In the Living Kitchen

Musings, memories, meals in the making.

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Season Envy

Undoubtedly it is fall.  The crops are all out of the ground, save the hearty ones.  In fact, I should be harvesting right now, but my fingers and toes have not warmed up and dried out from yesterday.  Last week, I finished up the sweet potato and potato harvests.  All the pepper, tomato, eggplant, squash, bean and basil plants are out of the ground, just to name a few.  I am working on storing root crops in our basement to last us until the we can start growing food again.  As of today, we are down to 10 hours of daylight.  And yet, there are little weeds sprouting, the weeds of spring, the wild onions and dandelions.  Spring radishes (did I plant them just to torture myself?) are better than ever.  Delicious lettuce still growing into small, compact heads.  The leafy greens are gorgeous and perfect:  Lush, enormous, bug-free kale, colorful mixed Asian greens, hearty spinach, mustard greens, and sweet and spicy arugula.  I have two entire beds of cabbage that I planted too late.  Although I have resigned myself to the belief that they will never head up, never ever ever, they seem to taunt me by getting bigger every day and forming little bundles of tightness at their centers.  This could be a spring day!  Could be, but the problem is that tomorrow will be just 2 minutes shorter, not longer.  Just two minutes closer to the northeast deep freeze to come.  Perhaps most people in my situation would be excited about not having to farm for several months.   Still, I am not quite ready for digging up stored roots, no daylight, boredom, inevitable winter weight gain (it has already begun!!!) finding a job for 4 months and all else that come with these shorter days.


Even so, the prospect of having grown enough food for our share holders through Thanksgiving and for us through the spring is very exciting.  The potato harvest was better than expected.  It was quite a dismal year for potatoes in the region.  In July I had to flame torch all the potato plants in order to kill the late blight fungus that had overrun the foliage.  Obviously that meant these potatoes did not have much time to grow numerous quantities of potatoes.  We ended up with about 650 pounds, a 13:1 ratio to what we planted and about 13-15 pound per share for our CSA.  Having given this good news, I must admit that I made a huge mistake when digging them up last week.  Since this is my second year farming, and I don’t own a tractor, my tractor skills are mediocre at best.  I put the plow on and dug straight through the bed but the plow was at the wrong angle (which is not a variable I considered when attaching the 70+ pound potato plow) and I ended up chopping a lot of potatoes in half.  Chopping about 45 pounds of potatoes in half. These potatoes won’t last long, and I don’t think I should give them to our members since they won’t keep, so I suppose I have to reluctantly support my winter weight gain and eat lots of potatoes.


Potato-Leek Soup

Serves 6

Though the ingredients are simple, you’ll be surprised at the flavor in this soup.  It doesn’t need the milk or cream that most recipes call for.  I served this with a dollop of yogurt, which was good, but not necessary at all.  Serve with a simple salad or sauted greens for a supper meal.

4-5 medium potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and cubed

3 medium-small leeks

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 TBS butter or olive oil

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

generous amounts of salt and pepper

fresh parsley, dill or rosemary

finely chopped walnuts (optional)

yogurt  (optional)

Chop leeks into 1/4 thick pieces, the white part and green.  Discard the ends and any brown parts.  Rinse chopped leeks in a colander, they tend to be pretty dirty.

Heat oil or butter over medium heat in a heavy bottomed 6 quart pot.  Saute leeks and garlic until fragrant and tender, about 5 minutes.  Add potatoes and stir.  Cover with water and stock by an inch.  With the lid on, bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer until the potatoes are extremely tender, anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your potato cubes.

Puree the soup in batches in a food processor or a food mill with the finest plate in place.  For a smooth soup, puree all of it (my preference) or puree only half if you want chunks of potato.   Season with salt and a generous amount of pepper.  Add more water if soup is too thick.

Reheat soup if necessary.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with yogurt, chopped walnuts and the herb of your choice.




What a perfect day to begin.

At home, with a serious head-cold, I feel a bit locked in. By the dishes.  And the “unseasonable” fall chill.  And the impending house cleaning that makes me want to hop right back into bed!  All these things keep me away from what makes me most satisfied in this life, tending the vegetables in the field and in the kitchen.

One of me least favorite new terms of this century, and my beloved Sam will tell you all about it too, is “foodie.”  Not that I will ever use that term on myself, but others might.  If you want to engage me, ask about dinner, or lunch, or anything you put in your mouth for that matter.  Health?  Cure it with food. Politics? I say the politics of food.  Work? I grow food.  Party? I can bring food.  I know that there must be a much better and more grammatical term than foodie.

There are times when I go on and on about dinner, and the thirty different dishes I am thinking of making and Sam’s eyes glaze over a bit.  I feel the need for an outlet for all my varied ramblings, musings, successes and disasters. Although, I have one, a small one.  I run a small CSA program at a farm.  Each week I send out an email to our members usually containing some vegetable preparation tips and a few recipes.  Honestly, I love it.  I will think about recipe ideas to try at home while I am out in the field working.  Just yesterday, I could smell the celeriac in the ground and I was fantasizing about celeriac and potato chowder, celeriac pancakes and celeriac remoulade.  None of which I have ever made, but I will.  And I will post my celeriac efforts, and other efforts, here.  With pictures.  And musings.  And ramblings.  The weekly emails are not the proper forum for all that.  Mainly because I do not want them to be.

What a perfect day to begin.  But first the dishes.  Then the vacuuming.  Then dinner.