White Russian Kale
Muir Head Lettuce
Ride The Red Bull Onions
Mixed Hot Peppers
Honey Nut Squash
Notes from the Farm
Winter Squash is not all the same... not even remotely the same... and knowing the differences really make consuming squash a serious improvement in one's life... honestly.
Of the winter squashes in the genus Cucurbita, there are three we are most interested in: Maxima, Moschata & Pepo.
C. Maxima is the group that has buttercup, hubbard, kabotcha and squashes like that... dry, sweet, generally beloved. We didn't grow any of those this year... moving on.
C. Moschata has butternut, honeynut and squash like that. These have moist, but easily the most dense flesh, and are generally the best for storage varieties. This squash is classic winter squash and needs some time and effort to cook them, but the results are typically worth it.
The C. Pepo group includes some of the most asked about squashes... spaghetti, acorn, delicata, and zucchini... that's right, genetically, spaghetti, acorn and delicata are summer squashes, grown as winter squashes, prized for their moisture, soft meat, sweetness and overall ease of cooking... plus, at least with delicata, you can eat the skin, it's delicious and saves a major step in prepping.
Of all the food I grow, winter squash might be the one I eat the most.
The enthusiasm for local food that we've seen swell over the last (nearly) 20 years is heartwarming. We've seen an uptick not only in numbers of people who are agro-curious, but an enormous diversity of people as well... people from across the ideological & political spectrums, across the income spectrum, culture spectrum... we're seeing a greater range at the stand and at our farmers' markets... we're seeing more interest from a range of restaurants and stores, and all of them, not just the self-identified farm-to-table styled joints... and we're not the only ones, our farmer friends tell us the same thing.
I don't know what it was, what has slowly brought this wave... social media, cooking shows, impending ecological collapse, general pendulum swing back from the microwave dinner craze of 40 years ago... I don't know what it is, but I'm grateful.
The piece that we still see missing in the growing love of local food, is perspective on the realities of farming. Tate made a great point last week, they said that they've seen (even before coming here, although here too, but back in Brooklyn) these popular bumpersticker style slogans to the effect of “eat like a farmer”... and it struck them, that they'd never really thought about it until they started farming with us... The impulse is correct, eat fresh, seasonal, local foods... that's good, hard to argue against it... but the reality is that as farmers, we don't eat all that well at all.
Eating like a farmer means standing over the kitchen counter inhaling a PB&J on stale bread (because we forgot to go grocery shopping) so that we can get back out and finish the task at hand... it means eating gas station pizza on the way from picking up tractor parts because the whole operation is at a standstill until the tractor is fixed... it means settling for undercooked rice because you're too tired and hungry to wait until it's totally cooked. Eating like a farmer is not something I'd wish on anyone, and I don't resent it or even think it's necessarily bad... but the notion that we are able to enjoy the food we are growing is unfortunately off the mark, at least at our farm... and at most other farms I know.
Now, does that mean we never eat the food? no, we eat lots of it, in passing, a carrot here & cuke there, or super simply just cut and plated... but there definitely isn't time or emotional energy for a recipe that takes more than one step, the time to do the food justice... at least until mid-fall.
Starting right about now, we are seeing more time in our day... a day off here and there... and a chance to think about what we'd like to have for dinner... and what we have is squash.
From Mid-September until Christmas, I typically eat squash 5 out of every 7 days... and I love it. The nutritional density, the sweetness, the satiating nature that is only really totally achieved by squash (well, sweet potatoes too, they're pretty good I guess)...
Mashed, cubed, in pies, artfully julienne, on tacos, in Shepard pie, soup, chowder... it's an irreplaceable element in my fall.
And it wasn't always this way. I didn't really start eating squash so regularly until I started growing squash, and facing the reality of the farm season, and trying in some way, somehow, to heal that part of myself that is unavoidably sacrificed through the season...
There is no food we grow that nourishes, reassures and rebuilds me more than winter squash.
Delicata Squash with Hot Pepper Glaze
1/4 cup hot pepper jelly
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 medium delicata squashes (about 3 pounds total), cut lengthwise into 1-inch-thick wedges, seeds discarded
2 teaspoons coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Stir jelly, oil, and garlic in a small bowl. Place squashes in a large bowl; add jelly mixture and salt. Season with pepper, and toss.
Divide squashes between 2 rimmed baking sheets. Roast until squashes are tender and bottoms are golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Serve immediately.
Honeynut Squash, Leek, and Brie Gratin
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for dish
2 medium leeks, sliced into thin rounds, well washed (2 1/2 cups)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup dry vermouth
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
6 no-bake lasagna noodles (4 ounces), broken roughly into thirds
1 honeynut squash or 1/2 butternut squash (10 ounces), peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
4 ounces Brie, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 1/3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, such as Swanson
1/3 cup heavy cream
Salad greens, such as romaine and endive, for serving
Preheat oven to 425 degrees; butter a 10-inch, 1 1/2-quart gratin dish. In a skillet, cook 2 tablespoons butter, leeks, and a pinch of salt over medium-high heat, stirring, until soft, 8 minutes. Add vermouth; cook until mostly evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. In another pan, melt remaining butter. Toss with panko; season with salt and pepper.
Scatter half of pasta, leeks, squash, and cheese in gratin dish. Season with salt and pepper; repeat with remaining half of each. Pour broth and cream evenly over top; cover with parchment-lined foil and bake until squash is tender, 25 minutes. Sprinkle panko mixture over gratin. Bake, uncovered, until golden and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes; serve with greens.
Roasted Delicata Squashes and Lady Apples
2 delicata squashes (1 1/2 pounds total), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices, seeds removed
10 lady apples (1 1/2 pounds), cut in half
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
6 ounces slab bacon, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices, then cut crosswise into lardons (1/2 inch wide)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss together squashes, apples, oil, sugar, bacon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; season with pepper. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast until golden on bottom, about 50 minutes. Flip squashes and apples over, and roast until tender, about 5 minutes more. Sprinkle thyme over mixture, and serve immediately.