December 1, 2011
The fruit is all safely in and most garden work done, but we still have some straw mulch to spread over the wintering strawberries and garlic, and we're working like beavers in the kitchen.
With help from Mother Nature, we harvested more summer raspberries than ever before (about 1,000 perfect pints!) That was lucky because the heavy rains and hurricane of late summer pretty much took out the whole autumn crop. It pummeled the elderberries too - the plants were heavy with huge umbels of ripening fruit and the rains just beat them into the ground. Tomatoes, too, never recovered from the deluge, but the peppers, planted on a hillside of sand, bore up beautifully.
Fruits beginning with "P" did especially well for us this season....Peaches, Pears and Plums were so perfect (and large!) that they looked as though someone else must have grown them.....! And having any Damson Plums at all given the pressure from the porcupines is a joy and a relief The flavor of these very special plums blows my mind every time I take a bite of Tweedledum's Damson Plum on some Orchard Hill bread.
Spiced Pear Butter - is our brand-new offering. The rains that took out our elderberries, raspberries and tomatoes helped the pears grow and grow and grow. We harvested about 400# in mid-October, then asked ourselves, "Now what???" We found the answer - Pear Butter - in an old cookbook. We prepped the pears and cooked them down over a very low heat for hours and hours until they were very thick. We used just one cup of organic sugar to sweeten 2 dozen jars, and organic cinnamon to help bring out the pears' own spiciness. It's delightful on toast and biscuits, and with the coming of Hanukkah, I just have to say, "Pears pair perfectly with Potato Pancakes."
Also new this year (in case you missed it!) Seedless Raspberry and Red Currant Preserve! I usually dismiss as hodgepodge jams made of mixed fruits, but that said, I LOVE the combination of luscious red raspberries with bright red currants in our new preserve. It takes just 1/4 red currants (a berry with lots of natural pectin) blended with 3/4 raspberries to produce a preserve that sets up almost like a jelly. (We strain the fruits to remove seeds and skins.) The overwhelming flavor is raspberry, with currants contributing a light, tart, flavor note. (As with all our preserves, organic sugar makes up less than half of the recipe.) This will replace our Seedless Raspberry Preserve. (If that's your favorite, please try this new flavor!!! I promise you won't be disappointed!)
Mustards must age for about a month for the flavors to mingle and mellow, so we've spent most of November making them.
Tarragon Mustard - our newest offering - is made with our freshly-picked French Tarragon, infused into local cider vinegar and lightly sweetened with wildflower honey. It's lovely with chicken, salmon, greens and beef, on sandwiches and in salad dressings. I've been making French Tarragon Vinegar for 30 years now, but never made mustard with it until now - how silly of me - it's a classic!
Market and Show News
Keene Winter Farmers' Market - First and 3rd Saturdays of the month, December - April, 10:00 - 2:00, at The Hannah Grimes Center on Roxbury St. in downtown Keene.
Holly Days Shop & Stroll at Tower Hill Botanic Garden - Boylston, MA, Wednesday December 7, 4:00 - 7:30. We're among a small, select group of artisans invited to a special night of shopping in and about the Orangerie of this beautiful botanic garden, decorated for the holidays. In the Great Hall, a welcoming fire and special menu from Twig's Cafe add to the festivities. (Note: Tower Hill has an admission fee for non-members. Friends from Shrewsbury & Boylston and other area towns can use the Museum Pass available from their Public Library.)
Here at Home
Local friends and fans are welcome to come here to the farm to pick up their orders. Please phone, email, or get in touch via Facebook first though! We're simmering fruit and putting up preserves almost every day and can't leave a boiling kettle! And, we can have your order all ready for you this way.
In The Pantry
The rains of late summer took out our elderberries, tomatoes, autumn raspberries, grapes, blackberries, and even some of the peaches and plums. Sadly, we were unable to make Tomatoes Rustica and JazzBerry Raspberry Salsa. We have sold the last Elderberry Syrup (we had only picked about 30 pounds when the rains pummeled the heavily-laden plants). Strawberry Preserves, Blueberry Preserves and Blackberry Preserves are all running low and we hope to have enough for the holiday season. We still have five freezers going with summer Raspberries, Damson Plums, Peaches, Black Currants, Red Currants, Italian Peppers and Chili Peppers, so should be able to fill orders for those preserves (although we will be out of all of them by the time they're ready for harvest next year!) And, even though our cultivated grapes took a beating in the rain, the wild grapes were bountiful. Ralph picked about 40 pounds which we'll have fun playing with on some cold winter day.
About Holiday Ordering
Our friends at the Post Office assure us that we'll still have deliveries on Saturdays throughout the rest of the year. We love our local post office (it's actually in Northfield, MA) because they handle our packages carefully and promptly (one morning, Ralph went in with 6 packages at 9:00 a.m., and was out by 9:06 - that's service!). We usually can send out your order within 48 hours and will let you know if any delay is likely. For best results, though, try to order by December 16! and of course, your best chance of getting your favorites is to order early.
Local Businesses we love (and not just because you can find us there!) *About US section of the website lists our long-time customers
- Orchard Hill Breadworks, East Alstead, NH - The place to go for true artisan bread - love and magic in every loaf
- Crescendo Acres Farm, Surry, NH - Alpacas and fiber, Christmas trees, maple syrup and other local offerings
- Northfield Coffee and Books - My 2 favorite vices - coffee & books - just 4 miles away in lovely Northfield
Local CSA Farms where you'll find us as well
- Picadilly Farm, South Parish Road, Winchester - Jenny & Bruce grow amazing organic vegetables for over 600 families - an awesome addition to our local agricultural scene
- Tracey's Organic Farm, Fitzwilliam, NH - Local Hero Tracey Smith vibrates with organic energy - so does her food!
- Atlas Farm CSA, Deerfield, MA - Organic vegetables from some of the most fertile soil in the land
In Grateful Appreciation
As the year turns from the season of harvest to the season of celebration, we are full of gratitude for all the fruits and vegetables the earth provided, for our family, friends and our 4-legged family. Thanksgiving was especially happy this year because my mum, a month before her 90th birthday, was hale and hearty enough to host the whole family yet again.
Auggie the fluffy kitty thinks I should spend this whole month on the couch with her in my lap - it's a tempting offer, I admit. Barley and Rosie suggest playful games at least a hundred times a day, and I'm grateful that they help me live in the moment.
We're honored to get to spend some of our lives looking at the world through their eyes. That's why, every year, we donate 20% of our November & December sales (from all sources) to local animal rescue agencies. The lions' share goes to The Monadnock Humane Society, Kitty Angels & Fast Friends Greyhound Rescue, and balance goes to Pioneer Valley/Dakin Animal Shelter and the Second Chance Fund for Animal Rescue. The good people who rescue and help these animals are our heros!
Comfy and Cozy
Our Crawford wood cookstove turns 104 tomorrow. I noticed the date loading it this morning. There's nothing like the complete warmth you get from a wood cookstove and we've been baking pies and breads, roasting chicken and vegetables, simmering stews and simply meditating by the fire.
Wishing all some peaceful time for quiet meditation amid the celebratory clamor of the holiday season. Thanks to all for your endless support and love.
Wishing you Comfort and Joy!