Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Harvest Share - December

Well, Christmas is almost upon us. Last night I delivered the first of the December Holiday Harvest Shares to Bangor. Below is a picture of one part of the share. I couldn't fit everything into the boxes so I had to add a bag for the potatoes and apples. The share consists of 1 Blue Hubbard Squash, 2 Long Pie Pumpkins, 1 Spaghetti Squash, 2 Baby Buttercup Squash, 2 Baby Butternut Squash, 2 Bulbs Elephant Garlic, 2 Bulbs German Extra Hardy Garlic, 4 lbs Red Cipollini Onions, 5 lbs Mixed Yellow Onions, 3 Bunches Danvers 126 Carrots, 1 Bunch Parsnips, 1 Bag of Tadorna Leeks, 1 gallon of Cider, pressed yesterday and 1 bag of apples. All Cider and Apples are from Mainely Apples in Dixmont, a small, family owned and operated orchard. There is also a bag with 12 lbs of potatoes. 3lbs each of Keuka Gold, Kennebec, Butte and Red Norland.
Here is the share in all it's glory! This is quite a bit of food and frankly, should last the average family of four well past one Christmas Dinner. Everything in the share with the exception of the apples, cider, carrots and parsnips are from our root cellar and were harvested this fall. The carrots and parsnips were dug from the snow covered earth just last week. Everything can be stored in the root cellar at your home with the exception of the cider (unless you want vinegar) which should go in the fridge or freezer (if you want to drink it later [don't forget to take out about a cup or two to leave room for expansion]).
Some notes about a few things in the share:
The potatoes all represent different methods of culinary preparation. The Keuka Gold (which are the small gold ones on the bottom of the bage) and Red Norland potatoes are best for boiling or roasting as they are small and tender. The Kennebec (the larger yellow ones in the middle) are a great baking potato and the Buttes (the dark brown, long narrow tubers) are a russet. This makes them good for french fries or frying in general.
Parsnips are one of those root crops that really should be grown and eaten by the majority of the people in Maine. They are extremely hardy. I have the majority of mine in the garden still, under the snow and will harvest them next spring when they will be sweeter for the cold and snow. A great idea for cooking parsnips is to put them in a pie. There is a great recipe in the Fedco Seeds 2009 catalog but you should be able to find one on the internet by searching 'parsnip pie'. I don't recommend eating them raw as they are quite an acquired taste that way.
The Hubbard squash is a very large variety. The 'skin' as it were is actually more like a suit of armor. Cutting into it is not for the weak at heart. Make sure you are careful and have a big knife and lots of elbow grease.
Other than that everything is self explanatory. I hope you enjoy and that everyone has a safe, happy and local food holiday.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Inside activities

Well, the first part of the seed order for 2010 has been mailed. I work with a group of farmers in Winterport and beyond to compile a group order for Fedco Seeds and we just sent in that order today. I took this picture a couple weeks ago when I needed a slight break from compiling seed orders and perusing catalogs. (Photo ops make nice breaks.) This planning phase is one of my favorite times of the year. People seem to think that all of my work is done in the summer. I work just as hard throughout the year but on different things. Right now we're working on planning next year's crops, crop rotations and more. I've also been working in the greenhouse to repair the damage from our windstorm and cleaning up some of the things that took a back seat this summer. After the holiday the real work begins as I will need to begin to do things like oil tools, make soil blocks, prep work stations, get in applications for our apprentice program and so many other things. The list never gets shorter...but what a wonderful way to live.
Speaking of wonderful ways to live, here is a shot of part of our root cellar, which is broken into two major categories. As you can see, this is the section where we keep our pumpkins, squash, some onions and garlic and my home made beer and hard cider. On a day like today when it's hard to think of anything growing outside (actually it's hard to even think straight it is so cold) it's a wonderful sight to open the basement door and be greeted by a bounty like this. Why 'civilization' ever got away from subsistence living is literally beyond me.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

On the bright side

Hooray! The greenhouse is finished (again) not a moment too soon. The new, improved design is simpler to allow for easier moving when the time comes and I bought some serious anchors for the corners. You can sort of see one on the near corner, it's sunk in the ground about 2 feet and then bolted and screwed to the foundation of the greenhouse. John also had two 50 gallon drums full of cement lying idle on a stone wall. They are now tied to the middle of the greenhouse. Just in time for another blizzard and wind storm yesterday. It's still standing and after yesterday I have confidence that it will make it through the winter.
Holiday harvest shares are coming up for the Christmas share folks. I went out in the garden today and shoveled the snow to reveal fresh carrots. Here they are, fresh from the garden, the good earth, spongy and sweet, still clinging to the sugary roots. Most root crops can be stored in the ground the way they grow until spring with a heavy mulch. An early, substantial snow like this makes an awesome mulch. Isn't nature grand when we get out of the way and recognize that she is providing for all her creatures?
Here is our meal from the other night when it snowed. How local are you? The dish shows pumpkin soup with dried thyme, both of which came from our gardens, (milk from grass fed cows at the Old Ackley Farm in Blue Hill), roasted garlic from the garden, spaghetti squash with fresh thyme, also from the gardens and root cellar. The bread was a last minute thing or it would have been local as well. But for the bread everything on the table came from no more than 30 miles from our house. We're getting better all the time, striving to be completely self-sufficient.

Finally, our beautiful baby girl helping daddy make pumpkin cookies from our Long Pie Pumpkins (another gift from the root cellar...and a summer of hard work). She loves to stand up on a chair and help us cook. She gets her own spoons, spices and pile of flour. A wonderful tradition passed down through the generations from my wife's grandmother.

Doesn't she look grown up in her apron and so strong to carry that heavy pumpkin all the way from the door to the cellar to the kitchen. She is very much enjoying the cookies as a reward for all of her wonderful help.

Until next time...
local food, global change