Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Harvesting Chestnuts

 A couple weekends ago we visited LeFever Chestnuts located in Fenton, Michigan. I've never been to a chestnut farm, but I think after this first experience, going forward, it will become a family tradition each year.

When we arrived, the air was crisp and filled with the sweet smoke of the open fire roasting pits. The chestnuts had fallen to the ground and there was a ring of brown spiky balls encircling each tree.

The husk of the chestnut is covered in sharp, brown spikes that remind me of a hedgehog. Inside each husk is 2-3 chestnuts.

The deep orange brown color is beautiful!

To choose a good chestnut, you want it to be rounded, and the flat side minimal and not concave. The skin should not be wrinkled.

Once we collected our chestnuts, we brought them to the barn to be weighed and paid for. Then we moved to the cutting station to prepared them for roasting. An "X" should be cut in the skin on the rounded side.

When roasting, this "X" will open up and makes shelling the nuts easy.

Beautiful, nutty, sweet, earthy and smoky. The chestnuts were delicious and had bits of caramelized areas where the fire had roasted the open flesh. I can't wait to add these to our holiday dressing!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Gold Acorn Squash

The Gold Acorn Squash is similar to the Green, however it can be harvested early and enjoyed similar to a summer/winter squash hybrid. The squash is sweeter than the green variety however, it tends to be slightly stringy for an acorn.

To learn more about different pumpkin, gourd and squash varieties, visit the Iron Oak Farm Pumpkin Page.  

Thursday, November 2, 2017

White Acorn Squash

The White Acorn Squash is a cousin to the more traditional and popular green Table Queen. The different range of color varieties of Acorn are becoming more abundant in stores and markets thanks to the heirloom movement.

The white squash is almost indistinguishable from the green in taste and can be prepared in the same way. Perhaps slightly milder in flavor, but very subtle.

To learn more about different pumpkin, gourd and squash varieties, visit the Iron Oak Farm Pumpkin Page.  

Monday, October 30, 2017

Epic Eggs Radio and Podcast Events

I'm happy to announce that on Sunday November 5th at 3:30 eastern time, I will be a guest on the radio show “America’s Dining & Travel Guide” to promote my book Epic Eggs! The show’s host is Pierre Wolfe, and the show has been on for 30+ years on various networks and now currently on BizTalkRadio.

On Monday November 6th I will be taping a podcast for Talk Healthy Today's Food Friday. Links are below if you're interested in tuning in!

America's Dinning and Travel Guide BizTalkRadio

Talk Healthy Today Podcast  

My book Epic Eggs is available for pre-order on Amazon for only $16.89 (more than $5 off!) and will be in stores nationwide November, 1st 2017!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Marina Di Chioggia

The Marina Di Chioggia is one of those other-worldy squashes. With its Turban type 2-part sections, the blue green color and the knobby tangling of warts and bumps, this is the fruit of fairytales, bogs, and trolls.

Like most squashes and pumpkins, its roots are in the Americas but it was the Italians that cultivated this squash for culinary purposes. It is the go-to squash for gnocchi.

To learn more about different pumpkin, gourd and squash varieties, visit the Iron Oak Farm Pumpkin Page.  

Monday, October 23, 2017

Michigan's Largest Pumpkin

Those of you who know me well, know that I'm REALLY into pumpkins. Which is why I was absolutely thrilled to learn that Michigan's State record holder of the largest pumpkin was going to be on display at our local orchard not 3 miles from our home!

Visit Spicer's Orchard

One of my favorite movies to watch around this time of year (if you can look past the low rent, made-for-TV acting and plot) is Growing the Big One. It stars Shannon Doherty and Kavan Smith (When Calls the Heart) and is a fish out of water story about a city girl who enters a pumpkin growing contest. I like this movie because I LOVE anything that hints at small town, good natured competition. I love chili cook-offs, or pie baking contests. I love vegetable growing contests, or pumpkin carving contests. There's just that Norman Rockwell quality about bringing home the Blue Ribbon!

We visited the Michigan State Fair earlier this year and were impressed with this Blue Ribbon winner at 502 lbs.

But they don't compare with Mark Clementz' 2043.5 pound giant!

We spoke with Mark at the Orchard and he has a passion for getting children involved in gardening. His grandson Jackson has a large involvement in the pumpkin tradition.

Visit Mark's Page

I was inspired by Mark and purchased some of his giant pumpkin seeds. The variety is formulated by Mark and named after his Grandson.

Jackson 1513 Seeds

I think Evelyn and I are going to try our hand at "growing a big one" next spring.

Turban Squash

There are many varieties in the Turban group of squashes, shown above is Turk's Turban. 

The Turban Squash may be once of the most interesting varieties of squash that is available. The squash is usually multicolored with blotches of orange, gold, cream/white and green. Not only is it a colorful variety, but the squash is horizontally bisected into two distinct sections with an almost artificial dividing line. The bottom is a flat, more traditional pumpkin shape and the top is tri-sected into three lobes, similar to that of the Triamble Pumpkin variety. It looks almost as if this was two different fruits squished together as one.

The Turban Squash has a mild-sweet flavor when roasted and can be used to add nutritional bulk to more flavorful dishes and sauces.

To learn more about different pumpkin, gourd and squash varieties, visit the Iron Oak Farm Pumpkin Page.