Hello all and welcome to the Fall extension. It has been a great week on the farm. It all began on Sunday with a very mellow and super lovely Field Day. Without the cider pressing as a culinary activity, we decided to fire up the earth oven and bake pizzas. We constructed this cob masterpiece in the summer of 2009 and have yet to fire it up this year. Andy has been baking pizzas in our “regular” oven for weeks on his cook day, so he was primed for the challenge of baking them in the earthen oven we stare at each day. We had hopes of firing it on Saturday night to greet our honored pre Field Day overnight guests. Alas, that was a bit optimistic even for us, so we chose Sunday instead. Cooking in the earth oven is a commitment to tending a fire. To really heat the oven high enough to cook pizzas, a hot fire has to rage in there for about 2-2 1/2 hours. It can’t be a smoldering fire, the kind that works perfectly in our wood stove, it has to burn hot. Andy collected most the wood needed on Saturday while we were at the Farmers Market, and once back on the farm, the rest of us joined in. With crusts made, an assembly line of toppings and toppers formed around the oven and 8 tasty pizzas were popped out before the temperature in the oven dropped too low to quickly cook the savory pies. At that time, we loaded the space with washed sunchokes that baked perfectly in the residual heat that can last for hours. Cooking in the earth oven is an art, one that I have not fully mastered, but am getting better and better at with each firing. Andy is ready to go at it again, so it looks like these chilly fall days will be greeted with lots of fires and pizzas!
The week went on from there with more lovely days and cool nights. The guys cultivated all of the fall beds early in the week, just in time before the rain came, slow and sweet for 2 days. I spent my days blazing trails with the kids. Our land is mainly woods, 120 acres of trees, hills and hollows. We have always wanted to make trails up and around these glorious acres, but it has not gotten to the top of the to do list, that is, until now. Sasha and Rosie want to walk these trails and there is nothing like a demanding pre teen and his horse to get something to the top of the list. So, tree saw and loppers in hand, we head to the hills. Now, Madeline has taken quite an interest and proves to be a budding cartographer and flagger. Trail one is near completion: a nice trek up behind the cabin, connecting to our ridge trail and then down at the end of Field 8, near the A frame. It is flagged (in pink satin, thank you Madeline), and drawn to perfection in her field book, to be later transcribed onto larger map paper. Even on the busiest of days, like today, when I am processing the dairy, writing the newsletter, preparing and delivering local shares, and and and, I simply can not resist the plea to hike in the woods with my trail making crew. There could not be a better way to enjoy a sunny fall day! Wishing all the best to you as you enjoy this first basket of our fall season, it is just a wonderful collection of tastes!
Browned Butter Tatsoi back by popular demand
1 pound pasta shells
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
Salt and pepper, to taste
3-4 cups tatsoi leaves, lightly packed
1/2 cup fresh sage, chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta as directed on the package. Drain and return to pot.
When pasta almost done, melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir the butter in the pan as it foams. When butter begins to brown, add it to the pasta, turn the heat to medium, and mix to coat with butter. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add tatsoi and sage and cook until slightly wilted, about 1 to 2 minutes. Toss with parmesan and serve immediately.
In your basket: