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The Last CSA Haul of 2014

November 19, 2014

Calendars be damned. As far as I’m concerned today is the first day of winter. It’s not because of the snow in Buffalo, or even the big fat flakes I saw falling outside my Albany window yesterday morning.

Technically we still have over a month of fall before winter kicks in. And usually, I’m all about holding these kinds of lines. People tend to rush fall with the early arrival of pumpkin beers while it’s still summer. But who in their right minds would rush winter?

I’m in no rush. I’m just compelled to call them as I see them. All the leaves have fallen from the trees. I’ve cleaned out the gutters, and have done my final rake. There’s nothing left to fall. And yesterday was the last pickup from the Roxbury Farm CSA for the year. All they’ve got left are winter storage vegetables. The harvest is over. Winter is here.

Just for fun, let’s talk about the last crops that were pulled from the ground in Kinderhook.

We got a butternut squash, a bunch of curly kale, a big bag of carrots, a short stalk of Brussels sprouts, a brown bag of sweet potatoes, a quart of russet potatoes, 3 onions, a quart of red beets, a quart of watermelon radishes, one knobby celery root, and a big green cabbage. Since we sign up for the fruit share, it also came with a mixed bag of apples.

Not bad for under $30. Especially considering their farming practices.

My favorite part about the CSA has always been that it provides a deeper understanding of the changing seasons. My first pickup this year was in July. If you recall, I wasn’t expecting to be able to join a CSA at all this season. But I got very lucky.

Back then, almost everything was green. Spring is all about the greenery. Now it’s mostly shades of orange and brown.

This was such a bountiful year. And I can’t say I’m going to miss all the salad greens. Which I have to say is probably a very good thing. When you eat seasonally, and enjoy the bounty of the weekly harvest, it’s not uncommon to burn out of a favorite vegetable.

Roxbury’s corn was great this year. And the first few ears were such a welcome sight. But I ate so much good corn this summer, I’m full. I’m content. By the time winter’s snow starts to melt and I’m enticed by thoughts of spring and summer, surely I’ll start dreaming of those sweet, grassy, sundrenched ears, blistered on the grill and slathered with butter and salt. And knowing how good the stuff from the farm will be, I’ll have the resolve to avoid the super early specimens that arrive from god-knows-where at the grocery store.

Speaking of things blistered on the grill, that crap gas grill held up fine. It didn’t rust out. It served its purpose. It didn’t entirely drain me of my will to live. I’m not sure if I’m hearty enough to use it during the winter, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

But the cold weather is also getting me excited for other things. I’m eager to start returning to the winter farmers markets. The next couple of weekends I’ll be away, but I’m hoping that Migliorelli will still have some broccoli rabe when I get back in December. And I’m looking forward to more winter cooking. I’ve already made my first big batch of polenta, and I’ve been simmering beans like a champ. The chest freezer is humming, and soon I’ll be making another batch of chicken stock.

Rolf’s pork store is on the agenda for later today, and I’m really really hoping they have some of their smoky ham hocks available for a big pot of split pea soup.

The big question now is do I get a pressure cooker to make some of these tasks quicker and arguably more delicious? Or do I hold off in favor of using the stove to heat the house and fill it with enticing aromas for hours on end?

That’s going to take some soul searching.

And as much as I’m dreading winter, February isn’t so far away. Yes, I know February is still winter. But that’s when Roxbury starts taking members for 2015. That’s when I get the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s when I’ll know that even though the earth is frozen and covered with snow, that eventually it will thaw and reveal an incredible bounty.

Yes, some of that bounty will be watermelon radishes. Seriously, I can’t get anybody in the house to eat these things. I may have to resort to boiling them and mashing the little buggers with butter and maybe a bit of stock. I’ll just have to figure out what to call it, because I have reservations that the kids will go for mashed radishes or even radish puree.

Any ideas?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. theresa518 permalink
    November 19, 2014 11:24 am

    This was my first year as a CSA member and I am so glad I selected Roxbury. It was a complete delight and a huge money saver (an added bonus). I had great fun trying to find ways to use the produce that had been off my radar. As far as the watermelon radishes go – I dice, julienne or thin slice (both with the mandolin) and use them raw in salads, slaws, etc….but I also use raw Brussels sprouts so I am probably weird. I am going to give the winter shares a try because the price is right and it forces me to be creative!

  2. Sarah permalink
    November 19, 2014 11:37 am

    Watermelon radishes are my favorite! They’re best raw–though, to be fair, I have never actually cooked them, so maybe I’m not qualified to say that. I like them in a root vegetable panzanella (like this http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2006/12/holding-the-gray-salt/) to add some summery crunch, but my favorite preparation is definitely more adult than kid friendly. Thinly sliced, with a sliver of roasted beet (yellow is prettiest, but the red ones from Roxbury are fine), few sections of blood orange, and small bit of ricotta salata, garnished with scallion, salt, and sambal. I plan on making that as a Thanksgiving appetizer–it’s beautiful and delicious.

  3. November 19, 2014 3:54 pm

    I grew a ton of radishes this past season. Once I sliced them up, caramelized them with onion/shallots, threw in the greens to saute, and then put the whole mess in a cheese quesadilla. Depending on your children this might be acceptable. I thought it was good.

  4. November 19, 2014 10:23 pm

    I don’t know anything about radishes. But reserve judgement on the grill until you fire it up next year. The el cheapo gas grills seem to go from blue flames to yellow flames about a week after the 1 year warranty is up.

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