Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Here Comes Yet Another Day

The cycle of farming is relentless. Currently the Midwest is being ravaged by heat and drought. We will all see the consequences of this in food prices in the months to come. Locally there has been heat and humidity with an excessive amount of rain. These conditions make life 'uncomfortable' for those involved in farming. Yet farmers persist in their endeavors. It is not for love of money that keeps them moving forward. They do it for the passion they have for the land, their belief that farming is a noble vocation, a commitment to being stewards of the land. The pictures that follow reflect the end result of the work that David has been doing with his workers- the produce that that is brought to market.

 The origins of the Speckled Lettuce date back to 1660 in Holland. In the late 1790s the Speckled lettuce was brought to North America, first arriving in Waterloo County, Ontario.  The name, Speckled lettuce, comes from the German Forellenschluss, which means “speckled like a trout”.  The lettuce is a loose-leaf variety that has juicy, thick, light green leaves that are speckled with maroon quarter-inch dots.  The speckled leaves have a pleasant, muddy flavor, which is similar to watercress.(Source- Slow Food USA - Ark of Taste)

Celtuse, also called stem lettuce, celery lettuce, asparagus lettuce, or Chinese lettuce, is a cultivar of lettuce and used primarily for its thick stem and is used as a vegetable. It is especially popular in China. It is crisp, moist, and mildly flavored, and typically prepared by slicing and then stir frying with more strongly flavored ingredients.

The taste and texture of kohlrabi are similar to those of a broccoli stem or cabbage heart, but milder and sweeter, with a higher ratio of flesh to skin. The young stem in particular can be as crisp and juicy as an apple, although much less sweet. Kohlrabi can be eaten raw as well as cooked. Kohlrabi leaves are edible and can be used interchangeably with collard and kale

Look at the top of the garlic bulbs leaves- that is where the garlic scape grows from. Garlic scapes are the "flower stalks" of hardneck garlic plants, although they do not produce flowers. These stalks start to appear a month or so after the first leaves. They are usually cut off of the plant, since leaving them on only diverts the plants strength away from forming a plump bulb. If left on, they eventually form small bulbils that can be planted to grow more garlic, but it takes 2–3 years for them to form large bulbs. Many gardeners simply toss their scapes in the compost, but garlic scapes are both edible and delicious, as are the bulbils.

Fennel is crunchy and slightly sweet, adding a refreshing contribution to the ever popular Mediterranean cuisine. Most often associated with Italian cooking, be sure to add this to your selection of fresh vegetables from the autumn through early spring when it is readily available and at its best.  

Hakurei Turnips (the white ones below). This outstanding Japanese turnip has an excellent sweet and mild flavor that makes it a favorite salad ingredient. The slightly flattened round roots are crisp, smooth and white. The smooth dark green tops can be eaten as well. 
Scarlet Turnips- These  turnips have sweet, crisp, white flesh with spicy, red skin. Internal red splashes of color add to the appeal when sliced. The hairless, dark green tops have attractive red stems and can be used in salads, or cooked on their own or with the roots.

 Long Red of Tropea onion. Calabria near the southern tip of Italy, is the site of a famous onion festival every August. Elongated like torpedos, these are thin-skinned glossy maroon bulbs with lighter interiors that slice easily into even rings. Sweet, mild and delicious. Excellent bunched fresh for farmers market in midsummer. Restaurant chefs love them for grilling or braising. 

Cippolini Onions (the white ones). Pronounced chip-oh-LEE-nee, this is a smaller, flat, pale onion. The flesh is a slight yellowish color and the skins are thin and papery. The color of the skin ranges from pale yellow to the light brown color of Spanish onions. These are sweeter onions, having more residual sugar than garden-variety white or yellow onions, but not as much as shallots.
The advantage to cipollinis is that they are small and flat and the shape lends them well to roasting. This combined with their sweetness makes for a lovely addition to recipes where you might want to use whole caramelized onions.

Personal note- my favorite onions for fresh eating that get even better when roasted or sauteed.

 A fingerling potato is a small, stubby,  finger-shaped type of potato may be any heritage potato cultivars. Fingerlings are varieties that naturally grow small and narrow. They are fully mature when harvested. Popular fingerling potatoes include the yellow-skinned Russian Banana, the orange-skinned French, and the Purple Peruvian. Due to their size and greater expense compared to other potatoes, fingerlings are commonly either halved and roasted as a side dish or used in salads.

This is just a small sample of what has been/is available at the farm stand on Wednesdays and Fridays and at the Rittenhouse Market in Philly and the New Amsterdam Market in New York. If you ever have any questions about any of the items available, please ask.

 Support local farmers. Support sustainable agriculture. Support organic farms in your local community.

Happy and healthy eating to all.

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