In your Thanksgiving Share:
Winter Luxury Pumpkin
Mixed Herb Bunch
Happy Thanksgiving! It sure doesn’t feel like it with this warm, dry weather, but I’m told there’s a storm on its way. Our greens are looking much better than usual this time of year, since the rain and cold usually turn them into mush by now. Instead, we’ve included a big fat bag of salad for everyone, and we have lots more at the farm stand. This bag is a little shy of a pound and is probably 12-15 servings if you plan to use it as a side salad. This was harvested fresh yesterday and should be good for a week or more. It’s great for a light leftover meal: fill a bowl with greens and add some leftover turkey and cranberry sauce, plus a little olive oil and salt.
For CSA members, you may be surprised to see that we have a new crop today! Yacon (pronounced yah-CONE) is a member of the sunflower family from the Andes. This is the tuberous vegetable that looks like a sweet potato, oblong with dark skin. I strongly recommend eating it raw: it is sweet, tender, mild flavored, and juicy. Think of jicama, asian pear, or even a cucumber. We most often slice it up and eat it plain as a refreshing snack or side dish. I like the flavor of the skin (it’s earthy and somewhat bitter), but you may prefer it peeled. It will brown soon after cutting, you can toss it with a bit of lime juice to keep it white. It can also be cooked, but I honestly haven’t found a way to cook it that’s much good, and it’s so delicious raw that I gave up trying. Some people like to juice it (we recommend peeling it first). Store it in the fridge in a plastic bag, it will dry out and soften if left on the counter for long.
We grow yacon every year; Mike is particularly fond of it. It’s a perennial similar to a dahlia, and we’ve had mixed success with overwintering the crowns. Last year’s mostly rotted out, so we have a smaller crop this year that got a late start. It’s become really popular, so we’re hoping for more next year!
Since it’s Thanksgiving, I’ve included a mixed bunch of herbs in every share. You have rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, and a tiny bit of sage. The bay leaves are great to use fresh, but assuming you don’t use them all I’d dry the extras. Just leave the whole sprig out somewhere dry, it should dry off within a week or so, and you can pick off the leaves and keep them for later. You can dry the rosemary and thyme the same way if you don’t plan to use them right away either.
Most of you know that our potato crop this year hasn’t been the prettiest, but these are some of the nicest we’ve had. If you want to make mashed potatoes, I’d probably peel them. We’ve got a full pound of shallots for each of you, ours are often larger than you’re used to because we grow them from seed. If you aren’t familiar with shallots, they are like onions but more savory and a little less sweet. I use them in everything! There’s also leeks, which are another versatile onion family veggie. The greens on these aren’t the prettiest, but they’ll be a great addition to stock, turkey or otherwise.
Our pumpkins are an heirloom variety that make the most fantastic pumpkin pie: I plan to make one for my Thanksgiving gathering. They are also delicious to roast and eat with butter or other toppings, although I think their texture is better pureed. The puree can be used for pie, soup, risotto, and whatever you like. I cook them the same way I cook winter squash. Cut it in half, put it in a pan with a bit of water, and roast it at 375 until a fork goes through it easily. To puree it, I just scoop out the seeds, peel off the skin, and use my immersion blender (you can also use a food processor, a regular blender, or a potato masher).
If you have a large pumpkin and don’t want to use it all at once, the puree freezes well. I’d roast the whole pumpkin, since it won’t keep for long once it’s cut open. Left whole and uncooked, these pumpkins are sturdy but not terribly long keepers. It should keep at room temperature at least until Thanksgiving and possibly until the end of the year.
The beets are small but we’ve given you a large bunch of them. They vary in color, there are some standard red beets and also some choiggia which are pink and white. The greens are pretty nice on most of them, and between them and the kale there’s lots of greens to make a nice saute or braise.
The tomatoes are late season tomatoes, some green and some ripe. The green tomatoes are actually pretty tasty in sauces and stuffings, or you can make fried green tomatoes with them. The ripe ones are not the delicious juicy summer tomatoes most people crave, but they have good flavor and are tasty to cook. We’ve been using them in beans, soups, and pasta dishes mostly, and they’ve been pretty good.
For storage, I’d keep the potatoes in the dark but at room temperature (in a cabinet or a paper bag on the counter), keep the shallots, tomatoes, squash and pumpkin on the counter, and everything else can go in a plastic bag in the fridge.
We have one more day of clean up before we close up for the season. We’ll wash and put away harvest bins, pull the last tomatoes out of the greenhouses, and finish up a few projects that we haven’t quite gotten to yet. We’re mostly ready for winter; all of our irrigation is winterized, we’ve done our fall plantings, and the fields are mostly cleaned up. I am trying a few new projects this year that I’ve started to get underway, including some new nursery crops and flower bulbs for increased flower production next year. But mostly Mike and I are ready for a rest. We don’t have any major winter plans, we’ll be visiting my family for Christmas but mostly just enjoying the wood stove and this beautiful place where we live!
Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for your support this season. We’ll see you in the spring!
Grandma Ivah’s Pumpkin Pie
This recipe comes from the Seed Savers Exchange blog. They describe our Winter Luxury pumpkins as “Pumpkin Pie’s Dreams Come True”.
To make the pumpkin puree:
Roast the pumpkin whole or in half in a 350 oven, with a few holes cut in it as steam vents. It is ready when it slumps and a fork pokes through easily. Let it cool enough to handle, then scoop out the seed and guts and peel the skin away from the flesh. Mash the flash or run it through a food processor to make a smooth puree.
To make the crust (enough for 2 pies):
Using your fingers or a pastry blender, mix together 12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) butter and 2 c all purpose flour until mixture is crumbly. Chunks should be no bigger than a pea. Gradually add up to 1/2 c ice water and gather dough until it just forms a cohesive ball. You may not use all the water! Divide into two balls, flatten slightly into disks, and chill for at least 2 hours.
To make the pie:
1 ½ cup pumpkin puree
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 – 1 ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ – 1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ – ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ – ½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 ½ cup milk (preferably whole)
2/3 cup (about 6 ounces) evaporated milk
Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare pie plate with a single pie crust.
Mix pumpkin puree, sugar, salt, and spices. In a separate bowl combine eggs, milk, and evaporated milk.
Blend milk mixture into pumpkin mixture (texture will be very thin).
Pour into pie crust. Bake for 50 minutes or until the center of the pie has begun to set. The pie will continue to set as it cools to room temperature.
Wintergreen Farm Kale Salad
Kale is excellent raw, especially if nights have been frosty. The frost changes the chemistry of the leaf and makes it extra sweet. When I worked at Wintergreen Farm, this salad was a favorite among the crew. The dressing is strongly flavored, with raw garlic and lemon. If you don’t like raw garlic, you can try roasting it first, reduce the amount, or omit it altogether. Serves 3 to 6.
To make the dressing, mix together:
3 Tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely or crushed
salt and pepper
Remove the stems and rip into bite size pieces:
1 bunch kale
Toss in a bowl with dressing and:
1 avocado, sliced
¼ c feta cheese, crumbled