All posts tagged “farm produce

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Strawberry Hugo

Strawberry Mint Hugo Cocktail

I took a very early morning train a few weeks ago to Rüdnitz, a small town an hour outside of Berlin, to spend the day working on our CSA farm. The farm belongs to Roberto and Sanna, two amazingly generous people who are dedicating their energy towards creating a sustainable, biodynamic farm that supports a wide network of community members in Berlin.

Unfortunately, I didn’t check the weather report, and chose a very rainy day to visit. We spent the morning hours in the strawberry fields, picking row after row of tiny red juicy strawberries. As the rain came down all around me, I thought about the situation. It was a little cold and I was soaked through, but this was one day in my life, and I was picking the strawberries for myself and the other members of the CSA community. Tasting the juicy strawberries, fresh from the fields, was an incredible experience, and as one of the helpers put it, the strawberries I would receive in the CSA pick-up the next day would be so much sweeter knowing what hard work went into collecting them.

Our friend Charlotte was in town last month from Hamburg, and she asked if we had tried the German summer cocktail Hugo yet. At that point, I hadn’t heard of the drink, but made a point to try one immediately. A combination of sparkling wine, soda water, peppermint, lime, and elderflower syrup,  it’s a refreshingly bright way to enjoy the summer. After the long day at the farm, a nice cool cocktail was definitely in order. For this version, I replaced the elderflower syrup for a quick strawberry one, and added a handful of the fresh mint we’ve been growing on the windowsill. Floral and sweet, it was so nice to sip the fruits of my hard work. This German cocktail is definitely becoming our drink of choice for the summer.

Freshly Picked Strawberries

Strawberry Hugo
Servings: 2 drinks
8-10 very ripe strawberries, tops removed
¼ cup simple syrup 

4 pieces mint, chopped plus additional for garnish
Prosecco or sparkling wine
Sparkling water

Combine strawberries, syrup, and a few pieces of mint in a cocktail shaker and use a masher or fork to throughly mash. Shake vigorously, then strain into two glasses. Fill the glasses three-quarters of the way full with sparkling wine and top off with the sparkling water. Garnish with mint and enjoy!

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Herb-scented Salt

Thyme Marjoram Sage

Now that it’s finally getting warm in Berlin, we’ve been blessed with a bumper crop of produce from our farm share. I’ve had more rhubarb than I’ve known what to do with (it ended up in jam and more syrup), tons of fresh salad greens, the first tastes of local strawberries and cherries, and this week, a large harvest of fresh herbs. With the delivery came some sound advice: the herbs may bountiful, but the bunches of sage, thyme, chives, and marjoram were likely the majority to be harvested all summer, so we should preserve them. We already had a bundle of dried herbs from an April delivery, so rather than dry these herbs, I decided to make some seasoning salts.

There are a number of options for preserving when you have a large amount of fresh herbs—flavored oils, compound butters, and herb pesto are just a few examples. But flavored salts are really nice to have around during the grilling season—they are perfect for rubbing on steaks or adding to fried chicken seasoning, and are nice to sprinkle on top of grilled corn. You can use just about any herb, but hearty robust flavors work best, like thyme, sage, and marjoram. I’ve chosen a large grain salt here, planning to use it in a grinder, but the technique works with a flakier salt as well. It’s an incredibly easy way to keep the flavor of fresh herbs in your pantry all year long.

Herb-scented Salt
Herb-scented Salt
Servings: 2 cups
1 cup mixed herbs, leaves picked from the stems
2 cups salt

In a food processor, pulse the herb leaves until chopped. Add the salt and continue to pulse until well combined. Spread the mixture in an even layer on a lined sheet tray and let dry for two days. Transfer the mixture to a jar or spice grinder. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 year.

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rEATers: The Dirty Life

The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball

The Dirty Life has been by far the favorite for our food book club rEATers. Kristin Kimball’s story carries you away, making farm life seem equally endearing and exotic. Kimball doesn’t leave out any of the hardship of farm life—the book is an honest portrait of the dedication it takes to work the land—but it is also filled with sweeping scenes of life, neighbors, and love, along with the tastes of fresh Jersey milk, sweet sap straight from the trees, and pungent garlic, earthy pigeon, and bright tomatoes. It’s enough to make you want to start your own farm.

Kimball begins the book as a journalist living in New York, meeting her future farmer husband on assignment. A bit lost, she joins in on the farm work, and quickly falls in love, with her husband and the life. The book spans their experience of finding and taming land of their own—from raising a dairy cow and finding a team of horses to planning a farm that can provide a full diet, complete with sugar, grains, meats, and vegetables, for their customers. Their end product, Essex Farm, in northeastern New York, is one of the only farms that provides this kind of holistic approach. Along the way they each struggle through the demands of the farm, of each other, and of their own attitudes in life, Kimball’s city mentality and her husband’s frugality. But together they grow, and create a place they love. Kimball’s writing is gracious, detailed, and warm—you are included in every moment of the first year of their farm life.

After reading Four Fish a few months ago, I was inspired to look into what CSA options—or Community Supported Agriculture—Brooklyn offered. Although both fish CSA pick-ups were too far for us, we joined Partners Trace, for vegetables and flowers, and High Point, a meat CSA. So we’ve had meat, vegetables, and flowers straight from a farm all summer. (And Partners Trace recently started working with a fish partner!)

Partners Trace Community Supported Agriculture

Our Monday produce and flower pick-up from Partners Trace Farm CSA

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