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Get your fresh greens while you can

With November right around the corner and the oak trees all orange and brown, it is undeniably autumn.  We still have some greens in the garden, but their days are surely numbered.  This week may be the last for lettuce, so have a nice big salad and think of spring.  Kale and mustards are still looking good, but you should get your fill of these hearty fall greens while you can.  Might even be a good idea to blanch some and put them in the freezer.  Frozen kale is great for winter soups and stews.

The greens will fade away as winter approaches, but then there’s the roots.  And we have tons.  Literally.  Roots will keep for weeks (or months) in a cool dark place with high humidity, so stock up for winter.  Get 10 pounds of any mix of carrots and beets for $15.  

Don’t forget to include some pork and beef when you are placing your vegetable order.  We’ve got plenty of ground beef and a good selection of steaks available.

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Goodbye, summer

We hung on to summer for as long as we possibly could this year, and even though the weather is still fine, things are looking decidedly like autumn. After last weekend’s little cold snap, the summer plants that were insisting they could still play ball in October finally succumbed to the inevitable change of season. Paul’s been busy on the tractor, turning old plants into the soil with the disc harrow, and laying down seed for a winter cover crop. The beef cows are on the best pasture, stockpiled since late summer and full of lush cool season grasses putting on a final fall show. The cool winds blowing in tell them it’s time to pack on the pounds for winter – good feed and seasonal harvest should make for excellent beef this year.

The cold did affect some of the cold hardy plants in the garden – celery and broccoli are more tender (though not quite as crisp), kale and rutabaga are at peak flavor. And carrots! As good as they have been through late summer, they’re even better now after some serious frost, a signal that tells the plant to send sugar to it’s roots to get ready for winter.

Oh, and there’s bacon.

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It’s all fall around here

It’s really feeling like fall now, each day of the last few progressively more crisp.  The leaves are really lighting up, especially the red maples that line the little creek and fill the swamp at the bottom of the hill.  The last of the winter squashes are out of the field and stored in the greenhouse, a slight protection against the looming weekend chill.  We picked all of the rest of the peppers before the coming hard frost, and tomatoes will come too after a few more precious hours on the vine.  After this Monday and possibly the next, what’s left of this last  summer harvest is slated for the smokehouse, the pickle barrel, and the freezer so you can look forward to seeing them return as ingredients in our handmade sausages.

The manure is out of the barn and piled up to make compost for next year’s vegetables.  Not the most fun job, but I am reminded why I ever decided to keep cattle in the first place when I see that glorious mountain of manure, the promise of fertility and good harvests to come.  We continue to plunge ahead into the long list of autumn tasks – there’s still corn to pick, cover crop to sow, pole beans to harvest, and many many roots to dig.

If anybody is interested in getting a taste of the joy that is fall on a New England farm, please let me know – we’d be grateful for volunteers!  There’s really nothing like picking corn down in the back field on a cool autumn afternoon.

As you look over the vegetable list to order this week, note that we are still stubbornly hanging on to summer.  This will change very quickly, and at this time of year, it can be hard to say exactly what will happen between Friday and Monday.  Please bear with us and enjoy the whirlwind change of seasons in the garden.  We’ll do our best to get you everything you order each week.

Finally, a quick survey.  Now that the farmers markets are over, we are entertaining the idea of adding another day of shop hours at the barn, if enough people are interested.  If we opened up the store on Saturday, would you definitely come and buy some groceries?  Perhaps a different day?  Just shoot me a quick email to let me know.  Thanks!

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Braised cabbage with bratwurst

The newsletter is running late today, so let’s make this week’s post a simple and hearty recipe – cabbage braised in beer with bratwurst.  As luck would have it, we have plenty of cabbages to go around.

Slice one large yellow onion into half-moons, satuee in about 3T of olive oil (or bacon grease, if you have some lying around) in a large pot.  Core and slice one medium (or half of one large) cabbage into 1-inch strips.  After onions have browned slightly, add cabbage to the onions and salt generously.  Cook cabbage over medium heat, periodically tossing to coat with oil.  When all cabbage is limp, add one bottle of good beer (I used Brooklyn lager, but I think any decent lager would do the trick), 1T spicy mustard, and one finely-chopped bunch of parsley.  Continue cooking on medium heat until the alcohol is cooked out of the lager.  Turn heat to low, and then nestle 4 bratwurst into the cabbage.  Cover and cook on low heat until cabbage in as tender as you like it and the brats are fully cooked.

Serve with roasted potatoes, a slice of toasted crusty bread, and a dollop of sour cream.  Enjoy!!

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Rain rain rain

After what seems like week after week of late summer dry weather, ol’ Mother Nature has decided to take a different approach.  Rain and more rain – we had about 4 inches at the farm on Wednesday – but at least it appears as if we are going to be spared a direct hit from a a hurricane.  This time.

We have tons and tons of great stuff coming out of the garden, but at this time of year it starts to get harder to predict what we’ll have two days or two weeks from now.  We hope to still have tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and summer squash on Monday… and hopefully even the week after.  But the end is nigh, folks.  The end is nigh.  Please go ahead and order these summer fruits, and we’ll do our best to get them for you.  All I can say is enjoy these beautiful fresh things while they last!  And it might be a good idea to pickle or freeze or can some summer flavors – you’ll sure be glad you did in February.  With just a little extra time in the kitchen, you can have healthy and delicious local food all year long.  And really, what better way to spend a cool October Sunday afternoon?

New to the list – winter squash!  We have a mix of different heirloom squashes that are all decorative and delicious.  In fact, winter squashes store best in a dry place at about room temperature (or a bit cooler), and I’m sure the tradition of decorating with squashes in the fall has roots in a time when poeple were just trying to find a place to store the harvest.  Corners of the house would fill with squash that were nice to look at until it came time to eat them!  We have a couple of varieties of pie pumpkins that are especially pretty and are also very delicious.  They can be on the large side (5 – 8 lbs), so processing one would give you canned or frozen pumpkin for breads and pies through the winter.

Also new to the list – celeriac.  If you’ve tried this ugly duckling already, you know what to do.  Mildly celery flavored, this lightly starchy root is a great addition to soups and stews, and it also mashes well with or without potatoes.  Potato Leek Celeriac Soup?  Yes, please.

All of the fall favorites look great – kohl rabi, rutabaga, cabbage, broccoli, kale, chard.  This is peak season for fall barassicas.

Also note that we’ll be selling beets and carrots by the pound for the rest of the season.  Bulk prices are available on all roots (and cabbages), please just ask for more information.

A few new steaks and sausages on the list – don’t forget to check the pork and beef sections of the website for good stuff to go with your veggies.