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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Week 18--The Thank You Note

Taking a walk around the fields today...I can't believe it is October. The season has flown by and although I am happy with most crops, I was hoping for a little Indian Summer to beef up a few last minute plantings. Yellow and red leaves shower me as I drive under the maple trees on the edge of the field and watching the cows graze in front of a backdrop of color has been delightful these past few days. My back is sore from lugging most of the winter squash into our basement to protect them from cold nights, and long rows of carrots, beets, rutabagas and cabbage await their chance to be bundled in my arms. It is very satisfying to feel abundant, rich in food. A joy to rid of that "pit of the stomach ache" that drenched me in the early summer. I hope that you, too, have felt abundant in food most of this season and for seasons to come.

Thank you to all who filled out a survey! Your comments throughout the entire season have been helpful. All in all folks seemed very pleased (thank, God!). A few reoccurring themes were:

1. A handful of folks wanted the note printed out. No problem! I will print out a few notes each week and if this appeals to you, help yourself. Sorry though, there will be no photos.

2. More fruit. Ahh that would be nice. However, growing fruit is an art of farming technique and time all in itself. I grow the PYO strawberries and raspberries in hopes that you feel you have your "own" patch. And I will always pick at least one quart of strawberries per full share. Raspberries just take too long for me to pick enough for all. I will try to be more diligent on buying in blueberries when they are in season. And I could buy in some apples if you would like, although they won't be organic. Let me know. We are thinking about a PYO blueberry patch, but that will be down the road. Apples will be a part of the Thanksgiving share...We have planted a few peaches, plums and pears, but the trees are young and by no means did we plant an orchard. I encourage you to visit a local orchard like Rocky Ridge (Bowdoin) or Willow Pond Farm (Sabattus) in the fall.

3. Lack of quantity and diversity early in the season. Part of joining a CSA is that you take the good with the bad, the glut of melons with the lack of spinach. However, I am taking steps to improve the spring season like planting more, just in case, and erecting a hoop house (an unheated greenhouse) for early greens. AND next year the asparagus should be ready to pick!!

So thank you for your patience, encouragement, comments, compliments and love of food! I hope you will consider joining again next year. (It's not too early to sign up now.) And please pass the farm name along!!!! I had 32 members this year and next year I would love to have 50.

Goodbye to the 8 not-so-little pigs. I admit, I am a little sad and am not ready for them to go--they are so entertaining! But alas, I am a meat eater and what better meat to eat?!
This Week's Loot: Tomatilloes (great for making green salsa!), Lettuce, Tat Soi, Chinese Cabbage, Potatoes, Carrots, Beets, Delecata Winter Squash, Leeks, Peppers, Broccoli, Sorrel, Parsley
Next Week's Loot: Lettuce, Chard, Broccoli, Pac Choi, Kohl Rabi, Butternut Squash...
Sorrel--I think if you try this herb, you will love it!!! I added a 1/4 cup chopped in my potato leek soup this weekend--it adds a nice lemony falvor. A small amount chopped into a salad is superb too!
Tomatilloes--These little fruits are related to tomatoes and are excelent roasted and used in salsa or sauce. They are not very good eaten raw by themselves, but you can make a raw salsa with them.
Tomatillo Salsa Verde Recipe
To cook the tomatillos, you can either roast them in the oven, or boil them. Roasting will deliver more flavor; boiling may be faster and use less energy. Either way works, though boiling is a more common way to cook the tomatillos.
1 1/2 lb tomatillos
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 Jalapeño peppers OR 2 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped
Salt to taste
1 Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well.
2a Roasting method Cut in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under a broiler for about 5-7 minutes to lightly blacken the skin.
2b Boiling method Place tomatillos in a saucepan, cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove tomatillos with a slotted spoon.
2 Place tomatillos, lime juice, onions, cilantro, chili peppers, sugar in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed. Season to taste with salt. Cool in refrigerator.
Serve with chips or as a salsa accompaniment to Mexican dishes.
Makes 3 cups.
Delicata Squash is an heirloom squash. Since it’s an heirloom veggie, it’s grown for flavor and not for mass-shipping; the thin skin of this squash made it harder to transport thousands of miles from where it was grown. The thin skin is a great asset, in my opinion. It makes it easy to prepare (you don’t need an axe and and a tree-stump to cut up this squash), and you can even leave the skin on and–get this–eat it after baking! But besides the skin, the flesh is golden, sweet, and smoothly-textured. It’s perfect for just baking, chopping into stir-fry or blending into a lovely silky bisque.
Delicata Squash Bisque Serves 4 large bowls, 6-8 Cups3 Pounds Delicata Squash, (2 pounds after prepping)
Oil for roasting
1 tsp Thyme
Lots of Black Pepper
1 1/2 tsp Salt, more or less to taste
Cashew Cream
1 Cup Raw, Unsalted Cashews
1 Cup Rich Vegetable Broth, divided
Preheat oven to 400º F.
Peel squash and chop off the ends. Halve the squash and scrape out the seeds. Place on a baking sheet cut-side down and brush lightly with oil. Bake for 30-40 minutes until tender and beginning to brown. Flip squash before the baking is finished if needed to prevent burning.
Meanwhile, add the cashews to your blender and 1/2 cup of veggie broth. Begin pulsing to incorporate, eventually turning the blender all the way on while slowly adding the other 1/2 cup of broth. Once all the broth is added (1 cup total), let the blender run for 1-2 minutes until very, very smooth. Set cream aside. If your blender can’t get the cream completely smooth, strain before adding it to the soup.
Remove squash from the oven. Using a spatula, transfer it into a large soup pot. Break up the squash into chunks with a spoon or your spatula and add 4 cups of veggie broth, thyme, and black pepper. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat and let simmer for 20 minutes, covered.
Working in batches if needed, blend the soup until very smooth, being careful not to overfill your blender.
Return the blended soup to the pot and add all but 1/4 cup of the cashew cream. Season with salt and more pepper. How much salt you add with depend on how salty your broth is to begin with. I thought 1 1/2 tsp salt was perfect for my batch, but yours might differ.
Remove soup to bowls (or mugs!) and garnish with extra cashew cream drizzled on the top and some fresh black pepper.

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