Thursday, October 10, 2013

Cornmeal, Cornbread, GMO and Pawpaws

Hello from the farm,

Well, we've switched seasons since last week and the pump appears to have regained its prime. We are relishing the rain and even enjoyed being caught in the driving rain afield on Monday when we all made a run for the barn.
Even we are amazed at the amount of food that we are harvesting today, and there are still five more harvests after this week. This week we finished digging the sweet potatoes, harvested more squash, dealt with hydraulics, a broken hot water heater, and continued preparations for the gift box project coming up. We also removed the peach trees in the pick your own field to give more space for Sungold cherry tomates, cut flowers and herbs. We were hopeful about the peaches, but discovered that organically grown peaches in this humid climate were not the quality fruit that we wanted.

pick your own plantings will be increased in this space next season

On Cornmeal and Grinding:

Many of you have asked how to grind and use the cornmeal, so here is what we have been doing for several years that we are pleased with. When you are finished decorating with your ornamental/flour corn:

-pick out a row or two with your fingers, table knife or spoon.
-the remaining rows twist laterally off pretty easily then
-bring your corn kernels to the farm
-run them through the mill coarsely
-run them though again on fine by tightening the nut on the back side of the mill to create more pressure.

Lorena’s Kickin Cornbread (the best cornbread ever in my unbiased opinion)
1c butter
¾ c sugar
4 eggs, beaten
2c milk
2T lemon juice
1t baking soda
2c corn meal
2c flour
1t salt
1c cheese grated

Melt butter, remove from heat, stir in sugar.
Add eggs, beat well.
Combine milk and lemon juice, add to batter.
Stir in cornmeal, soda, flour and salt, and cheese
Pour into greased 9x13 pan.

**chill for one hour in fridge before baking to allow cornmeal to soften**

Bake 30-40 min at 375 degrees.

The Dirt On GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)

We receive a lot of questions about GMOs here at the farm. We have not grown any here and have no plans to at this point. So far, they are pretty much limited to commodity crops such as corn, soybeans, rice and cotton, what I think of as "industrial" crops.

You are probably aware that people throughout history have done basic plant breeding simply by selecting the reddest/tallest/spiciest/disease resistant types each year--whatever traits were important to them. Dog breeds would be another example--tall/short/color/strength/retrieving traits were encouraged by people.
Is GMO evil or a Pandora's box? Honestly, I'm not sure. It is in some ways an extension of what has been going on naturally for thousands of years in people's backyards. GMO may have legitimate application for helping the tomato plant fend off the late blight disease which annihilates a farmer's tomato crop, by finding the resistant gene and incorporating it in a lab environment whereas traditional breeding techniques might not be able to succeed because of bringing in unwanted characteristcs simultaneously. Where I think GMO technique crosses the line ethically is when it allows an herbicide to be applied to a crop without harm or implants transgenic material--like mammalian genes in a vegetable crop. So your farmers will keep our ears to the ground to see what unfolds, but we will not be planting any GMO crops in the foreseeable future.

About Pawpaws:

young pawpaw clusters

Eight years ago we planted pawpaw seeds from fruit that we gathered down by the river. This year they are starting to bear decently. What is a pawpaw? It is the only member of the tropical custard apple family (such as cherimoya) that can grow in our cold climate. A tree fruit, it is green-skinned and somewhat the shape and size of a green mango. It is native to most states east of the Mississippi River and five states have towns named Pawpaw. What does it taste like? Well, cut it in half, spoon out the soft yellow custardy flesh and try it--kind of like banana/avocado/vanilla--it's unique. Is it good? Yes, according to many people, no according to others. I like them and eat them daily. Give them a try, don't eat the skin or seeds, in fact, bury the seeds in a wooded edge or backyard where you'd like to have a native tree with September fruit.

Watermelon Radish:

These are our favorite radishes--they are eye-catching and fairly sweet and mild compared to most radishes.

Popping our Popcorn in the Microwave: We did it! After a few varied attemps at popping and burning corn in the microwave here in the barn, we know how to do it.
Shell the corn off of the cob
place a 1/4 c. in a small plain paper bag
close the bag and put the fold underneath as you place in the microwave
put on Popcorn setting or 2 minutes and observe--if it stops popping, starts smoking or a burnt odor starts to form, it is time to be done!

Serving Suggestions for the Harvest
Popcorn: our popcorn is very tasty--put oil in heavy bottomed pan and heat up the oil. Put a test kernel in when you think the oil is hot. When that one pops--pour in popcorn enough to cover the pan bottom and shake. Put a lid over the pan--but not tightly, so that steam can escape. Shake the pan as corn pops until popping slows. (it must be said that everyone seems to have a different method that works for them--and only them, perhaps ;-)
Winter Squash: these hard squash will keep in cool and dry storage for months. Great for apple and squash bake, curried or sweet soup.
Cilantro: great in a sandwich, soups, salads, recipes from around the world
Dill: great for pickling or with potatoes.
Fall Cabbage family crops: the broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are starting to mature.
"Dessert Turnips": Our pet name for the sweet and mild white Hakurei salad turnips is dessert turnips. These are not your ordinary firm and strong purple top turnips. They are best eaten raw like carrot sticks with or without some kind of dip. Growing up, we had carrot, celery and turnip sticks at holiday meals.
Hakurei turnips (the white ones) Scarlet Queen are red and not as mild as Hakurei
Arugula: Yes, the arugula is back—cheers from all corners. This spicy green's nutty flavor jazzes up a salad or sandwich really well! Kind of zingy for most people--use as your palate prefers.
Ornamental/Flour Corn: feel free to shell your corn from the cob sometime and bring the kernels in to grind in the mill that we have here. Run it through once to grind coarsely and then tighten it up and run through again for finer grind for cornmeal for cornbread, cornmeal pancakes, muffins etc.
Sweet Peppers: almost finished for the season. Notice we didn't say bell peppers. There are other shapes that are sweet, too. Diced sweet pepper is great on a salad, or pepper strips on a relish are sweet and tasty, too. They also freeze well in strips or dices after core and seeds are removed.
Potatoes: Yukon Gold potatoes are the farm favorite for French-fry making, hands down. Potatoes are a wonderful source of nutrients, versatile to cook with, and very satisfying to the eater--they even help you sleep well at night. (Potatoes not Prozac book)
Eggplants: Asian eggplants are mild and sweet; dark Italian types are probably what you grew up with. Slice and put on the grill rubbed with oil, soy sauce, and miso paste. Tasty and easy to use.
Chard: Remove the lower portion of the stalk as it is usually tough. Sautee leaves in butter, olive or coconut oil, add salt, and red pepper, top with Parmesian cheese. Mustard Greens: Known for their pungent flavor, these greens can be added to a salad for a mustardy hot punch, or can be added to soups or stir frys. Flavor mellows when cooked. Tatsoi: A mild green that is great raw in salad or cooked. We think of it as fall spinach.
Purple Mizuna: a unique mustard green from Japan that has mild flavor and is great in salad for color and flavor.
Senposai: has a sweet and tender cabbage like flavor. Makes a great outer wrap for veggie wraps. Use raw or cooked.

Onions: If you have onions remaining at home, they will keep for several months in cool, dark, and dry storage.
Beets: I have fond childhood memories of eating these still warm from being blanched, prior to them being turned into pickled red beets. Great roasted with olive oil, grilled with oil and balsamic vinegar, or grated in salads.
Watermelon: These did better than expected, but not as well as hoped for. A friend from Lancaster South Rotary told me that watermelon growers in Delaware lost 3/4 of their melons. June was cool and cloudy and the honeybees slept in and did not pollinate the watermelon's morning access-only flowers.
Cantaloupes: We hope to have enough for everyone to get some across two or three week's time. A super great taste of summer. Try eating with a just a bit of freshly ground black pepper.
Cucumbers: The crop was really good this year--now finished Cabbage: We'll keep finding a few of these over the next couple of weeks. Cut into wedges and serve with a sprinkle of salt, make sauerkraut.
Summer squash/Zucchini: These are finished as well (some people cheer) stir fry, grate and use for zucchini bread or freeze for later.
Beans: The beans did well, and there is a chance we will have fall beans as well! Scallions: Goodbye until next year.
Bok choi and Napa: These have run their course and we will see them again in October and November--a great time to make kimchee with the cool weather.

Stay dry and enjoy those hearty warm meals of fall,

Your farmers

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