It’s here! The last week of shares. It is both a welcome week for me and a bittersweet week for more. As I’m sure you’ve heard from me in one way or another over the season, our CSA is really at the heart of what we do at the farm. I am going to miss harvesting and feeding folks that I get to see or hear from on a regular basis. I love doing the farmers‘ market on Saturdays, but harvesting for the market and selling there just doesn’t give me the same kind of joy as knowing that my food is going into so many different meals for our members. The end of the CSA also means our workshare members Lynne, David, and Susan are no longer my Monday and Wednesday touchstones. But, there is a season for everything, and I do always enjoy the mental exercises I go through in the winter to get ready for the following spring.
Speaking of mental exercises, Dave and I started our farm business planning class that is part of the two year journeryperson program I wrote about that we are doing with MOFGA. Last Sunday we went to Unity and met with about a dozen other farmers in our cohort and started thinking through the mission of our farms and what we value as a farm. We have lots of homework to get done before the next class in two weeks, but it is so awesome to be putting our thoughts down on paper for what we want our farming future to look like! In other sort of farm planning news, we are going to Portland tomorrow where Sodexho, the food service provider for the UMaine system, is hosting a workshop for farmers about how to sell food to UMaine and it’s branches. It is going to be interesting to hear from a large food service company how they envision working with farmers. I’m going to mostly just listen because I’m not totally sure we are large enough to provide food on the scale they are looking for, but who knows! I always feel like it’s good to stay in the loop, and I think there is free beer at the end of it 🙂
You will likely hear from me again in the next few weeks when I send out our annual CSA survey and when I can crunch some numbers and share with you some of the final numbers for what our shares provide to you. Fun facts like how many weeks out of the 20 we had lettuce and how many pounds of carrots we distributed are always interesting to me and I hope to share some of that with you soon!
Until then, I hope you have enough fall vegetables to keep you going for a few weeks. Hopefully you can save a squash or carrots until Thanksgiving and have some local food on your table.
Thanks always for your commitment to our farm and for letting us be your farmers!
– Erica, Dave, and the rest of the crew
Potato, Leek, and Fennel Gratin
- 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
- 2-1/2 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick (about 7 cups)
- 2-1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 large leeks, white and pale-green parts only, trimmed, halved, and sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
- 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 lb. fennel bulbs, trimmed, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced (about 5 cups)
- 8 oz. Gruyère, grated (about 2 cups)
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 10×15-inch (4 quart) baking dish with 1 Tbs. of the butter.
Put the potatoes, cream, garlic, 1-1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper in an 8-quart pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a fork, about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the remaining 2 Tbs. butter in a heavy-duty 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the fennel seeds and stir just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the leeks and fennel, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
Gently mix the leeks and fennel with the potatoes. Transfer to the prepared baking dish, evening out the vegetables. Top with the cheese, and bake until the cheese is deep golden brown, the cream has thickened, and the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, 35 to 40 minutes. (If the top is becoming too brown before the vegetables are done, cover the gratin loosely with foil.) Let cool for 10 to 20 minutes before serving.
Turnips Four Different, Easy Ways
Sautéed Turnips and Greens
Cook peeled and cut-up turnips and sliced garlic in olive oil in a large skillet until tender. Add the turnip greens and cook until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Roasted Turnips With Ginger
Peel and cut turnips into wedges. Toss with sliced fresh ginger, canola oil, salt, and pepper on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with honey and roast at 400° F until tender.
Mashed Turnips With Crispy Bacon
Simmer peeled and cut-up turnips in boiling salted water until tender. Drain and mash with butter, salt, and pepper. Fold in crumbled cooked bacon and chopped chives; top with shaved Parmesan.
Creamy Leek and Turnip Soup
Cook thinly sliced leeks in butter in a large saucepan until soft. Add peeled and cut-up turnips and enough chicken broth to cover. Simmer until very tender. Puree until smooth, adding water or broth as necessary to adjust the consistency. Season with salt and pepper.