88 members and growing

Hi everyone,

This week we packed 88 veggie shares (with 2 regular CSA members not counted as they are on holiday), which is a new record. This means we have a third more active members then just before Christmas.  This is wonderful news as business people know because our weekly turnover has increased by a third, but our costs are staying more or less the same. For the first time in the history of the CSA we are starting to break even! This is where we need to be and we look forward to welcoming our one-hundred CSA member in a not too distant future.

Kilbirnie

Our pick up points are growing too and we have been talking to Heidi at the Village Green Op-Shop in Kilbirnie who has offered space for pick–ups. The shop is located at 29 Coutts Street, Kilbirnie (Opposite Westpac bank and Rita Angus Retirement Village) and is open from Monday-Friday 9-5 and Saturdays 10-4.  Picking up has to take place within these hours for now but Heidi is thinking about staying open one late evening if it makes sense, so maybe that could happen in the near future.  Let me know if you are keen to pick up from Kilbirnie, and maybe drop in at the shop and talk to Heidi, as we could start from April onwards.

Getting ready for winter and early spring

We are enjoying the last days of summer at home, with the warm sun shining into our garage-office.  We are getting ready for winter with lot of new sowing happening before it gets too cold, too wet or the days too short for the seed to germinate and grow big enough to be harvestable during winter and early spring. It’s important to time it well as young plants just do not grow if planted out too late.  Due to cold temperatures over winter, nutrients that are normally available for plant growth and plant health are locked up in the soil and cannot move freely into the root zone of plants.  We have sown lots of European and Asian brassica’s already as well as salad and leafy greens in our greenhouse that will be transplanted later on.  Outside Frank is direct sowing root crops for winter harvest.  Pumpkins and garlic have been harvested already and are stored to get us through winter.

Every year we are getting better organized and I have a good feeling about this winter. Winter is not too bad as you slowly use up your autumn’s crops, but spring is always a very difficult time as we have either finished our stored up root crops and pumpkins (preferable scenario), or they have rotted away while being stored (there is always a percentage that does not hold). New spring sowings and plantings have an enormous tendency to stretch as spring weather just makes plants come out and grow to the sun just a quick as they can - rapini time (outstretched brassica’s)!!!  

Crop of the week: Chicory

Chicories are a family of nutty bitter greens that do particularly well in Autumn. They are a European crop well loved and used in recipes from Belgium and the Netherlands, but also in Spanish and Italian dishes. It is unknown in common New Zealand cuisine.  Bitter vegetables have however an important role to play as a nutritious and healthy vegetable as contain only 15 kcal per 100g, chicory's incredibly light. It also has diuretic properties so chicory is great for detoxing and eating healthily. As with all veg, it contains fibre (approximately 2.2/100g), which assists bowel movements and digestion, as well as making you feel full.

Varieties that we grow:

Punterella Dandelion: adds a wonderful taste to salads and it can also be baked.

Radicchio: forms a head with tender but firm leafs that have a slightly bitter flavour and its burgundy-red leaves add a great splash of colour to any dish.  The slightly bitter and spicy taste mellows when it is grilled or roasted.

Sugar Loaf: forms a head like a green cos lettuce which can be cut and used as witloof, spinach, endive or lettuce. The leaves fold into dense heads being green on the outside and light yellow inside.

Sugarloaf, a member of the Chicory family, is similar to Cos Lettuce with the leaves folding into a dense head that are green on the outside and light yellow inside.  It has a nutty bitter that becomes milder as it ripens.    Sugarloaf is a good source of vitamin A, C & K, and iron.

Storage:  To keep sugarloaf for as long as possible, wash and dry it by shaking out the leaves, wrap it in a damp cloth and keep in the fridge crisper.  Don’t wrap too tightly as it may encourage rotting.

General Use:  It can be used as Witloof, Spinach, Endive or Lettuce.  The bitterness can be minimized by soaking briefly in lukewarm water before use.

Trim the stalk end and remove any damaged outer leaves before using.  Chicory can be eaten raw as a salad vegetable; added sliced to stir-fries, or braised and served with different sauces.  It tastes delicious stuffed, curried, or baked with ham, and goes well with cheese.

Grilled 1: Preheat the grill to high, trim the sugarloaf and rinse in cold water then cut into quarters lengthways.  Mix olive oil, lemon juice, seasoning and oregano, brush a baking tray with the mixture and arrange the sugarloaf on the tray brushing liberally.  Grill until tender and beginning to char.

Grilled 2: Halve or quarter, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with grated parmesan and grill over medium heat for about 5 minutes until soft but not mushy.  Even better, roll the quarters into a slice of ham and cheese, then sprinkle with parmesan and grill.

My children are not very excited about eating fresh chicories due to its unusual strong bitter taste. BUT this grilled version is so amazing that they want to eat it every day (no joke!).  

Baked: Preheat oven.  Trim stalk ends of the sugarloaf, discard any limp or tired outer leaves, then cut lengthways into quarters.  Pour olive oil over the bottom of a large shallow baking dish and arrange the sections of sugarloaf, cut-side up, in a single layer.  Pour over a little stock or water and cover with foil.  Bake for 10 minutes until tender.

Roasted: Pre-heat the oven to high.  Lay the sugarloaf on a roasting tray (cut in half lenghways if large).  Season and spoon over olive oil.  Cook for 20 minutes turning often.

Sautéed:  Heat olive oil over medium heat.  Cook garlic with red-pepper flakes until golden.  Add sugarloaf, stirring to coat.  Increase heat to medium-high and cook stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated (3-5 minutes). Stir in sea salt to taste.

Salad 1: Mix together the sugarloaf, carrot and chives.  Add olive oil, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar and toss thoroughly. Another great salad I find i

Salad 2: They make wonderful salad dressed with a strong mustard dressing or a walnut oil & balsamic vinegar dressing or a fruity olive oil, garlic lemon & salt dressing or with summer fruit. 

NOTE: I also add it last minute to any pasta dish to add some nice fresh greens. I have learned over the years that bitter endive and chicory flavours melt down with some warming treatments. So, once added last minute to a warm pasta dish it keeps it fresh crunchiness, but loses it bitter taste well enough for everyone in our family to enjoy.

This week’s CSA shares:

Fruit Shares: 1.5 kg Dayton apples and 800 grams oranges

Small Veggie Shares: 2 corn, 450 grams of beetroot, 1.5 kg of potatoes, 1 lettuce and 1.1 kg of courgette/marrow.

Large Veggie Shares: 2 corn, 450 grams of beetroot, 1.5 kg of potatoes, 1 lettuce, 400 grams of carrots, 200 grams of butter beans, 500 grams of tomatoes, 1 chicory, a bunch of basil and 1.1 kg of courgette/marrow.

Enjoy,

Josje and the Farm team