Field Notes: Volume 16, Number 24
This Week’s Harvest
By Courtney Buchholtz
This is the weather we have been waiting for—crisp, cool mornings, that are just cold enough to make your hands a little numb but still mobile enough to harvest without losing a finger. We pile on the layers and head out to the fields, waiting with anticipation for the sun to crawl over the trees and warm us with her rays. I always pause, smile, and enjoy the moment when I take a breath and realize that the coolness in the air has given way to gentle warmth that fills my nose and delights my lungs. These moments are what we look forward to as each season passes. What moments in life do you look forward to? Has life gotten so busy that we forget to stop and appreciate the moments?
Another of these moments came yesterday as I was mulling about in the rain, to the sound of tree frogs, happy tree frogs. I couldn’t help but smile and thank them for lifting my mood. Every time the rains fall my Worry Meter tips toward “full” at the thought of trying to get the garlic planted. Unless we get some unseasonably warm weather to start November off, we are at least a few weeks yet from being able to work the ground in preparation for planting the garlic. We have a few alternatives to the main field but we’d rather not have to exercise those options if we can help it. So we wait and watch, and gently encourage what remains in the garden to keep growing, while giving thanks congruently to the bounty that we have been provided with so far.
Our original plan included one more box beyond this week and I am happy to say that we are on track to do just that. We have a few crops remaining in the fields that we will delight you with next week to wrap up the season. And despite the possible snow (yes, snow) and cold temperatures forecast for this weekend, what remains in the fields should fare just fine, with a little human intervention to reassure ourselves that we will have a bountiful last box. I know you all are thinking how crazy it would be to have snow here in October, but given the year we have had should we really be surprised? This forecast makes me think of October 2009 in Minnesota. We had snow every Friday, which happened to coincide with our picking day. The snow didn’t hang around too long, but it certainly brought added efforts to get our produce from the fields to the market. But, as always, we adapted, put on extra warm clothes, and took plenty of tea breaks to stay warm! We are not ones to shy away from a little cold weather.
The last of the stakes came out of the ground yesterday, and we brought in the remaining irrigation tape and lines this week. We also removed the irrigation system from the river, the one we never got to use, thanks to Hurricane Irene and the deluge that followed. But we had the great experience of rebuilding the pump and partaking in the installation, so when we someday have the opportunity to use something similar we will be well-prepared. At heart, I am a hands-on learner, so the actual doing is what sinks in the most, and I am grateful for all the opportunities I have had this summer to do just that. We have a few projects remaining to wrap up the year, and then we will hunker down for the winter. Let’s hope it’s a pleasant one!
Below, photos from this week on the Ecosystem Farm. Click images to enlarge, or view them on Flickr.
Recipe: Skillet Eggs with Kale and Chorizo
1/4 pound Spanish-style chorizo (or other spicy, hard sausage), diced
1 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
4 to 6 eggs
grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add diced sausage and cook, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Add kale and cook, tossing often, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle lemon juice and pepper over the mixture and toss well, then push mixture to outer edges of pan. Reduce heat to medium and crack eggs, one at a time, into center of pan. Briefly cook uncovered, then sprinkle 3 tablespoons of water over kale and eggs, cover, and cook until eggs are set, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and serve immediately, right from pan.
Hint: To lighten the dish, substitute turkey or soy sausage for chorizo, and add beaten egg whites or egg substitute instead of whole eggs. Stir egg whites or egg substitute while cooking to scramble.
Recipe: Carrot and Orzo Salad with Fresh Dill
3 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally into 2-inch pieces
5 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 pound orzo pasta (or other grain of choice)
zest and juice of 2 lemons
4 scallions, white and light green parts only, chopped
1/2 cup loosely-packed fresh dill, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a small bowl, toss carrots and garlic cloves with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Spread on rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until carrots are browned and tender. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
Squeeze out pulp from garlic cloves into small bowl and discard skins. Mash pulp with the back side of a spoon until it resembles a paste.
Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain in a colander (do not rinse), then transfer to a large bowl. Toss with remaining olive oil; add carrots.
In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, zest, scallions, and garlic paste. Mix in dill, then pour over orzo mixture and toss until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Twilight Tales: Saturday, October 29, 2011, 6 to 9 p.m., Accokeek Foundation Visitor Center: When night descends on the Potomac River, this historic site comes alive with spirits from Maryland’s past. From 6 to 7 p.m., visitors can enjoy scary stories and songs performed as the sun sets across the river. From 7 to 9 p.m., brave able-bodied souls may venture out to explore the haunted farm house. Then, follow a mysterious guide by lantern light through the fields to the Tobacco House and meet criminals and other lost souls from Colonial Maryland. This scary journey is appropriate for ages 8 and up.
Sustainable Table Potluck: Tuesday, November 8, 2011, 6 to 7:30 p.m., Education Center: It’s one thing to purchase produce that’s in season, and quite another to cook it. Sustainable Table is a monthly cooking course that demonstrates how to use in-season fruits, vegetables, and herbs to create healthful, wholesome, and delicious meals. To celebrate the end of the season, we invite our guests to join us for a potluck. Guests are encouraged to use seasonal ingredients—this month, think sweet potatoes, winter squash, apples, greens, and more—to make a soup, side, salad, or dessert to share. Please RSVP by clicking the link available here.