Out With The Old

CSA Week of October 24, 2011

What’s In Your Box?

  • Arugula
  • Potatoes
  • Peppers
  • Napa Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Winter Squash–Potimarron, a French heirloom variety said to taste like roasted chestnuts.  Cut in half and bake cut side down until soft, about 45 minutes, at 375 degrees.  Somewhat dry flesh is really good with butter!
  • Tomatoes–cut in half and bake, topped with toasted bread crumbs and parmesan cheese
  • Rosemary–hang any extra to dry
  • Strawberries
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Recipes Below!

Dear Friends,

Although the transformation is far from complete, I’m sure it’s obvious to all of you coming to the farm that, bit by bit, the farm is getting ready for winter.  The lovely, dry Fall weather has allowed me to spend most of my spare time on the tractor, mowing and discing in the crops that are finished and preparing fields for cover crop seeding.  Working back and forth across the farm, I often feel as though I’m working a giant eraser that is taking away all the work that was done over the past seven months, creating a blank slate, as it were, for next season.

There’s still a full month of work to be done before the season is really over, but the nature and tenor of the work changes dramatically over the course of the next four weeks.  Day by day, I’m checking off my list and there are many tasks that we’ve done repetitively all season long that, one by one, we won’t be doing again until next season.  It’s not that the work decreases, necessarily.  In fact, we’ll work hard to clear the fields, and I’ll spend more time on the tractor than I’ve spent since June.

It isn’t often that you hear about the advantages of farming.  Most of the time, we farmers whine about the weather, the pests, the weeds, the crops that don’t live up to our expectations, and more.  Sometimes, I think about putting up a big sign over the entrance to the farm nearest the farmhouse that says, “NO WHINING.”

So, here it is:  One of the great advantages of farming is that there’s an end to the season.  Like a dramatic play in a theatre, the curtain comes down and the play is over.  The lights come on and everybody goes home.

But where the audience sees the play once and goes home, the actors get a chance to ponder their performance before the next night.   Between performances the actors in the play may think about subtle nuances in their acting.  For the next performance, they may  change a gesture, an intonation in their voice, or a facial expression.  Far from being a static performance without variation, the play is dynamic and the actors strive for perfection in their roles.  These changes may not save a bad play from bad reviews, but they may transform a good play into a truly excellent and memorable performance.

Farming is a little like that, if you follow.  Obviously, Jo and I will welcome the chance to change our routine, get some rest and, hopefully, take a little vacation in January.  But, as much as we welcome the end of the season, we won’t be able to save ourselves from thinking about work all the time.  Jo and I will go over the season again and again in our minds and we’ll talk about it until we have to make a rule:  NO MORE TALKING ABOUT WORK!

Still, at its best, we’ll reflect on the successes and failures of this season and we’ll do what we can to plan next season to be better.  In fact, in December, we’ll have our annual Corporate Retreat (attendance: two).  A couple of times in the past, we’ve gone to Wilbur Hot Springs.  It’s the perfect place for a corporate retreat when you can’t talk above a whisper and there are many places where no talking is allowed at all.  We’ll review our crops, our expenses and income, the highs and lows, and put together our task list for that list to end all lists, otherwise known as  Winter Work.

Then, before you know it, the season starts and we get a chance to do everything that one could ever hope to do better all over again.  Enjoy the lovely Fall weather!

Here are this week’s recipes:

Winter Squash Bread

  • 2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 2 ½ cups cooked winter squash
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (1 cup milk and 1 tsp vinegar, if you are without buttermilk)
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ½ tsp allspice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut winter squash in halves ands place into a baking pan with water at the bottom.   Bake for 1 hour or until soft.  Scoop out squash into a medium sized bowl.  Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix the wet  ingredients into another bowl.  Add the squash to the wet ingredients.  Combine the wet and the dry.  Spoon the mixture into two 9×9 loaf pans, or muffin tins.

Bake 35-40 minutes

Quick Kimchi With the new found American interest in probiotics, this Korean staple is finding its way to the American plate and palate.

  • 1 head Chinese cabbage, 2 ½ – 3lbs. (also known as Napa cabbage)
  • 1 medium Asian radish
  • ¼ cup coarse sea salt
  • 4 scallions (cut into 1″ pieces)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 Teaspoon sesame seeds (optional – a personal preference)

To prepare:

1 – Dissolve salt in 1 cup water/set aside.

2 – Thoroughly wash the cabbage/then cut into 2 inch lengths/peel Asian radish and halve it lengthwise, then halve lengthwise again – then slice thinly into ½” squares.

3 – Place cabbage and radish in a large bowl and pour salt water over them.

4 – Let soak overnight or at least 5 hours.

5 – After soaking drain vegetables BUT RETAIN SALTED WATER.

6 – Add scallions, garlic, ginger, chili powder (and optional sesame seeds).

7 – Mix all vegetables, thoroughly, by hand

(using gloves as chili powder may sting)

Pack all in a large jar (about 2 quart size)/pour the salted water over the mixture. Leave an inch of space at the top of the jar. Cover tightly. Let sit for 2-3 days depending on how fermented you like your kimchi.

Refrigerate after opening.

Roasted Carrot Soup

  • 1 lb. carrots (about 4 or 5), cut into chunks
  • 2 small potatoes, or equivalent, cut into chunks
  • 1 large onion, cut into chunks
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 hefty thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • ½ cup light cream (may omit or replace with coconut milk, if desired)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons sour cream (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons minced parsley

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Toss the veggies with the olive oil and season with ½ teaspoon salt and some pepper.  Put them in a large baking dish with thyme and bay and roast until tender and glazed, about 1 hour, turning them 2-3 times.  Transfer the veggies to a soup pot, add the stock, and bring to a boil.  Simmer until the carrots are soft, about 20 minutes, then puree till smooth.  Return the puree to the pot, taste for salt, and season with pepper.  Stir in the cream, if desired.   Ladle into bowls and swirl a spoonful of sour cream into each.  Add a little chopped parsley and serve.