Week 7, 2019 | Kristin Kimball | Feb 15, 2019

Another week, another winter storm. This one was the sleety kind that demands a cozy dinner, so I made a version of Marcella Hazan’s Rice and Smothered Cabbage Soup, with thanks to Food 52 for reminding me about this old favorite. (They have a slightly adapted version of her recipe posted on their site, so I trust you can find it there, and I won’t copy it here.) I love this soup because it is a meal all on its own, and turns a few ordinary winter ingredients into something quite extraordinary. I used our grass-fed ghee in place of olive oil, and I used lamb broth, since that’s what I had on hand, but chicken or beef stock (homemade) would have been just as good. Time is a key – the cabbage needs to cook for at least an hour – and, as always, so is good-quality broth. If you don’t eat grains, omit the rice and reduce the stock by a third. The only tedious thing about this recipe is the fine shredding of the cabbage, which is one of those slightly fussy Marcella-isms that is not optional this time. I used the shredder attachment on my kitchenaid, which made it effortless. Our kids loved this soup and I made a double batch on that stormy evening, so there were plenty of leftovers for the snow day that followed.

The thermometer is hitting forty right now, and water is dripping off the roof, which makes my sugaring reflexes twitch. But our arch is in need of repair, and our team is small, so we’ve decided to sit this season out, and supply organic syrup via our member Mike Farrell, who literally wrote the book on maple sugaring. I feel relieved! Delightful as the work of sugaring is, it takes a lot of time and attention just as we are preparing for the growing season. And no matter how much wood we have on hand, we always seem to end up burning through the well-seasoned stuff that I have hoarded for use in the farmhouse woodstove. I guess I fear a chilly house more than I love sugaring. Happily, this year’s plan gives us both the heat and the sweet. Thanks, Mike!

We got pregnancy test results back for the first round of dairy cows I inseminated on my own, and I’m glad to report I knocked some of them up, which gives me confidence for this last blast of breeding before we shut down the semen tank for three months. Yesterday afternoon I took Jane with me to breed one of the heifers. Jane has always been a good helper with animal work. Now that she’s 11 she delivers the mandatory tweenage grossed-out commentary on certain tasks, but I suspect she still enjoys coming along. I know I like her company. We have a chute and headgate set up, and the heifer I needed was already locked in, but the rest of the herd was restless, which suggested another heifer was in heat, so we climbed into their corral to observe. As a cow is coming into or out of heat, she often tries to mount other animals – any other animals. I turned away from Jane for one second and when I turned back, one of the silly frisky cows had jumped on Jane from behind, knocking her to the ground, landing with hooves on either side of her head. That’s the sort of sight that gives a mother superpowers. I could have lifted the cow off of her if I had too. Luckily, the cow stepped away on her own, rather carefully, and Jane was totally fine, except for some smudges and a scraped ear, where one hoof had grazed her. She ran off to play with Mary dog in the hay, and as soon as my hands stopped shaking, I finished my job. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this sun’s-returning 7th week of 2019. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on Insta and the web at essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball