Storing carrots from last season has proven to be difficult this winter. We harvested so, so many carrots and filled every available space with them at the end of October. But between harvest and now, we’ve lost quite a few of them.
It’s been disappointing to see carrots go bad like this- and we wish we had answers. Our best guess at this point is that it was a result of having such excessive wetness this fall. From discussions Janaki had with a few growers at the Organic Conference, it sounds like others have had similar problems every once in awhile. At least we’re not alone, but after so many years of winter storage it’s definitely a surprise when things like this happen. The winter farm crew and volunteers have been putting on a brave face and dealing with a lot of focused sorting as carrots get checked, one by one. If I had a dollar for every carrot I’d inspected this winter, I’d be writing this from a yacht. In the Mediterranean. A small yacht, but still.
The pigs over at Yker Acres have been having a great winter enjoying the castoff carrots, but it’s been hard for the crew after all of the work that went into such a great crop. Fortunately, we did go into the fall with a record amount of carrots, so we should have plenty for the April shares, even with the amount we’ve lost.
But carrot rot isn’t the only thing happening on the farm. Dave was back at work in the greenhouse starting onions and greens last week, the days are brighter than they were a month ago, and the rutabagas stored just fine, don’t you worry!
It shouldn’t surprise me that one negative thing can easily fill up the nooks and crannies of our collective mood. It just seems to be the way it is. When faced with disappointment and difficulty it gets harder and harder to have a broader outlook on things. I have to keep reminding myself that carrot storage is just one part of the farm, and there are so many other parts all working together to make it pretty great.
I hope this March share finds you all well, and enjoying the things of life that we all get to enjoy, no matter the circumstances.
For the persevering farm crew,
In your share this month:
Cabbage – Carrots – Beets – Onions – Parsnips – Fingerling and yellow potatoes – Rutabaga
Raw rutabaga and carrot salad
3 carrots (purple would be pretty, if you still have some)
1 large apple
1/2 cup walnuts chopped (optional)
For the dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp dijon mustard
Shred the rutabaga, carrots and apple in a food processor, spiralizer, or grater (or do small matchsticks). Add the walnuts (optional).
In a separate bowl, combine the ingredients for the dressing and whisk until smooth. Pour over the salad ingredients and toss until coated.
Enjoy chilled or at room temperature!
Old Farm Favorite: Cabbage Salad Dressing
1/2 c butter milk or yogurt, or 1/4 c olive oil
1/2 c mayonnaise
1 T horseradish
1 t stone ground mustard
1 t salt
1 to 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Mix in a bowl. Use on fresh cabbage salad. Store in refrigerator for later use. Can easily halve or double.
Two big buckets full of carrot seed came to the farm today and more will be coming soon. Next year’s harvest awaits in those tiny, seemingly miraculous little bits of life stuff. Sometimes I imagine that seeds should be vibrating with how much expectant energy they have bundled up inside.
Before we know it, it’ll be planting time and someone will be eating dust behind the tractor to watch those little seeds fall into place and get lightly covered up again. Then there’ll be tiny little grassy first leaves, then a couple weeks later we’ll be back to carrot weeding. If you’ve read past newsletters, you have probably picked up on the carrot weeding being kind of a thing around here. A test of mental and physical fortitude, if you will. (And we talk it up A LOT, but the truth is, with 5 summers of carrot weeding under my belt, I can say, it gets easier and easier).
Then, some sunny (I hope) October day we’ll start driving around and around and around the once and future carrot fields harvesting all those juicy manifestations of a winter plan. ‘Round and ’round the seasons go, and all that potential just sitting and waiting in a tiny seed.
I think it would be so fun to visit a seed farm someday. Since I’ve always harvested veggies to eat, I’ve never seen most of them at their point of actual maturity. Fruits like tomatoes and squash and things with the seeds in them are mature of course, but I’ve never seen a cabbage go into flower, and I think that’d be the coolest thing. Or cauliflower, that’d be so cool too!
To farm is to participate in the intensely cyclical nature of our world. Our whole life, farming or not, is completely wrapped up within the cycle of it all. I brought my baby to a funeral a couple of weeks ago, which struck me as somehow appropriate and hopeful. Or at least he was an adorable mood brightener.
All around things are ending and things are starting. Much of it in a more complicated, difficult, beautiful, awe-full way than carrots. But the carrots, and their seeds bring it all to mind this time of year.
I hope you enjoy last winter’s hope and expectation in your boxes this month.
For the farm crew,
In your share this month:
Chioggia beets, Cabbage, Carrots (orange and purple), Onions, Parsnips, Baby yellow potatoes, Red potatoes, Winter squash: Delicata, Wintersweet or Sunshine, and Shokichi Green (which look like a very small Wintersweet)
Oven Baked Beet Chips
- 12 beets red, golden, or mixed
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoon celery salt or sea salt
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F, and line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Scrub the beets well with a veggie brush and cut off the tops.
Use a mandolin slicer to slice the beets paper thin (1/16-inch). When the beet slices are this thin, there is no need to peel them first. Hold the root end while dragging the beets across the mandolin and watch your fingertips closely.
Place the beet slices in a large bowl and pour the oil and salt over the top. Toss well. Ready for the secret step? Now let the beets sit in the oil and salt until they release their natural juices, about 15-20 minutes. This is what allows them to retain a better shape and color.
Toss the beets again, then drain off the liquid. Lay the slices out in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 45-60 minutes until crisp, but not brown. Test after 45 minutes and only bake longer if necessary. Remove the beet chips from the oven and cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.
Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
I like to grate the carrots by hand — actually, that’s a lie, I don’t enjoy it one bit — because I want it very finely grated for a soft batter. The food processor works, too, but the pieces are a bit thicker.
Makes 24 cupcakes (or one two-layer cake, instructions at end)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil
4 large eggs
3 cups grated peeled carrots
1 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line 24 cupcake molds with papers, or butter and flour them.
Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots, walnuts and raisins, if using them. Divide batter among cupcake molds, filling 3/4 of each.
Bake cupcakes 14 to 18 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Let cool in pans for five minutes or so, then transfer cakes to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before icing them.
To make a carrot layer cake: Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans instead of cupcake molds. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper. Butter and flour paper; tap out excess flour. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, and bake the layers for about 40 minutes each, or until a tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes. Turn out onto racks. Peel off paper; cool cakes completely.
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
In a stand mixer beat all the ingredients on medium until fluffy. Chill the frosting for 10 to 20 minutes, until it has set up enough to spread smoothly.
To assemble a carrot layer cake, frost the top of one cake, place the other cake on top. Frost the sides and top, swirling decoratively. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes to set up frosting.
When I was a kid I hated January. I loved November (my birthday month, and Thanksgiving) and I loved December and the lead up to the holidays. When all the excitement was over, my little kid feelings (which are the biggest feelings) were in a free fall. School started again. There wasn’t any more candy. No more lights and Christmas music.
For years and years now, much as I love the holiday season, I tend to think of January as the real start to winter, and I’m glad to see it come. It is the real time of hunkering down and getting in the swing of winter and all its glory. To me that means burning candles, reading books, getting out for winter walks, and eating a lot of potatoes and parsnips. My baby enjoys three of those four things. These next couple of weeks we’ll be working on the love of food. I think he’ll be a natural, since putting things in his mouth seems to be the main event of any given minute.
All the candle burning and walking doesn’t always make up for this being a challenging time of year for many of us though. Short, cloudy days can leave one feeling rather bleak and cooped up. I hadn’t realized I was feeling that way until I was in the root cellar on what felt like the first sunny day in forever, last week. There will be more where that came from though, I’m sure.
Until then, I hope you all can bask in the left over summer sun that has been hiding in the vegetables! Squash and carrots and beets can add a splash of color to a winter plate. Perhaps you’ve started off this year with some new goals, or aspirations. Mine is to eat more squash! I’m so obsessed with potatoes, all the time, but I want to mix it up. And eating more squash really isn’t mixing it up so much. I’ve got some pesto thawing in the fridge right now – more stored up summer sunshine – and I love a big spoon-full on delicata halves.
I hope this New Year has been good to you so far, and that you’ve been good to you as well. And I’m sure our winter veggies will brighten your meals, and hopefully inspire more slow, good food!
For the hunkered in farm crew,
In your share this month:
Beets, green cabbage, carrots, onions, parsnips, red and yellow potatoes,
Delicata and Kabocha squash
Cabbage Soup -from the Smitten Kitchen
1 pound pork butt, cut into small cubes
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
4 cups water
3 allspice berries
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried marjoram
1 cup sauerkraut, plus around 4 tablespoons juice
1 large potato, peeled and diced
2 carrots, minced
3 stalks celery, minced
1 onion, diced
2 cups fresh cabbage, shredded thin
Place the pork in a medium stockpot with the chicken stock, water, allspice, bay leaves, and marjoram. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low heat for about 2 hours. Remove the pork and set aside on a plate to cool. Skim fat from stock, leaving a few “eyes” of fat for flavor.
Add sauerkraut and simmer for 20 minutes. Add potato and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and cabbage and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the pork and simmer for 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add sauerkraut juice.
As you may know by now, I am not much of a recipe person, but I wanted to pass on something I’ve made a couple of times, and enjoyed. During the summer season I love making zucchini fritters for lunches on the farm. When the weather turned cool last year I found myself wondering about a winter veggie version of farm-fritters.
Roughly, this is what I do:
Grate a delicata squash, a carrot or two, a potato or two (and parsnips too, why not?) and lightly steam. Turn out into large bowl and add 3-4 eggs and ~3/4 cup flour. Eye ball it so it looks lightly battery, i.e., add another egg if necessary. Add salt to taste.
Spoon onto a heated pan with cooking oil, and fry on both sides until crispy brown. Serve with pepper and whatever condiments you like!
Well Food Farmers, another year’s in the books! 2019 was a great year here at the farm, with a few big changes and a lot of steady improvement. It was the third year of production for our new land across the road, and we got deer fencing up just in time to protect a record carrot crop over there. That crop is tucked safely in the “new” root cellar which, after five years, we wish was a little bigger. Speaking of bigger, our two farm kids are growing like crazy and, while not particularly helpful yet, are tons of fun to have around. Crew leader Karin and her husband Joel had a baby in July, and Truman and Ellis are excited to have a little one around a bit this summer so they can show him the ropes.
The thing that makes this farm the best it can be is the crew, and they were simply amazing. Everyone was a little nervous going into the season knowing that Karin was going to be gone for a few months, but we all stepped up our communication a bit and managed to be pretty efficient even without her keeping us on the same page.
Of course without you, our eaters, we wouldn’t be able to do this work we are so passionate about. It was so wonderful to read your comments when we went over the Summer Share survey a few weeks ago. Your feedback is really valuable to us as we plan the future. We’re honored to be your farmers, and appreciate your help as we continue to support and improve this beautiful place we call the Food Farm.
I’ll leave you with a little slideshow with some images of the year past.
For the farm crew,
We have had some challenging winter days the past couple of weeks: if you are reading this, you must not be under a bank of snow. Congratulations! I hope that beyond the shoveling and snow-blowing and spinning and drifting, you have had a chance to enjoy how beautiful the whole world is under the winter-spun blanket.
This time of year tends to be busy – and many of us have traditions that bring us back to family or friends to share a meal or two. The traditions surrounding the food we eat at any holiday run deep in many families, and others may have more flexibility and change up seasonal cooking norms. I tend to like what I’ve eaten year in and year out. For just a couple of meals a year: I like the same things over and over, and not much of it is all that healthy.
There are also common complaints about this Holiday season, probably more than any other. The complaints I’ve heard tend to center around the need to shop for gifts, and the expectations surrounding how families spend their time, and with whom, and when and all that. There are a lot of stressors. Not a small one is that people seem to feel trapped by how decadent the food is and that it is everywhere, all the time, in copious amounts. And when I say food, I mean treats. So, so many treats.
Over the years, I’ve found myself thinking that peoples’ complaints about this time of year aren’t really about the Holidays. The root of the problem is that all year long we feel stressed about expectations around family time, and about the endlessly available shopping options, and about the constantly available treats. We’ve spent 11 months burning ourselves out on it all and when the time rolls around for those things to be special, they aren’t any more. Now it becomes a matter of having to do all these things, but multiplied by 10 to make it seem special.
The older I get the more I think I would like a Christmas season that our families lean a little more to a “Little House on the Prairie” sort of gift exchange (i.e., a penny, candy small cake and little cup), and think of oranges as a bit of a treat.
Of course this time of year doesn’t hold exactly these kinds of issues for everyone. Some people don’t make a big deal out of the Holidays. Some people maybe would like to, but don’t have people near by to share the bounty with. There is of course a wide range of ways people spend their time and energy this time of year.
Perhaps parts of your winter share this month will add healthful and seasonal dishes to the bounty. Or, like the recipes below, somewhere between healthy and not. And wherever you enjoy your share, and with whomever you enjoy it: I hope it’s blessed.
And I hope that there are some moments of peace and love and simplicity for you this time of year as well.
From all of us at the Food Farm,
In your share this month:
Beets, Red cabbage, Carrots, Onions, Russet and yellow potatoes, Delicata and Sunshine squash
Beet Chocolate Cake (From Bon Appétite)
Gluten free and dairy free
4 medium beets, scrubbed
2 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil, plus more for pan
½ cup cocoa powder, plus more for pan
1½ cups almond flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1¼ cups (packed) light brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt
Cook beets in a medium pot of boiling unsalted water until tender, 30–40 minutes, depending on size. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle. Cut off stem end, then peel and cut beets into large pieces. Transfer to a blender and add 2 Tbsp. water. Blend, adding water 1 Tbsp. at a time as needed, until a smooth purée forms—it should be the consistency of applesauce. Measure out 1 cup purée (reserve remaining purée for another use, such as blending into a smoothie).
Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottom of an 8″ round cake pan with parchment. Grease with oil, then dust with cocoa powder, tapping out excess.
Whisk almond flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and remaining ½ cup cocoa powder in a medium bowl; set aside.
Heat chocolate and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a medium heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring often, until melted. Remove bowl from heat. Stir in vinegar, vanilla, and reserved 1 cup beet purée until smooth.
Beat eggs, brown sugar, and salt in the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed (or use an electric mixer and large bowl) until more than tripled in volume and mixture holds a ribbon for several seconds when beater is lifted above batter, 5–7 minutes. Thoroughly beating the eggs is key to creating an aerated, light crumb and is a critical step when using gluten-free ingredients.
Pour chocolate-beet mixture into egg mixture and beat on medium-low speed until combined. Turn mixer off and gently tip in reserved dry ingredients. Beat on lowest speed, scraping down bowl as needed, until combined.
Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake cake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean and the top springs back when gently pressed, 45–50 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edges of pan, then invert cake onto a wire rack and let cool.
Heat chocolate, oil, vanilla, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring often, until chocolate is melted. Let cool, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thickened and cool enough to touch, 10–15 minutes.
Place rack with cake on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour glaze over center of cake to cover top, tilting baking sheet slightly to encourage a few drips to run over sides of cake. Let sit at room temperature until glaze is set, 2–3 hours.
Blue Cheese and Potato Tart
- 1 Savory Tart Shell, below, or recipe of your choice, in a 9-inch tart pan and ready to fill
- 1 pound potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/4 pound blue cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 tablespoons finely chopped herb or herbs of your choice, such as a mixture of thyme and rosemary
- Fine sea salt for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium saucepan, cover potato slices with water by two inches. Simmer, uncovered, until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain. If the potatoes don’t seem very dry, pat them dry with towels.
Arrange potato slices, overlapping slightly, in concentric circles around the tart pan. Sprinkle blue cheese over potatoes. Whisk cream and egg yolk together and pour into tart shell, then sprinkle tart with herbs of your choice and salt.
Bake tart on a baking sheet until bubbling and golden brown, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan on rack and serve warm or cold. With a big green salad, for balance.
Savory Tart Shell
- 1 1/4 (5 1/2 ounces) cups flour
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter, diced
- 1 large egg
In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch and salt. Cut the butter in with a pastry blender, fork or two knives until it is in very tiny bits. Add one egg and mix with a fork until a dough forms. If this does not happen easily, toss it out onto a counter and knead it together. This dough is rather tough but with a little elbow grease, it does come together nicely.
This dough can also be made a food processor, or in a stand mixer, though I’ve only tried it in a food processor.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 12-inch circle. Place the dough in a 9-inch pie plate or tart pan and press to remove any air bubbles. Level the edges, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Proceed with a filling of your choice, no parbaking required.
Welcome to the first Winter Share of the season! The warm and colorful part of the autumn is very much past, the evenings are dark and it is time to start getting in the wintery culinary mood!
I love this time of year, and I know I’ve said so every winter newsletter for a couple of years now. It’s still true. I love the subdued colors of everything, and cold wind on my face and snow falling in the sunshine. I love planning exactly what I should wear outside, and thinking about how I’m so great at planning outfits for winter activities… until I start shedding extra layers along a trail to retrieve on my way back.
I love eating as many potatoes as I want (job perk!). I love getting into a different “breakfast rut” each winter. Two years ago it was hash browns. Last year it was carrots, parsnips (stay tuned for them in later shares!) and potatoes all cooked in a pan with yogurt or ketchup on top.
This year my favorite part of the season will be coming up in just a couple of months: my infant son’s first bites of food. I am so excited for him to eat with me out of the root cellar at the farm. I haven’t decided which of the veggies will be his first. Probably carrots or squash. Or parsnips. Or potatoes. Or rutabaga. I feel so lucky to start him off with such wholesome, good quality food. What a blessing.
Thinking about my boy, and what and how I want him to eat as he grows has been fun, and also challenging for me. It has required me to look at how I eat and my imperfect relationship to food. I want him to have good food, the best food. Healthy and as much organic as possible. But that’s not really all of it. Not at all. I also want food to be something that he sees is worth spending time planning, preparing, and sitting down for. I want to show him that there is value in investing time and money in food. I don’t want to treat the preparation of food like an inconvenience that just needs to be got over as quickly as possible. And by the time he’s taking his first bites I want to do less eating above the kitchen sink, and more sitting down. Even if it’s just for a fried egg sandwich in the morning.
I say that now. But I recognize that our meals won’t always be balanced, or include a complete protein, or be organic or mostly local. Maybe sometimes they’ll be mostly take-out pizza. And, I want him to see that too, and not see it as a thing of shame. There should be so much LESS shame and embarrassment around familial and personal food choices. Because it isn’t easy to always make the ideal choices we’d like to imagine ourselves making.
At the end of it all, I want him to learn joy- the joy of food in our lives. Food is work, fun, tasty, beautiful, communal, and sustaining.
So thank you for taking on a counter-cultural approach to food with us this winter season. Thanks for being willing to slow things down a bit and put your money down on something of quality.
Whether this is your first or tenth Winter Share with us, welcome or welcome back! I hope this season of local produce finds you well, and keeps you trying new ways of cooking with old staples.
Potatoes with Shaved Celery Salad
(I think in newsletters of yore, I have mentioned that I don’t tend to be much of a recipe follower. Perhaps some of you are though, and perhaps you also got celeriac instead of celery. Ah! If I were you, I’d still give this recipe a whirl, but I would roast scrubbed and halved celeriac until tender (an hour or so) and chop it after that to toss with the salad. But I am not you, so perhaps you’d like to simply roast it with oil and salt and enjoy as is!)
- 2 1/2 pounds red potatoes, cubed
- 2 cups cider vinegar
- 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
- 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
- 1/2 cup light sour cream
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
- 1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
- 1 1/2 tablespoons grated red onion
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups thinly diagonally sliced celery
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Bring 12 cups water and potatoes to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes. Add vinegar; simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Drain. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet; cool.
Combine buttermilk and next 8 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl. Stir in potatoes. Stir in celery and pepper. Chill at least 1 hour.
Curried Carrot and Coconut Soup
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- ¾ pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch coins
- 1 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin, to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric, to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander, to taste
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- Juice from ½ lime
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Cilantro, if you have it
- Heat the butter until the foam subsides. Add the diced chopped onions, sprinkle with salt, stir to coat with butter. Add the chopped carrots along with the spices. Stir and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
- Add the stock; there should be enough to cover the vegetables. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until the carrots are cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- If you have an immersion blender, purée the soup in the pot. If not, wait until the soup cools slightly, and purée in a food processor. Add enough coconut milk (and a little more stock or water if necessary) to bring the soup to the consistency you want. Adjust the seasoning (depending on the stock you use, you may need more or less salt), and lime juice to taste. Garnish and serve.