Two Farms Newsletter #415
September 26, 2007
Table of Contents:
1) In your box this week
2) Trick Or Treat? — Celebrity Pumpkins From History
3) High Ground Restoration Project
6) Which Farm?
8) Two Small Farms Contact Information
1) In your box this week: Green Beans, Scallions, Tomatoes, Mystery from Stephen, Potatoes, Sugar Pie Pumpkin, Spinach OR Rapini
This week's vegetable list: I try to have it updated by Monday night, sometimes by Mon. am
How to store this week's bounty: all (except tomatoes and pumpkin) in the fridge as soon as you arrive home. The pumpkin can be used for any pumpkin/winter squash recipe(s): pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, etc. It can also be carved, of course! recipes are below.
2) Trick Or Treat? — Celebrity Pumpkins From History from Andy
Cinderella's magic coach may the most famous pumpkin in history but we shouldn't forget Peter's squash.
Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater
Had a wife but couldn't keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her very well.
This nursery rhyme, with its dark overtones of spousal abuse and an obscure symbolic link between pumpkins and failed romance, presents an interesting counterpoint to the Cinderella myth. For Cinderella, a pumpkin became the vehicle that carried her to marital bliss, yet for Peter's wife a pumpkin is a prison. As a pumpkin farmer, I'm unqualified to draw a psychiatrist's conclusions from these two stories, but hollowed out gourds have a long and honorable history of being used as vessels to carry water and food stuffs, so it's no surprise they should also be filled with romance, myth and contradiction.
The only pumpkin that grows large enough to hold a wandering wife is the pink shelled, yellow fleshed pumpkin from the Cucurbita maxima called "Atlantic Giant." The Atlantic Giant pumpkin is the kind that wins all the giant pumpkin contests, and many specimens have weighed well over five hundred pounds. My copy of The Real Mother Goose, first published in 1916, has an illustration for Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater that shows a girl, barely old enough to be Jerry Lee Lewis' wife, glaring balefully out from a huge pale pumpkin. The artist captured the fat, corky, round stem characteristic of fruits in the Cucurbita maxima, and the Atlantic Giant's rampant habit is authentically rendered as well.
In the past, large pumpkins like Atlantic Giant were used as cattle feed. The high carotene content that gives pumpkin flesh its typical yellow color is nutritious and gives butter that comes from cows fattened on pumpkins a pleasing yellow color. Now that the development of alfalfa bales, alfalfa cubes, silage and a whole industry of enriched cattle feeds has rendered the pumpkin obsolete on the dairy farm, milk processors tint their butter with dyes where yellow colored butters are demanded by the market.
Today, even the canned "pumpkin" for pies is rarely rendered from the round, orange, hard-shelled winter squash most people think of as pumpkins. Other squash varieties, like Butternut, that have a heavier yield, are canned instead, and pie eaters are none the wiser. Because of changing social mores the pumpkin has largely disappeared from the rural scene except as a seasonal ornamental crop or a fetish crop for obsessive gardeners anxious to prove that "bigger is better." Even the ornamental role of pumpkins as seasonal ornaments is under attack. Some merchandisers are attempting to replace the lovely, perishable jack o' lantern pumpkins with orange polyethylene bags that have black triangular shaped eyes printed on them. These convenient faux orange plastic bag "pumpkins" can be stuffed with garbage the day after Halloween and set out on the curb. They will never rot.
Pies, no matter what they're made of, came to America from Europe, just like the Halloween tradition. I've heard horror stories over the years about homemade pumpkin pies that turned out stringy, watery, and tasteless. The idea has grown up that only some pumpkins are edible. There's truth to this idea today, now that breeders select for ornamental qualities only as they create new cultivars for the seasonal market, but the Native Americans who first developed pumpkins as a crop ate them all, and at all stages of their development.
The thick, fat pumpkin seeds are rich in nutritious oils and some of them would have been saved to toast over the fire for a tasty meal during the long, cold winters on the east coast. Pumpkin seeds are still an essential ingredient in traditional Mexican mole sauces. Pumpkin seeds would have been sprouted too, giving people starving for fresh vegetables a bite of greenery in the late winter or early spring. After the year's crop had been planted out and the pumpkin vines began creeping across the earth, the first golden flowers could be eaten in salads followed by the little green developing fruits.
The pumpkin is a close cousin to the zucchini, and its fruits were picked green and tender to be eaten raw by the Native Americans. Our English word "squash", in fact, comes to us from the Naragansett word asquutasquash, meaning "uncooked." Ironically, the English word "pumpkin" comes to us from the ancient Greek word for "cooked." "Pumpkin" is an English corruption of the French word pompion which in Old French had been pompon, and earlier popon. The early French speakers were simply putting a gallic twist on the Latin word pepon which was a cognate of a Greek word which meant cooked. It remains true of the squash that we have come to call pumpkins that to be enjoyed at their maturity they must be cooked. The Latin pepon survives in the botanical Latin name Cucurbita pepo for one of the many groups within the Cucurbita family.
Nowadays writers use the word pumpkin imprecisely to describe hard squash that are either reminiscent of the jack o' lantern pumpkin in color or in shape. Some pumpkins like the white Lumina pumpkins are pumpkin shaped and pumpkin sized but come from the Cucurbita maxima, like Hubbard squash. Tan colored pumpkins like the Long Island Cheese pumpkin belong to Cucurbita moschata, as do butternut squash. The long and the short of it is that every pumpkin is a squash to a botanist but not every squash is a pumpkin to a chef.
Confusion reigns over the pumpkin patch because there are two types of pumpkin in the Cucurbita pepo which look awfully similar taste a lot different. The New England Sugar Pie pumpkin is a small, heavy, round orange pumpkin with a nice flavor. The Connecticut field pumpkin is a larger orange squash, somewhat oblong in shape, that superficially looks a pie pumpkin but has no sweetness to its flesh. The Indians on the east coast developed the Connecticut field pumpkin for the production of edible seeds, not pies. Later, this common pumpkin variety was "improved" into myriad ornamental jack o' lantern cultivars.
The most celebrated Connecticut field pumpkin is probably the one that the Headless Horseman threw at Ichabod Crane in The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow. True, Washington Irving doesn't specifically mention the breed of the pumpkin that he describes laying shattered on the road near Ichabod Crane's abandoned hat. And yes, Sleepy Hollow is in New York, not Connecticut, but the Connecticut field pumpkins were a standard animal fodder crop along the eastern seaboard. But who cares, anyway? Writers who cover celebrities are rarely held to a high standard of proof, so if an academic one day proves that Irving intended readers to imagine a Kentucky field pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata) you're not going to sue me.
Then there's the pumpkin that made Richard Nixon a household name. I refer to the "Pumpkin Papers." Nowadays the press would call the whole affair "Pumpkingate." To tell the story briefly, in 1948 Whittaker Chambers accused Alger Hiss of being a communist. Then he hid the microfilmed evidence inside a hollowed out pumpkin on his farm. In due course, the House Un-American Activities Committee got a subpoena, searched his pumpkin patch and confiscated the pumpkin.
Going back to Cinderella, illustrated editions of the fairy tale often picture her riding to the dance in a ribbed, heirloom French Cucurbita maxima type pumpkin called le Rouge Vif d'Etamples. Cinderella's coach was red. Rouge means red, and vif means vivid. California Congressman Nixon said that Alger Hiss was a "red." Nixon got a hold of the pumpkin papers and used them to fan his fame. You might say that Nixon rode into history on a pumpkin, just like Cinderella. Blurry black and white photos of Whittaker Chamber's infamous pumpkin taken by newspaper reporters at his Maryland farm show a squash with the longer, irregular five sided, stem of a Connecticut field pumpkin— Cucurbita pepo, the jack o' lantern.... It's fitting, somehow.
"Trick or treat!" Richard Nixon said to America.
You know how that fairy tale ended.
copyright 2007 Andy Griffin
3) Restoration Event at High Ground Organics
SATURDAY OCTOBER 6, 2007 from 10am-1pm: Come join us in transforming a hillside dominated by invasive weeds into a thriving habitat of native grasses, sedges and wildflowers. We will work from 10-12 and than share a potluck lunch and nature walk to enjoy the beautiful fall colors of the wetland. Contact Laura at (831)761-8694 for more details. Find directions to the farm at our website: twosmallfarms.com
5) Recipes from Roxanne, Gail, Anne and Julia
Quinoa Chowder with Spinach, Feta, and Scallions
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed well in a fine sieve
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 hungarian wax chile, seeded and finely chopped (or half a pepper if you don't want it quite as spicy)
1 teaspoon ground cumin or to taste
S & P to taste
1/2 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 bunch scallions, including an inch of the greens, thinly sliced into rounds
1 bunch finely sliced spinach leaves
1/4 pound feta cheese, finely diced or crumbled
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 hard cooked egg, chopped
Put the quinoa and 2 quarts water in a pot, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. While it's cooking, dice the vegetables and cheese. Drain, saving the liquid. Measure the liquid and add water to make 6 cups if needed.
Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and chile. Cook for about 30 seconds, giving it a quick stir. Add the cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and the potatoes and cook for a few mintues, stirring frequently. Don't let the garlic brown. Add the quinoa water and half the scallions and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the quinoa, spinach, and remaining scallions and simmer for 3 minutes more. Turn off the heat and stir in the feta and cilantro. Season the soup with pepper and garnish with the chopped egg.
Hi Julia --
I'm a relatively new CSA member -- just joined a few weeks ago -- and I am absolutely loving the wonderful produce! I have searched all summer for perfect tomatoes at my normal haunts (Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, various other places) and yours are just wonderful.
I've enjoyed coming up with delicious vegetable dishes using the CSA bounty -- mashed potatoes with the Godzilla Fingerling potatoes (and saved the potato water and made some delicious potato bread), leek- potato soup with the incredible leeks (gosh, those were amazing leeks), lots of great salads, strawberry shortcake, etc.
The very first week of veggies, I had to learn how to cook the baby artichokes, so I went on to Epicurious and found this recipe that uses both tomatoes and artichokes
which I made with ~ 1 1/2 lb of salmon in a 13x9 pan. I didn't bother with blanching the garlic, and I braised the baby artichokes instead of deep-fat-frying them. I had Zatar in my spice rack, so I used it, but I would think it would have been as good with another spice blend.
The funny part is that the recipe looks involved but it really isn't -- I think it took me about 30 minutes from pulling the fish out of the fridge to putting it on the table.
Anyways, this week, with the pumpkin -- yay! so excited about the pumpkin! -- we'll do toasted pumpkin seeds and probably a pumpkin pudding (which, in our house, is pumpkin pie without the crust.)
Can't wait -- Anne
from Roxanne in Capitola:
Things I won't make unless I have the BEST vine ripened tomatoes (like yours):
Tabouli, Panzanella, Pico de gallo, and the following uncooked pasta sauce from Marcella Hazan - SPAGHETTI COL SUGO DI ERBE E POMODORO CRUDO
She heats the olive oil until smoking hot, then pours it into the tomatoes, herbs before tossing it with the hot pasta.
Just had some homemade Tomato Juice (drippings from the tomatoes I've been roasting to put away in the freezer bags for winter). Delicious!
20 pounds done,,,,,,,,,,,,,,20 pounds to go.
Thanks for all your hard work, I'll be thinking of you as we use them.
Here's a delicious recipe I made this week with the eggplant, onion, and tomato. I hope I'm sending it to the correct address. I thought it might be a good recipe for the newsletter. It is from the LeLeche League Cookbook.
GROUND BEEF AND EGGPLANT SKILLET
1 lb. ground beef
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 eggplant, peeled and cubed
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, sliced
2 C. tomatoes
1 C. tomato sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
1 t. basil
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 C. brown rice, cooked
Brown beef and garlic. Add eggplant; stir and cook 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice. May be made ahead and reheated. -submitted by Gail Davies
This recipe is a great basic technique, and you can alter ingredients at will. This works for chicken, pork chops and fish. Steak and lamb, too (substitute beef stock, not chicken). In addition to leeks, fennel, onions, garlic, shallots, etc. can all be used individually or together. Fruits such as pears, apples, etc. can be added; for example with pork chops I use sweet onions and apples and add cinnamon to the chops. Season at will as well: thyme, rosemary, etc. on the meats add great flavor.
2 or 3 leeks, white to light green parts only, sliced, cleaned
1-2 T olive oil
boneless, skinless chicken breasts
S&P plus other spices to taste (poultry seasoning, sage, thyme are great)
1 box (~4 cups) low sodium chicken broth
Heat olive oil in a large/12" skillet, and sauté leeks on medium high heat until soft and brown (about 5-8 minutes). Best flavor comes from really letting them caramelize. Push leeks to edge of pan and add a little more olive oil. Salt, pepper and season chicken and place in center of skillet. Brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes each side. Add chicken broth and cover until chicken is cooked through, about 5-8 minutes more. Remove lid and reduce liquid until it is the consistency of maple syrup; about 5-10 minutes. To Serve: put chicken on a bed of rice, pasta (orzo is great) or mashed potatoes, and pour pan sauce on top.
Here are a few of my favorite pumpkin recipes, they have likely shown up in this newsletter before. -julia
Julia's Perfect Pumpkin Pie
First the pumpkin:
Preheat oven to 350. Cut and remove seeds from one medium sugar pie pumpkin, or 2 small ones. Bake in glass dish cut side down for at least 45 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces the entire wall of the pumpkin.
Remove from oven and let cool.
Next the crust:
For best results use a 9 inch pie plate and have foil and beans or pie weights available
4 tablespoons EACH cold unsalted butter and shortening, cut into pieces
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
3-6 tablespoons ice cold water
In a food processor, whirl the dry ingredients together, then drop the butter and shortening pieces into the processor and pulse a few times until the mixture looks crumbly and there are no lumps larger than peas.
Mix above mixture in a mixing bowl with 3 tablespoons of the cold water. Add water a 1/2 tablespoon at a time and mix until the dough is pliable and releases from the sides, but isn't too sticky. After 3 Tablespoons or so it's easiest to use your hands to bring the crumbs into a dough. Don't wash the food processor yet.
Refrigerate in waxed paper as a thick disk for at least 1/2 an hour while you prepare the filling. After about 30 minutes, roll out dough until it's about 13 inches in diameter. Fold it over, and place into a 10 inch pie plate. Trim edge to about 1/2 an inch beyond the end of the pie plate, tuck in crust and pinch the edge into a design. Lightly place some aluminum foil or parchment paper onto crust, then put in some pie weights to cover the bottom (or dried beans) This step helps to make the perfect pie shell. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each ground cloves and nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup half and half
4 large eggs
In the bowl of the food processor, remove any large clumps from the making of the crust, and add the pulp from the pumpkins, discarding the skin and any renegade seeds. Whirl the pumpkin until thoroughly pureed. Measure out 2 cups of the pumpkin, and reserve the rest for another use. (See soup recipe or add about a cup to any pancake or cookie recipe.)
In the bowl of the food processor, mix the pumpkin with the spices and the brown sugar. Remove to a saucepan, and heat until it's lightly bubbling. In the bowl of the food processor, whirl the eggs with the half and half until mixed, then add gently to the warm pumpkin mixture. Cook for 2 or 3 more minutes, stirring a few times. Pour warm pumpkin mixture into the warm pie shell, and bake for about 25 minutes, or until center is still slightly wobbly. Cool on a rack for at least an hour. Enjoy with whipped cream or ice cream.
LAURA’S GLAZED PUMPKIN GINGER BARS
Adapted from Recipes from a Kitchen Garden by Shepherd and Raboff
1 3/4 cup unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup cooked, pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup chopped candied ginger
1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
3 to 4 tbsp. lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 10x15-inch baking pan. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until creamy then add brown sugar, beating until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, and pumpkin, beating well. Add dry ingredients, mixing until batter is smooth. Stir in nuts and candied ginger. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until cake pulls away from sides of pan.
Combine confectioners’ sugar with lemon zest. Add lemon juice gradually to confectioners’ sugar, adding just enough to give the proper consistency for spreading. Spread on the warm bars. When cool, cut into diamonds or squares and store covered for a day to let flavors blend before serving. Makes 4 dozen.
Simple Pumpkin Bread
2 cups mashed/pureed pumpkin or winter squash
Mix and make a well in the center:
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups sugar
Add to the center along with the pumpkin and stir just until all is mixed in:
1 cup oil
2/3 cup water
Pour into 1 large and 2 small oiled bread pans (or muffin tins). Bake at 350 for one hour. (Or less for muffins.)
New Zealand Pumpkin Soup
3# sugar pumpkin, cut up and peeled
2 medium onions, cut up and peeled
2 cloves garlic
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup white wine
S & P to taste
Cook all ingredients together until pumpkin is tender. Put through a food processor,
heat and serve with 2-3 Tbs. heavy cream swirled in each bowl. Garnish with grated nutmeg or fresh ginger or chives, enjoy.
6) Which Farm?
From High Ground: Scallions, Beans, Spinach, Mystery, Flowers.
From Mariquita: Tomatoes, Pumpkin, Chiles, Potatoes
7) Unsubscribe/Subscribe From/To This Newsletter
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8) Two Small Farms Contact Information
Two Small Farms
Mariquita Farm/High Ground Organics
Organically Grown Vegetables
P.O. Box 2065
Watsonville, CA 95077