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Sunshine Winter Squash
Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!
Sunshine Winter Squash
Sunshine is a Scarlet Kabocha type squash with smooth, sweet, bright orange flesh that is great for mashing, baking and pies. The flavor is almost tropical. If you’re hooked on making fresh homemade pumpkin pie now, you can substitute Sunshine for a pie pumpkin. Or consider baking your squash (cut in half, cut sides down on a baking sheet) until soft, scooping it out of its skin, and then mashing it like potatoes. Alloro Wine Bar in Bandon buys lots of Sunshine Squash from us to use as filling for homemade raviolis (the chef, Jeremy, insists that they are the best squash for that purpose because of their dry, incredibly sweet flesh).
Store your Sunshine on the counter, not in the fridge. It will keep for months if conditions are cool (about 50 degrees) and dry.
You might be wondering about the oddly-shaped spuds in your share this week. Long and skinny, crooked and wobbly, nobbed and hooked – allow us to introduce you to fingerlings. You are getting two almost indistinguishable varieties mixed together, Austrian Crescent and Russian Banana.
Fingerlings are a bit of specialty item due to the fact that they yield fewer and smaller potatoes than your standard Yukon Gold or russet varieties, and are far from uniform. Nevertheless, they are a popular gourmet item with chefs, and wonderful to use in the home kitchen. The texture of fingerlings is often described as waxy and firm. They are not a mashing potato so much as a roasting or steaming potato, and due to their small size they rarely take more than 25 minutes to cook.
Make a marriage of your fingerlings and your lacinato kale this week and try this Kale and Potato Spanish Tortilla – a potato and egg frittata chock full of greens and flavor.
You can store your fingerlings in the fridge, or in a cool dark place.
Also known as cavolo nero (“black cabbage”), Tuscan kale, Italian kale, dinosaur kale, black kale or flat black cabbage, lacinato kale goes by many monikers. I like to think that’s because this particular kale has earned itself an honored place in many different culinary traditions around the world. This is the kale that Marisa, my friend from Hawaii, threatened to forsake island paradise for, after all. And why? Because lacinato kale doesn’t grow well in the tropics; in fact, its glory season is just beginning here in Oregon as the days get shorter and the nights get cold. Little by little, the sugars are beginning to come up in the lacinato, and once we get a frost, it will be the best tasting kale on the farm, hands down.
A few tidbits of kale trivia should you like to begin crusading as a kale converter:
• Kale is a form of cabbage in which the central leaves do not form a head.
• Kale is the hardiest vegetable on the farm, withstanding (and in fact, improving with) hard freezes.
• During World War II, the U.K. launched its own kale crusade via the Dig for Victory campaign (similar to the U.S.’ victory gardens). The vegetable was easy to grow and provided important nutrients that were in short supply due to rationing.
• Because kale can grow well into winter, one variety is called 'Hungry Gap' - named for the winter months when precious other crops are available to harvest.
• In Scotland, kale was such a staple in the traditional diet that the word “kale” in dialect Scots is synonymous with food. To be "off one's kail" is to feel too ill to eat.
If you don’t try this week’s recipe, you can improvise with you lacinato the same way you would any other kale – steamed, sautéed, in soup, or raw. Store in the fridge in plastic bag.
On the Farm....
We’re beginning to look ahead into 2010 and think about things like next year’s crop plan, the marketing mix, and labor, which inevitably means we're first taking a good long look at 2009. The consensus amongst everyone here at Valley Flora is that this has been the best season ever for us, in large part thanks to you, our Harvest Basket members. Having a CSA (community supported agriculture) program has made it possible to have a wonderful, direct connection to the people who are eating our food, and farming has never felt more fun, more gratifying, and more sustainable.
When I say “sustainable,” I mean it on a number of fronts: personally, financially, and environmentally. As for personal sustainability, Abby and I were just commenting this week on the fact that neither of us feel burned out the way we have in season’s past come Fall. For that we have Blake - our dedicated farm worker – to thank, as well as the many friends and volunteers who have helped out this season: Sara and Marisa, dear friends who each came on a month-long farm-cation this summer; Robin Giss, our amazing strawberry picking volunteer from Coos Bay; Jeri Bissel from Bandon who has been volunteering since September and who by now has plucked millions of petals off of the bachelor buttons and calendula flowers that Abby puts in the salad mix. All of these individuals have given the farm – and us - a loving boost this year.