, until browned and crispy (but not burned). Enjoy!

Fennel & Radishes – The fall crop of radishes are continuing to come on strong. Fennel is the feathery, dill-looking, licorice/anise-flavored item in your share this week. Here is a recipe that combines the fennel and the radishes:

Fennel & Radish Salad with Lemon Dressing
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 stalk fennel, sliced
½ lb radishes, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tbsp yogurt
2 tbsp cream cheese
1 tsp sugar
1 clove garlic, crushed
In a medium bowl, whisk together cream cheese, yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar and garlic. In a salad bowl, combine apple, fennel and radishes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss with the lemon dressing and serve.

Pumpkins & Carnival Winter Squash – There are several varieties of winter squash in your share this week. The yellow, white and green squash are Carnival squash. The mini pumpkins are Mary Jane Beadle's Wee-B-Littles. They can be painted up for Halloween, or prepared as you would any other winter squash (baked with some brown sugar, butter and maple syrup, pureed for pie, etc). The larger pumpkins are the New England Pie variety, which—as their name suggests—are ideal for making pumpkin pies. I would suggest allowing the pie pumpkins to sit for a couple of weeks to cure. I have been trying to push them to ripen, and I believe that they are mostly there, but I still think they could use some counter-time before preparation. has good directions on how to make a pumpkin pie from scratch. Here is how they suggest to achieve puree from your pie pumpkin (or other winter squash). Once you have the puree, you can use it in your favorite pumpkin pie recipe.

Cut your pumpkin in half, and remove the seeds as well as all the stringy material that is in the seed cavity. A heavy ice cream scoop can come in handy for this job. (Save those seeds for roasting!! Directions for that are also on, or elsewhere on the web). Cut off the pumpkin's stem, and place the halves into a microwaveable bowl (or quarters, if necessary to get them to fit), put a couple of inches of water in the bowl, cover and microwave for 15 minutes on high, and then in smaller increments of time, checking to see if the flesh is soft enough to be scooped out. You can also steam the halves (or quarters) for 20-30 minutes, or bake them at 350 degrees for 45 min – an hour. Whichever method you use, once the pumpkin is cooked, you can easily scoop the flesh out of the rind with a spoon. If you notice water standing in the scooped out pumpkin flesh, you can allow it to sit for half an hour or so, and then drain it off. Then, blend using either a hand blender or regular blender and, voila, you have pumpkin puree, ready for your pie recipe! If you are not ready to use it right away, you can freeze it for use later in the year. 

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