The first winter share of the year, the first share of 2013, and the first Slow Hand Farm share harvested entirely inside the Portland city limits. As a transitional strategy between the Sauvie Island farm location and the new Sherwood location, I planted the winter crops in my backyard and my neighbor's backyard. Today's harvest was interesting, figuring out new little systems for packing the shares in a new space, and figuring out what survived the wet, warm fall and the holiday freeze. Winter harvests are always the biggest guess of all the seasons. I already have seen some crop failures, which is par for the course every year, but I can never really tell what's going to be good until it's actually harvested. Today's share has leek, escarole, radicchio, kale and a sample of salsify.
Salsify is probably the most unusual vegetable in there, although I do grow it every year. It's also called oyster root and typically I scrape off the skin of the root with a knife (at which point it bleeds white, sticky sap that browns easily) and then I either chop it up and boil it until tender, or slice it and fry it until golden. Boiled it does taste a bit like oyster. Fried, it's very sweet and you have to be careful not to burn it.
The escarole, radicchio and kale all have a little freeze damage, dead spots on the leaves which can easily be torn out before cooking. They should be dealt with right away as they will shorten the storage life of the vegetables. The freeze did help sweeten them up though. I really like the escarole and radicchio in salad. They are slightly bitter, slightly sweet, and crunchy. I liked them sliced fairly thin. Soaking in cold water helps crisp them up and remove bitterness. Oil, lemon and salt makes a great dressing. I like kale sauteed and for that it helps to cut out the stems, chop them up and cook them a little longer than the leaves.
Leek, excellent sauteed like onion, used in soup, baked in bread or biscuits, baked whole by itself... It's just a fantastic vegetable.
I hope you all had a great holiday. I'm excited to be back to harvests and there's lots of work coming up getting the new farm site up and running.