The Butternut Squash Odessey

butternut squash from Polka Dot Hem Produce
Ah, the artistic arrangement of butternut squash. So pleasing. But how am I ever going eat through my pantry stores?

It Began So Innocently

When I was planning the crops last winter, I knew 2020 was my year for winter squash. After two consecutive years where my squash plans had come to naught, I was hankering for a harvest.

Well, I may have overcompensated.

Wanting a diversity of squash to hedge my bets given all the weird weather the past several years, I grew early ripening bush delicatas, every size of butternut, black futsu and red kuri squash. At least one variety should make it through to maturity, right?

Continue reading “The Butternut Squash Odessey”

Adios 2020

 

While we’ve been spared the worst outcomes of the pandemic up to this point, it still feels very myopic to focus on our homestead experience given the state of the world.

Perhaps that’s why I’ve had such a hard time updating the blog this year. That coupled with my general dread of writing has meant a big lag in blog entries. I’d much rather tell a story through photographs. So here we go.

I’ve cobbled together a selection of pictures to get you through the 2020 season and up to date on the farm. It sure is nice to look at all that colourful produce right now.

Continue reading “Adios 2020”

Summer Squash Overload

You know what summer means:

Costata Romanesco summer squash Polka Dot Hen Produce
Costata Romanesco summer squash

Zucchini

People joke about drowning in zucchini in July and August; taking to hiding it in the neighbour’s car or on the porch just to get rid of it. But zucchini is not a burden now that I know a couple cooking tricks that help deal with a lot of vegetable matter fast.

Freezing
We all know you can freeze shredded zucchini for later. Get out the Cuisinart, put on the large shredder attachment and go to town. Freeze the zucchini in 1 or 2 cup packages and you are done. Except for cleaning the Cuisinart. Why is that such a drag?

Did you know you can cut larger piece of zucchini then blanch and freeze them? You can! If you freeze the pieces separately on a cookie sheet first, they won’t clump together in a big mass. Once they are frozen, you can put them into your freezer container and use only as many as you want at a time.

But here’s my favourite way to freeze zucchini: as soup base. It’s delicious. I get so excited when I find it in my freezer in the middle of winter!

Infinitely flexible, this recipe is easy and uses up a lot of weird big zucchini fast. My version is based on a recipe from Lynne Rossetto-Kasper of the Splendid Table Podcast. It is here on the website.

Grilling
My brother-in-law taught me how delicious zucchini is on the grill. He used a simple sauce of lemon and soy sauce to baste the zucchini at very regular intervals. Very, very regular intervals.

I hate to baste over the grill – it’s too hot! So I do the seasoning ahead of time using this tip I found in Fine Cooking. Salt does the job of flavouring while removing some of the water from the squash so it cooks faster.  See the instructions  here.

Once the squash is mostly cooked, you can finish with the sauce of your choice. I still like that lemon/soy combo. Also balsamic/soy/basil is really good. But last week I found a new favourite.

Another shout out to the Splendid Table, this time to Francis Lam the current host. He mentioned making a tahini-soy sauce lately that he’s “putting on everything.” I McGivered  a recipe for it and we used it on grilled zucchini and turnips one night. Yum.

Here it is roughly, but you can adapt it to your taste:
5T Tahini
4T Soy Sauce
1teas. Sambal Olek (or Sriracha), or more
+ a little water to thin if needed.
Mix it all together then use it as a dip, marinade or eat it off the spoon.

Now I want to keep all the zucchini.

Crazy.

Centrecut squash at Polka Dot Hen Produce
We are loving this Centrecut squash variety from Row 7 Seeds. It’s nutty and delicious.

Sorrel Sauce with Yogurt

Sorrel Sauce with Yogurt

Fresh vegetables French sorrel wiarton farmers' market polka dot hen produce
French sorrel has a delicious lemony tang.

Deborah Madison

About 2c sorrel leaves, washed 

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/3c yogurt or sour cream

slivered chives or garlic chives

Sea salt

Remove large stems if sorrel leaves are mature, otherwise, tear leaves into large pieces. Put sorrel, yogurt and garlic in a food processor and puree until smooth. Stir in the chives and season with salt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Delicious on grilled veggies and fish, also good on lentils or potatoes.

Embrace the Cabbage

fresh cabbage sliced in half polka dot hen produce
Cabbage: get to know your winter veggies

How to Eat Local in the Winter and Enjoy It

Seasonal eating stories seem so one-sided. It’s easy to celebrate the first asparagus of spring, the first tender green chives, overwintered spinach’s fresh sweet leaves.

But what about when it’s February and you’re only half-way through a winter of trying to eat locally and seasonally? It can look grim. Now is the winter of our discontent.

It doesn’t have to be like that. Continue reading “Embrace the Cabbage”