Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Big Red Farm Share, October 30 -- last share of 2015!

Hello friends,

Our 200-year-old sugar maple
in its annual autumnal splendor
The good news is we WILL have farm shares this week!  The bad news is, this really is the last week.  This brings us to a couple of brief housekeeping items:
  • BAGS -- Please take a look around your house and bring back any lingering farm bags this week!  As for the bags your shares will be in on Friday, Lawrenceville School folks can return them to us either at Reynolds House or to Jake's classroom in Pop Hall.  Non-L'ville-affiliated members can either bring a non-farm bag to take your produce home in, or drop the bags by the farm anytime you're in the neighborhood.  Thanks for your attention to this matter!
  • BRF ACCOUNT BALANCE -- a few of you may finish out this season with some money left over in your Big Red Farm account.  I'll email you individually sometime next week to let you know who you are, and how much remains.  These funds will roll over to the 2016 season, so you'll have the opportunity to use them for more delicious produce next year!
Most of all, we at the farm want to thank you all for your support of the farm this season, as we've navigated various changes in the weather, our labor force, and our distribution system for produce.  Our customers' positive response to our efforts is what makes us want to keep doing this year after year!  This wouldn't be a community farm without you, our community, and we are profoundly grateful.

Until next year,
the Big Red Farm Team:
Emma, Jake, Lillian, Anna, and our wonderful interns and volunteers


Full Share:
  • 2 lbs potatoes
  • 2 winter squash (butternut and/or acorn, we'll choose for you)
  • 1 cauliflower (small but mighty!)
  • 2 bunches chard
  • 1/2 lb lettuce mix
  • 1 bunch parsley
Half Share:
  • 1 lb potatoes
  • 1 winter squash (butternut or acorn, we'll choose for you)
  • 1 bunch chard
  • 1/4 lb lettuce mix
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • pick-your-own herbs -- lots of sage, thyme, oregano, parsley, some lavender and thyme


Ready for a new way to saute chard?  So were we, and when my mother-in-law Sue Anne heard about this delicious combination from a friend, she basically walked directly into the kitchen and made it.  Luckily, we were invited to dinner that night!  Swiss Chard with Shallots and Blood Oranges is an excellent winter variation on the ever-present sauteed chard; loaded with iron and vitamin C, it will keep you going in this chilly weather.
photo by Marisa McClellan

While I love a nice, greasy take-out pizza as much as the next gal, pizza is one of my favorite things to make at home, and raise to a less-oily, better-crusted, more vegetable-centered place.  A brief flip-through of some vegetarian cooking magazine in the Nurse Practitioner's office was the inspiration for Homemade Pizza with Winter Squash, Greens, and Goat Cheese, and I think I can say it's one of the best pizzas we've done at home in quite awhile.  It highlights fresh, seasonal ingredients, and will not leave a grease slick on either your plate or your innards.  Also, lest we forget, it tastes really, really good.


Share pick-up takes place at the farm, on FRIDAYS between 3:00 and 6:00pm. Pull into the Lawrence Township community gardens and follow the gravel road uphill to the left. Please remember to return last week's bags and/or containers, and sign in when you take your share. Any payment can be placed in the box next to the sign-in sheet. See you at the farm!

Homemade Pizza with Winter Squash, Greens, and Goat Cheese

With a recipe like this, the challenge is always trying to decide which ingredients to leave out of the title.  I mean, would this have been the same pizza without the caramelized onions and the fresh thyme?  What about the slices of mozzarella gluing everything down?  How much of a difference does whole-wheat crust make?  I submit that it would not be the same at all, but I didn't want to overwhelm you all with an even longer title, so... the fact that we also added crumbled Italian sausage to ours is neither here nor there.

from Jake & Emma's kitchen, inspired by a picture I saw in a magazine

makes 2 14-inch pizzas (or so... depends on the size of your stone or cookie sheet)

1 recipe whole-wheat pizza crust, or substitute your favorite homemade or store-bought crust
about 1 lb winter squash, peeled if necessary, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large sweet onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
1 bunch chard, stemmed and thinly sliced
1/2 lb sausage of your choice (optional), removed from casings if using links
about 4 oz. soft goat cheese
about 4 oz. mozzarella cheese, sliced or grated
olive oil
coarse salt
fresh or dried thyme
red pepper flakes

Start your dough.  During its first rise, caramelize your onions: Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and cook the sliced onion slowly, stirring occasionally, until it becomes very soft and golden, about 20 minutes.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

While the onions are caramelizing, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare squash, then toss cubes with a bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt.  Spread the squash in a single layer on a cookie sheet and roast until golden brown outside and tender inside, about 25-30 minutes, turning once or twice during cooking time.  Set the squash aside too.

You'll want to saute your chard somewhere in here too: Once the onions are done, add a bit more olive oil to the same pan and wilt the chard to your desired level of... wiltyness.  I like to season it with a pinch of salt and a few red pepper flakes.  You can also brown your sausage, if you're using sausage, in that same pan if you choose.

When the dough has completed its first rise and is shaped and ready for its second, raise your oven temp to 450 degrees and put your pizza stone in to preheat.  (If you don't have a pizza stone, no worries.  Pizza on a cookie sheet is perfectly fine, and you actually save yourself the anxiety involved with sliding a carefully-topped pizza onto a hot stone as 450-degree heat blasts you in the face.)

Once all your toppings are prepped and your crust has completed its second rise, you're ready to assemble.  Prepare a pizza peel, cutting board, or the back of a cookie sheet by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal, if you're using a stone.  If you're using a cookie sheet, sprinkle that liberally with cornmeal.  Using floured hands, stretch the first piece of dough into a 12- to 14-inch circle (or rectangle, for baking sheet) and plop it on the peel.  

Next, add your toppings.  I like to get the toppings on fairly quickly, so that the cornmeal under the crust doesn't absorb too much moisture and I can still slide the finished product off.  I generally do the bulkiest toppings first, so I'd start with squash and sausage, then onions and chard.  Crumble the goat cheese evenly on top, then use slices of mozzarella to keep everything attached.  Drizzle a thin stream of olive oil over the whole thing, then sprinkle with a pinch of salt and some fresh thyme leaves (dried is fine too).

Open the oven and bring the rack with the stone on it partway out.  Using a spatula to start the edges moving, carefully slide the topped pizza out onto the stone.  Make sure the edges of the crust are all inside the edges of the stone, or your cheese and toppings will fall off as the pizza cooks, making more of a mess than you'll feel like cleaning up.  Alternatively, if you're doing your pizza on a cookie sheet, just slide the whole thing into the oven.

Bake pizza for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted, and the crust is puffy on top and brown underneath.  Remove it from the oven and repeat with the second crust!  Serve hot.

Swiss Chard with Shallots and Blood Oranges

It can start to seem like once you've sauteed one dark leafy green, you've sauteed them all.  Ever on the lookout for a variation on the theme, we were fortunate enough to be invited to dinner on a recent evening when my mother-in-law, Sue Anne, was trying out a new one.  This recipe comes from a friend of hers who lives part of the year in Italy, where apparently the chard was excellent this year!

from, most recently, the kitchen of Rev. Sue Anne Morrow

serves 2, generously

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot (or two small ones), peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
1 bunch chard, stemmed and thinly sliced
2 blood oranges, separated into segments or supremed (good instructions with photos here)
pinch of salt

Heat the oil in a wide, heavy-bottomed skillet.  When it's shimmery, add the sliced shallots.  Cook, stirring often, until the shallots begin to soften.

Add the chard to the pan and stir.  Lower the heat, season with a pinch of salt, and stir often as the chard wilts.  I often put a lid on the pan during this part of the process, as the steam helps the chard soften up a little more quickly.  You can also add a tablespoon or two of water if the pan is becoming too dry.  Taste a piece of chard to see if it has reached a texture you like.

Once the chard is cooked to your preferred texture, add the cut-up orange segments to the pan (if you supremed your oranges, don't forget to squeeze the "carcass" over the pan for every last drop of juice!).  Stir a few times to heat them through.  Check the seasoning, and serve hot.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Big Red Farm Share, October 23

Hello friends,

We got our first real frost this week, and that, combined with chilly daytime temperatures (and on top of a season that was overall very dry and pretty inhospitable), means that our vegetable supplies are running out a little sooner than we'd hoped.  It is looking like this may be the last week of farm shares, though we'll be in touch next week to either confirm or deny that statement!  For now, though, we think this week's share will be just as delicious as any other, and we hope you'll enjoy it.  Thanks for all of your support throughout this season!

- The Big Red Farm Team


Full Share:
  • 2 lbs potatoes
  • 4 winter squash (probably butternut, but you may find an acorn or a Delicata too)
  • 1 bunch chard
  • 1/2 lb lettuce mix
  • 1 bunch parsley
Half Share:
  • 1 lb potatoes
  • 2 winter squash (probably butternut, but you may find an acorn or a Delicata too)
  • 1/4 lb lettuce mix
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • pick-your-own herbs -- lots of parsley, rosemary and sage; some thyme, lavender, chives and oregano.  Flowers got frost-zapped!
  • anything else we might find -- wait and see!


My favorite recipes to cook at home -- and, of course, to recommend to you all -- are simple, without too many ingredients, flavorful and with the vegetables taking center stage.  If you can cook them in just one pan, even better!  This week, Potato, Winter Squash, & Sausage Hash fills (almost) all of those requirements.  An excellent lunch or weeknight dinner for cool weather, and it uses three of the items in your share!


Share pick-up takes place at the farm, on FRIDAYS between 3:00 and 6:00pm. Pull into the Lawrence Township community gardens and follow the gravel road uphill to the left. Please remember to return last week's bags and/or containers, and sign in when you take your share. Any payment can be placed in the envelope next to the sign-in sheet. See you at the farm!

Potato, Winter Squash, & Sausage Hash

We eat some variation of this hash frequently, often with an over-easy egg plopped on top.  Our basic formula is a combination/adaptation of a few different recipes, notably this one from the Smitten Kitchen, and two from the lovely and talented Nigel Slater (one of them has Brussels sprouts -- inspired!).  The one we're bringing you this week uses winter squash, which browns up in a pan just as nicely as potatoes do, and in about half the time.  I know this is an oft-heard refrain from me, but this recipe is adaptable to just about any veggies you have on hand (is there a better kind of recipe?), so try it again in the spring when the asparagus is here -- please!

Two notes: Unless you have a really, really big skillet, or are halving the recipe, it may be worthwhile to use two skillets here, one for the potatoes and sausage, and one for the squash (sorry about the extra cleanup).  This prevents crowding of the pan, and allows all your veggies to get nicely browned.  Also, if I were going to make this vegetarian, I would probably throw in a chopped onion or a shallot or two after the potatoes start to get some color, and maybe some mushrooms, but really, you know what you like best!

from Jake & Emma's kitchen, adapted from a few sources

serves 4

4 small, thin-skinned potatoes (about 1 lb)
2 small winter squash (about 1 lb), such as Delicata, Acorn, or Butternut
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lb sausage of your choice
salt and pepper

optional garnishes:
- over-easy or poached egg
- chopped fresh parsley, sage, thyme, or chives
- good quality sauerkraut (this is what Jake likes!)

Clean potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice, unpeeled.  Do the same with the squash; Acorn and Delicata don't need peeling, but I usually peel butternuts.  Heat oil in a large skillet (cast iron is great, but anything with a nice, heavy bottom will work), and dump the potatoes in when it's shimmery.  DO NOT STIR!  Sprinkle with pinches of salt and pepper, and leave those spuds alone for at least a couple of minutes.  Then you can use a large, flat spatula to flip them over; you should see some color starting to appear on the undersides.  When they're mostly all flipped, leave them alone again.  Season with more salt and pepper, and wait wait WAIT to stir. 

After you've flipped the potatoes a couple of times, and they're really starting to get some color, add the sausage in smallish lumps (remove it from its casing first if you're using links).  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sausage just starts to lose its pinkness.

Then, add the squash (you can also do this in a separate skillet; start it as soon as you've added the sausage to the potatoes).  Give it a chance to brown, too -- don't stir it a lot right away.  Season the squash with a bit of salt and pepper too.  

Your hash is done when the sausage is browned, and the potatoes and squash are tender.  Top with a fried egg (over easy is my preference) and some freshly chopped parsley, or whatever you want.  Serve hot. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Big Red Farm Share, October 16


Full Share:
  • 2 lbs potatoes
  • 4 Acorn squash
  • 4 bell peppers
  • 1/2 lb summer squash
  • 1 bunch broccoli florets or broccolini (we'll choose for you)
  • 1 bunch chard
  • 1 head lettuce
Half Share:
  • 1 lb potatoes
  • 2 Acorn squash
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 bunch chard
  • 1 head lettuce

  • 2nd quality peppers
  • pick-your-own herbs -- rosemary and sage still look great (sage is delicious with winter squash!); parsley, thyme & lavender look OK.  Young dill and cilantro are still small, but could be harvested sparingly.  You might find the odd flower here and there too!
  • possibly a few Jalapenos and Napa cabbages...


Has anyone else noticed how many acorns are falling from our local oak trees right now?  My very anecdotal and unscientific study of the situation leads me to believe that this is an unusually heavy production year.  They're carpeting our barnyard, which has a couple of five-storey oaks nearby, and the farm kid is enjoying gathering them up and throwing them into the pig-pen (some of the finest pork in the world is finished on acorns...).  We have to watch out, too, because when those little guys fall from such a great height, they are really moving by the time they hit the ground (or the barn roof, or the tractor hood, or every now and again a living creature -- ouch!).  

photo by Deb Perelman
You all are getting acorns in your shares this week, too -- not the oak kind, but the delicious and seasonal squash kind!  The weather looks to be deepening into fall over the weekend, which, as I'm sure you know, means conditions should be excellent for roasting winter squash.  Here's a great way to prepare Acorns -- simple in execution yet complex in flavor.  Unlike their forest namesakes, these Acorns won't hold up to being dropped from a great height; try turning them into Acorn Squash with Chile-Lime Vinaigrette instead.

Also, while you're roasting, my favorite thing to do with extra bell peppers (including seconds) is roast them and freeze them for later use.  Our recipe for Roasted Peppers and Roasted Pepper Soup tells you just what to do, and if you want to continue on and make soup, the choice is yours.


Share pick-up takes place at the farm, on FRIDAYS between 3:00 and 6:00pm. Pull into the Lawrence Township community gardens and follow the gravel road uphill to the left. Please remember to return last week's bags and/or containers, and sign in when you take your share. Any payment can be placed in the envelope next to the sign-in sheet. See you at the farm!

Acorn Squash with Chile-Lime Vinaigrette

I love the chile-lime flavor combination -- I've used it with slaws, chicken, and of course guacamole, among other things -- and I think it works really well with sweet, substantial winter squash.  (If you have extra vinaigrette, you can dress your next salad with it.)  It's also pretty rewarding when a dish so simple to prepare yields the complexity of flavor and color that this one does!  Perfect for fall -- warm and toasty, yet bright and fresh, like a sweater on an October day!

adapted slightly from

serves 2

2 small Acorn squash, or 1 bigger (about 1 lb total)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt, divided
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small clove garlic
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice, or to taste
1/2 Jalapeno, minced (remove seeds and ribs for less heat), or hot chile of your choice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley

photo by Deb Perelman
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 450°F. Halve the squash lengthwise, then cut off and discard the stem ends. Scoop out the seeds and cut the squash lengthwise into 3/4-inch-wide wedges. Toss the squash with black pepper, all but a pinch of the salt, and 1 tablespoon of oil in a bowl, then arrange, cut sides down, in 2 large shallow baking pans. Roast squash, switching position of pans halfway through roasting, until squash is tender and undersides of wedges are golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes.

While squash roasts, mince the garlic and mash to a paste with the remaining salt. Transfer the paste to a small bowl and whisk in the lime juice, Jalapeno (to taste), cilantro, and remaining olive oil until combined. Transfer the squash, browned sides up, to a platter and drizzle with the vinaigrette.  Serve hot.