Our Vegetable CSA shareholders enjoy a weekly newsletter sent via email. Here’s a peak at how we ended our veggie CSA season. Be sure to read our “Last Notes” – a farewell until next growing season!
Mendocino Organics Vegetable CSA – Tuesday, October 30
In Your Share this Week – Ukiah
- Butternut Squash
- Pie Pumpkin
- Spaghetti Squash
- Red Russian Kale
- Baby Turnips
- French Shallots
Wine grapes are getting picked. Olives are ready for harvest. Reggae music is drifting through the neighborhood. Fall harvest is an active, energizing time of the year in Mendocino County, and the weather could not be more beautiful. Just in time for this last distribution, we have spinach, broccoli, and some baby roots. The turnip greens are good in soup, like miso soup. If you haven’t tried shallots before, they are a sweet allium great for any cooking.
Butternut is probably the most popular winter squash. They will last for a few weeks in a cool, dry place. You can slice it thinly, coat in olive oil, and bake for a delicious side dish. The other night, we couldn’t finish a butternut squash we baked, so the next day, we cut the remaining half into strips and cooked it in oil, almost like French fries. They were so good!
If you’re looking for a spiced up soup this fall, here is a good one from Every Day with Rachel Ray magazine (November 2012):
Butternut Squash Soup with Red Chile & Mint
Prep 10 min.
Cook 1 hr.
- 1 butternut squash (about 2 lb.)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp. thinly sliced fresh basil, plus more for garnish
- 1 tsp. crumbled dried mint
- 1 cinnamon stick (3 inches)
- 2-3 tsp. ground red chile or ancho chile, plus more for garnish
- 4 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock or water
- Sliced fresh mint leaves, for garnish
- t bsp. heavy cream, for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Halve and seed the squash. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake until soft, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then scoop out the flesh and measure out 2 cups.
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, 1 tbsp. basil and the dried mint. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the squash, cinnamon stick, ground chile and 1 tsp. coarse salt. Stir in the stock or water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, 25 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick. Break up any large squash pieces with a spoon, or pulse in a blender or with an immersion blender to smooth.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Top with sliced fresh basil and mint, a pinch of chile and a drizzle of heavy cream.
From American Grown by Michelle Obama (Crown Publishers, 2012), here is good guidance on roasting pumpkin and squash seeds – a great snack!
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Scoop the seeds out of your pumpkin (or squash) and place in a pot. Add enough water to cover the seeds by one inch and add a tablespoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil, and boil the seeds for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the seeds in a strainer and rinse with cold water. Most of the pumpkin flesh will have dissolved; now’s the time to remove the rest. Don’t worry if a little clings to the seeds. Blot the seeds to remove excess moisture.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray the foil with cooking spray. Dump the seeds onto the pan; drizzle with a little olive oil and spread the seeds out over the pan. Bak the seeds for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they become crunchy and light brown; start checking after 8 minutes to make sure the seeds don’t burn.
You can add any herbs or spices to the seeds after you add the olive oil, but you won’t need salt.
Our focus is turning slightly away from the vegetables now, although we still have a lot of greens and other cool-season crops in the ground. Some produce will find its way to Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op or the children at Head Start. We have yet to decide whether we will sell at the Ukiah Saturday Farmers Market this winter. Seeding our alfalfa-grass hay is well underway, and we’re tidying up, getting ready for the wet winter. Our handful of cows should be calving soon, and our ewes will be lambing in the near future, too. We plan to help put up more fencing in the rangeland at Heart Arrow Ranch; ultimately, our animals will benefit from more rangeland pasture areas, as will our landlords’ horses. We will figure out soon whether we will continue leasing the smaller of the two parcels we rent in Potter Valley for the vegetables. If we can negotiate a lower rent, it will be worth it. Even though it has good drainage in the spring time, which is crucial to getting spring crops in the ground on time, one section does not have irrigation infrastructure, so it doesn’t water well, and the soil is not good. We can plant spring crops at the larger parcel we rent, as well as in one field at the new place we rent for our cows’ pasture, so we will see what happens.
If you have a moment, please complete the survey we are sending in a separate email or leaving at the distribution site. We appreciate your feedback, always. While your weekly CSA newsletters will stop, you can still check in on the farm on our website/blog and our Facebook fan page, which is synced up with our Twitter feed. We’re usually more active on our blog in the winter.
Thank you again for supporting our farm this year and being a part of the Mendocino Organics Vegetable CSA community! We strive not only to feed you fresh, nutritious, tasty produce, but also, hopefully, making your relationship to your food a little more meaningful! It’s not necessarily convenient or easy joining a CSA, but we hope you gain much value from participating. We appreciate you sharing the risk in our farming business, governed in large part by Mother Nature. We plan to continue the Vegetable CSA next year, so stay tuned for developments, including more events, contests, and the like We hope your meals have been tasty, healthy, and full of the life force we coaxed out of the soil, sun, and seeds!
Adam & Paula