Sorry for the absence of blog posts the past couple weeks. Several people have left over the past few weeks and we’ve been pretty busy trying to get everything done. And this past week, we’ve been visited by 3 of the Dartmouth Outing Club freshman trips. Almost all of incoming Dartmouth freshman go on some sort of Outing Club trip before their freshman year begins (two years ago, Lucas went hiking in the White Mountains; 5 years ago, I went fishing up in the Second College Grant; and 27 years ago, Suzanne went hiking in the Presidential Range). So we’ve had 3 groups of 6-10 incoming freshmen with 2 upperclassmen leaders staying with us here at the farm for 2 days and nights. I think all of them have had a great time here, getting to know the animals, seeing the work that goes into growing vegetables, and even doing some of those monotonous jobs that the rest of us dread (pulling up plastic mulch, weeding 350-foot beds of carrots, picking beans …). It’s been awesome having them here, not only because they’ve done a lot of things that we might not have been able to get to for some time, but also because we’ve been getting to know them, watching them get to know and feel comfortable with each other, and seeing (and even feeling) that same excitement that each of us had when we went off to college for our freshman fall. Hopefully you guys all had a good time! Good luck and have fun at Dartmouth!
Back to the animals here, I realized that I haven’t really written about the chickens much at all. We processed the last of our meat birds a couple weeks ago, leaving the laying hens and pullets (pullets are laying hens that are less than a year old, our pullets were born in April and have started laying eggs over the past couple weeks) as the only chickens on the farm. We have a flock of about 120 Red Sex-link (a hybrid breed that is a great egg layer) laying hens with 2 roosters to keep them company, and they will be joined this winter by about 65 pullets (we started with 100 pullets in April but had some problems with a fox this spring). Although we don’t hatch our own chicks, we choose to have a couple roosters with the hens because it’s simply a more natural way for them to live. The laying hens live in mobile houses that are moved at least once a week to fresh ground. They really love this access to pasture and always are excited to have access to new ground, foraging for greens and hunting for bugs. We generally try to have them follow behind the cows and they enjoy digging through the cow pies, sanitizing them of any flies and getting valuable nutrients and animals. Eggs from chickens that have access to pasture have much darker yolks and have more healthy omega-3 fatty acids in them than traditional eggs. Many of you are regular egg customers but if not, hopefully you have a chance to try a dozen eggs; they really don’t compare with the eggs you can get in the stores around here.
The layers sometimes get neglected when it comes to food scraps (most of the vegetable scraps go to the cows or pigs) but they same to be only animals that will eat peppers or eggplant. When they do get some vegetable scraps, though, they really love them!
The freshest of eggs!
Arugula: Arugula is a pretty versatile green. It’s great in salads, can be braised or sauteed, or even used to make pesto (simply substitute Arugula for Basil in the pesto recipe below or you could use a mix of Basil and Arugula).
Basil: I realized that I haven’t posted a pesto recipe yet. If you’ve never made pesto before, it’s extremely easy (and cheap if you use sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts), and if you have, give this recipe a try or post your own!
3 packed cups fresh basil leaves
2 large cloves garlic
1/2 cup pine nuts ($30+/pound, sunflower seeds ($4/pound), or walnuts/almonds
1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley (optional)
3/4 parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup melted butter
salt to taste
Combine everything in a blender or food processor. Work into a smooth paste. Toss with hot pasta. This recipe works for about six servings of pasta
(from the The Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook)
Winter Squash: We started harvesting our winter squash last week and there is a variety to choose from this week: Acorn, Butternut, Buttercup, Carnival Acorn, Delicata, and Pie Pumpkins. Winter squash is very versatile. Probably the easiest thing to do is cutt it in half and roast it in the oven with a little water to help steam it, then eat it as is or puree it for use in soups or baking.
Tomatillos: Tomatillos are in the same family as tomatoes. They sort of look like green tomatoes except they have a papery husk. These are great for salsa verde and other Mexican dishes. If you’re not sure what to do with them, try the salsa verde recipe below.
Salsa Verde (recipe can be scaled up or down easily based on what you have)
4 cups roasted Tomatillos
1 1/2 cups seeded, chopped sweet peppers
1/2 to 1 cup sedded, chopped hot peppers
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 to 3/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp olive oil
1. Remove husks from tomatillos, rinse and place in baking pan drizzle with a little olive oil. Roast at 400 for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until brown. Puree in food processor or blender with any liquid.
2. While tomatillos roast, prepare peppers, onions, and garlic. Saute with olive oil in large pot.
3. Add roasted tomatillo puree, salt, vinegar, lemon juice, and cumin and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes.
Serve with chips or as a sauce with other Mexican dishes. This salsa also freezes very well.
(recipe courtesy of Sharon and Jeff Jones)
Tomatoes: You’ve all been receiving a lot of plum tomatoes the last couple weeks as the regular slicers and heirlooms begin to wind down. This is a great time to make some sauce or salsa to can or freeze. See some past posts on tomatoes for some sauce/salsa ideas.
That’s all for this week. As always, please post (or send along) any recipe ideas you have!
Have a good one!