This week in Wisconsin we seem to be returning to the patterns of this past spring, with long spells of cooler, wetter weather. It sure would be nice to have another couple of months of warmth and abundant sunshine, but as fall closes in, we can start to embrace a new season of foods. Mushrooms, for example, LOVE the cool dampness of autumn, and we are starting to see fungi popping all around us.
Shiitakes and oysters are some of the more commonly known mushrooms in the United States, and popular go grow by small-scale farmers and mushroom enthusiasts. While both are delicious, they must be prepared in different ways to truly enjoy their unique qualities. The stems of shiitakes should be removed due to their tough fibers, while oyster stems are edible, but you have to discard the very spongy part that connects the clusters. Shiitakes are also a dryer, more dense mushroom, and require longer cooking times than oysters, so should be cooked to tenderness before adding oysters if you are combining them in a dish. All mushrooms taste good sautéed in oil or butter and can be added to soups.
As fall carries on we hope to see many more shiitake flushes at Winnowburrow Farm and are hopeful for some successful wild forages, especially Chicken of the Woods and Maitake (Hen of the Woods), which are true delicacies in the mushroom kingdom. September is prime time for these special delights and we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed for the next few weeks that we find some abundant fruitings.
If you need a little more info about storing and preparing mushrooms and would to try an easy sauté recipe, click here!
This week in Local Choice CSA
Bifrost Farms – Plain Chevre
Essence Homestead – Celery
Hexagon Projects Farm – Carrots, collard greens, salad mix and leeks
Mary Dirty Face Farm – Apples and plums
Valley Pasture Farm – Eggs, potatoes, kabob meat (lamb)
Towering Heights Farm – Hot dogs, Italian sausage (beef) and garlic
Winnowburrow Farm – Mild salsa, marinara sauce and mixed mushrooms (oyster and shiitake)
Nutritional benefits of Celery and Leeks by Johnne Smalley of Towering Heights Farm
Celery (Apium graveolens) is a marshland plant in the family Apiaceae that has been cultivated as a vegetable since antiquity. Other members of the flowering Apiaceae, or carrot family include parsnips, parsley, and the root vegetable, celeriac.
Celery is well known for its crunchy stalks, which people often consume as a low-calorie snack. However, not only is celery low in calories, there other reasons for adding it to the diet. It is rich in vitamin K, and it also contains folate, vitamin A, potassium, and vitamin C. It is also thought to benefit the digestive tract and the cardiovascular system, and the seeds of the plant are used in medicine to help relieve pain.
Celery contains apigenin, a molecule that is currently being studied for its anti-cancer properties. Apigenin is also believed to stimulate neurogenesis, the growth and development of nerve cells. A study published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research investigated whether this chemical might help modify or reduce damage caused by inflammation and concluded that it could reduce inflammation and restore immune balance (at least in mice).
Celery also contains a flavanoid called luteolin. A study published in Current Cancer Drug Targets said that “Recent epidemiological studies have attributed a cancer prevention property to luteolin.” They believe luteolin makes cancer cells more susceptible to attack by chemicals used in therapy.
Celery is a rich source of antioxidants and contains the following phytonutrients:
- phenolic acids
Celery is mainly water, but it is also a good source of dietary fiber. One cup of chopped celery, or 100 grams of celery, equivalent to about two and a half medium stalks, contains 1.6 grams of fiber.
Some other historical facts about celery:
- Cultivation of celery is believed to have started 3000 years ago in the Mediterranean region.
- The oldest record of the word celeri is in a 9th-century poem written in France or Italy, giving the medicinal uses and merits of the plant.
- Celery was first used as a food during the 16th century in Italy.
- In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, in Italy, France, and England, were seen the first evidences of improvement of the wild type. Gardeners also found that much of the too-strong flavor could be eliminated, making the stalks better for salad use, by growing the plants in late summer and fall, then keeping them into the winter.
- By the mid-18th century in Sweden, the wealthier families were enjoying the wintertime luxury of celery that had been stored in cellars. From that time on, its use as we know it today spread rapidly. We do not know what group of European colonists brought it to America, or when, but four cultivated varieties were listed here in 1806.
- Many so-called “easy-blanching” or “self-blanching” varieties have been developed over the last 50 years.
Leeks look like a large scallion and are in the same family as garlic and onions, with the difference that the flavor and fragrance are milder and more attenuated. They are frequently cooked and served as a side vegetable or incorporated into soups.
Leeks are a member of the onion family, and have been cultivated since the time of the Ancient Egyptians. They are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, iron and magnesium, and a very good source of folate as well as vitamins A, C, and K.
Health Benefits of Leeks
- Have antioxidants, antimicrobial properties, and liver-protecting properties.
- Reduce level of liver enzymes.
- Reduce fatty liver (liver triglyceride accumulation) caused by high-fat diets.
- Improve lipid profile by decreasing total cholesterol and triglyceride levels while raising good cholesterol levels.
- Improve high blood pressure.
Tips for Using and Storing Leeks
- Leeks are a great addition to many dishes including soups, salads and casseroles.
- To wash leeks, cut them in half lengthwise, keeping the root intact. Run water over the whole leek, rifling through the layers to give them a good rinse. If needed, do this a few times to make sure all of the fine sand is removed.
- Store fresh leeks unwashed and untrimmed in the refrigerator, where they will keep fresh for 1 to 2 weeks. Wrapping them loosely in a plastic bag will help retain moisture.
- Leeks should have firm, crisp stalks with as much white and light green regions as possible. Do not eat leeks with yellow or withered tops. When preparing leeks, slice off the dark green end, trimming to the part where the color is a pale green. Note: The dark green leaves are tougher than the tender, juicy stalk of the leek. Chop and
sauté the dark green parts until starting to brown before adding in the white/light green parts. Cook on low until caramelized. You can also use the tougher parts for soup stock.
- Cooked leeks are highly perishable, and even when kept in the refrigerator will only stay fresh for about 2 days.
- Leeks can be frozen, pickled, canned or dehydrated. To freeze leeks, trim and then blanch them for 2 to 3 minutes in boiling water. Cool rapidly, towel dry, and place in freezer bags.
This week’s meal plans are provided by Rachel Henderson of Mary Dirty Face Farm
Roasted Leeks and Carrots, adapted from Martha Stewart Living
- 1 bunch leeks (about 1 pound)
- 1 1/2 pounds large carrots
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Trim and discard dark-green parts from leeks. Halve leeks lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Rinse well in cold water to remove grit.
- 2. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss leeks with carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks, and olive oil; season with coarse salt and ground pepper.
- 3. Spread in a single layer; roast until vegetables are golden and tender, tossing halfway through, about 40 minutes.
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
2 tbsp. plain yogurt (Greek or regular)
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 c. chopped apples
1 c. sliced celery
1/4 c. chopped parsley
Kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper
1 c. walnuts, toasted
Mixed lettuce, for serving
- In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, and lemon juice.
- Add apple, celery, and parsley and fold until just combined. Season with salt and pepper. Top with walnuts and serve over lettuce.
Garlicky Collard Greens
- 1 lb. chopped collard greens
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 4 tsp.)
1. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add collard greens, and blanch 5 minutes. Drain.
2. Heat olive oil in same pot over medium heat. Add garlic, and sauté 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant. Lower heat, add greens, and sauté 15 minutes, or until tender. Season with salt and pepper, and serve warm over rice, polenta, or other grain.
Rosemary Lamb Kabobs
- 1 pound lamb Kabab meat
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, cut into large chunks
- Place lamb in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, stir together mustard, vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary, sage, and garlic. Pour over lamb, and mix to coat meat. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat outdoor grill for direct heat.
- Place marinated lamb on skewer, alternating with peppers and other vegetables of your choice.
- Place skewers on preheated grill, and cook for about 12 minutes, turning and brushing with melted butter or oil.
Stay dry out there and don’t forget to check back next week for more recipes and local food facts!