meet a CSA member: caitlin and toby

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Why did join the Owl's Nest Farm CSA? Totally inspired by Liz and the team's ambition with the farm, I joined Owl's Nest in their first year. My boyfriend Toby and I were looking for a CSA to join to incorporate more seasonal, local produce into my cooking. Joining Owl's Nest allowed us to do that while also supporting an inspired, passionate team in the process! I also loved that they were growing so many varieties of greens that I'd never tried before (and now LOVE).

What was your favorite fruit, veggie, and/or herb from CSA this year? Oy, this is like picking a favorite child... I'd have to say watermelon radishes - they're gorgeous and so delicious. And they cool your whole body down in the summer. The pea shoots are also a staple for us - I'd head down to the market extra early sometimes just to be sure we got some. And rosemary, which we find a way to put in nearly everything. The ground cherries are also something I look forward to - I can't find them anywhere else!

Tell us about any new veggies you tried in 2017. I started cooking with tomatillos more last year when they became a regular feature of the market table. One of my best friends is from San Diego. He grew up eating them all the time and taught me his family recipe for roasted tomatillo salsa. I could literally drink it - so fresh and full of flavor.

Please share your favorite recipe(s). Carrot Dhal from In My Bowl - I swap in kale for spinach here. This Lentil Salad from My New Roots is an amazing base for whatever seasonal veggies and greens you get from Owl's Nest. And this Black Rice, Kale and Eggplant Pilaf from Green Kitchen stories is another favorite! Clearly I can't get enough lentils in my life.

We're in the Washington Post today!

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Hey guess what? We're in the newspaper! Owl's Nest is featured in a story about the growing number of young farmers in the U.S., as well as the challenges we're facing.

"For only the second time in the last century, the number of farmers under 35 years old is increasing, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest Census of Agriculture. Sixty-nine percent of the surveyed young farmers had college degrees — significantly higher than the general population.

This new generation can’t hope to replace the numbers that farming is losing to age. But it is already contributing to the growth of the local-food movement and could help preserve the place of midsize farms in the rural landscape."

Read the full article here.

What to cook with your sweet pepper bonanza

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by Owl's Nest Market CSA member Denise Graveline

Those colorful cartons of sweet peppers at the Owl's Nest Farm stand at Petworth Community Market, or in your CSA share, look tempting--but may have you stumped about how to use them. The good news: There are many preparations to work sweet peppers into your menu.

And you can expect an entirely different flavor from these peppers, says New York Times food writer Martha Rose Shulman in Cook a Peck of Peppers: "They’re piled high at mine, all different colors, mostly sweet ones but hotter chiles as well. They are a treat, and if you’re used to supermarket peppers, the intensity of the farmers’ market peppers will be a revelation. Supermarket peppers are pretty, yes, but they’re fleshy and dull. Those firm, thin-fleshed peppers my local farmers grow are intensely sweet if they’re red, orange or yellow, and wonderfully grassy if they’re green. When you roast them, they sweeten even more..."

Now's the time to stock up so you can try these recipes this month, or preserve the peppers for use later in the winter.

For now:

For later:

  • Pickle: Your sandwiches, cheese tray, or snack plate will thank you if you pickle some peppers now for use later on. This recipe for whole pickled snacking peppers is a simple fridge pickling recipe--no canning or hot water processing--and you can use it with whole peppers (tops cut off), strips, or rings. I'm using the smallest of the sweet peppers to pickle whole, and the larger ones get cut into strips.
  • Roast: The peppers can be cored and left whole or cut into strips before roasting, can be stored with a coating of olive oil in the fridge. Great for pizza or pasta toppings, sandwiches, flatbreads.
  • Freeze: You don't need to blanch peppers in hot water before you freeze them. Follow these simple instructions for "tray freezing" to preserve your peppers, which won't have the snap and crispness of fresh ones, but will still be great in stews, soups, omelets, and other recipes.

Don't forget: You can prep dishes like peperonata and freeze them in airtight jars for use later in the winter.