Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Farm Updates - Mid November

We are busy putting the farm to bed for the winter. Now that we are farming a much bigger piece of land (the Ruff Garlick Patch) it is one helluva process. We have been working on it for over a month now starting with uprooting and picking the chile peppers. We roasted those and they are now stacked up like books in the upright freezer.

The next thing we picked was the red, yellow and orange bell peppers. Farmer Jeff roasted those and took them to the restaurant. It never ceases to amaze me just how much produce one restaurant can go through!

From there we picked the pumpkins and butternut squash. We have used a lot and sold a lot and still have a lot left. (over 100) Now we can see how many pumpkins and squash we can grow!!! Our farming partner, Larry, grew banana squash this year. I prefer the sweetness of butternut squash, but you can't beat how dang big these things grow! I took 2/3 of one squash. I peeled it and cut it into huge chunks, and bagged it. I used one bag for one big pot of soup: onions (homegrown) and apples (homegrown) sauteed in butter, chicken stock (homemade), sauteed jalapenos (homegrown), and when I realized it wasn't sweet enough and I was out of apples , I added some of our dried pears. That did the trick!

For the next pot of soup I used Larry's cauliflower, onions, garlic and sauteed it with a little cumin. I wanted more of a middle eastern flavor. Oh...and homemade turkey stock.

After all of that I still had a bag of squash left which I gave to a friend and the other I used in my turkey soup! I grew up on soup and am so used to making soup once the days are shorter and colder.

The corn patch was taken care of by a man and his wife that are raising cattle. They came in with machetes and hacked out the corn and hauled it away. Today the basil was about to be pulled up so I cut a garbage bag full and will make pesto tomorrow. I came home to a box of apples on the porch, left by a friend, and so I washed, cut up and cooked them in batches of 4 apples with a little water and cinnamon. I just cooked them until they were soft and then put them in 2 cup containers. I will use it for my weekly pot of oatmeal that Farmer Jeff and I live on!

Susan’s Steel Cut Oatmeal

4 1/2 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1 cup steel cut oats
2 - 3 apples, cored and seeded, diced
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. maple syrup

Bring the water and salt to a boil
Add the steel cut oats, stirring all the while you are adding it.
Add the apples, cinnamon and maple syrup.
Cook over low heat, stirring fairly often. It will take about 25-30 min for it to really cook into a nice consistency.

I guess I am still under the influence of Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. She and her family have inspired me more than ever to do what I can to preserve the harvest. I look forward to savoring the chiles, the jellies, the pesto, the dried fruit (if I can keep Farmer Jeff from eating all of it this month!) and soups for the months ahead.

Happy Thanksgiving and Harvest!

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The Southern Trip, Part 2

We have been busy with taking the farm down for the winter and I have not gotten back to the blog. That is what happens around here!

I can't go on with out talking about the meal we had at Cochon. For the vegetarians in the group, you might want to skip ahead to the next paragraph because Cochon is all about the pig...and maybe some oysters! To start, throwing caution to the wind, and trying with all of my might to block out my doctor's voice telling me to cut back on saturated fats, we started with fried pork skins dipped in Cane Syrup. I will let that sink in a moment...Ready? It is a very long strip of salty, crispy, crunchy goodness that is dipped in sweeter than molasses cane syrup. This had to have been an accidental pairing because the mind can't go there. It works. For the next taste treat we ordered the barbecued oysters. Sublime. They were perfectly cooked, aka, not rubbery and had a light and bright butter sauce. Is that a contradiction in terms? Hmmmm...We also ordered the charcuterie board, complete with homemade bologna and slim jims as well as house pickled onions and okra. YUM. Now for the entrees...the house specialty of "Cochon", perfectly cooked pork with turnips, cabbage and cracklins, with little nuggets of apple for sweetness. Farmer Jeff ordered his new favorite dish in the world, an oyster and bacon po'boy. We were dumb enough to order dessert, which, after all of the other food, I simply can't remember. Suffice to say, should you ever go to New Orleans, you MUST go to Cochon.

We rolled out of NOLA (New Orleans, Lousiana) mid-morning and crossed into Mississippi. I have to admit that I am head over heals in love with Mississippi. I can't fully explain it but can give some examples. Actually, the rest of my blog may give some of those examples.

We got out at the state line to "use the facilities" and to check out the visitor information center. Once inside the woman at the info desk asked if I would like a "Co-Cola". I quickly scanned what she was pointing at and saw that there was an actual soda fountain machine on the back wall and they were handing out FREE Coke!!! YES, M'am, I would surely love a Coca-Cola. That was a real treat!

We made a bee-line to have lunch in Jackson, MS, at Walker's Drive-in, a 50's looking place with supposedly regional food. We slipped in the door with 10 minutes to spare and quickly ordered what tickled our fancy first. I ordered the fried green tomato salad smothered with sauteed crawfish and Farmer Jeff ordered his new second favorite sandwich, a fried green tomato BLT. Have you noticed a them developing here? (Mine is pictured at the top of the page.)The meal was everything we had hoped for and really hit the spot.

We drove another couple hours to our next destination of Clarksdale, MS. Why Clarksdale? It is considered to be the home of the Delta Blues, and is the hometown of Mr. Charlie Musselwhite, a local of our area. He, along with Morgan Freeman, have bought property there. Mr. Freeman owns two restaurants, Ground Zero Blues Club, and
Madidi Restaurant, both in Clarksdale.

Farmer Jeff did some research on places to stay in Clarksdale (not many) and found The Shack Up Inn. It is located on the old Hopson Cotton Plantation, the same plantation where Pinetop Perkins, famed blues piano player, lived and worked. We stayed in the Pinetop Perkins shack, complete with a piano. I will post some pictures because words can not describe the place. Just one more note...this is where Robert Plant and Elvis Costello stay when they pass through town, which is surprisingly often. The shacks have electricity and indoor plumbing as well as kitchenettes complete with humming "period" refrigerators and microwaves, "non-period".

We were so enchanted with the place, actually, bewitched is a better word, that we made reservations to stay there on the way home from Oxford, MS. The next morning we headed off to the Delta Blues Museum and then to lunch at Ground Zero Blues Club. While standing in the parking lot of Ground Zero we could see the buildings that Charlie Musselwhite has purchased.

I will end this travel blog with a picture of the famous "Crossroads" where Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the devil in order to play the blues guitar. God rest your soul, Robert Johnson.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Home from our Travels to the South

Farmer Jeff and I are home from our lovely, restful, tasty and musical trip to the South.

We landed in New Orleans and, after having worked close to 6 months with an occasion day off, we slept most of the way and arrived to find tourists in New Orleans. We were very pleased to see more people in the city than we saw last year at the same time. YEAH!!! We didn't go far for our first meal. We stumbled to Mr. B's Bistro for dinner. It was right across from the hotel (Monteleone) and we were asleep on our feet. Good and convenient. We had Seafood Gumbo and their famous Gumbo Ya-Ya (chicken and sausage) and then I had Barbecued Shrimp and can't remember what Farmer Jeff had for his entree. We did get bread pudding for dessert. It was good but I prefer mine and Farmer Jeff's more. Especially his chocolate banana bread pudding. YUM.

The next day we just wandered. We took a long walk down Royal Street, walking the length of the Quarter,in the vain attempt to work off some calories that we were going to eat. We found a new and used cookbook store and just looked at the architecture. For lunch we hopped in the car and drove Uptown to Magazine Street. It runs through the Garden District and Uptown. After visiting several stores we decided to stop for a bite to eat and Ignatius was suggested to us. It is a traditional New Orleans-style restaurant named after the character of the quintessential NOLA book, A Confederacy of Dunces, Ignatius J. Riley. I had the traditional Monday wash day dish, Red Beans and Rice. It was SO good. Farmer Jeff had an Oyster Poorboy. Also delicious!

That night we ate at one of our two favorite restaurants, Cochon. (The other one is Herbsaint which is owned by the same folks!) We ate ourselves SILLY!!!!

I will give a full report on the rest of our meals. Tomorrow...

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