Wednesday July 15, 2009
I have been absent from my blog for a few weeks. I have so much to report. Some happy, some very sad. I'll start with the sad. Around midnight Sunday, my border collie, Burtee began barking which alerted me to some banging in the barn. I got my flashlight and saw my horse Valkyrie rolling furiously. And I knew it was colic....Jim and I rushed to the barn to get her up to no avail. We called the vet (Dr. Stephanie, a beautiful compassionate young woman) who was out on another emergency and said she could come right over. She arrived around 1 am and we tried a stronger muscle relaxer and pain killer and got Valkyrie up. The Doc did not like what she found when she did the internal exam and suggested emergency surgery. Alas with no trailer available at 2.30 am and a 2 hour drive to Tufts, we were disheartened and confused. Our only option was to keep her pain free and pray that she would feel better. Dr. Stephanie left us with medicine to help us get to daylight and to reach my friend with a trailer. She returned at 7.15 am and Valkyrie had gotten worse. It pained us to see her suffer for one more minute and we had to make the decision to euthanize her. It was truly one of the saddest heart-breaking moments that I have had on this farm or in life. I have had a heavy heart for the last few days. I pray that my dear sweet Valkyrie lives on in the divine world from where horses are known to come.
I observed the other horses were painfully aware that something happened to their friend and one's mother. The baby (who is now three) whinnied for her mother and the other two horses expressed such compassion and love. They circled Gaefa, kissed her, groomed her and have not left her side. The herd is in mourning but they are supporting each other - their behavior has helped lift my sadness.
But before all this sadness, new living creatures have joined life on the farm. On June 27th we welcomed three Scottish Highland cattle - Julia, a three-year old, Delilah, a 9 month old and an unnamed 9 month old bull. I will write more on our new herd, our intention to raise grass-fed beef and the experience of this new journey. And last Tuesday the 7th we got 12 new egg layer chicks and 12 broiler chicks.
Life on the farm places the realities of the cycle of life front and center. I am not sure that I factored that into our decisions to get farm animals, but it has both sobered and strengthened me. Somehow I think the barnyard has a lot more yet to teach me.
Wednesday June 17, 2009
The CSA's are turning out a fine crop of spring harukai turnips and swiss chard and I thought I would take a page out of my grandmother's book and concoct a recipe for turnip soup. You can use the basic premises of this recipe to turn many veggies into soup. Give this one a try - my family gobbled it up and I need to make more!!
Roasted Turnip Soup with Swiss Chard
4 Harukai Turnips - the root part only, sliced
6 Shallots - diced
4 Cloves Garlic - minced
1-2 Teaspoons fresh thyme - minced
Salt and Pepper to Taste
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Cups chicken or Vegetable Broth
1/4 or so Half and Half or Heavy Cream - depends on how indulgent you want to be
1/2-1 Cup of Swiss Chard - chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine first six ingredients, place in roasting pan and roast for 25-30 minutes until tender and golden. Transfer into saucepan, add broth. Bring to a gentle boil, lower heat to a simmer and puree until smooth with an immersion blender if you have one. (Otherwise use a blender or a food processor.) Add in half and half and finish off with the chopped swiss chard. Simmer for another 5 minutes and serve.
Hint: If you can resist not eating it immediately, the flavors really meld together nicely overnight for an ever tastier treat the next day!! Make enough and freeze for cool fall day.
Sunday June 14, 2009
Ever since I was a little kid, there was one aroma that suggested healthy. That aroma was the combination of olive oil, chopped garlic and broccoli rabe or bitter greens. And believe you me, it smelled oh so good. Sadly for a kid, the taste of bitter greens did not measure up to the tantalizing aromas that sent my olfactories into sensory overload.
Fast forward to adulthood - I can now appreciate the double sensory pleasure of the aromas and the taste. And 'tis the season for such indulgences. I picked up beautiful bunches of broccoli rabe and bitter greens from both of the CSA's to which I belong (http://www.indianlinefarm.com
Here's a quick and easy way to whip up those flavors and aromas yourself:
Broccoli Rabe or Bitter Greens
1-2 T Olive Oil
2-3 Cloves of Chopped Garlic
Pinch Red Hot Pepper Flakes
2-3 Bunches of Broccoli Rabe or 1/2-3/4 lb Bitter Greens
For the Broccoli rabe, my Mom always stripped the leaves and flowers from the stem as she found it hastens the steaming time (and the stems are often tough.)
Wash thoroughly but it is not necessary to dry. Place sauce pan on medium flame, heat the olive oil, add garlic until lightly golden (watch not to burn the garlic), then add your pinch of red pepper flakes and then the greens (broccoli rabe or bitter greens). Stir gently and place lid on pan to steam for 15-20 minutes. If it looks too dry, add a little water so it steams nicely.
Serve with a couple of nice pieces of italian bread and enjoy!
Sunday May 17, 2009
I am not a movie critic. What I am is a home cook and a consumer of food. As you get to know me, you will learn that my childhood upbringing has deeply impacted my attitudes about food. My grandfather was a butcher in the 1940's and 1950's. I remember the McDonalds jingle, "McDonalds is my kind of place, it's such a happy place" and their plea to look for the golden arches. As kids we so wanted to go to McDonalds. But my grandfather did not allow us to eat McDonalds (and we felt like outcasts). He said with a distasteful look on his face, "It's not real meat - it's worse than horse meat." How lucky I was to have him!! What a sage man. He knew. He witnessed how the meat industry had changed. He was no longer connected to the farmers that provided meat to his shop so he closed his shop. He knew.
So, as I sat through the movie, in tears at times, enraged and disgusted at other times, I knew I wanted to write about it. It hit many of my pet peeves like "there are no seasons" in the grocery store and tomatoes are ripened with ethylene gas, not the sun. Monoculture factory farms are horrifying and the treatment of the animals and the laborers beyond words. It made me feel happy and proud about my choices to be a member of 2 CSA's (community supported agriculture), grow a vegetable garden, can and preserve the local harvest, buy local grass fed beef and lamb from farmers that I know on land where I can see their livestock graze.
It has also made my conviction about Heirloom Meals even stronger. The US may not have a food culture but most of us had/have a food culture handed down to us through the generations. Dust off those recipes, talk to your grandparents, great aunts and uncles, parents. Let's get back to the home cooked meal with real ingredients. Let's demand that food stores provide those choices. I agree with Gary Hirshberg of Stoneyfield Farm Yogurt - we should all vote with our purchases at the grocery store. Choose organic or locally grown. Choose healthy eating and sharing meals. And demand to know your farmer!!
Please see this movie. You can see the trailer here