Winter Week 7 and 8: Solstice Sprouts

Up close and personal with the Sprouts of Brussels.

Up close and personal with the Sprouts of Brussels.

NOTE: IF YOU PICK UP YOUR SHARE ON THE WEEKEND, EITHER AT THE FARM OR AT FARMERS’ MARKETS, YOU WILL PICK UP TWO WEEKS’ WORTH OF PRODUCE DECEMBER 19 & 20.

THERE IS NO PICKUP THE WEEKEND AFTER CHRISTMAS, DECEMBER 26 & 27.

WE WILL CONTINUE WITH THE NORMAL PICKUP SCHEDULE FOR THE LAST WEEK OF OUR WINTER SEASON: DECEMBER 29-JANUARY 3. 

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:

• Choice of Winter Squashes
• Potatoes
• Carrots
• Leeks
• Celery Root or Celery
• Brussels Sprouts
• Collard Greens
• Garlic

NEXT WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:

• Choice of Winter Squashes
• Potatoes
• Carrots
• Red Onions
• Parsnips
• Savoy Cabbage
• Kale
• Tender Turnips
• “Cameo” Apples from Tonnemakers’ Orchards

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

After all that freezing weather, we’re down to the real survivors of winter: Greens  and Roots. But why are the brassicas, chicories, and root crops the only crops that can take freezing weather? The answer is antifreeze! The first cold snap signals the plants that it’s time to get ready for hard times by converting their starches into sugar. Sugar is a natural antifreeze, and that sweetness keeps cell walls from bursting when freezing crystalizes the water in most other plants. The benefit for those who eat them is much improved flavor! Kale and Collards are sweet and delicious, Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts too. And what about Carrots and Parsnips! People started asking in September for Parsnips and Brussels Sprouts, but our first frost was so late this year, we didn’t start picking either until after Thanksgiving. If you’ve ever had either of these crops and hated them, try them again the right way. Here’s a delicious recipe passed along by Katherine Pratt, a dedicated West Seattle Farmers’ Market shopper.

Mmmm...Brussels Sprouts and bacon...

Mmmm…Brussels Sprouts and bacon…

BRUSSELS SPROUTS CARBONARA

3/4 pound Brussels Sprouts
1 tbsp. Butter
1 tsp. Olive Oil
1/2 pound Spaghetti Noodles
2 Large Egg Yolks
1/2 cup Cream
Cayenne Pepper (to taste)
1/4 cup Chopped Cooked Bacon (if desired)
2 cups Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

1. Half (or quarter, if large) the Brussels Sprouts.

2. Blanch in boiling salted water for 4 minutes and drain.

3. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Add butter and olive oil, swirl to melt, and add the blanched sprouts.

4. Season with salt and toss to coat with the butter and oil. Turn the sprouts cut-side down, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for another 6 to 8 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, or until browned on all sides.

5. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to package instructions, reserving 1 cup pasta water as the spaghetti cooks

6. In a serving bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cream, and a pinch of cayenne pepper (to taste) to blend, then add the hot pasta, bacon (if desired), and as much reserved water as necessary to coat the noodles with the cream. Add Parmesan cheese and the sprouts, and toss to mix. Serves 2-4.

Usually we don't have any real flooding on our farm. But we had about 8" of rain in two weeks, which resulted in a lot of surface water with nowhere to go. The bee hives are just barely out of the water. Good thing they're on 1' risers!

Usually we don’t have any real flooding on our farm. But we had about 8″ of rain in two weeks, which resulted in a lot of surface water with nowhere to go. The bee hives are just barely out of the water. Good thing they’re on 1′ risers!

We don’t have an official rain gauge here at the farm, but I leave 5 gallon buckets out for picking, and they measure the rain for me. I left such a bucket out the day before Thanksgiving, empty, and was surprised to find about 8″ of water in them Monday. That’s a LOT of water.

While the Green River doesn’t overtop its’ banks like other Washington rivers like the Snoqualmie, we did have some surface water flooding this year. Lots of water standing on top of saturated ground. Water on top of mud makes picking very slow and difficult. Hard to walk, hard to pick, hard to carry. Teo and Samuel are troopers though and get the job done.

The pot of gold lies in the donkey pen.

The pot of gold lies in the donkey pen.

We are so looking forward to the Winter Solstice Sunday. Three more minutes of light every day adds up, and by February our days will be nearly two hours longer than they are now. And then we will begin to plant again for 2016! Keep an eye out for our 2016 CSA application. Signups begin in January! Harvest begins in April!

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