News from The Veggie Bin: January 5, 2012

Brrrr!

Baby, it’s cold outside! Winter was late in coming, but the severity of the cold is making up for it. Even in the dead of winter temperatures down in the 20s are rare for this area. When Old Man Winter comes to call, the farmer’s life gets a bit more stressful. As Floridians, we’ve all heard about citrus and berry crops being damaged by frigid temperatures, but what can farmers do when the chill sets in?

It seems counter-intuitive, but many citrus farmers put a protective “coat” of ice on their crops by spraying them with water and allowing it to freeze. In less extreme situations, or for leafy crops, the water is sprayed to warm them up with the higher temperature of the water and kept running with sprinklers through the night. The wind may chill humans, but a light wind can keep frost from settling on tender crops.

Many of our Veggie Bin customers are also year-round gardeners. That means you’re a farmer too! Urban farmers get some great benefits from living in the city during a cold snap. The river winding through the city as well as the “heat island” created by all of us snuggled tightly together, often keeps gardens from being damaged by colder temperatures.

Another super tip is to check your closet and garage sales for fitted sheets. Crib sheets are especially handy for putting over small fruit trees and low-to-the-ground plants. The elastic around the sheet will keep the wind from blowing the cover off your plants. Even in high winds, a single safety pin tightening that elastic will keep your plants cozy-warm. Because our low temperatures usually only last for a night or two, a well secured sheet should save your produce from the deep freeze. You may be tempted, especially on porches and Florida rooms, to use a space heater to protect your plants. Space heaters of any kind should never be left unattended due to fire risks.

To keep yourself snuggly in the weeks ahead we suggest a coffee, tea or honey add-on. We’ll brave the cold – you just sit tight in a pair of fuzzy pants!

This week’s Veggie Unearthed: Yum Yum Peppers – KYV Farm, Switzerland, FL

Yum Yum peppers are a variety of baby bell pepper. Though they look like hot peppers, they are actually sweet and crunchy with very few seeds. Your peppers traveled less than 30 miles from the dirt to your door!

Storage & Prep:
Your yum yums will come to you already packaged in a plastic zip-top bag. Store this bag anywhere in your fridge that stays consistently cold. (Not the door!) They should keep well this way for several days, if not longer.

The seeds are concentrated at the stem end of the pepper, so cleaning is pretty darn easy. Just slice off the top 1/4 – 1/2 inch along with the green stem. This will open up the veggie to all sorts of possibilities. Rinse out any seeds left inside and wash the peppers.

Recipes:
You can use yum yums as you would any other sweet pepper. They are like the popcorn of the veggie world once you discover eating them raw. Wash them well and chomp them just below the stem. They are bite-sized!

They also make a delightful crudites item on a veggie and dip plate. You can slice them whole into rings for a lovely salad, pizza, stir fry or wrap presentation. They are also a cute-as-a-button addition to shish kabobs.

Especially in the winter months, these little guys practically beg to be stuffed!

Stuffed Yum Yum Peppers

  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup softened cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup cooked flavorful meat of your choice (bacon, crab, smoked turkey, etc.)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Yum Yum Peppers

Slice off top 1/2 inch of peppers, remove seeds, keeping top intact.
Combine all other ingredients and season to taste.
Stuff cheese mixture into peppers and reattach the tops.
Grill or roast in a 350 degree oven until the filling is hot and the peppers are slightly softened. If you’d like less crispy peppers, you can blanch the peppers for 2-3 minutes in  boiling water before stuffing.

Remember, standing a zillion of these guys on end would be tough, so you’ll want a stiff filling that won’t just run out all over your pan.

Other recipes:
If you’re looking for recipes online, you’ll want to Google “Baby Bell Peppers” to get more results. Yum Yums are about half the size of a standard baby bell, so your cooking times will vary and you will need to cut the recipe depending on the size of the peppers used.

Baby Bell Peppers with Feta & Mint

Grilled Baby Bell Peppers

Cheese & Prosciutto Stuffed Baby Bell Peppers

Prosciutto-Wrapped Goat Cheese Stuffed Baby Bell Peppers

Vegetarian Shish Kabobs

Need Veggie Tech Support? Visit us on Facebook to share recipes and tips with other Veggie Bin customers and ask any questions you might have about the contents of your bin. You can also email us at info@theveggiebin.com.

What the heck do I do with a rutabaga?

This week’s Rutabaga

Do not be intimidated by the sturdiness of the rutabaga. This Russian babushka of a veggie has all sorts of goodness stored inside. It keeps well at room temperature and doesn’t need to be wrapped.

Here’s a helpful video on easy ways to peel and serve your rutabaga.

What’s in the bin this week?

Top row left to right: red leaf lettuce, strawberries, broccoli, yum yum peppers

Bottom row left to right: rutabagas, carrots, red Russian kale

(green text indicates organic produce, brown text indicates sustainable practices)

Organic Bin: includes all organic items above plus broccoli, yellow pear tomatoes, navel oranges

Want to learn more about the sourcing of each item?  Here’s a video which walks you through every item in your box this week.

Earn Veggie Bucks by referring folks in January!

The Veggie Bin is looking forward to a great 2012! We are so thankful for our customers. With your help, we are supporting local farmers and artisans to be sure that they keep going for many years to come. We hope you’ll take that next step and resolve to share the Veggie Bin with your friends and neighbors this year.

Our goal is to add 30 members in January and we’re already well on our way. As a special thank you for helping us reach that goal, you’ll earn $15 in Veggie Bin bucks for every new customer you send our way in the  month of January – up to five! That means you could earn up to $75 in Veggie Bucks to use for any of our delicious add-on products. (May we suggest the delectable French Pantry bread?)

Remember that we deliver to any business or group in our delivery area, so you could earn those Veggie Bucks with just one group sign-up! Best of all, you’ll be sharing the healthiest way to kick off a new year. Thanks again for being a part of the Veggie Bin!

We Want Your Feedback

Please visit our 2011 customer survey to help us better serve you in 2012. Your suggestions are extremely valuable to us!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Please remember that you can re-use your Veggie Bin boxes. Just leave your empty boxes at your door or hand them off to our delivery folks to make yet another contribution to keeping your footprint small.

Happy Cooking!

~Amie

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