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October Nineteenth

Storybook Farm

Once upon a time, in a more dreamy, romantic and adolescent part of my life, I fantasized of having a Small Family Farm of my own.  The kind with a big garden and chickens running around and animals grazing in the pasture on the hillside.  Perhaps the seeds were planted in all of the “Old Mcdonald had a Farm” and “Mary had a little Lamb” farm-based children’s songs.  Or maybe the image was created when I was read “Charolett’s Web” or “Little Red Hen” or “Big Red Barn” as a child.  And somehow, through a compilation of the millions of formative and influential experiences of my life, it came true.DSC 0148

It didn’t all just happen to me like a storm happens to a field.  I had to work for it.  We had to work for it.  And with each waking hour of our lives, we took action to make sure we had the red barn and the fenced hillside and the tillable acreage for the big garden.  We’re finally living the dream.  It’s so interesting to me to sing these same songs to my children and read these same books to them.   The glorification (and at the same time simplification) of farm life in these songs and stories is fascinating to me to observe from the perspective of the now farmer and mother.

There is a part of me that prefers the storybook version of farm life.  I wish I could climb inside these cozy little books and live there.  I want the watercolor version.  But I suppose that now it my new selfless agenda to foster and share these beautiful images, songs and stories with my girls and help to create for them impressions that are just as meaningful and influential. 

The type of farm in the storybook is played upon in marketing artwork on the package of a pound of butter or a gallon of milk.  It’s a drive-by image of a special, far-off place.  A never-never land or a place you’ll only ever get to dream of.  Especially in the last 60 years of farming where farming, in actuality, has become the image of one man on a tractor.  In recent history, farming became a quiet and lonely profession.  It isn’t really even called farming so much anymore as it is called “Agri-business”.  Sadly, the image and the reality of the small scale and diversified family farm faded into the corn labyrinth. 

This isn’t as sad to me as it once was.  Because I know the story isn’t over.  I used to feel very enraged by the confinement beef, hog and poultry operations.  I used to feel anger by the fact that processed food was winning consumer spending dollars.   I was once frustrated that organic food was hard to find.  People used to think it was cute when I said I wanted to be farmer. 

But I have you as proof.  You and I are the living and breathing body of change.  We are one small group of 450 families that opened up our pocketbooks and voted for change.  We are part of the reclamation of the small family farm.  We decided together that local and organic food and farming is important and necessary.  The organic farming ‘industry’ is growing steadily by more than 10.8% each year.  We are part of it.  Even the very fundamental and childish or more intuitive parts of ourselves know that this is the true way.  The Small Family Farm is not exclusive to children’s books.  It is very much alive and well on Salem Ridge Road.  I’ve said it before and I would love to say it again, it is because of your spending choices that our farm exists.  Thank you for a great season! 

Sooo….What’s in the Box???

Sunshine Squash-  These are the bright orange/red squash at the bottom of your box.  Sunshines are hands-down, my favorite variety of squash!  They have a rich, thick and creamy bright orange flesh that is so deliciously sweet.  These squash are heavy with a generous quantity of food inside each one. DSC 0134

Butternut Squash-  Another butternut!  You scored on this box!  Two squash this week!  Butternuts and Sunshines mean you hit the lottery folks! 

Sweet Potatoes-  3lbs of cured sweet potatoes per member this week!  Once these guys are dug, they need to sit in an 85 degree room with 100% humidity for about 10 days.  While we were able to get these guys dug with the bed lifting machine, the soil was still muddy and we had a hard time getting all of the mud off of them.  You’ll have a little cleaning project ahead of you before you cook these.  Most of them had really good size and consistency.  They say that dirty potatoes keep better than clean ones, so we justify not washing these guys!

Leeks-  Leeks are in the same family as onions.  You can use a leek in your cooking like you would use an onion, but they are great in soups, like potato leek soup or sautéed into any of your favorite fall dishes!  Use all of the white part all the way up the stalks. .

Turnips-  One large turnip per member this week.  If you’re new to cooking with this vegetable, don’t feel intimidated!  They’re wonderful if you just peel them, and then boil and mash them like a potato and toss them with plenty of butter.  We mashed ours with butter.  Turnips are somewhat similar to a rutabaga and are also wonderful cubed into a soup.  They have a very pleasant, mild and sweet flavor once cooked.  In the same family as rutabaga or radish or other brassicas.

Carrots-  Approx 1 lb of carrots per member this week.

Spinach- .50lbs of spinach per member this week.  A wonderful fall cooking green that is so very versatile in the kitchen!  We thought they were sweeter since they have been frosted on now.

Swiss Chard-  One cute little bunch of Swiss Chard per member this week.  The final Swiss Chard harvest of the season.  There wasn’t a lot left out there, so the bunches were on the small side, but still very nice to still have cooking greens this late in the season. 

Diakon Radish-  These are the long, white root in the box.  Diakons have a very smooth flavor with none of the spicy-ness of a spring Cherry Bell radish.  Diakons are traditionally used to make kim chi, but they are also wonderful just coined onto a salad or cut into veggie sticks and eaten with your favorite veggie dip.

Parsnips-  These are the long, white or cream-colored roots that look a little like a carrot in your box.  The parsnips are great in a roasted root vegetable dish with almost any other roots you love, or they are great sliced into a potato parsnip gratin.  Stores best in a plastic bag in the fridge and they will keep for months!DSC 0151

Celeriac Root-  Yes, these win the prize for the ‘Most Unusual Vegetable’.  Celeriac Root are in the same family as celery, but they are especially cultivated so that the roots of the plants grow large instead of the stalks.  You can also use the celeriac greens in a soup for added celery flavor, but they don’t have as much of the crispness and crunchiness that celery has.  Peel your celeriac root and boil and mash it with potatoes for a wonderful celeriac mashed potatoes dish.  If you don’t intend to use it soon, cut the greens off of the root and store the root in a plastic bag in the fridge to preserve moisture.  They keep for months!

Garlic-  Once adorable little garlic in each box.  The garlic variety is Metechi and it is a great storing variety.  You’ll need to eat your garlic to boost your immunity as the cold season is approaching! 


Parsnip Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Roasted Root Vegetable Stew with Parsnip, Rutabaga, Carrot and Celery

Crockpot Beef and Sweet Potato Stew Recipe