GOOD FOOD NEWS
Volume 8 Number 46 November 15, 2016
FIELD NOTES: Winterport Farm, Ione
As a grass farmer and grass-fed beef producer, it is wonderful to see the green grass so early in the season. Our October rains gave our pastures a good start for the year and the warm weather has allowed to the grass to grow. It should be a good year for our pastures. The cattle are enjoying the green grass along with the hay grown this summer.
We were lucky to get enough rain last year to grow a good cover crop to nourish the soil and follow it with sudan grass. We were able to harvest the first growth for hay which is now in the barn and ready to feed throughout the winter. After the hay came off the field, the sudan was slow to regrow because of limited soil moisture due to the drought. We were able to irrigate a small portion of our pasture and the sudan came back well. Many of our cattle were able to graze on green pasture for the rest of the summer. Since we haven’t had a frost to kill it, the cattle are still enjoying it along with the native grasses.
It is now time to start the cycle over. The fields will be worked up. Winter forage crops such as rye and vetch will be planted. Other fields will be planted in cover crops to nourish the soil for next years sudan grass. Hopefully, we get at least normal rainfall to help replenish the soil moisture. The early rains are a good start, and we are hopeful for the next year.
We hope that you have been able to enjoy our beef through Mother Lode Harvest. A variety of cuts are offered each week for you to order. If you are interested in other cuts, please contact us. Depending on our current supply we will try to accommodate you. No matter what your dietary preference from paleo to only eating meat occasionally, grass-fed beef is a good choice. It is high in protein and other nutrients. When compared to grain-fed beef, grass-fed beef is lower in total fat and lower in saturated fat. It is higher in omega-3’s, CLA, and has a better ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. It is higher in vitamin E and B vitamins. It is also lower in calories. Grass-fed beef can be a healthy part of your diet.
PRODUCE OF THE MONTH: QUINCE
The quince is the sole member of the genus Cydonia in the family Rosaceae (yep, named after the rose). It is believed to have originated in southwest Asia, but has been successfully grown in a wide variety of climates. Its presence was first noted in England around 1275, when King Edward I had some planted at the Tower of London. In the eighteenth century, one or two quince trees were commonly planted in mixed orchards and gardens in the New England colonies.
The quince is sometimes grown in ornamental gardens for its beautiful pink blossoms. The golden-yellow fruit of the quince looks similar to a pear, but most people find it less loveable. Some varieties of quince can be eaten raw, but most are hard, fibrous, tannic, and sour. Cooked with patience and care, however, these gnarly fruits can be transformed into something truly delicious. After peeling, chopping, and poaching, the flesh turns tender and rosey colored, and sweet perfumes and flavors emerge. The fruit can then be eaten or baked into tarts. High in pectin, quinces also make delicious jams and jellies, as well as a sweet paste (called membrillo in Spanish) that is a wonderful compliment to cheese plates.
Quinces are relatively low calorie and high in Vitamin C, in addition to providing fiber and trace amounts of other vitamins and minerals.
By Mara Feeney, DAMAS
NEW IN YOUR BOX THIS WEEK: SUNCHOKES
Sunchokes, of the sunflower family, are native to North America where the natives called them "sun roots" before European settlers arrived. Samuel Champlain, a French explorer found them in Cape Cod in 1605 and pronounced them similar in taste to artichokes. But why "Jerusalem artichokes"? They don't come from Jerusalem nor do they look like artichokes. There are a few theories: when first discovered people started calling them "girasole" (or flower that turns looking for the sun) which eventually became "Jerusalem". Another possibility is that as sunchokes became the staple food of the first European pilgrims in North American soil they named it as food for the "new Jerusalem".
Around the 1960's they were renamed "sunchokes" by someone in the produce marketing department who took the separation of church and state too seriously. Sunchokes can grow up to 10ft, and if left to their own devises will live forever in the same spot, but quality of tubers will deteriorate if not frequently divided and replanted in fertile soil. They grow best in the sunniest spot, just like their cousins the sunflowers, with an optimum temperature of 65-80- F and 125 frost-free days. But the tubers will be at their prime when harvested after the first or second frost.
And speaking of the tubers, these look like small, knobbly potatoes but crunchier, sweeter and do have a slight taste of artichoke. They practically contain no starch, but plenty of inulin (not insulin), which becomes fructose when spuds are stored in the ground or refrigerated. The humble sunchoke is considered gourmet fare by many. Raw, it's an excellent substitute for water chestnuts in hot and spicy stir fries, or cooked in cream soups, broiled with sweet potatoes, or simply scrubbed and baked.