Even when the end of the season seems to cruise along as nicely as this one has, we know there will be some bumps in the road, and this late in the year that bump tends to be the first frost. So last Monday, when we saw lows in the 30’s forecasted for later in the week, we had to do some hefty imagining, because at that time we were sweating out the last days of what seemed like an end of September heat wave. But sure enough, as the week ended, a north wind blew up, the skies cleared bright and blue, and that was enough for us to set a plan in motion to save some of the tender crops for a few more weeks of harvest.
First, the crew did a big pick on the peppers, in case our efforts to save them failed. Lauren and Elliott ran around the farm covering tender greens and the very frost sensitive sweet potatoes still waiting to be harvested. Then Connor set up some tall irrigation sprinklers on the peppers to provide frost irrigation late in the night. Harry, Selenna, and I binned up the last of the pie pumpkins and piled up the jack o’lanterns in the field so they could be easily covered. By late afternoon, the winds died, and the temperatures began to drop, but we felt ready.
Frost physics are a little counter intuitive. Plant foliage can readily frost at air temperatures well above freezing. On clear nights, heat from the leaves makes a bee-line for the cosmos, as no clouds are available to form an insulating blanket. On still nights, the air can stratify as the warm air heads for the hills and the cold air settles into valleys. And stranger still, some of the naturally occurring microbes on plant leaves can nucleate frost formation. We’ve learned the hard way over the years that with any forecast temperature under 40F, we need to break out the frost protection plan and put it into play.
My role in all of this is night duty. I get on a full winter outfit and head out around midnight to make sure all the frost covers are in place, and to start the sprinklers. The irrigation puts out water warmed by the earth, and on really cold nights, will give up heat to the leaves as the water freezers right on the leaves. Cold, still nights are very inspiring, and offer a chance to clear one’s head. Or not: this year I learned you can blow frosty “smoke rings” on really still, cold nights, while I was waiting for the sprinkler system to start up!
In any event, the frost was a light one, and all our protection efforts were successful, and the 2019 fall harvest rolls on.
We hope you enjoy the farm and the harvest,
Paul, Rebecca, and Lauren for the Fort Hill Farm crew
Featured this week:
Sweet potatoes: we have a lot of trouble growing some crops (onions,); others are hit and miss (broccoli), and with some crops we have a good track record (tomatoes and lettuce). But then there are sweet potatoes. Our little sandy shelf above the river was just made to grow these things, and this year has been a great harvest. Sweet potatoes will store for many months at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Just hold off washing them until you are ready to use, and NEVER expose them to temperatures below 55F. We have held these beauties in a warm greenhouse for a couple of weeks, so they should be sweet and ready to eat. Try them baked whole, cubed and roasted, mashed, or in one of my favorite recipes below.
Green Cabbage: we are welcoming our fall green cabbage to the table, and it is one of nicest crops in recent years. You know what to do … slaws, stuffed (see recipe below) … roasted whole with olive oil and salt is one of our favorites (kids seem to love this!) Stores forever in your crisper fridge drawer – just slice the old end off.
salad mix, arugula, pea shoots, head lettuce, curly green and lacinato kale, rainbow chard, collards, spinach, fresh herbs, Chinese Cabbage, garlic, red, gold, and chioggia beets, limited amounts of Classic Italian, Rosa Bianca, and Asian eggplant, leeks, sweet Italian orange and red peppers, limited amounts of mixed sweet bell peppers, yellow storage onions, jalapeño, cayenne, Serrano, shishito, and poblano hot peppers, Dark Red Norland potatoes, Fingerling potatoes, German Butterball potatoes, Satina Gold potatoes, Kennebec potatoes, fresh baby ginger and fresh turmeric, baby boy choy, salad turnips, escarole, celeriac, fennel, parsnips, butternut squash, Brussels sprout greens, sungold cherry tomatoes, and heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes
rutabagas, Brussels sprouts
Pick Your Own:
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes are done for PYO this year. You can still find these sweet treats in the barn.
Flowers: there are still some beautiful blooms out there
Fresh herbs: parsley, thyme, sage, oregano, marjoram, chives, cilantro.
*** 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
Sweet Potato, Goat Cheese and Rosemary Quiche Makes 6 servings
This recipe is a winner! Feta cheese is also amazing here.
For pie crust
8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cold
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or substitute all purpose flour)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 to 5 tablespoons ice water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes (about 1 pound)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 large eggs
2/3 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
For pie crust
Cut the butter into small pieces and place it in the freezer while you prepare the other ingredients. Place the whole wheat pastry flour, all purpose flour, and salt in the bowl of a KitchenAid® 13-Cup Food Processor fitted with a steel blade, then pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter pieces, then pulse just until the butter is the size of pebbles and peas, about 8-12 pulses. With the machine running, add the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough begins to form a ball. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board, pat into a disk, then refrigerate for 30 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. Place a rack in the center of the oven, then preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Wash and peel the sweet potatoes, then cut them into 1/4-inch cubes. Toss the pieces with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Spread on a baking sheet in a single layer, then roast at 400 degrees F until soft, about 20 minutes. Set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over medium. Add the sliced onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 20 minutes. Set aside.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a well-floured surface. Working from the center, roll the dough into a 12-inch circle, then transfer it to an ungreased KitchenAid® Nonstick 9″Pie Pan. With a fork, pierce rows of holes in the bottom and sides of the dough, about 1 inch apart. Place the pan in a 350 degree F oven and bake until the crust is lightly golden, 10 to 15 minutes. If you will be baking the quiche right away, increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
Layer the sweet potatoes in the bottom of the par-baked crust, then sprinkle the caramelized onions, goat cheese, and rosemary over the top. (At this point, the crust and toppings may be covered and refrigerated together for up to 24 hours.) When ready to bake, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, nutmeg, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Pour the egg mixture over the quiche, then carefully place the quiche on a large baking sheet.
Stuffed Vegan Cabbage Rolls ~ Yields 12 rolls
Adapted from the Brand New Vegan
1 small head of green Cabbage
Either: 10 beefsteak tomatoes, chopped OR 28oz can diced tomatoes OR 3-4 cups Marinara
1.5 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup shredded carrots or parsnips
½ tsp each fresh thyme, oregano, and marjoram
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup riced cauliflower
2 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbs low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbs vegan Worcestershire
1 cup cooked rice
2 Tbs tomato paste
3/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 tsp or to taste kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 Tbs ground Flaxseed
2 Tbs water
1/2 sliced onion to layer in baking dish
vegan sour cream
Clean and core cabbage, place in pot of boiling, salted water to steam for 5-10 min
Remove and drain – leaves should remove easily. If not, additional steaming will help
Meanwhile, sauté the onion until softened
Add fresh herbs and carrot or parsnip and sauté an additional 1-2 minutes
Add mushrooms and cauliflower, sauté to soften
Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds
Stir in soy sauce and Worcestershire.
Remove from heat and allow to cool
When the filling has cooled, add in remaining filling ingredients and mix well
Make the flax egg by mixing the flaxseed meal with 2 tbs water then stir into filling
Remove the first few cabbage leaves and line the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish
Layer on 1-2 cups of marinara or tomatoes – add sliced onion if desired
Remove the tough rib at the bottom of each cabbage leaf – making a V shaped cut
Add 2 tablespoons of filling and roll like you would a burrito.
Place the cabbage roll in the baking dish and repeat
Cover with any remaining cabbage leaves and an additional 1-2 cups of tomatoes or marinara
Cover with foil and bake at 350° F for 45 minutes
Garnish if desired and serve