Thursday, September 16, 2010

week #17

Red Springs Family Farm
September 16, 2010 week 17

Lettuce Tomatoes Eggplant
Sweet Dumpling squash Potatoes
Roma Beans Garlic Sweet Peppers
Basil & Chives Hot peppers and Okra, if you like

It’s been a very busy but quite pleasant week on the homestead. Last weekend’s rain was just about the most agreeable one we’ve had all year. When it poured, it was brief and not so severe a pounding as we’ve experienced before. It was just enough rain to give everything a boost. The one piece of excitement that accompanied the nice rain came with the brief electrical storm on Saturday. We had just gotten off the phone, and unplugged the modem, when lightning struck near enough to the house to literally shock our telephone, sending a burst of light and smoke through the phone and throwing the receiver off the hook and across the room. We had heard stories about that happening, but never actually seen it! So, it was a quiet weekend, knowing the phone would not, could not, ring, until the phone company sent a repair guy Monday morning.

The last cheese order of the season is DUE. Since it is the last one we anticipate making for awhile, we’re cracking it open. You can order whatever cheese you want this month. To view the full selection, go to Kenny’s website: To list briefly, there are Cheddars, Bleus, Monterey Jack, Colby, Goudas, Havarti, Gruyure (Norwood), Tomme, Brie, Asiago, and Swiss, with variations on several of those themes. The prices we offer tend to be comparable to the web store prices, sometimes a little better. Most can be had for $10/lb or less, with some exceptions. Inquire as needed. We need your orders no later than next Thursday, for October 7 delivery.

It’s also time to start thinking about storage crops. There are three more deliveries (after today) remaining in our main season. We hope to be back, after taking a break for our New Arrival, with at least some greens and the like, but it would be best to order your storage crops sooner rather than later. We can offer an assortment of winter squashes (butternuts and acorns primarily, with limited Tennessee pumpkins available), white potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Everything is $1 per lb. This means about $25 per half bushel, and $50 per bushel basket full. To see exactly how big those quantities are, ask at pick up.

The winter squash coming your way today are Sweet Dumplings, and they are ready to eat now. They are slightly blemished specimens picked up at Long Hungry Creek Farm (just downstream from us) so they won’t keep as well as most. Our tomato supply was also augmented from Long Hungry today. We’re grateful to be in a neighborhood where we can share abundances like this.

One of the tricks to eating locally and seasonally is to continually regard the gluts of the season as good fortune, even when we are overwhelmed by their quantity (sweet peppers and okra this year). Seasonal eating also keeps us aware of what a real treat foods like sweet corn and watermelons are. They are not the same when they come from California or Florida in April or November. This year, though not every year, green beans have been a rare delight. Enjoy!

Here’s a couple of nice simple ways to prepare winter squashes:

Oven Roasted Squash with garlic and parsley

Choose a favorite winter squash – butternut, acorn, whatever it may be – and peel and seed it. Cut into 1-inch chunks and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the chunks evenly on baking sheet and roast at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, until tender throughout and lightly browned, stirring occasionally with a spatula to prevent burning.
Peel and chop very fine a few cloves of garlic and sauté in olive oil for just a minute, being careful not to brown. Toss the squash with the garlic and a handful of chopped parsley, taste and adjust the seasoning, and serve.

Winter Squash Puree
2 lbs winter squash of choice 6 sage leaves
Salt and pepper ¼ lb unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic ¾ cup milk
Preheat oven to 400. Cut the squashes in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds, season the flesh with salt and pepper, and fill the cavities with the garlic cloves, peeled, and the sage leaves. Place the squashes skin side down, in a shallow ovenproof dish, and add just enough water to barely cover the bottom, to prevent burning. Bake for abut 45 minutes, or until completely tender. Allow to cool. Remove and discard the garlic and sage.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter in the milk over a low flame. Scoop the squash flesh out of the skin and put through a food mill or a ricer. Whisk in the milk and butter to give a soft texture to the puree. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Sweet potatoes came out of the ground yesterday. It’s a beautiful crop this year and we’ll cure them briefly (give them a little chance to sweeten up) before sending them out to you.

In the next few weeks, you can expect to see more beautiful lettuce, as well as cooking greens, more squashes, including lovely butternuts and Tennessee pumpkins. Also look for fresh cowpeas, sweet potatoes, and more green onions.

The Entwistles are heading out for a last minute family vacation this weekend. It is no small deal to leave the chickens and turkeys and farm cat behind, and it marks a definite turn of season in that we cannot leave until all the Fall transplanting is done. We’ll still be scrambling to finish it all up tomorrow, but with luck, we’ll make it toward the mountains by Saturday afternoon. Wish us luck! We’ll be back to harvest cowpeas and see you next week.

Eat well and be well.

Your gardeners,

Paul and Coree

PS – Hidden Springs Orchard will be bringing us pints of little kiwis ($3 each). These are a GREAT seasonal fruit and we hope you’ll take full advantage of the opportunity to enjoy them.

"So here are the questions you could ask... Does this food build or destroy topsoil? Does it use only ambient sun and rainfall, or does it require fossil soil, fossil fuel, fossil water, and drained wetlands, damaged rivers? Could you walk to where it grows, or does it come to you on a path slick with petroleum?" - The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice and Sustainability by Lierre Keith

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Chocolate Beet Cake

Ok - Coree confesses - we've not made the time to make this cake yet, but a friend of mine did and said it was great.

Here it is:

Chocolate Beet Cake

oil and flour for preparing pan
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup mild-flavored vegetable oil, divided
3 eggs
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 cups pureed cooked beets (3 medium beets)
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
powdered sugar

1) preheat oven to 375. Lightly coat a 10 cup bundt pan or tube pan with oil and dust it with flour.
2) Partially fill the bottom of a double boiler with water and bring to a boil over high heat; reduce to a simmer. Put the chocolate and 1/4 cup of the oil in the top of the double boiler. heat just until the chocolate melts; remove from heat and stir until well combined.
3) combine the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Slowly beat in the remaining 3/4 cup oil chocolate mixture, beets, and vanilla.
4) Sift eh all purpose flour and whole wheat pastry flour int o a large bowl. Stir in the baking soda and salt. Gently stir the flour mixture into the egg and chocolate mixture just until flour is mixed in. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
5) Bake until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes.
6) Carefully remove the cake from the pan and let cool on the rack. When completely cool, dust with powdered sugar.

week #16

Red Springs Family Farm
September 9, 2010 week 16

Lettuce Tomatoes Eggplant Acorn squash
Potatoes Garlic Peppers Beets
Basil & Green Onions Cantaloupes, as available
Hot peppers and Okra, if you like

We’re making okra optional this week because we know that you, like us, may be just about okra-d out. The peppers have made themselves somewhat more reasonable with the cool snap this week, too. They’re just gathering themselves up to make more. If you’re feeling pepper-d out, too, please remember to freeze your sweet peppers. They work great for pizzas, omelets, and pasta sauces in the winter. Just wash them thoroughly, cut them into the size you like, and store them in a labeled zip lock or freezer box. Break off the amount you want, whenever you want it, after fresh pepper season is long gone.

Autumn is certainly fast approaching. This week’s weather has been so crisp and comfortable. It’s been awhile since it was so pleasant to work outdoors. We’re grateful. The creek is cold now, though it doesn’t bother Lulah in the least, and we’ve been fortunate to find some perfectly ripe paw-paws floating downstream from an over-hanging tree. The paw-paw is the closest thing to a tropical fruit we have in Tennessee. We hope you’ve had a change to try one. We wish we could find enough to share – ask around the Saturday farmer’s market if you’re curious.

Dark, succulent cooking greens are growing strong, and we hope to be able to give you all a bundle soon. Herbs are experiencing a resurgence of growth, too. The winter squash are getting more delightful by the day. If you want to hold onto your acorns, keep them dark and dry, not too cold, and they’ll keep and maybe even get sweeter, for several months. Butternuts keep all winter if held at a steady temperature with not too much direct light. We hope to dig sweet potatoes this weekend or next. The rewards of seeing through a season of CSA changes can be so sweet. If you haven’t had these sweet potatoes before, you’ll soon understand.

Until we have the sweets, there are the beets! These are the last of them for the season. Some of the roots have taken on a funny hourglass shape. We suspect the great fluctuations in temperature and moisture have something to do with it. Here are Alice Waters excellent instructions for basic beets to be prepared for a salad:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash the beets thoroughly and put them in a baking pan with a splash of water. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until they can be easily pierced through with a sharp knife. Uncover and allow to cool.
Peel the beets and cut off their tops and the bottom tails. Cut them in halves or quarters, depending on their size; sprinkle generously with vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Add a pinch of sugar if the beets are at all bitter. Do not add any oil until the beets have sat for about ½ an hour and have had a chance to absorb the flavor of the vinegar. The beets will never be as good if the oil is added too soon. The vinegar brightens and accentuates the beet flavor; the oil should be added sparingly, for balance only. Adjust the seasoning. Prepared this way, the beets are ready to be combined with other ingredients in salads. A few suggestions:
Beets, sherry vinegar, orange zest, and tarragon, with the option of some crushed garlic.
Beets, balsamic vinegar, shallots and toasted walnuts.
Beets, white wine vinegar, and chives; with smoked fish, cultured cream and lemon juice.

If that seems nice and all but doesn’t sound like anything your kids will eat, go look at the blogsite for the chocolate beet cake recipe. There’s not enough room to post it here. They’ll never know what hit ‘em. Yum.

If you’re tired of making pesto, we hope you’re freezing or drying your basil. If that doesn’t even appeal to you, we can thank Angelic Organics up in Chicago for this recipe, too:

Basil-Garlic Cream Cheese
The possibilities for this classic, creamy dip-spread-sauce are endless. You can even stir it into warm tomato soup. Vary the texture and flavor by changing the amount of olive oil or by using the oil from preserved sun-dried tomatoes or anchovies, or experiment with using cottage cheese, ricotta, or yogurt cheese in place of the cream cheese. It’s fresh basil—you can’t go wrong.
Makes 1 1/3 cups

8 ounces cream cheese, softened 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh chives 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper

Stir all the ingredients in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon until smooth. (You can also do this in your food processor.) Transfer the herbed cheese to a small dish and put it in the refrigerator to let the flavors develop for about 1 hour.

As for eggplant, you may want to know some storage tips: Eggplant prefers to be kept at about 50° F, which is warmer than most refrigerators and cooler than most kitchen counters. Wrap unwashed eggplant in a towel (not in plastic) to absorb any moisture and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Used within a week, it should still be fresh and mild.

Broiled Eggplant (from The Real Dirt on Vegetables)
oil for greasing the baking sheet mayonnaise
eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch slices freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)

1. Preheat the broiler. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
2. Spread mayonnaise sparingly on both sides of each eggplant slice, then dip the slices in the grated Parmesan cheese, thoroughly coating both sides.
3. Arrange the slices in a single layer on the oiled baking sheet and place under the broiler until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip the slices and broil until golden brown and crunchy on top and the eggplant is soft, about 3 minutes more.

Acorn squashes this week are Paydon’s Heirloom. They are the golden delicious of the acorns. For a decadent treat, try them stuffed: cut off the top, or cut in half, scrape out the seeds, and add apples or pears, walnuts, butter, a few raisins, more butter, and cinnamon and nutmeg. Bake them in a medium hot oven until the squash is nice and soft and maybe drizzle some honey on top after they’re done. They’re also nice JUST baked and topped with butter, salt and pepper. These are the simple tastes of fall.

Thank you for eating with us ~ Have a great weekend.
Paul, Coree, and Lulah Entwistle

Thursday, September 2, 2010

week #15

Red Springs Family Farm
September 2, 2010 week 15

Lettuce Peppers Eggplant
Garlic Potatoes Okra
Tomatoes Tromboncini Basil &Chives
Cantaloupes, as available Hot peppers, by choice

It seems strange to say, but it’s hard to really ever see it coming, this change in season. This year has been especially extreme of course, but it happens each year, and almost always in September. One week, the garden looks green and feels like summer, and over the course of a few days, the summer crops melt into the ground and are gone. This week we saw the end of cucumbers and summer squash from our gardens. Paul began tearing them out to plant more fall crops in their place. It’s good to see things turning over for the new season. We’ve seen the first red and purple leaves on the sweet gum trees and a few red tinges in the dogwoods, too. Black walnuts are always first to jettison their yellow leaves, and in wind gusts, they fly around our hollow.

So much work has been done, so much still to do around here. We covered all the fall transplants with remay to protect them from the ravenous grasshoppers before the last flood, and have been working our way through the rows, uncovering them, cleaning out the weeds and loosening the rain-packed soil so that they can grow more and better. The squash and cukes are being pulled out and later, faster fall plantings sown, with hopes of a gentle rain Friday night to tuck them in. Okra has to be picked every other day to keep it from becoming really too big. The plants are towering over everything else in the garden now, and still producing a profusion of beautiful yellow hibiscus-like flowers each day. A good piece of the upper garden is ready to be mowed, now that the winter squash have been pulled from the field and watermelons are finished. The eggplant will appreciate the breathing room. Very soon it will be time to dig the sweet potatoes and sow cover crops for fall and winter.

These unusual summer squashes are Tromboncini. At this stage, they are good and tender, zucchini-like, stir-fried or roasted, tossed with olive oil, garlic, and herbs. Our neighbor grows them for both summer and winter squash, but they are most delicious at the summer squash stage. Later in the season they become good keepers (though not as tasty as our favorite acorns and butternuts) and grow into some zany contortions, too.

A couple of nice recipes for this week’s fare:

Sautéed Peppers and Pears (off the line)
4 medium fresh red or yellow peppers, cored, seeded, and cut to 1/4-inch strips
3 medium firm-ripe pears or Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and cut to 1/4-in-thick slices
3/4 cup (3 oz.) shredded jack or Munster cheese 3 tablespoons butter or margarine

In a 12- to 14-inch frying pan, combine peppers and 2 tablespoons of the butter; stir over medium heat until peppers begin to get limp, 7 to 10 minutes. Add remaining tablespoon of butter and fruit. Cook uncovered, stirring often, until fruit is soft and tender when pierced, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Pour into dish and immediately sprinkle with cheese. Serves 6. (NOTE: If you’re using our pears, only cook them until warmed through – they won’t last 7 minutes in the heat.)
And this is a wonderful eggplant dish from 108 Recipes:

Sesame Noodles with Roasted Eggplant
1 large (or 2 small) eggplant 2 cloves garlic
The Marinade:
½ c. dark sesame oil ½ c. soy sauce
¼ c. balsamic vinegar 3 T. brown sugar
½ t. salt 1 t. hot chili oil
1 bunch scallions ¼ c. chopped cilantro, plus leaves for garnish
3 cloves garlic, pressed 2 T. freshly grated ginger root

1 12 oz. Package Japanese soba noodles 1/3 c. toasted sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, and place the pieces flat side up in an oiled baking dish. Peel the garlic, slice it thinly, and stuff it into the eggplant flesh. Brush the eggplant with olive oil. Bake uncovered at 375 for 45 minutes, or until the eggplant is soft but not mushy.
Whisk together all of the marinade ingredients, except the ginger and garlic. Boil the noodles according to package direction – al dente, not too soft. Divide the marinade into two. Pour one half of it over the noodles and toss well.
Add the ginger and garlic tot eh other half of the marinade. When the eggplant is done and is cool enough to handle, peel it and cut or tear it into narrow strips. Place the strips in the ginger and garlic marinade so they are entirely covered.
For best results, the two main parts of the salad should now be covered and refrigerated, overnight if possible. Two hours before serving, combine them. Add the sesame seeds, and garnish with whole cilantro leaves.
As with all dishes that contain acidic marinades, use glass, ceramic, or stainless steel mixing bowls to prepare and to store this salad. In the unlikely case that there is some left over, it does keep well for several days.

If you are overwhelmed with the okra, put it up for winter. Don’t miss the great benefits of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, folates, and fiber that these pods provide. Here are a couple of preservation tips:

Wash. Remove the stems at the end of the seed cells, being careful not to expose the seed cell. Water blanch small pods 3 minutes and large pods 4 minutes. Cool promptly and drain. Leave whole or slice crosswise. Package, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Seal, label and freeze.
To freeze for frying: Wash and remove stems. Blanch small pods 3 minutes and large pods 4 minutes. Cool promptly and drain. Slice crosswise and dredge with meal or flour. Spread in a single layer on shallow trays. Place in freezer just long enough to freeze firm. Package quickly leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Seal, label and freeze.

There’s something about this time of year and purple foods. The eggplants are glowing purple globes in the garden, and the red/purple lettuce leaves seem especially vibrant. They contrast well with the red and yellow peppers. We hope to clean out the last bed of beets next week, adding another shade of purple to the show. The first batch of acorn squashes is ready for you too, but they are yellow, not purple. We’ll keep spinning the color wheel. Enjoy your food!

Yours, the Entwistles

“Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature” ~ Michael Faraday, 1849