“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 crowing hen

One of our hens has decided to crow! At first there was a feeble doodle-do from inside the coop so we couldn’t tell who was changing the tune. Lately, the cockly-doodly-doos have been out in the open and ‘ugly chickling’ will be the main ingredient in our next chicken soup. That’s a sorry note, but roosters are not welcome here.

Today was the first day to find a duck egg, a brown egg and a white egg. Eggs will soon be for sale at that rate! Steve is constructing a chicken guesthouse in the barn in hopes that the hens will be indoors before the first glorious snow flake wends its way earthward. The ducks? They are delightful but enjoy playing in water and dampness in the coop is problematic. So….roast duck sounds good to me.

I made a delicious meal of fried potatoes with Farmer Lynn’s hamburger and then at the last minute added 2 heads of mizuna that had been chopped into 1/2″ pieces, parsley, onions, salt and a good dash of smoked paprika. Oh my! I was surprised that the mizuna had a milder flavor. If your mizuna is still in the back of your refrigerator – trim off the top of the droopy leaves and use the rest. Cut off the base, hold all the stems together as if you were going to put them in a vase and gently wash off the soil. Chop chop and the meal is done.

All the various winter squashes/pumpkins can be interchanged in recipes EXCEPT the acorn squash and maybe the zeppelin delicata, which can be eaten as individual servings. They can all be stored until March EXCEPT for the acorn squash, which tastes best within the next month or so.

We hope to harvest the Chinese cabbage, as was mentioned last week but was postponed. There should also be 2 kinds of head lettuce, kale, pac choi, the daikon and nero tondo radishes, onions, potatoes, winter squash and a salad mix with lettuces and spinach.

You may feel greened out but unbeknownst to you, the antioxidants and other nutrients packed in all the produce from your farm share have kept to healthy, wealthy and wise – don’t you know?

 

 

 

Resilience – stronger with adversity

Muscles are built by first being injured; the repair job depends on our choices of rest and refreshment. I hope to stand straight and tall into my elder years, thus I run to out-stress my worst fears and eat what grows where I live, which supports family, friends and our community. It’s a donation without a tax break but a vote for the resiliency of our town.

After several days of hard frost this past week, I assumed that all was over for the outdoor crops – but No! certain plants can take a freeze and bounce back: lettuces, spinach, cabbages, Brussel sprouts, raspberries and more. Our season extension capabilities rely on this knowledge and keeping the plants protected under row covers. We all sleep under blankets on this farm – except for maybe the chickens!

A company dinner is a research moment to trial new recipes, thumbs up or down? I made oven roasted Brussel sprouts (cut in half with olive oil & salt, marjoram at the last with parmesan), Farmer Lynn’s beef with broccoli floretts & tomatoes over rice, a pac choi/mizuna salad with apples and ginger (yummers!) and a chocolate cake with the surprise ingredient of pureed beets! Whoo Whoo – this was not a big veggie group of folks but there was only a rim of cake left over from the whole meal.

Our two high tunnels were moved along their tracks in early spring and then last week to cover the fall crops. Instead of using an engine – a winch off of a tractor battery, three of us managed the grunt work and pushed them into position! What a riot! Renewable energy at its finest.

The farm walk early this morning indicated that market boxes should include: Daikon radishes, Chinese cabbage (like napa), a head of cabbage, Brussel sprouts, Tokyo bekana, pac choi, an autumn salad mix, head lettuce, sweet peppers, onions, potatoes, and winter squash.

Grace and generosity

We spent all day Monday researching the kinds of produce to be planted in 2015. Whew! We now have a list and a basic idea where to buy good seeds after a few years of mishaps. Having a terrific selection of high quality good eats to give all of us ‘the strength to get up and do what needs to be done’ is taken seriously.

CSA members may feel overwhelmed with the amount of produce that they walk away with on market day, though we try very hard to make it a joyous event. It is a fickle calendar we follow – my constant fear is to come up short on market day even considering all of our plans. In 2015, we will attempt to: not have enormous mountains of greens, trial parsnips, continue the basics and drop the exotics such as scarlet turnips and some other mysteries soon to arrive in your box! Your suggestions are always welcomed.

I have had two visitors – one berated me for our watermelon prices compared to Walmart and the other left us a tip after purchasing 8 butternut squash! I often ponder those two individuals, the first one should know better and the latter – his aim is to get rich! I want to walk on that path, where grace and generosity meet in the cool of the day, and greed is not to be found.

Farm shares should include: cabbage, Chinese cabbage, pac choi, mesclun mix, mizuna, Tokyo bekana, beets, sweet peppers, egg plant, broccoli, potatoes, winter squash and tomatoes. Sorry, it is another rather large selection…..

My response to the above produce would be to store what can wait: potatoes, cabbage, winter squash and beets. Broccoli can be blanched and frozen. Sweet peppers can be cut in half and their seeds removed and directly frozen. The greens: Chinese cabbage, pac choi, mizuna, and Tokyo bekana can be added to salads, soup, stir-fry, sauteed with oil, onions and a bit of garlic.

I threw everything together in a roaster tonight: chicken, potatoes, zeppelin squash, Brussels sprouts, pac choi at different times depending on the amount they needed to be cooked. The broth had white wine, balsamic vinegar, sumac, curry powder and salt. I forgot to put in the thyme – whoops! It was a tasty timeless dish.

 

 

Hakurei turnips and yellow watermelon

Oh my! What has the world come to? I remember my Grandfather Harvey talking about turnips and rutabagas but I was never fond of them….until now! On our walkabout this afternoon, I chomped into a hakurei turnip and was amazed with the creamy sweetness. I am looking forward to their added crunch in salads, glazed, roasted or stewed.

Another new addition to the CSA produce is a spicy greens bag with baby arugula, pac choi and mizuna. They have a stronger flavor than the bag with lettuces and baby kale. Either bag or both can be mixed with the hakurei turnips for a salad (fromscratchclub.com)

1 bunch, hakurei turnips with greens (5 or 6 turnips)

1 bunch, mustard greens or arugula (optional)

1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts or sunflower seeds

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon honey

1 Tablespoon dijon mustard

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Canning pickles has taken me into the wee morning hours: dill, hamburger dill, bread and butter, chunk, fennel, carrot, fennel/leek, beets, green tomato and pac choi. Jams are getting underway: grape, spiced grape, Saskatoon rhubarb and raspberry. I will be adding aronia berry, wild plum and others. Yay for sandwiches!

If you still have fennel in the fridge – chop it up for a fennel, bean, and tomato soup with chicken. Ask me for the recipe – I will be planting fennel again next year. Yes!

The market boxes will contain trusted produce buddies: tomatoes, onions, carrots, cucumbers (last week?), eggplant and sweet red peppers. Newcomers will include: choice of yellow or red watermelon, Hakurei turnip, scarlet turnip, radishes, salad mix with baby kale, baby greens mix with tatsoi, mizuna, pac choi and arugula.

Enjoy :0~