in the farm kitchen: february

spanish tortilla 1

There are a myriad of benefits to eating locally: increased health from eating whole ingredients, a strengthened food economy for local farmers and producers, less oil burned to transport our calories, a heightened connection with the seasons and the earth. But this time of year can feel challenging—what is available that is tasty and nourishing?

I’m starting this series, In the Farm Kitchen to highlight how we are using locally available, seasonal ingredients, and simple ways you can bring local, seasonal, healthy foods into your life (and in so doing create a quietly massive revolution in the food system).

One key piece of eating locally in winter is food storage. Root crops tend to be available all year (big thanks to local farmers, for growing and storing those for all us eaters!!), but it’s tough to get bright, fresh fruits in winter. To prep for winter, we always do an enormous berry harvest in summer and freeze at least a hundred pounds of fruit to eat through the winter. This morning my day started with a smoothie made from low bush blueberries grown in Heath. (That blueberry farm was amazing because it has been burned every three years [a practice that helps blueberries thrive] basically forever. For as long as people have been keeping track, that place has been a blueberry mountain. It's amazing.)

eggs in basket
blueberries 1

We also like to keep a jar of spouting seeds or beans on the windowsill behind our sink. We rinse these a handful or so of seeds every day and over the course of the week they grow to fill an entire mason jar. They keep us phytonutrient-fed even when the last of our kale is buried under four feet of snow outside.

Another key that unlocks the possibility of local eating for us are our chickens. (Our chickens are also super important for increasing the fertility on our farm. Our soil is really thin and depleted, and we take the chicken bedding filled with poo and spread it around areas where we want to be able to grow more food. Stack those functions.) Yesterday it was negative twenty in the night, and our chickens are still laying eggs galore for us. Thirteen just yesterday! We will be able to gobble all those eggs up no problem during Spiral, when we have fifteen young women living with us over the summer, but now it’s certainly a lot.

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I’ve been making frittatas and frying eggs like crazy, and today a dear friend sent me a recipe for a Spanish tortilla, made with eggs and potatoes. This recipe is awesome because a) it’s easy, b) it’s delicious c) it’s gluten-free, and I’m building a recipe arsenal for this summer, since one of our Spiral participants is totally gluten-free, and finally because d) western mass in February can easily offer up all these ingredients.

spanish tortilla

I wish you could know how crazy good this smells. The recipe I used is from Food52, and the link is here. What are you cooking in your farm-fresh winter kitchens??

 

plant to plate: kale

kale 1
wheatberries and kale

seems like everyone and their mama is in to eating kale, brassica oleracea, these days. and with good reason. kale is a superstar of the green veggies, packed with vitamins, calcium, and carotenoids. (basically, some super tricky compounds that can block the growth of cancer cells.) in short: eat this stuff.

kale is also a fairly hearty plant to grow. there are perennial incredible varieties of "tree kale" that we grew while out on the west coast. they just get taller and taller, and as you harvest leaves they keep growing up. here where it is colder in the winters it's an annual plant, but no less awesome. you can plant it early enough so that it's sized up to full before the first frost date, and it won't die if it frosts. some people say it gets even sweeter. you can cover it up with a little reemay, which is just a blanket for plants, and tuck it in for several weeks.

you harvest kale by taking off the lower outer leaves first, slicing where the stem connects to the stalk. you work your way up the plant and it continues to produce new leaves at the top. miracle!

there are lots of lovely ways to eat kale: kale chips, kale soups, kale salads, kale blended in to juices or smoothies (haven't gotten there myself...) but i love this simple beautiful summer salad. hearty enough for a main course.

Summer Tomato & Kale Wheatberry Salad

recipe

big ole bowl of wheat berries, cooked (if for you that means 1 cup, great, if you want to cook 4 cups for your whole family, more power to you.)
2 cups kale, chopped
1 or 2 big heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup or so of cheese, chopped (i used some cheddar because we had it, super thinly sliced. you could do feta crumbled or anything delicious.)

dressing
either use your fave vinaigrette recipe, or this simple one:
1 part oil (i used olive)
1 part vinegar (i used balsamic-- nice with the tomatoes)
1/3 part acid (i used lime juice, but lemon or grapefruit would be great)
 pinch salt and pepper
splash maple syrup

Cook wheatberries. Great tutorial over here. Let them cool. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a cup. Wash, de-rib (that just means cut the big fatty stem out of the middle of the kale leaf) and chop up the kale into small pieces. Cut up your tomato into the size of pieces that you like to eat. Slice the cheese, or crumble if using feta. Stir the kale, tomatoes, and cheese chunks into the slightly warm wheat berries. Pour dressing over. Toss to coat. Let it sit-- this is great served warm, at room temp, or cool.

 

plant to plate: raspberries

let's all pray  spotted wing drosophila  doesn't get here this year

let's all pray spotted wing drosophila doesn't get here this year

scored by finding mama c's china collection

scored by finding mama c's china collection

this time of year, raspberries (rubus idaeus) are off the chain. delicate and flavorful, raspberries come packed with antioxidants, phytochemicals that help fight cancer, and anti-inflammatory compounds.

they are also just plain delicious, and a perennial fruit that can thrive in marginal soils. (quick side note on the many reasons why perennials are awesome: they don't require tilling of the soil, they fruit year after year, they can be part of an edible forest garden system, they make more of themselves so you can dig up canes and share with friends, increasing food resiliency for everyone.... and on and on.)

they are super hearty-- to zone three or four. they don't love the heat, unfortunately for all my georgian loves. (if you don't know what climate zone you live in, check it out here.) they are very easy to propogate them (you just wait until spring when they send up new plants from their roots, dig them up and physically bust them all apart into new plants.)

you can use the leaves for tea, which are supposed to help with cramps and morning sickness.

i like to eat raspberries as simply as possible, they are so perfect as they are. but what could be better than dolloping them with a little maple-sweetened whipped cream? your body needs fat to uptake vitamins anyway, right? this is practically a sally fallon dream. it's a win/win. i made these with some organic cream & the last of the maple syrup we made this year. to summer!

raspberrries 3

recipe:

1 quart fresh raspberries
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
2 T maple syrup
1 t vanilla

a few sprigs mint

plop your raspberries into quaint tea cups. whip the cream together with the maple and vanilla. i like mine just barely firm so that it's almost still like an english cream. spoon into cups & garnish with mint. perfection. cool before serving.