Tuesday, August 31, 2010


the effects of earworm
what is up with this corn? delicious, yet a wee bit of rotting at the top. don't be fooled. this is frustrating, but still quite edible. our corn shall not be mourned against the likes of earworms!
some raw corn and sad thai basil laying low

just a quick chop off the top, after some shucking...

cooked, blanched, drying corn.

and, voila!  way too much corn
for one meal. 
that's ok, though. we plan on 
freezing most of this for wintertime meals.
and much more.
interested in storing your own corn? try out this link.  it's a cinch. which is great, b/c we'll be doing it for some time to come.


Monday, August 30, 2010

dinner party!

we love dinner parties. love love love 'em.  these days they are a rare occurrence with our toddler toting about. but we're hosting one tonight. and, with the summer crops in their peak, we find it a good opportunity to utilize our garden's bounty.
first, here's our table.  

colorful, huh? a tad bit overwhelming, which i like.
but here's conroy carrying it down stairs. you can't tell, but it's stuck.  he could take his hand off the table and it would stay put.  he spent more time contemplating and less time putting some elbow grease into it.

and here's our menu. 
steamed (toyha) edamame drizzled with tamari sauce

corn on the cob
delicata squash, mashed with some cinnamon and butter
this tomato & cucumber salad recipe (w/o parsley)
sage rice (not wise, but flavored)
baked chicken marinated in garlic, wine and balsamic dressing.

and vino, of course!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

edamame, edamame

edamame is a wonderful earth product and tons of fun to say.  how could you go wrong? 
these young and lusty soybeans are high in fiber, heavy in protein, and just bursting with manganese and folate. so eat up folks, 'cause with some tamari sauce they're scrumptious. 

before you is the wonder-plant itself. bathe in its tender glory.

edamame on the stalk.

after we picked the pods from the stalk, they got a quick rinse,
sanitized edamame

then a gentle yet cleansing spa,
steaming hot edamame

followed by an awakening ice bath.  

keep 'em in the ice for the same amount of time you keep 'em in the spa. symmetry, friends. that's what it's all about. 
then we package them into their frozen death, only to be nibbled upon at our random luxury.  

shown are our tohya soybeans.  we made a 20 foot bed with 4 rows. so far we've harvested half of that bed.  it's yielded ~5 or 6 quarts (stored in freezer bags).  that's a lot. so i plan on trying out this edamame hummus recipe sometime this week.

rainy days

we haven't had too many of them this year, but rainy, windy days are good for the soil and good for the soul. that's why we're lucky to be havin' a few of them now. but it's a mixed blessing.
for us rainy days are good for reading, lounging, nutritional yeast popcorn (w/ dill!), harvesting, and preserving. we've been doing some minimal harvesting, and some major cooking, blanching, and freezing these past few days.  
so far we've blanched and frozen broccoli, kale, corn, turnips, green beans, and edamame. the process can get a little redundant - rinse, chop, steam, cold bath, dry, repeat - but it's well worth it. these veggies (and more!) will last us through the winter and help us to keep our consumption of store-bought veggies to a minimum. thereby maximizing our carbon-footprint-conscience, yuppie egos.
here's a quick example of how to freeze broccolithe only thing i would add to that tutorial, is be sure to dry the veggies before you go and freeze 'em, or else you'll have some vegicicles.

we've still got lots to learn, of course. like how to freeze melons - we better figure that out soon because our  charentais melons should be ripe anytime now. but we tend to learn best by several rounds of experimentation, trial and error, that sorta thing.

then there's the soil.  rain's good for soil for obvious reasons...same reasons that water's good,  in general, for us.  and our garden appreciates a good drink every now and again. especially in the beginning,  water helps plants develop and can even prevent susceptibility to certain pests (so they say).  of course, too much water can cause blight and mold and rot the vegetables in the ground.  it's generally pretty simple to decipher when your garden is thirsty.  just stick your finger in the ground, and if the soil is dry at the depth of ~1/2 an inch, then it's time for a drink. 

but too little water is a problem of the past for us.  right now our garden, which happens to retain water very well, is nearing too-wet.  luckily, nothing is flowering except maybe a few late-blooming pumpkins (water is good during the flowering stage, too much water is less good). so our current worry is rot.  our squashes and melons are soon to be sinking in a cesspool of  dank muck if this rain keeps up.  so, we have two options: 1) harvest a wee bit early or, 2) put some plywood beneath the produce until harvest time.  we'll keep you posted. but we won't be doing much for now, because it's no good messing with your crops during the rain. it can spread diseases.  and we're proud to say, after some serious heart-to-hearts with our vegetables, they're disease free.

until then, we're hoping for some warm, dry, windy days to dry out this soil.

Monday, August 23, 2010

jacob's cattle

we spent a lovely little chunk of the weekend shucking jacob's cattle beans. sitting on the back stoops, watching the sky change from blue to yellow, orange, red; with kid A trying to help shuck - that's how we ended our weekend. all we needed was a little history lesson on the bean....

the big JC bean has also been called 'trout' bean or 'appaloosa'.  the variety appears to be a prince edward island heirloom that came to the pilgrims as a gift from the Passamaquoddy tribe (now) in maine.  legend has it the gift was to Joseph Clark, the first white baby born in easternly lubec, maine. (thanks slowfoodusa)

here are ours, 
still drying and for some reason
less marbled than others,
but still awful pretty. we planted in early june, got about a quart of beans,
and the row was about 10ft long.  
many of our beans (chickpeas, soldier, and pinto) were planted in 4 rows per bed, including jacob's cattle.  we found it took about a half a pound of beans to fill one bed. we bought 2 oz of j's c, so guess it's safe to say every 2 oz of jacob's cattle seed makes about 1 quart of beans.

that said, it's worth noting that
all of our plants were not as big as the could be, probably because the land was freshly tilled (i.e. lots of sod chunks). so the 2oz = 1q is a lower limit, we're hopeful we'll get more in the future!

farm recipe - brown rice chicken casserole

of the many different ways to preserve veggies and fruit from the garden, creative-cooking delicious comfort food (especially on rainy weekends) has got to be one of our favorites.
i modified a recipe my father shared with me - wild rice and chicken casserole - to include some of the overabundant greens from the garden.  i'm happy to report the meal was a success and will be accompanying conroy to work several times this week. 

without further ado

2 c long grain brown rice
1 lrg onion
1 celery stalk
1 broccoli crown and stalk
1 bunch of kale
2 10oz cream of broccoli (our try homemade)
1/2 c of whole yogurt
3/4 dry white wine
1 1/4 tsp of curry powder
3 c cubed chicken
s + p to taste

cook rice.  boil chicken 'til done.  saute onion, celery, broccoli, and kale.  add soup, curry, and chicken. take off from heat. add yogurt, rice and the booze, and mix it all up. put it in a casserole dish (9X12, or 11X13, or what have you) and bake for about 20-25min at 350F. 

the original recipe called for butter and sour cream. but we like our arteries, here at the happy lil' farmstead. and the above recipe is still very tasty. we ate it with some edamame on the side and they went together well.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

crops, and crop varities

this being our first year farming on our own without the guidance of more weathered farmers, we gotta admit, we're pretty stoked.  like chickens with their heads cut off, we've been running around for the past few months with various garden errands (weeding, bug hunting, etc.), and our next big ideas for our little plots. on top of chasing our stunning little one yr old around the gardens, we've been very satisfied livin' this life.

but lets get down to brass tacks. we've got two 20 X 40ft beds, and a quarter acre outback. 

here's our spring crop list:

edamame (envy, tohya brands - we're a big fan of tohya. more flavorful, less crunchy)
soybeans (black jet)
bush beans (provider, jade, xera, fresh pick - we do not prefer the former)
tongue of fire
turtle black beans
mesculn popping up.
great northern
jacob's cattle
and soldier beans.  ...whew, lots of beans!

corn (mystique and sugar buns - we prefer mystique, but both are yummy!)

delicata (our favorite)
bolting mesculn, medicinal herb garden

mariana (for canning)
striped german
big boy

red gold
gold rush

french charentais melons
broccoli (gypsy)
red cabbage
wild asparagus
broccoli, homemade cold frames, kale (in back), cabbage
kale (starbor and tuscano)
snap peas (yum!)
sunflowers and wildflowers abound

and a medicinal herb garden including:
creeping thyme and tall thyme

cukes (almost totally failed, no clue why)
spinach (too much heat)
lettuce (mr. bunny got it all)
leeks (most didn't germinate. we direct sowed them)
mesclun (bolted rather quickly)

  farmer's almanac
     i think that's it for the spring crops.  so far, it's gone very well, except for all the failed crops of course. but that's to be expected.  best-laid schemes o' mice an' men, and whatnot. we've been keeping a detailed farm journal daily, intended to help us out with future gardens.  a key component of which is recording the weather.  
     we've had some record-breaking heat waves this year, which destroyed some of our crops during their extra-sensitive germination period.  we also had an early spring, and were a little late getting started.  together these forces of nature have slightly deformed (in appearance and taste) our green beans, shrunk our corn, over-heated our spinach, dill, mesclun, and cucumbers (we guess). 
  but our edamame tastes wonderful, the sungolds are plentiful, the broccoli and kale are in constant blossoms, and the snap peas were delicious and sweet. 
  today we tried out this roasted sungold recipe from our brother and sisters in farms, in dreamy maine.

belated entry # 1

to begin this farm journal we would like to take you on a brief, nondescript image tour of our beginnings of farming here in MA.  for starters, we've got some lovely sunsets....

then there's the land and the crops....here we have some snap peas all tresseled to our amateur-ish perfection; 

some cold frames with broccoli; 

 and an adorable yet nosy neighbor who eats our carrots, parsnips, and we suspect our chickpeas as well...

well, all but three of our chickpeas.