carrots

Winter harvests

Here are some snapshots of a few winter harvest we are enjoying on the farm at the moment…

Dangling some carrots

Dangling some carrots

There are few things as delicious as an over-wintered carrot. The slip nip of the colder temps causes the carrots to become sweeter (stress = more sugar production). Crunchy and sweet? Perfect.

Kennebec tater

Kennebec tater

A cozy layer of straw mulch helps protect these spuds (and 3 other varieties) from the sun and the nip of frost. Other than the pups digging them up in pursuit of voles, we will be dining off of these guys well into the spring/early summer.

Dent corn

Dent corn

The corn in this photo is called “Bloody Butcher,” an  heirloom dent corn dating from the mid 1800s and likely was traded between settlers and Native Americans. Dent corn was used mainly for grinding into meal or flour, but it can be roasted or fried (is a sweet corn) as well. Mostly, it is used for decorative purposes today. Here is a little story from NPR entitled “On The Trail To Preserve Appalachia’s Bounty Of Heirloom Crops” that gives a slightly regional perspective on this historical variety.

I have been looking into home mills. I am interested in trying my hand at grinding some of these kernels into a flour or meal. Anyone try that before? Regardless, this variety is a staple in our garden for its beauty and history.

Pickled beets

Pickled beets

These jars full of burgundy goodness have become a winter staple for us. Pickled beets. They are zingy, textured and simply delicious. This season wasn’t our best beet crop, but what was left over was all harvested and canned. It was the top item on my to-do list this month. To think I hated beets all my life until I started growing them. Beets from a tin can (what we grew up with) DO NOT COMPARE to fresh beets. And THESE canned beets are miles above all. Served on their own as a side or sliced onto greens with a pungent cheese and vinaigrette dressing…beets are on the winter menu often.

 

 

Farm to School Project

Please don’t think me too self-centered, but I am so proud of our farm and how far we have come in just a few years.

Today, after work, I came home to harvest carrots that will premiere at Snowville Elementary School tomorrow as a part of a “Farm-to-School” project within the Pulaski County Public School (PCPS) system.

Carrot harvest

Carrot harvest

Thanks to a connection with Southwest Virginia Fresh (SO Fresh for short)…a regional all volunteer, non-profit dedicated to promoting local foods by linking producers and consumers together through networking, education and collaborations…our farm met with PCPS folks and got a plan in motion for participating in their Farm-to-School intiative.

The funding for this first phase revolves around planning and organizing, so we are THRILLED that product is actually being delivered for a tasting so soon.

So, yes, I am proud of our farm. I am proud of our hard work. One of our primary goals of even jumping into this field was to make healthy, fresh and delicious foods available to all. How cool is it to start with kids? To reinforce the importance of agriculture, responsible land use and good nutrition? To instruct our young neighbors on where their food (can) come from and how it is made? Besides, you haven’t reached nirvana until you’ve tasted an over wintered carrot…

I tell you what, we are living the dream! Thanks to SO Fresh and PCPS. We feel so privileged, and we cannot wait to deliver our carrots to their first tasting event!

Scrubbed with love

Scrubbed with love

What the picture says…

Seeds

Seeds

Completely ignoring the filthy man-hand, what does this picture say to you?

Ok, ok. Ridiculous question.

Let me give a little background. What is happening here is seeding (a little late, but it is getting done) of some rows that, hopefully, will become lush with delicious carrots. The container, in my filthy man-hand, holds the organic, pelleted carrot seeds (Johnny’s Selected Seeds). This container holds around 5,000 seeds.

What this picture tells me is that our filthy little man-hands (Jordan has them, too!) have carefully, lovingly, placed THOUSANDS of carrot seeds into our earth, 5 rows per bed, with seeds about an inch apart. Whoop! Come on germination!!!!

Curried Carrot Soup

Hi all. It has been a long time between post, and I hope you find this one worth the wait.

What’s been going on? Well, our real jobs have kept us occupied. Plans are underway to work on the farmhouse. Right now, we are winterizing so that we can renovate in some comfort. The garden also is being winterized with plans for one more tillage and massive mulching of the non-production zones (one quadrant is still working for us on through the winter). And…we prepare for the holidays.

As for today, a frozen, ice crusted and rainy day was spent at the farm. Hours were spent shaking ice off of row covers and adding more ribs for reinforcement. Herbs, celery, and broccoli were harvested. Time was taken to muddle through mud to collect sweet potatoes and some amazing carrots. It is the later item that I want to focus on for the rest of this post.

I harvested some of the biggest cowboy carrots yet! I call these guys cowboy carrots because of the bow legged similarity.

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Look at the size of this guy!

Regardless of their appearance, any carrot tastes good this time of year…a little sweeter after the kiss of a frost…today’s carrots were used for the following recipe:

Curried Carrot Soup
Martha Stewart, Everyday Food
November 2004

Ingredients
* 2 Tbs butter
* 1 cup chopped onion (I did a whole onion)
* 1 tsp curry powder
* 2 tsp coarse salt
* 1/4 tsp ground black pepper (I didn’t measure)
* 2 (14 1/2 oz) cans chicken broth
* 3 cups water
* 2 pounds carrots (I didn’t peel) cut into 1 inch chunks
* 1-2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
* 2 Tbs fresh chopped cilantro (optional garnish…I didn’t use)

Directions
1. Heat butter in a Dutch oven or large (4-5 quart) pot over medium heat. Add onions, curry powder, salt, and pepper. Cook stirring, occasionally, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.

2. Add broth, carrots and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.

3. Purée soup (recipe called for use of a blender and noted that hot liquids expand and to be careful not to fill the jar more than halfway; allow heat to escape to prevent splattering – do this by removing the cap from the hole in the lid and cover with a dish towel while blending; blend in batches). I used an immersion blender and puréed the soup right in the pot. Add more water to thin to desired consistency. Stir in lemon juice. Serve garnished with cilantro, if desired.

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The result – beautiful, rich color and amazingly delicious! Field to table to tummy goodness.

I served this soup coupled with sweet potato biscuits (a recipe from another blogger Minced; check out her site for that recipe and other tasty things to try).