DIGGING DEEPER

Farm NewsLetter 02/20/06

The 47th Avenue/Luscher Farm Newsletter
For the week of February 20th, 2006

Farm Pickup Dates
SE/Tuesday 2/21, 3/7, 3/21, 4/4, 4/18
LkO/Thursday 2/23, 3/9, 3/23, 4/6, 4/20

In the Newsletter
From the Farm: Arctic Blast 2006
What’s in the Share
Recipe
Warm Moroccan Beets Salad with Tangerine
Roasted Beets with Anise Vinaigrette

Arctic Blast 2006

We had a nerve-wracking week here on the farm. Record low temperatures were predicted and could have devastated our winter crops. I’ll say in advance that the story has a relatively happy ending. Some of the plants suffered superficial damage from the cold temperatures, and especially from the icy winds, but as of today, it appears that most of our crops are still alive and well out there in the fields.
The plants we grow for the winter share thrive in “normal” winters. However, there is a reason you can’t grow these same crops in Alaska. At a certain point, if the temperature drops low enough, they die. The “drop-dead” temperature is affected by several factors. Early in the fall or later in the spring when plants still have tender new growth on them they are much more susceptible to damage. If temperatures dive into the low 30’s in September when plants are still actively growing they can be devastated. These same temperatures later in the winter may not bother them at all. If plants are gradually exposed to colder and colder temperatures they are said to “harden-off.” This increasing ability to withstand cold temperatures happens in several ways. The cell walls & tissues can become thicken, the plants can turn starches to sugars which function as antifreeze, and or plants can wilt rather than freeze in response to cold.
Lucky for us, our plants were at peak cold tolerance and the temperatures never sank to those record low numbers, but I spent a few sleepless nights worrying about what could have been. The truth is, if it had gone down to 10 or even 15 degrees F we might have lost all of our winter brassicas, winter root crops, everything in the greenhouse and next years favas & early peas. Those crops were all planted months ago and it would take at least several more months to replant and raise anything to maturity. Needless to say, that would have been the end of the winter share.
All this got me thinking about that little paragraph on the brochure about sharing the risk. I’m pretty sure that everyone understands the concept, but that’s not necessarily the same as facing the brutal reality. Those of you who have been with the farm for a few years know that in a normal season risk means you don’t always get the same thing as last season. One year we had a devastating disease in the garlic, last year the rain lowered potato yields and pushed back the tomato harvest, but everyone always went home with a basket full of food every week. I was reminded this week that there are much bigger risks out there and the fact that we have avoided them for the last 10 years does not mean that will always be the case. This one was a close call. Thanks everyone for hanging in there with us!

The Weather: Warming up thank goodness!

This week the share may include…

Beets We picked all the BIG ones so those that are left are a little smaller, but tasty as ever.
Purple Sprouting Broccoli This is a wilder member of the broccoli family with small heads tender purple heads that just keep on coming all winter. Leaves and stem are tasty too.
Cabbage A winter staple around the world! Like most winter greens they get sweeter in the cold. Slice them for slaw, then pouring a warm balsamic dressing over the top. This is great with sautéed onions and/of bacon. Add some toasted nuts or goat cheese too.
Cauliflower Wow! What a treat this time of year
Collards They made it through the cold snap, and taste better than ever.
Onions These flat yellow onions have withstood the winter well.
Parsnips Roasted, sautéed, in soups, stews, risotto… yum!
Potatoes From our friends at Mustard Seed Farms
Kale We’re growing several varieties and hopefully some of them will pull through the cold snap!

Coming Soon… White Sprouting Broccoli

Warm Moroccan Beet Salad with Tangerines
From Our House to Yours
By Jody Denton

3-4 bunches of baby beets (greens optional) 2 T dried currants
3 T olive oil 1 T honey
salt & pepper 1 T grated tangerine zest
3 T water 1/4 cup tangerine juice
1/8 t ground cinnamon 1/2 cup tangerine segments
2 allspice berries crushed 1 T chopped fresh mint
1 whole clove crushed 2 T fresh lime juice

• Preheat oven to 350F. Remove beet tops. Trim and discard woody stems. Rinse greens and set aside. Rinse beets thoroughly.
• Toss beets with 1 T olive oil, salt & pepper. Place in baking dish w/ water. Cover with aluminum foil and roast until beets are tender when poked with a fork, about 45 min. Cool beets then peel them.
• Heat remaining 2 T oil in large sauté pan over medium heat. Add roasted beets, cinnamon, allspice & clove. Gently toss beets with spices until fragrant, about 1 min. Add currants, honey, tangerine zest, and increase heat to high. Toss until honey begins to caramelize, being careful not to burn, about 1-2 min.
• Add tangerine juice and boil until liquid is reduced to a thick syrup. Mix with reserved beet tops and stir until wilted, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to serving bowl. Add the tangerine segments, mint and lime juice. Season with salt & pepper. Serve warm.
• To Make Ahead: Prepare up to 2 hours ahead and keep at room temperature, or let cool completely, cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature to serve.
• Note: I made this with oranges instead of tangerines and added extra spices and didn’t have any lime or beet greens and it was still really good! –Laura

ROASTED BEETS WITH ANISE VINAIGRETTE
From Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
Via Shareholder Andrea Nakayama

1-1/2 lbs beets
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tspn anise seeds
1 garlic clove
2 tspn sherry vinegar
2 Tbspn olive oil

– Preheat oven to 375 F. Peel the beets and cut them into 1/2″ dice. Toss in enough olive oil to coat and lightly season with salt and pepper. Spread the beets on a sheet pan, making sure they have plenty of room so they don’t just steam, and bake until the juices begin to carmelize and the beets are tender but firm, about 25 minutes.
– In a mortar, crush the anise seeds with the garlic and a little salt. Whisk in the vinegar and the olive oil. Pour the vinaigrette over the beets and marinate for several hours or overnight.