Week 41, 2021|Kristin Kimball|October 14,  2021

The potatoes are in, picked up by the ton from the soft, good-smelling dirt. Thanks to Juniper Hill Farm for the loan of the potato digger, and to everyone who came out to help get those beauties into storage, including the terrific crew from Paul Smith’s College. Last Saturday I filled the sleeves of my jacket with them on my way out of the field, and unfurled them into the sink when I got to the house. Whites, reds, purples, and fingerlings, a week’s worth of energy. Here’s what became of them: 

The small whites went into a pot of heavily salted water to be boiled until they were almost done, then drained, split and crisped in a skillet with some ghee. Leftovers went through the food mill to be used in croquettes. 

The remaining whites became an untraditional potato leek soup, with chicken stock, dried mushrooms, and garlic, and a dollop of sour cream to finish. 

Fingerlings were coated with melted ghee then roasted until the skins were snappy and the insides soft.

Looking at the purples, I thought, why not make some purple potato gnocchi? There are good reasons why not, in fact. When purple potatoes are cooked and peeled the flesh is less hyacinth, more ghoulish gray. The gnocchi were entertaining to make and came out well but when I served them to Jane and Miranda (and to Sofie who was with us for dinner, and is always polite) my girls took turns making fun of them, because of the color. Is this something the cat threw up, or moldy oatmeal? they said. So I clicked off the lights. By candlelight, we all agreed they were exquisite, and everyone is begging me to make them again, but with white potatoes. 

The giant smile on Mark’s face this week is due to the no-till drill he’s been using to plant cover crops and annual forages into our standing crops and sods. This remarkable tool belongs to the Essex County Soil and Water Conservation District and it’s available to any farm in the county on loan. No-till tools bypass plowing and harrowing (processes that destroy soil structure, kill beneficial microorganisms and release lots of carbon) by cutting through sod and depositing seed in the narrow grooves, in one neat pass.   

The short news! Two cows calved in the dairy herd this week, the beginning of the fall calfalanche, which will put us back into plentiful milk. One birth was uneventful and one unusually difficult, because the calf came with both legs back. The calf didn’t make it but the cow is fine. Jake the Belgian horse has recovered from a hoof abscess, and is gaining back the weight he lost when he was lame. We took another load of apples to Dennis Shetler’s last night, to be pressed into cider. Liz Resnick is here again, putting up the fermented vegetables for the year. Hugo has joined the full-time crew. So glad he’s here. And huge thanks to Harold and Sabrina who came for a week-long stint of fieldwork, and hope to return once a quarter. It has been great to have their help and good company. 

Rain and cooler weather are on the way now, which should let us catch our collective breath after the last two weeks of sprinting in the warm fall sun. We’re at peak fall harvest now, with garlic planting on the near horizon. Any help in the fields this time of year is deeply appreciated! It’s also a terrific time for prospective members to try out the share, before we begin signups for 2022, so please spread the word to any interested friends. That’s the news from Essex Farm for this peak-leaf 41st week of 2021. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball