23 May 2011

Unique produce

There's much I love about the blessing of having the wonderful folk of FIG, supply us with beautiful, fresh produce to nourish us all through our week. But one thing I've really been appreciating of late is the opportunity to try some less common produce that I definitely never found when shopping in a mainstream environment for our fresh fruit and veg.
We've been enjoying many unique and new produce items of late and I always look forward to seeing mysterious produce items in the choices list on Sunday night, then googling the new produce to see just what exactly these wonderful things are, and how I would use them!
For a while now we've been enjoying crook neck squash. They're so sweet with their little crook necks. They make cute little mini stuffed cups. We scoop out the middle, stuff with our favourite filling and bake. We make a savoury rice and mince mix, stuff it in the little squash cups, sprinkle with grated cheese and baked it in the oven. The shell goes nice and crispy, the squash is sweet and the cheese melts perfectly over the top. We roast the seeds and serve them sprinkled over the top. The perfect accompaniment to our warm Autumn meal.

The nettles that have been coming are wonderful! I must tell you that I was so keen to try them the first week we decided on nettles, that I promptly ripped the bag open, plunged my hand in and brought it straight back out of the bag covered in stings! OOOOPS! Yes, I did know they sting - and yes, I SHOULD have watched this video about how to handle nettles BEFORE I plunged my hand into the bag. We've been enjoying our nettles juiced in our morning green juices. They add a wonderful Autumn zing to the juice!
Kohlrabi has been back for guest appearances on the extras table. We have enjoyed the leaves and stalks roasted on oven trays, drizzled with a smidgen of oil, sprinkled with salt and roasted on a highish heat until crisp. Perfect, healthy, homemade crisps. A delicious Autumn treat.
We were so disappointed when we forgot to use our wild pine mushrooms. By the time I found them tucked away in the fridge at the end of the week, they weren't in the best using condition anymore. Mushrooms really do call to be used quite quickly. I was speaking today to someone who harvests some of FIG's wild pine mushrooms, and he told me that a customer in Sydney mentioned to him that the wild pine mushrooms can be frozen. I'll have to look into this. Also, I thought that they would probably be good to dry or dehydrate and use just as one does dried shitake... but I'm not sure if wild pine mushrooms take so well to this? They did look so pretty and quite unique when I opened their little bag up for a look inside when we got home. We are hoping that they are available again soon, as we were looking forward to trying this recipe with them.
And the turnip greens! Not so unusual the dear old turnip - but I've not often used the greens. When the turnips turned up with the most delicious and lush looking greens the other week, I jumped online to research if I could use the greens and what nutritious goodies they contain. Turns out that the whole turnip green v's the root vegetable is alot like the situation of the beet and the green that I wrote about a while back. The greens actually contain alot more goodies than the root itself. There is so much goodness in the turnip green. The flavour is slightly spicy and we have been juicing them into our green juices, which adds a nice little spice to the mix. The turnip greens are like mustard leaves, in that, in terms of flavour, you really do need to use them sparingly unless you LOVE alot of spice. They can be a little bitter, but they balance well when accompanied with other greens. You can use the turnip greens, or "turnip tops" as they are known in the UK, either raw or lightly steamed.
And to top it all off, today we picked up some 'Japanese Raisins' at the Mangrove Mountain Country Markets! They were delicious, and now we are madly saving the seeds as we eat the fruit, to see if we can grow our very own Japanese raisin tree!

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