I would like to dedicate this newsletter to my mother’s mother, my grandmother, Eileen Even-Phohl who passed away last Sunday evening at the ripe age of 97 years, the heirloom seed in our family, that will live on thru us and our grandchildren forever. Thank you, grandma, for choosing flavor and quality over appearance and quantity.
In a way, this entire farm is dedicated to my grandmother. This is a woman who was born and raised on a family farm, epitomizing a completely local economy in her youthful years. She used to tell us stories about how when she was young, their family only made a trip to ‘town’ for one or more of their families few basic needs that could not be made or produced at home such as flour or sugar. When I envision what it must have been like to be her when she was my age, 71 years ago, I think of a Wendel Berry novel that takes you into a farming village where roosters are crowing and free-ranging in the dirt road. I think of women in aprons collecting summer raspberries and making jam, I think of men driving horses to work their fields, and I think of large families sitting down together to give thanks over a meal of home-grown and home-made real farm-fresh food. What a very beautiful time it must have been to live.
After the funeral last Thursday my sister and I went over to my grandmother’s apartment to help pack some of her things up into boxes to either be taken to the thrift store or distributed among my relatives. Looking thru her clothing, her jewelry boxes and her kitchen supplies, I was hoping to find an heirloom to hold on to. I wanted to find something that meant something to her and accurately represented who she was and what was important to her. There were jewelry boxes, furnature, clothing, afgans and new-age kitchen appliances. I didn’t find anything that really seemed to be ‘from her past’ as this was a women who always kept up with the latest fashion in most area’s of her life. But then there were her cook books and her hand-written recipes...
My own mother, who my grandmother grew very close with in her later years, has learned how to prepare a good many of grandma’s trademark recipes such as raspberry jam, pickled beets, and apple pie. All of these recipes are ones that all of us grandchildren, obviously, have come to love and know as “grandma’s recipes”. It sounds so cliché as I write these words. “Grandma’s Recipe” could be something that you see on an ‘Our Family’ box of mass-produced cake mix or a chain cookie company. But I guess that’s why they use those words and that phrase. I probably don’t have the only grandma that ever lived that was a good cook.
But the recipes are the real heirlooms. All of her children and her grandchildren and in-laws can snatch up their inheritances and their jewelry, and other items of monetary value, but grandma is not truly living on in those things. She may be remembered when you wear her old ring, her old dress or when you sit on her old chair. But she can actually be enjoyed and tasted when you make her pie crust recipe and her mashed potatoes. We can remember picnic’s from when she was with us when we eat her sugar cookies, and then we can share her heirloom recipes with our children. And if our children sense something genuine and pure and nutritiousely inviting in these recipes, they may just want to learn how to make them themselves. I find it fascinating how much food and recipes can impact our lives and enrich the experiences we have with those who we love. We can all sit together at the dinner table and remember the evening forever because the food and the company were so lovely.
Sooo….WHAT’S in the BOX???
Beets- Stores best in a plastic bag in fridge, with tops removed.
Green Cabbage- If there is room for it in your fridge, it will store for a month or longer. Will store best in a plastic bag in fridge.
Celery- Absolutely gorgeous celery! Stores best in a plastic bag in fridge. Must be placed in a plastic bag to preserve moisture to stay crisp. Don’t forget to use the leafy tops in your cooking!
Cucumbers- Cukes are starting to slow down a little and the plants don’t look as good as they did earlier. Enjoy them while they last.
Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers or Jalapeno Peppers- Sometimes these little guys are hot and sometimes they’re not. It’s a bit of a hit or miss. When they are hot, they’re one of the most mild of all of the hot peppers. Jalapenos are a bit hotter!
Tomatoes- After all that talking last week, the tomatoes finally decided to come on. If the tomatoes are soft, they are ripe. Keep your eye out for those heirlooms that don’t turn your classic red/orange color. The Cherokee purple’s are more of a greenish/purple color when fully ripe.
Green Peppers- A pepper or two for all. Stores best in a plastic bag in fridge.
Eggplant- Some members received eggplant. If you did not get it this week, look for it in your box next week.
Yellow Summer Squash and Green Zucchini- These guys are also starting to slow down quite a bit. Enjoy them while they last. They won’t last much longer!
White Onions- The beginning of the onions. Will store for quite a while. These onions are fresh or un-cured. If you cure them at room temp, keep out of direct sunlight in a cool, well ventilated area. But, they probably won’t last that long...
Next Week! A short list of items that we may have next week, but will not promise to have. Due to the unexpectedness of the season and perishable nature of produce, anything could pop up or go down hill unexpectedly.
Zucchini, Summer Squash, Cucumbers, Green and Purple peppers, Hot peppers, Eggplant, Green Beans, Parsley, Swiss Chard, Potatoes, Carrots