From the Field
As the 2013 season draws to a close this week, Jim and I would like to express our deep gratitude and appreciation to all of you – we could not have farmed organic produce for the island without our devoted CSA members!
We’d like to announce that after this season at Ridge to Reef Farm we are moving on to start our own organic farm on family land in south-central Pennsylvania. This has not been an easy decision, and we will sincerely miss St. Croix and all of its beauty – the beaches, the rainforest, and most of all the people.
We’re also pleased to introduce you to Shiloh Moates and Emma Haynes, who will be your farmers for the coming seasons! Most recently they were farming in North Carolina, but they originally hail from mountains of Virginia and Atlanta, Georgia. They are thrilled to be here, and are already well into preparations for the 2014 CSA season. They have heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, collard greens, bok choy, seasoning peppers and cilantro already growing for you, and a seed order on the way.
Jim and I have learned a lot about agriculture and life through the challenges and rewards of farming together in the Caribbean. We also learned a lot about each other, and last month after over 5 years together, we got engaged on the beach at Cane Bay! If you find yourselves stateside, you are welcome to visit us at our farm in rural Pennsylvania.
We'd also like to thank the amazing team at the farm, whose dedication to farming make the whole CSA program work -- especially Dakota, Nate, Jillian, Jamison, Shiloh and Emma, among many others!
Claudia, Jim and the crew at Ridge to Reef Farm
Photo above: Gaia Garden with lemongrass, bananas, malabar spinach, seasoning peppers and tulsi basil.
This is the tenth and final week of the Fall 2013 CSA!
Registration for the Winter/Spring and Summer 2014 seasons of Ridge to Reef Farm’s CSA program is now open for current members only at:
Sign-ups will open to the general public in one week.
The Winter/Spring Season is 14 weeks and runs Jan 9th - April 12th.
The Summer season is 14 weeks and runs starts May 15th.
What's in Your Share
Seminole pumpkin is a wild squash, native or naturalized in South Florida. It gets its name from the Seminole tribe, who cultivated it in remote areas of the Florida Everglades. This “pumpkin” is botanically Cucurbita moschata, related to a butternut squash. Like butternut, Seminole pumpkins are tastier when allowed to sit at room temperature for a few weeks in a cool, dark, well ventilated area. This “curing” process stimulates the pumpkin to convert its starches to sugars and finish ripening, resulting in sweeter, smoother flesh. So, if you can wait, it should be perfect for Thanksgiving! It’s still tasty eaten fresh.
How to cook: We like to simply halve or quarter it, scoop out the seeds, coat it with olive oil and salt and roast it in the oven at 350 degrees until tender (30min to over an hour, depending on the size).
Culantro (Eryngium foetidum) is an herb native to the West Indies and continental tropical America that is often substituted for its close relative, Cilantro. Known as recao in Puerto Rico and Ngo Gai in Vietnamese, culantro is an integral part of Caribbean cuisine. Culantro is typically stronger and more pungent than cilantro, so a general rule of thumb is to use about half the amount of cilantro you would typically use. It is excellent in salsas, noodle dishes, curries and more! Try the recipe below for Sofrito, a traditional Puerto Rican seasoning.
Scotch Bonnet peppers are related to the more familiar Habanero, but have a slightly different shape and more vigorous growth habit. Enjoy these extremely hot peppers as part of a jerk seasoning rub (see the recipes below!), or use a small amount in any recipe calling for hot peppers.
"A condiment, a sauce, a basis for beans, rice, and stews – sofrito is all this and more. There are as many recipes for sofrito as there are cooks in Latin-Caribbean countries like Puerto Rico, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic, but just about everyone would agree it's an essential building block in the kitchen.
Aromatic and savory, sofrito has its origins in Spanish cuisine (and the Spanish word "to fry") and typically consists of onions sautéed in oil with ingredients like garlic, hot and/or sweet peppers, tomatoes, and herbs such as cilantro, culantro, and oregano. Some sofritos are red, others are green, some chunky and others puréed. Sofritois also known by dozens of regional names including sazón in the Dominican Republic and hogao in Colombia.
Most cooks make up big batches of sofrito to store in the refrigerator or freezer and reach for it as needed. The flavorful mixture can be used as a foundation for stews and rice dishes like arroz con pollo, or to perk up everything from beans to eggs, steak, and vegetables. It can also be eaten as a dip like salsa."
-From The Kitchn blog
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
6-8 seasoning peppers or 1-2 sweet peppers
8-10 culantro leaves, roughly chopped
Salt, to taste
Hot pepper(s), to taste (optional!)
Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until thoroughly mixed but still slightly chunky.
When ready to use, heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a pot and cook through then add meats, beans, eggs, etc. This quick cooking is typical of sofritos and takes the edge off of the raw flavors. If you are baking a pork roast or something that will cook for a while, you can skip the step of pre-frying.
To reserve for later: Pour into ice cube tray, cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and freeze. You can pop them out when needed, or transfer to a freezer bag. Two to three cubes will season a can of beans (1-2 Cups if using soaked beans from dry).
From the Fiery Foods & BBQ Supersite
Here is a typical Jamaican jerk rub that can be used on any meat or fish. Feel free to improvise and add ginger, bay leaves, and coriander if you like.
3 teaspoons ground Jamaican allspice
6 to 8 Scotch bonnet peppers, seeds and stems removed, finely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
In a food processor or blender, process all the ingredients together to make a paste. Store the paste in a glass jar in the refrigerator.
Fiery foods aficionados will love this sauce that is often served over jerked meat.
12 Scotch bonnet peppers (or substitute habaneros), seeds and stems removed
3 onions, chopped
2 clove garlic finely chopped
1/2 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons ground allspice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup minced scallions
In a food processor or blender, process all ingredients until smooth. Serve over cooked meat. Extra sauce will keep for months in the refrigerator.
Vegetarian Jerk Tofu
1 pound firm tofu
1 cup vegetable stock
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Jerk Sauce (see recipe)
Slice the tofu into bite-size pieces.
Bring the vegetable stock to a boil, adding salt, garlic and thyme. Add the tofu and simmer for 5 to 8 minutes. Remove tofu and drain on paper towels.
Sprinkle black pepper onto the tofu, then carefully roll the pieces in jerk sauce and set aside for at least 1 hour.
Place the tofu in the oven at low heat for about 3 minutes. Serve with jerk sauce.
This Week's Harvest
Scotch Bonnet - hot peppers
THANK YOU HOSTS!
Gifft Hill School
St. John 3:30 - 5:30 pm Thursday
Havensight, St. Thomas 11 am -1 pm Thursday
The Pickled Greek
Christiansted, St. Croix 3-5 pm Saturday
Frederiksted, St. Croix 2-4 pm Saturday
Ridge to Reef Farm serves the US Virgin Islands with certified organic produce grown with sustainable permaculture practices (and a lot of love).