Week 6 & 7, 2022｜Kristin Kimball｜February 18, 2022
We’re in that stretch of winter when the weather report reads like a suspense novel. Some days require all the insulating layers, while others bring on the tee shirts; underfoot the terrain changes from ice to slush and back again. So, it must be sugar season. After a few years off, we’re in it again this year, in a small way, thanks to our member Mike Farrell. Mike is the author of The Sugarmaker’s Companion, and Co-founder and CEO of Forest Farmers, producing organic maple syrup in New York and Vermont as well as tapping birch, walnut, beech and hickory for New Leaf Syrups. Mike has been helping us set up tubing in our sugarbush this winter. Actually, helping is the wrong verb. He has single handedly strung tubing among 30 trees and down the hill to the pavilion. When the sap runs again we will have fresh sap in the share. We’re not sure yet if we will be making syrup. There are logistical hurdles, but we are working on it.
Huge thanks to Jake and Taylor Armerding who came from Massachusetts last weekend to play an amazing concert at the Grange, to support the Friendly Fridge in the Bronx, which serves families of youth impacted by the criminal justice system. (We donate food to the Friendly Fridge as well as other food pantries and mutual aid societies every week. The Hub on the Hill donates the delivery.) The feeling of being in a room of people enjoying really wonderful music was pure joy. We’ve all missed that, I think. Thank you Jake and Taylor, and thanks to Jeanette Bocanegra who came up from the Bronx for the concert and to tell everyone at the Grange about Families for Justice. We are always happy to accept donations to help offset the cost of the donated food and delivery. If you are a member, any week you miss due to travel, etc., the value of your share goes to the food banks.
I have a new love in the farmhouse kitchen, thanks to Harmony Sveshnikova, whom many local members know as the distribution angel who makes it all happen on Fridays and Saturdays. Harmony brought us her rye bread and I loved it so much I had to have the recipe. It is dense, moist, full of flavor. I could happily survive on this bread, thinly sliced with a thick smear of sour cream. It has become a staple in our house. If you have never made sourdough bread before you might want to brush up on the technique before trying it. Keeping a sourdough culture going is like having an undemanding pet. Goldfish level. It doesn’t take much but you do have to tend it every day. Goldfish level. I find the recipe itself very flexible. You can make it with a higher proportion of rye flour or even 100% rye. I have used maple syrup in place of the molasses and it works but molasses adds some depth. Here’s Harmony’s recipe with a few notes of my own thrown in.
For two loaves:
100 grams of sourdough starter*
730 grams of water
80 grams of molasses
500 grams of dark rye flour
500 grams of whole wheat flour
18 grams of sea salt
A handful of coriander seed, freshly ground
*maintain the starter with equal weights flour, water and starter.
Mix everything together. It will be the consistency of heavy clay. Let it develop for 5-18 hours, depending on temperature and how sour you like it. Bake in 2 loaf pans lined with parchment at 400 degrees until the internal temperature is 190-200 degrees. This should take somewhere around an hour.
We are hosting a farm tour on March 5th for the NOFA Vermont winter conference, and members and other guests are welcome to attend. If you are not an Essex Farm member you will be asked to register via NOFA VT. We would love to see you all there.
Finally, We have an urgent request for everyone. Please please please send your glass back. Please don’t use the glass for other things at home. The glass is meant to stay in circulation. We are critically short on half gallon jars and we can’t buy them from our usual sources. Also remember to please return your glass clean (we rewash all of them but scrubbing out dried up stuff takes forever) and please DO NOT put the lids back on. Return your lids separately. Jars with lids on them develop mold and mildew inside. That’s a lot of pleases. It makes us happy to use reusable packaging and reduce waste and we so appreciate your help in making it all work.
That’s the news from Essex Farm for these freezing/raining/snowing/sunshiny 6th and 7th weeks of 2022. Find us at 518-963-4613, firstname.lastname@example.org, on Instagram at essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.
-Kristin & Mark Kimball