Week 6, 2019 | Kristin Kimball | Feb 9, 2019

Ice, ice, baby. The farm roads were so slick this week, it was almost impossible to move without ice cleats on, and even then, there were some spectacular spills. Wednesday’s storm coated everything with a good half inch and then, when it warmed up and began to melt, it only got slipperier. We had planned to move the beef cattle to Valley Field along the farm road, but that would have been asking for broken legs. Instead, Animal Team used the time to set up a lovely breeding chute for the dairy heifers, so we now have a convenient way to catch and hold them for breeding, and don’t need to bring them up to the milking herd, which cost time and bedding. I’m making progress with my artificial insemination technique, and was starting to feel pretty confident until I tried to breed my first heifer this morning. All the parts are small scale! Luckily, the chute made it easy to take time, and keep trying. We have nine heifers who are old enough to breed, but we’ll stop breeding at the end of this month, to avoid calving during the coldest part of next winter. Meanwhile, I’m starting to think about lambing, which begins in just two months. Between now and then, we have shearing, hoof trimming, and vaccination to take care of; all of that will be easier this year, even with more sheep, because we have better sorting and holding equipment. The ewes look wonderful and I can’t wait to see their lambs.

I was busy with a lot of work this week and didn’t have time to fool around in the kitchen. Instead, I was looking for ways to get good meals on the table in the shortest time possible. One of our favorite easy meals, which works for breakfast, lunch or dinner, is a sausage roll, made from the frozen bread dough. I find that a pound of sausage is about right for two packages of dough. Roll out the thawed dough into a rectangle, using flour to keep it from sticking. Sautee the sausage until done, then spoon the sausage over the rectangle, evenly, leaving a bit of space at the edge so the dough will stick together when you roll it up. If you have time and inclination, you could add sautéed onion, peppers from the freezer, and grated cheese, but if you’re in a rush, just sausage is universally acceptable. Roll it up the long way, and tuck the seam underneath. I use a large bench scraper to transfer it to a sheet covered with parchment paper. Brush the top with egg for shine and color, and cook at 350 degrees for about 25 – 30 minutes. Slice and serve, hot or cold. NB, you do need to actually roll it out, as I learned this week, when I impatiently tried to flatten the dough into a rectangle with my hands and no flour, and ended up getting it stuck to the parchment paper, with a pile of sausage on top. I had no backup plan and there were hungry kids coming downstairs for a rushed breakfast so I just squished everything together into a flat, ugly, bumpy jumble of bread dough and sausage and baked it, and you know what? It was still delicious.

My other favorite easy way to use the dough is shaped into small flatbreads, cooked in a little oil on the stovetop or in the oven, then sprinkled with zaatar and topped with drained yogurt. And when we are feeling fancy or in need of some crunch, I haul out the pasta maker, and use it to make the dough into thin, crispy crackers. If you have favorite uses for the frozen bread dough, let us know, and we’ll share them on Facebook. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this treacherous 6th week of 2019. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on the web and insta and essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball