Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Truth About Greens

When you overwinter beets, arugula and kale, there is a marvelous moment in springtime when they start to grow like gangbusters and you feel terrifically far ahead in the growing season.  But as the greens see it, you haven’t planted early THIS year, you planted very LATE last year. That means this is year TWO, and as biennials, their job in year TWO is to GO TO SEED.  They vigorously and repeatedly send up seed stalks.  The arugula send up hairy, coarse flower stalks that aren’t palatable for eating, the kale send up mini broccoli-type flowers that are good for eating, and the beets send up little clusters of flower buds that taste like… BEETS.

You can fight their inclination to go to seed by harvesting greens heavily and often, eating well, and stocking the freezer. And then, before it is time to plant the tomatoes, what is left of the greens that saw you through the winter so nicely can be pulled up go to the chickens.

Here’s how to prepare greens for freezing:

Remove the stems to a bucket for the chickens,
let the greens take a bath,
have a nice dog supervise the operation.

Blanch in boiling water for about 2 minutes to destroy
enzymes and bacteria that, over time, break down the nutrients
and alter the color, flavor, and texture of the greens
during frozen storage.

Then plunge greens into a large quantity of ice-cold
water to stop the cooking.

When it's all said and done, that boatload of "Year Two" greens
will make about 4 cups for the freezer... and tide us over
until the summer greens are ready to be picked!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Closing the doors at Bailey Farm...

The farmhouse was built in 1790 and it had “central heat” right from the start… that is warmth from the five fireplaces emanating from the huge stone central chimney.  Heat came from the core of the house while cold seeped in from the edges. The floor plan is designed to allow rooms to be closed off so heat can be conserved in the areas where cooking and gathering occurred.


As the weather gets colder, we do the same.  

We begin keeping the pantry door closed in autumn.  There are no water pipes in the pantry we might worry would freeze.  The pantry is transformed into a walk-in refrigerator. 

pantry door

Just two closed doors keep most of the heat from our woodstove from escaping upstairs or into a side room. 

closed door

Two more doors close off the two parlors and the front hall. 

Warm hearth closed doors

Cold and stormy nights draw us to the keeping room, with its seven doors all closed. The small couch in front of the woodstove is protected by a heavy linen sheet, so dogs are allowed.  If they are ousted in favor of people wanting seats, we draw a big dog bed in close for them.  Kitty Meg is an indoor cat, a self-defined upstairs cat to be specific, but when it is cold, she condescends to curl up near us downstairs on the big hearth which becomes the center of our universe. 


This is our port in the storm. It’s the perfect place to read or chat, to have a glass of wine, to dream.

The rooms that remain closed stay tidy.  Without foot traffic, they need little cleaning.  Less to worry about.

January is like that… daily chores of no concern now: weeding, fence scrubbing, outdoor painting.  Sleepy Moon’s pace slows.  Running the winter farmers’ market is a snap. 

For me, January is a port in the storm.  Batteries recharged, and from this safe harbor, it is time to make grand plans, learn new things, and take on new projects. 

A good January can last me a whole year…

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New Year, New Blog, First Post

"There are years that ask questions and years that answer." Zora Neale Hurston
I, personally, am counting on 2011 to answer.

Yesterday, my friend Sue Muldoon bought me the first answer: how to blog.  
I don't know much yet, but I am putting a blogger's toe in the water anyhow because Sue wants to show a beginner example at her workshop tomorrow.  She spent a patient afternoon yesterday teaching this beginner how to begin. 
Sue is the type of person who quietly gives, a lot, and when you feel a little wobbly, she will spot you so you don't fall, or if you do, it won't hurt as much.  She is a person I would not want to let down. 
So... I blog!
Good Morning from Bailey Farm,
The Labs make sure you are up early.  
Which is perfect; you shouldn't miss sunrise.  
The storm brought us sweet little blanket of snow.

The clouds are breaking just as the sun rises...



I don't know much about taking photos, either. 
I try to repeat what has turned out well and avoid what has gone badly. 

I ask myself what Liss Flint would see, through her lens. 
Liss would see this reflection, I think:


Perhaps this is the only bit of blue sky we will see today? 
But it matters not...


Inside, the house is warm.
Coffee's on and Almond-Banana-Chocolate Chip pound cake is in the oven.

And there is a blog to write... my first.