Neck Pumpkins
Crop Talk: October 27, 2014 
The Newsletter of Great Country Farms
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LAST Chance to complete the 2014 CSA Survey 
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to complete the Survey for the 2014 CSA season.  We truly appreciate your time and feedback that will help us shape this program for 2015.  We have had only half the number of responses we had last season and would really like to hear from as many members as possible.  

 There is still time to complete the 8 minute survey which closes this Friday,  October 31.  If you have not had a chance yet, please  Click Here to get started and thank you again for your time!

U-Pick, U-Play, U-Grow
Bonuses Continue

A neck pumpkin is like a big butternut squash with thin rind and a long curved neck, which is all meat. Since the middle of the 19th century, they have been associated with the Amish and Dutch communities of Western Pennsylvania, who prize them for their deep orange color and their rich sweet flavor. They're full of anti-oxidants, vitamins A, C and E, and dietary fiber. They make great pies and soups, but you can also use them just as you would use ordinary butternut or acorn squash.

Members receive one neck pumpkin as an in-store bonus, and additional neck pumpkins are available for purchase at $.59 per pound.

Here's a link to a blog post that explains all the different things Mary Stewart did with the meat in one neck pumpkin.

And here's a recipe for long-neck pumpkin pie:

   Begin by making the pumpkin puree. Preheat the oven to 375�F. Drizzle a baking sheet with a little bit of canola oil and set aside. Cut the crookneck pumpkin into manageable pieces, and peel the tough skin away. Scoop out the seeds, and transfer the peeled pieces of the pumpkin to the prepared sheet pan.

   Bake the pumpkin in the oven for about 45 minutes, until fork tender. Let the pumpkin cool on the pan until it can be handled easily. Then, transfer the pieces of pumpkin to a food processor and puree.

   To thicken up the pumpkin puree and concentrate the flavor, you can simmer it on the stove or put it in the slow cooker overnight (with the lid slightly askew to let the steam escape). Let the thickened puree cool before using it, or transfer it to an airtight container and store in the fridge.


For the crust:

3 ounces whole wheat pastry flour

3 ounces all purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

Pinch of salt

4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter

Approximately 2 ounces ice water

1 - 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Cinnamon sugar

   To make the pie crust, whisk together the whole wheat pastry flour, all purpose flour, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small chunks and use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour mixture, leaving pea-sized bits of butter.

   Gradually add in the ice water, about a tablespoon at a time. Gently incorporate the water with your fingers, adding just enough water that the dough comes together. It may be a bit crumbly, but should hold together when gathered up.

   Shape the dough into a disc, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. After the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350�F.


For the filling:

3 cups thick pumpkin puree

(see the recipe above)

1 cup heavy cream

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

   Prepare the filling by whisking together all of the ingredients until smooth.

   Roll out the pie crust into a large circle, large enough to fill a 9-inch pie plate.

   Transfer the crust to the pie plate, trim the edges (reserving the scraps for decorations, if desired!), and use your fingers to shape the edge of the pie crust. Pour the filling into the prepared crust. Brush the crust with a small amount of heavy cream and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

   Tent the pie with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue to bake the pie for an additional 25 - 30 minutes, until the crust is golden a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the pie on a wire rack.

Fall Greens
We have plenty of spinach and kale left in the fields, so I'm repeating the advice we ran last week on freezing fall greens.


They Freeze Spinach, Don't They?



   Indeed they do. Or at least I do....

   Wash the leaves, swishing them around in a bowl or sink full of fresh water. Drain the water and wash again with fresh water. Do this a third time if the spinach is particularly dirty. There's nothing worse than chomping down on grit.

   Remove as much water as you can using a salad spinner. If you don't have one, you can pat the leaves dry with a clean kitchen towel. I highly suggest investing in a salad spinner (like this one or the sturdy stainless steel version) if you intend to keep growing greens. I use this tool everyday during the growing season and can't imagine washing and drying the volume that I produce and eat day in and day out without one.

   Stuff the freshly washed and dried leaves into a large, plastic freezer bag or freezer-safe container and freeze. No blanching required! If you don't think you will be using it up soon, I suggest labelling the bags with the name and date... just in case you're like me and your tiny freezer is stuffed to the gills come mid-summer.

   Try to use frozen spinach within 6 months to a year. What comes out of the freezer will be a bit mushy and is not particularly suitable for fresh eating, although it can be added to smoothies. We cook it from frozen or add it to soups and stews. You can also thaw it out, squeeze out the excess liquid, and add it to frittata or quiche.




Or try HGTV's blanching process:


   Start by washing spinach leaves. Triple rinsing them-dunking leaves into three separate batches of fresh water-usually removes all traces of dirt. After leaves are clean, remove stems as desired. Tear larger leaves into silver dollar-size pieces (roughly 1 to 2 inches across).

   Blanch spinach leaves in boiling water or steam for two minutes, followed by soaking in ice water for the same amount of time. If you blanch leaves in boiling water, you'll notice the water turns green. This is some of the nutrients leaching out of leaves. You can save this water and freeze it for stock or cooking grains, like rice or quinoa. 

   To keep as much nutrition in leaves as possible, steam blanch spinach leaves by placing them in a steamer basket that keeps leaves above the boiling water. Steam for two minutes. You don't lose that many nutrients or minerals by blanching spinach in boiling water. Which method you use is really a matter of choice and convenience. 

   After removing spinach from ice water, spin it dry in a salad spinner or blot it on a thick towel. Stuff leaves into freezer bags, placing one to two cups of leaves per bag, depending on your desired portion size. Freezer burn occurs when frozen items are exposed to air, and spinach doesn't taste well if it gets freezer burn. Try using a straw to suck out excess air around leaves before sealing bags. Place sealed bags in the freezer. Vacuum sealing systems work really well with spinach leaves. 

   Use frozen spinach within nine to 14 months for best quality. Add frozen spinach to soup or stock, casseroles, and stir fries. Frozen spinach also works well in dips, quiche, and pasta dishes. It brings flavorful nutrition to homemade egg rolls, meatballs, and marinara sauce. 


Farming News

NSAC Helps Deliver Soil Health Vision Statement to USDA


   On Friday, October 17, more than 40 national organizations, companies, and foundations delivered a joint vision statement for soil health and cover crops to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) joined with the National Association of Conservation Districts and American Soybean Association to issue a press release and deliver the letter to USDA on behalf of all 41 signatories.

   The vision statement highlights the increasing popularity of soil health practices such as cover cropping.  For example, "the 2012 Ag Census reported 10.3 million acres of cover crops" nationwide.  The signers argue, however, that the number of acres of cover crops across the country "can and should increase considerably, perhaps reaching 20 million acres or more by 2020."

   "Implementation of these [soil health] conservation practices is paying off for thousands of farmers and for our country, in the form of increased crop yields, better resilience to weather extremes, less soil erosion, improved nutrient management, greater carbon sequestration, and enhanced cropping system diversity," the letter states.  "Ultimately, support and innovation from decision makers in both the public and private sector is needed to ensure that this great opportunity to transform American farming reaches its full potential, benefiting as many farmers, communities, and families as possible."

   The letter recommends that USDA should seek to broadly support cover crops and soil health, including through a comprehensive strategic plan with clear, outcome-based goals for research, education, extension, data collection, financial and technical assistance, credit, risk management, and other relevant policies and programs.


Read more here.


Farm News
Fresh Turkeys
Sunrise Farms of Stuart's Draft VA has reserved 50 fresh turkeys for GCF members.

Place your order in the market or by calling the farm office.

In The Market This Week
 Apples $1.29/lb
Potatoes $.89/lb
Variety of winter squash $.89/lb
Green peppers $2.79/lb
Broccoli 2.89/lb
Neck pumpkins $.59/lb


Weekly Bonus:
one neck pumpkin
Fall Harvest Seasonal Bonus 
Come pick a pumpkin of any size and take home corn stalks to decorate your home.  This seasonal bonus may be picked one time between Sept 27th and October 31st.

1 Bundle of Corn Stalks 
1 Jack o Lantern Pumpkin
CSA Bonus Ticker
This Week 6.00
Year to Date: $124.59
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