Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Into The Barn We Go

You'd think that after farming for over 30 years I'd be used to the changing of the seasons. In spring it all begins with a hint of things to come... the swell of the earth as the new and tender shoots poke their heads up, the smell of the sweet loam as the soil is turned for the pea and spinach seeds, the first  lettuce plants to be transplanted into the garden. Although there are fewer dramatic changes during the winter months, there is still a slow unfolding of the new season, the cobwebbing of the barn, the first cow to freshen, the first milk.

But as every season moves on, there is that sharp glint of memory along with transition  The first call of the red winged black birds announcing their return. Then the cacophony of all the birds, the spring peepers, the frogs in the pond. The buds, the flowers, the fruits, the leaves. Most birds are gone. The Goldfinches, Nuthatches, Jays, Cardinals and Chickadees remain along with some Evening Grosbeaks who stop by for a quick bite to eat before heading out.

Our evening salads chart the course of the season, from the first tender salad of greens picked in the greenhouse, to the heartier lettuces grown in the garden mixed with spinach, next comes the cherry tomatoes, then big beautiful heirloom tomatoes along with red peppers and cucumber, and then back to head lettuce. Last night's salad was lettuce, with the very last cucumber and red pepper of the season along with just harvested shredded  carrots, truly a lagging indicator of what's to come, when our salads will be only red cabbage and carrots.

last night's salad

Now the carrots have all been harvested and only the covered chard remains in the garden.

And though the seasons spin on by, I look forward to each new step of the year.
There isn't sadness, but the eager anticipation of what comes next. I love how as the days shorten and grow cold, we turn to our indoor life. A life where instead of seeing the cows every 2 days when we change their pastures to a life where we see them every day, twice a day for milking. The warm sweet smells of the barn. The reassuring aroma of fresh milk.

And this is where I find myself today. Ozzie was the first cow to 'freshen' with a bull calf this past Sunday. Yoyo will be next, followed by Pookah. The milk room has been cleaned, the milking equipment is all tuned up for our winter season. The barn has been cobwebbed, the gutter cleaner greased. Into the barn and the cheeseroom I go.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Really Special Creamed Corn

While corn on the cob is special in itself, taking it off the cob and creaming it really elevates it to a delicacy. Quick, while there is still fresh corn available, make some of this fast & delicious creamed corn. The touch of lime makes it really special.

Here's the recipe:
6 ears fresh corn grown by your favorite farmer
2 tablespoons butter
1 lime
salt to taste
pinch of cayenne
1/2-3/4 cups cream

scrape kernels off the cob into a bowl to catch the kernels and the 'milk' on the cob
zest the lime using a microplane or a zester
cut lime in half

In a saucepan, melt butter and add corn kernels, salt to taste, along with any of the corn 'milk'. Squeeze 1/2 the lime into the butter corn mixture and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, 10 minutes.
Add 1/2 cup cream, the lime zest and the cayenne.

Cook another 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.

served here with meatloaf, zucchini sautéed with shallots, and a fresh tomato cucumber salad

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Height Of Summer

Because the weather has been so hot and dry, the quality of the tomatoes this year is superb. All the delicious subtleties of intense tomato taste shine through.  Every meal becomes an ode to the tomato. Cubed in a salad they are like little jewels of sublime taste, slow roasted in the oven they become a quick and incredibly satisfying sauce over pasta. This summer I realized that missing from our tomato repertoire was a chilled tomato soup. I wanted an easy to make recipe that  reflected the sumptuousness of the season. As usual, Cook's Illustrated came to the rescue.  Here is a tomato soup that hits all the buttons, no dairy products keeps it light so the taste is pure tomato, and because it's blended and then put through a sieve, the texture is as smooth as silk

Here's the recipe:


2 pounds field grown vine ripened tomatoes
1 shallot, sliced
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons tomato paste
 pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
A few grinds pepper
1/4 cup good quality fruity olive oil
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

Preheat oven to 375°
Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet

Cut 1 pound or tomatoes in half horizontally , and arrange cut side up on the baking sheet
Add sliced shallots and garlic to one side of sheet
Roast 20 minutes, and remove shallots and garlic to a small bowl
Return tray to oven, and continue roasting 10 more minutes, until tomatoes have softened.
Remove from oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, cut the remaining pound of tomatoes into chunks. Add to blender along with roasted tomatoes, the shallot, garlic, salt, cayenne and pepper.

 Blend for 30 seconds, or until blended. With blender running, slowly add the olive oil in a thin steady stream.

The soup will become creamy and light in color. Set a sieve over a deep bowl, pour the soup into the sieve, and with a wooden spoon or spatula press the soup through, leaving the solids behind ( don't skip this step, it what makes the soup so exquisite)

Add the sherry vinegar. Mix, and let chill. 


Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Tomatoes are probably our favorite crop. First of all, a tomato grown out of doors ( not in a greenhouse) tastes like a tomato should. Bright and juicy, with the perfect balance of sweet and tart. Secondly, it's also a thing of great beauty. From planting, to weaving or trellising it resembles a beautiful dance... there are certain rules we adhere to, but there are always variations to the method.
Here are the first steps in our tomato dance of 2012: 

First the ground is prepared by tilling, then the rows are marked 

To insure straight rows, a string is run between the rows before the tomatoes are set out

Plum and round tomates are 'determinates"and green metal posts are put between every 2 plants

Mulch is added between plants and the aisles

8 foot posts are put in between every 4 indeterminate cherry
tomato plants 
for trellising
A wire is strung across the tops of the posts, and 2 strings are
 attached to each tomato  plant

As the cherry tomatoes grow we train them to grow up the strings
 by twirling them around the twine weekly until they reach the wire 

The shorter tomatoes are 'woven' 5 times throughout the season

As the season progresses I'll be sure to post more pictures. The beautiful rains of yesterday and today have been quite the boon for growth. Stay tuned!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Winter, 2012

Winter. Today the length of the day was 9 hours, 15 minutes. As short as these days are, we've actually added 23 minutes of light to the day. By thursday, the next day we make cheese, we'll have added another 5. This is how it builds. Day by day, minute by minute. At first, it's achingly slow. Then we walk down to the barn in the morning with glimpses of light in the east. But for now, the days are short, and it's cold and stark out there.
No matter the weather outside, inside the barn it's cozy and the beautiful green hay makes the barn smell like a new mown field

This winter we are milking 7 cows.

Here's YoYo with her calf, Bounty.Born on Thanksgiving day, we thought it was a rather appropriate name for kicking off the milking season.

Timothy, and baby Kudo

Gouda & Truffle

Frolic & Whimsy

Also this year we are milking Foxie, Bosco, and Orbit.

So, while waiting for the returning sun, we are busy milking the cows and making cheese. Not a bad way to spend the winter!