Friday, November 25, 2016

Black Friday Thank You Donation!

Today, Black Friday, I am donating all proceeds from any sale to aid the peaceful protests of the indigenous water protectors at Standing Rock.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, a holiday that loosely remembers the generosity of the native people and a shared feast between the Wampanoag and the Plymouth colonists. I am thankful for so much and I really do sit in a place of privilege so I'm inspired to make a small offering today, Black Friday, inspired by the generosity the Wampanoag modeled at the first Thanksgiving, the specific example that Patagonia is setting by donating all of their sales today to environmental causes, and so many more who work to make this world a better place for everyone, I am donating 100% of any sales today to help the peaceful protesters at Standing Rock.

I still have a couple hundred pounds of delicious Marina di Chioggia winter squash in sizes ranging from about 4 - 14 pounds and about 20 bags of Otto File polenta corn (whole kernels) to sell. These are both named Italian varieties but are crops that were originally brought to Italy from the americas, shared by the indigenous people on this continent. The photo above is of the 18 pound Marina di Chioggia that I stuffed for Thanksgiving (in retrospect I wish I had stuffed it with cornbread, but alas, it's just old sourdough crusts and vegetables - still incredibly tasty). I also have whole ears of dry choclo corn which have big, long kernels that are delicious cooked whole and eaten as a side, or in a stew. The squash will keep for at least a couple of months, the corn will keep for at least a year.

Prices and ordering information and more tips on how to use the corn and squash are in the previous post. The choclo ears yield about 1-2 cups of corn and are $4 each. If you would like it cleaned and shelled it is $8 for a 2 cup bag. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Corn, Beans and Squash for Sale!

Three sizes of Marina di Chioggia ranging from 2 to 17 pounds, a small butternut, and a coffee mug for scale
Dec. 1, 2017 update: All of the beans and squash are now spoken for. There is still some choclo corn available. I'm planning out next season right now so let me know if you're sad you missed out this season and I'll try to get you some next year. I'm leaving the rest of this post as a historical record...

Ooops, scratch the beans, they’re already sold out! But I do have Corn and Squash for sale, and a small bit of a few other items.

Here’s the back story, it’s been a while since there’ve been any posts on the blog so I’ll catch you up quickly. For the past three years the original CSA was transitioned to Our Table in Sherwood and they have now expanded that program. Meanwhile, this year I’ve been working with Cully Neighborhood Farm, keeping my fingers in the CSA movement that way. As a side project, I’ve been growing corn, beans and squash together for a number of years now and this year I leased a small plot in the Cully Neighborhood where I grew two types of corn, a few different squashes and seven different beans that I’ve collected over the years. Now that it’s harvested, cured and cleaned (mostly), I’m selling it (‘cause that’s what farms do – they sell what they grow! – except for the bit I’m saving for next year’s seed.) Mostly I just want people to get to eat these incredible foods!

Marina di Chioggia and Butternut Squash (as of 11/10 the butternut is sold out)– sold by the each with a wide range of sizes available. Approximate price is $2 per pound. (300 pounds total inventory – bulk pricing available)
The butternut are small, ¾ to 1 ½ pound squash, 1-2 servings each and very limited in quantity. They were part of a trial where almost all of the seed planted was eaten by the crows, so I don’t actually know what the variety is.
The Marina di Chioggia is my favorite winter squash. It’s a great keeper, with peak flavor between November and January, and often storing well into March. The skin color changes over time in storage from dark green to a gray blue with orange highlights and the exterior ranges from bumpy to smooth as exhibited in the photo. The flesh is deep orange, sweet and meaty with medium moisture and very little stringiness. It can be eaten raw or cooked (see below for more information) I have sizes ranging from about 2 pounds all the way up to about 19 pounds. Typically the smaller ones are slightly less sweet than the big ones, but sweetness isn’t the only flavor here.

Otto File Corn - $4 a bag (2 cups of whole kernels, a bit more than ¾ pound – 25 pounds total inventory – bulk pricing available)
A few years ago I was in Italy and visited a wonderful little biodyanamic market farm in Lucca. The farmer gave me an ear of his golden polenta corn (otto file, meaning eight rows in english – because there are eight rows of kernels on the slender cobs). I ended up planting it in my garden and it made amazing polenta - tons of corn flavor, beautiful golden color, slightly sweet - so I grew more.  Read on below for my suggestions on how to use the corn.

How to get Corn and Squash

Simple, place and order by email and come pick it up. Tell me how much of what you want in the email and I'll confirm with the prices and availability. The pick up location is on my porch in St. Johns, relatively near the library (I’ll send details once you place an order). To pay for your order put a check in my mail slot, (or cash in an envelope with your name on the outside), or you can pay by paypal (which means you can use a credit card). 
If you’re a Cully Neighborhood Farm CSA customer and you order at least 24 hours before your last pick up for the year I’ll deliver your order to the CSA pick up at the farm and you can drop your payment there.

Szechuan pepper with seeds and stems. It's related to citrus and has a somewhat citrusy aroma. There's a unique heat that comes with it and when it's directly applied to the tongue it is slightly numbing.

Other items of interest…

I also have a small quantity of Szechuan pepper, French grey shallots, and garlic for sale. The Szechuan pepper is dry, and is not deseeded or de-stemmed, but could be - $10/oz. I have a small quantity of French grey shallots that need to be used soon. These are small in size, but big in flavor - $4/ quarter pound. I have a small quantity of an un-named soft neck garlic with  rose tinged skins and mild flavor, medium sized heads - $1 per head.

Shallots on the left, garlic on the right

In addition to all of that, I have a number of ears of dried Choclo corn. This is not typically the way it is used (as far as I understand it’s typically eaten fresh, but it’s an experimental crop for me). If you’re interested let me know, the price would be similar to the Otto File

A typical ear of Choclo. Yes, it's very fat, heavy and the kernels are very deep. I'll be experimenting with in the kitchen soon and I'll try to post my thoughts soon.

More details on the Corn and Squash

Otto File

I typically use the corn one of two ways, but it works for a number of other preparations as well. Personally, I grind it coarsely using an inexpensive hand crank Corona grist mill (a clean coffee grinder will usually work for small quantities, or a good blender - food processors don't usually work). I sift the grindings into coarse and fine using a simple, large wire mesh strainer, the kind you use in the kitchen. You can skip that step if you want to. The fines are flour and I like to make short bread cookies with them. The grits I use to make polenta by pouring them slowly in boiling water while stirring and then turning the heat down and stirring occasionally until the polenta is the consistency I want. I usually use 2-3 cups of water per cup of grits, and I add salt to taste (and a bit of cheese at the end on request).  I like my polenta somewhat soft, but not totally pourable so I keep stirring until the mix starts to come away from the back of the spoon. Then I pour/spoon it out onto a wooden cutting board, spread it to an even layer and let it set up for a few minutes before slicing out wedges. It’s excellent the next day sautéed in a hot skillet, or baked in a sauce.
The whole kernels can also be cooked whole, with or without pickling lime. Cooking with pickling lime is an essential step in making posole (corn stew), or nixtamal, which is the basis of fresh tortillas and tamales. I’ve used this corn this way and the flavor is very good, but the texture is a little gummier than the traditional corn used in this process.

Marina di Chioggia

Chioggia is a town on the east coast of Italy, just south of Venice. I visited there on the same trip where I was gifted the corn, it’s a beautiful spot, and much less touristy than Venice. I had already been growing the squash for a while, but I was there looking at radicchio, another specialty of the area. 
I’ve used this squash, with good success for just about every possible basic squash recipe.  As with most squash, it’s easiest just to cut it in half, clean the seed cavity and roast it, cut side down until the flesh is fork soft. It can then be cut off in chunks and eaten just like that, or pureed and used to fill ravioli, make squash gnocchi, for pie or pumpkin bread, etc, etc… I sometimes cut very thin, raw slices to add to salad, or just to eat plain. I’ll cut slightly thicker slices and pan fry them if I don’t want to heat up the over and cook the whole thing all at once. Once I’ve sliced into the squash it usually keeps for a few days on the counter without any problems. If I want it to keep longer than that I’ll roast the whole remains and then freeze the puree.

Let me know if you have any questions and I always love positive comments as well. Sorry for the long absence, we'll see if I can start posting a little more regularly again.