We have been enjoying the clear skies and warm weather the past few days. This time of year is a race against time to finish the list of projects before the ground freezes or the snow flies. Our list includes cleaning out the fields and greenhouses and getting them ready for spring, moving chickens, cows, and pigs closer to the barn and the water source, planting garlic, and finishing our earth bag root cellar. These, on top of continuing our daily chores of milking and feeding all the animals, harvesting veggies for the fall share, making meals, keeping the house at least somewhat clean and functional, getting kids to school, music lessons and sports events.
Finding balance and quiet time with family can be a challenge when our days are full from early morning until evening. That is why, although I feel a sense of melancholy as the days grow shorter and darker, I crave the still time of winter. A few years ago I joined a biodynamic study group. We talked about how we think of winter as a time where everything is dormant and waiting, but in fact there is a lot happening in winter in the quiet stillness. The underground roots of the trees and other perennials dig deeper for sustenance to weather the cold months. I feel that way about myself also. In the vibrant warm months there is a lot of external, physical action that happens, but not a lot of time for reflection or deep thinking. In the winter I settle in and think about things, reflecting on the past year, what went well and what did not, how we can improve our work and our time with family. Winter gives me the space and rest that I need to find clarity and energy to meet the demands of another farm season.
In this Weeks Share
Farmhand Soaps (with milkweed farm infused herbs)
We still have our pasture raised turkeys for sale for Thanksgiving. $5 per lb. We ask for a $25 deposit to reserve your bird. Call or email soon!
Kale and Potato Mash
1 lb. yellow fleshed potatoes (such as Yukon Gold)
1 lg. bunch kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
fresh ground pepper
2 tbs. olive oil
Cut all the potatoes into similar-size chunks. Put them in a saucepan with cold water to cover and 1 tbs. salt. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are nearly tender when pierced with a paring knife. Then add the kale and continue cooking until the potatoes are soft enough to mash and the kale is tender. Scoop out 1/3 cup of the cooking water and set it aside, then drain the potatoes and kale and transfer them to a roomy bowl. Add the reserved cooking water and the olive oil and mash to a chunky texture. Taste for salt and season with pepper. Sprinkle generously with parsley. Goes well with a little hot sauce on top.
Smoky Kale and Potato Cakes
Kale and Potato Mash (see above)
1 lg. clove garlic
1 cup grated smoked cheese or unsmoked aged cheese such as cheddar.
1/2 diced onion
several pinches of red pepper flakes
1 tsp. smoked salt or paprika
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
dried bread crumbs, semolina, or sesame seeds for coating, about a cup
Make the kale and potato mash and stir in the garlic and cheese. Pour enough oil into a roomy saute’ pan to cover lightly and warm over med./high heat. Add the onions and pepper flakes and cook for several minutes to soften the onion. Add this to the kale and potato mash, taste and season with salt and pepper.
Form into cakes by pressing the mixture into a 1/2 cup measuring cup, then turn it out onto your hand. Coat the cakes on both sides with the bread crumbs, semolina or sesame seeds.
To cook the cakes, film a roomy skillet, either cast iron or nonstick, with enough oil to cover lightly and warm over med. heat. When hot, add the cakes and cook, turning once, until nicely browned on both side, about 4 minutes on each side.
Sage Tea with Lemon
A simple tea made from sage leaves is refreshing hot or cold. It takes time for it to gain color, but even when it’s as pale as water, it’s flavor comes through. If it comes out overly strong, stir in a little honey or dilute with water.
Put 12 fresh sage leaves in a teapot. Bring 2 cups water to a boil and pour over the leaves. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Taste and leave to steep longer, if desired.
Potato and Leek Soup
2 tbs. olive oil or butter or a mixture
1 1/2 pounds gold potatoes, scrubbed or peeled
6 cups water or chicken stock, or 5 cups stock or water, plus 1 cup half and half
fresh chopped parsley
freshly ground pepper
Heat the oil in a soup pot over med. high heat. Add the sliced leek (white part only) and stir every so often so they don’t burn. At the same time peel or scrub potatoes and slice into small chunks. Add the potato and 1 1/2 tsps. salt to the pot and continue cooking, turning the potatoes often, until the leeks and potatoes begin to brown lightly, about 5 minutes. The pan will probably develop a glaze-that’s good. Add 1 cup of the liquid and scrape the pan to dissolve the glaze, then add the rest. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover partially, and cook until the potatoes are tender, 15-25 minutes. Taste for salt and season with pepper. Add 2 big handfuls of chopped fresh parsley during the last few minutes of cooking, then puree with an immersion blender or put into a blender (I have used a potato masher, which makes for a chunky, delicious soup if you don’t have an immersion blender. The soup will be pale green.