We’ve been very busy at Excelsior Farm, as many of you are aware. I’ve posted about garlic planting, ripping out the summer field, and the general fast pace of the season that borders on mayhem. And this is merely maintaining the farm, which would be enough to keep us busy; but, as we enter our third season on Excelsior Farm, we find that we are in many ways still “setting up.” That is, we are continually in the process of determining what needs to be done to create more order, efficiency, and stability in the way the farm runs—and implementing changes as quickly as possible. The changes range from large endeavors like building a third greenhouse and laying cement in our pack-out, to organizing our tools so that everything is exactly where it’s supposed to be when we need it. Last week we spent considerable time building a little harvest tools shelf onto the side of the barn, easily accessible to us as we come back and forth from the field (I can’t tell you how many such shelves Jeremy as nailed into the walls of the barn for hanging and storing tools!). All this strategizing can be tiring, but it makes a huge difference in how orderly the farm, and our minds, feel.
I am constantly learning that good farming is all in details such as these. The details not only make the farm more successful, but more enjoyable as well. And even though it is always busy to some degree, we find ourselves at peace.
It is definitely a greens week this week. Just try and think of it as a way to offset all the Halloween candy of the weekend: Butternut Squash, Spinach, Purple Carrots, Collard Greens, Fennel, Escarole, Mustard Greens, and Scallions.
Though it is greens week, they are some exciting greens! You have our first harvest of Spinach, and in new, nifty little bags (one of those fun details we have taken pleasure in recently). The mention of spinach may or may not evoke feelings of excitement; true, it is marketed as extremely healthy, but this good-for-you food is often only known in its canned or frozen forms, both of which are appalling beyond description. Even fresh bagged spinach tends to be flavorless and tough. Our spinach, however, is delicious, tender-crisp in texture and mildly leafy-tasting without bitterness. And it is healthy, full of vitamin C, chlorophyll, and cartenoids, just in time for cold and flu season. Enjoy spinach raw as a salad or cooked, but be aware that spinach cooks down a lot.
Generally, greens can be easily cooked by rinsing them, chopping them, and then steaming them briefly in a pan using the water still clinging to them. Toss them with butter or olive oil and salt and pepper to serve. All your greens this week can be prepared in this way. Note that the Mustard Greens are on the hot side. Or try this fancy, fatty version of Collard Greens:
Creamed Collard Greens
Adapted from The Nourished Kitchen by Jennifer McGruther
To my great enjoyment, I finally received my copy of The Nourished Kitchen by Jennifer McGruther in the mail yesterday. Simple yet stunning food, both comforting and healthful and depicted with lovely photographs, this is just the sort of food-love and aesthetic that I strive for in my kitchen. Since collard greens were on the harvest list for this week’s basket, I made this recipe straight away when I got home from the farm. This is old-fashioned food at it’s best: unfussy yet elegant and unashamed of good things like sturdy collards, sweet cream and buttery onions. And it takes under fifteen minutes to prepare.
2 tablespoons butter
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1-2 large bunches collard greens, roughly chopped (remove stems first)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Allow it to foam, then turn down to medium heat and add the onions. Caramelize the onions by frying them for 6-8 minutes. They should be fragrant and a little caramelized around the edges. Add the collard greens and stir until wilted, about two minutes. Turn the heat to medium-low, add the cream, and simmer for 5-6 minutes until thickened and reduced. Serve hot with a sprinkling of nutmeg.
I still can’t believe how good this was! I hope you are well-nourished this week, and enjoy the beginning of holiday festivities!