The last week has made it abundantly clear that fall is in the air. Cool nights, heavy morning dew, and warm, clear days have made the work very pleasant. I think these are the kinds of days people refer to when they think wistfully about having an “outside job,” conveniently forgetting the days when your sweat soaks through your T shirt by mid-morning. But it feels like the sweat-soaked days are mostly behind us, as we turn our attention to some big Autumn projects. Yesterday, James, Connor, and I clipped the winter squash. We’ll have the Carnival acorn squash ready today, but the butternut squash needs to go into a cozy greenhouse to warm up a bit and turn some starch to sugar, so we can get them to you at peak flavor. We checked the sweet potatoes yesterday and were surprised to see that they needed a week or 2 more growing time to size up, and then a few weeks to go through the same sweetening process.
Irish potatoes are ready, and we are starting to bring up some more varieties to vary things up a bit. Look for Blue Gold and Kennebec (all-purpose and our best baking potato) this week. The outlook for fingerlings next week looks good, we just need to rig up the special “small potato” digger since they require some extra care at harvest.
The crop that seems to be generating the most excitement this week is pumpkins. We haven’t grown them in years, but a few things changed this season to make it possible to put in a crop. First, after a few years of having our land base shrink, this year we were able to lease the entire field on the Fort Hill terrace. We have applied rock minerals, lime and a special cover crop rotation to this field to “transition” it into organic production, and we decided to put in a pumpkin crop and see where it went.
Pumpkins can be very difficult to grow organically, since they are beset by a host of diseases and bugs. We chose disease resistant varieties to plant and got a big break with the dry weather this summer, which resulted in some great growth this summer, now revealed in bright orange pumpkins. Bring on Halloween!
Paul, Rebecca, and Lauren for the Fort Hill Farm crew
Featured this week:
Carnival Squash: This kaleidoscopic Acorn variety is both a thing of beauty and a practical fall staple. As for all winter squash, prepare by cutting in half, scooping out the seeds, oiling the cut edges, and putting face down in a baking pan with a quarter inch of water in it. Bake at 375F until a fork slides in easily. Acorn squash will store for a few more weeks at room temperature.
Blue gold potatoes: We’ve been growing this winner for about 5 years now, thanks to our friend Megan Haney up at Marble Valley Farm in Kent. This has become a personal favorite of mine, and embarrassingly, what I first thought was incredible waxiness was really high-density (and creamy) starch content. So Blue Golds excel as French fries, hash browns, or baked (see recipe below), but they are flavorful enough to roast and also firm enough to shine in soups. And … Pretty deep blue outside, moist yellow inside, what’s not to love? Store in a cool, dark place, but not in the fridge.
salad mix, arugula, pea shoots, head lettuce, curly green and lacinato kale, rainbow chard, fresh herbs, Chinese Cabbage, savoy cabbage, red cabbage, garlic, carrots, red and chioggia beets, Classic Italian and Rosa Bianca eggplant, Asian eggplant, leeks, sweet Italian orange and red peppers, sweet red, green, and mixed bell peppers, yellow and red storage onions, jalapeño, cayenne, Serrano, shishito, and poblano hot peppers, cucumbers, zephyr summer squash, Dark Red Norland potatoes, Satina Gold potatoes, Kennebec potatoes, fresh and frozen baby ginger, baby boy choy, escarole, celeriac, fennel, sungold, red, and specialty cherry tomatoes, and heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes
Pick Your Own:
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes are done for PYO this year. You can still find these sweet treats in the barn.
Sunflowers: are just about done, but some beauties remain
Flowers 🌸 … the late patch is still going. STILL ON SALE!
Fresh herbs: parsley, thyme, sage, oregano, marjoram, chives. Cilantro and dill plantings are back!
*** Just like last year, CSA members may take a small (mixed or not) PYO herb bunch for free, one bunch per share per week! Please see sample sizes in the barn.
PYO begins 30 before and goes 30 minutes beyond barn hours.
Recipes, suggested by Rebecca Batchie. For more recipes, check out the Fort Hill Farm Recipe Database
Vegetarian Stuffed Acorn Squash
By Cookie and Kate
2 medium acorn squash
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
½ teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
½ cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup water
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup raw pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
¼ cup chopped green onion
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup crumbled goat cheese or feta
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up.
To prepare the squash, use a sharp chef’s knife to slice through it from the tip to the stem. I find it easiest to pierce the squash in the center along a depression line, then cut through the tip, and finish by slicing through the top portion just next to the stem. Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy bits inside, and discard those pieces.
Place the squash halves cut side up on the parchment-lined pan. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over the squash, and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Rub the oil into the cut sides of the squash, then turn them over so the cut sides are against the pan. Bake until the squash flesh is easily pierced through by a fork, about 30 to 45 minutes. Leave the oven on.
Meanwhile, cook the quinoa: In a medium saucepan, combine the rinsed quinoa and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer, uncovered, until all of the water is absorbed, 12 to 18 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cranberries. Cover, and let the mixture steam for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff the quinoa with a fork.
In a medium skillet, toast the pepitas over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the pepitas are turning golden on the edges and making little popping noises, about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside.
Pour the fluffed quinoa mixture into a medium mixing bowl. Add the toasted pepitas, chopped green onion, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Stir until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary.
If the mixture is very hot, let it cool for a few minutes before adding the Parmesan cheese and goat cheese. Gently stir the mixture to combine.
Turn the cooked squash halves over so the cut sides are facing up. Divide the mixture evenly between the squash halves with a large spoon. Return the squash to the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the cheesy quinoa is turning golden on top.
Sprinkle the stuffed squash with the remaining 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, and serve warm. Yields 4 servings.
Easier French Fries (Cold Oil Method)
From Cook’s Illustrated
“These delicious, slender fries have a crisp exterior and a creamy interior, contain 1/3 less oil than traditional methods, and could not be easier to make. Recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated (July, 2009) and the method is attributed to Michelin- starred French chef Joel Robuchon. It skips the usual rinsing and soaking and you only need to fry once.”
2 1⁄2 lbs. [Blue] gold potatoes, scrubbed, dried, sides squared off, and cut length-wise in 1/4-inch batons (strips) (about 6 medium)
6 cups peanut oil, for frying kosher salt
Combine potatoes and oil in large Dutch oven. Cook over high heat until oil has reached a rolling boil, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook, without stirring, until potatoes are limp but exteriors are beginning to firm, about 12-15 minutes.
Using tongs, stir potatoes, gently scraping up any that stick, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, 5-10 minutes longer.
Using skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer fries to thick paper bag or paper towels. Season with salt and serve immediately.