Oh, for the love of greens! By now, you've more than likely noticed my love affair with leafy greens. They are a staple in my diet for a variety of reasons, but mostly because they're delicious and easy to cook in a pinch. If I'm in a hurry, I'll just toss them in a sauté and be done with it. If I have time to prep, say the Sunday before a busy week, I may shred them up into a pesto to spice up any meal on the go... as a sandwich spread, quickie pasta, or a green egg scramble. Whatever your method may be, you can rest assured that these are some of the most nutrient dense veg to grace your meal times. All contain a good dose of fiber, magnesium, folate, vitamin E, potassium, and various antioxidants. Many others are also excellent sources of calcium (kale and collards), beta-carotene (swiss chard, collards, and spinach), and even protein (moringa).
The other side of the story is that, in keeping with the philosophy of compassionate farming, I focused on greens this winter because it was the least stressful option for the recovering soil. Flooding out on three separate occasions coupled with a mini-drought in between rains really did a number on the soil health of the farm this past spring and summer. In order to begin growing healthy crops, again, I knew I first needed to remediate my soil. Consistent routines of composting, mulching, cover cropping, and rehydrating with compost tea helped to speed up this remediation process. Certain plants, however, are what growers refer to as "heavy feeders", meaning they deplete the soil's nutrient bank more so than other crops. Brassicas like broccoli, romanesco, heading cabbages, and cauliflower are all heavy feeders. Needless to say, they've been absent from recent farm shares. Additionally, root veg like carrots, beets, radishes, and turnips like a soft, loamy soil to grow big and hearty. We were knee-deep in sticky gumbo. So, it's been a process recuperating what was lost to the severe weather of 2015. The good news is that our patience is paying off. Our soil grows better with each passing day. I increasingly see signs of improving microbiology and tilth, which means I can start to work in a more diverse crop rotation. We may even see some lil' radish and carrot guys making their way into CSA farm shares this spring...
In the meantime, this week we're munching on:
You have an assortment of all three varietals. They're sweet, nutty, and pair well with any dish as mild as they are. Cooking them is the obvious option, but if you give them a good little massage, they make an excellent salad dish, too! I like to take half an avocado and a full hard boiled egg, mix them in with the massaged kale, and top with either caesar salad dressing or just some oil and vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste!
You'll find a combination of both red and green Mizuna mustards with just a smidge of the spicy green mustards (because, yes, they're spicy!!!) The green Mizuna is actually pretty mild as far as mustards are concerned, but the red Mizuna can vary so proceed with caution! My recommendation would be to first taste a little of each raw. If the heat's not too rough, carry on as you like! If the heat is a little more than you desire though, here are some quick tips to simmering that sizzle...
- Try soy sauce! (or tamari or Bragg's Liquid Aminos)
- For meatier greens, try shredding them up into a slaw with some carrots and beets. The sweetness of the root veggies will mellow out the spice of the greens.
- Citric acids (like lemon/orange/grapefruit juice) and vinegars help cut the spice in certain greens, like mustards and arugula!
- If you enjoy smoothies, try blending one with pineapple, cilantro, honey, and a pinch of cayenne!
- Psst... everything is always better with bacon
And we rounded out the farm share with some familiar veg and fruit!
But, wait! There's more!
Tomatoes are growing strong and tall in the Sown & Grown greenhouse! We'll have plenty going in the ground by March 1st, as well as many varieties of seedlings for sale. In addition to tomatoes this spring, CSA members can look forward to over 10 varieties of cucumbers (pickling and salad), beans, peppers, chiles, squash, eggplants, and more!! Do you have a favorite vegetable or fruit? Would you like to see it in the CSA farm share? Let me know and I'll get it sowin' and growin'! After all, it's all for you, Houston.