Dear Farm Partners,
At long last, our first frost of the fall and winter months came on Saturday night, followed by a good hard frost the next evening. After such a hot summer and warm autumn, I had truly forgotten what it feels like to be cold! It is remarkable to look back over the season’s unusual weather, such as the lack of rain and persistent summer heat that pushed late into the fall. As difficult as it has been for me personally to struggle through hot days (I’m an Oregonian), to miss the rain (again, Oregonian) and the typical fall crispness, all of this has made for a great growing season. The hot dry summer days were wonderful for our heat-loving summer produce, allowing us to grow more during the main season. With our frost date pushed back a full month from the normal date (about October 15), our season was extended later than usual. It has been a bountiful season, for which we are very thankful.
Now the frost has come, however, and all that remain are the hardiest vegetables and a few stragglers. The chard is dead, the carrots, beets, and onions are snug below ground, and the lingering produce has gone from rapid growth to a slower pace (or a complete stop). At home, our cat Eliot has found a warm spot from which he hasn’t budged for the last twenty-four hours; he, like the produce, seems ready to hibernate for the winter. I think Jeremy and I are as well.
In this week’s basket: Butternut Squash, Parsnips, Baby Carrots, Collard Greens, Onions, Garlic, Parsley, and Thyme.
I’ve been very excited about the parsnips! I think of them as the intermediate between a carrot and a celery root; they’re carrot-shaped but cream-colored and pithier in texture like a celeriac, with an earthy flavor somewhere between the two. They’re just fun to look at, with their round turnip-like tops tapering into long, skinny root ends. Parsnips are delightful roasted, and add wonderful sweetness to beef stew. I strongly encourage you to try the following recipe, since you have three of the main ingredients in your basket (lucky for you!).
Maple-glazed Carrots and Parsnips with Orange and Thyme
adapted from The Nourished Kitchen by Jennifer McGruther
This is a truly beautiful dish. It draws out the natural sweetness of the roots through caramelizing, deepening it with good autumn/winter flavors of rich maple sweetness, citrusy sweet orange, and strongly herbal thyme. You have a pound each of parsnips and carrots in your baskets, perfect for this recipe.
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
1 pound parsnips, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
In a skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and parsnips, stir to coat them in butter, then decrease the heat to medium. Fry them for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the edges of the vegetables start to caramelize. Add the maple syrup and orange juice, stir well, and cook for about two more minutes until the liquid evaporates. Remove the pan from heat, sprinkle the vegetables with the thyme and a little sea salt, stir, and serve.
“Can I use squash in my Thanksgiving baking?” Why yes! Ditch the canned stuff and make your “pumpkin” pies out of butternut squash. What passes for canned pumpkin is often just butternut squash purée anyways. Freshly prepared butternut or acorn squash purée make very flavorful and often superior pies. Roast halved squash at 375 degrees until soft, about 40 minutes. Be carful not to cook too long or the flesh will be watery. Cool the squash until you are able to handle it, scrape the flesh out of the skin, and purée it until perfectly smooth (a food processor works best but a blender is fine). You now have a base for pies and other “pumpkin” desserts that can be used cup for cup as a replacement for canned “pumpkin”.
Have a good week,