Radishes

There is so much information “out there” about so many different things.

Today, I came across “radishes”. Radishes are something that I’m not extremely familiar with. I know they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors and with varying tastes. I found this guide to be helpful in learning more about them: http://www.field-goods.com/food/132-radishes.html

From that site:

Nutritional Value: Radishes are a great source of Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Magnesium, Copper and Manganese, Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Folate and Potassium. One cup of radishes contains just 19 calories!

Storage: Cut off the greens and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Scrub radishes right before eating.

Tips: Radishes can be roasted, boiled or steamed!

To roast: Preheat oven to 425º F. Toss sliced radishes with olive oil, spread onto baking sheet and roast for 30-45 minutes until tender and brown.

  • To boil: Bring water to a boil, drop in whole or sliced radishes, and simmer until tender. Simmer for 10-30 minutes depending on desired tenderness.
  • To steam: Steam whole radishes in steamer for 5 to 15 minutes, depending on desired tenderness.

February is coming!

February is coming, and with it a whole lot of activity on a whole lot of different levels!

At the national level, word is that there is a new farm bill that is likely to make it’s way through congress within the next couple of weeks. As a vegetable farmer, my sense is that there is very little that will affect me directly. As an Iowan, an environmentalist, a member of the Iowa Farmers Union, and a human – there are quite a few things that will affect me. Overall I’m glad to see that the bill is moving forward and will continue to support both people who need to eat (through SNAP) as well as people who produce the food.

At the state level, the Practical Farmers of Iowa annual conference was last week. It was my first PFI conference, even though I’ve been to enough events over the past year that I feel like I know everyone (almost!) who was there. Ok- so that’s a stretch. But they’re all such great people that if you don’t know someone, you just start a conversation with them and soon that’s taken care of. Highlights included Susan Jutz (my mentor) receiving the Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award (PDF), Andy Dunham (another mentor) talking about Weathering the Weather, and Laura Krouse (another mentor) talking about growing potatoes. There was also a “short course” the two half-days before the conference on holistic management – focusing on how people – farmers especially – need to look beyond only the business plan to find the things that they really want out of life and to make sure that short-term decisions are aligned with that. It reminded me very much of my research work in Sweden – backcasting from desired futures, creativity within constraints, and so on –  and the masters programs (strategic leadership – MSLS and sustainable product innovation – MSPI) that are currently accepting applications to join them in the fall of this year!

At the local (farm) level – I’m just finishing up what may be the most complicated taxes ever… the combination of having been in Sweden last January, starting a consulting business to continue some academic work independently, starting a farm, and some short-term capital gains…. well, it got interesting! Between that and the PFI conference, not a lot of farm work has been done over the past week. And tomorrow I’ll head to Florida for a few days – while I’m currently cash-poor, I’m points rich thanks to some strategic use of credit cards and several years of flying to/from Sweden! Hopefully I’m going far enough south to see the 70′s. I’d still rather be going fishing this summer, but the life of a vegetable farmer doesn’t allow for summer vacations, at least not at this stage of the game.

For now, I think you should contemplate kale – and the four dishes suggested over at DM Juice. If it gets you thinking about summer veggies like I hope it does – consider joining our CSA this summer to get your weekly box of fresh produce!

One of the kale pictures from dmjuice:
The Winterset Salad Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, at at The Cafe in Ames.

Anticipating Abundance

It’s rather chilly today. Currently 1 degree. Fahrenheit. Not like 1 degree C – for my Swedish friends, which would be just above freezing. No, we are quite far below freezing here today. So I decided I needed to spend a little time reflecting on how hot things were last summer. For example, here’s the delivery from July 1st. It’s a great example of the early season: lots of greens and a few earlier roots – turnips, beets, radishes – and my personal favorite: kohlrabi.

20130701_WW-share

Then there’s the fall delivery – this one’s from October, and was exceptionally bountiful. The farms that I worked with (Wild Woods Farm and ZJ Farm) did an every-other-week delivery in the fall, so the picture below is 2 weeks’ worth.  Carrots, squash, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, kale, chard, eggplant, garlic, broccoli, turnips, rutabaga, radish, and even – gasp! – a watermelon!

201310_FallShare
(photo credit to Kate Edwards)

Now that I’m sufficiently inspired (not really warmed up as I’d hoped, but at least inspired!), I can go back to the seeding plan in anticipation of the abundance of the growing season.

 

Potato Types

Russets

Characterized by their rough brown skin and white flesh, varieties such as Butte fall into the dry/mealy end of the texture spectrum. When baked, the thick skin crisps up to create a perfect “jacket” for the fluffy interior. They’re easy to mash and ideal for frying and roasting. However, they’ll disintegrate in soups and stews.

White Potatoes

Compared to russets, white potatoes, such as Onaway and Elba have smoother, thinner and lighter-colored skin. Considered all-purpose potatoes, they are creamy when baked yet hold their texture when boiled. If you don’t know what potatoes to use in a recipe, you’ll be safe with white potatoes.

Waxy Potatoes

Made familiar by the popular Yukon Gold variety, these potatoes have fine-grained, dense flesh that holds its shape when cooked. They’re ideal for potato salad, soups and stews, but can also be roasted and baked. Carola potatoes also fall into this category.

Colorful Potatoes

Potatoes with red/pink or purple/blue flesh are as easy to grow in your garden as any other potato and, if you ask me, way more fun to harvest, cook and eat. All-Blue has dark, purple-blue skin and lighter blue flesh. It is somewhat mealy, making it good for baking. All-Blues keep their color best when baked, microwaved or fried; when boiled, the flesh fades to a grayish blue. Some people think it has a subtle nutty flavor. Cranberry Red, also known as All-Red, has red skin and pink flesh (sometimes swirled with white) with a dense texture that holds its shape, making it ideal for boiling and sauteing. Red Cloud is a red-skinned potato with dry, white flesh that’s perfect for baking.

Fingerling Potatoes

Like the name implies, fingerling potatoes, such as Russian Banana, are shaped like fingers — small and elongated. They have thin, tender skin (thankfully, because they’d be difficult to peel) and are fantastic roasted. Because they’re so small, you can boil them whole, skin intact, so they don’t absorb as much water as potato chunks, making them great for potato salad, too.

New Potatoes

Immature potatoes that are harvested in early summer before they are fully mature (before the vines die back) are called “new potatoes.” They can be any variety. Their skin is thin and tender, and they’re often boiled whole and tossed with butter and fresh parsley. They have a shorter shelf life than mature potatoes.

 

From http://www.gardeners.com/Potato-Varieties/7556,default,pg.html which also has other interesting potato tidbits.