We’re striding into 2019 full of vigor, purpose and excitement. We’ve erased and rewritten our Quiet Farm project whiteboard – it has three columns, Now, Soon and Later – and although we’re totally overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks, we’re looking forward to an incredible year. First on the list is to finish our home renovations, then to build out our commercial kitchen so we have an amazing space ready for classes and workshops and events. Over the course of the year we’ll continue to share everything we’re up to here on Quiet Farm, and we’re so glad to have you along for the journey!
Late last year I made my first batch of fire cider, a legendary homeopathic folk remedy popularized by the herbalist Rosemary Gladstar. Recipes vary, of course, but most include raw onion, garlic, horseradish, ginger, lemon, chiles, apple cider vinegar and honey for sweetening. I also included lots of turmeric, a powerful anti-inflammatory, plus extra citrus for the vitamin C boost. I usually take a shot each morning and follow it with lots of water; this brew is intense and can definitely upset sensitive tummies! But I believe firmly in supporting our immune systems with good food and potions like this and ideally not getting sick at all. (Oh, and wash your hands with hot, soapy water. All the time. Regular handwashing is the single most powerful weapon we have against colds and flu.)
One of the toughest projects we’re working on right now involves writing a crop production plan for the upcoming season. This is challenging mostly because we don’t actually have any beds built as yet, so it’s difficult to estimate the growing space we’ll have available. We plan to get soil delivered from a fabulous local supplier, and the only thing we know at this point is that our beds this year will be reasonably temporary – so we can adjust both their size and location if we’re not happy with the results. (Planting anything will be utterly pointless if we don’t have a sturdy deer fence to protect the crops, so that needs to be built first.)
Salad greens, pea shoots, sunchokes, baby beets and yellow onions from our CSA share.
Speaking of what we plan to grow, we loved receiving Jerusalem artichokes (they’re neither from Jerusalem nor in the artichoke family) in our CSA this past season. They’re also called sunchokes, and they’re actually the tuber, or underground root, of a specific sunflower species. We’re excited to find that they grow well here, and we’ll definitely try growing our own. I tossed the sunchokes in olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted them with other root vegetables; they had a warm, nutty sweetness that we loved.
I was recently gifted a bag of dried mung beans, so I was curious to see if I could start my own bean sprouts. It’s a simple process that just involves keeping the beans moist and warm until they sprout, then the sprouts can be added to sandwiches or salads. Raw sprouts are a controversial crop, to be sure; their comfortably damp growing environment can be a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, including listeria, E. coli and salmonella, and there have been a number of serious foodborne illness outbreaks attributed to sprouts around the world. As with any potentially risky food, I wouldn’t serve raw sprouts to small children, the elderly or anyone with a compromised immune system, but I’ll certainly grow and eat my own. Plus, it’s great fun to watch the magic of seeds at work, even if you don’t eat them!
Bananas are our least favorite fruit to eat fresh, so if I have them around it means I bought them cheap and I’m waiting for them to turn soft and brown – and then they’re ideal for baking. I love baking with bananas because, like applesauce, they add so much lovely sweetness and moisture; dryness in baked goods is quite an issue when baking at altitude (and in a high plains desert). This cranberry-banana snack cake is slightly adapted from this recipe; I added chopped almonds and crystallized ginger and cut the leavening just a bit since we’re at 6,300 feet. It turned out perfect – warmly spiced, moist and ideal for a mid-afternoon coffee break. And it was even better the following day for breakfast! (See last year’s winter cake recipe!)
On our upcoming to-do list: build bookshelves! Refurbish the chicken house! Repair damaged window and door seals! Construct the aforementioned deer fence! It’s non-stop fun all the time here!