From the Land 1.9

Happy New Year! We hope you all had a fantastic and relaxing holiday! CSA distribution begins again this week, and will continue every week through May 1 (for students or those on the “academic calendar”) or May 8 (for “community members”).

food for thought

full share: carrots, potatoes, onions, choice of butternut or acorn squash, pie pumpkin, dried chiles, garlic, and choice of pasta or jam!

partial share: carrots, potatoes, onions, and choice of butternut or acorn squash

veg of the week

acorn squash: Cucurbita pepo

Though commonly thought of as a winter squash, this sweet nutty squash belongs to the same family as summer squashes such as crookneck and zucchini, but is cold-tolerant and is therefore planted late and harvested after the skin hardens. Acorn squash is native to North and Central America, with 10,000 year old seeds of a similar variety found in a cave in Mexico! Squash is particularly effective at mobilizing contaminants from the soil, so this is one vegetable that is especially important to purchase or grow organic.

Uses: Like other larger squashes with hard rinds, acorn squash are often baked and then stuffed with rice, meat, and/or vegetables. The seeds can be toasted and eaten (170F for 15-20 min), and the skin is even edible (unlike true winter squashes with their harder rind). Acorn squash is very versatile, and can be roasted, stuffed, chopped and eaten with pasta, mashed and baked into bread or blended and made into a pie, or sliced thin and fried (acorn squash fries – yum!)

Nutrition: Acorn squash is not as rich in beta-carotene as true winter squashes, but is rich in dietary fiber and potassium, and is a good source of vitamins C and B, magnesium and manganese.

To store: Keep in a cool place (the kitchen counter in winter should be fine!) for up to a couple weeks, cooler if storing longer.

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How do cows make milk?
By Alex Deck

Recently I have been getting up at 7am to milk the dairy cows on my family’s farm. I’ve been around lactating cows for a long time and I always wondered how cows actually made the milk.

Here’s how it works. Most of you know that a cow needs to have a calf before she can start lactating. What is not quite so obvious is that milk is made solely from the cow’s blood. The process begins with the cow eating grass, grain, hay, anything. The food goes into the first of the cow’s four stomachs, her rumen, where it is broken up and mixed with water. The food then “mooves” to her second stomach, the reticulum, where it is turned into small balls. These balls are called cud. The cow burps up her cud during leisure moments and chews it a second time. The cud then moves to the third stomach, the omasum, where it is squashed to remove water. In the fourth stomach, the abomasum, the food is digested and broken down further. Animals with four stomachs are called ruminants. The four stomachs enable them to break down coarse fibrous material into something we can use. Unfortunately, humans are three stomachs short of being able to eat grass.

After all this, the digested food goes into to the intestines. Capillaries (small veins) connect to the intestines and transport the blood all over the cow, including the udder. Inside the udder the blood is fed to millions of alveoli where milk cells are located. These cells take nutrients from the blood, reconstitute it and make new molecules like casein and lactose (a kind of sugar). When the cow is triggered by oxytocin the milk moves from the alveoli to the Gland Cistern. When the Gland Cistern is full the teat cistern begins to fill, ready for a calf to nurse! This process takes between 50 to 70 hours.

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potato-stuffed acorn squash
adapted from never homemaker
serves 4

  • 2 acorn squashes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 15-20 small red potatoes
  • 1 T packed fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 T olive oil
  • milk

To roast the squash . . .

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Split the squashes in half and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Place the squash halves — cut sides up — on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment. Sprinkle each with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until they are tender.

Prepare the filling in the meantime . . ..

Boil the potatoes until they are tender. Chop the onion and garlic.

Saute the onion and garlic until the onions are glassy. Toss on some pepper and salt to taste. When the potatoes are done, toss everything — including the chopped sage — into a large mixing bowl. Add milk 1/4 cup at a time and keep mashing until you reach a chunky mashed potato consistency.

When acorn squash are done roasting, turn up the heat in your oven to 400 degrees F. Remove squash from the oven and fill each with the potato mash. Top with cheese and bake for 10 minutes.

acorn squash and arbole chile soup
adapted from petit chef
serves 4
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 large or 4 medium acorn squash
  • 15 dried arbole chile pods or any small red dried Tai chile will work just as well
  • 2 quarts chicken or veggie stock

Cut squash in half, cut of the ends so squash can sit upright once in half, and clean out the seeds and place on baking sheet, cut side up. Put one pat of butter and one spoonful of brown sugar in each half and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. Squash should be very tender and a little browned is okay too.

Meanwhile, in a good sized pot, saute over medium heat the onion, garlic, celery and carrot in olive oil until soft, then add stock and the chiles. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer for about 30 min.

Remove chiles from stock and cut off stems of about 3-10 chiles (depending on how spicy you like it). Put cleaned chiles back in stock/ veggie mix and discard the rest of the chiles.

Let the stock and the squash cool a bit. With a metal spoon scoop the squash out of the skin straight into the stock/veggie mix. Once all the squash is in the stock go ahead and, in batches, ladle it into the blender and puree until smooth. Pour soup back into pot, reheat, salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with sour cream.

acorn squash with carrots and roasted seeds
adapted from green lite bites
serves 2
  • 1 acorn squash
  • 5 carrots, chopped 
  • 5 sprigs each of fresh Rosemary and Thyme (or a sprinkle each of dry)
  • 2 t olive oil
  • salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Cut the squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and place in a strainer. Separate the pulp from the seeds and rinse. Cut the squash in about 1/2 inch chunks. (As noted above, the skin is edible so don’t worry about cutting it off)

Lay the seeds on a cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Spray the tops and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast for about 10 minutes.

While the seeds are cooking, cut the carrots into 1/2 inch chunks.

When the seeds are done, remove them from the cookie sheet.

Put the squash, carrots, olive oil and herbs in a large bowl, toss and put on the cookie sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt and roast for about 25-35 minutes until the squash is soft.

Just before serving, sprinkle the toasted seeds on top.

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