Sunday, September 7, 2014

Week 10: Stuff It

A few years back (in this post from 2012) I pondered whether climate change had arrived and was the cause of our ever unpredictable weather. The weather continues to be impossible to predict and I continue to ponder those same questions.

The most pressing (to me) is: Will I ever see stable weather in my farming career? If so, I certainly hope it doesn't stabilize out to end up like it's been this year.

Normally, we are in week 12 or 13 by the second week of September. Normally, we see the first frost of the season in the second week of September. Well, it is only week 10 this year (thanks to the especially late spring), but we are still expecting to see the first frost this week.

Based on the forecast, we predict our first frost will come the night of the 11th or 12th. Unless it's cloudy those nights, then we might squeak through this week without a frost.

And now you know all the secret innermost thoughts of a vegetable farmer.

We are already preparing for the frost by harvesting the winter squash that is ready to harvest, and covering the squash that needs a few more weeks on the plants.

So far we have brought in the Eastern Rise and a few Nutty Delica.

Next on the agenda are two kinds of acorns, the spaghetti
squash and these gorgeous sweet dumplings.
But the winter squash won't be in the shares quite yet. They need to cure for a few weeks after they are harvested to sweeten up. Some of the varieties won't reach peak flavor until January. Those are destined for the winter shares.

What will be in the shares this week is the following: 2 lbs potatoes, 1/2 pound snow peas, Chard and/or Brussels Sprout tops, Cabbage or Kohlrabi, French Breakfast Radishes or Daikon, Cucumbers, Scallions, Parsley, Tomatoes (or Peppers or Eggplant) and Zucchini or Summer Squash.

The summer squash has been a bit stressed due to all the rain we have been having this year. Stressed squash plants means fewer large fruits. Happy squash make many fruits, for lots of seeds. Stressed plants don't, they put all of their energy into producing seed quickly rather than making several fruits

So, most of you will be getting great big summer squash or zucchini this week. Maybe even a few, if you want them.

What should you do with a giant summer squash? Stuff it.

Stuffed Summer Squash

I decided to make the recipe vegetarian this week, but if you would rather make it meaty you can. Just omit the lentils and cook the rice by itself. Brown some ground beef or lamb with the spices, parsley, and tomato. Then combine the meat, rice, squash innards and remaining tomato/parsley for your filling.
  • One large zucchini or summer squash
  • One cup brown lentils
  • Half cup brown rice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp plus 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp plus 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bunch parsley, separated
  • 1 pound tomatoes (two medium or four small), separated
Preheat oven to 350

In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils, rice, garlic, 3/4 tsp salt and 3/4 tsp cinnamon. Roughly chop half the parsley and half the tomatoes (hang on to the unchopped halves for later in the recipe). Add the chopped parsley and tomatoes to the lentils along with 2 1/2 cups of water.

Bring the lentil mixture to a boil. Once it is boiling, cover the pot and turn the heat down to a simmer. Simmer until the lentils and rice are tender, approximately 45 minutes. Check the pot for liquid after about 30 minutes of cooking. Add more water if necessary.

Meanwhile, prepare the squash by slicing it in half lengthwise and hollowing out the seed cavities (an ice cream scoop works nicely for this). Sprinkle the remaining salt and cinnamon over the squash.

Like this.
Bake the squash at 350 degrees until it is tender, but still holds it's shape. This will take 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the squash.

While the squash is baking, roughly chop the innards you scooped out of it as well as the remaining tomatoes and parsley.

When the lentils and rice are tender stir the raw chopped squash, tomatoes, and parsley into the hot lentil mixture. Then spoon the filling into the baked squash. 

Like this.
There will be more filling than you need (in fact, this recipe probably makes enough filling for two big squash).

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