It feels good to be writing to you again. Over the last couple of months I had the image of being a snow goose nestled in on a secluded island covered by a lovely cloud. That was my version of hibernation. In real life it looked like time to read, to be without a to-do list (a rare thing for me to be sure), to be bored, to play games, to go for walks just for fun, to do yoga and rest. For Paul it looked a bit different; his time away from farming often involves kitchen and house projects, while listening to podcasts and books. He made bread, and more bread and Christmas cookies and painted some of the inside of our house. To each their own:)
Maybe it goes without saying, but I think it is also worth saying, that the many wars and conflicts in the world have weighed heavy on our hearts. We grapple with making space for grief, wanting our hearts to remain open to compassion in the face of such horrible injustice and violence against oppressed peoples and trying to take small actions that fight inertia at being so far removed yet seeing so much.
Along with crop planning, website development and other administrative tasks it has felt good to do small physical tasks of digging a trench, refinishing tool handles and cleaning the back of the barn (that place where everything gets thrown throughout the season and is completely disorganized). And then it snowed. What a beautiful thing to have everything transformed by the snow if only for a little while.
There is always a long list of things we’d like to improve on at the end of a season but we also take time to name the successes. This was what hit the top of our list when Paul, Rachelle, Ryan and myself did some season review today.
When thinking about the challenges of a season or places we like to improve one of our questions needs to be, “what was the hardest part on your body?” It’s no surprise that small-scale veggie/flower market farming is physically demanding and so we are always trying to look at what are the pinch points and maybe there are ways that we can ease the crunch. I’m not sharing this to complain but it may be interesting to see some of the things were thinking about needing to improve this next season to be more sustainable. When we were thinking about it yesterday these are the main stressors on our bodies during this past season:
Mondays are super long often working way into the evening to prepare for the very long Tuesday. Is there anyway we can streamline set up for market to alleviate some of the work on those days?
The fancy new greens harvester that we purchased this past season makes for really efficient greens harvesting but it often left the user with really sore back and elbow. This needs some upgrades to make it more ergonomic.
Planting seedlings (especially in the spring) but really all season long is sooo hard on our knees. So we have gone ahead and purchased a paperpot transplanter (we’ll show you that in spring when we start using this very cool tool).
Heavy loads of zucchini and cucumbers in the card. Anyone want to give us an electric cart?
Standing in place tasks like standing at the cash register on Tuesdays or flower harvesting; it’s hard on the feet and low back.
It's fun to put our minds to these challenges and continue to find ways to do things better.
Preheat the oven to 375F
Heat a cast-iron skillet (or another deep ovenproof skillet) over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add about 1 T oil followed by the onion. Season with salt and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl.
Add half of the kale to the still-hot pan, season with a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it wilts and any juices evaporate, about 3 minutes. Repeat with the remaining kale. Transfer to the mixing bowl, remove the pan from the heat, and do not wash the pan.
Add the heavy cream, sweet potatoes (thinly sliced), sage, cheese, garlic, pepper, and ½ tsp of salt to the mixing bowl and stir together.
Scoop the mixture into the pan; use your hands to gently tamp it down so it’s an even, compact layer and as submerged as possible in the cream. If it’s extremely full, be sure to place a baking sheet under it to catch any drips.
Put the bread crumbs in a small mixing bowl, drizzle with 1 tsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt, mix to coat, and sprinkle on top of the gratin.
Bake for about 60-75 minutes, until the whole thing is golden brown and bubbly. Let cool slightly before serving.
From A Dish for All Seasons
I picked up a great cookbook at the library a few weeks ago, "Purely Pumpkin; more than 100 seasonal recipes," by Allison Day. Pretty perfect for stepping into this autumn season and trying out some new ways to enjoy winter squash. Here's 2 that I've tried this past week and enjoyed.
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