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Leeks are one of the oldest cultivated Alliums, related to both the Lily and the Amaryllis families. Leeks add a subtle touch to recipes without overpowering other flavors. Their soft texture is essential in making flavorful winter soups with other cool season crops like kale, chard, turnips, potatoes, and carrots. Alliums have been well-researched and found to reduce total cholesterol and LDL, or “bad” cholesterol levels, at the same time helping to lower blood pressure, moderating the risk of heart attack and stroke. Just two servings per week is associated with reduced rates of prostate, ovarian and colon cancers. The combination of manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate, and iron make leeks particularly helpful in stabilizing blood sugar, slowing absorption of sugars to ensure their proper metabolism in the body. Martha Stewart has 39 leek recipes on her website including Fettuccine, Leek & White Beans which was eaten heartily by our vegetarian son Patrick, this past week. Halve Leeks lengthwise, from top to bottom and wash well under cold running water. Use the tough, dark green portion of the stalk to add flavor to soup stock.–denesse Willey
The lengthening days make a farmer’s pulse quicken, as much from fright as anticipation. We have finished digging our winter potatoes. That crew has now begun to cut seed potatoes for spring planting. Truck after truck arrives at the farm with composts made from either dairy manure or urban yard greens. Our neighbor, Tom Bursey, broadcasting the dark, earthy fertilizer, drives in between white bags neatly marking the fields. Moments later, powerful tractors work fresh microbial food into the awakening soil. Flocks of small birds follow the disk, looking to pick off an easy snack. – denesse
Potato harvest will begin in earnest this week. We’re finally tearing out last summer’s peppers and eggplant, making way for spring seedings. Our warm autumn lead to early and complete harvests of Mei Qing and Fennel planned for winter boxes. It’s fun to see what local growers have to share. This week we’re featuring items from young David Obermiller’s four-acre Fresno garden. – denesse
For several weeks Canada geese have been flying over the farm on their way to southern climes. The sound of this annual migration beckons me from the office and reminds me of the pleasure of living on the Pacific flyway. I will hang my thistle feeders at the house this weekend to lure the California finches within sight of our kitchen windows. These glimpses of nature fill me with wonder and hope. The geese call out to one another, hence the nickname “Canadian Honkers”. I wonder about these aerial communications; are they gossiping about the tidiness of farms over which they pass or might they be words of encouragement for the flight leader? The sound is both exciting and forlorn, reminiscent of homecomings associated with these winter holidays. The Satsumas harken us to reread Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory. I hope there’s a memory or two for you in this week’s box. – denesse
Last Week’s storm brought some much needed snow to the highest elevations, and with this warmer weather a bit of valley fog. I always praise the wretched summer heat and soul sapping winter fog; “without them there would be 3 1/2 million people living here and the place would be ruined!” It looks like we will have some hand-dug Yukon Gold potatoes for the extra-value holiday box next week. The crop is “made”, but we need to wait for the field to dry out and the skins “to set” before harvesting in earnest. – denesse