This week we lost Howie.
Those of you who have been to the farm and had the chance to interact with our gentle giant may have some sense of what a tremendous loss we have experienced. The garage where he slept seems very empty tonight. And the hill he kept watch on will be starkly lonely tomorrow morning. The walker and joggers who greeted him each day at the end of our drive will have questions and we will lament together the big hole he leaves. The short answer to the questions is that he died quickly and easily as a result of blood loss from a ruptured abscess on his knee. He basically went to sleep, with myself, Shannon and the vet gathered around him. While we were all surprised, the moment wasn't stressful or panicky, rather quite peaceful and quiet. So we say goodbye and thank you to a relentlessly loving, leaning and patient presence. We are deeply grateful for the large space he occupied in our lives.
And so life goes on, different, but good. We must harvest and we must eat! We are thankful for the good work and the good crew and the good food. This week's box is our last of the season and could not be more full or delicious. The cooler temperatures of fall literally change the plants, and subsequently, their flavors. We find them sweeter, with more depth and crispness. Our menus on the farm have changed to reflect these altered tastes and we feel that we've never eaten better! Of course, we feel that way with each change of the season, but that doesn't make it any less true. Braised turnips and Brussels Sprouts are the jewels of the table right now, while kale sautees and cabbage slaws enliven breakfast, lunch and dinner. Life is very very rich indeed.
This is your last box of the 2014 season, and we hope you've had as fun of a time opening them as we have packing them! It is like Christmas all season long at Circle M. We'll make sure to wrap up the season with a survey in the next week or so, and we'll let you in on some of our still-forming plans for next year. So look for some more communication from us in the inbox soon. Here's what's in the box:
Kale – Yum! We missed these beefy, flavorful, vitamin-packed greens while we let the plants bounce back from the early summer harvests. Back and better than ever.
Edamame – One of our favorite harvests of the season, these are the stalky-bean things in your box. They did get nipped by frost this week, so their pods are damaged and should be used within a few days. Just pull off the filled-out pods (leave the flat ones for compost) and boil them in very salty water for about 5 minutes. Let cool a bit, then squeeze the beans right out of the pods and into your mouth. Yum! This is a bar snack in Japan and we can see why. Very addictive!
Leeks – These aren’t real leeks – they are Japanese scallions but they behave just like leeks in cooking and they have a wonderful flavor. We have really enjoyed this new variety of allium this year and hope you have as well. Great paired with the potatoes!
Cabbage – These gorgeous savoy cabbages are an English variety that we think stands up better to bugs and heat than the thinner-leaved light green variety you might be used to. And the flavor! Sweet. Just an exceptional vegetable. We like this braised in stout with a bit of leftover ham cubed into it.
Turnips – Another great braising vegetable! This we braise in a bit of bacon grease and apple cider and sprinkle with parsley. But another great way to enjoy these is raw, cut into sticks and dipped in a creamy goat cheese dip. Don’t bother trimming the skin off - it is tender – and DO save the greens to sauté up with bacon and serve over grits.
Beauty Heart Radishes – These could not be prettier! Green on the outside, pink on the inside! Delicious braised or raw, lovely cut into little triangles or slices. Scrub, don’t peel, and save the greens to add to a dish with kale or turnip greens. Great in soup.
Brussels Sprouts – We don’t always have these to put in the boxes, though we always grow them and aim for the last box. Sometimes they don’t size up, and sometimes they don’t get frosted, which improves the taste. This year, they did both for you! See the recipe blog for Box 10 for prep and recipe ideas.
Potatoes – These very special potatoes are purple on the outside, but on the inside they are golden. Their shape is like a russet, but their flavor like a fingerling. A complicated potato of many contradictions! And a fabulous flavor. This potato will literally make you sit up and take notice.
Peter Wilcox A newer variety developed by the USDA breeding program. It has a medium purple skin color and a medium to dark yellow flesh. It is an attractive potato that can produce good yields. It was bred for nutritional qualities; the carotenoid content is 15% higher than Yukon Gold; and it has a high Vitamin C content. Peter Wilcox is also known as Purple Sun and Blue Gold.
Sweet Potatoes – Some of these got huge, which made it difficult to dig them without damage. So some of you may have received a few large, but less-than-perfect tubers. We think you’ll enjoy them just as much! Try the sweet potato cornbread! We served this at our last field-to-table dinner and got lots of recipe requests.
Small Hard Squash - We packed you various hard squashes that were appropriate for the size and fullness of your box. You might have a butternut, a delicata, an acorn, carnival or baby pam pumpkin. All cook up the same and can be used interchangeably in recipes. Try shredding instead of cooking, for an interesting fall slaw!
Popcorn – These little ears of popcorn aren’t quite ready to use yet. Enjoy them as decorations in your kitchen through the harvest and Thanksgiving season, then ease the kernels off into a paper bag. By then they should be dry enough to pop. We pop them in the microwave right in the paper bag, but you can pop them on the stove, too!