Essex Farm Note week 23

Mark pulled what passes for a farmer all-nighter last night, harrowing the upper field to get it ready for corn. He came home sometime after midnight. We have 20 acres of corn planted and starting to germinate now, and are aiming for another 10 in the next few days. Meanwhile, Cory, Ryan, Asa and Chad worked late on the new mobile chicken coop. Egg production has been sagging, so we’re pushing hard to get the layers out on pasture. The new coop is an A-frame design, built on the running gear of a hay wagon, and it will be covered by a tarp. (Our new tarps are splashed with brand-name advertising. We are not being sponsored by big box stores. These are spent billboard tarps that we bought at a deep discount, and for better or worse, they seem to be nearly indestructible.) Meanwhile, the rest of the crew maintained good spirits under a grueling planting, weeding, seeding, chore-ing, milking, harvesting, haying marathon.

It’s been a fun week in the kitchen. The strawberries are starting to come in, and greens are suddenly plentiful. Yesterday, for lunch, we had fried chicken, sautéed asparagus, and strawberry pie, and I was hard pressed to think of a meal I’d enjoyed more, even if it required a lot of cleanup afterward, plus a post-lunch nap. Speaking of asparagus, we had a bushel left over last week, so I blanched and froze a bunch of it, pickled some of it, and turned the rest into a delicious pesto-like spread. This is the last week of asparagus in the share. It’s time to stop harvesting and let the patch grow so the plants can recover from all the flooding. We hope to have that whole field drained by fall, and if we can do it without disrupting the plants too badly, we’ll have an even better harvest next year.

And that is the news from Essex Farm for this still-plenty-busy-around-here 23rd week of 2012. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball

Asparagus and Green Garlic Spread

  • Double handful of asparagus, about a pound
  • Two heads green garlic, cut into pieces. Use the tender green stem as well as the white head.
  • 1 cup (more or less) walnut pieces, toasted
  • Olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

Cut the asparagus into 1” pieces, and blanch in boiling salted water for 3 or 4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stems. They should be tender but still vibrantly green. Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a hot skillet until they smell good. Don’t burn them. Drain the asparagus and combine with the garlic, walnuts, and a hearty splash of olive oil. Using a food processor or an immersion blender, process until smooth and spreadable. Finish with a squeeze of lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve on crackers, or on bread. I bet it would also be good tossed with pasta and a little extra olive oil. Variations: If I had anchovies on hand, I might have thrown a few of them in there. You might also add some fresh herbs.

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