Winter Has Arrived

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We had such a beautiful October it was hard to believe that winter was imminent, but it has arrived – right on schedule! It seems that as soon as Halloween is over, the winter winds begin to blow and the snow is unleashed upon us, and this year was a textbook case. Harvest is finished, our gardens are frozen up and covered in a thin layer of snow, the strawberries have been tucked into their straw bed for the winter, and the hens have slowed down with their laying. This month we were able to come relatively close to meeting all our egg orders, but be forewarned that there won’t be a lot of eggs next month.

The seasonal shift is also evident in the vegetables we sent out on Sunday. The vegetable of the season: potatoes. Our crop was lovely this year, and we should have lots of potatoes to last through till spring. I will try to share a good variety of potato recipes through the winter to help keep you inspired (keeping in mind that my web access is more limited in the winter given the lower levels of sunlight and higher level of demand on our laptop with Christopher’s online high school classes). One of my biggest strategies is to substitute potatoes for the pasta or rice in many common recipes. We do still buy pasta or rice from time to time, but they are no longer the staples they used to be for our family; they have ceded that position to the humble spud.

Some of you have requested a potato adjustment (to half the usual amount of potatoes) in your winter orders, which we are happy to oblige. Unfortunately, our carrot crop was not spectacular this year (carrots were smaller due to no rainfall in August and September), so we are instead substituting beets for the potatoes you would have received. If any of you would prefer to go back to the full order of potatoes and fewer beets, please let me know.

Beets are another star of the season, and we sent generously this month (taking counsel from the members who came to pick up at the farm on Sunday). We’d be happy to hear your feedback on whether this quantity comes as a delightful treat or an overwhelming burden. I will also endeavour to share more of our favourite beet recipes through the winter.

The carrots we do have are scrumptious, and we sent two pails in each full share on Sunday, along with some beautiful onions, a small braid of garlic (the last garlic of the season), a couple rutabaga (these did not do particularly well this year), and a pail of beautiful parsnips.

We are nearly organized to start packaging this year’s dried bean crop, so keep your eyes open for an updated blog page. In the meantime, here is a wonderful vegetarian borscht recipe (adapted from Darra Goldstein’s The Winter Vegetarian) that uses a great many of the veggies in this month’s order:

2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced

1 small parsnip, peeled and thinly sliced

1 small rutabaga, peeled and thinly sliced

2 Tbsp olive oil

6 medium beets (1 1/2 lbs), peeled and finely chopped

3 medium potatoes, peeled and finely chopped

1 small celery root, peeled and finely chopped (I use some dried celery and leaves)

1 lb. White cabbage, shredded

2 quarts tomato juice

10 black peppercorns

3 allspice berries

1 bay leaf

1 1/4 tsp salt

1 Tbsp lemon juice

In a large stockpot, saute the onions, garlic, carrot, parsnip, and turnip in the olive oil until soft (12-15 minutes). Add the remaining ingredients (except lemon juice), bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Stir in lemon juice just before serving. Add minced dill and sour cream if desired.

Another favourite soup of ours that uses parsnips (and pumpkin, assuming you still have some around!) is Moosewood Restaurant’s Tunisian Pumpkin Soup:

2 cups chopped onions

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup peeled and sliced carrots

1/2 cup peeled and sliced parsnips

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 1/2 cups water or light stock

1 1/4 cups unsweetened apple juice

1/2 cup tomato juice

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp paprika

1 3/4 cups cooked pumpkin

Saute onions until translucent. Add carrots, parsnips and salt and saute 5 minutes. Add water or stock, apple and tomato juices, and spices. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer till the vegetables are tender. Stir in the pumpkin. Puree until smooth (although we are not able to do this step, and it still tastes fabulous!).

Make a spice swirl by heating 2 Tbsp olive oil in a small skillet. Saute 1 tsp minced garlic for a minute. Add 4 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground caraway, 1/4 tsp cayenne (I omit this) and continue to cook, stirring constantly. When it begins to bubble, remove it from the heat. Stir in 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, 2 Tbsp minced cilantro, and 1/8 tsp salt.

Ladle the soup into the bowls and top each with some spice swirl.

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