|The Alleged Farm News – 10 October, 2013|
This weeks share: Shell Beans, Beets, Carrots, Fennel Greens, Garlic,
I am aware that many people think I am never entirely serious. Come to think of it, I suppose I am not. Not entirely. I am not even sure what it means to be entirely serious, or if it is even feasible. The more serious you get, the closer to absurdity you get, which tends rather to undercut the seriousness. And what is there to be entirely serious about? Even the most tragic and gruesome events have their funny moments. Or at least we see them that way, if only the get through the seriousness intact.
I suppose what I mean is that many people think I am never really serious at all. God knows why, but they sense irony lurking behind even my soberest statements, which are in any event few and far between. Not that it really matters if people choose to interpret my utterances that way. What differences does it really matter whether or not I truly believe I have a fraught personal relationship with the weather or long to own a rhino or feel protective about some frogs? There are certainly worse things than not being taken seriously.
Vegetable notes: The name “shell bean” seems a little misleading unless you recognize that it is simply a two word description of what you have in the plastic bag: shell, bean. Of the two, I think you will find the bean of greater culinary value. To be fair, I have not tried eating the shells. It is possible that stewed long enough they would be edible. But you would have to cook them a lot longer than you need to cook the beans you extract from them. The beans only take 30 minutes or so in boiling water to become soft. Just how soft you want them is a matter of taste–or of what you plan to do with them. You could add them to steamed greens with garlic and hot pepper, or to a kale soup with spicy sausage, or to vegetable stew with winter squash, carrots, peppers and middle eastern spices. But I think I like them best cold as a salad, cooked just long enough to be tender, with lots of onion, garlic and a little hot pepper. If you are having trouble deciding what to do with the beans, you might want in the meantime to take them out of the shells, which don’t store all that well.
The Acorn squash does not store all that well either. It might keep for a number of weeks sitting out in your kitchen. It might not. Why try? Just eat it now. You will get more winter squash in the coming weeks. Th easiest way to cook winter squash is to stick in the oven. That’s not some kind of annoying attempt at humor. It is just a description of all you need to do. Just put the whole squash in the over and roast it at 375 or so until it is soft (maybe an hour). The flesh will steam itself inside the skin. When it is soft you can simply scoop it out and serve it, or mix it with a little cream, some nutmeg, a dash of maple syrup, a pinch of paprika.
Your carrots will store, but you will definitely be getting more of them so you might as well eat them too. I like carrot salad. Grate them and mix them with a little oil, a lot of vinegar, mustard, slat, pepper, perhaps a little cumin and ginger and a dash of soy sauce. Or make spicy carrot dip. Boil the carrots until very tender, drain well, and puree with olive oil, vinegar, garlic, ginger, cumin and maybe a little pomegranate molasses, and serve cold. You could serve it with carrot sticks.
Unless, of course, you do on occasion wish to be taken seriously, which does happen from time to time even for me. At least once a season, anyway. Right around now, to be specific. And what am I suddenly so serious about? The pie contest, of course.
I fear that many of you take this talk of a pie contest as some sort of wry comment about the prevalence of largely unearned and decidedly misguided rural nostalgia in America, even as we go about destroying the thing we think we pine for. Or just straight up silliness, akin to suggesting that you should eat raw garlic or that I actually wrote all these newsletter this past winter or even that the weather has been kind this fall (did you notice that it started raining almost as soon as I wrote that?).
But when I talk about our annual pie contest I mean it. Seriously. As some of you know, we really do have a pie contest and there’s nothing ironic about it. Members bring pies to the open house, the farm crew tastes them all, and the best pie–it might be a berry pie, an apple pie, a pumpkin pie, a plum pie, even a Concord grape pie–wins. And this year? Who knows, it could be spanakopita or a tomato tart tatin, a squash empanada, or a garlic custard tart. As long as it has a pastry crust and a filling it will be considered by the judges.
Well, as long as it has a pastry crust and a filling and you bring it to the open house. While we are happy to eat pie in other settings, to win the annual pie contest you have to bring the pie to the farm on the 20th. This seems like a small price to pay for possible glory, especially when you also get to attend our open house, tour the fields where your food grows, meet the people who grow it and, if you feel like it, help us pick potatoes to donate to Community Action’s food pantry. So we hope to see you and your pies here on the farm on Sunday, the 20th. I mean it.
Annual Pie Contest, Open House and Potato Harvest