2016.16

This past week has many highlights, you all know focusing is hard for me, but I will limit myself to the highest of highlights from the past days. Last Sunday we welcomed Elyse to the farm. A Virginia native, she inquired about a long term apprenticeship quite a few years back, it didn’t quite work out. When she contacted me to come for a short stay this summer, I was thrilled. At the time we arranged her visit, I had mo idea we would be dealing with managing the farm solo, so her arrival was so amazingly timely!!. She has been a perfect joy to be around, unbelievably helpful and a sure sign to us that we still love people, people still love us, and life cam move forward even during dark times. Elyse will certainty be remembered as the short term guest who reminded us how solid folks cam be, how much fum cam be had with with lively meal times, how joyful work cam be even during a hot and humid August day, and really and truly how very lucky we are.
If that wasn’t enough of a feel good week, we got the phone call from our fellow farmer and friend Hank Delvin that our fall transplants were ready for a pick up. In the barn fire we lost countless items integral to our farming operation in addition to the barn itself. Recovery is slow and systematic, but there was one thing that couldn’t wait. Our soil making facility and all inputs to make our potting soil burned with the barn and it was the moment when we needed to start plants for our Fall season Ore phone call was all it took for Hank to offer all we needed for a Fall season and we spent a wonderful Thursday at Delvin Farm’s greenhouse graciously accepting his offer of kale and chard and broccoli and cabbage seedlings . So, I think it is fair to say we are ready for the Fall. We are feeling grateful and optimistic and have so many people to thank So, heart felt appreciation to Elyse (lovingly called Magnese and Camise by William !), to Hank and the whole Delvin family and crew, and to each of you. We are lucky. Truly. Details of the Fall Extension will come in the next weeks as we sort things out, but it is reassuring for us to move forward.
I hope you all continue to enjoy these summer tastes, I know we are.

week sixteen in your basket:
cucumbers
summer squash
sweet peppers
tomatoes
eggplant
basil
garlic
red onion

EASY TOMATO, CUCUMBER AND RED ONION SALAD

You hardly me4ed a recipe but use this as a suggestion for using these wonderful summer vegetables in a great salad!!

4 medium Roma tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 medium cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons good-quality olive oil
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
Coarse salt and black pepper
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley or basil or mint
1/4 cup crumbled feta, for serving

In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumber, onion, garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and parsley. Let stand at room temperature to allow flavors to marinate, at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours. Toss with a large spoon, sprinkle with feta and serve.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

2016.15

I feared the let down as the family pulled out of the driveway this past Tuesday. Our Boston relatives had been on the farm for just over two weeks: they held down the fort while I was in California, supported us through the realization that we will face the rest of this season sans apprentices, and delightedly worked with us as we created a wonderful 75th birthday celebration for Gram. The Sunday party was amazing. It took each member of the family along with his or her special skills, to make the event as perfect as it was. From the 4 layer lemon cake perfectly baked by Madeline and her dear Aunt Phoebe, to the poetry recitations coordinated by Uncle John, from the seasonal tea sandwiches to the bouquets dotting the small tables, it seemed like each detail was tended to and the day honored Louise in a the way she truly deserved. The guests were from all over these hills and hollows of south central Kentucky and shared a love for Louise and a desire to celebrate with all of us at the Hill and Hollow Farm Stay. With each event in that space, we get one step closer to realizing our vision for that space, indeed, a good time was had by all.
I knew in the wake of their departure there was only one thing that could raise my spirits on those hot, humid august days and that was get into my indigo dyeing. I know, I know, you all have heard all about it, but I am afraid I am obsessed and you will have to hear another snippet. There truly is nothing quite like the magic that comes together in the art of plant dyeing. From the farmers work of raising the dye plant (in this case the Japanese Indigo, polygonum tinctorium) to the shepherd’s work of raising and shearing the sheep, to the dyer’s work of putting it all together, we just love it. Our indigo plants are currently perfect and I was more than happy to ease my post family visit doldrums by turning over 40 skeins of our farm’s yarn deep, varying shades of blue on two consecutive days this past week.
This was our first solo harvest in a long time and honestly it went flawlessly. The tomatoes are offering us a few luscious fruits, a new planting of patty pan produced my favorite UFO style summer squash, and the other tastes and scents of late summer proved to be wonderful company on this harvest day. I am already looking forward to seeing you all again tomorrow and of course, wishing you all a great week ahead.

week fifteen in your basket:
lebanese or Patty pan squash
cucumbers
sweet peppers
eggplant
tomatoes
red onion
basil
garlic
hot peppers

Ratatouille this is adapted from martha stewarts recipe, many, many good ones out there,
absolutely pefect use for all the summer vegetables in this week’s basket!
1can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 medium eggplant cut into 1-inch pieces
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 large onions, diced large
1 head garlic, cloves smashed and peeled
2 sweet peppers (any color), seeded and diced large
2 large zucchini or squash (1 pound total), diced large
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh marjoram or oregano leaves
2 to 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place tomatoes and juices on a rimmed baking sheet and use your hands to break tomatoes into 3/4-inch pieces. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and bake until thickened, 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a colander, toss eggplant with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Let sit 20 minutes, then squeeze out excess liquid. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 4 tablespoons oil over medium. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until onions and garlic are soft, 5 minutes. Add peppers and cook, stirring, until crisp-tender, 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, bay leaf, and marjoram to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and cook at a gentle simmer until vegetables are tender but not mushy, 15 minutes. Season to taste with vinegar, salt, and pepper. Remove bay leaf before serving

Posted in Letters, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

2016.14

There is just so much to write about here, I know for sure I am going to have difficulty focusing. I think I want to start with the harvest near complete. The whole Bela family is here on the farm right now, traveling from both coasts to meet and celebrate Gram’s 75th. It was a family only all hands on deck kind of morning and honestly it was lovely. Paul’s sister is an expert flower picker and arranger, clearly her job was laid out before her. The brothers Bela picked and bunched basil and lettuce. Uncle Rob took care of the 5 year old cousin team and now, in the heat of the day, we can all gather for a fresh salad and a celebratory lunch. It is nice to be surrounded by such a great supportive family at this time, truly.
I get to add these fine folks to my list of blessings, for they also held down the fort in my absence. Yep, while Madeline and I spent the past week on the Pacific Coast, my dear sister and brother in law made it all flow here in the hollow. Child care, meals, harvests, deliveries, and even a little kitchen redo, all while I was gone.
The trip to California was brief and fabulous. I knew I had to savor each moment and use it to motivate me to return and tackle some major problems. so each bite of fresh ocean fish, each glimpse of the humpback whales playing off the coast, each perfectly made cappuccino, I treasured.
My return home was definitely marred by the unexpected departure of our apprentice. For those of you that read my emails, forgive me for repeating myself. I spent those days reinvigorating myself for what would be an uphill struggle upon return. Recharged and ready, it was a huge bummer to get an email from her after she had already fled the farm. Honestly, I am already thankful. This is clearly the moment to reinvent ourselves and our farm. The journey that began 18 years ago, young and pregnant with our first child, has to change, turn, and evolve. We have recently felt stuck in a system that wasn’t working anymore (for too many reasons to list) and now with these huge events before us, we know it is the time to act, to change, to move ahead with new excitement as we rekindle our love for the land and our life.
Stay tuned dear friends, the details will spill forth as we clarify the vision, hold us in your hearts as we embrace change. Change is scarey. Change is hard. It is far easier for us to keep chugging along, doing what we have done for months or years or decades. It is a bold undertaking to leave the known and head into the unknown, but alas, our time has come. We will continue farming, of that we are sure. The form and format of our farming is definitely going to change though. That, dear friends, is exciting. I wish you all a great week ahead, it is good to be back and I am beyond excited to see you all tomorrow at market. This weekend we will celebrate ¾ of a century for my mother in law. Friends and family will gather here on the farm to share in the joy of her life. Life is good, the road can be bumpy, but for now, with the sun setting, the van loaded and my mind calm, I am happy.
This week is all about this summer lettuce, I hope you all have a great salad or two and savor each bite!!

week fourteen in your basket:
lettuce
sweet peppers or lebanese squash
eggplant
garlic
basil
hot peppers
onions

Lebanese-Style Stuffed Summer Squash
Some of you won’t get this squash this week, but they are coming on
And will be part of the choices in weeks to come!
“Cousa is a Lebanese zucchini that’s traditionally stuffed with seasoned meat and rice.
You can easily use this recipe for any summer squash, but it’s even better
with the real deal– a gorgeous squash, light green in color with a slight nutty
flavor to it and a bit chubbier in shape than typically zucchini.“
1/2 lb. lean ground lamb or ground beef (or combine the two)
2 medium sized cousa (or zucchini or yellow squash) –
pulp & seeds removed and chopped into bite sized pieces
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 shallot, minced
Olive oil to sautee
1/2 cup long grained rice, uncooked
1 1/2 fresh tomatoes, chopped fine & briefly pulsed in processor
1/2 handful of freshly chopped mint, about 1/4 cup, chopped
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/16 tsp. ground allspice
Sea salt, white pepper, sumac pepper to taste
1/3 – 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out pulp and seed with a spoon and chop into bite size pieces, then set aside. Saute in olive oil ground meat, shallots, garlic and squash pulp until squash is just tender and meat just about browned. Once cooked, add rice along with a little bit of the tomato to hold all it together and give it some texture. Add seasoning and mint and mix all together well. Line a baking pan with the emptied cousa squash shells and begin to stuff them with the meat/rice/tomato mixture. Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top and a drizzle of more tomato sauce. Pour vegetable stock around each stuffed squash to come up to about half way up the squash in baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes or until the rice is tender.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment