Not Quite 22 Weeks

As I drove up to Middle Earth Farm last Tuesday to pick up the week’s share, it hit me: The beginning of October! The CSA season is nearly over. I told Pat who manages the farm’s stand what had occurred to me in the car. “Oh, we still have a few weeks left,” she said. “We may get through the end of October, unless the first frost hits before then. We hope the season will be 22 weeks.”

Well, we had that first freeze early, just a few nights ago. Some crops are finished. Today marks week 20 and we will only make it to 21; next week’s share will be our last. It’s about time you got a look at the farm before the fields get turned and conditioned for next spring.

approaching

the farmhouse

an outbuilding

sheep grazing

the hen house

and the hens

fall colors

leaving, sunlight on the pond

Come November, I’ll be back to shopping around for produce, although the fruit I have frozen – the plums and the peaches, the blueberries and the apples – will allow me to bake pies and tarts through the holidays. And then there is always my jam and fruit butters, all 30 pints I have made and processed for long term storage. In the jam larder, we have plum, pear, apple-cranberry, and blueberry butters; peach, strawberry, raspberry-currant, sour cherry, and rhubarb-ginger jams; and a good amount of lemony rhubarb marmalade. All from local fruits. As a friend said to me the other day, no toast will go naked this winter.

My attention and my pen (or rather, keyboard) will turn to new topics in the weeks ahead. Fortunately for all of us writers and readers there is much going on in the food world right now. California voters will send one message or another on the future of labeling genetically modified foods. As Michael Pollan noted in the New York Times Magazine last Sunday, the results of that vote may change more than just labels on our grocery store packaging; it may in fact affect the power of the food consumer voice in the marketplace. Locally, winter markets are poised for growth. Food entrepreneurs abound. On my desk sits a stack of books waiting for review. I won’t lack for topics.

I will miss the trip to Middle Earth as part of my weekly routine, though, and look forward – without actually wishing time away; no easy feat – to returning in June to see once again what Richard has grown and Pat has laid out for the farm’s customers to take home.

Late Fall Salad

Yes, you can make an exciting salad in October. If you have the right greens. Oh, and caramelized pears, of course. Give this one a try. It’s a winner.

  • 1 heavy and ripe Bartlett pear, cut into eighths
  • small bunch of arugula, washed and stemmed
  • small bunch of baby kale, washed and stemmed
  • one-quarter of a red cabbage, cut into thin shreds
  • few sprigs fresh parsley
  • a couple of ounces of a good blue cheese, such as Berkshire Blue or Gorgonzola Dolce, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them until golden. Start checking after about 5 minutes. When done, remove these from the oven and set the tray aside so the nuts cool.

Cut the pear into 8 wedges and remove the core. Heat a small amount of grapeseed oil in a medium skillet. When it is hot, add the pear wedges to the pan, one cut side down. When browned, flip to brown the other cut side of the wedge. When all are nicely browned, remove these to a cooling rack and set aside.

Place the washed and trimmed greens in a big salad bowl.

baby kale

arugula and parsley

Add to this the cabbage shreds. Pull the parsley leaves from the stems and toss the leaves into the bowl. Give the salad a toss to combine. Place the pear wedges on the greens, then top everything with a scattering of blue cheese.

Add the cooled walnuts to the salad and serve, passing the dressing separately.

You can use your favorite vinaigrette, or try this super simple one.

Sweet-Tart Cider Vinaigrette

In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup grapeseed oil, 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons cider vinegar, 1 tsp. dijon mustard, 1 tsp. honey, 1/8 tsp. salt, a small amount of freshly ground black pepper. Spoon over salad as desired.

©2012  Jane A. Ward