Archive for April, 2013

The Carrot That Started It All

April 17, 2013

Greetings!!

 
I have been asked on occasion about how or what on my life path led me to become a farmer.  The full answer is probably too long winded  but there is one moment that stands out the most on our journey.   Many moons ago, Kristin and I were on a retreat in the picturesque town of Stanfordville, NY and as part of our time we visited a one-acre CSA farm called Sisters Hill Farm.  It was my first ever trip to a farm (apart from childhood blueberry picking) and the rows and rows of vibrant and meticulously cared for veggies enthralled us.  Its hard to remember all the ways I was moved as we  were shown around the enormous garden, but I knew I was being exposed to wonderful things that I never really considered, and I was quite sure that if I had considered them that I wouldn’t have believed they could be so wonderful. Among the things that were most amazing were the farmer, Dave, who showed us around his farm with a joy and pride that was infectious. (“Excuse me, but are you really THAT happy?  Seriously?”) But of all the wonders that Farmer Dave showed us, the moment that he pulled a gleaming carrot out of the dirt  I was spellbound.  We were in a small group, but I had no shame in asking if I could have the single carrot that he  magically pulled out of the ground.  After a thorough 3 second cleansing on my pants, I munched on what might as well have been the first carrot I ever ate.  In fact I think it may not be too overstated to say  that simple organic carrot fed and nourished me for about five years before we planted our first seeds at Down to Earth Farm.  Imagell

Whether You Weather the Weather

April 17, 2013

Greetings!

 
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……….

 

Worm Tales

April 17, 2013

Greetings!

 
I think that it is often surprising to  discover what will bring joy as a parent.  Of course seeing my eldest daughter Olivia as the cutest pony in her school’s dance recital made me ecstatic (she was so believable!).  But I was less prepared for the marvel of little Abigail running to me, exclaiming, “Daddy, see my new friend!”.  And who was this kind soul that built a relationship with my three-year-old?   An earthworm!  Abigail was helping Kristin plant a decorative palm by our greenhouse when “Wormy” wiggled out of the dirt right into Abigail’s heart (figuratively, of course!).  Although it was love at first sight, their BFF  status was at times uncertain because Abigail kept screaming and dropping Wormy because she perceived him as “slimy”.  In fact, the periods of blissful communing between girl and worm only lasted for increments of  five seconds….”I love him….EEEEEEEEK….I dropped him!”   Followed by, “Daddy, will you pick him up?”  “Sure, just let me get my camera first”  (Abigail and Wormy are posing below:)Imagetale

April 17, 2013
Greetings!
 
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 :)

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Turnip the Volume!

April 17, 2013

Greetings!

 
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 roastedsautéedboiled and mashedor 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.

There’s a First Time for Everything

April 17, 2013

Greetings!

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……..

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