The Charm Farm CSA

the latest beet

Month: March, 2013

Thinking of Charcuterie

When folks ask me what I do in my spare time, I used to explain to them that that was the block of time devoted to raising produce.  But seeing that vegetable farming is becoming a hefty chunk of my day’s activities, I decided I needed to fill the recently vacated hobby realm with an activity I do more like a hobby: not frequently, but completely immersive when the occasion does arise. Think of the fly fisherman. This is how I have been approaching the art of cured meat. Foodstuffs to be fermented all respond similarly to the basic principles of inoculation, temperature and humidity control, and time duration, yet there is an infinite number of variations that will result in dramatically different products. It takes at least a few trial runs to find a particularly delicious creation, despite what the Boston Lager label says. This refinement process is the landscape I am currently trudging through. I don’t exactly run a delicatessen here on the farm, but if I did, I wouldn’t be ashamed to stock my fresh sausages and corned beef. Admittedly, I would do a few more batches of bacon and salume before they found their way to the meat counter.

Despite writing this on a Tuesday on the tail end of March, it feels much more like the first week of February, as I watch the snow acccumulate in the corners of the windows. Dani and Butte, the two young ladies who ensure that our dairy fridge is stocked each week, were a little slower to leave the barn after milking tonight. Having gotten a taste of some of the first spring growth of the pastures, they are understandably frustrated with this perpetual winter. This is a big week for the litter of piglets- they get weaned! And for the unlucky chaps (only two out of twelve), they have to go through a small surgery to graduate from boar to barrow. I’ve been framing up the endwalls on the high tunnel weather permitting. This is one of the last structural additions. Hopefully the tomato and pepper seedlings will get off my back and into the tunnel soon.

One of the more interesting aspects of the CSA for me is its evolution as a living, breathing manifestation of all facets of the farm. We’re certainly weilding tools and walking upright, but we haven’t built any Pyramids, not yet, anyway.

St. Pat’s Day Preparations

Hopefully, upon reading this, you have a chunk of corned beef brisket in your hands yet may have some questions of how to prepare such an item.  With the help of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, we will get through this in fine form.  Firstly, decide whether you would like to prepare it in the oven, on the stovetop or a combination of the two. Next, soak the meat in cold water for a couple of hours. If unable to do this because of time restrictions, opt for the boiling on the stovetop method which entails simmering it very gently for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours depending upon the size of the cut. Add desired vegetables in the last half hour. If using the oven, bake at 300 degrees for a comparable timeframe wrapped in foil with accompanying vegetables. If using both, boil the meat for the allotted time and finish it in the oven with the veggies. Slice the meat in thick slices and serve alongside some hearty mustard and a good, dark beer. Send a cheers out to The Charm Farm.

Coasting

We have made it through the hunger moon of February in fine form, yet the growing conditions haven’t seemed to improve much with the onset of March and the pending time change.  There is hope though, as each day more seedlings reveal themselves and the maple sap is running over in Pickens.  Regardless, the hunger moon stills bears its weight upon the CSA.

In light of this, I am adjusting (so often used to denote a hike in price!) the adult rate of the CSA to a modest $150 which I feel more reflects the offerings from the farm.  The humble potato stands strong as our sole vegetable representative.  Joel the Baker has morphed into Joel the Photographer Internationale, so the bread shelf will be empty more often than not.  Although bagels will continue to miraculously appear on occasion courtesy of Katie the Baker.  So, yeah, this price is applicable to the months of March and April.  In May, the CSA will regain some of the glory it is currently lacking.

Lastly, these are some tremendously busy times on the farm (I’m still trying to find the ones that aren’t), so you will not find me whipping up too many embellishments for a more diverse offering.  Rather, I’m looking forward to May when we will be swimming in green, freshly dead plants!  Let’s just coast on through these next two months, even if it is somewhat carnivorously.