April 17, 2013
I try not to use this weekly message to talk too much about the weather, as it is not the most riveting of topics. But truth be told, I sure do think about it a lot. And while there is (as of yet!) nothing I can do to change it, there are a number of little things we can do to prepare for extreme weather. The cold snap that we felt last weekend actually went all the way down to 22 degrees out here on the Westside. In anticipation we ran around and covered everything we could, even putting two layers of cloth on some of our most sensitive plants. We also ran a little heater in our greenhouse (where our baby tomato plants are), and we ran our irrigation to keep the ground as moist as possible, which holds slightly more warmth than dry soil. Come Monday morning we were able to see that much of our work paid off, as some of our early spring crops, like squash and sunflowers, survived. Others, like our Swiss chard and long stemmed marigolds shriveled like a summer snowman. These unnecessary deaths (and future boring emails about the weather) can all be avoided if everyone pitches in to build that 2.5 acre biodome I’ve always wanted. Make checks payable to Olivia Lapinski……….
April 17, 2013
Since starting with us in September, our intern Terry has become the best friend to our 28 hens and one strutting rooster. She is exceedingly attentive to their needs and especially quick to bring them a tasty morsel from the garden. While we all enjoy watching the endless quirkiness of our birds, from their almost ridiculous manner of running (a clumsy, wobbly, yet graceful burst of beak-first momentum) to the earnestness with which they take dirt baths. But Terry takes her appreciation a bit further with her evening coop sit-ins. For a few minutes at the end of almost every workday Terry (aka St. Francis of the Hens) lays out a clean cloth and sits serenely as the girls (and boy) investigate the creature that has wandered into their territory. Terry says that she simply enjoys their fun nature and genuinely enjoys being in their company. Based on the photo below, I think that they have happily accepted her into the flock :)
April 17, 2013
Recently I have been considering the turnip. To many people, the poor, lowly turnip is like the red-headed stepchild of the potato. They are certainly not well known in the modern American kitchen, but as a small-scale turnip farmer, I ask that we pause and reconsider why this versatile and nutritious veggie has been unceremoniously banished from most of our diets. Well it can’t be because it is hard to prepare. These under-appreciated roots are easily roasted
, boiled and mashed
or even eaten raw with a side of hummus. Could it be their appearance? Well with a striking purple top and gleaming white underside this seems unlikely– I mean, geez, your average potato looks like a warty football and yet we Americans eat them by the ton. Could it be something in their history that has kept us away from this veggie outcast? Well the esteemed website www.turniptime.co.uk
claims that before we carved pumpkins as jack-o-lanters we used to carve scary faces into turnips. That’s it! We think turnips are haunted! Well, never fear, we have found the antidote to the turnip poltergeist : butter and cream. (check out recipe below). Don’t give up on the turnip, its a lovely vegetable!
olden Gratin Of Carrots And Turnips
Recipe By : Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Deborah Madison, page 280
Serving Size : 4
Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
——– ———— ——————————–
Butter for the dish
2 cups cream or for more flavor prepare a Thin Béchamel Sauce for Gratins
(click link for that recipe)
Salt and freshly milled pepper
1 small onion — finely diced
1 tablespoon butter
24 ounces turnip
peeled and julienned
8 ounces carrots
peeled and julienned
1 cup bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly butter a 2-quart gratin dish. Cook the onion in the butter in a small skillet over medium heat,
about 8 minutes; then combine with the rest of the vegetables. Season with
salt and pepper and transfer to the gratin dish. Pour the sauce or cream over the
top, cover with the bread crumbs, and bake until bubbling and golden on
top, about 45 minutes.
April 17, 2013
There are a handful of milestones that are simply universal in their significance: births, baby’s first time walking, baby’s first words, graduations, college graduate’s first time moving back in with his parents (Ha!)
Well, on a really wonderful stroll around the farm a couple days ago, the Lapinski Family was witness to a rather heartwarming ‘first’: our rooster’s debut “cock-a-doodle-doo”! Actually, his first words were far from cock-a-doodle-do and were more like the sound of an 93 year old doing an Axl Rose impersonation. Mr. Rooster was a fast learner though, as it took him only about seven or 8 very strained “Cockles” before he successfully (if not harmoniously) forced out the “doodle-do”. And it bears mentioning that Mr. Rooster was a “happy accident”so it is a particular gift that we get to hear his song. By accident I mean that we ordered a dozen Buff Orphington hens one of them seemed to be growing twice as fast and sprouting a particularly elaborate comb on its head. Check out the picture below and see if you can figure out which of these birds is not a little lady……..
December 23, 2012
I have been asked a few times recently if I am trying anything “new” or “exciting” at the farm this season. It is a great question and it always comes up in my own mind as I drool over the sensuously colorful seed catalogues that show up this time of year. Each season we try at least a handful of new varieties to add a little (extra) spice to our farm life. This season we had the luxury of growing the rather space intensive delight, snow peas, for the first time thanks to a neighbor’s kindness in letting us use his land. We are also giving purple cauliflower a shot as well as a headlong and foolhardy attempt at our first winter cut flowers (snap dragons). Just watch our market table to measure our success on those endeavors. Intern and herbal guru, Nicole, has been advocating for expanding our offerings of medicinal and culinary herbs. She is educating me as we go, as I know very little about these more exotic herbs. In fact, I keep asking her to repeat the plant names as she’s extolling their virtues: “what’s it called, gerbil?” “no, its chervil,” she patiently replies, “and its great for your digestive system” “Well,then” I respond, “rock on!” Needless to say, I’m convinced. But now I have a question for you, gentle reader, what would you like to see Down to Earth grow? This is not a rhetorical exercise– it would be great to hear from you folks what (legal) offerings you would like to see at market. Respond via email or that up and coming social networking site: Facebook
December 2, 2012
Rain-drizzled and cool Fall Greetings!
I am forever trying coax my girls out into the field to enjoy that fact that they live on a farm. While that fact would not be interesting or unique over most of U.S. history (Over 30% of the population lived on farms up until 1930), saying that you live on a farm these days is on statistical par with having naturally red hair or being able to stick your ankles behind your ears (Ouch!) In fact the farm population of our once overwhelmingly rural nation is now less than 2%
. Unfortunately, citing population statistics for my girls doesn’t often convince them how special their circumstance is (and how really cool their farmer dad is!). What I did discover is that the right incentive is needed to get them out there. Up until recently in the season my only option to entice them into the garden was the opportunity to pull weeds or water the greenhouse. (Its surprisingly cute when my two year old shoots me down with a “No thank you, Daddy, you go ahead” or “I’ll be fine in here” when I suggest that we should go out into the garden). But when garden delights like sungold tomatoes start to ripen or that zesty sorrel patch gets full, my little ladies are all about the farm. So, it is finally harvest season and my girls are at least slightly more interested in the plants (and potential snacks) growing outside–they will happily leave all the weeding and watering to dad.
November 17, 2012
Wow, summer is finally over! Admittedly, you can never really tell in these parts, but for now the mugginess has dried from the air and you actually need a jacket or fleece to help with the early morning chill–it’s heaven!! It is a pleasure to be in the regular swing of things as our field (and our kitchen) is filling up again with the season’s first veggies. We are looking forward to another great year of growing healthy, delicious vegetables for you and your family. Thanks for coming along for us on this wonderful journey in sustainable farming…
Here is a simple recipe inspired by our friend and regular market goer, Stephanie, who came to the farm for our first arugula harvest and raced home to make this savory treat:
TOASTED PISTACHIO ARUGULA PESTO
· one bag Down to Earth Farm arugula, washed, long stems removed
· 1-2 large garlic cloves
· ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
· ¼ cup pistachio nuts, shelled (you can substitute other nuts (walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, but pistachios impart a unique flavor)
· Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Heat a small, dry skillet over medium heat until warm. Add the pistachio nuts, stirring frequently until beginning to toast (about 3-4 minutes). You will note them beginning to brown. Be careful to not allow them to burn.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, place arugula, garlic clove, toasted pistachio nuts and olive oil. Process until liquefied, scraping sides of the bowl as necessary. Add salt and pepper to taste.
If you desire the pesto to be thinner, add more olive oil. Serve over freshly made pasta and some chopped pistachio nuts for garnish.