Those of you who have been to the farm and had the chance to interact with our gentle giant may have some sense of what a tremendous loss we have experienced. The garage where he slept seems very empty in the evenings. And the hill he kept watch on is oddly silent. The walker and joggers who greeted him each day at the end of our drive are still asking questions and we visit and lament together the big hole he leaves. The short answer to the questions is that he died quickly and easily as a result of blood loss from an abscess on his knee. He basically went to sleep, with myself, Shannon and the vet gathered around him. While we were all surprised, the moment wasn't stressful or panicky, but rather quite peaceful and quiet. So we say goodbye and thank you to a relentlessly loving, leaning and patient presence. We are deeply grateful for the large space he occupied in our lives.
And so life goes on, different, but good. We must harvest and we must eat. We are thankful for the good work and the good crew and the good food. This week's box is our last of the season and could not be more full or delicious. The cooler temperatures of fall literally change the plants, and subsequently, their flavors. We find them sweeter, with more depth and crispness. Our menus on the farm have changed to reflect these altered tastes and we feel that we've never eaten better! Of course, we feel that way with every change of season, but that doesn't make it any less true. Braised turnips and Brussels Sprouts are the jewels of the table right now, while kale sautees and cabbage slaws enliven breakfast, lunch and dinner. Here's what's in the box:
Kale – Yum! We missed these beefy, flavorful, vitamin-packed greens while we let the plants bounce back from the early summer harvests. Back and better than ever.
Broccoli – What a year it has been for broccoli!
Leeks – These aren’t real leeks – they are Japanese scallions but they behave just like leeks in cooking and they have a wonderful flavor. We have really enjoyed this new variety of allium this year and hope you have as well. Great paired with the potatoes!
Cabbage – These gorgeous savoy cabbages are an English variety that we think stands up better to bugs and heat than the thinner-leaved light green variety you might be used to. And the flavor! Sweet. Just an exceptional vegetable. We like this braised in stout with a bit of leftover ham cubed into it.
Turnips – Another great braising vegetable! This we braise in a bit of bacon grease and apple cider and sprinkle with parsley. But another great way to enjoy these is raw, cut into sticks and dipped in a creamy goat cheese dip. Don’t bother trimming the skin off - it is tender – and DO save the greens to sauté up with bacon and serve over grits.
Brussels Sprouts – We don’t always have these to put in the boxes, though we always grow them and aim for the last box. Sometimes they don’t size up, and sometimes they don’t get frosted, which improves the taste. This year, they did both for you!
Potatoes – These very special potatoes are purple on the outside, but on the inside they are golden. Their shape is like a russet, but their flavor like a fingerling. A complicated potato of many contradictions! And a fabulous flavor. This potato will literally make you sit up and take notice. Called Peter Wilcox, this newer variety developed by the USDA breeding program has a medium purple skin color and a medium to dark yellow flesh. It was bred for nutritional qualities. The carotenoid content is 15% higher than Yukon Gold; and it has a high Vitamin C content. Peter Wilcox is also known as Purple Sun and Blue Gold. You also have some beautiful, huge Russetts - good for storage and baking.
Sweet Potatoes – Some of these got huge, which made it difficult to dig them without damage. So some of you may have received a few large, but less-than-perfect tubers. We think you’ll enjoy them just as much! Try the sweet potato cornbread! We served this at our last field-to-table dinner and got lots of recipe requests.
Popcorn – These little ears of popcorn aren’t quite ready to use yet. Enjoy them as decorations in your kitchen through the harvest and Thanksgiving season, then ease the kernels off into a paper bag. By then they should be dry enough to pop. We pop them in the microwave right in the paper bag, but you can pop them on the stove, too!