In your box:
–Lettuce, “Rouge d’hiver”
–Winter squash, “Fordhook Acorn”
Thanks so much to everyone who made it out to the farm for our harvest party last week! It was great to see some familiar faces and meet some new folks. Next year we hope to offer a couple more open houses during the growing season so we can get more members involved on the farm.
This week we had our first frost and freeze of the season, just a few days later than average. We had frosty mornings on both Tuesday and Wednesday this week, including a low of 30 degrees on Tuesday the 10th. At this point in the year it’s not at all detrimental, except that our sunflowers have died off and there’s not much left in flower for our bees. The frost does change the flavor of some crops, so you’ll notice that the arugula this week is much sweeter than it was a week ago. It will also make the turnips less bitter next week, so in all it’s a good thing to get a frost this time of year.
This week we introduce leeks for the first time in a few years. I had some poor germination for a couple years in a row that prevented any crop, so it’s nice to have them back this year. Leeks are a close relative of onions and garlic, but they really stand out in a soup. Our leeks had a really good year this season, and many of them are real monsters and can be counted as two leeks in a recipe. To use them, just cut off the root base and clean the innards thoroughly. Peel off any outer skins and then chop up the remainder into slivers. Include as much of the greens as you like—the whole leek is edible.
About ten years ago I was in Wales, in the west of the U.K., where leeks are the national symbol. Why, you ask? There are two theories, both involving a decisive battle nearly 1500 years ago. Some records indicate that the Brits, led by Welsh patron Saint David, wore leeks in their caps so that they could tell which team they were on. Other legends have it that the battle was held in a farmer’s field of leeks. I find this a little hard to believe—leeks are really big and stiff and it would be nearly impossible to navigate a whole field of leeks, let alone while carrying armor and trying to chop up your enemy. Regardless, on March 1 every year the Welsh wear leeks in their hats and Welsh troops eat a whole raw leek. Leeks keep well through the winter here, so you’re welcome to keep your leek in the fridge until spring and try one raw. Of course, you have to be careful that no one goes into the fridge before then to take a leek. You know…. “take a leek.” Ok, that’s my only potty joke of the year. But I love that joke. And besides, I have two boys age 5 and under–potty jokes are my life right now.
Our winter squash this week come from our harvested mountain of acorn squash. These little guys really outdid themselves, and we’re happy to pass on double our usual amount this week. All half shares will receive two yellow winter squash, an acorn variety named “Fordhook.” Full shares will receive two of those as well as two of the usual black acorn squash. I’m not sure why they are both classified as acorns—the yellow ones look much more like a Nerf football than an oak nut. But the usage is the same, so I let it slide.
We like to use the Fordhook acorns as a pizza topping. To do this, just peel the outside until you get down to the good flesh. Then chop it down the middle and scoop out all the seeds. Chop up the remaining squash into bite-size pieces and coat lightly with oil. Spread them in a casserole dish and cook in the oven at 350 degrees for about half an hour, stirring once or twice if you think of it. After that half hour, remove them from the oven and add to your pizza. We love the mixture of sage and squash, so our pizzas from now until March are always a combination of dried sage and baked squash.
By the way, I did plant beds of sage, oregano, and rosemary this spring. Unfortunately, I planted them right next to the winter squash and they were quickly submerged by the mass of squash leaves and vines and I wasn’t even able to locate them until the frost this week killed off all the squash vines. Now that I know where these are, they’ll be able to get some sunlight and should be ready for harvest next year. These are all long-lived perennials, so we should have a larger variety of herbs for the next few years.
I also have one sad dud to report: there will be no spinach this fall. I planted it back in early August, but unfortunately it never germinated and we won’t have any in the boxes. We do have a nice bed of salad mix ready, so I’ll be harvesting that for your final box next week.
Just a reminder that next week will be your final delivery of this CSA season. We hope you’ve enjoyed the experience! I will follow up in a couple weeks with a brief survey to help us as we shape our plans for the next growing season. Don’t forget to gather up any CSA boxes you might have around the house and bring those back to your delivery site. I will come through all the sites a week after your last delivery to collect any boxes, so please bring them back even after your last pickup if you still have any. Some of the boxes will be good enough to use next year, and I am able to recycle any that are too dirty or banged up for further use.
Also, a note for our Thursday deliveries: your next box will be delivered on WEDNESDAY, October 18th at the usual times. This is to accommodate any of you getting away for MEA weekend and so that Nina and I can get a vacation in. Please let me know if you have any conflicts with this so we can make other plans. Thanks for your understanding!
Expected next week: Salad mix, garlic, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, carrots, celeriac, turnips, and leek/onion.