Wednesday, October 12, 2016

CSA Week 18 and Guest Post -Mangels

Things are winding down here, but there's still so much to be done and lots of food in the garden. Despite what appeared to be a heavy frost Monday night, most things survived, except the new beans that were coming along so well. But nothing ventured nothing gained. I was late getting them in the ground.
Tuesdays baskets contained carrots, sugar beets,  a stir fry blend (arugula, tatsoi, mustard greens, chard), sweet peppers, malabar spinach, leaf celery and likely something else I can't remember.
Last week when I send out a note asking folks if they wanted to try the mangels, I knew Monique would be a taker, bless her soul. And even more she wrote a blog post about her adventures in mangels. So if you took mangels as well, here are a few ideas for you.

Mangels, not just food for cattle!
Long known as cattle food for farmers, mangels have been around since the 1800.  Mainly used to feed farm animals as it grows well and stores well.  But it is not just good for farmers, it is deliciously sweet and remains fairly tender even when large. Stores well if kept from freezing and you can eat the greens too!
Linda asked me last week if I wanted to bring some home and try some, so I said why not.  She told me it’s like a beet but not as strong as a red beet.  I tried to find the nutrition facts on mangals during my research but there wasn’t much available online because they say they are not that popular enough to eat.  But I did find out while researching mangels, that you can cook them and freeze them in a vacuumed sealed bag for up to 2 years or in a Ziploc bag for 6-8 months.
So I thought what can I make with these mangels?  

I love using my slow cooker because you can put anything in it to cook and walk away.  So I did some research and found that lots of people cooked their beets in the slow cooker with foil but I am not a huge fan of using foil so I decided I was going to try without.  I put two cups of water in the bottom of my slow cooker with some salt, cleaned the mangels really good to remove all the dirt and cut the tops and bottom off.  I placed two mangels in the slow cooker because that’s all I could fit, set it for 4 hours on high and then left to run errands.  When I returned they were done and ready.  I let them cool a bit so I could handle them while I removed the skin, which was super easy, then I let them cool completely to room temperature.  I decided to make a mangel hummus with some of them and I froze my hummus in small containers so I can use later.  I still had a lot of mangel left so I searched on pinterest and found a chocolate beet cake recipe and substituted the beets for mangels, it was moist and super delicious.  
I hope you enjoy the mangel hummus and find other great ways to cook and eat mangels.

Mangel Hummus
  • 2 cups cooked mangels
  • 1 can chick peas (drained and rinse)
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1-2 garlic gloves
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Pepper to taste

Place mangels and chick peas in food processor and pulse to combine. Add in the rest of the ingredients and process the mixture for a full 2-3 minutes or until the hummus is super creamy, stopping to scrape down the side of the bowl.  Serve with veggies!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

CSA Week 17 and Farm News

The night temperatures are dipping and things are changing around here, and probably are where you are too.
It rained as well and that was the biggest change of all.
The fall crops I put in popped up and I was able to harvest lots of arugula today from a reasonably small patch, with another patch due to catch up soon.
The mustard greens, chinese greens and radishes I seeded look good, as do the turnips. It is amazing what a bit of rain will do.

As I dug the soil to retrieve the jerusalem artichokes I was surprised though at how dry the soil was underneath. We've got a lot of catching up to do after such a dry spring/summer and lack of snow last winter.

I'm not complaining though, it has been a pretty good season and like most, there have been some things that have done very well, and some things that did not. I'll take a dry season over a wet one anytime.
One thing that has worried me in the garden this year is the appearance of stink bugs . This isn't the first year I have noted them in the garden, but it is the first year I saw them in such numbers and saw the damage they can do. They were tough on the tomatoes, and I lost lots of early fruit to them, as they inject an enzyme into the fruit which liquifies it enabling them to slurp it out. Tomatoes with stink bug damage have obvious mottling and are not saleable or edible. Good thing I planted lots of plants. Buggers. I'll be notifying the Ministry of my trials with them this year as they continue their deadly march northward into Canada, following on the trail of ticks.
From what I can understand they are difficult to stop. Be aware that they like to overwinter in homes, so you may spot them in your home. I know if I see them in here I will not be kind and I'll also be mulling over my strategy to deal with them next year in the garden.

This weeks baskets were pretty full. The lumpy bumpy jerusalem artichokes (sun chokes) made their first appearance for my Tuesday folks. Tomatillos, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, arugula, kale/broccoli shoots, curled parsley, leaf celery, garlic, a few dahlias to cheer you up and possibly something else I have forgotten I added.

Some of you asked for and received mangels and a whole whack of herbs for drying for the winter. The herbs are pleased with the weather right now and doing well.
What to do with the jerusalem artichokes which, incidentally are neither from Jerusalem or in the artichoke family? I tell people to use them as they would potatoes. Roast them, mash them, saute them or of course make a delicious soup with them.
A wonderful recipe for Sunchoke and Garlic soup can be found here.
If you read the preamble to the recipe, you will be made aware that jerusalem artichokes can cause gas, so be aware of that as you begin your adventure with them. Eating them prior to a first date with someone is not advisable.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

CSA Week 13 (14) and Life on the Farm

Mollie is back at school and the wood for the winter is in the driveway waiting to be stacked under my shelter.
Hard to believe it could be September and hard to believe it is still so hot and dry.

Yes, I am a bit tired and every few weeks I'll check online for travel bargains in November. It's nice to dream and have something to look forward to. At this point in the season, I describe my energy level as "crawling towards the finish line", the finish line being the end of the season.
It has been a lot of work this year, and I think the hard work has paid off for the most part. The most disappointing crop for me has been the beans, and why they did poorly is anyone's guess. There have been some, but not nearly what there should have been. I put it down to the drought, but I watered reasonably well, or so I thought.

Now it's time to think about growing for the winter, and time to clear the tomatoes out of the hoop houses and get the plastic ready for the winter.
I've seeded some new items outside, including turnips, kohlrabi, radishes arugula and beans. The days are shortening and the nights are getting a bit cooler and it would be a miracle if the beans made it, but they popped up pretty quickly and the heat is pushing them on. So with any luck, some of these new crops should be in the shares in a month or so.

Newly planted beans-good luck
The last date of my Tuesday deliveries is well into October, the 23rd I believe and Wednesday finishes the week before.
It has been a great group of people I've had in the CSA this year, and I thank everyone for their continued support.
I've been grateful for any and all feedback I have received, because I will tell you honestly, lots of times it is a guessing game. Everyone is different and what is too much produce for one person, is not enough for others. When people came to the open house I held, it was nice to get feedback on certain crops, because I was unsure how they were going over. The consensus appeared to be that papalo was not a hit with most shareholders, but the NZ spinach and malabar spinach were, and there could never be too many tomatoes.
Of course that's why it is good to have get togethers like that because it lets me know if I am on the right track, I can identify mystery items and of course you can see what I have been working all season at.

Very special De Djerba carrots
The baskets today were pretty heavy. Yes, that was one beet in the share, or mangel as it were, a big one and I figured it could stand alone. Also carrots, NZ spinach, chard or broccoli spouts, tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers, herbs (parsley, sage, basil), small onions, garlic,  and some sort of bean, lima or cowpea or tomatillos. Possibly more.
If you are looking for a quick and easy dish, grab the carrots.
This recipe is one I have made for years and is very simple, but good. Brown a pound of crumbled firm tofu in cooking oil of your choice, I use coconut. Shred a pound or so of carrot and cook with the tofu until softened. Add soy sauce to taste, and voila, a very easy main dish which can be accompanied with a green salad, or of course a tomato salad.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

CSA Week 12 and Summer Tomato Panzanella

This summer has had it's highs and lows, like every other season, every other year.

But some lows have been very low.

One such very sad event has been the passing earlier this month of long time seed saver and gardener Brian Calvert. If you have attended the Seedy Saturdays I organize over the years, you may remember Brian quite well.

Brian managed my seed exchange table for me at Seedy Saturday and perhaps you remember a conversation with him. He came well supplied with seed he had saved from his garden, all labelled and ready to share, and he eagerly told the story of the seed.

Brian was also an avid naturalist, animal rights defender and could tell stories with the best of them. A retired math professor from Brock, he kept his days busy and was known by many.  I think of the many conversations we had, and the many, many events we attended because of common interests.

You will be missed Brian.  I am sure your garden overfloweth.

It is nice to have had a bit of rain lately, but some of it, it seems, is localized to my area.
Good thing too.
I've just planted beans, a long shot I know. Why not though? I've heard two versions of the fall weather, the first being extra mild weather for September and October, and the other that we should brace for snow in early October. So, I choose to go with the first, and have planted 2 types of beans that are supposed to mature in 43 days. Will I be picking beans in October? I doubt it, but why not try?
The other things I have planted are turnips, kohlrabi, and arugula. I expect them to do something. Lettuce too of course, but it seems to have trouble sprouting because yes, the ground is still very dry.

The tomatoes keep coming, yes they do. Todays shares included 3 quarts, lots of different sizes, shapes and colours. Beans of some sort (lima, edamame or cowpea), summer squash, peppers hot and sweet, swiss chard, lettuce, garlic, beets (some of them monster sugar beets) and a smattering of herbs.

What to do with all those tomatoes? My paper, The Hamilton Spectator provide a great recipe tonight, so as originally printed in The Washington Post, this recipe is by Tim Carmen.

Summer Tomato Panzanella

3 cups torn sourdough bread-8 ox loaf
1/4 cup olive oil
2 1/4 lbs heirloom tomatoes, bite sized pieces
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp garlic
1 Tbsp minced shallot
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
freshly cracked black pepper
10 fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Arrange bread on baking sheet, drizzle with half of the oil, toss to coat.
Bake for 15 minutes, until bread is dried, but not browned.
Place tomatoes in colander, sprinkle with salt and let them sit for 20 minutes, tossing gently every few minutes
Transfer the tomatoes to a serving bowl, along with bread. toss.Reserve the tomato juices in their bowl, add garlic, shallots and vinegar to the juices and whisk in remaining tbsp of oil. Season with salt and pepper and pour over tomato bread mixture. Scatter basil over salad and serve immediately.