Week 17: Aug. 27, 2014

Remember:

  • This is the last CSA pickup until the quadruple fall pickup on Wednesday, Oct. 1.
  • You can join the Snead’s Farm CSA for 2015 by downloading the application here. Hard copies of the application are also available at the farm stand.

In this week’s box:

1 flat peaches

1 dozen eggs

1 dozen corn

1 quart okra

2 1.5-pound bags string beans

1 bag eggplant (4 eggplant)

2 bags tomatoes

2 2-pound bags potatoes

2 butternut squash

The following pick-your-own opportunities are for CSA members only

1 half-pint optional bonus pick-your-own raspberries, 8 a.m. until noon, Wed., Aug. 27

1 quart optional bonus pick-your-own Concord grapes, 8 a.m. until noon, Wed., Aug. 27

2 half-pints optional bonus pick-your-own raspberries, 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 31

Total retail value of goods in this week’s box: $80

Total retail value of goods distributed so far this year: $1,551.50 

Emily’s notes:

As usual, this summer sped by, and the advance of fall is evident in this box, with butternut squash and tomatoes and raspberries side-by-side. If you’re not quite ready to start cooking winter squash, don’t worry, you can hold onto butternut squash for months if you keep it in a relatively cool place. I’ll have lots of squash recipes coming before the fall pickup, but for one that feels more summer than fall, here’s a Mexican Butternut Squash and Corn Saute from Food52. You could use your CSA tomatoes instead of canned. Maybe add a dash of ground chipotle chili powder or red pepper flakes to make up for the fire-roasted element.

You could also combine your butternut squash and corn into a chowder, as this recipe from Martha Stewart does (no need for frozen corn, obviously).

We often think of okra as a Southern vegetable, but it also shows up a lot in Indian cuisine. I would sub in fresh diced tomatoes for canned in this recipe for Indian eggplant with okra and tomatoes. This would be delicious over rice, no meat needed! I can also now say that I highly recommend this recipe I linked to last week for okra and potato hash, although I would use a bit more salt. I might throw in an ear’s worth of corn kernels or maybe a diced eggplant this week.

If you’re looking for a new way to eat peaches, this recipe for blueberry peach oatmeal muffins makes a nice lower-sugar snack or breakfast option. A couple of additions I recommend are doubling the peaches and omitting the blueberries, since we don’t have those this week, adding about 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon cinnamon to the dry ingredients and using brown sugar instead of white.

 

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“Pumpkin” butter

Anytime I see a recipe that calls for pumpkin, I use butternut squash.  Something about the silky orange texture of cooked, pureed butternut squash is comforting to me as fall descends. Cooking that puree down into “pumpkin” butter only amplifies all those good qualities. Here’s a recipe I made with last year’s butternut squash. You should refrigerate this for consumption within a couple of weeks, or freeze it for up to six months. It’s great on bread, waffles, bagels, pancakes…or stirred into yogurt, oatmeal, pancake batter or quickbreads.

Butternut squash “pumpkin” butter

3.5 cups cooked and pureed butternut squash

1/2 cup pure apple juice or natural apple sauce

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmet

1 cup brown sugar

juice of half a lemon

Combine pumpkin, apple juice or sauce, spices and sugar in a saucepan. Stir well and place over medium heat until mixture boils. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until thickened, stirring frequently. Stir in lemon juice and cool before storing.

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.

Ways to use shredded butternut squash, plus a muffin recipe

I always make a lot of puree with my butternut squash to stock in the freezer and use for baking, soups and other dishes. Last year I decided to shred a butternut squash and see how many ways I could use it. I did it with my Cuisinart and stored the shredded squash in the fridge for a few days. When you have the shredded stuff right there, with no thawing or pureeing necessary, it’s amazing how many dishes you can use this stuff in. Here are just a few ways I can remember using it, along with a recipe for shredded squash muffins at the end. Incidentally, you could do all of these things with shredded sweet potatoes, and you’d be adding roughly the same hint of fall color and shot of beta carotene to your meals.

  • Toss several generous handfuls into a saute pan with olive oil, garlic, onions, salt and pepper. Actually, you want to add the squash after those other ingredients, because it will cook a lot faster. When everything is cooked, add a can of crushed tomatoes, for a pasta sauce with extra vegetable nutrition.
  • Mix handfuls into oatmeal, pancake batter or any other breakfast goodie you are whipping up (yes, even smoothies). I think it would be great in this baked steel-cut oatmeal from Alexandra’s Kitchen.
  • Cook some hearty winter greens like kale or mustard in  garlic and olive oil (add a little water if you need to). When the greens have wilted to the texture you like, season with salt and pepper and throw in a few handfuls of shredded squash. Let squash steam cook within the hot greens. These are some beautiful fall colors.
  • Cook drained and rinsed canned black beans in garlic and olive oil (yes, I do a lot of this). Throw in squash or sweet potatoes and cook until everything is soft, adding your favorite Southwest seasoning blend, or just a touch of cumin, cayenne and salt and pepper. Take off the heat and mix with a little shredded or crumbled cheese of your choice (feta works well). Use this mixture to fill tortillas and make quesadillas.
  • Sneak shreds into your kids’ PB&J sandwiches. This worked last year. They may be too smart this year.

There are so many other uses I know I am forgetting here.  Below is a relatively healthy muffin recipe that will also use your squash. Happy shredding!

squashShredded butternut squash muffins

Ingredients

1/2 cup yogurt

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 cups shredded butternut squash

1/2 cup apple sauce

1 teaspoon vanilla

1.5 cups white whole wheat flour

1/4 cup wheat germ

1/4 cup wheat bran

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix yogurt, sugar, vanilla, eggs, applesauce, squash and oil in a stand mixer (Or a bowl. You really don’t need anything electric for this recipe, I’m just lazy.)

Sift in dry ingredients. Mix just to combine, on lowest speed.

Spoon into muffin liners and bake 22 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

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.