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Basket case

Basket case – I’ve encountered this term a few times in the last week, generally referring to my new International Cub tractor that I bought off the side of the road down in RI.  I was curious about where that term came from, and this is what I found for etymology (courtesy of Wiktionary):

The term originated from WWI, indicating a soldier missing both his arms and legs, who needed to be literally carried around in a litter or “basket.” Today it indicates a state of helplessness similar to the metaphoric removal of the appendages, most frequently in the context of mental health or aptitude.

Pretty gruesome, but I think it applies.  To the tractor, in a way.  And to me, obviously, if we’re being honest here.  A friend told me we better get some good weather (i.e. so I can actually get out of the garage and into the field) or the tractor would really be a basket case. And he’s right – I’ve got the left side final drive off (one leg), the head is off (well, the head), front axle was off (arms), and I’m about to drop the oil pan (metaphor exhausted).

Incidentally, If I wasn’t a farmer, I think I might be an etymologist.  If that’s a thing.  And if it is…. nice.

We’re back at the Community Barn on Monday with meats (and shockingly still beets), but note that pickup time is changing from 4pm to 6pm.  We haven’t had a customer yet before 4pm, so we may as well get another hour in at the farm.

Finally, I’ve been remiss in not mentioning this until now – Zach Kerzee is selling his Simple Bread at the barn with us on Monday.  Please place an order through his website if you’d like to pick up a loaf.

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February homegrown dinner

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Made dinner last weekend, looked at the plate, and realized that everything was home-grown. Even at the end of February.  Skillet pork chops, oven-steamed balsamic beets, mashed celeriac and carrots, sauerkraut.  For the beets, I used one very large Cylindra beet that yielded dinner for two with plenty of leftovers for a cold beet salad.  Seems to me that the Cylindra beets take a bit longer to soften up, and are even good with just a bit of crunch left to them.  Great flavor.  If crazy big long beets aren’t your thing, the Detroit Dark Red round beets will do just as well.

Nothing fancy, not more than two or three ingredients per dish.  But so good.  And it’s taken me longer to write this than to actually do all the cooking.

Do the beets first, then the chops so you can just turn down the heat in the oven when the beets finish.

Oven-steamed Balsamic Beets:  Heat oven to 450F.  Peel and chop beets.  Place beets into some kind of baking dish that can be covered.  Add salt, pepper, a few tablespoons of olive oil,  and a lot of balsamic vinegar.  Add enough vinegar to get to the point where you think to yourself, “Man, I think that’s too much vinegar.”  Cover the beets and bake until tender, about 45 minutes.  Stir them around a couple of times during baking.

Mashed Celeriac and Carrots:  Peel and chop 1 medium celeriac and 3 large carrots, so that you have about equal amounts of each.  Bring a pot of slated water to a boil, add chopped roots, cook until tender.  Pour out the water and then mash roots with a couple tablespoons of butter (or a few, but several might be overdoing it), and enough milk (or cream, or half and half) to get the consostency you want.

Perfect Pork Chops: Heat oven to 350F. Liberally salt and pepper both sides of a couple of chops. Really, don’t be shy with the salt. In a hot skillet, sear one side of the chops for 1 minute. Flip them over, and sear the other side for another minute. Put about a teaspoon of coconut oil on top of each and finish them in the oven for 6 minutes. Remove from oven, move to plate or platter, and let them rest for 5 minutes.