Week 43, 2022|Kristin Kimball|October 28, 2022

Freeze coming tonight, just as we fall back to standard time and embrace the dark. Everyone is in the field today, working hard to bring in the potatoes before they get too cold. The corn and soybeans are still rustling in the fields, as we wait for the combine and some dry weather to arrive to harvest it. One more week of green grass for all the grazing animals, then on to hay and baleage. Enjoy it while you’ve got it, ruminants!

I had a message this morning from a new member who cooked a stew hen with a lot of lamb tallow and some vegetables and the results were disastrous. Worse, she can’t forget about it because her apartment still smells like lamb tallow. Oof! It made me realize we need a primer on the two types of chickens in the share right now for members who might not be clear on the difference. And a few words on lamb tallow, too. Here you go:

 The stew hens are old laying hens. They are culinary gold for making chicken stock  — you just can’t get that flavor and nutrition out of anything you’d buy at a store — but they are a sad nightmare if you try to roast and eat them. The texture will be like one of those joke rubber chickens. I make stock from them in my instant pot pressure cooker, which is one of the only kitchen gadgets I wholeheartedly endorse for everyone. Just throw in the bird, frozen or thawed, a little salt and pepper, fill the cooker ⅔ with water and set to pressure cook for 3 hours. Sometimes I let it linger on slow cook for another 10-12 hours. Then strain and cool the stock, and toss out the now-used-up meat and bones. (Please don’t do this with a broiler chicken or you will make me weep.) You can freeze the stock and use it later for soup, or sauces, or when you are cooking veg and need a bit of flavor. I believe that good homemade stock is one of the things that makes a pretty good cook a great cook, instantly! Note, the stew hens have WHITE zip ties on their bags. For eating, you want broiler chickens. The broilers are young, tender, meaty birds, raised on pasture, and again unlike anything you can buy at a store. The zip ties for the broilers are BLACK.

Lamb tallow. What can I say? I only use it for one thing: frying potatoes to crisp, golden perfection, and for that, there is literally no better substance in the world. Lamb tallow has a high smoke point so you can crank the heat pretty high and the flavor, with potatoes, is delicious (think McDonald’s fries, if they were good) but you don’t get the cloying tongue-coating horror you get if you use tallow for something else. Butter or lard are much better for daily use. Butter has a lower smoke point so go gentle with the heat. Lard’s is higher, and it’s very user friendly, with a nice mild flavor, and our pigs are pastured and organically fed so the nutrient profile is surprisingly good! We will have ghee in the share soon and you can use that for more high-heat situations.

Look out! We’re hitting the road a few times this winter, scheduled for three talks so far. The first is on December 6th in Boulder, Colorado, at Dharma’s Garden. Then closer to home in January, in Lake Placid, as part of the World University Games, and finally, at the NOFA New Hampshire conference on February 11th. We love these gigs because they allow us to talk about diversified sustainable agriculture, meet farmers, readers, and interested consumers, and get some much-needed perspective from the world away from our little farm island. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll squeak in a ski day or two? One can hope!

Members and farm friends, we are looking for used but still nice bedding for farmer housing! Specifically, warm comforters for 1 twin, 1 full, and 2 queen sized beds; We are also in need of a full size bed frame and box spring. If you are looking to rehome any of these items would you please let me know? You can text or call me at 518-645-4658.

We had FIVE volunteers here from Brooklyn this week for root harvest and kitchen work. Thank you, Team Brooklyn! And thanks to beloved Essex Farm alumnae Liz Resnick who came to make barrels of sauerkraut and kimchi. Our collective microbiome is sending gratitude. Finally, thanks to Elli Morris who was here for an intro week. We are grateful for her work and good company. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this leaf fall 43rd week of 2022. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball