October 22, 2019

What’s in this Week’s VEGGIE BOX: French Breakfast Radishes, Sugar Pie Pumpkin, Butternut Squash, Shishito Peppers

Sorrel, Green Peppers, and Potatoes

What’s in your FLOWER BOUQUET: Globe Amaranth, Dahlias, Marigolds, Zinnias, Celosia, & Cockscomb

What’s in your FRUIT BAG? Apples, Persimmons, Pomegranates, and a basket of whole almonds from our Back Ten ancient trees along with a few Lemon Guavas (The lemon guava fruit flavor is well balanced; sweet and tropical with a subtle sub-acid touch of tang. Some have described it as tasting like passion fruit mixed with strawberry. You can eat skin and flesh -hold the flower end and eat the entire fruit).

 

 

This Week on the Farm

            On the farm we are approaching the end of the fall planting season. The seeds that we have planted since August and their survival have a big impact on how Good Humus spends the winter.  Fall planting is one of the stranger times on the farm.  It is pretty important to start doing the fall planting before the first of September, and around here the first of September is still the middle of summer, still a month away from the fall equinox in late September, still temperatures in the 100’s and long days.  The end of summer is in sight then, but that is about it.  

               The beginning moments for fall planting actually came as much as six months earlier, when we made the decisions to set up a certain field to be used for planting in either late August, early or late September, or early October.  At that point we begin the process of cover cropping, composting, mowing, discing, and chiseling that, if done with good timing, will come to the point of planting in that critical month and a half in which we double up, harvesting the final crops of summer and beginning the first seeds of winter.  A real schizophrenic time on the farm for me, being the directed, focused, multi-taskingly (really? Is that a word?) challenged farmer that I am.   But here we are, concentrating on the last planting and watching the summer crops fade away, one by one.

               One of my great successes this year was getting our summer planting of hard squashes planted just in the nick of time to get a reasonable crop for this fall.  That has included butternut, Delicata, spaghetti squash, red kuri squash, pie pumpkins (which you are getting in the box today), and for the first time in quite a few years, a nice small patch of big Jack O’Lantern pumpkins.  One of the reasons I farm is to keep myself in touch with the advent and passing of the seasons.  In my mind, there is nothing that says fall in rural America like a pumpkin patch.  This year the bright orange pumpkins are really visible from the central farm track in the first field to the east because the winds we had a week ago or so blew away the covering leaves.  So every time I pass, I can reconnect to the American heritage, to the poetry of James Whitcomb Riley, to my childhood, and to all that is comforting about living on the land.  A few of these pumpkins will go to the Davis Farmer’s Market with us, a few will probably come to each of the neighborhood drops to grace the porches and tables where we leave our produce, perhaps a few more spread out in our family.  But for me, the harvesting of these is not the purpose, it is the stories and memories that come back as I walk by them, reminding me of who I am in the fall of the year.

               For this small organic farmer, more than any other season, fall is the season of the weeds.  Indicators of the health and vitality of our soil, our weed populations are huge, diverse and vigorous.  Many of the most numerous are supremely adapted to my methods of farming.  They are my weeds, thriving right along with me.  In their diversity and adaptability, they have learned the secrets of survival on this farm, including spreading from one plant seed that will germinate now or wait until I have

 

 

passed with my instruments of husbandry to germinate later in cooler soil.  Some of them are so cleverly rooted that passing with tillage tools that knife the roots is not enough.  The fibrous root mats carry enough soil to reroot after the passage of anything but a rototiller.  Others produce seed almost before they are visible and insist on growing to cover the ground in the dead of winter when all hope of tractor cultivation has passed.  All this is done willingly and capably to fill the voids in the niches of nature that I have created in my zeal to produce food for people.  Of course I have selected against the big perennial grasses and flowers that originally filled the landscape, because they and the entire ecosystem that they supported were especially suited for undisturbed soil.  So as I tractor,  rototill or hoe through these little, fast growing survivors of my process, I can thank them for the services they provide, coverage from the rain and sun, hiding and home for the beleaguered soil and field life, diversity on the planet, filling niches that something worse might otherwise inhabit.  But oh my, do all the crew and I fight them in order to bring food to the table.  This year the grass has gotten ahead of us and we have had to replant a couple of crops, but the weather has certainly cooperated. 

                Well, it is time to go out and plant garlic.  Thanks to you all for giving this small farm a chance to experience all this living and life surrounding us.    Have a great week~Jeff

 

Sorrel Sauce

Sorrel sauce is a bedrock sauce in classic French cuisine, and while not quite a “mother sauce,” it is as versatile as it is easy to make. After all, there are only really four ingredients to it. I need to tell you about sorrel. Rumex acetosa, common garden sorrel, is one of my favorite things to grow in my garden. Why? For starters, it’s ridiculously easy to grow. It’s basically a weed with a deep root network. Drought tolerant, good to eat all year round, self sowing. Sorrel is a hybrid herb and vegetable. It looks like a lettuce, but it tastes like lemonade in a leaf. That tartness comes from oxalic acid, the same stuff in rhubarb. But sorrel does indeed make a cool salad green. I love it in sandwiches, as an accent in salads, in sorrel soup, another French standby, and of course in this sauce. The ultimate classic is salmon with sorrel sauce but sorrel sauce is wonderful with any white fish, with poultry like turkey, pheasant or chicken, as well as with egg dishes. By Hank Shaw

 

Classic French Sorrel Sauce

The cream tames the sometimes harsh acidity of sorrel, and the result is a lush, balanced sauce that is absolutely ideal for light meats and eggs. It’s the yin to the subtle yang you get with a piece of poached fish or poultry.

2/3 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 pound sorrel leaves, stems removed

2 tablespoons vermouth or chicken or vegetable stock

Salt and white pepper to taste

Chiffonade the sorrel by curling up a few leaves at a time and slicing them very thin. Pour the cream in a small pot and bring it to a simmer. Doing this will prevent it from curdling when it hits all that acidic sorrel in a few minutes. Meanwhile, in another small to medium pot, heat the butter over medium heat and add the sorrel. Cook the sorrel, stirring often, until it melts -- it will cook down a lot and turn Army green. When it does, stir in the cream and bring the sauce to a bare simmer. It will be pretty thick, so you'll want to add the vermouth or stock to thin it out. You can add another tablespoon if you want the sauce even thinner. Add salt and white pepper to taste and serve. Once you make this sauce, you'll need to use it; it doesn't keep well, although it will be OK on the stovetop kept warm for an hour or two. Author: Hank Shaw

Pasta with Sorrel and Feta

Sorrel is the lemon of the vegetable garden, a plant with so much acid that it causes instant puckering. It brightens everything it touches, adding an edge, a counterpoint, a little spark. Try it snipped and sprinkled over pasta, added to soup at the last minute, folded into an omelet. Sorrel resembles spinach, though its leaves are a paler green and slightly less fleshy. A huge quantity of leaves enough to feed the neighborhood, it seems, will melt down to nearly nothing in a saucepan, forming a puree all on its own. Soften it with butter and cream and serve it along side fish.

½ cup olive oil

2 garlic cloves minced

¼ cup shallots

3 squash

1-cup green beans

2 cups vegetable stock

¾ cup dry white wine

½ cup corn kernels

4 tomatoes peeled/ quartered

4 Tablespoons butter

1-pound fettuccini

¾ cup shopped sorrel

Sauté vegetables in oil and stock, wine, corn, and tomatoes. Heat up then quickly steam sorrel in sauce and pour over cooked pasta, toss with feta and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

 

Slow Roasted Squash and Potatoes and Lime

Butternut squash in the Greek cuisine is often used in savory and sweet Greek style pies and also made into preserves (spoon sweet). In some areas they fry it and drizzle it with vinegar or make fritters. Roasting is probably the easiest way, combining it with a few potatoes and lime instead of lemon. The slow-roasting method slightly caramelizes the outside, while soft on the inside. The concept is similar to the regular Greek style roasted potatoes, but making it more seasonal with the squash, adding some sweetness and of course a good dose of beta-carotene and fiber. This is great on its own sprinkled with a bit of feta or as a side with meat. Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

1 pound butternut squash cut in 1 inch pieces

1 pound potatoes cut into 1 inch pieces

1 onion sliced

½ cup olive oil

juice and zest from 1 lime

1 ½ dried tablespoons rosemary

3 garlic cloves sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the potatoes and soak them in water for 20 minutes. Peel the squash and cut. Preheat oven at 400 degrees. Sauté the potatoes in a large pan with 1 teaspoon olive oil for about 5 minutes. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients including the potatoes making sure everything is coated well. Put the mixture in a baking dish that is large enough so that it is in one layer. Pour ¼ cup hot water in the corner of the pan tilting it so the water spread across the whole bottom of the baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and roast for 20 minutes. Lower the temperature to 320 (160) and roast for until potatoes are cooked at soft, for about 1 hour. Check the fluid levels while roasting and add a bit of hot water if needed. Author: Elena Paravantes RDN Yield: 4-6

 

Creamy Roasted Pumpkin Soup

It’s super creamy yet plenty healthy, too. It’s gently spiced, but I made sure that the pumpkin flavor shines above the rest. It’s easy to make and the leftovers taste even better the next day. So, you could certainly make the soup a day in advance. Don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list—this soup only requires basic pantry ingredients! It calls for roasted pumpkin for maximum flavor. This roasted pumpkin soup leftovers would go great with sandwiches or salads the next day. Recipe yields 4 bowls or 6 cups of soup.

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

One 4-pound sugar pie pumpkin

1 large yellow onion, chopped

4 large or 6 medium garlic cloves, pressed or minced

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

⅛ teaspoon cloves

Tiny dash of cayenne pepper (optional, if you like spice)

Freshly ground black pepper

4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable broth

½ cup full fat coconut milk or heavy cream

2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey

¼ cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Carefully halve the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds. Slice each pumpkin halve in half to make quarters. Brush or rub 1 tablespoon olive oil over the flesh of the pumpkin and place the quarters, cut sides down, onto the baking sheet. Roast for 35 minutes or longer, until the orange flesh is easily pierced through with a fork. Set it aside to cool for a few minutes. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add onion, garlic and salt to the skillet. Stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes. In the meantime, peel the pumpkin skin off the pumpkins and discard the skin. Add the pumpkin flesh, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cayenne pepper (if using), and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper. Use your stirring spoon to break up the pumpkin a bit. Pour in the broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, to give the flavors time to meld. While the soup is cooking, toast the pepitas in a medium skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant, golden and making little popping noises. You want them to be nice and toasty, but not burnt. Transfer pepitas to a bowl to cool. Once the pumpkin mixture is done cooking, stir in the coconut milk and maple syrup. Remove the soup from heat and let it cool slightly. Using a blender, which yields the creamiest results—working in batches, transfer the contents of the pan to a blender (do not fill your blender past the maximum fill line!). Securely fasten the blender’s lid and use a kitchen towel to protect your hand from steam escaping from the top of the blender as you purée the mixture until smooth. Transfer the puréed soup to a serving bowl and repeat with the remaining batches. Taste and adjust if necessary. Ladle the soup into individual bowls. Sprinkle pepitas over the soup and serve. Let leftover soup cool completely before transferring it to a proper storage container and refrigerating it for up to 4 days (leftovers taste even better the next day!). Or, freeze this soup for up to 3 months. Author: Cookie and Kate