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Potato and Pumpkin Puree

Adapted by Ashley Rodriguez from Gourmet, November 2010

1 1/2 pound large boiling potatoes
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup canned or fresh (roasted) pumpkin
3/4 cup whole milk, warmed
1/4 pound Italian Fontina cheese, diced (about 1 cup)
1 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped sage
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch pieces. In a medium saucepan add the potatoes, 2 teaspoons salt and enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Simmer, uncovered, until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain potatoes, then return to pot. Add butter and mash with a potato masher. Stir in pumpkin, warm milk, cheese, sage, vinegar and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper.

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How To Roast a Pumpkin

By Ashley Rodriquez

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees
Choose a firm, small sugar pie pumpkin, no more than 3-4 pounds. The small pumpkins tend to be sweeter and more tender. Rinse the pumpkin under warm water to remove any dirt or debris.
With a large, sharp knife cut the pumpkin in half on a cutting board. Scoop out seeds with a metal spoon.
Lay the pumpkin face side down in a large baking dish and cover with 1/4 inch water.
Bake for 45-60 minutes until tender. A fork should be able to slide right into the skin and flesh.
Remove from oven and let cool slightly. When cool enough to handle scoop out insides and discard skin.
The pumpkin puree can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

image from

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Know Your Produce: “Excuse me, but do you have the thyme?”


Thyme is one of the best known and most widely-used culinary herbs. It is quite easy to grow and is commonly found as a decorative as well as a functional plant in many home gardens.

You will find thyme a welcome flavor in salads, soups, chowders, sauces, breads, vegetable and meat dishes, and even jellies and desserts.

A member of the mint family, thyme is a perennial evergreen shrub, whose sometimes woody stems are covered with small, gray-green to green leaves. Its small, two-lipped flowers range in color from pale pink to purple and bear quadruplet nutlet fruits. The entire plant is aromatic.

There are over one hundred varieties of thyme, with the most common being Garden Thyme and Lemon Thyme. The many types are so close in appearance, it is often difficult to differentiate them.

Lemon thyme has a slightly more-pronounced lemony fragrance, particularly good with fish. All varieties of thyme are highly attractive to bees.

Honey from bees that feed on thyme flower nectar is a gourmet delight.

Yet interestingly enough, insects are repelled by thyme. Make a cup of thyme tea, put it in a plant mister, and spray around doorways and windows in summer to repel insects.

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Plenty of Pumpkins

The summer toys were still strewn all over the yard and the leaves were just starting to think about their annual transition from green to shades of red, orange and yellow, and yet I was already dreaming of pumpkins.

Every year it is my mission to try and squeeze pumpkin into as many meals as possible. This is a skill I am very gifted in. I roll out of bed and make myself a homemade pumpkin spice latte. For breakfast I eat pumpkin muffins. For lunch it’s pumpkin soup. Dinner is some sort of pasta dish with pumpkin, sage, parmesan and bacon. Dessert is pumpkin rice pudding.

As a newlywed, I was determined to make a pumpkin pie completely from scratch for my contribution to our first Thanksgiving. I had heard rumors that it was possible to make a pie from the actual pumpkin rather than using what is found in the can. So, I got myself a pumpkin, clumsily hacked off the top and began to remove the innards. That’s where my project came to a halt. “What part do I roast?” I asked myself. I’m ashamed to admit it, but up to this point in my kitchen career pumpkin had always come from a can. I was in foreign territory. With the help of the internet, my questions were answered and I continued on my mission. The results were well worth the effort. I was rewarded with a pie rich in fresh pumpkin flavor and the thrill of telling people that this pie was made completely from scratch.

Since that embarrassing kitchen fiasco, I have roasted many a pumpkin. I have also turned back to the trusted canned pumpkin on several occasions and there is nothing wrong with that.

From the 1st of October to the last bite of my second helping of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, I get my fill of pumpkin. This is enough to last us the rest of the year, which gives me plenty of time to figure out all the recipes that I can squeeze pumpkin in to for the next season.

by Ashley Rodriquez

Chef, food blogger, and full-time mom. Read more of her writings at

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Fresh This Week Tips, Week 10.23.10

Gala  Apples
STORE: To store, keep Gala apples as cold as possible in the crisper of your refrigerator.
PREP: Wash apples prior to eating under cool water. Peel, core and chop them if you plan to make sauce or simply cut them into thin wedges for making apple pie.

USE: Gala apples make delicious applesauce, but they can also be used in pies, juice, apple butter or eaten straight out of the hand. For a tasty applesauce add 4 apples (peeled, cored and chopped), ¾ cup water, ¼ cup sugar (omit for sugar-free sauce) and ½ tsp ground cinnamon (or one cinnamon stick) to a dutch oven. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes or until the apples are nice and soft. Once apples are cooled, mash with a fork for chunkier sauce or puree in your blender.
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Dapple Dandy Pluots

STORE: Your pluots will continue to ripen once off the tree. Turn them upside down and leave them on the counter away from the sun. When ripe, store them unwrapped in the refrigerator for up to three days.
PREP: If stored in the refrigerator, remove your pluots before eating and let them return to room temperature. They taste much better this way. Rinse and leave whole, slice into wedges or cut into chunks.

USE: These sweet Dapple Dandy Pluots can be eaten out of hand, as a fresh topping for yogurt, dehydrated into dried pluots or made into jam. You can also experiment by substituting them for plums in recipes (after all, they are the delicious hybrid of the plum and apricot).
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STORE: A whole pomegranate can be stored for up to a month on the counter or up to two months in the fridge.
PREP: Cut off the crown and cut the pomegranate into sections. Place the sections in bowl of water then push out the arils (seeds) with your fingers. Discard the membrane and strain out the water.

USE: You can either snack on the juicy, tart arils of the pomegranate or use them in dishes. Arils make a beautiful garnish for salads, bruschetta or desserts. Don’t be afraid to try something a little decadent with these jewels. Try this recipe for Beef Filets with Pomegranate-Pinot sauce.
image from my recipes.

Acorn Squash
Store acorn squash in a cool, dark and well-ventilated area for up to five weeks.
PREP: Rinse off dirt from your squash and halve it from the stem end to its point with a sturdy knife. If you are making acorn squash rings, begin by cutting the squash horizontally. Clean out all of the fibers and seeds from the cavity with a spoon.

USE: This round, acorn-shaped squash is one of the best for baking. Make a classic acorn squash side with butter and brown sugar(or just butter, then top with a sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves – a Klesick Farm favorite). If you’re feeling more adventurous, stuff your squash or make a risotto.
image from mango tomato.


STORE: Snip off the bottom of the cilantro stems and make sure leaves are completely dry. Fill a jar half full with water and place the stem ends of the herbs into the water. Store in the refrigerator with a plastic bag loosely covering the top of the herbs. Change the water every few days. It should last a little over a week.
You can also freeze cilantro for later use in soups and entrees (it won’t work as a garnish, but will add that nice cilantro flavor). Begin by removing the leaves from the stem and proportionally adding them to an ice tray. Fill the tray with water on top of the leaves and freeze for 2 days. Remove cilantro cubes from tray and place in a freezer bag. Thaw when needed and use within 2 months.
PREP: Fill a bowl with water, submerge your cilantro leaves in the water and swish them from side to side to remove any dirt. Shake off the excess water and pat dry with a paper towel. Slice through the stems with your chef’s knife and finely chop the leaves (by rocking back and forth) or leave them whole.
USE: Cilantro provides great flavor for Mexican, Thai, Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. It’s a staple ingredient for salsa and is the perfect garnish for soups and curries.
image from qwickstep.


STORE: Store yams in a cool, dark and dry area for up to two weeks.
PREP: Wash them thoroughly to remove dirt. Slice with a sharp knife into rounds, cubes or whatever cut your recipe requires.
USE: Yams are a wonderful and versatile fall staple. Make candied yams, mashed yams or yam fries. You can also bake them in the oven (rubbed with a little extra virgin olive oil for crisp skin) at 400F for 45 minutes to an hour. For a delicious vegetarian dinner, try this week’s Yam & Black Bean Burritos.

*Note: Did you know that yams and sweet potatoes are entirely different vegetables? In North America we seem to use the names interchangeably, but they aren’t actually related. True yams typically have black or brown thick skin with flesh that varies from off-white to red or purple. These large tubers are from Africa and not readily available in the US.  Sweet potatoes have thinner skin and are generally shorter and stubbier than yams with flesh that ranges from a pale yellow to bright orange. For cooking purposes, sweet potatoes are sweeter, moister and less starchy than yams. In regards to this week’s box of good, here at Klesick Family Farm we call the dark skinned, bright orange sweet potatoes “North American yams.” All that being said, sweet potatoes and North American yams are usually interchangeable in recipes with minimal changes needed to compensate for the differences.
image from rhapsody in books.

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Know Your Produce: Is it a Yam or a Sweet Potato


Yam or sweet potato, what in the world is it? Many people use these terms interchangeably both in conversation and in cooking, but they are really two different vegetables.

Popular in the American South, these yellow or orange tubers are elongated with ends that taper to a point and are of two dominant types. The paler-skinned sweet potato has a thin, light yellow skin with pale yellow flesh which is not sweet and has a dry, crumbly texture similar to a white baking potato. The darker-skinned variety (which is most often called “yam” in error) has a thicker, dark orange to reddish skin with a vivid orange, sweet flesh and a moist texture.

The true yam is the tuber of a tropical (African) vine (Dioscorea batatas) and is not even distantly related to the sweet potato. It has tubers which can grow up to seven feet long!

Store: Yams should last for two weeks or more if stored in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place and handled with care.

Prep: Before using, gently scrub sweet potatoes with a cloth under running water, to remove dirt. Avoid using a brush, as it will take the skin off of the sweet potato.

Use: Like potatoes, sweet potatoes are always eaten cooked, but their sweetness makes them versatile. They can be used in a wide variety of dishes, both savory and sweet, and go well with cinnamon, honey, lime, ginger, coconut and nutmeg. Enjoy them in baked desserts and quick breads, puddings and custards, casseroles, stews or croquettes.

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Yam & Black Bean Burritos

Adapted from

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ tablespoons whole cumin seeds
2 or more jalapeño peppers, minced
Salt and pepper
3 medium yams, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 can black beans
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1 cup sour cream
Wheat tortillas or wraps
Salsa Fresca

Toss the yam cubes with the jalapeños, some salt and pepper and a little extra vegetable oil.
Heat the vegetable oil over high heat and add the cumin, shaking to keep them from burning. Cook for just a few moments or until toasted and fragrant.
Turn the heat to medium and add the yam. Cook, stirring, until the edges are golden and the insides are tender – about 8-10 minutes. Turn out into a bowl and set aside.
Add the beans and their juice to the skillet and heat until warmed through.
Stir in the cilantro and sour cream and heat just until warm.
Pile the yams, beans, and some salsa fresca together on a burrito, roll up and eat!

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Exciting New Organic Products

We have added some new organic products to our list of grocery items (find them online under our “Grocery” section).

With the addition of these organic products we are hoping to better serve our customers by making quality organic grocery items more easily accessible.

We plan on adding more products in the days ahead, so keep checking back to see what’s new!

Wishing you the best of health!

The Klesick Family Farm