Sunday, March 25, 2012
Now is the time of year when I can really believe that spring is here. Never mind the summer-like weather we had last week--it's time to order tomato seedlings from Verrill Farm! The deadline to order is April 2nd, so I'm actually a week early this time.
I say this every year, but this year it will happen: my garden is going to kick ass! One the the few things I've always had great luck with are tomatoes; thanks in no small part to the great quality seedlings I get from Verrill Farm every year. The other things that I've had great luck with are snap peas and Swiss chard, so those will be reappearing again this year. Besides that, I'm not sure. I think I'm going to go pretty simple this year--besides tomatoes and snap peas, it'll be mostly greens and herbs.
The photo in this post is from spring of 2010. I was digging around in the garden to get it ready and found a crop of rainbow carrots from summer 2009. They weren't quite ready in the fall, but over-wintered well and ended up being pretty tasty! (I know, nothing to do with tomatoes, but this is the best photo I can find at the moment.)
Time to make a visit to the garden center for seeds. Maybe this year will be the year when I finally have an amazing garden. If not, if it's even slightly better than last year, that's an improvement and I'll take it, thank you very much.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
505 South Road, Ashby MA 01431
This year, we ended up at South Village Sugarhouse in Ashby MA. After inadvertently taking the scenic route (somehow, I had plugged the wrong address into Google Maps), we finally made it here at dusk. We were greeted warmly by Dave Rainville, who took us out behind the sugarhouse so Talia could see a dripping tap in the fading daylight. Having recently seen a Curious George episode where George makes maple syrup, she thought it was very exciting to see the real thing.
Dave walked us through the process and explained his set up, as we watched the sap boil away in the wood-fired evaporator. In the photo above, he is showing us all the minerals, etc., that settle out of the syrup and get filtered out before bottling.
It was lucky that we ended up getting there later than we had planned, as the batch he was working on was just about finished. Here's Dave pouring out samples for us to try. We bought a couple of quarts to bring home and replenish our dwindling maple syrup supplies.
Sweet and delicious! Someone was not in the mood for having her picture taken, but I couldn't help myself.
Here's the evaporator boiling away.
If only I had a fancy camera, this picture would have been amazing--the view of the sugarhouse as we left in the dark, with sparks flying out of the chimney as logs were tossed onto the fire. You'll just have to use your imagination. Or, better yet, stop in for a visit yourself.
Saturday, March 3, 2012
This month, in our share from Chestnut Farms' meat CSA, we got uncured kielbasa. Delicious! I have to say that I've never eaten much meat as adult, mostly just when I'm craving real BBQ or a good burger. However, ever since joining Chestnut Farms' meat CSA, I have been amazed at how good it is. We rarely buy meat outside our CSA share (besides chickens, in season, from Pete and Jen's Backyard Birds), so I am pretty spoiled with the flavor. Healthy, happy animals just taste better, I guess.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Here is the evaporator at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln MA. And look! It's steaming! I don't know what it is about maple season, but it makes me want to jump up and down with joy. We'll be back at Drumlin Farm in a couple of weeks for their Farmer's Breakfast fundraising event. They serve pancakes covered in their own maple syrup as well as sausage and potatoes, also from the farm. And coffee and other breakfast drinks, too. I can't wait!
We just came to wander around a bit today. Besides the maple sap boiling, we also found some adorable baby goats.
Monday, December 12, 2011
First of all, you need the right kind of knife.
Being oyster season (sort of, it's very near the end) I bought a dozen Cape Neddick blue point oysters to bring home and eat last night. Only to find out I couldn't open them. I know I've bought them from fish markets before, so I'm guessing they opened them for me before I left. Since I can't remember for sure, it must not have been for some time. I was able to find an oyster knife today, luckily, so we had them with dinner. The first six were ok, although a bit disappointing. The second six were delicious! I'm guessing it had to do with my skill at opening them: the first six were pretty badly (wo)man-handled, so they must have released some kind of stress hormone. Not tasty. After my practice run, I was able to open the remaining six quickly, without stressing them out, and they were as delicious as I was hoping they'd be.
One of the reasons humanely-raised animals taste so good is that they are processed by caring individuals who take care to minimize their stress. Not only does it make for happier animals, it makes for tastier ones, too.
Sorry, little oysters... next time I'll be gentle.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Our fantastic CSF (community-supported fishery), Cape Ann Fresh Catch, gave us the chance to order lobsters this week. Hell yeah! We got three! Talia was pretty interested in checking it out before...
..and after the cooking process. Yum!
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
115 Oak Hill Road, Harvard, MA 01451
I actually went here on a trip with my daughter's preschool. Living so close for practically my whole life, you'd think I'd have been here before; but no, I haven't. I have had their apple cider, though. I'm very picky about apple cider, and prefer unpasteurized (my hands-down favorite is from Derby's in Stow, MA), but the cider from here is good. Even if it is pasteurized. I don't know how other places do it, but their cider is heated and cooled so quickly (I think they told us the process takes only 14 seconds), that it preserves the apple flavor. Whatever it is, the end result is pretty delicious. They sell juice boxes of it, too, if you're looking for portable, kid-friendly drinks. You can find their cider in stores and farmstands around the state.
Since it's pumpkin season now, they had all their pumpkins out for sale. Before checking out this pumpkin display, I wandered around the orchard, helping to herd a pack of preschoolers. Watching them pick apples was pretty funny. Early Macs (MacIntosh), which they had, are my absolute favorites. Maybe it's because they are only crisp and tart for just so long that makes them so special. Once you get Macs that have been stored for a while, they lose their tartness and crispness and they just aren't the same. Time to eat up before it's too late!
They have a retail store here which is open year-round and sells apples, cider, locally-produced honey, jams, preserves, and frozen pies and crisps.