The Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Project Celebration at Jimmy's No 43

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The Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Project is an effort to support food diversity and to revitalize a pumpkin’s reputation from the porch to the kitchen. Over a year ago, I collaborated with pioneer farmer Stephanie Gaylor and her partner, Cheryl Frey Richards of Invincible Summer Farms and Salt of the Earth Seeds, to start the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Project that is championed by the Long Island Regional Seed Consortium (LIRSC), their not-for-profit that is dedicated to education, advocacy and research to foster and nurture local seed systems.

The mission of the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Project is to preserve, restore and bring culinary awareness of this local variety.

The project is made up of various food system shareholders or “Ambassadors”—such as chefs, growers, schools and eaters—who advocate for the dynamic use of this regional pumpkin across a broad spectrum of organizations to elevate this historical heirloom that has an incredible and versatile flavor for sweet, and yes, savory dishes.

Our official launch of the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Project was at the 2nd Annual Seed Swap in February of 2016, hosted by the LIRSC. Since then, due to the efforts and enthusiasm of the Ambassadors, the pumpkin is once again growing in popularity.

Some notable happenings:

Edible School Gardens planted the pumpkin at 25 schools. The Blue Point Brewing Company created a LI Cheese Pumpkin Beer, and Eat Local NY, partnered with Maya's Jams to create Jams and Syrups. Slow Food East End co-hosted a Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Market Dinner at 18 Bay Restaurant that honored Susan and Myron Levine, and on Sunday, October 30th is co-hosting with the LIRSC, a Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Barn Social Potluck at the Naugles Barn at Hallockville. (get your tickets here). Seed Breeders, like Ken Greene of Hudson Valley Seed Library partnered with Glynwood to grow out the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin for their Kitchen Cultivars that promotes biodiversity and food. Some chefs around the tri-state area are replacing acorn and butternut squash for the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin. Publications like Edible East End have written extensively about this original pie pumpkin. (you can read my most recent What's in Season article here) And some home gardeners from Long Island to France grew this historic regional pumpkin for its indelible qualities.

For those of you who missed the Slow Food East End, Market Dinner, or, are not available on October 30th to attend the Barn Social Potluck you are in luck.

We partnered with Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy's No. 43 in NYC, to celebrate the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Project. See below for a description of the days events.

Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Project Celebration

Join us for a three day celebration of the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin. Saved from near extinction from local seed saver, breeder and botanist Ken Ettlinger, the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin has emerged once again as the region's top pie pumpkin.  Come learn the incredible story behind this amazing variety with distinguished guest panelists such as Amy Goldman Fowler, Ken Greene and Johanna Kolodny and Derek Diguglielmo. Sample dishes, desserts and beer all made from the pumpkin. Take part in a dessert competition or chef's cook-off.  Join us for a 5 course dinner by five NYC renowned chefs!

November 12

  • Salon, Tastings, Dessert Competition
  • 12pm - 3pm
  • $15

November 13

  • Chef's Cook-off
  • 12pm - 3pm
  • $20

November 14

Join us in the celebration! November 12-14, 2016 at Jimmy's No. 43 in NYC.  Your ticket purchase goes towards protecting regional varieties such as the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin for generations to come.

Tickets start at $15. if you buy all (3) days you get $10 off.  CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT BIODIVERSITY!

Loving the Earth from a Rooftop Garden

My rooftop garden has been a meditative journey, just like my yoga practice that teaches me: patience, freedom, strength, balance, flexibility, gratitude, self-determination, awareness, courage, respect and love. That is all a mouthful — but it is true. My challenges and joys are real, similarly to my farmers who I have become in awe of. Once I started growing my own food, I began to feel more connected to the earth, even though I'm gardening from a 360° sky view. Loving the earth from above has its advantages. Sometimes I feel as if I'm in a tree house, gardening with the birds who will sit on the trellis at times while I snip and clip. The bees always find their way to the top and buzz around the chicory puntarella that I let flower for pollinators. When I look below I see the wild turkeys and deer look-up with curiosity as they go about their business eating yard bugs and clover. If they only knew what was growing on the rooftop; the turkeys might know because they do perch in the trees at times. The deer, no chance, unless Rudolph is real.

I'm sure some of you are wondering why my husband Chris and I decided to create a rooftop garden. When we began designing our sustainable home Sheridan Green we always knew we wanted a garden. As we got to know the property intimately we noticed many deer and an abundance of other wildlife that would have enjoyed a free salad bar. Instead of fighting with Mother Nature's creature's (who we are very fond of) we raised our garden to the roof.

Last year, was the first season we began to grow our own food and it surely was a learning curve. I was not focused — so much— on the varieties (heirloom vs. hybrid) I was planting, but more of the what's in season, when and how. After that growing season I pondered on varieties and the: why does it make more sense to plant an heirloom (open pollinated) tomato over a hybrid? My go-to farmer Stephanie Gaylor of Invincible Summer Farms, the Long Island Regional Seed Consortium and Salt of the Earth Seed Company is my mentor and friend. She grows rare varieties of vegetables for her farm, for seed trialing and preservation, and seed breeding. I'm in awe of her perseverance to resist the usual and plant to preserve food diversity as an action and a practice.

Heirloom for me means: more nutritious, open-pollinated so I can save the seed from year-to-year, locally-adapted to our terroir (seeds that have been selected to grow well in our region), exceptional taste, and the historical and culinary stories of these varieties that have been grown for many centuries from around the world that we can cherish for years to come.

This year, my (two) 5' x 18' garden beds are filled with rare heirloom varieties like: eggplants, beans, snow peas, tomatoes, greens, leeks, peppers, fennel, tomatillo, chicory and kale. The majority of the plants and seeds are provided by Stephanie, and a handful are seeds I saved from last year. Soon, a fall crop of carrots, beets, kale, greens, and radishes will be planted.

I'm passionate about varieties that are on the Ark of Taste, an international catalogue of endangered heritage foods that are maintained by the Slow Food movement that is designed to preserve at-risk foods that are sustainably produced, unique in taste and history and part of a distinct ecoregion. The Long Island Cheese Pumpkin is a local variety that is on the Ark of Taste and was saved in the 1970's by a local seed saver Ken Ettlinger. I partnered with the Long Island Regional Seed Consortium as an Ambassador and Coordinator for The Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Project to spread the word about this pumpkin through educational events and grow outs to revitalize this variety from the farm and garden to the palate.

Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry (part of the nightshade family, tastes like a tomato crossed with a pineapple and a strawberry) is on the Ark of Taste and is being grown in my garden, along with the Shinnecock Currant Tomato that was grown by the Shinnecock Indians here on Long Island and a variety that I will be nominating to the Ark of Taste when I proudly attend as a Slow Food East End delegate at Terra Madre Salone del Gusto in Turin, Italy. Stephanie Gaylor has adopted this orphan variety that is on the verge of extinction, (only one or two people in the world have this seed) and has been cultivating its viability for the past four years in hopes to be released in 2017 (it takes approximately five years to cultivate a seed; grow, save the seed and repeat).

Terra Madre Salone del Gusto is the most important international event dedicated to food and gastronomy that is composed of exhibitors from five continents, numerous events dedicated to the wealth and diversity of global cuisine, conferences examining issues around food production, forums of Terra Madre’s food communities and how our food is made, preserving biodiversity and securing a better food future for everyone.

The theme of this year's edition is Loving the Earth.  A perfect theme for a girl who loves the earth from a rooftop garden.

 

Reaping the Benefits of a Farmers' Great Mistake

What's in season is directed by mother nature and nurtured by the farmer whose soiled hands tell a story of what's being tilled, sown and harvested. A farmer's watchful eye and deliberate planning starts well before the sun rises and into the dark of evening. And through it all there are trials and tribulations, sweet successes, and sometimes great mistakes. Stephanie Gaylor of Invincible Summer Farms and Ken Ettlinger of the Long Island Regional Seed Consortium, are reaping the benefits of a great mistake.

Imagine this. A kale, that Stephanie Gaylor affectionately named, Tough Mother, that overwintered in 2014 and prevailed polar vortex temperatures, had crossed with an heirloom rutabaga that gave birth to a tender like rapini foliage that stems from a crunchy and sweet root that tastes just like a rutabaga.

Stephanie and Ken named this serendipitous happenstance — The Great Mistake Rapini. And what's greater than that? They are selecting out the best varieties to save the seeds to grow in years to come for chefs like Ignacio Mattos of Estela, Marc Meyer of Cookshop, and Stephan Borgadus of North Fork Table and Inn, who are serving this at their restaurants for its tremendous flavor.

I tasted The Great Mistake at Stephianie's Farm. My brain was expecting a bitter like broccoli rabe bite, but what I experienced was surprisingly different. It is sweet, mild, tender and easy to eat raw — from root to foliage. I made this two ways: A raw salad with manchego cheese and endive, and a quick sauté with garlic that is topped with the root shaved raw.

Stephanie hosted her first Seeds & Suds (video here) talk (a video series focused on seeds — what is growing on the farm— and drinking good beer) at her farm where we discussed the interspecies rutabaga/kale cross that overwintered and created The Great Mistake Rapini, while we drank a St. Feuillien triple style abbey ale.

Perhaps great mistakes like these can create a new local variety on the East End of Long Island that we will reap the benefits from for years to come.

 

recipe

the great mistake raw salad

Directions

Chop the foliage of The Great Mistake and the endive; place in a bowl. Mix the olive oil, lemon, Dijon mustard, honey and a pinch of salt and pepper for the vinaigrette. Then pour on top of the greens and toss. If needed, add more salt and pepper to taste. Then add the shaved Manchego cheese.

Ingredients

  • The Great Mistake, 1 bunch chopped
  • Manchego cheese, shaved
  • 1 endive, chopped
  • 1 lemon, squeezed
  • Olive Oil, 3 tablespoons
  • Dijon Mustard, 1 tablespoon
  • Local Honey, 1 teaspoon
  • salt and pepper, to taste