Saturday, April 24, 2010

Distribution - April 25, 2010

Well my friends, it is here, our last share of the season, and the one year birthday of wintergreens. It's been a honor working for you! Here's what today's distribution brings:

- frozen paletas, Zora Dora's
- fresh tofu, Local Tofu
- fresh sunchokes, wintergreens garden
- basil seedlings, Hudson Valley Seed Library
- black walnuts from the streets of Beacon, optional
- season "leftovers" including: sugar free applesauce, frozen carrot pulp, pickled cauliflower, fresh chives, fresh garlic, granola, pear honey, green and black kombucha, a kombucha mother, frozen red peppers, frozen pesto, fermented garlic pickles, fermented ruby kraut, dried red beans, dried wheatberries, and more.

Our featured businesses are Zora Dora's and Local Tofu. Our friend Steve of Zora Dora's works right on Main St., Beacon, making paletas from the freshest ingredients possible, and incorporating a lot of local produce in flavors: cucumber, tarragon, mint, beets, pears, rhubarb, strawberries, etc. He and I have chatted about creating pickle popsicles, and also getting pawpaws into his skilled hands this year. Yum.

Local Tofu is our trustworthy source for organic, locally made, bulk tofu. Many of our customers comment that it tastes completely different than what they can get in the grocery, and I attribute a lot of that to freshness. We love Local Tofu because of its counter-culture roots, their commitment to a quality product, our ability to get it without packaging, and because of its beautiful, beany taste.

If you haven't heard me rave before, you should know that sunchokes are pretty amazing: they grow tall easily along sunny borders, and have sunflower like blossoms. Their roots taste like nutty potatoes. These particular roots are from last year's plants, and they overwintered underground, in the soil. Yep, these roots are from last year's plants, and I just dug them up now, tasting sweeter than they did in fall. When something stores so well with even less effort and energy than root cellaring, it's a veggie to be embraced! Cut anything that looks like an eye or a sprouting bit off before eating, and plant in shallow soil if you're interested in having some of these grow (& reproduce!) in your yard. If you haven't eaten sunchokes before, go easy, because they can upset your stomach.

Hudson Valley Seed Library is offering a valuable service to us: local seeds. Before local veggies and local fruit comes local seed, accomplished by seed saving and tracking. These tiny seedlings are from local basil seed. That means not only that they haven't traveled, but also that they're perfectly suited to growing conditions in the Hudson Valley. So we've planted some basil plants. They are TINY, since I never found a spot for them that was both warm and light this spring. But, they are grown from local plants, and mine, last year, turned into big, bushy, productive things. When they're a couple of inches high, plant them in plenty of soil and enjoy fresh basil all summer.

Black walnuts, pictured here in their husks when first gathered, are a perennial local resource, and one we should learn to use. They are very tasty, strong even, and suited more for baking than for fresh eating. I say that they're an optional part of your share because of this: I didn't crack or shell the nuts for you. I apologize, but when dealing with tight finances, some things have to give, and one was that we never ponied up for the fancy black walnut cracker. That said, I think it's worth it to do so, so that you can collect and eat these nuts with ease every year, for free. It's still on the list of equipment to buy. In the meantime, you can make quick work of a handful of nuts with a hammer and a cloth bag, or with a table mounted vice. Here's the thing about black walnuts: after peeling the husks off in fall, it is important that they cure for several months in a dry place. These got a little too dry, it seems, so the nutmeat is a little shriveled and wrinkly. Since you're not popping them into your mouth raw, but chopping them into bread (mmmmm!) or sweets, they'll work just fine. Next year, though, I'd crack the nuts and use them (or freeze them) around February.

Leftovers can be a bummer, or they can be an excuse to eat pie for breakfast. We've got quite a little stock of items left from the season. If you come early you get the choice of the lot, and the grab-bag style of this last distribution will be a boon to you!

Thank goodness I know you'll be in good hands with Common Ground and Fishkill Farms—happy summer of plushness.

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