In The Box 12: Last Box of the Year!
Last box of the season! Hard to believe 2010 has flown by in a flurry (oooh, scary word choice!) of plant and animal joys and sorrows. We experienced mostly joys this year, though we did struggle with the heat for some crops and we had a few goat troubles that meant none of our own milk this year. Ah, there is always next year (we find ourselves saying that a lot in November)! Far and away the greatest joy of our work here on the farm is you. The interaction with customers, workers and other like-minded dirt-tending pilgrims is what takes the beauty of this little piece of land to a level far beyond its physical attributes. Blessings to you – it has been a privilege to walk together through another growing season. And here’s what’s in the box:
A year in the garden flies by so fast. Here are Brigid and Gretchen planting potatoes early in spring – talk about some awesome furrows! – and now we’re pulling the last of them out. We are so thankful for all that the land (and the workers of it!) produced for us.
Potatoes – We’ve given you a mix of the various storage potatoes we’ve still got left in the cool dark cistern that pokes off to the side of our basement. What a great year for potatoes! We’ve still got two rows in the ground we’ll dig this weekend if we get enough rain to break into the soil. Those should last us through winter.
Collards – These tender leaves haven’t grown much in size over the past few weeks, but the cool nights have produced in them a wonderful sweetness. You could use these raw in a salad, if you like, but we’ve been adding them to our squash soups.
Spinach- Hooray for cold-weather spinach! The flavor just can’t be beat. A tip: don’t discard the stems, they hold lots of sugar.
Mesclun Mix – These tiny little leaves are a mix of mustard, arugula, chickories and lettuces just perfect to eat as salad or to gently braise.
Thyme – This is the final herb harvest of the season and you can see how much the leaves have changed since the early harvests. They are almost maroon – how pretty!
Heirloom Pumpkins – Last but not least we bring you the final hard squash of the season, and these are quite special. The lumpy one is a French variety: BrodÃ© Galeux Dâ€™Eysines, much loved for both pies and soups, very dense and rich with flavor. And the last is an antique American variety: Long Island Cheese – super sweet for pies and breads! We’ve included a simple soup recipe below, and really simple is all it takes with a tasty squash. I made a terrible squash soup this week because I was experimenting with a variety of squash I hadn’t used before – and I won’t use it again! And it will never find its way into a member’s box, either. But I stopped in at the Pecatonica Grapevine this week (did you know the cafe is one of our CSA members?) and Christine had made an absolutely terrific soup with one of our Rouge Vif d’Etamps pumpkins. I’ll deliver a few extra to her this week, and you all can stop in and try a cup.
Curried Squash Soup
I’m a bit embarrassed to say that this recipe comes from this month’s Glamour magazine – Taylor Swift is on the cover! But it is a great and easy dish that we made tonight with some additions that I listed.
2 15-oz cans of chicken broth (we used a quart of homemade)
2 cups roasted squash (as much as you have from whatever squash you have)
1 tbsp Indian spice (such as garam masala, or hot curry)
Raisins, cashews and/or sour cream/yogurt
In a sauce pot, combine chicken broth and squash. Add the spice and heat through. (We also added a half a cup of cream of coconut.) Garnish with raisins, cashews and sour cream or plain yogurt.
Since I gave you a simple recipe above, this next is a bit more complicated and from a more sophisticated source: Tamasin Day-Lewis’ Good Tempered Food: Recipes to love, leave and linger over. What a sumptuous cookbook! Get it and linger over it this winter. You won’t be disappointed. She’s got a cooking show in England and yes, she’s Daniel Day-Lewis’ sister.
Heston’s Pommes Dauphinoise
1 lb potatoes
2/3 c milk
1 sliced clove of garlic
sprig of thyme and a bay leaf
some nutmeg, cayenne and salt
7 tbsp cream
6-10 tbsp unsalted butter
Slice the potatoes on a mandolin straight into a gratin dish containing the milk, which should cover the potatoes, so you may need to add another 2/3 cup. Add the garlic, herbs, spices and salt. Err on the generous side with the salt as the potatoes draw it in, and bring it up to a simmer on the stove. Simmer for 5 minutes, making sure the potatoes do not stick to the bottom of the pan, then remove the thyme and bay leaf. The potato starch thickens the milk, so you can use less cream.
Add the cream and the unsalted butter, depending on your taste, and place the gratin dish on a baking tray in the oven for 4 hours under tightly wrapped foil. After each hour, if you can remember, remove the foil lid and press down the potatoes with a spatula to bring the liquid back up to the surface. When you remove the dish from the oven, there will be liquid covering the top of the potatoes. Leave the dish overnight in the refrigerator with the foil cover on, and a couple of weights on top of it, and the potatoes will reabsorb the liquid.
When you want to use the potatoes, remove the gratin dish from the refrigerator in time to bring them up to room temperature. Preheat the oven again and heat the dish through for 20 minutes, then place it under the broiler until it is golden and bubbling.