From the Land 3/7

food for thought
full share: butternut squash, choice of plant start (strawberries, summer squash, basil, tomatoes, or pepper), swiss chard, oranges, carrots, purple kohlrabi, I’itoi onions, and sweet potatoes
partial: butternut squash, choice of plant start (strawberries, summer squash, basil, tomatoes, or pepper), swiss chard, and oranges

announcements

It’s not too late to sign up for a Beef Share! Just shoot me an email and we can add it to your contract. As in the past, it’s $100 for about 16 pounds of beef, mixed cuts. It will come all at once frozen on March 28. Sign up now – there are limited shares available!

Please help me welcome Missy, our new CSA Assistant! You’ll see her in the afternoons at distribution, so please introduce yourself and make her feel welcome.

upcoming

Thrive
movie showing
Thursday, March 8
Prescott Public Library, Founders’ Room

Slow Food meeting
Tuesday, March 20 5pm
Prescott College Crossroads Center
Ariel Ruben will present a slideshow of her 2010 trip to Terra Madre, the annual Slow Food conference in Italy. Hosted dinner (donations requested) with dessert potluck.

Artichoke Festival at Crooked Sky
last weekend in March – more details to come
chef demo, lunch, harvesting, and more
CSA members only $20! Order special-priced tickets through PCCSA
see http://crookedskyfarms.com/csf/?page_id=1173 for more info

Prescott Farmers Market
opens May 12!
Yavapai College

veg of the week

I’itoi onions: Allium cepa

Also knows as the I’itoi Multiplier Onion, O’odham I’itoi Onion, or Papago Onion, this endangered vegetable is on the Slow Food Ark of Taste, and is believed to have been brought from Spain to the New World in the 17th century, where it was then grown by the O’odham people for centuries. Alternately, the O’odham people believe that the first I’itoi was harvested at I’itoi Mountain (or Baboquivari Mountain) – what they believe to be the “navel of the world”, the place where the earth opened and people emerged. Regardless of its history, the I’itoi onion is well-adapted to the dry desert climate, and is sacred to the culture and cuisine of the Sonoran Desert native peoples.

Frank Martin at Crooked Sky Farms loves the I’itoi and other desert-adapted or native plants, because they require less care and water, and are naturally more resistant to pests.

Uses: It multiplies rapidly, and can therefore be used as a multiplier, a small shallot, scallion, or as a substitute for chives. It has a sharp, peppery flavor that lends to well to southwestern cuisine. Don’t be intimidated: just slice them up and use the bulb as onion (while cooking), and the green as chive (as topping)!

Nutrition: All onions are delicious and nutritious!
Contains: potassium, vitamin C, folic acid and vitamin B6. Onions contain substantially the same amount of vitamins and minerals when cooked.
Properties: diuretic, antibiotic, antiscorbutic, stimulant and expectorant. It is used to treat flu, intestinal parasites, gallstones, diarrhea and rheumatism.

To store: Store in a cool, dark place (you know, your refrigerator). I use a plastic bag and use them within a week.

Crooked Sky Farm

On 300 acres spread over a couple locations in Phoenix, Waddell and Glendale, Crooked Sky Farms specializes in citrus, seasonal vegetables, and some grain and chicken eggs. With 20 full-time employees, they attend 11 farmers markets per week (depending on the season), and supply 13 CSAs from Tucson to Flagstaff, including the Prescott Farmers Market and the Prescott College CSA.

Frank Martin’s experience as the child of migrant farm workers influenced his farm ethic, his farming philosophy and the treatment of his employees. He experienced and saw first-hand the effects of farm chemicals, and was soon drawn to organic gardening. After years of driving truck and working on farms, he wanted to own his own land. “How do you get into farming?” he asked his boss, who replied, “You either marry into it, or you inherit the farm”. Frank decided to prove him wrong.

He began with 2 acres of basil that he sold to a specialty market in Phoenix, until he was approached by the Prescott College CSA. While initially hesitant, the CSA model allowed him to slowly increase his land without taking out loans, because he had a guaranteed market and payment at the beginning of the season. 12 years later, Crooked Sky Farms in one of the largest CSA farms in the United States and supplies 1300 families with vegetables throughout the year through the CSA model. Crooked Sky owes its success to its many CSAs, and Frank is glad to be able to give back to the community through CSA member “farm days”, at which members harvest their own vegetables and learn new food preparation techniques.

Please join us for the Artichoke Festival later this month at Crooked Sky! Tickets are only $20 for CSA members (order through me), and we’ll carpool down. Reserve your spot today!

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onion and bacon gratin

  • 2 T + 1/2 T butter
  • 3 large yellow onions
  • 2 oz bacon, cut into 1/4: x 1″ pieces
  • 1 bunch I’itoi onions, cut into 4-6 pieces each
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 T freshly-grated Parmegiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 T freshly-grated Comte (or substitute Gruyere or Asiago mixed with a little Parmegiano-Reggiano)
  • 1/2 C medium-course bread crumbs
  • 1/2 C heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425.

In a large saute pan, melt 1 T of butter of medium-high heat. Add onions and bacon and cook until onions are soft, 10-15 min. Transfer to collander or paper towels to drain.

Place i’itois in the pan, add a pinch of salt and pepper, the remaining 1 T of butter, and 2 T water. Bring to a simmer over high heat and cook until glazed, 5-7 minutes.

Rub the bottom and sides of a 10″ gratin dish with the garlic. Scatter the onion/bacon mixture on the bottom and season with salt and pepper. Top with a layer of the I’itoi wedges. Scatter the grated cheeses evenly over the onions, then sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top. Pour the cream in along the edges of the gratin and dot the top with a little extra butter (if desired).

Bake until the gratin is golden and the cream is absorbed, about 25 minutes.

savory bread pudding with butternut squash, chard and cheddar
adapted from kitchen-parade-veggieventure.blogspot.com

chard:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 large bunches Swiss chard, washed well, stems discarded, leaves chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

custard:

  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • 1-1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 tablespoons good mustard
  • 2 teaspoons ground sage
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • A generous sprinkle of freshly ground pepper

to assemble:

  • 1 butternut squash, washed well, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 1/2 pound whole-grain bread, crusts on, cut into half-inch cubes (see Kitchen Notes)
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, cut in 1/3-inch cubes
  • The set-aside cooked onions

CHARD In a large skillet, melt the butter til shimmery. Add the onions and cook until just soft. Set aside half the onions. Add the chard a big handful at a time and stir to coat with fat. Let it cook a minute or two, then add another handful. When all the chard is added, let cook until soft. Add salt and set aside.

CUSTARD Mix all custard ingredients together.

ASSEMBLE Preheat oven to 375F. In a large bowl, combine the squash, bread, cheese and cooked onions. Transfer HALF the mixture to a lightly buttered baking dish about 8×11 or 9×13. Arrange the cooked chard evenly on top, then the remaining squash-bread-cheese mixture. Gently pour custard mix over top, being careful to wet all the bread pieces, especially.

BAKE Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven. If any pieces of butternut squash are still firm, gently push them into the custard. Cover and bake for another 15 or so minutes. Let rest for about 10 minutes or so before serving. Reheats well.

curried lentils with sweet potatoes and swiss chard
adapted from nytimes.com

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch I’itoi onions, chopped, bulbs and greens separated
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala (available at natural, ethnic and gourmet foods stores)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded if desired, then minced
  • 4 to 5 cups vegetable broth as needed
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups dried lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound Swiss chard, center ribs removed, leaves thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lime
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped tamari almonds, for garnish (optional), available in health food stores

In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add I’itoi bulbs and sauté until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, garam masala, curry powder and jalapeño. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Stir in 4 cups broth, sweet potatoes, lentils and bay leaf. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium, partially cover, and simmer for 25 minutes. (If lentils seem dry, add up to 1 cup stock, as needed.) Stir in chard and salt and pepper, and continue cooking until lentils are tender and chard is cooked, about 30 to 45 minutes total.

Just before serving, stir in cilantro, lime zest and juice. Spoon into a large, shallow serving dish. Garnish with almonds if desired and I’itoi greens.

Yield: 8 to 10 side-dish servings; 6 main-course servings.

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