Notes from the Farm
Last week we completed our onion harvest. They are now in the drying shed, curing in the shade, the green tops slowly losing moisture and sealing the neck of the onion. We grow several different types of Allium; bunching onions, which you received in June, sweet onions, and red and yellow storage onions. We grow two types of sweet onion; Walla Walla Sweet Spanish and Ailsa Craig. Both are crisp, juicy and sweet enough for some to bite into like an apple. I admit I do not partake in this activity, not wanting to eat an entire onion in one go. Tasty as they are these sweet onions have a limited shelf life, often sprouting or getting soft sometime in November. Sweet onions store just fine on a counter or in a pantry and do not need to be refrigerated if you are going to use them in the next few weeks.
Crazy as it may seem we are also beginning to harvest winter squash and pie pumpkins. Sorry to burst your bubble of joy but summer is soon past. The first of the squash to be harvested are the Cucurbita pepo varieties. These are squash with a dark green stem. They tend to ripen more quickly and take less time to cure.
This Week’s CSA
Jimmy Nardello’s: These peppers rock. They are my absolute favorite tasting sweet pepper, making the sweet Bell seem like a boring cousin. The walls are thin on Nardellos, so if cooking don’t leave them in the pan too long.
Baby Pam Pie Pumpkin: Although we have grown these for years I actually didn’t eat one until last year. I’m not supposed to admit that am I? I am typically fond of winter squash that has a deep orange flesh, finding the taste heartier and more satisfying to lighter colored squashes. So I have always made my pumpkin pies out of winter squash instead of pumpkin. My son claimed it wasn’t real pumpkin pie and insisted on trying a Baby Pam. I must admit it makes a very fine pumpkin pie. We are standing by the Baby Pam.
The best way we have found to cook winter squash or pie pumpkins is to put it whole (uncut) in the oven whole and bake it at 350 for a good while. When it is done it can be pierced by a fork, the interior will feel soft. Careful here if you are a clean oven fan, the pumpkin juice will drip. You may want a pan underneath or some foil to prevent an oven cleaning session. Take the pumpkin out and let it cool before you slice it open and scoop out the seeds. (You can wash the seeds and roast them with seasonings and oil, a fall favorite.) The pumpkin flesh can then be scooped out of the shell and used for pie, soup, some wonderful side dish or cooled and frozen in a container for future use.
If you dislike eating pumpkins take heart, these make lovely decorations or you can go bowling for cows. Have no idea what I am talking about? You’ll find out in a future next newsletter.
Romanesco: This member of the Brassica family is truly beautiful. It’s many pointed green spirals seem to follow the Fibonacci sequence. The taste is similar to cauliflower, but different. The seed catalogue says it has a “nutty” flavor. Leon once told me that if I didn’t know how to describe a flavor say “nutty” because it’s the new catch-phrase. I think he was joking.
The romanesco is ripening slowly and sporadically, hence we do not have enough for everyone at once. Large shares only this week, but worry not, you will eventually find one in your box.
Other veggies in the box: Salad mix, dill, sweet onions, tomatoes, carrots, summer squash or zucchini, tomatillos, kale, ancho pepper, roja garlic, and cucumber (large shares only).
Judy’s Pumpkin Pie
One 3 lb pie pumpkin or 2 cups pumpkin puree
1 Almond crumb pie crust
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tsp water
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 TBS light molasses
3/4 cup whipping cream
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp salt
11/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp each of nutmeg, and ginger
1/8 tsp each of ground cloves and black pepper
2 tsp white flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp dark rum (optional)
Bake prepared pie crust on lowest rack at 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes or until barely golden brown. Brush the crust with the egg and water mixture and return to the oven for 1 minute. Let the crust cool completely on a wire rack.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl (we use a food processor) mix together the cooled pumpkin puree and all the other ingredients. Whisk this filling until smooth. Pour the pumpkin filling into the pie crust and bake in the lower third of the oven until the center of the pie is nearly firm when gently jiggled, 50 to 60 minutes.
Remove the pie to a wire rack to cool. It tastes best served at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream.
Almond Crumb Pie Crust
1 cup plus 2 TBS whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup almonds, ground
pinch of salt
1/4 cup oil
11/2 tsp pure maple syrup
In a small bowl mix together the flour, cinnamon, ground almonds, and salt. Mix together the oil and maple syrup and pour over the dry ingredients. Blend with a fork. Press into an oiled pie pan, making sure that you leave no holes.
Makes one pie crust.
Source for both recipes: Cooking at the Natural Cafe in Santa Fe by Lynn Walters