Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fall crops, pumpkin, pawpaw time, kickin' cornbread, grinding cormeal, messing with amaranth, hakurei turnips

Out with the summer crops, and in with the fall.  This week signals clearly that the fall crops have arrived in force.  We are harvesting butternut squash and pumpkins and curing them in a warm dry place to harden their stems, pulling and washing "dessert" turnips, which are a sweet mild salad turnip, and putting cover crops on the fields that are finished for the season.  

An orange sign of the times. Pile on the pumpkins!  

How to Grind corn for Flour, Antics with Amaranth

After you have let your corn dry for a few weeks and decorated with it, it is time to shell and grind it.  To shell, take two ears and rub them together until kernels fall off.  Once shelled, take outside and pour from one container to another in the breeze to blow the chaff out.  Bring the kernels to the farm and crank through our grinder mill--do it twice for finer corn meal.  You can also tighten the nut for more tension and finer grind--this means more force required :-), so twice through is easiest, once coarse and once finer.

Then: Lorena’s Kickin Cornbread Recipe (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.

About amaranth:  It's an experimental crop for us, please help us learn how to use it. For a starting point, try cutting a grain head and putting it in a pillow case or cloth bag and beating it with a stick or else rubbing it between your hands to extract the grain. Once you have a pile of amaranth grain, winnow it in the breeze as for corn above.


 Pawpaws come to fruition.  Tree crops are for those who persevere.  We planted our pawpaw trees nine years ago and they are starting to bear decently this year! The pawpaw is North America's largest native fruit and is part of the custard apple family which is otherwise subtropical, including cherimoyas, sweetsops and soursops.  They are soft fruit that mimic bananas in many ways-- going from green to lighter green, brown speckles to finally almost black. (I prefer them slightly speckled and not squishy)   I like to keep them refrigerated so they don't turn overripe practically overnight!  
To eat:  cut in half and spoon out, don't eat the seeds or skin.  Awesome in a smoothie!
Scatter or plant the seeds in a woods edge somewhere including our farm perimeter if you like. 


 Monthly Farm Tour: 
Want to get a behind the scenes look at the workings of the farm? There is a monthly farm tour on the 1st Tuesday of the month at 9am.  If you are planning to attend, please email  Tour lasts approximately 30 minutes. 
No tours during Dec/Jan/Feb during the cold and bleak period.

If you are wondering about that "funky" tree with green and brown orbs dangling in the herb beds, it is a Jujube tree. Jujubes came from China, where they are a common dooryard tree.   The flesh is like a mild crisp dry apple and it has a fairly high sugar content.  They were the most widely planted fruit tree in China up until the 20th century. They are a tough tree, hardy to -20 degrees. They are sold in Asian stores as Chinese dates or Korean dates.  We will harvest them here and there as they ripen over the next few weeks. 

Hakurei turnips--sweet salad turnips, great to eat raw cut as sticks, added to salad or veggie trays.  Sweet and mild, not like "ole Purple Top turnip" which is is the traditional, strong, oft-cooked turnip. 

Serving Suggestions for the harvest this week:

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. 
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!

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). 

Sweet Peppers:  fading fading fading away. Enjoy them while they last. 
Tomatoes: The tomatoes are protesting October and are withholding their fruit and dwindling away. 
Eggplants:  these are tapering off with the shorter days.

Red River Onions: a good storage onion and desirable for just about any purpose.  
Edamame:  also known as green soybeans, these tasty little beans are an appetizer, snack or post-meal treat in Japan that have become highly appreciated here as well. 

How to prepare: pull beans from the stalk, which you can do here if you like, put pods into boiling salted water.  Boil for about seven minutes, drain and then sprinkle salt over the pods to serve.  It's great fun for adults and children alike to pop the beans from the pod into your mouth by squeezing.
Potatoes:  we're taking a week off from potato harvest. Look for the latest arrival in our potato ensemble, the Fingerling Red French Potato.  This petite heirloom has a delicate rose colored skin, with a creamy yellow flesh inside.  Cooking brings out it's nutty and buttery flavor.  There are so many ways to enjoy potatoes!  One suggestion: boil until just soft, and then toss them in a pan with sauteed onion, peppers and garlic and season with rosemary.
Scallions: These mild-mannered onion family folks give an easy onion flavor to salads, sandwiches, stir fries and more.  Or you could do the old classic buttered bread and sliced scallion treat: my grandparents talked a lot about enjoying them in spring.  We found a few more. 
Watermelons and cantaloupe: it was nice melon run, but sooner or later, we knew they'd be done.  We hope you enjoyed them as much as we did.  
Cucumbers:  these are finished for this season, we're sad to see them go. 
Carrots: carrots are really good roasted in the oven with some coconut, olive or peanut oil. Of course they are also good as carrot sticks or in salads. We will miss the fresh taste of farm carrots, it's just not the same getting them from the store. 
Summer Squash:  add raw to salads, steam lightly, or stir-fry. Don't overcook unless you like soft consistency. 
Kohlrabi: sort of a mini-broccoli little crunchy dude, these are tasty raw and taste kind of like mild sweet broccoli. Usually eaten raw.  Some people peel away the outer layer.  May return in autumn. 
Greens: these succumbed to the heat, with the exception of chard which continue to grow through the summer heat. We like to fry these in a skillet with butter or coconut oil until crisp, add some onions and saute them as well--a superb topping for rice, fried eggs or stand alone too.
Broccoli: Broccoli is dicey as a spring crop and the heat has made it flower and diminished its quality--look for a new crop in fall. 
Garlic scapes: we hope you enjoyed the delightful flavor of these. 
Lettuce heads: these have run their course and are stretching skyward--a precursor to bolting--flowering to make seed. 
Lettuce mix--the leaves have given it their all and are now finished.  
Green garlic: this is garlic harvested before the base swells and becomes a bulb. It has a milder flavor than bulb garlic and can be used anywhere garlic is called for. Keep refrigerated as you would green onions/scallions. 
Cilantro: this herb has run its life cycle and is "bolting" or going to seed.  

Thank you for your support of this farm!  You are our chefs and we love hearing all of the creations you whip up in your kitchen with the veggies grown right here on our farm.  

Your farmers,
Scott, Law Reh, Kim and Elizabeth

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