Tuesday, December 4, 2012

CSA Week 9 and Beet and Arugula Salad

Ever typical Canadian that I am, I will begin this blog post by commenting on the weather.
As my chosen profession is connected so strongly to the whims of the weather, I am not beyond checking the weather several times a day to see what is in store.
Most days I find there is weather, and today was no exception.
December 4, 2012 and according to my outdoor thermometer, my car's thermometer, the internet, the paper and the radio yes siriee -we hit 16 degrees C.

Safe for another week.

My CSA has another 6 weeks left and I wonder how precisely I am going to keep the veggies that I leave at my drop off locations from freezing up when the temperatures drop.
If you head out to pick up your basket on a chilly afternoon, don't be surprised if you find it under a pile of blankets.

Sure wasn't the case today though.

Everybody here is loving it, myself included. The chickens are out cruising having gobbled up all greens within eyeshot, the ducks whom I had put in because of the cold weather of last week, are out on their pond again, and I'm amazed that I can wash produce outside again without freezing my hands.

I know it won't stay this way and nor should it I guess. But I'll take it while I can get it.

My beautiful 11 year old Mottled Java
Come cold, snow, freezing temperatures or unanticipated heat waves, the next six weeks will see the CSA baskets springing forth with loads of greens.

With the vast majority of the produce coming from the hoop houses now, it really will work out best for me if the weather stays a consistent cold.
Yesterday for example with the sun shining the temperatures in the hoophouses reach silly temperatures...close to 30 degrees C. And because I had already battened down the hatches for winter weather, the vents closed up so the fans couldn't blow the air through, the heat was stifling.

Last winter, the winter that wasn't, was a tough year to be a cool weather grower. My hoop houses were consistently too warm and disease and insects were a problem...a problem I've never had in the winter.  So in thinking about it all, a colder winter would work very well.

The baskets today were again very green with some purple hues thrown in for good measure. There were many, many mustard varieties in the baskets as well as other greens. Arugula, kales, choi, as well as beets, broccoli or kohlrabi rounded out the baskets.

Some of the mustards are mild and crunchy, like the mizspoona, while others like the Giant Red or Green Wave are peppery and pungent. There are lots of very interesting tastes in the baskets that are good for lots of different dishes.

I love the crunch of the juicy stems, and even when recipes call for tearing the greens off the stem, I tend to ignore that. I eat so many stems during the course of a day that I think people driving by my small farm must think I'm a smoker because there is always something sticking out of my mouth. It's just got to be better for me than smoking.

Thanks to my friend Tiffany for inspiring me to include this recipe. It is from www.foodnetwork.com
If anyone wants to add some suggestions for their favourite recipes using arugula, mustards greens, kales or any other winter greens, I am all ears!

Beet and Goat Cheese Arugula Salad


  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 medium beets, cooked and quartered
  • 6 cups fresh arugula
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
  • 1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
  • 3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled


Line a baking sheet with foil. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Whisk the vinegar, shallots, and honey in a medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with salt and pepper. Toss the beets in a small bowl with enough dressing to coat. Place the beets on the prepared baking sheet and roast until the beets are slightly caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Set aside and cool.
Toss the arugula, walnuts, and cranberries in a large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mound the salad atop 4 plates. Arrange the beets around the salad. Sprinkle with the avocado and goat cheese, and serve.

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