Daphne's seasonal recipes: Winter squash & pumpkin

5 Dec 2011 | 0 comments

Ash & Kate's harvest of Winter squash is piled high in the manor barn.

 

In spite of their name Winter squash & pumpkins are a warm weather crop, but so called because they can be stored well through the Winter. The stored fruits (though we tend to call them vegetables, biologically they are fruits) provide nourishing food during the colder months.

 

There are many different varieties of pumpkins, some are tiny and nestle in the palm of your hand, others too big to move single-handed. There are also infinite recipes to celebrate their diversity.

 

Here are two recipes, the first recipe is inspired by the golden oval spaghetti squash packed in crates in the barn and the second is an old favourite of mine,  pair the two together for a Winter squash celebration.

 

Spaghetti squash with sun-dried tomatoes, olives, artichoke & feta

1 spaghetti squash

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion finely diced

2 cloves garlic finely diced

1 carrot diced

2 sticks celery sliced

6 sun-dried tomatoes – finely sliced

6 sage leaves finely shredded

12 pitted black olives

12 char-grilled artichoke pieces

4 oz crumbled feta

 

On a baking tray bake the whole squash in the oven  (350 F or gas 4/5) for about 45 minutes or until a sharp knife can be inserted easily. Remove and set aside until cool enough to handle.

 

Gently cook the onion & garlic in the olive oil until soft. Add the carrot and celery and cook for a further 3 minutes, stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and sage. Keep warm

 

Cut the spaghetti squash in half and using a large spoon scoop out the stringy pulp, add to vegetable mixture along with the olives and artichokes. Warm through and serve with feta cheese crumbled on top.

 

 

Pumpkin Bread.

1¾1b (800g) pumpkin cut into cubes

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

2½ 1b (1 kg)strong baking flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 oz (25g) yeast

Oiled baking tray                                                                                                                                Oven 200°C

Cook pumpkin in just enough water to barely cover until tender, strain, reserve cooking liquid and sieve.  Dissolve yeast in 3 fl oz (75ml) of the cooking liquid and leave for 10 minutes until frothy.  Mix flour, salt, yeast, sieved pumpkin, pumpkin seeds and enough of the cooking liquid  together until you have a soft malleable dough.  Knead for 5 minutes, turn into oiled bowl and leave for about an hour or until double in size.  Shape into rolls and place on the prepared tray leave to double in size again before baking 20-25 minutes in the preheated oven.

A word from Jake Hancock, who runs the livestock enterprise at Trill

5 Dec 2011 | 0 comments

Well it’s just over a year now that we have been farming at Trill and things are finally starting to feel a bit more under control. This time last year we were struggling with a lack of fences and water troughs in most fields, a cow barn with a frozen water supply, and six inches of snow in November and December when the rams were tupping which lead to relatively few lambs this spring. After a busy and character building year for Neil and I, we now have sufficient water and fencing to be able to graze the entire farm. We have also vastly improved our sheep and cattle handling arrangements. We had a successful harvest of Romy’s barley and oats, which was encouraging for my first year managing arable crops. The rams have been working a month earlier in great autumn weather and are due a rest at the end of November. To top it all, this week we have passed our TB test and the vet also tells us that 40 out of 41 of our cows are in calf, which is an excellent result. The calves were also weaned this week, which will mean two or three noisy days on the farm, as mothers and babies come to terms with their enforced independence. Our Devon bull “Ford Abbey Emperor” retires this year but we have already purchased his replacement, a rare red Aberdeen Angus bull (most Angus cattle are black), also called Emperor, although nicknamed Ernie. So all is well as I write, now we just hope for a kinder winter than last year!

 

A word from Ash & Kate in the garden…

5 Dec 2011 | 0 comments

November often sees a sharp decline in the variety of vegetables that we grow – as all of the summer polytunnel crops such as tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, peppers and aubergines are pulled out and replaced with overwintering salad. The less hardy veg such as courgettes and sweetcorn have finished outside and the general vigour of plants slows down due to reduced light levels and day length.

So, although this has happened this year, we are seeing our overwintering polytunnel salad and herbs growing much quicker than last year due to the mild weather. We haven’t had a “proper” frost yet which has extended the harvesting of some of our outdoor veg, but the mild wet autumn has also meant a rise in slug populations – leading to a lot of damage to our newly planted salads. We’ve been particularly lucky with slugs this year – our basil however suffered a little and although very tasty ended up mostly as pesto. This has been replaced with chervil, coriander and overwintering parsley all of which are already cropping well.

Garlic planting has been delayed until now, as it has been too wet over the last four weeks to plant. But we have just planted three varieties including lots of elephant garlic – which if this year is anything to go by they’ll be a bit of a crowd puller. We are hoping this will be a winner with our market customers especially.

We started a stall outside Town Mill Bakery in October and have been doing this every Saturday from 9am until about 2.30pm. We are hoping to continue until Christmas and then resume it in late Spring of 2012.

October also saw the arrival of four Saddleback x Large White weaners in the garden who were instructed to “de-thistle” a couple of areas which have been overrun with creeping thistle this year. We are hoping they may do a better job than us at uprooting the thistles, but will only really find out next year. Before that we are looking forward to trying out lots of different curing techniques when our pigs go to slaughter at the end of the year.

As for us, we are getting used to the dark evenings and having our days cut short. Although things never stop in the garden we find ourselves able to take a very small step back and try and rest after another hectic but enjoyable year.

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