Our Fall Crops

Mizuna

Mizuna

Fall means a lot of new crops in the field. We’ve got five kinds of lettuce planted, as well as endive and escarole. We’ve planted several kinds of mustard greens and Asian greens, including mizuna. In case you’ve never had that Japanese green before, it looks a lot like a delicate dandelion with its dog-toothed leaves, but its taste is closer to arugula. You’ll want to get some stir-fry recipes ready for the Asian greens, although they are equally good in salads. Epicurious has a few pages of recipes for Asian greens here.

We’ve got more cabbage growing, red, green and Savoy, and we’ve got high hopes for our shitake mushrooms.. We’ve got six different kinds of radishes, including some that pack a really powerful punch, as well as three kinds of turnips and a lot of sweet peppers. The Swiss chard is coming along nicely.

The winter squash may be a different matter. The deer seem to be treating the rows of squash as their personal salad bar this year, taking a bite or two every few feet as they move through the rows. We’re going to hope they decide they’re sated soon. The beets don’t appear to like this crazy weather year at all, though we may get some beet greens.

Speaking of weather, the temperatures have been dipping rapidly already up here: We’ve had a few nights close to 40. But we’re doing what we can to nurture our crops along. Everything that has been planted is under row covers, reusable fabric that protects the crops from cold and bugs. We’re also taking full advantage of the irrigation system we put in earlier this year.

But Mother Nature has to do her part, and bring us the daily sunshine that all these crops need. If you know a sun dance, do it now.

Swiss Chard Crustless Quiche

Swiss chard pie, hold the crust

Swiss chard pie, hold the crust

Sometimes you just need a meal that you can mix in one bowl, cook in one pan and eat on one plate. Tonight was one of those times.

Luckily, with the onions, kale, cabbage and Swiss chard in this week’s share, I was well on my way to getting that done. My recipe of choice was the Miraculous Spinach Quiche on King Arthur Flour’s Web site. About 10 minutes to mix, 50 minutes in a springform pan in the oven, and dinner is served.

There are variations of the crustless quiche theme all over the Internet. The idea is that you mix the flour and fats in with the vegetables, eggs and cheese and, as it bakes, each ingredient regroups in the proper place in the pan. Don’t ask me to give you the kitchen science behind it all, that’s Alton Brown’s department.

Of course, while tasty, the result is not anything remotely like a quiche. (Full disclosure: I am a French major, former French government employee, prone to reading Julia Child cookbooks in my spare time and therefore highly defensive of French cooking in all its butter, cream and lardon glory.) Mark Bittman, in his excellent How To Cook Everything Vegetarian cookbook, calls his version simply Chard Pie, and notes that it can just as easily be made with kale or cabbage. Alas while Bittman seems to be quite the Francophile, his book does not include a recipe for a tourte de blettes, the sweet-savory Swiss chard pie that’s common in the south of France. For that, check Epicurious.

Week 12 CSA Shares

This Week’s Share:
(Individual Shares Choose 6)

  • White Russian Kale
  • Curly Kale
  • Parsley
  • Garlic Chives
  • Cucumbers
  • Wax Beans
  • Mixed UMF Bitter Greens
  • Shallots OR Loose Onions
  • Purslane
  • EXTRAS: Broccoli, wildflower bouquets, squash, black raspberries, Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage

    The Cabbage From Jersey City

    This week’s share includes something called an Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage. The name has nothing to do with being the first brassica to appear in the Garden State in this rain-drenched summer.

    Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage

    Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage

    According to this heritage seed site, Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage was developed by one Francis Brill of Jersey City in 1840. A Google book search turned up a mention of Mr. Brill in an 1879 issue of Vick’s Monthly Magazine. (Have I said recently that I love the Internet?) Identified as a “market gardener” in Jersey, Brill is said to have brought the seed for his cabbage from England and farmed the “Van Vorst property”. I’m not really sure whether this is the site of Jersey City’s current Van Vorst Park, as a history Web site maintained by Jersey City University says that Van Vorst was a separate city from Jersey City until 1851, with ample farmland.

    The modern-day Jersey City park that hosts Upper Meadows at its weekly Wednesday farmers market is a few blocks north of Van Vorst Park, but still within the bounds of what would have been the old township of Van Vorst. So those of you who buy our produce at Hamilton Park can take pride in knowing that this week’s cabbage is about as local as it gets.

    As for the rest of you, if you like the taste of Early Jersey and want to add it to your home gardens next year, the foundation that runs Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello sells it among its heritage seeds.

    Week 11 CSA Share

    This week’s share:

    • Scallions or Onions
    • Red Russian Kale
    • Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage
    • Mixed Cucumbers
    • Swiss Chard
    • Cilantro or Basil
    • Purslane
    • Local NJ Stone Fruit or Black Raspberries
    • Local NJ Corn

    THIS WEEK’S EXTRAS:
    Stargazer Lillies
    Bergamot

    The farm in photos

    Virginia has been pestering me for new photos of what’s growing here at Upper Meadows Farm and today, I finally obliged.

    Forellenschluss lettuce, ready for salad

    Forellenschluss lettuce, ready for salad

    The red cabbage gathers momentum

    The red cabbage gathers momentum

    Green cabbage gets ready for its debut

    Green cabbage gets ready for its debut

    The hops are hopping

    The hops are hopping

    Vegetable Quesadillas

    The good greens just keep on coming our way. This recipe for Vegetable Quesadillas lets you use cabbage, kale or collards, as well as Upper Meadows Farm’s onions and cilantro. It’s a combination that could brighten even a rainy day.

    Enjoy!