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Oct. 20, 2015

Posted 10/28/2015 2:07pm by Don Kretschmann.

Oct.20, 2015

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,   

Frost, freeze, panic! That used to be the norm the early years of growing vegetables.  We’ve gotten ever better at planning well in advance so when at last that night arrives, we don’t have all those last minute surprises.  But there’s always those close calls shrouded in uncertainties.  At what temperature is fennel damaged?  Are the greens too young to survive a hard freeze?  Will it get cold enough to actually freeze the ground and perhaps damage root crops?  We’ve seen so many incredible veggie feats.  Like peppers (which are tender tropical plants) survive repeated frosts—two, three, four frosts and there are still fruit in the field.  Last Wednesday, after cultivating one last time, and then seeding a cover crop of rye between the rows, we put row covers over all our remaining lettuce.  This is not only to give a little frost protection, but also to boost the temperatures so it grows faster in the fall. We’ve likewise covered a new planting of dill which we seeded because it looks like a great fall carrot crop which would be wonderful to put together with dill pesto in soup.  

As the weekend progressed, there was that usual last minute panic when you make the conservative call to cover things because it’s easier than wishing you did after they’re ruined.  In a rare Sunday task, we covered beets and fennel.  And then, because we forgot, the late day trip to Walmart for some antifreeze to put in the irrigation pump before nightfall—just in case (and so you can sleep a little sounder).  But sooner or later—the party is over, with a bang or with a wimper.       

All bets are in, as clouds clear and the sun sets.         Your farmer gamblers,                                             Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

FYI: Winter season signup is upon us! We’d like to not have to deal with lots of last minute signups. Please let us know early, by sending us a note with subject line: Winter (and indicate size). Boxes are available either every two weeks or once a month (S or L) from December until March. It surprises many (including us sometimes!) the variety of local produce which one can have even after freezing temperatures predominate. It’s often more than is available in the early summer. We’re excited to have some of our own canned tomato products for off-season use. See the website for more info. Also, we’re always in need of good dropoff sites for winter pickup. Let us know if you’d like to offer, or know of a business which would fit. Of Interest:  On Sat. Nov. 7, we will host a workshop event on the farm: Adapting to Climate Change by Building Healthy SoilThis is sponsored by Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture.  Though primarily for farmers, this is an opportunity to see our farm and come to understand our commitment to constant environmental improvement and long term investment in our soil. There is a charge, and includes a wonderful lunch.  

Kabocha Squash: This winter squash is one of the “richest” of them all with a flesh which is every bit as meaty and sweet as a yam or sweet potato.  It’s always a shame to waste any bit of the edible portion, so we usually peel it with a potato peeler and then halve and scoop out the seeds.  From there, one can either toss in oil and roast it, or boil it like sweet potatoes.  One can roast it, and scoop out the flesh, but this often results in more waste than peeling.

Pea Shoots: These tender leaves and tips of the pea plant vines are perfect raw in a salad, or stir fried with some garlic and sesame oil. High in anti-oxidants, and vitamins A and C!

Stir-Fried Spicy Carrots With Peanuts• Preheat the oven to 350 de Put ¼ c peanuts in a shallow pan, and bake for 10 minutes . Cool and chop coarsely. Coarsely grate 1 pound medium carrots and stir fry in 2 tbs butter or peanut oil about 5 min. Stir in peanuts, ¼ tsp ginger and hot pepper flakes (if desired) to taste.  Season with salt pepper and a dash of lime juice.  Serve hot.

Apple Squash Casserole: Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Peel 2 lbs. winter squash, cut in half, and cut in 1/2 inch wide slices.  Arrange squash in small ungreased 9x13" pan. Slice 2 apples into 1/2 inch wide slices.  Arrange these on top of squash. Mix together 1/4 c. melted butter, 1/2 c. brown sugar, 1 T. flour, 1 t. salt, 1/2 t. mace or allspice.  Sprinkle this over the top of the squash and apples. Cover & bake for 50 to 60 min.

Swedish Apple Ring: Basic sweet yeast dough—easy way. Microwave1 c. milk in larger pyrex measuring cup until it just starts to boil.  Add ¼ c butter, 1 tsp salt.  Allow 1 tbsp. powdered yeast to soften in ¼ c. warm water.  Place milk in breadmaker or mixing bowl.  Add ½ c. sugar or honey, 1 tsp lemon zest, and the softened yeast.  Then add about 5 c. flour.  (I usually go ½ whole wheat and keep it to about 4 1/2c. if using the bread mixer—otherwise add flour until it’s soft dough)  Let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk or use the “dough” option on the breadmaker.  Dice 2 apples, mix with 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ c. walnuts meats, and ½ c. brown sugar.  When dough is ready, divide into two and roll each out to about 6”x16”, brush with melted butter and spread half the apple mixture on top evenly.  Roll like jelly roll and place on greased cookie sheet in a ring, pinching the ends together.  Cut with scissors at 1” intervals almost through ring and turn slices slightly.  Let rise until doubled and bake @ 375 deg. 25 min.  While warm, drizzle with powdered sugar icing.  Wait till it cools before….Mmmm….