Walking Over to Pick Up the Goods

Yesterday I picked up our farm share. We switched this year from Stony Loam Farm to our neighbors who offered shares for the first time this year. We loved Stony Loam but the Needham Family Farm is close enough that we can walk there. It was hard to give up a relationship of several years with some folks who are just plain awesome, but this made sense to at least try. Typically more than one of us walks over; often we all do as a family. But yesterday I went solo since I was the only one around. It was a fine day for a walk.

The Needhams do things a little differently. Instead of a box that we pick up on a certain day of the week, their farm stand is open every day. We go on the day that works best for us. And instead of a particular allotment of produce, we choose from what they have. We get a set number of points each week and can divide those points how we want. The have produce–this week included kale, swiss chard, lettuce, beets, zucchini, summer squash, peas and some other stuff–and they also have eggs (we get these every week), frozen chickens, maple syrup, honey, granola, quiches, pies and other prepared foods. This week I picked up a jar of honey since I was planning to put some in the beer I made today. I got beets and squash. I walked home with a bag full of good stuff.

This is working out well for us so far. We were away last week and picked up our share when we returned on Saturday; we did not worry that we would miss pick-up day. It isn’t perfect–we missed out on the early tomatoes because there just are not many and they are popular, and it is less social than meeting everyone else who has shares on pick-up day–but overall I am happy with the system. Simply being able to walk over makes working with the Needhams a good deal. It may be muddy and it may be dry. The deer flies may be out or they may not. The oaks will be there on any day, however, and the path will offer a mini adventure any day we go.

Heading Through the Woods

Transition Zone

Across the Field

Arrival at the Needham Family Farm

 

Close to the End

 

Sauteed onions and peppers

Pizza Topping--Colorful and Tasty

Last night’s dinner was pizza. We topped one of them with peppers and onions. I used the last onion we grew in our garden. I used peppers and another onion from our farm share. We have one more pepper we grew tucked in the refrigerator, one more pepper from the farm, and a couple small onions from the farm. There was a bonus pick up yesterday but I have been sick, so I didn’t get organized enough to put in an order. That is a bummer since having more peppers, onions and some squash at least would be helpful in making this transition to winter. I really want to make sure we preserve more food next year. We have some, but cracking open something I grew over the summer, in the middle of winter, just can’t be beat.  We have a few items left, including sweet pumpkins, but we are close to out for the season. Winter’s farmers markets are near. I need to make sure we get there.

Eating Around Here

I made dinner tonight and let me tell you it was good stuff.  It was simple, really, but a simple pleasure.  I scrambled up eggs and cheese and we ate it with greens. The greens were as simple as the eggs–leeks, garlic, peppers and kale with some salt and butter.  The combination was tasty, tastier than I thought it would be.  It felt good to eat food so wholesome and healthy.  And it felt good to know that almost everything came from right around here.

The leeks and kale came from our farm share. Our last pick up was Tuesday and we got a lot. We used some of it tonight. The peppers came from our garden–the last of them to be picked. The butter was Cabot butter, so also fairly local. The cheese in the eggs was also Cabot, and the eggs came from Maple Meadow Farm in Salisbury (the eggs could be more local, I admit, but this wasn’t bad). The olive oil traveled far to get to us, as did the salt, but those are hard to get from local sources.

The one thing that was questionable was garlic. That came from a farm somewhere, but that’s all I know. Our farm share did not include garlic several times in a row–they didn’t have a great year. I missed the farmer’s market last Saturday–I couldn’t get there until too late. And our local market, which often has good local produce, didn’t have any local garlic, so I bought what was there, even though I hate not to know the source of my food. Part of the reason we had no garlic was that the garlic I bought at the farmer’s market a couple weeks ago I planted in the ground. I want to make sure I have plenty next year, so I planted all the cloves and hope for them to burst out of the ground in spring. That would make things local, eh?

So our meal had only a few food miles. It is simply crazy that our food system means we can get cheap food that is transported hundreds or thousands or miles. How is it that we can spend 87 calories to get one calorie and not pay more for that one calorie than we do? How is it that we are OK with the poor quality of those strawberries or winter tomatoes when we buy them, out of season? We ship food all over the place so we can eat whatever we want whenever we want it. So we get poor quality food and we burn up all kinds of oil to get it and we pump CO2 into the atmosphere like mad (literally) when we could could have better food at less real cost if we ate locally. So I try to do that.

Having a garden helps. Taking part in a community supported agriculture program helps. Living in Vermont helps, as local food is available much of the year because people care about it. And canning and freezing helps, too, as that means we can spread the harvest out over the cold months. I am new to canning but thanks to my parents giving me a tutorial, I have canned my second batch of jam. I have pesto and pumpkin and soup in the freezer and will freeze more. I could do better and, with some experience and over time, I will. Pulling pesto out of the freezer in January is just about the best thing ever.

Keeping my food miles down is important. I don’t want my food traveling more in a year than I do. It is one thing I, and collectively we, can do to make a difference to abate global warming. Eating locally can make a big difference in limiting carbon emissions, since we all need to eat. One day we will be forced to eat more locally, since oil will get expensive and raspberries from temperate climes won’t be cheap to ship in the winter. Plus, food usually tastes better if it hasn’t traveled half way around the world. And it has more in it, so it is healthier. Sure, if we eat locally we don’t get to have anything we want whenever we want it, but waiting for things makes them sweeter, sometimes literally. And I can wait for a little sweetness.

(This post is part of Blog Action Day).

Kitchen Frenzy and a Soup Recipe

I got home from an all day meeting today about 4:30.  I headed right to the kitchen.  Last night I was going to make a tomato corn chowder.  Then I got working and didn’t stop until way too late.  So I planned to make it tonight.  And I did.  It meant I had to get cracking.  And I did.  It was, how to say this, tasty as all [insert expletive here].

I tried to find a recipe but just couldn’t scrounge one up.  That was probably for the better.  It would have taken me longer to keep referring to a book and then half forgetting what I just read as I chopped garlic.  Here is what I did:

  • Sauteed three small leeks in about a tablespoon of butter and a splash of olive oil in a large pot and then set that aside
  • Cut up two medium size carrots (small cubes), a couple pounds of red potatoes (cubed), two sweet peppers (diced) and sauteed all that in the large pot in about a tablespoon of butter and a splash of olive oil
  • Added four cups of water and two teaspoons of salt to the pot and brought that to a boil
  • Removed the pot and then removed a couple cups of the potatoes to keep them in chunks, then pureed the rest in a food processor
  • Tossed three small tomatoes (OK I used the one weird large tomato I picked yesterday that looked like three small tomatoes attached at the hip), diced, along with four cups of corn I had removed from the cob (already cooked) into the pot.
  • Heated the tomatoes and corn gently for about ten minutes, then added the chunks of potatoes and the puree
  • Added a teaspoon each of chopped fresh oregano, chives and thyme
  • Added a cup of whole milk
  • Topped with freshly grated black pepper, heated for another 10-15 minutes (stirring to keep it from sticking to the bottom)
  • Ate it up

The children chowed it, even my son, who has been pretty picky lately.  I have to admit, and my wife said this aloud, it was worth the hour spent preparing.  The vegetables and herbs were all from our garden or from our CSA.  Even the milk was local.

Item two was making the base for coffee ice cream.  I whipped that up while the soup heated and stuck it in the fridge.

Then I went out with the kids and picked basil.  We have more basil than I can handle.  This is first year that the basil has really just grown.  I clipped it pretty well not long ago and it really grew back well.  I cut 12 cups of the stuff with my eager children who lost interest when they decided to mow the lawn with their scissors.  They didn’t get all that far on that project.

I made three batches of pesto (it is supposed to get pretty cold the next couple of nights–basil doesn’t like cold), froze two and popped the other in the fridge.  By now the children were off to bed with their mother, and I tried not to make too much noise with the food processor.  They did fall asleep eventually, even after the delivery truck woke them up.  Late delivery.

I just polished off the small bowl of ice cream from the batch I made after the basil was stored away.  I probably shouldn’t have coffee ice cream this late–it is made with coffee after all, which people drink to stay awake.  But I had to try some.  What kind of cook would I be if I didn’t taste what I made?  Plus, I didn’t have that much.

I waited to eat the ice cream after I had cleaned up everything (except the ice cream maker bucket–that thing was way too cold to wash).  Cleaning too far too long.  I was ready to be done when the counter was still covered with dishes.  My wife still is healing from her sliced finger, otherwise I am sure she would have offered to do all the cleaning.  I cook, I clean, I eat.  All after a day at work.  Not bad, eh?

Stuff I’ve Noticed Recently

I hung up a bunch of old CD’s recently  over some garden beds, to keep out the birds.  This morning I looked out the window to see a robin pecking at the dirt at the edge of one of those beds.  Then it hopped right over the bed.  It nearly got clocked by the spinning disk.  It worked last time.

Our dishwasher has a whole slew of adjustable bars and rods, the better to efficiently stack all one’s dishware and cutlery.  One of them seemed to have lost its adjustability recently.  It flopped.  I removed it today to find that it had rusted right through.  The little rod was pointy, yet crumbly, with rust.  I took out one half and wrestled with the second for a while before deciding to leave it for tomorrow.  I figured a dishwasher is for lazy people anyway so I had good reason to be lazy with that task.

Our neighbors have a small pond, just over our property line.  What its intended use what I can’t say.  It doesn’t seem to get much human use at all–no swimming, no irrigation, no livestock watering.  It just sits there, leaking onto our side, home for ducks and frogs.  The bullfrogs are especially loud these days.  The groan and croak at all hours, but seem to especially like the hours just after dark.  All of us pretend to respond to them now and again.  Cracks us right up.

For Father’s Day I got a book of crossword puzzles.  I am pretty hooked on crossword puzzles and have been working my way through a book of 200 of them from the New York Times.  This new book is a little different.  One of the clues was this:  Royal mistake maker.  The answer?  Dumbshit.  Cracked me right up.

We have been watching old science fiction movies lately.  You know, the classics.  The Day the Earth Stood Still, for example.  Last night we watched the original 1950’s version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  It was pretty well done, eerie and even a little scary, but not gore-filled.  All of these movies have the year listed on the sleeve from Netflix.  Last night’s said 1956, but when the film opened it said 1955.  The other films have had this same one year discrpancy.  My guess is the the film posts the copyright date and Netflix notes the date the film actually was released.  I guess they used to do things a little slower back then.

We went up the road this afternoon to pick up our share of produce.  This was given to us as a gift again at Christmas.  Great gift.  As we walked out to the field to pick strawberries, the children found a mud puddle.  Well, maybe puddle isn’t quite right.  It was a mud puddle and had become a thick bowl of muddy paste.  The children were wearing mud boots so of course they slopped about in it until their footwear was gray and wet.  They had a blast.  Then they sat in their dirty boots and ate all the strawberries we picked while I picked some daisies to bring home.

The cucumber beetles are starting to hatch.  I have been slow to attend to them.  I hope to get some Neem and see what that does.  I have heard good things about it, that it makes the beetles go away.  I want them to go away.  I picked one off a pumpkin plant today and slayed it.  They are beautiful little bugs.  And I want them to live far away from here.  I want some cucumbers this year, dammit.