“Winter is not a season – it’s an occupation.”

Did Sinclair Lewis write this in November, knowing full-well that the wood was not stacked and snow was imminent, that the carrots and leeks were to be frozen in place if not yanked out from under their covers and that the hens needed indoor living quarters? Never mind that the spinach and kale may not survive the sky-dive on the thermometer. Oh the joys.

Leeks are dipping their toes in water and seem to be thriving stuffed into buckets in the root cellar. We are innovators that intend to learn how to adapt to the extreme weather fluctuations and demonstrate resilience in our lives and in our town. How are we doing? Or rather, is your life more jubilant for having jumped on the Jubilee wagon for the adventure?

Seeing the slow progress of our building can bring on anti-jubilant thoughts and worries. If snow piles up on the polycarbonate roof, the weight can pull the whole thing down! There are no pipes to take the melted snow into the cistern since that is also to be done after the siding is on …. and the worry list goes on and on.

Hope greets the dawning of each new sunrise and notes arrange themselves into a tune for me to hum as I center myself on the day ahead. With that in mind, let us choose to be the change we hope to see, reflected back in the eyes of our compañeros/as. Yes!

Farm shares this week are changing from large leafy greens to solid earth tones: carrots, leeks, onions, potatoes, radishes, butternut squash, apples and garlic. Rutabagas, beets and eggs along with the jams and pickles are for sale. We have not peeked in on the frozen kale and spinach but assume they did not make the jump into the winter of 2014 which begins December 21, wouldn’t ya know.

I am learning to be a fan of rutabagas. Our ‘fine dining’ event last night featured rutabaga pudding: 1 onion, chopped – 4 cups grated peeled rutabaga – 3 eggs – 3 oz neufchatel cheese – 2 cups milk – salt/pepper – 3/4 cup bread crumbs. Sauté onion and then add rutabaga and cook ~ 10 minutes. Heat milk, gradually add to the beaten egg and cheese mixture. Add in the salt and pepper. Stir in the rutabaga mixture and pour everything into a greased 8 x 8 baking dish. Sauté the bread crumbs ( I didn’t) and top the rutabaga with them. Bake for 30 minutes in preheated 350° oven.

 

A week for leeks

Are you ready for some good-looking leeks this week? Leeks are in the same family as onions and garlic – alliums, but they are the sweeter cousins. The lower light green portion of the leaf and white bulb are the part that is eaten. Store them in the refrigerator unwashed and untrimmed in a loose plastic bag so they do not dry out. More leeks will be coming; it is best to eat them the same week you get them.

Leeks have a strong nutritional profile: protecting our health – naturally! That is not the only reason to include them at table….enjoy them sauteed with thyme or parsley, finely chopped in a fresh salad or in a fun-sounding soup: cock-a-leekie – yummers!

It is recorded that a battle in Wales was won when the soldiers all wore leeks in their caps. Hmmm – without drawing a sword, both armies sat down to cock-a-leekie soup and reasoned through their differences and agreed to go home to their families and….farm! That actual war in 1620 against the Saxons had a bloodier ending but I like my version.

We have been enjoying massaged kale salad – what a hoot!

Along with kale and leeks will follow: carrots, beets, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, Swiss chard, summer squash, wax beans, herbs and maybe some corn. Potatoes will be for sale.

Yours, mine and hours

The Saturday farm markets are proving to be worthwhile. I have met folks who have been almost neighbors for years and I did not know them! This is a fine way to build community – drinking lemon balm tea with fresh bread – and then of course a sale or two. Saturday farm market hours are usually from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Trading yours for mine is always an option. In other words: if you have a tree laden with apples, I’d be interested in picking them in exchange for something that is growing in my part of the world. There is more than just apples…

We have buckets of raspberries! If anyone would like to buy them by the pound for freezing, let us know. If you didn’t get raspberries last week as part of your share, you should get a 1/2 pint this week.

Leeks are the new vegetable this week. They have a delicate onion flavor and make a fine addition to soups, braised with parsley, on pizza, sauteed with apples, quiche, gratin or roasted over the fire. Delish! They have been growing since February and are ready to be shared.

The rest of the harvest should include: sweet peppers, potatoes, onions, herbs, beets, carrots, tomatoes, kale, chard, salad mix and raspberries for the members who didn’t get any last week.

Items for sale includes: raspberries, watermelon, cabbage, all of the above, as well as our preserves corner, apron stand and the awesome bread Nathan is banging out!

Committed to sharing

Steve and I returned from a 2-day visit with my family in Lancaster, PA. My carry-on was stuffed with kale, pac choi, salad greens and mizuna. I had wanted to take out a lot of jams but read they are on the “List” of potential explosives so I opted not to cause a rucus. The night we arrived, I purchased a large cheese squash to sample. For those two days I cooked up a storm in order to eat everything I brought!

I attended the first sessions of the medical conference with Steve in Philadelphia or Philly, as it is commonly called. Friends from Mountain Lake have a restaurant, the Erawan, located a couple blocks from the conference center just inside Chinatown. They serve marvelous Thai food! We didn’t let anyone know we were coming since the last time they served us up a buffet on the house!

My sister and I have a goal each time we are home, to help our father “share” his stuff or downsize. It has been a long time coming but a car can now drive into the garage and the occupants can exit their own doors accordingly – whew! To celebrate the accomplishment we invited more family and I butchered the cheese squash and made a curried squash soup, whole-wheat squash yeast bread, and a grated squash cake. We also had the crustless kale quiche and a fresh salad to round out the meal. The parting of earthly belongings was lost in the wonderful flavors shared around the table and the hilarity of the moment. Such memories!

Each trip I return with more family momentos – pictures of relations 3-5 generations ago. Their faces surround me from the walls of my kitchen; their stories give me the courage and faith to walk the less traveled way.

What is to be your share this week? It is amazing but there are new things to be added to the list. Leeks weathered the drought well so there will be some this week and maybe two more times. Fall broccoli is far more chipper than the summer crop – hip hip! There should be a head for each member. Are you ready for more kale? I hope so – there are so many good recipes! Tomatoes have ripened lying around on their newspaper pads and are reasonably tasty. Radishes are coming in by the droves! Herbs, potatoes, winter squash, onions, Asian greens, head lettuce and a small bunch of salad mix should fill up your boxes.

On Wednesday, we hope to move the high tunnel off of the raspberries and onto the leeks and carrots to protect them. Most of the harvesting will be done today!

Fire and rain

Today is the first day in many days, if not weeks, that looks to be an enjoyable day to be out in the fields tending the crops. Oh my, have I cooked wearing my long pants, long-sleeved shirt, work gloves and hat. I gave up wearing boots since I needed some body parts that could breathe!

There seems to be a weather usher to the west of us that sends all moisture to the south or north. Life can hang in the balance when water is scarce. A city water main broke and closed down the water pump where farmers can fill up their tanks. We were using that water to irrigate our watermelons and winter squash out at our south farm. A farmer friend has given us the use of his 1,000 gallon tank on wheels which he parks at the top of the hill while gravity drains out the life-giving water through all the drip tape that we wove through and under the plants. We and you will have him to thank for the produce we hope to harvest from that field. Sweet corn may take a miss this year without the rain.

Days (and nights) are packed with farming, wedding arrangements, family members arriving here and at the airport, and getting the yard into shape as well as a list of other usual activities: meals, delivering babies (3!) church, etc. We should come through in the end ….but whew!

I made a wonderful leek vegetable soup with meatballs last night. It is a typical vegetable soup but I don’t add other onions in order not to mask the leek flavor. I had bits of celery, leeks, potatoes, carrots in the pot. Someday the celery will be harvested to share; I pulled out the plants that were turning yellow…aster yellows?

Through it all there should be a harvest this week of: potatoes (Steve dug them at 5 this morning on his way to deliver another baby!), carrots, onions, beans, Swiss chard, cucumbers, tomatoes, dill, parsley, leeks and maybe a small summer squash.