CSA Newsletter–Week 16

newsletter with photoNothing speaks quite so distinctly of Fall as pumpkins and gourds, dry corn stalks, and the changing colors of leaves. Not that we get all that the 2nd week of September, but still, I layer a flannel shirt over my tee-shirt for the first hour of harvest now that crisp mornings start and end our days.

We aren’t experiencing much of that change in the Market yet, except that the crisp mornings are giving renewed energy to green and yellow beans, broccoli and our braising greens. You’ll see that the inevitable powdery mildew is taking over the summer and winter squash areas, which means the summer squash will slow down just as the winter squash ripens up.

I find it a wonderful cycle, actually.

To commemorate these cooler and shorter days you’ll find sweet pumpkins in the Market this week, the kind that make spectacular pumpkin soup, pumpkin breads and muffins, and pumpkin bars, cookies, and pies. Send your favorite winter squash recipe and I’ll include them in the upcoming weeks. This week I’m linking to one of mine, which can be made with pumpkin, butternut squash, or hubbard squash.

Speaking of pumpkins…  sign up in the Market if you plan to come to the CSA Potluck September 21st. For those who come, the Potluck is the day you go choose your  jack-o-lantern from the field and take it home.

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Anticipated in the Marketpumpkins

Baby Pam Sweet Pumpkin
Sweet Corn
Suffolk Red Seedless Table Grapes
Liberty Apples
Baby Cakes, Amarillo & Snow White Cherry Tomatoes
Assorted Beefsteak and Salad Tomatoes
(Heirloom Copia, Celebrity, Iron Lady, Rutgers)
Slicing Cucumbers
Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans
Listada de Gandia & Black Beauty Eggplant
Zucchini
Butterstick & Crookneck Squash
Cortland Onions
King Richard Heirloom Leeks
Broccoli florets
Kale (Dinosaur, Red Russian & Siberian)
Collards & Chard
Mint and Basil
Garlic

Pick Three

Yellow beans
Fennel
Kohlrabi
Copenhagen Cabbage
Various Sweet & Hot Peppers
Extra Cherry and Salad Tomatoes
Extra Braising Greens
Extra Eggplant

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New from the Fieldleeks

Leeks

Leeks are in the allium family, along with garlic, scallions, and onions. They are the mildest of them all, an oniony flavor with a hint of garlic. You can use leeks in any recipe calling for onions, green onions, or scallions. They are my favorite from this family from November through about March, when they taste their best. Mostly leeks are a fall/winter crop, but we grew a variety that begins to mature at the end of summer. Still, this is just a taste, you probably won’t see them again until October, and then we’ll have more available in the Fall/Winter crates you’ll hear about later.

Leeks are native to the Mediterranean and are used a lot in French cooking. They look a bit like giant green onions, and the part that is sautéed is the long white stem. To clean, cut off the tough green leaves where they begin to split from the stalk, and the roots. Slice the leek in half lengthwise and then rinse under running water, thumbing through the layers to remove soil and grit that has taken up residence between the layers.

One of the recipes of the week features leeks. But as I said, they can be used in any recipe asking for onions, the recipe below just allows them a more front-and-center role.

Baby Pam Sweet Pie Pumpkins

This is your best baking pumpkin, and it’s wonderful not only for pumpkin pies, but for quick breads, muffins, waffles, pancakes, custards…  True fact: a lot of canned pumpkin is actually other winter squash, like butternut squash, which is also delicious, and very versatile. Canned pumpkin is more convenient, but if you haven’t tried a pumpkin pie with fresh pumpkin puree, well, you really must. The size of the Baby Pam is quite manageable, more so than the large Hubbard squash you’ll see in the Market later.

P.S. Save the seeds when you scoop them out and roast them along side the pumpkin as you bake it in preparation for cooking with it. Drizzle the seeds with a bit of olive oil and salt, and then roast until they are dry. They will get more crunchy as they cool, so don’t over bake them. Once you taste them you will have discovered yet another reason to use fresh pumpkins and other winter squash for baking rather than the canned goods.

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Recipes of the Week

Potato Leek Gratin (adapted from Molly Watson at About Food).

We’ll assume you still have some potatoes from prior weeks, and this is a good way to use some. We’re taking a week off putting them in the Market to allow you to catch up on using what you have, and to give us more room in the Market! The ingredients and directions are simple, although you might want to wait for a cooler day to bake it up.

Ingredients:
2 leeks, about 3 pounds of potatoes, butter, cheese of your choice, salt and pepper.

Prep:
Preheat oven to 375˚. Meanwhile clean your leeks as described above, and slice them into 1/4 inch half rounds.
Grease a 2 qt. casserole dish or gratin dish liberally with butter.

In a heavy skillet melt 2 Tbsp. butter and sauté the leeks 3-5 minutes until tender and translucent. Set aside.
Peel the potatoes and slice them in 1/4 inch slices.

Assembly:
Lay 1/4 of the potato slices in the casserole dish and then salt and pepper.
Top with 1/2 of the leeks and then salt and pepper.
Layer with another 1/4th of the potatoes (and salt and pepper)
Top with about 3 oz. of grated cheese (swiss, cheddar, gruyere are all good choices)
Repeat layering.

Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until potatoes are tender, and bubbly and browned on top, about 25 minutes if the potatoes are fresh (and they will be if you are using anything we’ve distributed in the last month). Otherwise this might take up to 90 minutes. Cover again if the top becomes too brown.

Let rest 5-10 minutes and enjoy warm.

Pumpkin Squaresbutternut-squares
And for your pumpkin, try these. I call them Butternut Squares in the blog, because that’s what I used, but almost any winter squash (except perhaps delicate and spaghetti squash) works well.

 

 

 

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