Saturday is the last Farmers Market of the 2013 season at the Muskingum County Fairgrounds. It is your last chance to purchase fresh items from our local vendors until next May. Now is the time to stock up for the winter if you haven’t already. Most of the meat vendors run buy-one-get-one-free specials on select frozen meat items. There is a lot of produce that can be stored in a cool, dry place and used for a few more months. This includes potatoes, onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and apples. Even baked goods, such as pie and bread, can be stored in the freezer until you are ready to use them.
If you missed my face at market the last couple of weeks, it is because I was involved in yet another wedding. But don’t worry; I wouldn’t miss the last market. There are many customers and fellow vendors that won’t see each other again until next spring, so attending the last market of the season is a nice opportunity to have one last chat and say goodbye.
For this wedding, I traveled to Ross County, Ohio, where friends were married in an old family orchard on top of a hill. It was the perfect setting for an autumn wedding. The best part was how much of the food and decorations were homegrown. The roasted pork came from a hog raised on the groom’s family farm. The sweet corn was raised by the bride’s family this summer and frozen until it was to be used for the big day. Sauerkraut was made by the bride’s brother from cabbage he raised himself. The large bowls of salad were raised by yours truly.
A combined effort between the bride, bride’s mother and brother, groom’s mother, and myself provided enough late-season zinnias to fill blue mason jars for each table under the huge tent plus the bouquets of the bride and bridal party. My vehicle looked like it belonged to Jed Clampett as I traveled south, filled to the brim with pumpkins, squash, bittersweet, Indian corn, and other such items. To the roof were tied items to create fancy fodder shocks such as broom corn, amaranth, and sunflower stalks with mammoth heads. The bride’s father had purchased the largest mums I have ever seen from an Amish farmer, which lined the pathway to the pond where the ceremony was held. Needless to say, the results were incredibly beautiful. So, in spite of the cold rainy weather we experienced last Saturday, the mood of the wedding was cheerful and bright.
The rain cleared by ceremony time and later, as a huge bonfire was lit, the sky was perfectly clear and the stars so bright with the full Harvest Moon rising above the hill. I was reminded of what a truly great harvest has brought us to this point in the season. The weather was a bit of a struggle at times this year, but as you walked down the aisles of the farmers market this season, there was so always so much available. As we head toward Thanksgiving, I know that I am certainly thankful for the abundant produce I was able to share with my customers, family, and friends. And I am thankful in return for their loyal support. I know that the other vendors at market feel just the same.
As I write this, they are calling for lows in the upper twenties the next couple of nights. Being located along the river sometimes helps me get by with an extra week or two without frost, but you can be sure that I will pick things like bell peppers, flowers, and green tomatoes, just to be on the safe side. I am sad to see the end of the season; it always seems like it sneaks up on us so quickly. However, once the garden is cleaned up for the winter, I am also looking forward to some rest. These cold days make me want to snuggle in and cook warm hearty meals. Here is a nice fall soup from “Pumpkins and Squash” by Kathleen Desmond Stang. It is nice for a small party, as it is served in small pumpkins or squash instead of bowls.
Corn Chowder in Miniature Pumpkin Shells
· 4 small pumpkins, Carnival, or other acorn squash (3/4 to 1 ¼ lbs. each)
· 1 slice bacon, diced
· ¼ cup finely chopped onion
· 1 T. all purpose flour
· ½ tsp. chili powder
· 1 cup chicken broth
· Boiling water for heating pumpkin shells
· 1 cup corn kernels
· ¾ cup milk
· Flat-leaf parsley leaves for garnish
With a small sharp knife, cut wide tops out of the pumpkins/squash to make a bowl. Scrape out and discard seeds and fibers. Trim all but ¼ inch of meat from the tops. Using a knife and soup spoon, cut and scrape out some of the pumpkin meat, leaving ½ inch thick shell (shells should have a ¾ cup capacity.) Chop the pumpkin meat and set aside. Sauté the bacon in a saucepan for 3 minutes, or until crisp. Remove the bacon and set aside. Add the onion and chopped pumpkin meat to the saucepan. Saute over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour and chili powder, then the chicken broth. Cook for five minutes more, or until the pumpkin is very soft. Meanwhile, pour boiling water into the pumpkin shells to warm them. Mash the pumpkin mixture with a fork to a coarse puree. Add the corn and milk. Continue to cook until thoroughly heated. Empty and dry the pumpkin shells. Fill with the chowder. Sprinkle the bacon on top and garnish with parsley if desired. (I would also add a red pepper and a jalapeno to the recipe and sauté with the onion. A cooked, diced chicken breast would also be a nice addition to this soup. Topping with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese is another option.)
|New sign at Farmstand painted by my friend Nora.|
|Best Bonfire Ever! Center log finally toppled at 2:17 am! (Yes, we were taking bets.)|
|Cheerful bouquet on a cloudy day.|
|Flower Girl Basket!|