Thursday, October 23, 2014

Estonian pickled pumpkin, Long Island Cheese squash

hello from the farm,

Are farmers a bunch of malcontents?  Too hot, too cold, too dry, too wet, we can always find something that wants to stand in our way :-)  This week we are finding the saturated chocolate pudding soil a deterrent to getting the winter cover crops planted that anchor and enrich the soil. These winter cover crops keep winter weeds from getting a foothold.  Did you know that there are 214 weed seeds per pound of typical soil?  (there are 2 million pounds of tillable soil on an acre).  That is why weed control is such an important and challenging task in organic farming systems!

The times are changing, autumn is here to stay

Frost and Farming
Well we mostly dodged the frost early this week.  The weather service was predicting widespread frost, and we did receive some, but it only damaged some of the summer crops lightly.  Doesn't frost and freezing mean the season is over?  No, the fall crops are very tolerant of frost and some freezing down to the low 20s. 

 The experimental fall sunflowers didn't mind the frost 

Estonian Pickled Pumpkin
So you've decorated with your pumpkin for a while, or you want to utilize your organic pumpkin for eating, but aren't quite sure what to do with it.  Here is an answer, thanks to a farm shareholder who makes this recipe. 

- An Estonian Recipe

2-2 ½ pounds fresh pumpkin
1 ½ cups white vinegar
2 cups sugar
1 stick cinnamon
5 whole cloves
Peel pumpkin, scoop out seeds
Cut pumpkin into about ¾ inch cubes
Blend sugar and vinegar and boil for 7 minutes
Pour marinade over pumpkin cubes and let marinate overnight (12 hours)
** The key for this recipe is to marinate the pumpkin overnight at room temperature; otherwise it will turn mushy when boiled.
On the following day, strain the pumpkin and keep the liquid marinade
Add the cloves and cinnamon stick to the marinade
Boil marinade for 7 minutes
Take out cloves and cinnamon stick
Add pumpkin to marinade
Simmer until all the pumpkin cubes become translucent, but not mushy – about 45 minutes
**As the pumpkin cubes become translucent they will change color, become darker, and shrink slightly. Let all the cubes transform completely.
Transfer pumpkin and marinade into covered container jar.
Can be stored in refrigerator for months.

The summer garb is gone--your farmers are decked out in keep warm clothing

Popcorn Notice: 
We tried popping some popcorn and found that it is not dry enough yet. You may need to let it dry for a week or two before popping it.  If the cob bends when you shell it, it is still moist. The kernels should not yield to finger nail pressure either.  

So when is the last harvest?  November 13, 14 and 15 is our expected final harvest. 

Sweet Potatoes!
As you may have inferred from last week's report, we are pretty enthused about this season's sweet potato harvest. Besides being a nutrient-dense superfood, they are super sweet and delicious! Last evening my family enjoyed them oven-roasted with coconut oil, sea salt and some freshly-ground black pepper.  They are like eating candy, but without the "junk food effect."  

An stash of Long Island Cheese squash

Free Veggie Share for Life!  
 The new land that Homefields purchased to keep it from being developed and to guarantee that we would have land for future growing came with the house and barn as well.  That house and barn with 2 acres are not needed for our farming operation and are well suited for someone who wants to raise a family, animals, garden, homestead, or simply have space and a perpetual view of their favorite CSA farm :-).  To thank any shareholder who would become our good neighbor by purchasing the property we are offering a free half share with purchase.  

--must be a 2014 shareholder in good standing
--free half share continues for as long as purchaser owns and resides on the property. The farm share cannot be transferred. 
128 Letort Rd, Millersville, PA 17551

The meadow view which overlooks our misty farm fields. 

Serving Suggestions for the harvest this week:

Spaghetti squash:  Courtesy of Promise Land Farm. Thanks to friend and neighbor Amy Yocum of Promised Land Farm down the road, we were able to trade some of our abundant crops for some of hers to your benefit. A good neighbor indeed.  Bake spaghetti squash and enjoy with your favorite sauce. 
Long Island Cheese squash: along with butternut squash this is one of the best tasting and best keeping winter squash and has been our favorite here at the farm for many seasons. 
Bok Choi: this Asian cabbage shines in a Japanese or Chinese stir fry, great with soy sauce, sesame oil, peanuts, garlic, garlic, ginger. 

Scarlet Turnips: these can be used fresh or cooked
Hakurei Turnips: these mild salad turnips are best eaten raw. 
Popcorn: homemade popcorn from our fields is just the thing for cool fall evenings.  Everyone seems to have a slightly different technique for popping popcorn but here is what works for me:
-shell the popcorn by rubbing two ears together.
-winnow the chaff out by pouring from one pan to another in the breeze outside. (optional, the chaff doesn't seem to hurt anything)
--store in sealed container in the freezer until ready to use.
-heat oil in a pan to cover the bottom generously
-throw in a test kernel or two
-when they pop, pour enough popcorn in to cover the bottom of the pan plus a little more, stir well to coat with oil, put lid over top of pan, allowing steam to escape, and keep shaking on high heat until popping slows considerably. Remove from heat, salt and eat! 
 Pumpkin:  yes, they are somewhat edible, especially the tasty seeds when roasted in the oven with some oil or butter!  The pumpkin is not nearly as tasty as butternut squash, which is what is really contained in a can of so-called "pumpkin" from the store. They can also make great soup--either sweet spiced soup or curried. 
Butternut Squash: one of the very best winter squash for flavor and long keeping! Roast in the oven in halves, you can also roast the seeds as per pumpkin seeds.

Hakurei turnips: aka salad turnips.  The tasty turnips from Japan are sweet, mild, and best eaten raw.  Yum. You'll soon be a surprised turnip enthusiast!

Indian corn/ornamental corn: this makes incredibly good and fresh cornmeal for use in cornbread, cornmeal pancakes, waffles and more!  Allow to dry a few weeks, then shell it, bring kernels to the farm and grind in our grinder. Store cornmeal in freezer if not using immediately.  
Winter squash:  firm winter squash are great for baking, "pumpkin" pie, faux spaghetti noodles in the case of spaghetti squash or halved and baked in the oven with butter and maple syrup and/or brown sugar.  The acorn and delicata squash we are harvesting now are not types intended for long storage. Use within a week or two for best results.  (The Long Island Cheese squash and butternuts that will be harvested later on are the best keepers, which is why they are at the tail end of things). 

Tomatoes, eggplants and peppers are just about finished. We still are getting some peppers and tomatoes--pretty wild for almost November!  

Your farmers

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