In your box:
–Winter squash or pie pumpkin
My summer reading this season somehow led me to a study of the history of agriculture in ancient Greece. The book ended up being a little too broad in focus, but it did provide me a great quote: “Nihil minus expedire quam agrum optime colere.” Now, I hate to waste your time translating this Roman proverb that you’ve undoubtedly just picked up on fluently, but in case you’re reading this to children who haven’t yet mastered Latin I’ll help out: “Nothing is less efficient than to take care of a farm too well.” The proverb is intended in a financial sense—too many aspects of running a farm make no money. There is never an end to the work available on a farm. There are always weeds, always a field that needs mowed, always raspberries that need to be picked. And, financially, if a farmer is always getting everything done perfectly than she is missing opportunities to harvest crops and bring them to market.
I’ve tried to hold on to this proverb this year (in Latin, of course), but not in a financial sense. Running a small farm is attempting to balance more jobs than can be physically managed. Yet, no matter how hard I work there will always be weeds to be pulled, compost piles left unturned, beds of crops that just look ugly. There is no perfection in farming, no matter how much time I throw at it. And the more time I invest, the less I have for my family and for myself. So I continue to seek that perfect balance where the farm is in good enough shape to bring out the harvest I’d like to share with you, while also taking long weekends with my family, reading stories to my boys every night, and cooking a meal with Nina whenever we can. I wouldn’t say I’ve found the perfect balance yet, but the winter makes up for it when all the unfinished projects are covered in snow and I have the whole day to sit and play with blocks. With my kids, of course. I don’t just sit around and play with blocks by myself.
This week we finally introduce winter squash for the first time this season. Winter squash is my favorite non-berry item that we grow on the farm, and one of the main perks of my job is that I get to eat all the leftover squash once the season is over. We go through several squash a week in our house, and squash find their way into soup, pies, smoothies, and even pizza until we run out.
This week our winter squash are of the pie-making variety (although squash are mostly interchangeable in their utility). Many of you will receive a pie pumpkin, either the usual orange globe or a long, zucchini-shaped variety called “Long Pie.” Others will receive a Long Island Cheese, Butternut, or Buttercup variety. These are all great in any baked good. Pumpkin pie filling in the store is usually actually butternut squash, but there’s not too much of a taste difference in any kind of the squash we have this week. I’ve included our family recipe for pumpkin pancakes, which we enjoy every Saturday morning in October and November.
There are many ways to cook a squash, but our usual method is to slice it completely down the middle and remove all the seeds. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and fill a large baking dish with about an inch of water. Place the squash face down (skin side up) in the water and put the whole dish in the oven for 45-60 minutes, depending on the size of the squash. Once it has cooked, scoop out all the filling into a blender and discard the skins. Blend the squash (with a little water if necessary) until it makes a fine goo.
We also welcome Brussels sprouts to the boxes this week. Our sprouts did just ok this year, and nothing like the great harvest we had last year. The plants were wiped out by the late freeze in mid-May and were slow to bounce back, so I’m glad to have any sprouts at all this year. We have just a few ounces in your box this week and we should have a similar amount coming next week—just enough so that you can cross off your New Year’s resolution to eat Brussels sprouts this year. The key with sprouts is to not overcook them. We usually cook them in boiling water for just 4 minutes, so they still have a little crunch left to them. Mushy sprouts are no one’s friend. They can also be grilled—just chop them small and put them on an oiled pan in the oven at 350 degrees until they reach your desired texture (probably 20-30 minutes).
Just a reminder that next week will be our last delivery. Please gather up any CSA boxes and return them next week!
Expected next week: Celeriac, red bok choy, garlic, salad mix, radishes, winter squash, kale, arugula, and Brussels sprouts.