Week 30, 2021｜Kristin Kimball｜July 30, 2021
We are away from the farm this week for a family reunion with my mom, my brother and his family. This is the first time in Essex Farm history that Mark and I have been away together for six straight days. The fact we can do it now is a testament to our amazing team of capable, smart, and experienced farmers, and we are so grateful to each of them for making it possible. With two days left, let’s hope the farm refrains from springing any big surprises on us. Meanwhile, I’m getting to know a new version of Mark that I have never met before. I am calling him Vacation Mark, to differentiate him from Farmer Mark. Vacation Mark plays a lot of volleyball with Miranda and her cousins, takes me for canoe rides to the other side of the lake (while delivering very interesting lectures on the geologic history of my hometown rocks) and even occasionally sits down to watch TV and cheer on our Olympic favorites. Of course, Farmer Mark is here too. We visited a pick-your-own blueberry farm yesterday, and Mark went into full intense harvest mode, picking at twice my pace and leaving with twenty pounds of berries. That’s the guy I know best.
We’re highlighting spring carrots this week, because they are at their moment of perfection and abundance. These carrots are more slender and have a stronger carrot flavor than the storage carrots we harvest in October and eat throughout the winter. Spring carrots are delicious raw, but I think they really sing when peeled and tossed with melted ghee, thyme, salt and pepper, spread on a baking sheet and roasted in the oven at 425 degrees until they begin to caramelize.
Pork is also abundant right now. We brought some with us to the family reunion, and last night we had brined boneless pork chops with a cumin-based rub, baked in the oven and served with blueberry chutney. That sounds kind of busy, but trust me, it was delicious and so beautifully colorful. I am a big believer in brined pork chops! It’s easy to remember the brine formula — ¼ cup salt to a quart of water — and you can keep it that simple or add any aromatics you like. I think a 2 hour brining is best, then rinse and pat dry. Use a meat thermometer to be sure not to overcook, because overcooked pork chops are sad. I pull them at 135 degrees; they should rise to a nice slightly pink 145 degrees as they rest.
If you are looking for ways to use ground pork, consider making your own bulk sausage blends. If you get the salt right, you can be very creative with your other ingredients and it will probably taste great. You want to mix in 1.5% salt by weight, which means a scant teaspoon of fine salt per pound of ground pork. Fresh sage always plays well with pork and is plentiful right now, as are all the other fresh herbs.
Finally, we have been getting some questions about how to preserve tomatoes, since we expect the tomato floodgates to open soon. Over the years I’ve done everything — oven dried, canned whole, canned sauce, etc, and I keep coming back to freezing as the best-tasting and lowest-labor method. You don’t need to blanch. Just throw clean ripe whole tomatoes into a big bag, freeze, and pull them as needed for whatever you’re making throughout the winter. The only downside is that they take up a lot of space.
Vacation Mark is putting on his bathing suit so I’ll leave it here. Please let your friends know we have local and delivered, full year and seasonal shares available, and there’s no better time than now to try out a membership. Find us at 518-963-4613, firstname.lastname@example.org, on instagram at essexfarmcsa, kristinxkimball, and farmerkimball, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.
-Kristin & Mark Kimball