A Really Good Day

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.

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Roast Beast

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:
Carrots
Potatoes
Thyme
Rosemary
Garlic
Chicken broth (for mashed potatoes)
Parsley
Apple cider molasses (home canned from Markle Farm cider)

Thistle Byre Farm:

Leg of lamb

Non-local Ingredients:

White wine
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper

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A Brand New Harvest

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.

Dark Days are Here

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:

Eggs
Carrot
Parsley
Rosemary
Ketchup
Garlic
Onion
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

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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.

The Larder

Definition of larder according to Merriam Webster dictionary:
1: a place where food is stored : pantry
2: a supply of food
Larder.  I like this word.  It seems to encompass the idea of a real food supply.  Today, pantry most often means a few shelves of boxed mixes and canned foods.  A larder is food security.  A larder gets you through.  A larder is independence.    A larder is a rebellion against processed food and the industrial food machine.  Heck, a larder is a revolution. Every time a big snow is expected, people run to the store to buy frozen pizza and milk.  We hunker down and eat real food.
The larder is complete here at the farm.  A lot of hard work, planning, sweat, and tired limbs went into this year’s larder, as always.  The payoff is well worth it and the process is even more worth it.  My larder, a back porch taken over for food and equipment storage, with the addition of a chest freezer in the garage, is full to the brim.   Tomatoes, peaches, apples, blueberries, cherries, tomatillos, cider, grape juice, pears, relishes, pickles, beets, peppers, myriad jams, and more line the canning shelves.  More canning jars hold dehydrated food and herbs. Mesh bags are full of onions, garlic, potatoes, apples, flint corn, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash. Other staples that can be purchased locally like honey and buckwheat flour are in there too. The freezer is full of berries, roasted and peeled poblano chili peppers, lamb, pork, chicken, and beef.  Other staples have been purchased wholesale–like rice, oils, various flours, and nuts.
The majority of our food for the year is here right now.  I certainly will not buy meat until next fall.  We are still harvesting from covered outside beds and the high tunnel.  I am picking broccoli, radishes, lettuces, spinach, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, chard, dandelion greens, mizuna, collards, mustard greens, celery, carrots, beets, arugula, parsley, and pansies. I am pretty sure my fingerling potatoes are at a harvestable size, but am letting them keep growing while we enjoy our summer potato crop. We are still eating the last of the cherry and slicing tomatoes as they slowly ripen on the counter.  When they are gone, we won’t have another “fresh” tomato until next summer.
Winter meals are pretty easy when you have an organic supermarket in your house. Today we had roast chicken with home-grown root veggies, home canned peaches, homemade biscuits with chocolate cherry jam, and just picked broccoli.  Home is the unifying word here.  I know what was in everything because I made it all.  With the exception of the biscuits, and some of the jam ingredients, all of it came from our farm.   A meal like that is more than food, it is sustenance.  It is a meditation on self-reliance. It is a celebration of life and honoring of the dead.
The pictures show the farm as it is now, heading into winter.  For the first time ever, we have really cleaned up the outside gardens. They have all been cleared, mulched with a mixture of compost and garden mulch, and seeded with cover crops to reduce erosion and improve tilth.  We planted more fruit in our orchard as well. We added a fig, cherry, and Asian pear trees to our orchard as well as 2 more grapes.  that brings us up to 3 apples, 2 cherries, 2 pears, 1 fig, 2 peaches, 8 grapevines, 4 blueberry bushes, 2 aronia bushes, strawberries, and too many raspberries and blackberries to count.

The Proof is in the Pictures

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.

Note the vast difference in the tomato plants grown in the high tunnel and those outdoors. 

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A Good Farm Day

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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

strawberries

onions (Bridger–harvesting them all and they are drying on the driveway)

purple bunching onions

cabbage

celery

basil (Mammoth and Genovese)

parsley

nasturtium flowers

leaf lettuce

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.