Fern Creek Newsletter–Week 21

newsletter with photoWe’re in the “putting the beds to bed” part of the growing season. That means I’ve had more time to read since that work is less urgent–the crops are mostly in and the work ahead of us can be done anytime. The last few rainy days have made it easy to set aside such tasks, to steep a cup of tea and settle into my rocking chair with a book. Right now I’m reading Eruption: The Story of Mount St. Helens. How many of you remember that Sunday morning in May of 1980? I remember listening to the news about the awakening of a sleeping volcano and watching the steam eruptions coming from the mountain for a month or so before the big eruption. The morning following Mark’s graduation from Lewis & Clark College we walked outside to a coat of ash an inch thick covering our car, the roads, covering most everything.

Fall at Fern Creek

The older maple, oak, cedar, fire and pine at Fern Creek

Eruption also tells the story of logging in the Pacific NW. Weyerhauser owns much of the land around the mountain and stood to lose a lot of potential timber (and income) if predictions turned out to be accurate (they did). The great virgin forests of the United States were perceived as money for the taking–an easy resource that would make entrepreneurial souls rich, those who risked much to open the west for a kind of expansion assumed to be our destiny. But not everyone thought that way, and the story is also of the resistance, those folks who fought to both conserve and preserve our national forests.

Still, I wonder how devastating the taking of the forests would have been to the native people who had called those lands home for several millennia and who had more respect for the way of life dictated by a forest. They seemingly understood their place in the grand forest community and assumed a position as one creature among many who made their homes in forests, one among many who depended on the forest for sustenance.

Martin Marten by Brian Doyle, is another book I’ve recently read. Doyle captures some of that life. Martin Marten is set around Mt. Hood and the list of characters goes beyond the human inhabitants of that place. Together these books give me some perspective, and help me see the Fern Creek trees with greater respect, especially the giant maples and oaks trees–the oldest perhaps 200 years old or so. Meanwhile the forest Mark and I planted nearly 10 years ago now is stretching toward the sky and creating a home for birds of all sizes and sorts, squirrels, rabbits, and deer. I won’t be here to see what it looks like in 100 years, but I like the idea of watching it grow for the next 15 or 20, and also seeing what comes and goes in the older woods down by the creek.

Fern Creek farm and forest

The 10 year old forest at Fern Creek

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Anticipated in the Market

Sweet Pumpkin & Delicata

New England Pie Pumpkin & Delicata

New England Pie Pumpkin (Aka: Ada’s Sweet Pumpkin)
Choice of Delicata, Acorn or Black Futzu Squash
Red Potatoes
Beets
Kale (Dinosaur, Red Russian & Meadowlark)
Summer Squash, Zucchini & Trombocini
Cortland Onions
Red Onions
Green Peppers (and Red and Yellow)
Jalapeno, Serrano, and Cayenne Peppers
Garlic

Pick Twobroccoli

Fresh onions
Jimmy Nardello Peppers
Roma and San Marzano Paste Tomatoes
Broccoli
Fall Cabbage

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New from the Field

Ada's Sweet Pumpkin

Ada’s Sweet Pumpkin

 

Ada’s Sweet Pumpkin

Last summer one of my friends, LaNeal (Ada), gave us a packet of seeds she bought while visiting the Homestead Heritage Farm Store in Texas. The seeds from this heirloom variety of sweet pumpkin (called New England Pie) came from the Brim Seed Company. The botanical drawing on the seed packet was the first gift, and these charming, delicious pumpkins are the second. These heirloom variety pumpkins are the quintessential pie pumpkin; I am very much looking forward to baking with them this fall. Thank you, Ada, for gifting me with their seeds.

Fresh Onions

We’re calling the onions in the Market this week “fresh” because we just harvested them last week. They were hanging out in a bed that was tucked between the cabbage and kale and shared by the leeks and mostly forgotten until we started putting beds to bed. These are the largest Cortland and Red onions we’ve seen, them having had all summer and early fall to grow. The smaller bunches in Pick Two still had enough good green on them that we wanted to pick them the day of pick-up so you could take advantage of their green stalks. Next week we’ll be back to onions we’ve dried and have been storing.

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Recipes of the Week:  PUMPKIN!

In lieu of an actual recipe, let me describe two things I did with baked pumpkin this week, hoping to inspire you to do something similar.

Sweet Potato Pumpkin Soup
Thursday after a wet harvest, warm soup sounded better than anything else and I was eating it 20 minutes or so later. I had lots of left-overs in the fridge from prior meals–left-overs that went together swimmingly. I’m not listing amounts because that will vary depending on how many left-overs you have and how many people you are feeding. A point well taken would be to cook to have left-overs, especially of the kind that play well with other vegetables in soups and stews.

Peel and chop a sweet potato and saute it (I used some left-over juice from the Chanterelle mushrooms I had sauteed in butter for breakfast, along with a little water).  If you want your soup hot, add some or all of a jalapeno pepper you picked up a couple weeks ago and still haven’t used.
Once the potatoes are soft add the cooked pumpkin (or Kuri squash or whatever) which has been hanging out in the fridge and needs a purpose.
Add some left-over sauteed greens and onions (my “greens” were cabbage but I would have preferred kale) or else chop

Auden helping set up the Market

Auden helping set up the Market

some kale (surely you have that in your fridge this time of year) and saute it and some onion along with the sweet potato in step one.
At some point taste it and add salt and pepper to taste.
Add the amount of water you want for the thickness you want, or some tomato sauce or stock hanging out in the fridge.
After all that has stewed together for about 15 minutes consider using the immersion blender to add some creamy texture–blend or not–a lot or a little. Take it off the heat and stir in a splash of half-n-half if you happen to have some.
You could top it with some parsley, or a dollop of sour cream, or a pinch of nutmeg.

Mine was delicious, and I imagine yours would be, too.

Pumpkin Tapioca
Follow the recipe for Quick Tapioca, but add about 1/2 c. pumpkin puree, 1 Tbsp. maple syrup, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ginger, and a pinch of ground cloves and nutmeg to the tapioca/milk/egg yolk cooking on the stove.

This too, was delicious.

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