Thursday, November 20, 2008

Newsletter week 25 - Happy Thanksgiving

Red Springs Family Farm
November 20, 2008, Week #25

This week:
Broccoli Lettuce Pumpkins
Cornmeal Parsley Mizuna
Arugula Komatsuma or Tat soi
Celery Potatoes Garlic

“I built me a flame late one night. When day is done, God will my flame never die.” When Paul tip-toed downstairs at 4:30 on Wednesday morning to fetch me a cough drop (Thank you!) it was 16 degrees out-doors down in the hollow. Our Norwegian woodstove (where the quote above is written in cast iron) keeps us cozy in here, and for that we’re so grateful.

Wonder of wonders, the lettuce survived the freeze. The Broccoli showed no signs of damage, and so we’ve got this beautiful food for you! Next week is Thanksgiving, and so there will be no food delivery – Happy Thanksgiving! The following week – December 4 – as long as sub-zero temperatures do not destroy every 7 pound Chinese cabbage standing in the field, we will return. Watch your email for updates.

This baggy of two cups of cornmeal is from our own field corn – an heirloom rainbow variety. The stalks shoot up over 10 feet tall and many ears set 6 feet high. It’s a beautiful corn, and we enjoy the fresh corny-ness in cornbread, polenta, and anywhere cornmeal is called for. Keep it in the fridge so the oils don’t go rancid. A couple of good recipes are included below.

Our favorite cornbread:
2 cups freshly ground cornmeal 1 tsp salt
1 tsp. baking soda 1 goodly dollop of honey or sorghum
2 eggs, beaten 2 cups buttermilk, soured milk, or diluted yogurt
2 Tbsp. Oil, butter, or lard

Preheat the oven at 425. We like to use an 8 or 10 cast iron skillet – and if you do too, then put it in the oven to heat now, with the butter or lard in it. Don’t do this if you’re not using cast iron! Just grease your 8-9 inch pan and melt the butter. Mix the cornmeal, salt, and soda in a bowl. In a four cup measuring cup, or smaller bowl, beat the eggs, add the buttermilk, and then thoroughly mix in the honey or sorghum. Add the wet to the dry, mixing quickly and thoroughly. The batter should be plenty wet. Pour most of the hot oil into the batter, then quickly pour the batter into the sizzling skillet and put it in the oven for about 30 minutes. This is a very corny cornbread – if you need to soften it a little – just add a ¼ or ½ cup wheat flour.

Or try Polenta, from The American Heritage Cookbook:

1 cup cornmeal 3 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp salt Paprika
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring 3 cups water to a rolling boil. Combine cornmeal with 1 cup cold water and salt. Stir into boiling water and cool, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. Pour into a loaf pan and refrigerate until firm. Shortly before serving, cut the Polenta into slices and ½ inch thick and place in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, dot with butter, and shake paprika over all. Broil about 4 inches from tip of preheated broiling unit until brown – 4-5 min.
Just a note on the celery – for those of you who might not have encountered it earlier in the season – this is not celery for stuffing with peanut butter or cream cheese. It’s weathered a long season now, and been hit severely by the last couple nights’ freezing weather. However, it packs a celery flavored punch that will enliven tomato soups and make dressings and stuffings sing.

Now for the sweetness, a very traditional Thanksgiving recipe (and commentary) also from the excellent American Heritage Cookbook:

Pumpkin pie,” according to The House Mother, “if rightly made, is a thing of beauty and a joy – while it lasts… Pies that cut a little less firm than a pine board, and those that run round your plate are alike to be avoided. Two inches deep is better than the thin plasters one sometimes sees, that look for all the world like pumpkin flap-jacks. The expressive phrase ‘too thin’ must have come from these lean parodies on pumpkin pie. With the pastry light, tender, and not too rich, and a generous filling of smooth spices sweetness – a little ‘trembly’ as to consistency, and delicately brown on top – a perfect pumpkin pie, eaten before the life has gone out of it, is one of the real additions made by American cookery to the good things of the world. For the first pumpkin pie of the season, flanked by a liberal cut of creamy cheese, we prefer to sit down, as the French gourmand said about his turkey: ‘with just the two of us; myself and the turkey!’”

Pastry for a 1-crust pie ½ tsp ginger
2 cups cooked pumpkin ½ tsp salt
2/3 cup brown sugar, ¾ cup milk
Firmly packed 2 eggs, well beaten
2 tsp. cinnamon 1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup brandy

Prepare pastry, line a 9-inch pie pan, and refrigerate while you make the filling. Combine pumpkin, sugar, spices, and salt in a mixing bowl. Then beat in milk, eggs, cream, and brandy with a rotary beater or an electric mixer. Pour into unbaked pastry shell and bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 1 hour or until a knife inserted in center comes out dry. Cool. Serve plain, or with Cheddar cheese or whipped cream mixed with ginger (use 1 cup heavy cream and 2 Tbsp chopped crystallized ginger).

We’re certainly grateful for bounty of the season past, and for all we’ve learned this year as we’ve expanded production and gotten to know you all. Thank you for your support, your good eating, and your general kindness to our family. We hope to meet you again and again in the winter and spring to come. We wish you very happy and healthy holidays.

Peace be with you.

The Entwistles

“…the ratio between consumed substance and achieved effect in a bird that migrates from the Arctic to the Antarctic is of a scale that men cannot achieve technically. The comparison between bird flight and an airplane demonstrates this clearly. The more we understand and follow this “wisdom” in nature, this outspread “spirit,” the more rationally and therefore economically we can organize the farms of tomorrow. The profit motivation, applied to nature, has led to vast depletion of soil and dangerous exploitation of animal and plant material. If we follow the spirit in nature, we put into our service both the rationale and the economy of nature. This, ultimately, is the basis of the life of humanity.” - Trauger Groh, The Farms of Tomorrow

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