Sunday November 07, 2010
Sunday morning at the farm....About 6 weeks ago I wrote about the hatching of one chick. I am happy to report she (I hope she's a she) is looking like a miniature chicken and is foraging for bugs happily with her Mom.
Meanwhile, the others find pecking around in the barn the best spot for nourishment.
And Burt and Uni continue to be up to their old BFF tricks... checking out all the sights, smells and sounds.
I LOVE our animals - always a source of amusement. Oh and the horses and cows are doing great. They had an extra member of the herd this morning - a BIG Buck. They all stared in amusement as the buck gracefully hopped over the electric fence. I think they have buck envy!!
Friday November 05, 2010
aka Italian-style Meatloaf a la Nana/Mom/me
In our family meatloaf is basically a giant meatball baked in the oven with a surprise in the middle. The surprise that my Nana put in the middle were a couple of hard-boiled eggs. This remains a great mystery to me. As a kid, I would surgically remove the hard boiled eggs. I found them completely unnecessary and their texture and taste not quite right. I am BUMMED for never asking my Nana why she added the eggs. And my Mom doesn't really know why, she just knows "that's how it was done!" Not quite the anwer I was expecting. So, I have eliminated the eggs but added my own surprise. Other than that, this is our meatloaf recipe:
2-3 onions, caramelized
4 Tbsp olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 lbs of a combo of ground veal, beef and pork in equal proportions (if you are lucky enough to have a good butcher they can do this for you!)
1 kaiser roll, or 2 slices of bread or in my case, 1 gluten-free roll
1 cup milk - whole, low-fat or skim - whatever you have on hand
2 Tbsp parsley, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup grated cheese - pecorino romano OR parmesan
1 jar or can tomatoes, pureed in blender
Surprise Ingredient - need to scroll through recipe!!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Caramelize the onions in 2 Tbsp olive oil. This takes about 20 + minutes. Add the minced garlic at the end so it doesn't get burned but cooks enough to get aromatic and soft.
While the onions are caramelizing, soak the roll in the milk until is is mushy and breaks into pieces.
Mix the meat, eggs, salt, pepper, parsley, grated cheese and soaked roll together until well blended. And the add the caramelized onion and garlic mixture. This is truly what makes this meatloaf so good!!
Put 2 Tbsp olive oil in your baking dish and place in your preheated oven to heat the oil.
Once the oil is hot, form the bottom layer of your meatloaf in the heated oil and add sliced CHEDDAR CHEESE before you put your top layer on.
Pour your pureed tomato sauce over the top and bake for about an hour until bubbling and slightly browned on top.
Serve with roasted regular and sweet potatoes or mashed and sauteed spinach.
PS - Leftovers are O-U-T-R-A-G-E-O-U-S!!!
Thursday November 04, 2010
Hello Farm Girl Farmers!
It really is hard to believe this is the season’s closing newsletter. Each season has its own highlights and its own challenges, but this one was on the whole so much sunnier and yield-I-er than 2009, that I can’t help but feel a little sad to see it ending. Of course, with each season, I learn more about how to do things better next time, and we have many ideas, intentions and plans for next season already brewing. But, and this is where you come in, we want your feedback, too.
WHAT DID YOU THINK?
I will email out and also have copies at the table of our end-of-season questionnaire that is designed to help us understand your experience as a CSA member of FGF. How did you use your veggies, how many people are you feeding, what did you get sick of (if anything!), what did you long for more of. If we see a pattern and there is something we can do to change our field plan to accommodate a change, we’ll do it. For example, 4 and 5 years ago the message was clear: MORE ONIONS, PLEASE! So, we grew more onions. On our very limited land, more of something inevitably means less of something else, so we want to know if you felt overloaded with something. This year, for example, we clearly had too much land in watermelons—so we’ll cut back on that crop a bit next year and reallocate that space to grow more of the things we never had enough of (in my opinion beets and carrots). So please fill out your questionnaires!
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2011
If you loved your farmshare and farmers so much this year that you can’t wait to sign up again for next year, then sign up before December 31 and get this year’s share price. After the January 1, the price will go up incrementally to reflect rising production costs. The advantage to FGF to have some early bird sign-ups is huge—your early infusion of cash helps us manage our year-round overhead--although we are not producing vegetables in the winter months, many of our expenses continue around the calendar.
MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION: WHAT DO WE DO ALL WINTER?
We put the farm to bed between now and Thanksgiving or the first week of December. We’ll have a few things to harvest for the pre-Thanksgiving Holiday Farmers Market on November 20. After that I enter the headscratching months: I spend December through February catching up on all paperwork, opening (if not reading) my mail from April thru November, bookkeeping, taxes, etc, which give me a basis to evaluate the season and write a new business plan for 2011. From there I begin to sign on new CSA members, make a new field plan, revise the seeding calendar and order seeds—that last one is a monumental task that reminds me of writing my masters’ thesis.
In addition, I am very excited to report that I was accepted into a class called Whole Farm Planning for Women in Agriculture, a 10-class workshop sponsored by Pioneer Valley’s Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA). There will be 15 of us from all over the state, whose businesses are at least a few seasons established but who have less than 10 years experience in farming, meeting on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the winter and spring, to determine, under the guidance of several mentor (established! successful!) women farmers, next directions for our own operations. I hope to emerge from this work with more clarity about medium- and long-term goals, and a sense of the priorities—tractor first or new greenhouse? More land now or later?
And as if that won’t be enough time in the classroom, Vivian and I together will participate 5-day workshop on soil and plant health called Nutrient Dense Crop Production, held by the Real Food Campaign (our sessions will be held at Hawthorne Valley Farm).
EVENTS TO KEEP YOU HAPPY EVEN THOUGH CSA IS OVER FOR NOW
Don’t forget that Berkshire Grown is hosting two Holiday Farmers’ Markets this fall: Saturdays, November 20 and December 18. The markets on both dates will be held simultaneously in North and South Berkshire County—the North County market will be at the Williams College Field House from 10 am til 2 pm and the South County market will be at the old Railroad Station, where the summer market is held, from 9 am til 1 pm. Last year the Thanksgiving market was a huge hit, so many vendors, so many customers—there was a wonderful charge in the air.
And, on November 8th Berkshire Grown and Mezze Bistro in Williamstown will be hosting a reception—Getting to Know Berkshire Grown, Celebrate NoCo-- w/ nine central and north Berkshire County chefs preparing food f.rom 10 area farms to show the abundance of products that north county has to offer. The event is from 5:30 to 7:30 at Mezze, 777 Cold Spring Road (Rt 7) Williamstown, $25 for Berkshire Grown Members. See berkshiregrown.org or call the office for more info: 528-0041.
It has been my privilege to grow your vegetables this year. Best wishes for a happy healthy winter, and hope to see you all at the distribution table next June.
Enjoy the veggies!
--Laura Meister, Farm Girl Farmer
Tuesday November 02, 2010
Sometimes it's just a well-worn serving spoon that brings someone back to their grandmother's kitchen. In this case, it's Jim's grandmother's serving spoon that he inherited when his Uncle Junie died. In fact Jim reminded me that he was the only relative that wanted the old worn spoons. Most of his cousins and even his brother and sister viewed it as junk. But Jim views this old hotel silverware as a priceless, meaningful connection to his past. Now can you see why I love Jim and why we are together. We are truly sentimental.
What's really special about this spoon is how it is clearly worn on the left side from years of serving up those home cooked meals!! Everytime we use this spoon I can see it transports Jim to his grandmother's table.