Sunday, December 9, 2012

2012 Melon Trial Results

What follows are the results of the 2012 Melon Trial at Foothill Farm.  Many thanks to the USDA for providing Seed.  Many of these seeds were donated by other farmers from around the world.  Over half of these seeds were purchased by Foothill  Farm.  Not every melon in this trial is open-pollinated, some are hybrids.  Seeds were started in trays beginning the week of May 11, and transplanting was completed by July 4.  With this many melons, it would not be possible to plant or transplant all of these at one time.  Nor did we want to harvest them all at one time!  

The fields were all composted, calcium was added and the seeds were started with Endomycorrhizae.  One application of fish emulsion was applied the second week after transplanting.  The melons were watered underground using drip irrigation.   On August 29, the first melon that was harvested was Yellow JB.  This melon went on to re-flower and make melons 3x during the season.  The last melons harvested came out of the field the week of October 31.   

We still have storage melons in the barn.  And will continue to check them and eat them to see how long they last.  Of the watermelons, the longest storing was Winter King & Queen and Grover Delaney.  The last of these were served on Thanksgiving,  that's 45 days from harvest.  They were held at barn temperature (45-60 degrees F) with no attempt to refrigerate them.

The melons were planted in wire baskets, set into black plastic.  All told there were 62 varieties of melons,  two to a basket, we made hundreds of gopher cages to protect the melons.  All varieties were planted together in the same row, and were marked with stakes.  Melons were separated by watermelons to avoid confusion as the vines grew in size.  Many of these melons we had not trialed before, and did not know what they would look like.
In the photo, you can see that as the vines grew, telling the watermelon vines from regular melons was easy and really helped us keep the melons from getting confused.
August 24, Yellow JB
As the melons started to come in, it quickly became clear that we would not only have to figure out the optimum harvesting time, but also a way to keep them all separate, as once they were separated from the field tags, many were difficult to tell apart.

In an effort to get every melon from the field to the barn without confusion, we brought them in by Radio Flyer.  Although this made for several trips from the field, it resulted in fewer melon mix-ups.
We harvested melons in pairs, one person calling out the stake number and harvesting, while the other labeled the melons and placed them in the wagon.

Sakata Sweet is the small round green melon in the wagon trailer.

Not every melon was harvested at it's optimum.  Some were harvested, and tested and delivered to the CSA without photographs being taken.  At one point so many melons were ripe that a few did get mixed up and we were unable to tell which was which because the photos were taken without labels in the photos.

Once in the barn, we put the melons in flats and stored them with the stickers on, keeping like varieties together.  The melons to be tested were washed, tested with a refractometer, sampled for flavor, photographed, and seeds saved.

Storage melons harvested September 17, 2012 

By the end of the season, the melons were a solid mat, with no path's left
Although it is certain that some of these seeds will be crossed, at another time in the future we hope to replant some of our favorites to see what these crosses result in.  Especially since each melon was separated by a watermelon, it should in itself be an interesting experiment.
Which brings us to our favorites.  Naturally going forward we will not be planting all of these melons.  We did love melons that either slip when done, or change color.  At a busy farm, this really helps to get the melon right.  It also helps to know what to expect with a melon.

Adding Compost
Our favorites in no particular order are:  Perola, Todo El Ano, Mary Gold, Winter King & Queen, Golden Honeymoon, Zatta, Ananas, Verze Noel, Everything in the Exotic Melon Mix & Italian Melon Mix from Long Island Seed, Cortona Invernale, Farthest North Mix, Collective Farm Woman, Sleeping Beauty, Iroquois, Grover Delaney, Baby Tsubasa (tsk tsk it's a hybrid!, Cream of Saskatchewan, Golden Dragon & Pais Green Casaba.

For those of you who helped taste all these melons, thank you. 

Our original intent with this trial was both to find more melons that are not listed in the seed catalogs, so that we could increase diversity.  And secondly to find storage melons.  Melons that will hold out for several weeks after picking, so that we can increase the number of weeks our CSA receives melons. 

By far the melon that we found least likely to ever grow again was Charentais.  It cannot be transported and it doesn't keep.  Amongst the Spanish Melons that are the longest keepers, there's a huge range of taste and sweetness.   The best of these is not the sweetest!  Not every melon that does well in San Martin will do well in your climate.  Several of these are early, Collective Farm Woman, Cream of Sask, Farthest North Mix, etc..  The last melons to come out of the field were the Casabas.  The Bidwell Casaba is the very latest.

And a huge surprise was that one of the best melons of the whole season, came from a farmer in Cortona, Italy.  Thank you Emanuele!

I especially want to thank Leo for his long hours in the field, preparing beds, planting, and harvesting.  And Zack who helped harvest, label and taste melons.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

People and Planet CSA November 8, 2012

What's in the box?

Onions, Potatoes, Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkins, 3 different winter melons - one Invernale Cortona, one Valencia Winter, and one Tendral Valencia,  Dry beans - Ireland Creek Annie, Peppers - Bells, Anaheims, and Anchos, and an habanero,  Pomegranate,  Assorted Delicata Squash - the very dark colored ones are sweet potato delicatas, tomatoes, Ottawa Chinese Cabbage, Eggplant and Corn!  It's been a long time since I've managed to get corn in November!

This week's special gift: Tomato Sauce and Cranberry Bread

This is the last box of the season. 

 I thank you all for supporting the farm.  And hope that you will join us next year.  Next year I will be delivering directly to your front porch.  Sure hope you enjoyed the melon trial.

Caramel Pumpkin Pie

1 single 9 inch crust of your choice, partially baked and cooled
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup half and half
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of allspice
pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Ahead of time:  make dough and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to two days
Roll dough into a 13 inch circle and place into a 9 inch pie plate. Refrigerate the crust for at least 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400.

Partially bake the crust by lining the pie with foil filled with rice, beans or pie weights.  You want enough to keep the crust from puffing up while baking.
Place the pie on the center rack and bake for 25 minutes.

In a large non-stick skillet, sprinkle 1/2 cup of the sugar evenly and cook over medium-high heat without stirring. Continue to cook the sugar until it starts to turn a deep amber.  This is the fun part.  It will start to bubble and foam and then it will start to smoke.  You haven’t gone too far – this is good.  Watch the sugar until the color deepens and you have large bubbles.  When it’s ready, lower the heat to medium and pour the cream into the skillet.  It will hiss and bubble and probably clump a little, but it will even out as you keep stirring.  Add the butter and stir until smooth.  Pour into a heatproof bowl and cool for about 10-15 minutes.
While the caramel cools, make the rest of the filling.  In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, spices, vanilla and eggs until smooth.  Add the caramel, pour into crust and bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes.  You will know it’s done when the filling puffs and the middle does not jiggle. A knife inserted into the middle should come out clean.  Yes, I know another pie recipe.  What can I say, I love pumpkin pie.  There's a blog called pie eyed that is very yummy.  I'm playing with hand my hand and then in my mouth.

Ireland Creek Annie Beans

This reliable producer dates to the 1930's when it was grown on Ireland Creek Farm in British Columbia.  They are a mild silky bean that makes great soup or bruschetta.
To cook the beans:
2 pounds of dried i beans should soak overnight.  In the morning, lift the swollen beans out of the water, rinse and place in a six quartz saucepan. Cover with water and simmer until the beans are tender.
Roast separately:
    •    One sack of of tomatoes, each tomato cut in half
    •    1 medium onion, quartered
    •    1 fresh  peppers cut in half with stems and seeds removed
    •    1 sweet bell pepper cut in half with stems and seeds removed
    •    3 cloves of garlic, peeled
    •    ½ cup olive oil
    •    salt and pepper to taste
Combine tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, garlic and olive oil in a roasting dish. Roast 45 minutes in a 350-degree oven, or until the edges of the peppers and onions begin to caramelize in the oil. Remove from the pan, and place into a blender. Blend thoroughly. Add immediately to the beans. Salt and pepper to taste. This finishes the beans and can be served immediately. Play with the recipe by adding more chilies to your taste, or vary the chilies with mild green chilies.  Be careful with those habaneros.  (I wear gloves when fooling around with them).  Otherwise I use them whole and then discard after cooking.  Nothing says oww, like pepper in the eye.

On the farm

The garlic is in, broccoli, cauliflower, rutabagas, onions, cabbage, turnips, and yes there is more to plant.  Lots of seeds to process.   Things to put away.  Please trickle those jars in and get the wooden boxes to me.   Have a great winter.  See you in Spring! 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 31, 2012 SCVWD CSA

Mma Tutsie, ditches the broom and goes for a Halloween Ride

What's in the box?

Onions, Potatoes, Butternut Squash, Invernale Cortona Melon, Rugoso di Cosenza Melon, and a few casaba melons,  Peppers - Bells, Anaheims, and Anchos, and NZ Spinach, Beets, Assorted dumplings and delicata Squash, and tomatoes

This week's special gift:  Corn Soup Mix, Salsa or Jam & Baked Goods  - Pumpkin Bars or Oatmeal Raisin Bread.

Corn Chowder

The contents of this bag were all grown on the farm.  To use it.  The night before you plant to eat it, bring 6 cups of vege or chicken broth to a boil.  Pour it over the contents and let it sit overnight.  The next day bring it to a 20 minute simmer and serve.  It's quite good with fresh chard, chunks of cooked chicken or?  For long term storage, put it in a jar.  This is the first of many soup mixes that have been rolling around my brain.  Leo gave it 3 stars.

Invernale Cortona Melon

cortona picture, city gate, piazza della repubblica, cortona
Cortona Italy

Cortona is a place in Italy.  My friend Cortona is really named Emanuele.  His family have farmed and garden as far back, well as far back as his family goes.  Every year he sends me something from his family's garden or something that is grown locally.  I think these melons are pretty darn good.  They rated 10.2 on the brix scale for sweetness,  that's pretty darn good in my opinion.  This is one of the melons we've selected to grow again in future years.  Still waiting to hear of any of your favorites. 

Onions and Potatoes

These are the onions and potatoes that will not be replanted at the farm.  These are not for storage, they've been scrubbed within an inch of their life, so please eat them soon.  No matter how careful I am, some onions always get bruised, so please make something with onions this week.  These won't keep long.

Butternut Mac & Cheese

Squash in the Glass Museum of Murano

1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1 cup homemade or l canned chicken stock,
1 1/2 cups  milk
t. of freshly grated nutmeg
1 chopped ancho chili
1 chopped onion
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni
4 ounces   heddar cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated (1 ounce)
2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon olive oil
Olive-oil, cooking spray
1/2 cup ricotta cheese

Saute onion and ancho (or anaheim pepper).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine squash, stock, and milk in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Mash contents of saucepan; stir in nutmeg, and Onion, chili, salt, and season with black pepper. Stir to combine.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles; cook until al dente according to package instructions, about 8 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl; stir in squash mixture, cheddar, ricotta, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan.

Lightly coat a 9-inch square baking dish (4 inches deep) with cooking spray. Transfer noodle mixture to dish. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and oil; sprinkle evenly over noodle mixture.

Cover with foil, and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil, and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top, 30 to 40 minutes more. Serve immediately.

Wishing you all clear sailing

On the farm

We are trying to wrap of this season, there are still millions of seeds to deal with.  I haven't seen the kitchen table in months.  Beginning tomorrow we will start shelling the corn for early spring cornmeal.  At last, I will have a clean house.   Have a great season, see you in 2013.  Anyone who wants to request a vege for next season, now's the time to do it, before seeds get ordered!

Happy Halloween!  Thanks for a great season.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

People And Planet CSA, October 25, 2012

The Grey Pumpkin in front is Piacentina

What's in the box?

Carrots, Leeks, Radishes, Popcorn, Piacentina or Whangaparao Crown Pumpkins, Villaconejos Melon, Rugoso di Cosenza Melon, and or Verze de Noel Melon,  Peppers - Bells, Anaheims, Habaneros, and Anchos, and Eggplant.

This week's special gift:  Apple Butter


Villaconejos Melon is Spanish keeping melon from Villaconejos (now a suburb of Madrid) but once a wild area where wolves and rabbits (the conejo) ran wild.  On Hispanidad Day, the 12th October, a national holiday in Spain, the town of Villaconejos  hosts the Melon Festival.  The Verze de Noel Melon (Green of Christmas),  is an heirloom melon that came to me from a Canadian Gardener, "Extreme Gardener, Leigh Hurley"  As always, let me know what you think


The Whangaparao Crown Pumpkin is from New Zealand and came to me from a NZ seed saver.  A beautiful Pumpkin, great for pie and other savory pumpkin dishes.  The Piacentina is an heirloom Italian Squash, one of my favorites. Both of these are great for savory or sweet recipes and keep well for at least 3 months.  Store in a cool place, like the garage.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Bread

More Peppers
1 ½ cups water, warm (110F), divided
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
½ cup milk, warm (110F)
¾ cup pumpkin butter
1 tbsp salt
1 ½ cups rolled oats
1 tbsp butter, melted
5-6 cups flour

In a large bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the water, 1 tbsp active dry yeast and 1 tsp sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes, until foamy. Add remaining water, milk, pumpkin puree, salt, oats and 2 cups of flour. Mix thoroughly, then add thre remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and begins to feel slightly firm but spongy to the touch. This can be done in an electric mixer with the dough hook attachment.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, before placing it in a lightly oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap, to rise until doubled, 1 1/2 hours.
Turn risen dough gently out onto a floured surface. Divide dough in two and gently shape into two round or slightly oblong loaves. Place on an oatmeal dusted baking sheet and, covered with a clean towel, let rise for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F.
Slash the top and sides of the loaves and bake for 35-40 minutes at 375, until loaves are browned and sound hollow when tapped.  Allow to cool completely before slicing.

Lettuce making seed

How much longer?

The People and Planet CSA will officially end November the 8th 2012.  Coming still, Baked goods, dry goods - beans, corn, and much more,  canned goods, and of course more melons and more squash and lots of greens and roots.

Another Pumpkin Soup

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 medium yellow onions, chopped

2 minced garlic
1/2 chopped Anaheim pepper
2 teaspoons curry powder

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 jar pumpkin butter
 - or one cup of cooked pumpkin with nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon added
3 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian option)

1 cups of milk

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 Melt butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes.
Add spices and stir for a minute more.
2 Add pumpkin and 5 cups of chicken broth; blend well. Bring to a boil and reduce heat, simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
3 Transfer soup, in batches, to a blender or food processor. Cover tightly and blend until smooth. Return soup to saucepan.
4 With the soup on low heat, add brown sugar and mix. Slowly add milk while stirring to incorporate. Add cream. Adjust seasonings to taste. If a little too spicy, add more cream to cool it down.

See you next week!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

SCVWD CSA October 24

George & Company

What's in the Box

Beets, Popcorn, Ireland Creek Annie Beans, Winter Luxury Pumpkins, Ornamental Edible Squash, Valencia Winter Melon, Rugoso di Cosenza Melon, Tomatoes, Peppers - Bells, Anaheims, Habaneros, and Anchos, and Eggplant.

This week's special gift:  Apple Butter


Yes that was rain,  and we all know what rain means, the end of CSA season.  So for the SCVWD folks, next week will be your last week of the season.  If you folks at People and Planet are sneak reading, this, I believe we may have at least one or two extra weeks in November left.  Last year the SCVWD folks got to go a little longer, so we'll switch it up.

Broccoli, Cauliflower & Cabbage
If you don't normally get a box next week and you want one, please let me know.

And with the change of seasons, means the end of the tomatoes.  If any more are produced, it will take longer than a week.

During the season I made you folks a lot of dried and canned goods, and we'll see some of those next week, along with all the good greens that are coming up.

Over at Smitten Kitchen she was cooking up a Farro (Emmer) Squash Salad and it's pretty yummy.  Since you all have your pepita pumpkins and will probably be cutting them soon for Halloween, I figured this is a good time to pass this recipe on.  Emmer is available at that organic grocery store in Felton.  Hopefully, we'll have it next year.  They also have it at Whole Paycheck and some other specialty groceries.  That said, I never ever use "pearled farro".  I always buy the whole thing and just cook it longer.  All the nutrients are in the outer bit. 

Corn drying for corn meal
Butternut Salad with Farro, Pepitas and Ricotta Salata
Serves 4 to 6, generously
Like most salads, this recipe works well as a template, meaning that many of the ingredients can be replaced with likeminded ones with little trouble. You can use other winter squashes in the place of the butternut (or even sweet potatoes), the farro could be replaced with barley, freekeh or another grain of your choice. The red onion could be shallots. The pepitas could be another toasted nut, roughly chopped and the ricotta salata could be feta or soft bits of goat cheese. The sherry vinegar could be a white wine vinegar.
The pearling process removes the inedible hull that surrounds the wheat, and farro is generally sold either pearled, semi-pearled or regular. The pearled will take the shortest time to cook. If you’re not sure what you have, just use the cooking directions on the package. Below, I have the cooking times/process for semi-pearled.
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
5 to 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup semi-pearled farro (see Note up top)
1/3 cup toasted pepitas (I used, and love, the salted ones)
3 ounces ricotta salata or another salty cheese, crumbled or coarsely grated (about 3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

Bouquet of Amaranth for the Birthday King
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Peel squash, then halve lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Cut squash into approximately 3/4-inch chunks. Coat one large or two small baking sheets with 2 tablespoons oil total. Spread squash out in single layer on sheet. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast until pieces are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes, turning them over halfway through the cooking time. Set aside to cool slightly.
While squash is roasting, cook farro in a large pot of simmering salted water until the grains are tender but chewy, about 30 minutes. (Since there are so many varieties of farro, however, if your package suggests otherwise, it’s best to defer to its cooking suggestion.) Drain and cool slightly.
While squash is roasting and farro is simmering, in a small bowl, whisk together sherry vinegar, water, 1/2 teaspoon table salt and granulated sugar until sugar and salt dissolve. Stir in onion; it will barely be covered by vinegar mixture but don’t worry. Cover and set in fridge until needed; 30 minutes is ideal but less time will still make a lovely, lightly pickled onion.
In a large bowl, mix together butternut squash, farro, red onion and its vinegar brine, the crumbled cheese and pepitas. Toss with 3 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil, use the 4th one only if needed. Taste and adjust seasonings. Eat now or later. Salad keeps in the fridge for up to a week.

And speaking of the Smitten Kitchen they have the best birthday cake recipe ever.  I know because I'm practicing for a certain person who's going to turn the big Five O on October 27.  If you see Leo about, wish him a happy day.   And, there will be cake!

Check out the butterflies

Rugoso di Cosenza Melon

This is the yellow melon in your box.  This is a melon that is very rare here.  Inside it's creamy, sweet and white, outside it's yellow.  Cosenza is a province of Calabria in the boot section of Italy.  It has a similar climate to this region of California.  At the confluence of 2 rivers, it still has one of the largest riverside farmer's markets.  This is one of their heirloom melons.  It's ready to eat today, but will keep for a bit longer as well.    This is a canary type melon

Valencia Winter Melon

Many catalogs say that this melon originated in Italy.  This melon will keep all the way till Christmas....well if you can wait that long.  It has a hard green outer shell and is pale creamy and sweet inside.  Both of these melons are from the inodorus group.  Melons will last longest kept cool and with humidity.  Those of you in the mountains, well you live in the perfect climate to keep melons.

Beautiful Orb Spider in the Carrot Patch
Melons (Cucumis melo) predominantly originated from the desertland savanna regions of Africa and southwestern Asia and include cultivated, feral and wild populations. Wild strains occur in Africa from south of the Sahara to the Transvaal in South Africa and in Southwest Asia ranging from Asia Minor to Afghanistan. Melons are thought to come from Africa because there are wild forms there, though the earliest references to melons are from China. In the 11th century the Chinese began growing cantaloupes and honeydews that originated in western Asia. The name cantaloupe is mentioned as having originated from the city of Cantaluppi in Italy or from the estate and castle of Cantalupo, also in Italy.  Since Italy is close to Africa, it makes sense that melons traveled through Italy on their way around the globe.   

In their text, the followers of Mohammed, wrote that eating a melon produces a thousand good works.  I think then I have promoted at least that many with the amount of melons I grew this year! 

Have a great week. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

October 17 & 18, 2012 CSA

What's in the Box

Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower
Naked Seed Pumpkins, Melons! Melons! Melons!, Eggplant, Tomatoes, Tomatillos, Peppers - sweet Hot and Bell, and Carrots  Group one your melons are Marygold - the first of the Casaba Melons and Golden Honeymoon Honeydew.

The Golden Honeymoon is my favorite and I think Marygod is just yummy.  I can hardly find the seeds of this one anymore, so those of you who actually read the blog, please save the seeds of your melon.

To save melon seeds, you just separate the seed from the placenta, give them a bowl to wash, toss any that float, strain the water out and put the seeds on a piece of parchment paper to dry.  Put them in an envelope and put them back in your box and I will store them and replant next year.  I have only one of these melons left, and I like to save the seeds from several to insure genetic diversity.
More Melons
In the coming weeks of what's left of the CSA there will be more melons, greens, dried and canned goods.

I'm shelling beans as fast as I can.  Ireland Creek Annie is the first of the dry beans that will come your way.  Here's an easy recipe for bean soup.  Next week, dry beans.

Ireland Creek Annie Cuban Bean Soup

Cook the Beans:
(1 pound) Ireland Creek Annie Beans
8 cups of water
3 or 4 bay leaves

Rinse the beans and put them in a large pot with the water and the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat off. Leave them covered for an hour or two. Repeat, until the beans are fairly soft. Once they are close to being done, leave them on a simmer for an hour or so until completely cooked. This can be done a day in advance.

Make the Sofrito:
2 stalks of celery
2 medium onions
2 to 4 peppers
4 to 6 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
2 teaspoons rubbed oregano
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, ground
1 teaspoon smoked sweet Spanish paprika
1 cup tomato sauce

Wash, trim and finely dice the celery. Peel and finely dice the onions. De-stem and de-seed the peppers, and cut it in fine dice. Peel and mince the garlic.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Cook the celery, onions and pepper until soft but not browned. Add the oregano, cumin, paprika and garlic, and stir until well combined and fragrant. Add the tomato sauce and cook for another 20 minutes or so, until the whole is well amalgamated and somewhat reduced.

Finish the Soup:
4 cups ham, chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup rum
finely chopped sweet onion, steamed rice, OR sour cream

Meanwhile, drain the beans and return them to the pot with the broth. Pick out the bay leaves. Bring the beans to a simmer.

When the sofrito is ready, add it to the beans. Simmer for a few minutes. Remove about one third to one half of the soup, and purée it, or at least mash it very thoroughly. Return it to the pot.

Just before serving, add the lime juice and rum and heat through. Serve traditionally, with chopped raw sweet onion and spoonfuls of steamed white rice, or with sour cream.  Thanks to Ferdzy at Seasonal Ontario food for this great recipe.

Zack, Dennis, Katherine & Ken

 Our life

On October 15, 2012 Leo's father, Ken Dumont passed onto the next plane of existence.   Ken lived to be 85 years old, and I have never met anyone with a better wit.  We'll miss you Ken, especially your stories of San Francisco and the early days.  See you round the farm.

Have a good week.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

October 10 & 11th CSA

Iroquois - A fine melon

What's in the Box

Naked Seed Pumpkins, Melons! Melons! Melons!, Eggplant, Tomatoes, Tomatillos, Peppers - sweet Hot and Bell, and kale.  Group one your melons were Sweet Freckles, Iroquois Cantaloupe, and Morning Sun Watermelon and Jo received a wee Bidwell Casaba. 

The Iroquois Melon was released in 1944 and was the hard work of the late Dr. Henry Munger at Cornell University.

Sweet Freckles was bred by Tim Peters, one of those genius growers, his Winter King & Queen Watermelon was terrific (sorry, there was only one).  Sweet Freckles is very cute, it's aromatic and freckled and pear shaped.  It's a crenshaw type of melon.  This is a very rare melon that we hope to keep going.  Let me know how you like it.

For those of you who haven't seen a Bidwell Casaba, there will be a few more of those this season.  They're still ripening.  That makes them at the very very end of what's possible to grow.  After this year, they won't be back for three years.  Oh, and they are the size of a large watermelon

Group Two at People and Planet you'll get Assorted Watermelons, Marygold - the first of the Casaba Melons.  This one is from the University of Maryland.  And Fresh Onions and NZ Spinach.

This Week's Special gift :  Salsa

Melon Trial

Now that the melon trial is almost concluded, there's a bit more paperwork to do and summaries to write, but Leo and I have been keeping close track of what we believe to be the best melons.  In the future there will not be that many varieties planted every year, but we will rotate the best melons over the years, so that we can maintain the seeds.  Some of our favorites are the Grover Delaney Watermelon,  Zatta, Ananas, Iroquois, Winter King and Queen Watermelon.  We haven't even tasted the all yet!  Please let us know if you dislike or especially like any of the melons that are coming to you.

2 Kakai Pumpkins and One Little Green Seed 

Kakai Pumpkins
This is your designated Halloween Pumpkin.  The flesh is NOT edible.  However, the naked green seeds inside are fabulous.  For those of you who don't remember, scoop out the seeds, and put give them a quick rinse to separate them from the placenta.  Give them a quick stir fry in a dry frying pan until they pop, or toss them on a sheet in the toaster oven and bake at 350 degrees until you hear popping.   The Little Green Seed is the newest in this development, a pie pumpkin with naked seeds.  I just love it.   Everyone will get two of these, but I can only fit one a week in the box.

Lacinato Kale Salad with Bacon, Leeks and Potatoes 

Fall Sky
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. malt vinegar
3/4 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. stone ground mustard
1/4 tsp. salt

4 strips Bacon or fake bacon
1/2 lb. baby yellow potatoes, quartered
1 large leek, thinly sliced (white and pale green part only)
1 bunch Lacinato kale (flat leaf), coarsely chopped
3/4 cup julienne strips Cheese
Prep: 15 minutes Cook: 25 minutes Serves: 4 to 6
1. Place all dressing ingredients in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid; shake well to mix. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
2. Cook bacon in a medium skillet for 5 minutes on each side or until very crisp; remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. If using fake bacon don't cook for more than a minute.  Add potatoes to skillet and cook over medium-high heat for 5 to 10 minutes to brown, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and stir in leeks; cover skillet and cook for 5 minutes more or until leeks are soft and potatoes are cooked through. Set aside.
3. Toss kale with dressing in a large bowl and let marinate for 5 minutes. Add cooked potatoes and leeks and toss well to coat. Coarsely crumble bacon over salad and top with cheese; toss again very lightly.

Have a great week.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October 3 & 4th CSA

What's in the Box

Ornamental Edible Squash, Melons! Melons! Melons!, Eggplant, Tomatoes, Tomatillos, Peppers - sweet Hot and Bell, and okra.

Whew! hot enough for you?
Too hot for me.  100 degrees in the shade here.  Too hot for canning and too hot after 11 for picking.  I'm watching our greens fry in the sun.

This week's melons include Grover Delaney Watermelon (please save me the seeds), Emerald Gem,  Golden Jenny's and Chanterais.
and Zuccherino.  The numbers following the melon are the brix levels.

If you are in the People and Planet CSA you also got Ananas.  This is a melon that smells like a banana and tastes so sweet, it's like eating sugar.

I ate so much of this melon that well, the next day, I couldn't eat any fruit.  I love this melon.

We are still tasting Watermelons and storage melons.  So many melons left to go.

On the Farm

Well last week on Thursday after delivering the CSA boxes I got trapped in the recycling.  I got tangled in some insulation tripped over a concrete block and then the recycling bins fell on top of me.  So, Leo had to plant for me over the weekend.  On Sunday I tried to rally and was stung by a wasp while shelling corn.  Sheesh.  So I went down again.  Bruised and stung what a week.  I'm back up, but moving slowly.  I'm very thankful that Zack was not stung while standing on the ladder handing me down corn from the rafters.  Now that would have been a disaster.  This was all Joseph of Paradise Corn and I finally got it dried, shelled and mailed back to him, with plenty of seed left over for next year.

Last week we harvested the ancient Italian Flour corn and its now hanging where this one is, drying down.  As soon as this heat passes, hopefully on Thursday, we'll get the polenta corn out of the field and up to dry.

We've been shelling beans like crazy.  Boy fall comes on quickly.

Have a great week.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

September 26 and 28 CSA

Seed Mania

What's in the Box

Spaghetti Squash and Dumplings, Melons! Melons! Melons!, Eggplant, Tomatoes, Tomatillos, Peppers - sweet Friarellos this week, Okra Group 1, Cukes Group 2, and corn.

This week's Special gifts :  Group 1 - Eggs & Peach Jam
Group 2 - Peach Jam

On the farm

We're busy harvesting, saving seed, harvesting melons and squash, canning and replanting for fall.  Many of you have asked me how much longer do I think the season will go.  I think we will go until the 8th of November.  Of course this depends on rain and frost.  November 8th is the last possible day that I have planted for.

Since you will be getting all things Squash over the next several weeks, I thought I would take this opportunity to give you some of my favorite squash recipes.

Mini Pumpkin Coconut Puddings With Ginger Cream

Zack's painting
Makes 6 servings
For the pumpkin shells:
6 small pumpkins (about 8 ounces each) (Delicatas/dumplings or any ornamental edible).
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
For the pudding:
4 pounds sugar, pie or any of the squashes from the farm  seeded, de-pulped, peeled and cut into chunks 
2 cups sugar
1 can coconut milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
For garnish:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 cup shredded coconut, toasted
1. To prepare the shells, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the tops off the small pumpkins. Scoop out the pulp and seeds, scraping the inside of the shells clean with a spoon, and discard the pumpkin innards. In a small bowl, combine sugar and cardamom and rub this mixture generously over the inside surface of the pumpkins. Set the tops back on the pumpkins and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the interior flesh can be easily pierced with a fork.
2. To prepare the pudding, steam the pumpkin chunks until very tender, about 30 minutes. Add cooked pumpkin to the work bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. (Optional: For an extra-smooth pudding, run the pumpkin puree through a food mill, then return it to the food processor.) Add sugar, coconut milk, cream, cardamom and arrowroot, and process again until smooth. Return mixture to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens, about 20-30 minutes. Transfer mixture to a container and chill in the refrigerator until set, about 3 hours.
Feeling Squashy?
3. To serve, fill mini pumpkins with pudding. Combine heavy cream, sugar and ginger in a bowl and use a mixer to whip into soft peaks. Set a small dollop of whipped cream on each pumpkin, then sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Roast Stuffed Pumpkin With Gingery Tomato Sauce

Makes 8 to 12 servings
1 7- to 8-pound pumpkin, such as Jarrahdale
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or olive oil
3 cloves garlic, 2 minced plus 1 left whole
1 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 good pinch of saffron strands
Zest of 1 orange
Approximately 2 cups basmati rice, uncooked
Approximately 4 cups hot vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Slice the lid off the top of the pumpkin, and remove the seeds and fibrous flesh from the inside, keeping the top to put back on later.
2. In a large saucepan with a lid, fry the onion gently in the oil until softened, then add the 2 minced garlic cloves, the cranberries, spices and clementine zest. Stir in the rice, turning until it becomes glossy in the pan. Pour in the broth and let the pan come to a boil, then clamp on the lid and turn the heat down to the lowest it will possibly go. Cook for 15 minutes.
3. Cut the remaining clove of garlic in half and rub the inside of the pumpkin with the cut side of each half, then, using your fingers, smear some salt over the flesh inside as well. The rice stuffing will be quite damp and not very fluffy at this stage, but check it for seasoning - adding more spice, salt or pepper if wanted - and then spoon it into the garlic- and salt-rubbed pumpkin cavity and tamp down well.
4. Press the pumpkin lid back on top and squeeze it down as firmly as you can (it will sit a bit above the top). Stand the pumpkin on a double layer of aluminum foil, wrapping the foil 2 inches around the sides and scrunching it there, to keep the pumpkin out of direct contact with the water later. Place the stuffed, partially wrapped pumpkin in a roasting pan and pour in freshly boiled water to a depth of 1 inch. Cook the pumpkin for about 2 hours, by which time it should be tender when pierced.
5. Meanwhile, get on with the Gingery Tomato Sauce (at right). Take the pumpkin out of the roasting pan and let it sit for about 10 minutes before you slice it into segments like a cake.

Gingery Tomato Sauce

Makes 8 to 12 servings
1 onion, peeled and halved
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon dried ginger
1-inch length fresh ginger, peeled
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups organic tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Put the onion, garlic, dried ginger, and fresh ginger into a processor and blitz to a pulp.
2. Heat the butter and oil in a deep, wide skillet, then add the onion-garlic mixture. Cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so that it doesn't burn. Add the tomato sauce and water to the pan, and season with the sugar, salt and pepper. Cook for 15 minutes, at a gentle simmer, then taste for seasoning before decanting into a warmed jug or gravy boat and taking to the table for people to pour over their slices of stuffed pumpkin.  (Gingery Tomato Sauce can be made from Farm Tomatoes, and if you add curry, peppers and herbs, it's quite lovely on chicken, lamb chops, and rice).

- From Nigella Christmas (Hyperion)

Pickled Pumpkin

Makes about 6 half-pint jars or 12 servings
4 pounds peeled and diced pumpkin
5 cups sugar
5 cups distilled white vinegar
5 black peppercorns
4 allspice berries
4 cinnamon sticks
15 whole cloves
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced thin
1. Place the pumpkin in a large, deep bowl. In a large saucepan, combine sugar, vinegar, peppercorns, allspice berries, cinnamon sticks, cloves and ginger. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Pour hot liquid over pumpkin. Cover and set aside 8 hours or overnight.
2. Strain liquid into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Strain, removing spices. Reserve. Transfer pumpkin back to saucepan and return to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes, or until pumpkin is translucent and crisp. Cool completely. Transfer to sterile jars, adding back a few cinnamon sticks, cloves, peppercorns and allspice berries to each jar for decoration.  This must be refrigerated!


Pumpkin Flan

3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 pounds Pumpkin (peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks)
Water for boiling the Pumpkin
4 eggs
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon (ground)

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit.
Melt the sugar slowly and carefully in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Don't rush it. You want the sugar to caramelize, not burn.
Once the sugar has completely melted, pour into a flan mold or 8 inch glass pie plate. Set aside.
Place the cut up calabaza in a pot with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and continue to boil until the pumpkin is fork tender, about 20 minutes.
Drain the pumpkin in a colander. Then mash with a potato masher; or puree in a blender or food processor.
In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, pumpkin and the remaining ingredients. Mix well.
Pour the mix into the prepared glass mold. Don't worry if the sugar is hard. It will melt when the flan is cooked.
Place the glass dish inside a larger baking pan and fill the larger pan with boiling water until the water reaches halfway on the outside of the mold.
Place on the center rack in the oven and bake for 1 hour. The center should be set firm.  Be careful when removing from boiling water!
Allow to cool to room temperature. Flip upside down onto serving platter and serve.

Pumpkin Chili

2 c. peeled and chopped tomatoes

1 can of red kidney beans or your own cooked beans

1 jar of pumpkin butter

1 chopped onion.

1 chopped bell pepper.

1 c. of cooked barley, or bulgar

1 chopped chili

1 T. chili powder

1 garlic minced

1 t.  ground cumin

1 t. of salt
Drain and rinse the beans. Put all ingredients in a large pan. Simmer for 35 minutes.  This is a regular here on the farm.

Cremini and Butternut Soup

1 Butternut Squash
4 c.  Vegetable or Chicken Broth
1 onion chopped
1/2 lb. Cremini mushrooms
Olive oil, Thyme, Sage
3 Cloves Garlic
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 c. Half and Half
1/4 c. Romano Cheese
Cut squash in half lengthwise, and seed.   Bake cut down side on lightly oiled pan 1 hour 400 degrees.  When cool, peel, cube and process with 1 cup of broth in food processor. In a large soup pan, heat oil and saute onion and garlic.  Add chopped mushrooms and herbs, saute.  Stir in nutmeg, squash puree and remaining broth.  Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes.  Turn off heat, stir in 1/2 and 1/2 and sprinkle with cheese.  This is really my favorite soup.

Take care, see you all next week.