Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Squash It! Ollin Farm and Lots of Seasonal (Squash) Fare

Producing real food is very hard work. And producing food on a scale that is larger than what you can get from a small garden in your backyard, well, that is a tremendous undertaking. 
Now I've never personally worked on a farm, but I did try to grow strawberries on my fire escape in Brooklyn one time...and let me tell you, it did not go well. I watered that strawberry plant and I made sure the soil had nutrients. I loved that plant and I gave her my all. In return for my efforts, my plant produced ONE pitiful looking strawberry. I had been dreaming of strawberry salads and fresh fruit smoothies. I don't know what I was thinking. That summer my dill and basil didn't fare much better. And that marked the end of my urban growing experience.
A bit of of time passed, and I found a new confidence. I'd done some reading, dog-eared some pages of Martha Stewart Living, and followed a handful of gardening blogs religiously. I planted two tomato plants, basil, cilantro, rosemary, mint and Italian parsley. 
My expectations were modest. 
It's been a few months since my initial planting. The tomato plants are growing, by there's nary a tomato in sight. The basil looks depressed and the cilantro is dead. The good news is my mint, rosemary and parsley are thriving. But it's not exactly what I would call season's bounty. I never even got to planting vegetables like spinach, chard, or squash. Farmers, you have my respect! 
Farming is seriously hard work. I found out all about it when I went to the Ollin Farm for their Squash Festival last weekend. The farm is in Longmont, Colorardo-- not too far from Boulder. It's in a really beautiful part of the country. (I first heard of the farm through this post on Boulder Locavore.)
Ollin Farm seems like a product of love. It is run by a husband-and-wife team, along with their children (and I believe a few other family members and some workers too). Kena is originally from Mexico City and her husband Mark is from Colorado. While they didn't have backgrounds in agriculture or farming, 5 years of hard work and lots of education have paid off- they have one of the nicest farms I've been to.
There was so much gorgeous looking produce at the festival. There were heirloom squashes, Ronde de Nice, Pattypans, zucchinis, summer squashes, herbs, beets and greens. Back to Basics Kitchen had a demonstration table that was full of delicious dishes-- all containing the ingredient of the day, squash! 
Thank you Ollin Farm for a great day. You've inspired me to try my hand (again) at small-time farming next summer...
{Recipes follow.} 
I don't know why I always refer to sheep as female. At any rate, this is Victor....
The Back to Basics Kitchen demonstration table. The Pesto Zucchini Noodles were delicious. They gave out recipe cards, but I misplaced mine. Sad face. 
Unfortunately for me, the visit to the chicken coop coincided with Otis's nap time and a slight meltdown ensued. He was positively certain that the chickens wanted to "eat him up." And there was crying. I tried to comfort him, but things started to go downhill...with a quickness! Theo, oblivious to the meltdown, was desperately trying to chase the poultry. 
These eggs were plucked right out of the hen house. It got me thinking...if we stay in Colorado, should we get chickens? I'm not sure what Omar (our elderly Rott) would think of that situation- it's chaotic enough around our parts. I'm not sure my husband would be on board either...but maybe?! 
Water drip technology is an efficient way to irrigate the crops. 
I picked up some deliciously amazing squash. Thank you Ollin Farm for a great day. 
See you for the Tomato Festival!
* * *
Zucchini and Potato Soup (Courtesy of Anna Thomas's Love Soup)
{In contrast to the soups I usually make, which have a very intense flavor, this soup is relatively mild -- but it is creamy (though creamless) and satisfying. You really need to adjust the salt and pepper here. That is key. Add a drizzle of olive oil and some crumbled feta before serving. Wanna really jazz it up? Add some sauteed zucchini blossoms. Next time I may add a pinch of cayenne or paprika.}
Serves 6-8
2 1/4 lbs. zucchini
2 large yellow onions
7 oz. Yukon Gold Potato
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
3 1/2 cups basic light vegetable broth
1/2 cup chopped basil
1/4 chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
Optional Garnishes: fruity green olive oil, crumbled feta or queso fresco, sauteed zucchini blossoms
Wash and trim the zucchini, halve them lengthwise if they are thick, and slice them or cut them into 1-inch dice. Peel and coarsely chop the onions. Scrub and finely dice the potatoes.
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan, add the chopped onions and a pinch of salt, and sauté the onions over medium heat, stirring often, until they are soft and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine 2 cups of water, the vegetable broth, the potatoes, and a teaspoon of salt in a large soup pot. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Add the zucchini and simmer another 10 minutes.
When the onions are ready, add them to the soup pot, along with the chopped basil and parsley. Grind in an ample amount of black pepper and add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Taste, and add a pinch more salt or a little more lemon juice if needed.
The soup can be pureed, either in a blender or with an immersion blender. Be careful not to over process, as potatoes tend to become gummy when over-worked. Whisk in 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add some crumbled feta or queso fresco. Maybe some pan-fried zucchini blossoms? Enjoy! 

Other seasonal, squash recipes that I've posted:
Gina DePalma's Zucchini-Olive Oil Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze.
Elise of Simply Recipes' Mücver Patties
Love & Olive Oil's Zucchini Basil Soup (from Epicurious)

Recipes from the blogosphere that I'm making this week:
Roasted Zucchini, Black Bean and Goat Enchiladas from Sprouted Kitchen
Pattypan Squash Stuffed with Corn from Martha Rose Shulman, The New York Times
Stuffed Ronde de Nice from Megan Bucholz for Edible Front Range
Pan-fried Zucchini Blossoms with Ricotta and Garden Herbs from Food & Style Follow Me on Pinterest


  1. This is such a gorgeous post. The photos are beautiful and it looks like a lovely place. We have been to Berry Patch Farms for berries, but Ollin Farm is where we will pick up some other seasonal goodies now that we know about it. Thanks for putting the farm on my radar. Oh- the recipes look delicious too!

    1. You are so welcome Emily! I really like Ollin. I'll be back for their Tomato Fest next month. And over to Berry Patch for their (second) Strawberry least there's a rumor there will be a second round in August :) Happy picking!

  2. Wow, that looks like an amazing place! And I need as many recipes as I can get with squash and zucchini- our neighbor brings about 10 of em' over every week! The soup looks delicious.

    1. Hi Ruthie! The soup is yummy. I made my other soup (the Zucchini-Basil Soup-- linked above) for Theo's birthday this week and served it shooter style. If I had more time, I would have done a yogurt dollop in each shot! I love the summer time :) I'm going to check out your blog and see what you've been making!

  3. It looks like such a fun time! And the recipe looks delicious too, especially with those beautiful squash blossoms on top. :) I try to grow all kinds of exotic squash myself, but it never really works out. At least the farmers market here sells a bunch of the more obscure varieties--and at this time of the year, they're all cheap too!

    1. Hi Kiersten! Thanks for the comment. Yup, they are good, plentiful and cheap. The squash were gorgeous and so delicious. And the eggs were all different colors and shapes-- the way eggs are supposed to be! And a deep orange color too. I tell you, I would love to have a big edible garden next year...with a chicken or two too...and if we stay in Denver, maybe that can happen. If we head back to NYC, probably not. There's not *that* much room on a fire escape! Heading over to your blog to see what you've been making.... happy weekend and cooking!

  4. If I see one more post like this (gorgeous photos, beautiful places), I think I may have to leave Maryland and head to Colorado! We follow your blog and can't wait to see what else is coming...