Sunday, February 27, 2011

no tomatoes in winter

Tomatoes are my favourite food in the world...but I have learned to go without fresh tomatoes for half the year. I will occasionally buy a couple to make a layered dip for a special occasion (there is a greenhouse in the next town that grows organic hydroponic tomatoes and they are available at the regular supermarkets), but throughout the winter and spring I mostly rely on jarred and dried tomato products, or whatever I froze or dehydrated in the summer and fall.

Two summers ago, local tomato crops in New England were ruined by late blight. It was then that I learned to go without them for such a long stretch that now 9 months doesn't seem like such a big deal to wait for a perfectly sun-ripened local tomato.

And so I can appreciate
what we DO get more as
well. This year the winter
farm shares at the CSA
are the longest yet,
stretching til the end of
March! That means there
will only be 2 month of the
year we are not receiving
locally grown vegetables.

Winter offers lots of root
vegetables, mostly stored
in the root cellar and
divided for each monthly
pickup through the season.
Carrots, parnsips, purple-
topped turnips, potatoes,
celeriac, onions, shallots &
beets. Roasting, mashing,
and making simple soups
takes care of the majority.

The rest of the winter
share consists of kale,
swiss chard, spinach,
baby salad greens, leeks,
cabbages, popping corn,
and a little extra garlic.

Amazingly most of this
is grown in the actual
ground, just covered by
a simple frame mobile

This winter saw (and is
still seeing--it's snowing
as I type) some huge
snow accumulation. But
on a sunny day the
temperature in side the
greenhouse can reach
the 80sF.

Another lower greenhouse
was added this year to
increase kale and chard
production. While the kale
from the summer still
survives in the field, covered,
this kale is much more
robust, offering sharers a
large bagful at each pickup.

Spinach with Dried
Tomatoes & Garlic

8 oz. fresh spinach, washed
1 T. olive oil
1 T. margarine (I use Earth
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 sun-dried or dehydrated
tomato slices, soaked
salt & pepper

Soak the dried tomatoes
in hot or boiling water
for 30 minutes. Save the
soaking water! Remove the softened tomatoes and slice thinly or chop.

In a large pot or skillet, heat the olive oil & margarine over medium heat. Add garlic & tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Add spinach, a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Toss with a fork or tongs. Cook for another minute. Add a few tablespoons of the tomato soaking water, cover pot, and cook 1-2 minutes until tender.

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