Tag Archives: pumpkin pie

Winter Week 5—Freezing and Flooding

Tender little savoy cabbages are sweet and delicious shredded and eaten raw, or steamed or lightly sautéed in butter. We'll plant a few weeks earlier next year so they get bigger. Oops.

Tender little savoy cabbages are sweet and delicious shredded and eaten raw, or steamed or lightly sautéed in butter. We’ll plant a few weeks earlier next year so they get bigger. Oops.

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:
• “Peter Wilcox” Potatoes
• Candy Carrots
• Beets
• “Acorn” Winter Squash
• “Treviso” Radicchio
• Baby Turnips with Greens (use raw, or steam or sauté lightly, and use the greens in salad)
• Baby Bok Choy

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Hard to say, it will depend on the weather.

I’m starting this post on Saturday night, as we worry ourselves about what the weather will bring this week. The forecast is for snow, lots of rain, and freezing temperatures. At this point, it’s supposed to drop into the 20’s and not come back above freezing until next weekend. Our farmer friends up north in the Snoqualmie valley are also preparing for flooding—a surprise to everyone. Luckily we don’t have to fret about that, as long as the dam holds. Ever since the broken dam scare a few years back, I always hesitate to make that statement. I don’t want to jinx ourselves.

Brrr. Mud puddles can be pretty.

Brrr. Mud puddles can be pretty.

Most of our winter crops can handle freezing into the 20’s just fine. All the root crops are designed just for that. They store carbohydrates (sugars) in their roots so that when spring’s warmth returns, they are ready to burst into bloom and make seed. Their survival mechanism means deliciousness to animals that eat them. Most of our green can take freezing as well, and will also get sweeter over time. The only year we lost our hardy winter greens was a year in which the temperatures dropped into the teens for nearly two weeks, with no precipitation. Everything freeze-dried and there was nothing we could do.

Cosmo helped me dig up the rest of the potatoes before the deep freeze arrives. Potatoes won't keep in the ground if it's below 26 or 27 degrees. We put around 1800 pounds in the cooler this weekend. He's a hard-working, cheerful helper.

Cosmo helped me dig up the rest of the potatoes before the deep freeze arrives. Potatoes won’t keep in the ground if it’s below 26 or 27 degrees. We put around 1800 pounds in the cooler this weekend. He’s a hard-working, cheerful helper.

Potatoes, however, are tubers, and do not handle freezing well. Potato plants generally make a nest of potatoes up to 12″ deep, with some at all depths, including just under the surface of the soil. If the temperature is below 30° for more than a day or so, the tubers will freeze, and once they thaw, they will disintegrate. Thus, if we know that the weather is going to be exceptionally cold, we have to dig them up and store them in the walk-in cooler. Most years we can get away with storing them where they grew, because most years it doesn’t get very cold until February. But apparently, not this week. Now it’s Monday, and we have dug almost a ton of potatoes. Enough to get us through our winter CSA season. There are more left in the ground, but we have what we were able to recover, and it should be enough. Cosmo was a huge help with this job.

My guess is that if we get rain now, or even snow, and then it freezes hard, everything will be fine. In fact, if it is going to freeze, I would prefer that it snow first. The snow insulates the plants and keeps them moist. Then it’s just a waiting game, because we can’t harvest when things are frozen, even if they may be just fine once they thaw. They need to recover attached to their bodies.

Last check-up of the bee hives before real winter. The goal is to squeeze them into the smallest space possible so they can keep themselves warm, while leaving them plenty of reserves to take care of brood in the early spring. Looks like we have three strong colonies now, but anything can happen through the long winter.

Last check-up of the bee hives before real winter. The goal is to squeeze them into the smallest space possible so they can keep themselves warm, while leaving them plenty of reserves to take care of brood in the early spring. Looks like we have three strong colonies now, but anything can happen through the long winter.

This past weekend, we spent a fair amount of time strategizing. We went to markets last weekend because, in all likelihood, we will not be able to harvest anything after Monday. We are harvesting all of the produce we will need to complete the CSA for this week, through the weekend. That means the baby bok choi, and the last of the Japanese turnips and Treviso radicchio. These things won’t recover after heavy freezing.

We’ve filled the chicken and cow pantry, so we don’t have to venture out if it does snow. And once all of the picking is taken care of, we will know that we have done all we can to prepare, and I will be spending the week knitting and holidaying with the kids.

Winter Week 3 and 4—Things to Be Thankful For

First hard frost of the season. This makes me really excited, because at long last the kale that people have thought tasted so good is now going to taste amazing! Frost converts the starches in the leaves to sugars—nature's antifreeze.

First hard frost of the season. This makes me really excited, because at long last the kale that people have thought tasted so good is now going to taste amazing! Frost converts the starches in the leaves to sugars—nature’s antifreeze.

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:
• “Keuka Gold” Potatoes
• Candy Carrots
• Variety Beets
• “Winter Luxury” Pie Pumpkin
• “Italian Late” Garlic
• Celery
• Fresh Thyme
• Salad of Baby Lettuces

NEXT WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:
• “Keuka Gold” Potatoes
• Candy Carrots
• Parsnips
• Mixed Squashes or Fennel
• Green Onions
• Savoy Cabbage
• Fresh Parsley
• “D’Anjou” Pears from Cliffside Orchards

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Baby Bok Choy, Kale, Shallots

Celery, like Radicchio, is actually somewhat frost-tolerant. It looks sad for a bit, because the cold sucks water out of the stems, but soon they will return to normal. They just can't handle prolonged freezing.

Celery, like Radicchio, is actually somewhat frost-tolerant. It looks sad for a bit, because the cold sucks water out of the stems, but soon they will return to normal. They just can’t handle prolonged freezing.

This is a confusing week for CSA subscribers. Because Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday, which is the first picking day for our weekend markets and weekend CSA pickup. We don’t want to harvest on Thanksgiving, and we don’t want Teo to do that either. Thanksgiving is a day to be with friends and family, not slogging through cold mud, bent-over picking vegetables.

Therefore, we pick two weeks worth of produce for the weekend before. Weekend subscribers will pick up two weeks worth this weekend, and there will be NO PICKUP after Thanksgiving, November 29 and 30. Tuesday and Wednesday subscribers will get the standard allotment both weeks. If that does not make sense, please let me know right away.

That said, we hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend, full of friends and family. We have much to be thankful for, especially a community of 150-ish families who support our farming efforts and allow us the privilege of feeding them. Nothing brings us all together like production and consumption of healthful food.

Matilda is 3 months old, and she is only just starting to eat plants. Here she nestles in the hay while her mom, Beauty eats breakfast.

Matilda is 3 months old, and she is only just starting to eat plants. Here she nestles in the hay while her mom, Beauty eats breakfast.

In our new world of homeschool (no pun intended), the kids and I have been studying Colonial times, in an effort to better grasp a sense of the history of Thanksgiving and our past. I think that it really helps to understand “thankfulness”, especially children, to learn about just how difficult it was to start a new life in a new world. Landing on a foreign place at the most difficult time of year (November) after being on a tiny boat with 100 other people for a miserable journey lasting many months, and then needing to live on that boat through the winter until housing could be built and land cultivated in the spring. Meagre food stores and no fresh food available, damp and cold surroundings, and new germs making everyone sick, and then losing half of your population in the process. There really is no other word to describe it except MISERY.

And yet, those people had to persevere. They had to forge the new landscape, start from scratch, and not only survive, but get ahead so they would have food for the NEXT winter as well. Surviving in the face of a culture who found them foreign, stupid, helpless, and not wanted, was truly something to be thankful for.

Personally, we have farmed through loss of family, through illness, and through bad weather. But we are living in modern times and we at least have the luxury of shelter, heat, and grocery stores, and backup jobs in case it’s a bad year. I can’t imagine persevering with a lack of medicine when your children are sick and dying. Or rats eating all of your stored grain in the middle of winter and facing three more months of winter without any food. How did people find the strength to keep going? What about the next wave of people, who had been fed lies about how successful those first colonies were, only to arrive at the doorstep of desolation? I can’t imagine.

We are extremely lucky.

And that is something to teach our children, and to remember every day.

Winter Week 2—Treviso and Tender Turnips

Japanese Turnips, also called "Tokyo Market" or "Hakurei", are tender, sweet, and delicious. They're even better when the weather turns chilly!

Japanese Turnips, also called “Tokyo Market” or “Hakurei”, are tender, sweet, and delicious. They’re even better when the weather turns chilly!

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:
• “Purple Viking” Potatoes
• Candy Carrots
• Red Beets
• “Delicata” Winter Squash
“Treviso” Radicchio
• Baby Turnips with Greens (use raw, or steam or sauté lightly, and use the greens in salad)
• Arugula

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Pie Pumpkins, Baby Bok Choy, Celery, Parsnips

I think it’s very difficult to be happy about everything in a growing season. There are always mistakes made, and variables that cause mishaps. But this year I am very happy about a few things:

Our only carrot pest, the Carrot Rust Fly, lays eggs in the soil when the carrot plants are young, and the larvae dig into the ground and tunnel into the sweet, tasty carrots. This is what they look like. It's a shame to throw away all the carrots with tunnels, so we just cut around them. They don't affect the carrots' flavor, but they are unsightly. We make our bunches just a bit bigger to make up for the damage.

Our only carrot pest, the Carrot Rust Fly, lays eggs in the soil when the carrot plants are young, and the larvae dig into the ground and tunnel into the sweet, tasty carrots. This is what they look like. It’s a shame to throw away all the carrots with tunnels, so we just cut around them. They don’t affect the carrots’ flavor, but they are unsightly. We make our bunches just a bit bigger to make up for the damage.

1. We have a beautiful, big patch of carrots. In fact, we have so many carrots that we believe we can include them in the CSA shares every week this winter! We know how good they are, and how much everyone loves them. Therefore, we hope all of YOU will be happy as well!

2. We finally timed our radicchio planting so that we have beautiful firm heads in time for winter. It’s been trial and error for several years, but we’ve done it this time. Check out the chicory page for information on how to use this bitter green.

"Purple Viking" are a delicious heirloom potato. The skin is swirled in purple and pink, and the flesh is snow white. I find they're great for anything except mashing, and I love turning them into a bubbly gratin.

“Purple Viking” are a delicious heirloom potato. The skin is swirled in purple and pink, and the flesh is snow white. I find they’re great for anything except mashing, and I love turning them into a bubbly gratin.

3. “Purple Vikings”. My favorite potato, not only for its beauty, but for it’s flavor.

Tasty, golden "Delicata" Squash, also known as "Sweet Potato" or "Peanut" Squash. Mmmm.

Tasty, golden “Delicata” Squash, also known as “Sweet Potato” or “Peanut” Squash. Mmmm.

We have abundant squashes, beets (more recipes coming all the time!), and the tender greens are just about ready to harvest.

Thanksgiving week is coming, and there is always confusion about the “double pick-up option”. Here’s how it works: If you have weekday pickup (Tuesday or Wednesday) you will pick up each week, just as usual. If you pick up on Saturday or Sunday, at the farm or at a market, you will only pick up the weekend before Thanksgiving.

This accommodates people who either aren’t cooking because they’re out of town, as well as people who are cooking for a crowd. It also allows for all of US to enjoy our holiday without having to be out in the field harvesting on Thursday for the weekend.

If you want to switch your pick up day, one way or another, PLEASE let us know ahead of time so we have the right amount of everything on each day.

Oh, one more:

4. I’m really happy we decided to start homeschooling both kids this year. It’s an adventure I look forward to writing about more in the coming weeks.

Winter Week 1—Season of Roots and Leaves

Three of the big boys, being machos.

Three of the big boys, being machos.

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:
• “Sangre” Potatoes
• Candy Carrots
“Three-Root Grex” Beets
“Buttercup” Winter Squash
Kohlrabi
Collard Greens
• Italian Parsley

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Arugula, Pie Pumpkins, Baby Turnips

Kohlrabi are the alien spaceships of the vegetable world.

Kohlrabi are the alien spaceships of the vegetable world.

Summer is clearly past. We’ve had our first, albeit very late, frost. Day after day of thick fog that burns off just in time for darkness to fall. And lots of roots and leaves to eat. It’s been a mild fall so far, and I was surprised to see the bees busy and about as October came to an end—not even 50° outside and they are still hard at work.

These bees are amazing. Late October, and the girls are all out bringing in groceries from somewhere. Is anything even blooming?

These bees are amazing. Late October, and the girls are all out bringing in groceries from somewhere. Is anything even blooming?

Welcome to the first harvest of our Winter season. Really, we should call it the Fall season, and we’re working on that for next year. But this year we’re still calling it winter. Things are a bit hearty this week, but there are tender greens and baby turnips on the quickening horizon.

You should be able to find clues to all the vegetables you don’t usually eat by following the links in the menu list above. Kohlrabi is a strange one for most people, but beets, collard greens, and squash are easy enough to use with a little hint or two. If you have any suggestions please post them in the comments or email me and I’ll include them on their respective pages. “Buttercup” squash is one of my favorites—they’re terrific for soups, pies, pancakes, and they make a tasty purée. Sweet, but not sugary sweet, and richly-flavored and dense. They can also be peeled with a vegetable peeler and cut into cubes, then roasted with garlic and olive oil.

I apologize for the late notice regarding Wednesday farm pickup. We just realized this weekend that we have an very large delivery roster. It became clear that we couldn’t possibly do all the harvest for the delivery and farm pick up in one day, especially if we have a frosty or very rainy Monday.

Most of the vegetables are outside, where they are the most delicious, and frost makes them even more so. However, if it’s frozen, we can’t pick anything until everything thaws out. Heavy rainfall makes for a lot of mud, which makes picking very slow, which takes more time. We don’t want to be perpetually behind our pickup and delivery deadlines, so we split it into two days. Farm pickup is on Wednesday for the winter, and delivery on Tuesday.

Countdown to Thanksgiving.

Countdown to Thanksgiving.

Summer Week 19—Voting, and a Poll

Lea is so happy about her pumpkin!

Bella is so happy about her pumpkin!

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU: • “Red Giant” or “Green Wave” Mustard Greens • Pea Shoots • Arugula • “Sangre” Potatoes • Carrots •  Beets • “Ambercup” Squash

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Parsley, Pac Choi, Mizuna

This is the last week that the U-pick pumpkin patch will be open for our CSA families. Please come on our usual pickup times on Tuesday afternoon and Saturday afternoon. If you need to make arrangements, please let us know ahead of time. Limit of 2 pumpkins per family, or 1 per child.

Our winter squash patch next door was hit by frost, but it didn't make it to our side of the fence.

Our winter squash patch next door was hit by frost, but it didn’t make it to our side of the fence.

It seems strange to be titling this post “Summer”, when clearly it is no longer summer. fall is in full swing, and the weather has been good for our winter crops. Not much sun, but mild temperatures, no rain, and still no frost!

In my old age, I have become passionate about certain political issues. This year I feel very strongly about I-522, Washington’s GMO food labeling initiative. It is not perfect, but it is a good start on mandatory labeling, and hopefully will create more awareness off the prevalence of GMO ingredients in our food system. at this time, if you eat anything containing soy, corn, sugar, or canola, and you didn’t buy organic or specifically labeled GMO-free, you can assume that contains genetically modified versions of those crops. There are also GMO rice, wheat, zucchini, bananas, papaya, and many more, but how are we know if we are eating them? I encourage you to vote yes on 522. You have noticed by now that Winter, or Hard Squashes are now in season. This week’s selection is “Ambercup”. It is a dense, rich, sweet squash that is great for baking, roasting, soup, or making into pie, muffins, etc.

Come and get your pumpkins! One of the perks included in our CSA program.

Come and get your pumpkins! One of the perks included in our CSA program.

This is the last week to pick up pumpkins in the pumpkin patch. After all, Halloween is next week. Al so, next week marks the end of our “summer” season. I will be sending out confirmation emails to everyone who is signed up for Winter already, but if you want to join us and haven’t yet signed up let us know ASAP.

Della is starting a CSA of her baked goods. She does a delicious job, and if you act now, she'll add on a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving!

Della is starting a CSA of her baked goods. She does a delicious job, and if you act now, she’ll add on a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving!

Della is working on a baking venture, in the spirit of a CSA model. She’s an excellent baker, and if you join her as a flagship member, she will add on a delicious pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, made from our own Winter Luxury Pie pumpkins!

A delicious way to enjoy our abundance of roots this year! Roasted!

A delicious way to enjoy our abundance of roots this year! Roasted!

It’s hard to believe, but our Winter Season starts in just 2 weeks! I’ve got the application form updated, and you can find it here: Winter CSA 2013