Wednesday, September 25, 2013

CSA Harvest Week 20: Jungle Sweet Potatoes

Week 20, suddenly we have arrived at the end of the CSA.  We hope you have enjoyed this year’s bounty.  There were weeks when we weren’t sure if the vegetables would pull through, but now in the fall most crops did pretty well.  Eggplant may have been a bust, but we’ve never had so many delicious tomatoes this late in the season (that’s right tomatoes and cherry tomatoes are still in your boxes this week! Last year there were only small amounts for the last 5 weeks and none at all the last week).

We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again--we Bluebird Farm couldn’t exist without your support throughout the year!  You and your families are the backbone of what we do.  We think about our CSA families all the time and plan our garden to provide a bountiful harvest through the season.
William on the 1949 Allis Chalmers tractor
Farm road at Silver Creek, where we lease 10 acres 

William making tractor adjustments 
Thomas in the giant tomatoes
Hannah with cucumbers

Keegan and Hannah in the cucumber patch

We hope you will look forward to next year’ CSA boxes as much as we do!  If you’ve signed up for the fall CSA you don’t even have to wait.  We will see you next Wednesday October, 2nd.  We apologize if we weren’t able to squeeze you into the fall CSA.  We wanted to keep the numbers lower because it’s our first time.  We do offer 2014 early bird discounts in December and January for our returning CSA members.

But, even if you aren’t in the fall CSA you can keep getting our delicious organic produce through the fall!   Farmers Markets Continue through October.  Come see Marie in Morganton on Saturdays 8-noon, in Hickory Wednesdays 10-3, and William in Hickory Saturdays 8-1 (not October 12th, cancelled due to October Fest).

Farm News  
This week’s main project was digging sweet potatoes.  Sweet potatoes are an interesting crop from start to finish.  They don’t use seeds like most things, and you don’t plant the potato like white potatoes.  Instead you place sweet potatoes in a warm, moist, loose bed in May.  They send up small shoots called slips.  We snap the slips off the potato and plant those.  They need lots of water in the first day or two because they have no root system.  But once they get going, watch out!  The young plants needed about two weedings to keep the weeds at bay.  But after that the sweet potato vines just take over.  We planted 8 rows 3 feet apart.  The jungle grew so thick and uniform that when we went to dig them out we couldn’t tell what was row and what was path! 

            This first step to harvest is to find the base of the vine.  This can be more challenging than it sounds.  Then we clip the vine back and roll it into the path.  Once a bed has been given its vine haircut we are ready to dig.  We tried digging a few last Friday.  The dry ground thwarted our best efforts.  It took way too long to dig only a few plants.  But after Saturday’s refreshing rain the digging went much smoother!

            We’re not done after digging.  Next we had to round up a pile of boxes and crates (we’re always running short of containers around here!).  Then collect up the potatoes off the surface where we left them and haul them all the way back to the greenhouse for curing.  Sweet potatoes store best when cured.  Curing involves keeping them warm (over 80 degrees) and dry for a few days. 

New Sweet Potato Care
The potatoes in your box today are uncured.  This means they have a little more delicate skins like new potatoes.  They won’t store as long so use them in the next few weeks.  Do Not Store in the Fridge! Temperatures below 50 degrees severely damage the roots.

Farm Fresh Harvest
Sweet Potatoes- Do Not Store in the Fridge! Temperatures below 50 degrees severely damage the roots.  Uncured, with fragile skins, so eat within the next few weeks to a month.

Collards- Large leaves, but young and tender still.  Collards can used very similarly to kale, or steam and use as a wrapper for stuffed “grape leaves”! 
Swiss Chard
Baby Lettuce mix-
Arugula- Pair it with sweet dried cranberries, honey mustard dressing, and toasted walnuts.   For those of you who think it a little too spicy raw, try this.  Make an arugula pesto with walnuts. Check out this blog post!
Radish…grate, slice, or chop and add salt and olive oil.  Let marinate for about 5-10 minutes before eating.
Bell peppers- Crunchy!  They are turning red and sweet! They ripen with sunshine in late August and September! The cooler nights are slowing the peppers down.  We’ll miss them when they go.
Tomatoes- The tomatoes have full ripe flavors since we grow them under the hoophouse, which keeps the rain from watering the flavor down.
Cherry tomatoes- Little gems of sunshine!

Marie and Elisa

Thyme-Roasted Sweet Potatoes Epicurious | November 2005
by Kathryn Matthews
This slightly spicy, moist side dish is both deeply satisfying and nutritious. Sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber, giving them a low glycemic index (this means that they slow the body's absorption of sugar and help regulate blood-sugar levels). A bonus for weight watchers: All those complex carbs will make you feel fuller longer than white potatoes do.
Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch-thick rounds
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup fresh thyme leaves, plus 6 thyme sprigs for garnish

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 450°F. In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and toss. Arrange potato slices in single layer on heavyweight rimmed baking sheet or in 13x9-inch baking dish. Place on top rack of oven and roast until tender and slightly browned, about 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with thyme sprigs.

We love the flavors of chorizo, black beans, and sweet potatoes in this time of stew. 
Variation: We follow the recipe, except we cook the chorizo in a separate pan and stir it into the stew when adding the rinsed black beans.  We also make this recipe without the mango.
Brazilian Black Bean Stew

recipe image
Submitted By: CRVGRL
Photo By: cebledsoe
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Ready In: 45 Minutes
Servings: 6
"Sweet potatoes, mango, black beans, and cilantro are featured in this flavorful stew from South America."
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 pound chorizo sausage, chopped
1/3 pound cooked ham, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (1 pound) sweet potatoes, peeled and
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with
1 small hot green chile pepper, diced
1 1/2 cups water
2 (16 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed
and drained
1 mango - peeled, seeded and diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat, and cook the chorizo and ham 2 to 3 minutes. Place the onion in the pot, and cook until tender. Stir in garlic, and cook until tender, then mix in the sweet potatoes, bell pepper, tomatoes with juice, chile pepper, and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes, until sweet potatoes are tender.
Stir the beans into the pot, and cook uncovered until heated through. Mix in the mango and cilantro, and season with salt.

Printed from 9/20/2011

New York Times

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad With Black Beans and Chili Dressing

Time: 45 minutes
4 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large onion, preferably red, chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh hot chili, like jalapeño
1 clove garlic, peeled
Juice of 2 limes
2 cups cooked black beans, drained (canned are fine)
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro.
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put sweet potatoes and onions on a large baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, toss to coat and spread out in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, turning occasionally, until potatoes begin to brown on corners and are just tender inside, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven; keep on pan until ready to mix with dressing.
2. Put chilies in a blender or mini food processor along with garlic, lime juice, remaining olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Process until blended.
3. Put warm vegetables in a large bowl with beans and bell pepper; toss with dressing and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to a day.
Yield: 4 servings.

Braised Swiss Chard with Asiago
This is a yummy Swiss Chard idea for quick and easy garden fresh cooking.    Try playing around with the favors however you may imagine it!
·         1 clove garlic, minced
·         1 medium onion, diced
·         1 bunch Swiss Chard, stems and leaves separated.
·         Lemon juice
·         Asiago, Parmesan, or Romano cheese
1.     Dice upper half of stems (you may also dice the entire length of the stem for stronger flavor).  Roughly chop the leaves into 1-2 inch pieces. 
2.    Sauté 1 clove garlic, 1 diced onion, and diced chard stems over medium low heat in 3 tablespoons olive oil for 5 minutes.
3.    Add ¼ cup of water and chopped chard leaves. Cover and lightly steam in the pan until the leaves are tender and still bright green, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4.    Uncover, add a dash of lemon juice.  Grate your aged cheese of choice and toss over your favorite carb like fettuccine, cous cous, quinoa etc…

Tip: Feel free to run wild with the flavors based on what is in season in the garden! Add some dice zucchini or summer squash, more garlic, fresh oregano, and perhaps little cherry tomatoes cut in half. 

Stuffed Peppers (From From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce)
A little oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 onions, chopped
3 cups raw brown rice         
6 cups water, chicken or vegetable stock, or tomato juice
½ teaspoon allspice
½ cup almonds, chopped
1 cup chopped tomatoes
¾ pound cheddar chease, grated
Salt and pepper
9 large peppers, tops cut off, seeds removed

Heat oil in a large skillet; add and sauté garlic and onions.  Add rice and brown about 5 minutes.  Add desired liquid and allspice.  Cover and cook until rice is done, about 40 minutes.  Toast almonds in dry skillet or hot oven several minutes, tossing often.  Stir in tomatoes, cheese, almonds, and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook peppers in boiling water 2 minutes.  Drain and stuff peppers with rice mixture.  Bake 350 degrees 30 minutes.  Makes 9 servings.

Late Summer Bruschetta
 (from From Asparagus to Zucchini: A guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce)
2-3 large tomatoes
1 crunchy sweet pepper
1 medium sweet onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
Small handful fresh basil, chopped (optional)
Crusty bread (like baguette)
Shredded mozzarella or grated parmesan (optional)

Chop the vegetables into a midsize dice.  Combine with garlic 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, and optional basil.  Slice baguette down the middle and lay the two sides cut side up.  Brush with additional 1-2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle on cheese, if using.  Broil bread for several minutes until bread or cheese browns a bit.  Top the sections (you may cut them smaller, if desired) with some of the vegetable mixture.  Makes 4 servings

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