It’s hard to believe that the growing season has once again come to an end, but here we are with frosty nights, fallen leaves and shelves stocked with the season’s bounty. Nature is so graceful in it’s thoughtful approach to producing sustenance in ways that are needed to keep us going year round. In spring, those nutritious cold-loving greens leap from the ground with vigor and feed us until the slow-growing energy-consuming veggies come along. In fall, we are showered with nutrient dense storage crops to get us through the long winter. Beautiful squash of many shapes, sizes and colors, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, turnips, beets, onions and of course savory meats from animals well-fed on rich green grasses throughout the summer… we have much to be thankful for.
This week completes the 22 week season of Local Choice CSA and we are all so very grateful for the many ways we have been supported over this last year as we set out to blaze new trails in local, sustainable food. We learned a great deal in the process and are already planning for changes in membership and adjustments to product accessibility in 2020, including moving away from a traditional CSA model, (at least for next year), and exploring other ways of enriching the farmer-consumer relationship and putting more “choice” in Local Choice. Our hope is to expand our member base and increase product availability in the coming years as we work out the kinks of a brand new cooperative. We hope you will continue following along and become an integral part of Local Choice Cooperative Producers as a means to strengthen our local producer/local consumer economy.
You can keep up with us on Facebook and email us a request at firstname.lastname@example.org to get on our mailing list for updates in winter of 2020! To keep up to date with individual member farms, links are included below!
This week in Local Choice CSA
Bifrost Farms – Feta
Essence Homestead – Onions
Hexagon Projects & Farm – Purple top and gold turnips, rutabaga, winter radishes, parsnips and Tokyo Market turnips
Mary Dirty Face Farm – Apples
Towering Heights Farm – Stewing hen, pot roast and round steak
Valley Pasture Farm – Butternut squash
Winnowburrow Farm – Heirloom dried beans
A note on how to use fall veggies in your share from Pat Lang at Hexagon Projects & Farm
The abundance this week is… overwhelming! Do not worry, though. Most of the Local Choice produce from the final 2 shares will last over a month if properly stored!
Not using your squash right away? Ideal storage for squash is 55 degrees (or a cool space, like most basements) and low humidity. Spaghetti squash, delicata, and pie pumpkins usually last only a few weeks to a month, but many others will last 2 months or more (some of our market customers boasted of enjoying last year’s butternut squash in June!).
Root crop storage. Many root crops have exceptional storage life of 1-2 months or more, including carrots, parsnips, potatoes, winter radishes (watermelon, black Spanish), turnip, beets, and rutabaga. These vegetables are best stored in the fridge, loosely bagged. Placing root veggies loose in the produce drawer will dry them out, making them soft and unappetizing. But by placing these root crops in a plastic bag that is not completely sealed, an appropriate amount of moisture is retained. This works anywhere in the fridge. No need to be limited by tiny fridge drawers, and no need to cook with those fall crops immediately!
Nutrition and cooking tips by Johnne Smalley of Towering Heights Farm
Stewing chickens are usually laying hens that have passed their prime, 12 months to 2 1/2 years old. They are older, so their meat is usually tougher and more stringy. It is also more flavorful.
Don’t plan on frying, broiling, or barbecuing this chicken, like the previous ones in your shares. A stewing hen’s lean meat contains a high level of connective tissue, which works wonderfully for slow, moist cooked dishes such as stew, soup, and chicken and dumplings. Pressure cookers also work great. Use more water and pressure-cook 1 ½–2 times as long as you would for a regular chicken (I use about 1 quart of water for 20-25 minutes in my pressure cooker).
Traditionally, stewing hens are placed in a loosely covered dish in the refrigerator for 2 5 days to thaw and age, and allow the muscle fibers to relax and tenderize. Then cook the hen in a large pot with herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme, etc.), seasonings (salt, peppercorns, &/or your favorite seasoning mix), and your choice of veggies (onions, garlic, carrots, celery, etc.); and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a gentle boil, and simmer for 6-12 hours, or until chicken meat is falling off of the bone. Remove chicken, let cool and remove the meat from the bones. At this point, you can set the bones aside to make extra chicken stock. (I soak the bones in enough water to cover them and about a teaspoon of vinegar to draw out the calcium for 24 hours before boiling/simmering them again to make more chicken stock.) Use the meat and broth in soups, stews, and chicken noodle or dumpling dishes.
Now you’ll be left with a pile of bones. Throw them back in a pot with a few more veggies and herbs (to impart flavor), and boil them long and slow (I shoot for 12-24 hours) to make mouth-watering chicken stock
The key with any cut of tough meat is long, slow, and moist cooking. Although older birds are not ideal for roasting or frying, they make fabulous soups and stocks.
Cover the bird loosely (I used wax paper to allow the carcass to breathe–avoid plastic wrap) and place in the fridge to age for 4-7 days. This is a crucial step for an old bird, as the extended aging process allows the muscle fibers to relax and tenderize. Don’t skip it!
Parsnips are a cream-colored, tapered winter root vegetable, closely related to both carrots and parsley. All belong to the family Apiaceae.
Parsnips provide similar nutritional value as potatoes, though parsnips are lower in calories and contain only about 50 percent of the protein and vitamin C content of potatoes. However, parsnips are higher in fiber than potatoes. One cup of parsnips has almost 7 grams of fiber, particularly soluble fiber, which is responsible for lowering cholesterol levels and regulating blood sugar.
Parsnips are typically eaten cooked. They can be eaten raw — it’s just not as common. Most of the flavor in parsnips is right below the skin, so it’s best just to give them a good scrubbing rather than peel too much of the outer layer.
Parsnips have a complex taste. Similar to carrots, they’re sweet, but they contain more starch and have an earthier, nutty taste. In the kitchen, you can certainly replace parsnips for carrots in many recipes for a milder, more subtle result. For roasting and mashing, however, parsnips are interchangeable with root vegetables from the Brassica family like turnips and rutabagas. Parsnips are a classic ingredient in some chicken broths and soups, and can also be baked, sautéed, steamed, mashed or pureed, roasted, used in stews and fried.
Parsnips taste best during the winter months. They’re sweeter when exposed to cold, so keep them in a bag in the fridge.
Pot roasts are generally a tougher cut of meat, full of dense muscles and connective tissue. They are typically browned and slow cooked in liquid (water, wine, stock, or broth). They need long, slow cooking to soften the muscles and melt the connective tissues into juicy, rich natural gelatin. This process tenderizes the meat and produces a broth you can make into gravy. A pot roast usually includes a variety of vegetables such as potatoes and carrots that you cook with the meat.
The nutritional content for a pot roast can vary considerably, depending on the particular recipe.
This week’s meal plans are provided by Meg Wittnmeyer of Bifrost Farms
Week 22 Meal Plans
For our last share box, we’ve provided some good old fashioned cold weather recipes that will see you through the week!
Meal #1 – Pot Roast with Winter Root Vegetables
Mustard and Paprika Rub
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder (I use Colman’s)
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Beef Pot Roast Ingredients
1 beef chuck roast, tied
4-6 ounces slab bacon, cut into 1 x ½-inch-thick strips (lardons)
1.5 cups dry red wine
½ cup homemade beef stock, canned low-sodium chicken broth, or water, plus more if needed
3 bay leaves
4 cups thinly sliced onions (about 2 large)
12 garlic cloves, peeled
12 small shallots, peeled
Winter radishes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
Rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Rub: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Rub thoroughly over all sides of the meat. (If time allows, wrap the roast in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.)
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring from time to time, until browned and lightly crisped. Remove with a slotted spoon and leave about 2 tablespoons of fat in the pot. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the roast, and sear on all sides until nicely browned, about 7 minutes total. Remove the meat.
Pour the red wine into the pot, bring to a boil, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, and reduce to 1/2 cup, about 10 minutes. Add the stock, reserved bacon, and bay leaves, and lay in the roast. Scatter the onions and garlic over and around the meat, cover, and bake for 1 hour.
Remove the lid, turn over the meat so that it is on top of the onions, and bake for 1 more hour, checking after 30 minutes to make sure there is still liquid in the pot and to stir the onions so that they brown evenly; add more stock or water if necessary.
Remove the roast and add the shallots and root veggies to the pot with the onions. Return the meat to the pot, cover, and bake for 1 hour more, or until the roast is fork-tender and the vegetables are soft. If the roast is not done, continue to bake, checking every 20 minutes.
Remove the meat and vegetables, discarding the bay leaves. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and set aside while you complete the sauce. Degrease the cooking liquid, and boil briefly to concentrate, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (You can refrigerate the roast and sauce separately overnight and reheat to serve the next day, discarding any congealed fat on the top of the sauce.)
To serve, remove the twine, slice the meat into thick slices or chunks, and ladle the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
Meal #2 – Dr. Rennard’s Chicken Soup
(This combination of veggies is said to reduce inflammation, a common cause of colds.)
1 Stew Hen
3 onions, chopped
1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into quarters
Peeled parsnips, cut in half
Peeled turnips, cut in half
12 peeled carrots, cut in half
6 celery stalks, cut in half
1 bunch of parsley
Salt and fresh pepper to taste
Clean the chicken, put it in a large pot and cover it with cold water. Bring the water to boil.
Add the chicken wings, onions, squash, parsnips, turnips and carrots. Boil about 1 and a half hours. Remove fat from the surface as it accumulates.
Add the parsley and celery. Cook the mixture about 45 min. longer.
Remove the chicken. The chicken is not used further for the soup. (The meat makes excellent chicken Parmesan.)
Put the vegetables in a food processor until they are chopped fine or pass through a strainer. 6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
BONUS! Quick and Easy Round Steak & Bean Chili (Slow Cooker)
1 Round Steak, cut into bite size pieces
.5 lb. dried beans, soaked overnight
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped onion
2 1/2 cans (398 mL each) no-salt added tomato sauce
1 can (12 FL oz/341 mL) whole kernel corn, drained
1 canChopped Green Chiles
2 tbsp (25 mL) chili powder
Throw all ingredients in slow cooker and cook for 8-9 hours on low.
***Hint: Really good with the Salzkase cheese from your box this week, crumbled on top!
Thanks to everyone who has supported us at Local Choice Cooperative Producers and followed us through our first season together. We will keep you updated as we work through this seasonal transition and collectively decide on the next phase of Local Choice. If you’re not on our mailing list and would like email updates, send us a note at email@example.com and request to be added. Have a restful winter, enjoy the harvest, and we’ll see you soon!