The first frost at the end of last week was followed by several more of the same.
We gave up on the pepper-plant-covering regimen and just harvested them all instead. There were a lot more than we thought, late bloomers that somehow correctly predicted the long summer that made their ripening possible, Indiana-Jones-eeking-beneath-a-closing-stone-door style.
It was a surprise treat for me, after being irked all summer by the lush plants’ stubborn refusal to flower when I thought they should do so.
We had buckets of peppers, little market demand for them, and a pepper-saturated CSA membership – so our tiny kitchen transformed into a pepper preservation laboratory.
While the rest of us worked in the field and on the high tunnel, Kristin transformed pails of peppers into Singapore Chili Sauce, Habanero Gold, Jalepeno Jelly, Jalepeno Pepper Salsa, and Tomatillo Salsa with a bunch of peppers, while teaching Nora how to can (Ground Cherry preserves).
The WWOOFers took a hillbilly hottub bath while we were away from the farm, which was less relaxing than it should have been because I’d forgot to include the use of protective plywood “butt boards” in my rushed tutorial before we headed on an unexpected trip into the Cities. (They mistook the buttboard for a shelf – useful, not not nearly as necessary …)
Bucket the Cat warmed up to us, and the early adopters of the fall colors trend began to show themselves. And so did the lady beetles, unfortunately – hundreds of thousands of lady beetles (not nice lady bugs, but their jerk look-alikes), imported from Asian to munch the aphids that flourish in monocultural conventional soybean fields had been rendered aimless and adrift by the mechanized harvest of soybean fields somewhere nearby.
This afternoon, the swarms reached Que Sehra Farm as we worked to box up your shares – it’s likely that most of you have a lady beetle or three in your box, as a living commemorative keepsake. Wooo!
We made big progress on the High Tunnel project, with help from friends and family of the farm – everything is done now except the main roof plastic and the anchor cables … so if we get a day without wind between now and Sunday, it will be completed in time for the potluck!
Hopefully there will also be time to get ready for it … lots to do and little time … but it’s an interesting, exciting kind of busy. Transformation is in the air, with the weekly CSA harvests ending, and our southern migration on the horizon.
And the first annual potluck is coming … the weather’s predicted to be beautiful (70-something and sunny!), and it looks like many good people will be coming together to celebrate the completion of a wonderful season.
We’re truly excited to see you there!
Box 18 – 2015’s Last Hurrah
The secret to popcorn popping is the moisture content of the kernels. The white popcorn is drier and will be ready for popping sooner (I think in a couple weeks) than the yellow variety. You can test if it’s ready by heating a pot with a lid and adding a few kernels to the pot. Cover and wait to see if it pops. Sometimes it just splits open and becomes crunchy which is actually pretty awesome. If you want to enjoy your popcorn now, you can “oven-dry your shelled popcorn, just preheat the stove to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and put a large pan (a turkey roaster will do) of kernels on the rack. Then, turn the oven down to its lowest setting immediately, and dry the corn — stirring it occasionally — for five hours. After that time you can turn the heat off and leave the kernels in the oven to cool overnight.” – this according to Mother Earth News.
We have lots this year! It’s versatile – here’s some ideas if you’re feeling stumped:
I love winter squash soup, butternut squash ravioli and lasagna, cubed and roasted squash, and squash in smoothies. So many options!
Acorn squash in big shares for variety sake.
Good in soup and salads. We included some of the greens too, since they are great for making broth.
Grown for the root primarily instead of the stems. Unfortunately, our roots didn’t bulb up much probably because we were in Arizona when we should have been starting celeriac seeds. Eat the bulb and use the leaves for making vegetable broth. You can eat the stems too, but I recommend dicing it up so it’s not too fibrous.
Last CSA salad of the year! Lettuce, spinach, arugula, pea tips, mizuna, and tat soi.
Dried dill is an excellent popcorn topping. I like dill with eggs, potatoes, beets, and chopped up in mayonnaise.
Connecticut Field and Rouge Vif D’Etampes are both edible and used for making pies and other winter squash dishes. I made pickles with the Connecticut Field pumpkins last year. Some say these varieties have a lot of liquid, so I recommend roasting them, scooping out the flesh and allowing it to drain before using. Check out these recipes:
Should you eat these? No.
Random pics of the week: