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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January!

The Hoop House Construction and its Inaugural Use

Mid August--It's always been a bit of a toss up for me as to whether I should get a hoop house or not, but this year with the new winter share and the desire to have earlier greens for the summer share I decided to go for it!
I had a super team of "experts" help me to erect the house and despite a few challenges like gusty winds and initially putting the plastic on backwards, we did it!
30x50 feet in size, I am hoping to have a nice supply of greens. Although I have told myself this is just bonus space, the outside fields are the real dirt and if the hoop house greens don't make it then well so be it.

Late October--the spinach and lettuce waiting for me to put it's winter blanket on for the winter months. I draped a thin fabric over the hoops above the greens. The hoops keep the fabric off the plants as to not damage them (because the frost will penetrate the fabric and freeze to the plants) and to create another insulating airspace around the plants.

January--And here we are shoveling out the hoop house so that it does not collapse under the weight of the snow. It is pretty sturdy structure but...and the wind. Oh my gosh the flapping of the plastic as I shoveled was enough to give me a near heart attack!
The greens freeze and thaw throughout the winter (there is no heat in a hoop house). I am hoping for a warm day this week so that I can harvest some spinach for this week's pick up. After harvest the plants will remain dormant until the day length gets longer (mid Feb, March) and then the plants will begin to regrow for a (hopefully) 2nd harvest in March.

It's all pretty exciting...and nerve racking...stay away wind and sleet!
Thursday the 20th is the first Winter Share pick up! I am happy that I have exceeding my expectations of shareholders and am hoping that all will be pleased with the selection. So far the veggies are storing well in the "root cellar" (insulated cooler).
WINTER SQUASH--I had a super winter squash year! I have loads left and they are storing quite well as of now. However, it would not hurt for you to take and/or buy extra this month. If you notice a bad spot, cut it out and cook it right away. I tend to cook several at a time and freeze what I do not use so that I can have precooked squash for other dishes in the future.
Store in a cool (45 to 50 degree) dry place such as a basement, cabinet or under your couch! The Delicata variety is probably my favorite. It is mild tasting yet delicious, easy to cut and you can eat the skins. There are a lot of fancy ways to cook this squash, but I prefer to keep it simple and bake it with butter, brown sugar, and a little maple syrup. It adds sweetness and depth without overpowering the flavor of the squash.
You can also make a quick stock out of the skins and seeds of winter squash. After baking, remove flesh from skins (non delicata variety) and just cover with water. Add the reserved seeds, salt, onion, carrot and simmer for 30 minutes.

We’ve found that the seeds are very tasty when toasted like pumpkin seeds! Save them, toast them, eat them!
Hope your winter is cozy and fun. I admit we love the winter and are having a blast in this snow!!!! Especially Simon...and the ducks, they are like natural snowshoes!
January's Winter Share Pick Up:
spinach (hopefully), winter squash, beets, onions, carrots, potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, cabbage, garlic and parsnips
Recipes:
Check out "Smitten Kitchen" blog, type in Winter Squash....all the recipes look good....there is a pumpkin swirl brownie (it has chocolate!)
Delicata Squash Bisque with Cashew Cream Sauce Serves 4 large bowls, 6-8 Cups
3 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. My 64 oz blender fit the entire batch of soup.
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. Little squigglies of cream look nice, but you can also draw hearts or stars or swirls, whatever! http://veganyumyum.com/2008/10/delicata-squash-bisque/
Acorn Squash (you could use delicata)Quesadilla Adapted from a Dos Caminos demonstration recipe, but similar to many found in their awesome book, ModMex
The secret to getting your quesadillas crisp, Lindquist insisted, is to cook them in either butter or lard, and no skimping. A griddle is best if you have one, but a regular old frying pan will do in a pinch.
1 small/medium acorn squash
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons diced white onion
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno (use those hot peppers you froze this summer!)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled and cut into strips
Salt and pepper to taste
10-inch flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend of your choice (I used Muenster, not Mexican but worked great!)
Butter for frying quesadillas
First, roast the acorn squash. Preheat the oven to 400° and lightly oil a baking sheet. Halve the squash, scoop out the seeds (you can save them to toast later, if you wish) and cut each half into half-inch slices. Lay them on the baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes, until soft but not cooked to mush. (You’ll finish it in the pan.)
When cool enough to work with, use a paring knife or your hands to peel the skin off each slice. Lightly chop the squash and put it in a bowl.
Saute the onions, garlic and jalapeno in the oil until translucent. Add the poblano strips and cook for a couple minutes more. Add the squash and cook for another 5 or 10 minutes, until the squash is tender and the flavors have melded. Season with salt and pepper and take off heat.
Spread a few tablespoons of the cooked squash mixture onto one half of a 10-inch flour tortilla. Sprinkle with a couple tablespoons of the cheese. Fold over and place in a hot pan with melted butter, and fry until crispy. Cut the finished quesadilla into four triangles and top with your choice of garnishes. Eat while warm. http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/10/acorn-squash-quesadillas-tomatillo-salsa/#more-858
Garnish with your tomatillo or tomato salsa you make from the farm this summer : )