50’s outside meant 70’s in the high tunnel and plenty to harvest. What a wondrous day for the last day of January. Once I got done with my have-to’s in the AM, I made an executive decision to ignore my need-to’s in the house and spend a few hours working in the high tunnel and the garden. I was richly rewarded. Salad greens, edible flowers, and Jerusalem artichokes will be heading to the restaurant with the chef tomorrow. The weekend’s Jerusalem artichoke chowder was a sell-out hit. It was great to get my hands into the earth and go treasure hunting for them. Mother Nature does a great job of keeping them crisp and fresh for whenever we need them. The “candy carrots” are sweet and crisp. In addition to the harvest, I loved seeing a dandelion in the high tunnel and some beautiful magenta kales.
Just like the Whos in Whoville, Our Christmas feast included roast beast, in this case–leg of lamb. We also had roasted carrots glazed with cider molasses (a thicker version of our cider syrup) and mashed potatoes. This meal came mostly from our own backyard with the addition of a beautiful grassed leg of lamb from Thistle Byre Farm. I marinated the lamb with olive oil, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, white wine, garlic, salt, and pepper. The carrots are Napoli carrots from our high tunnel. These are Eliot Coleman’s much lauded “candy carrots” that are sweetened by some heavy frosts and freezes. I harvested them along with some beautiful Jerusalem artichokes on Christmas Eve. The artichokes are heaped with compost in their outdoor bed. Our mild winter made it quite easy to harvest them. The carrots were amazingly sweet and lovely. These holiday gifts from our own farm were a beautiful celebration of the day.
Here’s the official breakdown for the Dark Days Challenge:
Our own farm:
Chicken broth (for mashed potatoes)
Apple cider molasses (home canned from Markle Farm cider)
Leg of lamb
As of this week, Small Wonder Farm now produces some of it’s own mushrooms. My Back to the Roots oyster mushroom kit has started producing. It took a lot longer than I expected. but it is amazing to see how fast they grow. one of our nephews is a very accomplished mushroom farmer and he inspired me to give it a whirl. I want to grow mushrooms with my 1st graders at school as our winter harvest project and now I know it works. Lily, although wowed by the growth, continues to be a staunch anti-mushroom eater. More for me and Paco.
This week we kicked off the Dark Days of Winter Eat Local challenge. Don’t know about the Dark Days Challenge? Follow the link above. Over 100 bloggers and others will be presenting their local meals on a weekly basis and the recaps will end up at Not Dabbling in Normal.
At our house the challenge is further complicated by the fact that we eat gluten, soy, dairy, legume, corn, and fish free (those are just the highlights) due to our daughter’s food allergies. I know of a few grains I can get locally, but when it comes to making sure I am stocked with GF certified oats and specialty flours like tapioca and sorghum, I turn to our local co-op and natural foods store. The GF oats used in this recipe come from Bob’s Red Mill via our local food buying co-op.
We kicked off the challenge with a meal of maple meatloaf, sweet dumpling squash, and roasted tomatoes. The maple meatloaf I make is based on the recipe from The Gluten-Free Goddess–one of my go-to sources for allergen free recipes. I pretty much followed the recipe, but did not make the glaze. The addition of our own tangy ketchup was a delicious substitution. Everything in this meal was already in my pantry or harvested fresh from our farm. These products were from our own farm:
Tomatoes (some of the last of those picked green from the high tunnel that have been slowly ripening on the kitchen counter)
Products from other local producers:
Ground beef from This Old Farm
Sweet Dumpling Squash from Markle Farm
Maple Syrup from Middleton’s Maple Farm and Longhouse Farm (we do make our own but have gone through all of it)
Other items used: olive oil, spices, GF oats
This was a meal I prepped in the AM since I taught that day and my daughter had an after-school art class. I set the oven to come on at the right time, left the squash in the oven, and my husband (home first) just had to take the meatloaf out of the fridge and put it in the oven. I put the tomatoes in when I got home and we ate about 20 minutes later. Instead of trying to open and scoop out the squash before baking, I placed them whole into a shallow pan with some water in the bottom, covered tightly with foil, and baked. After letting them cool off a bit, I opened the tops as if to carve a pumpkin and scooped out the seeds. Worked like a dream and those squash were the sweetest I have ever tasted.
It was wonderful to eat so many things that we knew originated in our backyard, but also to know and be friends with those responsible for the beef, squash, and maple syrup. There is a level of respect you have for your food when you produced it and/or know the hard work of those who did. Meals like this are a reason for Thanksgiving every day.
There is so much happening now that only pictures can convey it all and are all I have time for. I will be picking the first zucchini this week and cucumbers won’t be far behind. I harvested the last of the cabbage and lettuces yesterday. I also saw the first pepper yesterday and picked the first handful of raspberries.
I was laid low over the weekend by pain and intense heat, so it was wonderful (and sorely needed) to get out yesterday early AM for three hours of harvesting and weeding. Here is what I am harvesting now:
fingerling potatoes (Russian Banana)
purple, orange, white, and orange carrots
kale (Lacinato and Fizz)
Rainbow Swiss Chard
onions (Bridger–harvesting them all and they are drying on the driveway)
purple bunching onions
basil (Mammoth and Genovese)
For supper last night, I used all of the above to make a green salad, antipasto plate, and stir fry. It was delicious and oh so nutritious. Everyone loved it and Lily got creative with her rice noodles. Kale, strawberries, chard, and carrots went to the restaurant with the chef this morning.