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ROASTED SWEET POTATO PIE WITH SALTED MAPLE WHIPPED CREAM

11/16/17 — Heydon Hatcher

Recipe and Photos by Nadia Tamby

This classic Southern specialty tastes similar to pumpkin pie (or at least uses similar spices). Although, I actually prefer sweet potato pie for a couple reasons – I want to make it from scratch and somehow opening a can of pumpkin isn’t nearly as romantic as roasting the vegetable at home – but roasting and de-seeding a pumpkin is a little more of a mess than its worth. I love the smooth, dense custard filling. The nice thing about this pie is it tastes better cold (and is easier to cut into precise pieces that way), so you can make it up to two days ahead and have one thing out of the way if you plan on making this for Thanksgiving! You can easily double the dough recipe and can freeze or refrigerate the other half to use it in a pinch for another tart or pie. Of course you can skip the whole homemade dough thing if you want to save time (and a slight mess) and just buy a pre-made pie dough.

Roast more sweet potatoes than you think you need, because you can always use the leftovers for mashed sweet potatoes or an easy lunch, but having to roast more sweet potatoes will take another hour.

Sometimes sweet potatoes can get stringy on the ends after roasting. Don’t worry – this is why I use a blender for an ultra-smooth rather than a mixer for the filling. However, if you don’t want to mess with a blender, no big deal – just whip up your sweet potatoes first, then remove the strings which get caught on your paddle attachment.



Pie Ingredients:

Filling:
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes (you’ll want about 2 cups of sweet potato puree)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of each: cinnamon, allspice, freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Crust:
  • 1 stick butter, cold
  • 1 ¼ cups flour, plus extra for dusting counter and rolling out dough
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ cup ice-cold water (you will not use all of it)
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream to brush the crust
  • Raw sugar or sanding sugar to sprinkle on the crust


Salted Maple Whipped Cream:
  • ½ pint whipped cream
  • 2 or more tablespoons of good quality, real maple syrup
  • Large pinch of salt


Extras/Tools to have on hand:
  • Pie dish (glass or ceramic both work), rolling pin, pastry cutter (optional), blender for filling (mixer works too), electric mixer for whipping cream, pastry brush, pie weights or dried beans, aluminum foil, microplane for nutmeg (if using the whole spice)


Instructions:

A day before (or up to a week before): Wrap your sweet potatoes whole in foil and roast at 425F for about 45 minutes until soft, then remove the skins (they should come off easily once cool).

Working quickly, cut your stick of butter into small cubes. I find the easiest way to do this is to cut the sticks lengthwise into thirds, then flip the stick over and cut into thirds again. Then you can slice them end to end. Put this into a large bowl with the flour and sugar and either use your hands to smash the butter into the flour, or use a pastry cutter to do this task. You’ll want all the pieces of butter to be smaller than peas but don’t overwork it. You want pieces of butter visible throughout because this is what makes that desirable flakey dough (the butter melts leaving very small air pockets between layers).

Add the ice-cold water a few tablespoons at a time until the dough can hold together. The less water you can add while forming the dough, the flakier it will be, and you will avoid having the crust shrink slightly while baking. Dump the dough onto a floured counter to prevent it from sticking.

Do not knead the dough! This is not bread, so just form it together in a ball, maybe fold it onto itself a couple times and then flatten it to a disk and wrap it in plastic wrap for at least 30 minutes. You can make the dough up to two days in advance.

Roll the dough out to about ¼ inch thickness on a floured counter. Using your rolling pin (drape the dough over it to transfer it), place this on your pie dish, lightly press into dish, and use scissors to trim the edges. I like to use the extra trimmed dough to decorate the crust, so I rolled it into a long thing rectangle and cut it into long strips. Braid the strips and continually add strips of dough (use water to help it stick) until you have one long braid. Brush the edge of the pie crust with water and place the braided crust on top, tucking the end under to hide the seam.



Refrigerate the crust for another 10 minutes while you preheat your oven to 375F. Pre-bake your crust: Brush the edge of the curst with cream and sprinkle your decorative sugar on it. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom of the crust and fill it with pie weights or dried beans until it is slightly browned (about 15 minutes). This helps prevent the crust from getting soggy when you have a custard filling like this one.

Meanwhile, in your blender, combine all of the filling ingredients at the same time and blend until very smooth. You may add a bit more cream if needed to help your blender work, but it should be a very thick mixture (not a smoothie!) Alternately if you do this in a mixer, start with the sweet potatoes, then remove the strings from your attachment, then continue mixing on medium speed adding butter, sugar, then eggs, and then all the other ingredients.

Remove the pre-baked pie shell and reduce the oven to 350F. Pour in the filling, smooth the top and pop it back into the oven for about 35-40 minutes. When you shake the dish slightly, the filling will jiggle a bit but should be mostly set. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely before refrigerating.

To make the salted maple whipped cream, simple whip the cream and add the maple syrup and a bit of salt. Serve the pie cold with a dollop of the cream and an extra grating of nutmeg!

CSA BOX CONTENTS WEEK OF NOV 13TH

11/14/17 — Scott

CSA Box Contents Week of Nov 13th

Large Box
Beet, Chioggia
Broccoli
Carrot, Orange
Greens, Collards
Herb, Fennel
Herb, Parsley, Flat
Lettuce, Romaine
Onion, Multiplying
Potato, Sweet
Radish, Red
Squash, Butternut
Medium Box
Broccoli
Carrot, Orange
Greens, Collards
Herb, Fennel
Herb, Parsley, Flat
Lettuce, Braising Mix
Potato, Sweet
Squash, Butternut
Small Box
Broccoli
Carrot, Orange
Greens, Collards
Herb, Parsley, Flat
Onion, Multiplying
Potato, Sweet
Radish, Red
Individual Box
Broccoli
Carrot, Orange
Greens, Collards
Potato, Sweet
Squash, Butternut

WEEK 45 IN PHOTOS

11/10/17 — Heydon Hatcher

Kale fields forever. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

We are entering a very busy season; thus, all of our crews are working overtime to get everything done. It's that time of the year when fall crops start to roll in in huge numbers. It's the sweet spot when it's cool enough for cool season crops, but before the threat of frost, so all of our produce thrives. It's also a heavy distribution time... we are sending large orders of crops like kale and collards to Whole Foods, HEB, and Central Market. On top of that, it's also the time of year when everyone hunkers down and cooks a lot, so there are tons of CSA deliveries to boot.

Week 45 has been one of many firsts and lasts - first fennel harvest, first choi sum harvest, the end of fall tomatoes, and the end of eggplant. It was the first really cold week, too, so all of our farm crew is adjusting to the temperature change with lots of tea, hot chocolate, and lots of layers. It was our fearless farmer-in-chief, Brenton's birthday this week, too!

We are getting geared up to do a CSA survey (members, keep a look out for a survey that's being emailed to you on MONDAY!) as well as Thanksgiving schedule changes (keep an eye out for those, too!).

Kale harvest. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Transplanting. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Becky and her onion-y loot. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Lettuce. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Fennel beauties. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Kohlrabi. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Chinese cabbage textures. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Vast farm views. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Red veins on greens. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Big ole sweet 'tater. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

D'angelo deep in beet cleaning. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Choi sum. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Collard haul. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

BTS on the CSA box content shoot. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

FARM MACHINERY & EFFICIENCY

11/10/17 — Heydon Hatcher

Tractor line-up. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

As we move towards wintertime, we usually pause and take stock of our machinery. We figure out what needs maintenance and what needs repair. Oftentimes if a machine has a pre-existing issue, we will push through planting season with it, despite the urgency of its ailing state. However, since we've recently finished planting, we have ample time to do those much-needed, more laborious and time-consuming fixes.

On the farm, we have all different kinds of equipment made for all sorts of tasks. This helps us immensely with efficiency, and if organic farming is going to be affordable and accessible, machinery is the key to helping us get as much done as possible during the work day especially on a farm of our scale. In farming, we need specialized equipment, just like we need specialized people with specific skill sets. And boy do we have some specialized vehicles and implements on the farm.

A few of the more interesting applications of machinery on the farm.



The green bean picker - this machine’s sole purpose is to pick green beans. The reason for that is that it’s super labor intensive to pick all those little green beans that are hiding in leaves. With three people we can harvest large swaths of green bean crops that would otherwise take us all day plus a lot more people.

Green bean picker. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Green bean picker. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Our harvest trailers were an innovation that was pioneered on the farm. We use a special Landini trailer which is necessary because you can drive over crops without disturbing them because of the tall wheels. Then we attach the harvest trailers which were in-house welded at our shop. Our harvest trailers have been revolutionary for summertime farming, and in this specific situation, it aids in getting the produce immediately out of the sun post-harvest and underneath a canopy for some shade. It also generally reduces the backbreaking work for our field crew as they can harvest alongside the vehicle since the arms on the vehicle reach out 5 rows wide.

Harvest trailer. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Harvest trailer in action. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Soil preparation machinery... there’s a lot of very specialized equipment in this process. When we start the bed-making process, we usually rip a block of soil depending on what the block was used for previously. This process gets down really deep, creates better drainage, and makes space for new roots to set. After this, we usually disk the field. This slices up the soil, breaks up clods, chops up plant matter and residue so that it can be more easily incorporated into the soil. Next, we use the listers, which start shaping the beds. It pulls soil from the furrows and dumps it into the center of the row. We have single listers and triple listers on the farm. This implement scoops soil and keeps it in the center -- so we have the beginnings of a raised bed, albeit a very, very rough one. After we list the beds, we usually add fertility. We use the compost spreader for this which looks like a big red bucket wagon. It spreads the compost at an even rate across all the fields so it’s all very equally distributed. Then comes the tilling. The tiller has tines (just like a regular garden tiller) which help incorporate the fertility. The last step is the bed-shaper which goes over the top of the bed and has a very fine-tooth. It creates perfectly smooth, perfectly shaped beds. It is the finishing touch before we go through and lay drip tape.

Disker. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Lister. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Compost spreader. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Tiller. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Bed shaper. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

We have many different kinds of tractors and utilize them for soil preparation, but in addition to that, many other things. The John Deer’s are much lower and squatter, making them powerful and multipurpose vehicles. They are good for chores, transplanting, towing harvest trailers, for moving bulk bins, digging sweet potatoes or root crops, and for any type of lifting. Speaking of digging potatoes, we also have an implement that digs and aids in uprooting the potatoes for harvest. Pretty cool? See the photo below for some potato digging action.

John Deer. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Potato harvester. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

The Landini is great for spraying, harvesting, and seeding with the vacuum seeder. It is the only tractor that can pull the aforementioned green bean picker and can drive over the crops without damaging them because of their tall wheels.

Landini. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Our ABCO tractors are the spaceships of the farm. They are our most powerful, fully air-conditioned, and most-expensive tractors we use. Operating these tractors involves quite a few joysticks, and only our most experienced tractor drivers operate these. We use this tractor for ripping, tilling, and to pull the triple listers.

Montana on an ABCO. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

We use two different transplanters depending on the crop. We have the Rain-Flo, which is the more common transplanter. It has two seats and is more frequently used on the covered beds. The Lannen transplanter is our other transplanter and is utilized for bare ground planting. It has four seats and little shoots that you drop the transplants to go directly into the ground.

Rain-Flo transplanter. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Lannen transplanter. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Lannen transplanter details. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Then we have a specialized vacuum seeder, which allows us to precisely sow seeds in the exact spacing that we need on vast acreage. Most farms use hand pushed seeders, and can really take a lot of time. However, with the vacuum seeder, we can seed 50-100 beds a day!

Vacuum seeder. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Vacuum seeder details. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

With bulk crops harvesting, we bring the bulk bins on forklifts out to the field and harvest straight into the bins. These bins go directly into the cooler after they are harvested. It saves time, gets the veggies more quickly into storage, and skips some unnecessary steps.

Bins at harvest. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Moving towards the cooler. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Cooler scene. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Little known fact: we have a full mechanic shop at the farm! This is kind of an anomaly for farms, to be at a scale where a full repair and mechanic shop is feasible. Our full-time mechanic, Tim, is a very creative, one-of-a-kind, and knowledgeable. Oftentimes, he finds unique solutions to daunting problems. Usually on farms, when something goes wrong with a tractor, it'll take a day or two to figure out the issue as most farmers aren’t mechanical experts. It also puts farmers way behind schedule as you can imagine. Plus, taking machinery to a tractor shop or hiring a mechanic to come to the farm can be very expensive. So, it’s special and very convenient to have someone on call and available to help us with our mechanical issues. With over 11 tractors, farm vehicles aplenty, plus implements, routine maintenance and repairs are constantly necessary. Tim is a really skilled professional and, thankfully, is able to work with our wide array of machines with ease. He’s been quite the asset for the past two years and we are grateful.

Tim checking out an engine situation. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

The shop. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Montana, our direct seed lead, is in charge of sowing all of our direct seeded crops (which is roughly half of the crops at the farm). He works on bed preparation, dropping compost, and tillage with Angel, too. In the current system at the farm, we need a lot of redundancy, so if one person is swamped with something, another person can step in and help out. Tim can be up to his eyeballs in work, and Montana steps in and uses his mechanical knowledge (he worked as a mechanic in Pennsylvania before he became a full-time farmer, and has 6 ASE certifications!) to help in whatever tasks there are at hand. Montana is a great teacher, so he has trained folks on how to maintain certain vehicles, too.

Montana working on an ABCO. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Montana in the shop. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Every year we innovate and become more efficient. Smart farming is about using your labor and resources well. ‘Til next time, folks!

CSA BOX CONTENTS WEEK OF NOV 6TH

11/06/17 — Scott

CSA Box Contents Week of Nov 6th

Large Box
Beet, Golden
Broccoli
Cabbage
Carrot, Orange
Greens, Collards
Greens, Kale, Dino
Greens, Spinach
Herb, Cilantro
Herb, Fennel
Lettuce, Mixed head bag
Potato, Sweet
Tomato
Turnip, White Japanese
Medium Box
Beet, Golden
Broccoli
Cabbage, Napa
Carrot, Orange
Greens, Collards
Greens, Spinach
Herb, Parsley, Flat
Onion, Multiplying
Small Box
Beet, Red
Bok Choy, Baby
Greens, Arugula
Greens, Kale, Dino
Herb, Fennel
Pepper, Jalapeno
Squash, Butternut
Individual Box
Beet, Red
Cabbage
Greens, Collards
Greens, Spinach
Potato, Sweet

FALL HARVEST OPEN HOUSE THANKS + RECAP!

11/03/17 — Heydon Hatcher

Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Our Fall Harvest Open House was incredibly successful! We thought that the cold snap would hinder folks from making the trip out, but we were so wrong. This was the best attended farm gathering we've had yet! A family even made the trip all the way from San Antonio to join in on the fun with an astounding population of First-Timers to boot! We had farm tours on our recently repaired flat bed trailers every 30 minutes with tour guides from Montana (our Direct Seed Lead), Becky (our Farm Manager), Kirby (our Greenhouse Manager), Brenton (our Head Farmer), and Ada (our CSA and Marketing Manager). We had a veggie print art station set up for the kids along with the sandpile and trampoline! The tractor line-up was also a hit as adults and kiddos alike got to explore a learn a little bit more about the machinery that aids in farming.

We have a handful of thanks to hand out to our lovely community partners. So here goes: a huge thanks to Hops and Grain for donating beer for the event. Farm tours on the back of our trailers were made exponentially more enjoyable by the delicious cold brews. Thanks to our friends at East Side Pies for donating pizza for our staff that volunteered to help with the event. Thanks to Callahan's for loaning us some hay for our photo booth. Thanks to Saigon Le Vendeur for coming out and selling some delicious Vietnamese food to hungry guests. Another thanks to Stacy and all the folks at Youga Yoga who came down and did some awesome acro-yoga + facepainting. And the biggest thank you goes to all of our volunteers that helped make the day happen! You guys rocked it!

Veggie print station. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Market stand. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Farm map. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Farm tours with Becky. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Farm tour. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Brenton and Kirby leading the tour. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Picnic with friends. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Saigon Le Vendeur. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Having good times in the sand pit. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

The schedule! Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Montana leading a farm tour. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Cuddling up on the tour. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Will at the helm. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Jungle gym jams. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Future farmer. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Farm community. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Perusing the market stand. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Ada and Regan. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

FIRST FRIDAY STAFF PICKS - NOVEMBER '17 EDITION

11/03/17 — Heydon Hatcher

The arrival of a new month means another marvelous edition of our First Friday Staff Picks! We think that our staff is the best in the business (okay, okay, we are a little biased), but the JBG family hails from all over the place and covers the gamut in talents and interests. We love sharing events, adventures, and side projects that inspire and excite our JBG-ers (food-related or not) with the community. Check out the staff-curated list of favorites below!

Casey and Ada. Photo by Scott David Gordon.

Ada (CSA + Marketing Manager) - We chatted with the folks at Food + City about vegetable waste and our marketing of inglorious produce. We've yet to see the full article, but this cover is FIYA! Amiright? Go Tracy!



Had the pleasure of attending Fermentation Fest this past month, and had a BLAST! I was amazed at the number of local producers all making such delicious fermented fair. My favorite speaker may have been Mr. Katz, himself. When I first got interested in fermenting, lots of friends pointed me in his direction. Was great to see the legend himself - he really didn't disappoint! Went with my friend Megan (boots pictured here, at the upstairs bathroom at Bar Mansion), and we both inspired and ready to bring on the bacteria.



Montana (Direct Seed Lead) - John Mayer, I mean Dead & Company play the Erwin Center December 2nd. Not sure when the Dead last came through Texas, but it sure has been a long time.

Lena (Wholesale Packing Manager) - I've been listening non-stop to St. Vincent's new album, Masseduction. I've never really listened to her before but this album is aggressively electronic and I am into it! I also LOVE Alex Lahey's new album, I Love You Like a Brother. She's playing a show at Barracuda on Thursday, November 30th!

Also, I was recently in Vegas and checked out Ugo Rondinone’s art installation, Seven Magic Mountains. They're stacks of huge, brightly colored boulders that tower over you. It sounds really simple but it's totally fascinating in person. The exhibition's open until next May so I recommend checking it out if you go to Vegas!



Scott (Staff Photographer) - I’d like to promote my new podcast and that I will be in the East Austin Studio Tour. It’s called Austin Art Talk and there are three episodes up already. New ones come out every week on Saturday.

I will be a part of the East Austin Studio Tour November 11-12 & 18-19, from 11am-6pm at Canopy, 916 Springdale Rd, Suite 126!



I am also working on and plan to launch for EAST a website where I will be selling prints of my photography. So keep your eyes open for that.

Ryan (Wholesale Crew) - This Saturday the hill country fair in San Marcos looks great. Six bands, eight breweries, overnight camping all for just $35 dollars. Plus it's on a really neat regenerative farm.

Also it seems obvious but I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving. It's my favorite holiday because it focuses on appreciating what we have.

My favorite Black Friday tradition is getting an extremely marked down never frozen pasture raised turkey. Last year we got a $130 bird for $10!

Missoula (Farm Dog) - Mom got Saigon Le Vendeur to setup at the farm's Open House, and they are pretty legit. I sat here, like this, for a while, until they finally noticed me. Then, the pork and chicken scraps kept coming. Mom says not to beg, says it's trashy, but what can I say? Once a street dog, always a street dog.



Phil (Farm Courier) - I would recommend This Is The Kit's new album Moonshine Freeze for all you real life astral trippers and chaos mages.

Casey (Customer Service Extraordinaire) - I’m in Marfa, TX staying at El Cosmico for my birthday!

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