Quadruple Fall Pickup! Oct. 1, 2014

In this week’s box:

2 large bags sweet potatoes

3 large bags Gala apples

2 large bags tomatoes

8 butternut squash

4 acorn squash

1 half-gallon jug apple cider

1 dozen eggs

1 bunch curly kale

3 green peppers

2 two-pound bags white potatoes

2 bags string beans

5 edible heirloom hubbard squash

**CHOICE OF 4 pre-picked pumpkins OR 6 pick-your-own pumpkins of any size (9a.m. until 6 p.m.)

**2 OPTIONAL BONUS PICK-YOUR-OWN bouquets of sunflowers, 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.

**1 OPTIONAL BONUS PICK-YOUR-OWN quart of raspberries, 9 a.m. until noon

**1 OPTIONAL BONUS family hayride, 9 a.m. until noon

Total retail value of this week’s box: $201

Total retail value of goods distributed this season (adding in $80 for Christmas pines): $1,609.50

Emily’s notes:

There are items in this week’s box that you will want to use up within a week or so (tomatoes, kale, peppers and string beans) and then there are many more that you can keep for weeks, even months, making your CSA dollar stretch even further. Each year, I love to use the winter squash in the fall box to decorate around my house, pulling them down one by one to bake for pumpkin bread, soups, risotto and all the other great things you can make with pumpkin or winter squash. The hubbard squash in this year’s box are a real treat. These pumpkin-shaped gourds are not only beautiful, but they are also some of the most sought-after varieties for making soups, pies, souffle and other dishes. I would recommend against using any squash you plan to eat as outdoor decoration. Squirrels, birds and occasional neighborhood teenagers have a tendency to take chunks out of them, leading to quicker decay and possible contamination.

If you pick up one thing at the store on the ride home from this pickup, make it bacon. Use it to make this classic Southern recipe for green beans and new potatoes, which I’ve shared before, but it’s hearty and so good I had to share it again for fall eating. I am considering trying it with sweet potatoes.

This box can truly get you through to Thanksgiving and even Christmas cooking. These sweet potatoes are grown by Miles Hastings at Canning Farm in Dogue, and they are delicious. While many holiday sweet potato dishes are packed with butter and sugar, you really don’t need them to make a dish so decadent it tastes like a dessert. This recipe from Cooking Light is what I put on my Thanksgiving table last year. It’s so good, I don’t think I’ll be able to wait that long to make it again.

Acorn squash can be eaten very simply–baked with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon or stuffed with rice, sausage, beef or whatever else suits you. But it can also make for a very elegant presentation when sliced and roasted. Its pointed shape and the contrast of the dark peel against bright flesh adds interest to many dishes. One that caught my eye recently is this one for roasted acorn squash and apples with kale, quinoa and tahini dressing. I love the flavor combinations here, and the variety of textures.

As for butternut and hubbard squash, I tend to use these interchangeably. These are all great for your pumpkin pies at the holidays, and the numerous other uses for pumpkin you’ll find on Pinterest and the Internet. I recently added diced butternut squash (one whole medium squash, diced) to my go-to chili recipe, and was pleased with the result. It allowed me to get more meals out of a pot of chili, and provided some vegetable nutrition to a meat-heavy dish.

Apples are wonderful for quick crisps and more involved pies, but don’t forget that they’re great in savory dishes, also. This recipe for baked sausages with apples and potatoes is a favorite in our house.  I also love apples and kale together. Massage some kale with your favorite vinaigrette, toss in some chopped apples, blue or goat cheese, dried cranberries, walnuts, bacon…some cubed and roasted butternut squash would be nice here, too.

Have fun with this box, folks!

Butternut squash and apple soup

I have made many versions of this soup, and this most simple version is inspired by the book and blog, Dinner: A Love Story. I really like the sweetness a bit of sherry adds to this soup. It freezes well, and tastes great with a crusty piece of bread topped with melted Gruyere or other gooey cheese.

Ingredients

1 onion, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 butternut squash, peeled, cut in half, seeds removed and flesh cut into 1-inch cubes

2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks

1/4 cup to 1/2 cup sherry, depending on your taste

3 cups or more of chicken or vegetable stock

Saute the onion and pepper flakes in the butter until translucent. Add salt, pepper and spices. Add squash and apples and sherry, then enough stock to cover. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, checking and adding liquid every few minutes to make sure the apples and squash stay covered. Do this until the squash is tender. Turn off the heat and puree the soup with a hand-held immersion blender or a regular blender (be sure to keep the lid slightly open and work in batches if using a regular blender). Serve with sour cream, chives, dried cherries and walnuts.

Fall pickup: Oct. 2, 2013

In this week’s box:

4 lbs of sweet potatoes

2 bags of gala apples

1 bag of tomatoes

4 butternut squash

4 acorn squash

1/2 pint of raspberries

1 bunch of collard greens

1 bunch of curly kale

4 already picked pumpkins anytime or 6 pick your own pumpkins 9-12pm

*9-12pm*

2 pick your own bouquets of sunflowers

2 pints of raspberries

1 family hayride

Emily’s notes:

I’ve been talking to some friends of mine who are on the fence about joining a CSA next year. I tell them about how I use the produce in my kitchen, and about how it brings my weekly grocery bill down, not only because I’m buying less produce, but also because I’m buying less meat. I tell them about how it has transformed our eating habits to a healthier, vegetables-first approach.

I also tell them about the values of CSA membership that aren’t quantifiable. Taking my kids to the farm each week, watching as each field changes bit by bit throughout the season and seeing first-hand the work that goes into growing food are good lessons for all of us. So is an understanding of the cycle of a growing season. That’s on display in this pickup. You will remember kale and sweet potatoes from some of the first boxes of the season (see my notes on kale here), They’re back as fall crops in this box. You also have some holdovers from summer, like tomatoes and raspberries, along with fall classics like butternut and acorn squash and apples.

Make sure your pantry is well-stocked with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. These are the flavors of fall, and they will help you work magic with this bounty of winter squash, sweet potatoes and other fall vegetables. The great thing about winter squash and sweet potatoes is that they’ll keep, allowing you to stretch out this box over several weeks.

I’ll be sharing a new recipe using butternut squash on this blog each day for the next several days. Some of those recipes will call for peeled and cut squash, some for shredded squash, and many for pureed squash. So today I thought I’d offer some basic instructions for pureeing butternut squash. It’s not hard, but once you do this, you can keep the puree in your freezer (I like to store it in quart-size Ziploc bags, flattened), ready to defrost for use in recipes throughout the year. The puree on its own is great baby food, too.

And until you’re ready to process your squash, they make great seasonal decor for your kitchen. I had several up through Thanksgiving last year, and they really added a nice touch.

Pureed Butternut Squash

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Rinse and scrub squash (Use as many as you can fit on your roasting pan.). Using a sharp, heavy knife and a sturdy cutting board, cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard seeds. Place squash cut-side-down on a foil-covered roasting pan. Place in oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until a fork goes into the “neck” of the squash (the part without the hollow from the seeds) with ease.

When squash is cooked, remove from oven and let it cool until you can comfortably handle it. Use your hands to separate flesh from the thin layer of skin. Place flesh in a food processor or blender (NOTE: You will not want to fill your blender much more than halfway per batch.) and process until smooth.

To remove excess water, you can take the optional step of lining a colander with coffee filters or cheesecloth and pouring the puree in their to drain for several hours. Removing the water will make the squash better for baked goods like breads, pies and muffins. Call me lazy, but I have never found butternut squash to have too much excess water (pumpkin does), so I usually skip this step.

Acorn squash has a slightly different color and texture from butternut squash. It’s a bit more watery, but if you drained it after cooking, you could use pureed acorn squash in most pumpkin or butternut squash muffin or bread recipes. You can also roast your hollowed halves of acorn squash as a side dish. Try coating them with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and a dash of salt and cayenne and roasting at 400 degrees for an hour or so. Put about a quarter-inch of water in the bottom of the roasting pan to protect the skins from burning and to provide some extra moisture. Forgo the sweet stuff and fill the cavities with cooked orzo, rice or another grain mixed with cheese and crumbled sausage. Cover these with foil before baking for about an hour at 400 degrees, and you have a nice all-in-one meal complete with vegetable.

Collards and kale can both be cooked in the same way, and even mixed for a variety of texture. If you’re interested in a very traditional preparation, here’s a good basic recipe, adapted slightly from Camille Glenn’s “The Heritage of Southern Cooking.”

Old-fashioned greens

1 pound greens, such as collards or kale, or a mix

1/4 pound slab smoked bacon, or 1/2-pound piece smoked ham hock

1.5 quarts water

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

salt, to taste

apple cider vinegar, for serving

Remove greens from thick stems and set greens aside in a salad spinner or colander.

Add bacon or ham hock to water in a large pot and allow to boil, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes. The water should reduce by half.

In the meantime, wash greens in a few changes of water, swishing to ensure you rid them of sand and grit. Drain.

Add greens to the pot. Add pepper flakes and allow greens to simmer long and slowly until they are tender, about one hour. The greens should simmer no more than 1/2 inch below the liquid line. Strain off any excess liquid and add it tot he pot only if needed as the greens cook. Taste for salt when the greens are almost done (remember that the bacon or ham hock already add salty flavor). Discard bacon or ham hock, drain the greens and serve.

Just thinking about a big pot of greens makes me hungry for biscuits. How about sweet potato biscuits? This recipe from Chow would be a nice accompaniment.