One of the benefits of NJ country living is the abundance of local farms. We may have traffic challenges from Labor Day to Halloween which force us to devise detours and to postpone weekend errands, but it is fun having so many apple orchards, cider mills, corn mazes, hay rides, pick-your-own fields, and petting zoos in our backyard. Autumn is an especially beautiful time of year here, and the inconvenience of the throngs of visitors is a small price to pay for our easy access to outdoor recreation and delicious produce.
For quite a few years our family has belonged to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program at a farm in our town. For more than 30 weeks of the year we pick up our “share,” which includes an assortment of freshly picked fruits, vegetables, and herbs—a sample of that week’s bountiful harvest. Our family enjoys ingesting pounds of fresh healthy produce, but it does take time and effort to unpack the box and to clean and prepare the goodies for storage. Fast food it is not! The weekly yield is dependent upon the weather so we wait in suspense and never really know what we will get in our box on Tuesday.
The farm has an online recipe index and a very active CSA Member Facebook page where recipes fly, but each year there seems to be one item that is insanely prolific and challenges one’s culinary creativity. (Beet hummus, anyone?) And each season there is a surprise jewel in our box—something we never before had enjoyed. We were introduced to some now-familiar friends this way—-Sputnik-like kohlrabi, curlicue garlic scapes, husk cherries resembling mini tomatillos. Last week we had the pleasure of receiving for the first time a cheese pumpkin, so named due to its resemblance to a large cheese wheel, I’m told. Included was a link to an epicurious.com recipe, Pumpkin Stuffed With Everything Good. If you want to highlight pumpkin and to make a tasty and impressive presentation on your Thanksgiving table BEFORE dessert, this fits the bill. The biggest challenge was finding a sided oven-to-table receptacle roomy enough to hold the massive cheese pumpkin.
For a less labor-intensive way to celebrate pumpkin before it disappears, try Crockpot Pumpkin Spiced Latte. It is delicious and comforting, and easily serves a crowd. www.thrivinghomeblog.com/2013/09/crock-pot-pumpkin-spiced-latte
In my opinion, topping the beverage with whipped cream is NOT OPTIONAL!
Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!
Crockpot Pumpkin Spiced Latte
6 cups strongly brewed coffee
6 cups milk
½ cup Pumpkin, fresh or canned
2 tsp. cinnamon
3 cinnamon sticks
¼ cup vanilla
Mix and warm all ingredients in a crockpot until thoroughly heated. Top with whipped cream.