Last Week of Abby’s Greens Salad Shares
As the daylight hours wane, so too do the salad greens. This is the 20th and final week of Abby’s Greens Salad Shares. If you are signed up for a salad share, enjoy your last bag of the season!
And for those of you who fear Abby’s Greens Withdrawals, here’s a little insider’s tip: salad greens will most likely still be available at the following outlets:
- Our farmstand, open on Saturdays, 10 am to 2 pm, through Saturday, November 19th, rain or shine.
- The Langlois Market
- Seaweed in Port Orford
- Mothers Natural Grocery in Bandon
Winter Squash Season Begins!
This week marks the official start of winter squash season! In the nine remaining weeks of the Harvest Basket season (our last delivery of Harvest Baskets will be the week of December 12th), you are going to meet an array of different winter squash. All of them are cured and ready to eat, but will also store for another month or two, either on your countertop or in a cool, dry, dark place. There is no need to refrigerate winter squash; in fact their preferred storage temperature is around 50 degrees. Even though they look tough, handle them gently. Bruised winter squash won't store for very long.
Many people are new to winter squash and often relate to them more as seasonal décor than food. We’re here to encourage you to EAT them, because they are fantastically sweet, tasty and versatile. We’ve grown a selection of our all-time favorite varieties and each week I’ll help you out with some tips, suggestions and recipes that will help you enjoy them. Don’t be intimidated by their tough skins, large size, or funky shapes. Winter squash is one of the highlights of seasonal eating in our neck of the woods, and lucky for all of us it was a good year for squash on the farm!
A word about kitchen safety and winter squash: Their skin is often tough as nails, so be very careful cutting into them. If you’re cutting a squash in half or into slices, you’ll want to use a large, heavy-bladed knife, sharp-tipped knife (not a thin-bladed, paring, or delicate ceramic knife). We once broke the blade of our best knife while trying to hack open a winter squash, so now we only use our heavy-duty stainless steel chef knife for the job. It’s best to insert the tip of the knife into the squash first and then work the blade down and through the flesh of the squash. Be careful that the squash doesn’t spin out of your grip, or that the knife slips. Always be strategic about where your hands are and where the knife is headed.
In your share this week:
- Head Lettuce
- Red Shallots
- Savoy or Green Cabbage
- Fennel (the last fennel for the year)
- Acorn Squash
- Pie Pumpkin
Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.
Acorn Winter Squash
Perhaps the most widely-recognized winter squash, acorns are dark green-black, deeply ribbed, and have yellow-orange flesh. They are probably the hardest-skinned variety we grow, so be extra careful cutting them. The best way to prepare them is to cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, and bake them at 350 degrees until very tender, usually about 35-45 minutes. You can either bake them face down in a pan with a little bit of water until the flesh is soft, or bake them face up with butter and maple syrup or brown sugar in the cavity.
Because acorns don’t peel easily, and because they have such a perfectly bowl-like seed cavity, they are great stuffed or used as edible bowls. Here are two recipes that take full advantage of this feature:
Halloween is around the corner, so the pumpkin in your tote (and the kids in your household) might be screaming “jack-o-lantern” at you. But rather than carve this one up, you might consider making a homemade pumpkin pie from scratch: http://valleyflorafarm.com/content/basic-pumpkin-pie
Or for an international spin that uses your pumpkin and shallots, I found this recipe on epicurious.com and it looks delicious (if you like Thai food): http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Silky-Coconut-Pumpkin-Soup-Keg-Bouad-Mak-Fak-Kham-104372.
There are a whole bunch of great pumpkin-inspired recipes on Epicurious, so if you have the time I’d experiment with some of them.
Shallots are a refined cousin to onions and garlic (most closely related to garlic), and used often in French cuisine. They have a wonderful flavor cooked or raw, but take a little more work to peel than your standard onion. You see them as a common ingredient in vinaigrette, and are especially flavorful caramelized. They have an incredible shelf life, lasting up to a year under ideal storage conditions (cool, dark, dry). You can use them interchangeably with onions and leeks, but if you have a recipe that calls for shallots and you have the shallots on hand, use them! They are special, and the price you pay for them in the grocery store reflects that. They are often upwards of $5/pound. Part of the reason they command top dollar is that they yield half as much as onions do. I grow them in spite of their lower yields because I love that they keep all winter long, it's great to have a diversity of different alliums in the kitchen, and their flavor is lovely.
Storage: on the counter, or somewhere cool, dry and dark. Should keep for months.
Farm Fact of the Week
Time for cover crops! During the past week of good weather, we have been scurrying to get as much of the farm seeded into cover crop as we possibly can. Mid-October is prime time for seeding clover, vetch, Austrian winter peas, cereal rye, and oats, which should germinate with the next rains and grow through the winter. We cover crop every inch of the farm that we can (even the little strips between the rows of raspberries) for a number of reasons:
- Cover crops provide our soil with protection from wind, rain and erosion during the winter months.
- Cover crops contribute organic matter to our soil, which improves our overall soil tilth and health.
- Leguminous cover crops like clover, peas and vetch have a symbiotic relationship with a special bacteria that can actually fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and make it plant-available in the soil. Which means that when we turn our leguminous cover crops under next spring, they will release nitrogen to help feed our subsequent summer cash crops.
- Winter peas provide spring pea tendrils that we can eat and add to salads!
- Cover crops can help break cycles of disease and pests in the soil.
- Cover crops are beautiful! Much of the farm is in bare ground right now, on the heels of our big harvests of winter squash, corn, potatoes, onions, etc. But as soon as we get our next good rain, all of that ground will sprout green like a second spring.
- Cover cropping is great work for the horses! I use Maude, my Belgian mare, to roll in all of the cover crop seed we plant. She drags our big heavy cultipacker over the fields to ensure we have good soil-to-seed contact, which makes a big difference in improving germination rates.