Previous month:
October 2006
Next month:
December 2006

Gleaning - for the determined scavenger

by Farmer Carrie

This evening ends our final vegetable pick-up for the year.  It's been a curious year--not a bad harvest but definitely unpredictable in a stressful sort of way.  I'll be tallying up the final harvest weights and survey responses and get back to you in a few weeks with a summary of the season.  In the meantime, we'd love to welcome any who would like to come for a final gleaning of the last scraps in the field.

Below I've listed what remains in the fields, roughly in order of how much is left.  Where I've given amounts, they are the total amount I think a determined pack of gleaners could harvest (NOT the amount that each person will get--so come early if there's something you're desperate for). 

Turnip greens - At planting time, I failed to communicate adequately with one of my co-workers, and we grew too many turnip greens (a variety of turnips that makes terrible roots but large, luscious leaves) and not enough turnip roots.  As a consequence we have lots and lots and lots of turnip greens left in the field just begging for someone to appreciate them. 
Dill - lots
Cilantro - lots
Parsley - lots
Red Cabbage Leaves - These cabbage plants never headed before the short days ended their growth cycle for the winter.  If you have a good use for the leaves, there's plenty here to pick.  They're tougher than the leaves in the center of a cabbage head. 
Broccoli Leaves - No heads here either, but the leaves closely resemble collards.  There's maybe 5 pounds total.
Watermelon radishes - There are lots of these, but small, which means they're hotter than the ones we've been harvesting for shares.
Beet leaves - Many of the beets never grew roots large enough to eat, but they did make leaves, which are similar to swiss chard.  There's a few pounds here, at least. 
Broccoli Raab - lots of edible flowers, maybe 4 pounds or so of leaves. 
Spicy mix - about 3 pounds (spread out over a large area, so it will take time to pick)
Lettuce - Of the tiny leaf lettuce that's been in your share lately, we have a few pounds.  There's more lettuce as heads, but they are leftover from the summer, and vary quite a bit in bitterness.  You'll find a few sweet heads if you're willing to taste some bitter ones first. 
Arugula - a pound
Mustard - a pound
Spinach - enough for a few salads
Altaglobe radishes (the little red ones) - a handful

The very small amounts of salad greens take a lot of time and diligent squatting to pick.  We recommend bringing a small serrated knife to make harvesting easier.  We're expecting rain all day Thursday, so you should also anticipate walking through some mud. 

There's no need to pick these to the bone, since a little leaf cover will help them survive the winter, but they could handle a little grazing if you're interested.
Culinary herbs -- lavender, oregano, thyme, marjoram
Medicinal herbs -- tansy, catnip, evening primrose, comfrey, mullein
I don't have any idea how to use the medicinal herbs, but the plants are there with some leaves attached.  If any of you know what to do with them, you're welcome to harvest all you want.

Given the Thanksgiving season, you might be interested in harvesting some food for your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter.  Many of them would enjoy some of the turnip greens we have in abundance.  It's a muddy trek up a hill to the field, but with a good knife, you could probably pick about 10 pounds in ten minutes.  Once harvested, you can take the greens to an agency near your home, or leave them with us, and we'll drop them off.
Christ House, in Northwest DC, has requested about 20 pounds.  DC Central Kitchen can take anything we have to offer.  I haven't asked, but I have a hunch Shepherd's Table, in Rockville, would also be happy for the greens. 
So if you have a little time to help while you're here, we'd really appreciate it. 

You are welcome to glean any time beginning Friday morning.  We will post signs to tell you where to find which crops.  But sometimes a little personal guidance helps, so we'll be around to walk you to the fields on Friday and Saturday afternoons (about 1pm to dark).  If you plan to arrive around 4pm or later, I recommend bringing a flashlight, in case the daylight fails you before your knees do. 

See you then!

Sweet Potatoes--Wonder Food

Clagett Farm CSA Recipes
Fall 2006

Recipes by Rita Calvert

Sweet Potatoes--Wonder Food

As an antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory food sweet potatoes are one of the staples for the women of Okanawa who have extremely rare incidence of breast cancer. That fact made me take note!

This vibrant tuber is also an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) and a very good source of vitamin C, sweet potatoes have healing properties as an antioxidant food. Both beta-carotene and vitamin C are very powerful antioxidants that work in the body to eliminate free radicals. Free radicals are chemicals that damage cells and cell membranes and are associated with the development of conditions like atherosclerosis, diabetic heart disease, and colon cancer. This may explain why beta-carotene and vitamin C have both been shown to be helpful for preventing these conditions.

Since these nutrients are also anti-inflammatory, they can be helpful in reducing the severity of conditions where inflammation plays a role, such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin B6 which helps reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.


Sweet potatoes are native to Central America and are one of the oldest vegetables known to man. They have been consumed since prehistoric times as evidenced by sweet potato relics dating back 10,000 years that have been discovered in Peruvian caves.

Christopher Columbus brought sweet potatoes to Europe after his first voyage to the New World in 1492. By the 16th century, they were brought to the Philippines by Spanish explorers and to Africa, India, Indonesia and southern Asia by the Portuguese. Around this same time, sweet potatoes began to be cultivated in the southern United States, where they still remain a staple food in the traditional cuisine. In the mid-20th century, the orange-fleshed sweet potato was introduced to the United States and given the name "yam" to distinguish it from other sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a featured food in many Asian and Latin American cultures. Today, the main commercial producers of sweet potatoes include China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, India and Uganda.

Indian Style Lamb with Sweet Potatoes
Serves 4

This lamb dish is easy, and delicious. The combination of flavors and healthy benefits of lamb with the vegetables will make this recipe a favorite in your home. The blended spices of garam masala are flavorful, yet not too spicy, giving this dish a sauce full of flavor without being rich and high in fat. It is easily found in the spice section of your favorite market.

1⁄2 pound ground or minced lamb shoulder or leg
1 medium sized onion quartered and sliced thin
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
3 medium cloves garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon garam masala
5 cups finely chopped kale
3 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1 inch cubes (about 1 large potato)
1 cup + 1 tablespoon chicken broth
salt and white pepper to taste

Prepare all the vegetables by chopping and have ready.

Heat 1 tablespoon broth in a medium stainless steel large size braising pot or skillet. Healthy Sauté onion, garlic, ginger and lamb in broth over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add garam masala, mixing well for about half a minute. Add 1 cup broth and stir in sweet potatoes and kale. Simmer on medium low heat covered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until lamb, potatoes and kale are tender. Season
with salt and pepper.

Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup
Serves 8

A different vegetable mix soup which tastes great! It's very spicy and alternative to a curry. Mix the sweet potatoes with all the varieties for a nice unique taste!

1 28 ounce can tomatoes (fire roasted such as Muir Glen)
1 14 ounce can lentils
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium sweet potatoes (mix between varieties)
1 cup Shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon chili, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin
3 cups vegetable stock

Place lentils, vegetable stock, chili, cumin and garlic in a medium Dutch oven. Mix and cook to the boiling point.
Add remaining ingredients and simmer until soft. Mash vegetables and serve

Caribbean Squash and Sweet Potato Stew
Serves 6

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
3 medium onions, finely sliced
3 cups vegetable broth
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small minced chile pepper
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1 16-ounce can tomatoes
1 small butternut squash (about 1 1/2 lbs.), peeled, seeded, cut into small chunks
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
pepper to taste
1 16-ounce can black beans, drained
1/4 cup fresh cilantro finely chopped, for garnish
1-2 limes,cut in wedges, for garnish

In a medium nonstick pot, cook onions in bubbling balsamic vinegar until tender-about 10 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients, except black beans and garnish. Cover cook on medium low heat until squash and sweet potatoes are cooked, about 20 minutes adding water if stew becomes too thick.

About 10 minutes before serving, add black beans and cook to heat through.
Serve over rice, with cilantro sprinkled over top and a squeeze of lime.

Roast Herbed Sweet Potatoes with Bacon & Onions
Makes 10 to 12 servings

3  thick slices applewood-smoked or peppered bacon, diced
2  pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
2  medium onions, cut into 8 wedges
1  teaspoon salt
1  teaspoon dried thyme
1/4  teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook bacon in large, deep skillet until crisp. Remove from heat. Transfer bacon to paper towels; set aside. Add potatoes and onions to drippings in skillet; toss until coated. Stir in salt, thyme and pepper.

Spread mixture in single layer in ungreased 15X10-inch jelly-roll pan or shallow roasting pan. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until golden brown and tender. Transfer to serving bowl; sprinkle with bacon.
Note:  Potatoes can be prepared and baked up to 4 hours before serving; let stand at room temperature. When turkey comes out of oven, turn oven to 375°F and reheat while turkey stands and is carved. (Or, bake at 325°F alongside turkey for 1 hour.)

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Spicy Apricot Dipping Sauce
Serves 6

3 sweet potatoes (12 to 14 ounces each), peeled, cut into narrow wedges
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Spicy Apricot Dipping Sauce (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 450°F. Gently toss potatoes, oil, salt and pepper in large bowl until potatoes are evenly coated. Divide potatoes between two large cookie sheets or jelly-roll pans. Bake 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve hot with sauce.

Spicy Apricot Dipping Sauce
Serves 6

1  cup apricot jam
1/4  cup orange juice
1  tablespoon prepared mustard
1/4  teaspoon ground red pepper

Melt jam in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in orange juice, mustard and red pepper. Purée sauce in food processor or with immersible mixer.

Tip:  Sauce can be served with chicken, either as a dipping sauce, or brushed over cooked chicken and browned briefly under the broiler for a tasty glaze.

Sweet Potato and Chick Pea Melange
Serves 4

A simply divine dish to lead you into fall. Use it as a salad, side dish or entree.

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 medium pear, diced
2 dried red chili peppers (serrano, cayenne or Thai), broken into pieces
or 1⁄2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 mild green chili peppers, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 cups cooked sweet potato cubes
2 cups chick peas (garbanzo beans)
juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste
thinly sliced garlic chives for garnish

Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet and add the mustard seeds. When they start spluttering, add the pear, red pepper and green chilies and sauté for a minute or two. Stir in the seasoning, sweet potato cubes and chickpeas to the pan and stir continuously for a minute or two. Remove from the stove, toss with lemon juice and sprinkle with garlic chives. Serve warm or cold.

A tasty variation of this recipe is to combine grated coconut and raw mango slices with it. After seasoning the oil with spices add two teaspoons fresh lemon juice along with the drained chickpeas to the skillet. Pan-fry for a minute or two while stirring continuously. Remove from the stove. Sprinkle one medium size raw mango cut into small cubes and 1⁄2 cup freshly grated coconut and stir gently to mix. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves. Serve warm or cold.