We are winding down the fall season with some tasty winter crops such as: Collards from our friends at Hammock Hollow, Murasaki Sweet Potatoes, New crop of Pigeon Peas, colorful purple stemmed Mizuna, crunchy Sunchokes, Baby French Breakfast Radishes, Turmeric, Chinese Honeys– a lovely citrus variety from our friend Jeff down the road at Melrose Organics.
Chinese Honey: This is the week i’ve been anxiously waiting for since I started this job, the chance to showcase this wonderful citrus variety that I was raised on. The Ponkan Tangerine, or better known in these parts as the Chinese Honey is a citrus hybrid (Mandarin X Pomelo). This oriental variety first appeared in the US back in 1800’s when a medical missionary in China sent fruits to a man named Carlo Roman in Hawthorne, Florida. From those fruits little baby seedlings were grown and gave way to this beautiful citrus variety unique to this part of Florida. This citrus is distinguished by its medium thick, extremely aromatic, and oily rind. Each fruit contains 10 to 12 easily separable segments with a pale orange flesh, tender and juicy with a mild and pleasant flavor. Easy to peel and easy to share. My father planted three of these fruit trees about 45 years ago on the shores of Newnans lake where I call home. I grew up walking through the swamp eating these honeys and spitting out the seeds into that swampy, fertile ground. At one time we had about 30 fruiting trees scattered, under the cypress canopy, throughout our property. They are pretty self sustainable and easy to care for. We would occasionally fertilize with organic swamp matter that we scooped up from the lake with our old ford tractor. Unfortunately the citrus greening has slowly killed off our trees and we are lucky if 10% the fruits stay on to reach maturity. Luckily Jeff from nearby Melrose Organics grows this variety and has a viable crop this year. We are very excited and fortunate to be able to share this wonderful variety with you during this holiday season!
Pigeon Pea: It’s often referred to as a pigeon pea or gandul. This plant arrived to the new world via India and Africa and the natives call it frijol de palo, which means the bean tree. This legume is low maintenance and we have been working with Eco- a seed saving non profit out of Fort Myers, to discover new varieties that will grow well in this area and be economically viable. Unfortunately, this pea did not work as well as we hoped so this will probably be the first and last time you receive it. The shell is not edible! You will have to shell the peas, and this is a little more difficult than we had hoped, alas inside that stubborn shell is a beautiful crimson-red pea. Cook this pea variety as you would any other pea- put the peas in a pot over the stovetop and cover with one or two inches of water (maybe a little less). Cover and cook the beans over medium heat for about 1 1/2 hours, until tender. Keep in mind this small amount will not yield a large portion, it’s more like a sample or a colorful addition to a rice dish, a pot of beans, or use it raw in your salad.
Sunchokes: You don’t need to peel them; the skin is edible. Simply scrub them clean under cold running water with a stiff brush. If you have large chunks make sure you break them apart to get that dirt hidden in the cracks. Cut them up into bite sized chunks and throw them in the crockpot with turnips, radishes, carrots or other root veggies. You can also slice them and toss them in your salad to give an added crunch, they have a similar texture to a water chestnut and is a good substitute. Try them roasted…
1 pound organic cleaned Sunchokes
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Cut tubers into 1-inch pieces. Mix olive oil, thyme, garlic, and sea salt together in a large bowl; add Sunchoke pieces and toss to coat. Arrange coated pieces in one evenly-spaced layer on a baking sheet. Roast in the preheated oven until Sunchokes are tender, 35 to 45 minutes.
Mizuna–Mizuna is an Asian green that is commonly found in baby lettuce mixes, It’s a mild tasting green that can be enjoyed raw or cooked. Here’s some favorite quick and easy ways to use it from Early Morning Farm.
Salad. Wash and chop the salad into bite size pieces. Mix with lettuce or any greens for salad. Try spinach or arugula or even by itslef.
Pasta. Even Asian greens can be tossed with pasta and fresh parmesan. Boil noodles of your choice al dente. While the noodles are cooking sauté chopped mizuna in olive oil with garlic. When the noodles are ready, drain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Toss the noodles, parm, and a bit of the pasta water together in a skillet over low heat. Add more pasta water if the mixture looks dry. Serve with crushed red pepper and extra cheese!
Risotto. Another Italian inspired use for mizuna! Stir chopped and cleaned mizuna into a batch of risotto at the end of cooking. It will wilt perfectly. Try pairing with mushrooms for an earthy dish.
Stir-fry. Pair with any vegetables in your share, lots of garlic and ginger, and your protein of choice.
Soup. Toss them into any vegetable soup at the end of cooking. Mizuna would also pair well chicken noodle or lightly creamy soups.
Grain Salads. This Mizuna Quinoa Salad with Lemon Scallion Vinaigrette is sure to be a crowd pleaser! Toss raw mizuna with farro, quinoa, rice, barley, or any grain for fresh salad perfect for picnics and potlucks.
Sauté. The simplest is last! Wash mizuna and then toss in a pan with garlic and olive oil. Leave whole or chop into bite-sized pieces.
Turmeric– Famous for its compounds that have powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties. This member of the ginger family has been used in Indian Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines for centuries to heal wounds, treat skin conditions, inflammations and infections. For a healthy snack you can grate it into plain yogurt, with vanilla and a little honey, maybe some grated carrot too. Be careful, it will stain anything, especially your grater or cutting board, grating it will make your fingernails yellow for a day or two but you can wear gloves if that’s not the look you are going for.
This seasonal juice recipe, contains winter root vegetables, citrus, and one very special healing ingredient. Fresh Turmeric Root.
A New Year- Fresh Turmeric Tonic
4 medium organic carrots
1 small golden beet ( 2- 3 inches in diameter) scrubbed and cut in half (optional)
1 orange, peeled & 1 apple, cored
1 tablespoon sliced fresh turmeric root ( peels are OK) more to taste. 1-2 tablespoons fresh ginger
Juice ingredients in juicer together to yield one 10 oz glass of juice
French Breakfast Radishes– Pinky sized, tender radishes were pulled from the ground a bit earlier than usual due to the freeze on Tuesday night, nevertheless, they make for a delicious snack. Make sure to cut the tops off and give them a good wash before you throw them in your salad.
Murasaki Sweet Potato- Crimson skin with a white flesh, these little fingerling potatoes are perfect for roasting. Don’t waste your time peeling them, give them a good wash and cut them up into bite size pieces or just enjoy them whole.
Collards from farmer Charlie Andrews at Hammock Hollow Farms in Hawthorne, Florida. Charlie has supplied restaurant kitchens from Jacksonville to Orlando with fresh local produce since 1985. Collards pair excellently with smoky flavors, but there are many preparations beyond the Southern tradition of using a ham hock. Collards are high in calcium, vitamin C, and fiber. The stems of collards are edible, but take longer to cook than the leaves so they are often removed. Adding a acidic seasoning like vinegar or lemon helps reduce the bitterness and give collard greens a great flavor.You can store washed and/or chopped greens in a container in the refrigerator for quick use throughout the week.
Slow Cooker Season
This time of year we like to pull out the slow cooker for an easy, low maintenance, soup that can be enjoyed throughout the week. ‘Tis the season to purge your fridge from the abundance of root vegetables stock piling in your fridge from this season’s CSA shares, and there is nothing better than a soup or stew for this cold weather!
Simply toss your washed and chopped greens (collards, kale, mizuna-(at the end)) into the slow cooker, add some stock (vegetable, chicken, beef), seasonings (spices, salt, pepper), vegetables- garlic, carrots, turnips, radishes etc. Throw in some canned or cooked beans (kidney, white, black), or a premade canned soup (I was cleaning out my pantry) that contains some rice and other veggies. Cook on low for about 6-8 hours and serve warm with some biscuits!