From the Land 1/11

announcements As you know, we’re implementing a couple changes at CSA. If you have a partial share, you’ll pick up your four items at the table in the corner, next to the fridge (not the center table). If you have a full share, make sure you get all eight items (from both tables). If you have a dairy share, please make sure you return your jars every week! Our providers depend on receiving the same amount of jars back each week so they always have enough. Put your jars in the hanging jar holder in the slot with your name. This will help us keep track of who is returning their jars. At the end of the day, we’ll note who did not return their jars and charge a jar deposit appropriately. Thanks for your cooperation! food for thought
chioggia beets, carrots, fennel, dill, daikon radishes, oranges, spinach, and red potatoes from Crooked Sky!

veg of the week
chioggia beets: Beta Vulgaris

Yes, we featured beets just a month or so ago, but these lovely sweets are worth talking about again, especially because we’ve been getting “chioggias”. These beautiful striped root veggies were recently listed on Sunset magazine’s “top ten feel-good foods”, due to their high content of fiber, potassium, iron, folic acid, and betacyanin (the antioxidant that gives them their rich pink color).

Beets tend to be one of those vegetables that a person either loves or hates. I’m in the “love” category, but apparently even President Obama hasn’t gotten over what was probably an early canned-beet trauma. My suggestion to those poor souls who think they don’t like them: eat them anyway, because they’re so good for you! Try to like the “dirt” flavor, or try to cover it by pickling your beets! Slice them thin, try them cooked or raw, and my guess is that you’ll discover that you really (maybe secretly) like them! Be aware: some people are more sensitive than others to the tannin in raw beets that can cause a dryness or slight burning in the back of the throat. If you find this is true, don’t worry – it only lasts a couple minutes. And next time, try cooking them, as the tannin doesn’t survive heat. Chioggia beets are sweeter and milder than other red beets, so they may be a good place to start. Below are some recipes that specifically call for chioggia beets, created or posted specifically by people who “hate” beets. Enjoy!

These days, it seems every food product claims to be healthy. “Greenwashing” refers to the marketing spin used to (often deceptively) promote the perception that a company’s practices are environmentally friendly. This greenwashing trend is seen on egg cartons too: they claim to be “free-range” or “organic”, but beware – these eggs are not all created equal! Unfortunately, most of these hens are raised on “organic” farms in which they hardly see the light of day, have only 1 1/2 square feet of living space per chicken, or who’s “access to the outdoors” includes only a small screened-in porch. Not all free-range claims are deceptive though; many farms obtain a true standard by raising chickens that have full access to the outdoors and are therefore able to scratch and peck for their own grass, weed seeds, bugs and worms, supplemented with high quality organic grains if necessary. The difference in cost is reflected in these eggs also: one should assume that there is a drastic difference in quality between a $1.99/dz and a $5.50/dz, even if both claim to be “free-range”.
Cornucopia Institute recently investigated the practices of over 100 “free-range” egg farms, and created a scorecard documenting these practices. They rated them from “5: exemplary; beyond organic” to “1: ethically deficient; industrial organics/no meaningful outdoor access and/or none were open enough to participate”. They also included “private label”: those produced for grocers or distributors with the aim of increasing their presence in the organic marketplace. As to be expected, the “5”s are small, diverse farms that provided to their hens ample pasture or movable houses that rotate pastures. They sell mostly locally or regionally, usually through farmers markets, cooperatives, or CSAs. On the other extreme, the “1”s are industrial-scale producers that provide the bare minimum of outdoor access, which can mean a small door or a covered concrete porch that actively discourages the chickens from going outside. Unfortunately, there are some recognizable names on the list, including eggs commonly found at local supermarkets under their organic brand, or even at local natural foods grocery stores. You can visit to view the scorecard.
While none of our local farms were part of the study, we strive to provide eggs in the CSA Store that meet the “beyond organic” category. We know that providing chickens with quality access to the outdoors, the opportunity to scratch and peck for food, and eating lots of fresh greens, grass and bugs makes happy hens that lay high quality eggs.
Besides the treatment of the animals, what are the benefits of an ethically-produced egg? We know they cost more, so is it worth it? Mother Earth News did a nutritional analysis of eggs. Their 2007 study revealed that, compared to supermarket eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture contained 1/3 less cholesterol, 1/4 less saturated fat, 2/3 more vitamin A, 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids, 3 times more vitamin E, and 7 times more beta carotene! A more recent study also revealed a presence of 4 to 6 times the amount of vitamin D. Check out the study at
beet carpaccio
adapted from
for salad:

  • 1 lb chioggia beets, trimmed (and peeled if desired)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup roasted pistachio nutmeats
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup radish greens or other microgreens
for dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar or honey
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt and white pepper
Thinly slice the beets with a mandoline slicer.  Place the slices into a bowl and toss with 1/4 cup lemon juice.  Set aside. (The lemon juice will help preserve the color of the beets when you cook them, so let them sit at least 10 minutes while you prep everything else.)
Make the dressing: Mix together vinegar, sour cream, tarragon, and sugar with a wire whisk or in a food processor until well-blended.  Slowly add the olive oil, while whisking constantly.  (This creates an emulsion).  Add salt and white pepper to taste.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Bring water to a boil in a large pot that has a steamer tray.  If you like, add salt and a splash of lemon juice to the water.  Once boiling, place beet slices on the streamer tray (it’s alright if they overlap slightly).  Cover and steam for 5-6 minutes, or until tender yet firm.  Briefly shock the beets in an ice bath, then drain.
Layer the beets and onions on four small plates.  Sprinkle with pistachios and feta cheese crumbles.  Make sure the dressing is well-stirred, then lightly drizzle over the salad.  Top with radish greens.
dirty beets
adapted from
Get yourself some beets. Any sort of beets will do, but the chioggia beets are nice and mild, though any sort of baby beets will be pretty sweet as well. Get yourself some other sort of root vegetable. Purple potatoes make a dramatic dish, as do turnips. Dice all of the vegetables. The more you hate beets, the smaller the pieces of beet should be. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the beets and whatever vegetables you’ve diced. Cook until the veggies have shrunk a bit and look a little crispy and caramelized. Eat.
halibut with roasted beets, beet greens, and dill-orange gremolata
adapted from
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange peel
  • 3 medium (1 1/2- to 2-inch) beets with green tops attached; beets trimmed and scrubbed, beet greens very coarsely chopped (4 to 6 cups)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 4 6- to 7-ounce halibut fillets or mahi-mahi fillets (about 1 inch thick)
Preheat oven to 450°F. Brush large rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon oil. Mix dill and peel in small bowl for gremolata. Place beets in medium pot; add enough water to cover beets halfway. Cover and cook on rolling boil until just tender. Uncover and drain. Cool beets slightly. Peel and cut into 1/4- to 1/3-inch-thick slices. Place beets in medium glass bowl. Add 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon gremolata, and shallots. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss well. Toss beet greens in another medium bowl with 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Spread beet slices in single layer on half of prepared baking sheet. Mound beet greens on other half of baking sheet. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper; place fish fillets atop beet greens. Brush fish with remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Sprinkle fish with 2 tablespoons gremolata.
Roast fish and vegetables until fish is just opaque in center, about 8 minutes. Divide fish and vegetables among plates. Sprinkle with remaining gremolata and serve.
chilled beet, orange and dill soup
adapted from
  • 1 bunch beets, cooked and julienned. Reserve cooking liquid.
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 1/2 cups finely diced unpeeled English hothouse cucumber (about 1/2 large)
  • Additional chopped fresh dill

Combine half of beets, half of reserved beet liquid and half of orange juice in blender. Blend until smooth. Blend in half of buttermilk and 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped dill. Transfer to large bowl. Repeat with remaining beets, beet liquid, orange juice, buttermilk and 1 1/2 tablespoons dill. Season with salt and pepper. Chill at least 3 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.) Garnish soup with cucumber and additional dill. Ladle into bowls.


One thought on “From the Land 1/11

  1. Pingback: Landreth Seed of the Day – The Scarlet Runner Bean « My Alaska Kitchen and Garden

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