Down on the farm: One of our local TV meteorologists commented that November and December are rather transitional months for us-going from the hot to cooler weather. And knowing that, I try to be finishing up the warm season crops and have the cool season ones coming into production. So, corn is finishing, but we are almost up to the point where we can have broccoli or cauliflower every week, if the weather doesn't get too warm and humid.
Another of those vegetable facts I like to remind you of every year is that green peppers are simply peppers which are not ripe. When they ripen, most are red, but others can be yellow, purple, orange, etc.-just depends on their genetic makeup. Therefore, ripe/colored peppers taste better to most of us because they have developed more sugars. Why do colored peppers cost so much more? At least 4 reasons that I know of: They have to stay on the plant longer so there is more chance of something happening to them-diseases, insects, coyotes, or racoons.... (Interesestingly, those 4 legged creatures, at least the ones which live around this farm, don't like green peppers-only colored ones.) Since the farmer is leaving these peppers on the plants longer, they take more from the plant, usually resulting in lower overall yield of the crop. They are softer and more fragile so more colored peppers are lost in handling, packing, and transporting compared with the firmer green ones. And, the last reason stores charge more for colored peppers is: because they can! Most consumers are willing to pay more for them.
What really is a colored pepper? When most people look for a colored pepper, they want it to be colored evenly overall-fully red, if that is its color. And, if you are making a special dish where color contrasts are critical, like some of our talented chef customers do, that's important. But most of us are looking mainly for good flavor-and usually a fairly firm pepper that doesn't have soft spots.
In the produce trade, the earliest visible stage of pepper ripening is called suntan. That means they are barely starting to turn-they usually taste slightly better than a fully green one, but, ironically, growers generally get less for them than for solid green ones. The best peppers for most uses are those that are "mixed red". They are more than 50% red, but often have areas of their flesh which are green or suntan-a pepper fruit doesn't often ripen evenly. They taste good, will hold up in cooking better, and will store better than fully red ones. (And yes, they will ripen more if you keep them.) In the last few years, some smart produce marketing people have begun to advertise suntan or mixed red peppers, so that in some areas there is a better market for these peppers.
Now, I have generally been talking about bell peppers here. However, most of this applies to chiles and other peppers, although obviously the flavor changes are a little more complicated when you have a pepper that is also high in capsaicin, the chemical which makes peppers hot.
What's in your box this week: salad mix maybe a little corn? a cucumber (hopefully) broccoli or summer squash spaghetti squash cherry tomatoes colored peppers tomatoes summer squash (large boxes only) spinach (large boxes only)
Enjoying your veggies: Hopefully most of you are familiar with spaghetti squash. It is a winter squash, but don't try to keep it as long as the butternuts or pumpkins. It has a pretty thin rind. If you want to keep it a long time, the best thing to do is cook it, take out the stringy flesh, and freeze it.
In case you still have butternut and/or Seminole pumpkins sitting around, let subscriber Kim convince you how easy it is to make soup from them. While most of us have made winter squash soups, this had 2 things that are a little different: she added some yellow squash and thyme was the herb she used. I used the butternut squash from 2 weeks ago, and the yellow squash and pumpkin from this past week's box and made the most amazing squash soup. Cut in half and roast for 45 minutes at 350, while cooking, sauté 1 onion in EVOO, once the onion begins to turn transparent, add 3 cloves minced garlic and 1 Tbsp fresh thyme (or less dried thyme) for 10 minutes. Add roasted squash (scooped out from shell/skin), and enough stock to cover. Simmer for a few minutes to let flavors combine, then used an immersion blender to purée. Soooo tasty and perfect for this fall weather! For another variation, there is a recipe for Thai butternut soup on our subscriber page website list. (Password this year is watermelon.)
Around our area: If you have a chance to look at the winter issue of Worth Avenue Magazine, there are some photos of the beautiful and delicious food creations that chef Manlee Siu of Angle Restaurant in Eau Palm Beach has made with vegetables from our farm and from our farming friends at Kai-kai Farm. (Kai-kai is also having one of their farm dinners on Sunday. I don't know if it is sold out, but you can check their website and Facebook page for information.)
The best way to order extras is to email Donna at firstname.lastname@example.org 2 PM the day before you get your box. If you are ordering later than that, please call 561-638-2755 and leave the message on the machine, since we don't always have time to check email in the mornings. (Those ordering for Monday boxes should call and leave a message, since you don't receive this list in time to order by email.) Flowers require earlier orders since we don't keep a supply of them here. We order just the amount that we need from other farms.
Locally grown Flowers (for Monday and Tuesday boxes, order by noon on the Friday before your box; for Thursday and Friday, order by noon on Wednesday). For information about these flower growers and some pictures of their flowers, check the Subscriber Business Links on our Subscriber section
Seed to Bloom, Loxahatchee: colorful mixed bouquets-whatever is in season. $10.00 each
Caribbean Exotics, Delray Beach: long- stemmed Heliconia-large, impressive "ginger" flowers $20 (most stems are about 3' tall)
McCoy's Honey-raw, unfiltered, locally produced http://www.mccoysfloridahoney.com/ 1 lb. glass jar $5.00 each (palmetto or only a few orange blossom) (NOTE: When these are gone, we will no longer be carrying 1 lb. jars.) 3 lb. plastic jug $14.00 each (orange blossom, wildflower, or palmetto) 1 gal. (12 lbs.) $53 Orange blossom only 8 oz. bee pollen $12
LeDuc "Flavor Pict" Honey (most from his Loxahatchee hives, although some are on our farm) Honey 1 qt. glass jars $17 Honey with comb 1 pt. glass jars $17
Herbs (some are from our farm, some from Pontano Farms) $3/bunch basil chives cilantro dill mint (This generic mint is actually spearmint.) specialty mints: peppermint, chocololate mint, apple mint oregano sage tarragon (True French tarragon is very difficult to grow here. So this is actually Mexican mint marigold, which is used for tarragon in the south and west. All winter it also has small yellow, edible flowers.) thyme
'Baby' Greens $3.00/bag (8 oz. bag) Baby kale mix: may have 'Red Russian', a curly kale, and some Tuscan kale Arugula 'Elegance' mustard greens mix-slightly spicy mixed mustards with some broccoli raab leaves Microgreens, sandwich bag (mix may contain radishes, arugula, red kale, and/or purple kohlrabi) 'Salanova' salad mix
Larger greens $3/bag (large bunch) Swiss chard- red or white Curly kale (green, red or mix) TEMPORARILY OUT: Tuscan kale (also called Lacinato or alligator kale) TEMPORARILY OUT: Collard greens Spinach
From other farms: 'Namwah' bananas -short and slightly chubby (Yagnapurush Farm, Loxahatchee) $1.60/lb. or 3 lbs for $4
Other Vegetables and fruits from our farm Cubanelle peppers 3 for $2 Butternut squash $1/lb. (most are 1 lb or less now) Seminole pumpkins $1.50/lb. (most sizes from 1-2+ lbs.) Spaghetti squashes $1/lb. (most are about 2 lbs.) Larger mystery winter squashes 50¢/lb. Eggplant $3/lb. Jalapeno peppers 3 for $2 Red/almost red bell peppers $.75 each Summer squash (zucchini or yellow) $1.50/lb. Papayas $1/lb. (green or ripening) Squash blossoms 6 for $2.50