06 March 2011

Un poco descansa, la mente camina

It is officially March and my first two months here at Buckwheat Blossom Farm have flown by.  Like any true farmer, I’ve begun to think about the near future and all the tasks that will need to be done in the coming weeks.  Not to mention it’s all other farm workers I’ve met ask and talk about lately.  “Did you start your onion seedlings yet?,”  seems to be the prevailing topic of conversation in the circles I’m involved in here. 
In exactly two weeks it will be the vernal equinox.  Vernal as in spring, equinox as in equal night (though technically this is more true at the equator than in Maine or even New York City).  The days are slowly getting longer and warmer which means melting snow, maple sugaring season, and less getting the farm truck stuck in the driveway hopefully.  I’ve nicknamed it “Stuckey the Truckey.”
In other news, Amy and Jeff held a potluck dinner for CSA members and friends.  This was a lot of fun and of course I got to eat a lot of delectable food.  Jeff gave sleigh rides to the kids and family; this was a big hit and a lot of fun from the eyewitness accounts from everyone involved.  Bill and Perry were the two horses hitched for the rides as they are the most steady team on the farm.  Even though I was not directly involved in driving them I was, in a way, proud that they did such a good job as horses willing to pull a bunch of noisy people around in circles for a couple hours in deep snow.  I look forward to every opportunity to work with the horses despite the challenges and frustrations.
Other than the CSA, we’ve been logging.  I have been alternating bad logging day, good logging day.  A bad day qualifies as so when the trees I cut down don’t seem to fall where I want them to, get caught up on other trees and don’t fall, or just take forever to get down.  Thursday was really good in the morning and really bad in the afternoon; the three trees I tried to cut are still up in various states of falling.  Friday was a good day of cutting and thus ended my week on a good note.  In any case, I’m much more comfortable with the chainsaw and it’s slowly becoming as Jeff says, “an extension of your body.”  My movements are improving in their swiftness, smoothness, and efficiency as I learn to control the saw safely.  Sometimes I feel like I’m holding a lightsaber.
For those of you wondering what I look like now, I trimmed my moustache because it was just getting ridiculous looking.  I’ll have a picture up next week with the help of my very good friend Nick who’s coming to visit today from Georgetown for the next few days.  I’ve been daydreaming about fresh greens and veggies pretty much every day now, hence the title of this update.  My mouth waters at the thought…Until next week, peace out homies!
Stir-fried Root Veggies (Serves 4 regular people, 2 Rich Lees)
When I’m craving a quick, fresh-tasting, and filling vegetable meal this is my fall-back.  Most of your time is spent prepping.  I like using the wok my Mom/Grandma gave me, but you can use a large skillet as well.  I’m probably giving away some kinda secret but the key to a lot of the sauces in Chinese cuisine is cornstarch, which creates a gravy of whatever flavors you have thrown into your dish.  I’ve finally perfected the balance of ingredients and seasoning, but it was all done by taste and feel.  You’ll have to practice yourself to get it right.
·       2 tablespoons of oil
·       1 chopped onion
·       3 cups of chopped turnips, rutabaga, carrots, and kohlrabi (nice because it has a broccoli flavor)
·       4 cloves of sliced garlic
·       A heaping teaspoon of minced ginger (courtesy of the ginger people?)
·       Around ¼ cup of water; more can always be added later
·       1 teaspoon of cornstarch
·       Soy sauce to taste; I tend to use a lot because I am constantly craving salt from sweating, very appetizing I know.
Prep all the veggies ahead of time as you will be cooking at a high temperature.  Put your wok/skillet on medium-high heat, and then pour the oil in.  Before the oil gets too hot, throw in the onions, stirring constantly.
When the onions become soft, put the garlic in and continue to stir for less than 30 seconds or else it will burn.  This imparts a lot of the garlic flavor into the oil.  Put the rest of your veggies in along with the ginger, stirring once in a while for a couple minutes. 
In the meantime, mix the water and cornstarch together and then pour the mixture into the wok.  Continue to cook until the root veggies become tender.  You may need to add more water depending on their moisture content as the water helps to steam the veggies as well.  At this point you can add the soy sauce to taste and let some of the water cook off to make a semi-thick gravy.  Serve the veggies over rice, quinoa, or even some elbow macaroni (brings back childhood memories).  Wokka wokka!
 PS - I baked bread for the second time in two weeks and I think I finally got it!
“You can’t wait for inspiration.  You have to go after it with a club.” – Jack London