Thursday, January 13, 2011

CSA Week 17

August 27,2010
Week 17      

   Hello! Greetings from all the farmers at Colvin Family Farm…there is Steve, Val, Adam (19 &11/12), Caleb (18), Isaac (16), Titus (14), Noah (12 on market day), Faith Anne (9), Luke (7), Levi (5), & Charity Rose (2 ½). We have all been VERY busy here on the farm this week…I guess I say that a lot, but it’s the truth. Farming keeps you busy from sunup until after dark most days during growing season. We enjoy the challenge God gives us as He uses us to serve you.
   The pigs have doubled their weight all ready! They love all the apples and tomatoes we give them from a nearby orchard. They should have the sweetest meat come late fall! We will prayerfully be selling sausage so everyone can stock up for the winter.
   Faith Anne and I have spent the week organizing for school. We are doing a major shift to create a school area and office area to our home. These areas will eventually be in our last addition to our home. We have the walls up for that addition, but we are still constructing at this time. Soooo, we’re moving the computer station, bookshelves, Steve’s desk and much more. The big boys have heard about women having a need to rearrange the furniture often, and have been teasing me…in reality I don’t do it often as my men folks (and there are a lot of them around here!) don’t like change at all. So at this time I am surrounded by books, crates of school supplies, bus tubs with lids that hold each child’s school books, musical instruments, and more books! Prayerfully by nightfall there will be some semblance to my mess. With seven children in school and the men needing to recreate the website and plan the growing season this winter we need separate work areas, after the “dust settles”  I pray we’ll have this! J Most children are already in school, but since we home school, we are blessed to have the freedom to plan our school year around our family’s needs. We’ll be studying geography and missions as a family this year. We like the unit study approach to teaching. I can teach Language Arts, History, Science, Art, and Music through our topic of Geography and Missions. We’ll have 7 children in grades eleven down to preschool this year. Please pray for our need for wisdom in raising our children to honor our Lord and Savior.
   We remember your family’s needs also in prayer. How do I know what to pray for? Do you have a 2 year old that needs constant attention? I do too! Do you have a 5 year old that asks lots of questions? I do too. Do you have a 9 year old that thinks they can handle just about anything and doesn’t need your permission or help? I have one of those also! Do you have a 13 or 14 year old that thinks they have life alllllllll figured out and its YOU that doesn’t? Well, I have one of those also! Do you have a young adult learning about business and how to deal with people? I am blessed with two of them! Do you have grown children out in the world and struggling to “find themselves” or making a new home? Well, I have several of those also. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful…”  1 Corinthians 10:13a  I will continue to pray for you as I do myself.
   There hasn’t been much creativity in the farm kitchen this week. Frankly I’m a bit weary of cooking LARGE meals for crowds. I’ve fed 35 one evening, 27 on another, baked for you our shareholders on the two weeks during this time, and then our usual three large meals a day here on the farm. So, I’ve been meeting my family’s needs by using the meals I froze in June. It is a great relief to have several meals in the freezer for times like this. Then I redirected my creativity to turning the house upside down to organize it! J
   On Wednesdays we eat a big dinner instead of a big supper.  Getting ready for church is much easier when I don’t try to squeeze a big meal into the picture. So Wednesday morning I took out a large gallon freezer bag filled with taco meat with pinto beans. I cut the bag open and dumped it, still frozen, into my largest cast iron frying pan, and slipped it into the oven right after breakfast.  By lunchtime it was bubbling and ready to make soft tacos with! Give it a try, and soon the daily, “What are we going to eat tonight?” question will be easier to answer.
   The crops are doing better now that we’re prayerfully solving the irrigation dilemma. I’ve described our efforts weekly to provide the needed water to our growing field…We started the season out by handing EVERYONE a watering can and filling them with 55-gallon drums of water from our pond.  When the June drought hit, we lost the use of our small pond. We began hauling water the second week of June from the lake a mile out in the woods. Again, we watered by hand. With a 6 acre field to water this approach is near impossible. We watched our crops struggle for survival and prayed for affordable wisdom. We bought a small 1-horsepowered pump that pumps the water from the tank on the truck into a LONG hose. With this we hand water the 350’ rows. This worked pretty well, but we were unable to keep up with everything! Again we haven’t had rain for over two weeks and our truck is running almost nonstop daily. Sooo, the next logical step was to invest once again…this time into drip irrigation. We now drive the truck 10 minutes into the woods, pump 275 gallons of water into the tank, and chug home. We hook the pump to “lay flat” collapsible irrigation pipe that feeds several rows of small black drip irrigation that lay alongside the long rows of tomatoes, corn, collards, Chinese cabbage, yellow squash, green onions, Swiss Chard, and many more fall crops. We are doing our best to provide you, our share holders with a bounty of God’s harvest. Irrigation keeps our crops alive, but to produce bountifully, we need rain at regular intervals. Please help us pray for rain!      
    Fall can’t be too far away. We’ve had some chilly nights lately. One night this week it got down to 58 degrees! That will sound silly in the dead of the winter, but after days near 100 degrees, it is cool!  The Black Walnut tree’s leaves are now yellow, and blow off when (and if) a storm approaches. Iron Weed (a beautiful purple wildflower) is blooming alongside Goldenrod along our country roads. Sumac is all ready bright red in some places on the mountain…and we’ll soon be turning the page on our calendar once again.
   Another sign of fall is the harvest of the winter squash. We grow personal sized Butternuts that are so cute!  These will probably be in your shares for many weeks to come. They’ll keep all winter to be used when you desired. So store them in a cool, dark location in your garage, in a crate in your coat closet, or maybe even under a bed in a shallow box you can easily pull out. Be creative and you’ll enjoy Butternut squash until the early spring crops of 2011 come in.
     One of our favorite recipes for winter squash is to bake, and whip it. I often serve squash this way for Sunday dinner during the winter. I can do all the work on Saturday, and then pop the casserole dish in the oven or microwave on Sunday.
Whipped Butternut Squash

2 ½ lbs. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed (see my alternative method)
3 c. water
¾ c. t. salt
2 T. butter
1 T. brown sugar
1/8 t. nutmeg
   In a saucepan over medium heat, bring squash, water and ½ t. salt, if desired, to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender. Drain; transfer to a mixing bowl.  (I like to take an easier method of cooking the squash. I cut the squash in half lengthwise, lay it cut side down on a cookie sheet. I then place the cookie sheet in the oven with a rack pulled out slightly. I take a small pitcher of water and pour enough onto the cookie sheet to cover the bottom with about 1/4” of water. I then bake until a knife inserts easily into the outer shell, 45 minutes to 1 ½ hours depending on the size of the squash. I then can easily scoop out the seeds and membrane and discard. I use an ice cream scoop to scoop out the flesh of the squash into my mixing bowl. This same method can be used for baking pumpkin.) Add butter, brown sugar, and nutmeg and remaining salt if desired; whip until smooth. (If I am serving this immediately I treat it like I would mash potatoes by placing it into a deep serving bowl. But if I’m serving it at a later time, I put it into a casserole dish and cover. Place into the refrigerator. When ready to reheat, simply place into the oven or microwave to reheat.)
Variation: I have made this into a casserole by putting browned, seasoned ground pork or sausage into the whipped squash and placing it in a shallow baking dish. I’ve topped it two ways and once combined the two! Either top the casserole with buttered bread crumbs, or shredded cheese. Bake 20 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.
   Winter squash takes some forethought, but is well worth the effort. I’ve even prepared several at one time and frozen Ziplocs with enough for one meal inside. That way you heat the oven once and make a mess of the kitchen one time. J
    Last weekend I had the privilege of making the Maryville CSA deliveries with Farmer Steve. I got to meet the shareholders there, and get to know two families that I had met here at the farm on our Shareholders day in June. One family has two little girls that have won our hearts. While visiting here on the farm they were eager to pull just about any root crop and eat them still in the field. Their eyes were shining when the wiggled their way through the buffet line when we had dinner. These little girls seem to be in love with life. When Farmer Steve handed their Daddy the plate of cinnamon rolls last weekend, their eyes got as big as the plate! They volunteered to hold it…picking out which one would be their breakfast once they reached home. Like adults tend to do, we chatted on and on. As little girls tend to do they were hopping on one foot with the plate in hand when Daddy rescued it. I hope they had a special breakfast. Here is a recipe for these little girls and their Mom to try….and everyone else of course!
Squash Pancake
2 eggs
1 c. mashed, dark yellow squash
1 ½ c. milk
2 T. vegetable or canola oil
1 t. vanilla
2 ½ c. biscuit mix
2 T. brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
   Beat together eggs and squash. Add milk, oil and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients and stir in. Fry on a hot, lightly oiled skillet.
    Here is one more recipe for the week, untried at the moment…but the first time they send me seconds for family use I’m making it. It just sounds too yummy to pass up one of these cool fall days…

Winter Squash Casserole   
(Come now, they could have come up with a better name than that! I’ll rename it! :)

2 c. mashed winter squash
4 slices of bacon
½ c. chopped onion
2/3 c. grated cheddar cheese
¼ t. salt
dash Tabasco or black pepper
¼ c. buttered bread crumbs
   Put squash into medium bowl. Fry bacon until crisp; crumble into squash. Leave about 1 T. drippings in skillet. Fry onion in drippings until transparent; add squash. Add cheese. Add salt and Tabasco sauce or pepper; mix well. Put in a buttered baking dish; top with bread crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees until heated through and crumbs begin to brown –about 25 minutes.

Here is a recipe from one of our shareholders for leeks.

Leek and Cabbage Soup

  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 2 lbs green cabbage (1/2 a medium head)
  • 2 lbs leeks (two bunches)
  • 1 yellow or sweet onion
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
Place a large pot over medium heat and add the chicken stock. Cover while you prepare the vegetables for the soup.
Cut out the core of the cabbage and discard. Cut into 1/2″ pieces. Just place 1/2 the head, cut side down on the cutting board and cut length wise, then cross cut.  Don’t obsess over this, it doesn’t have to be perfect.
It’s vital to remove all the sandy grit from leeks. Cut away most of the dark green leaves, reserving the white & light green portion. Cut the leek in half and rinse under running water. Then chop the halves into 1/2″ pieces, discarding the root.
Slice the onion thinly.
Throw -or place carefully, your choice- the vegetables into the stock. Not all of the vegetables will be covered, with broth, this is fine. Add salt (start with 1 tsp, add more at the end only if you need to) and fresh ground pepper.
Stir, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes.
Grated cheddar adds a nice garnish, but is optional.

Well, my afternoon is winding down and it’s time to bundle green onions and help pack your shares. The men and children have been digging potatoes, picking a “peck of pickled peppers” (If only pickled peppers were that easy! I just couldn’t resist that saying; they are just ordinary, green Bell peppers) pulling lots of leeks and green onions, cutting lettuce and so much more today. Little ones are napping while I type in peace. (I trained Charity Rose (2 ½) more this morning how to sit still and be quiet in a chair by me as I typed…if I sound incoherent somewhere in this letter it’s because I had said, “Fold your hands and sit quietly.”  for the 15th time. As I typed I also trained Faith Anne how to iron men’s dress shirts…she is improving!! Yeah!)  It shouldn’t take me most of the day to write you, but it always does…maybe one day I too will improve.
   God has been good to our family this week. We had a “roof up above us and a good place to sleep. Food on our table, and shoes on our feet. You gave us your love Lord, and a fine family…Thank You Lord for your blessings on me.”
God’s greatest blessing in our lives is God’s saving grace…so undeserved, but freely given. If Jesus Christ were to come back tonight, or if you were to die today, where would you spend eternity?

 “… if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9 (KJV)

“…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Acts 16:31 (KJV)

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”
Romans 3:23,24

Abundant Blessings,

Val Colvin
The Farmer’s Wife