Oh the jewels of summer! I think now would be a good time to talk a bit about tomato wrangling. Here at knife & fork I have set as a goal the preservation of excess product in the harvest months for use in the dark days of winter. After having been through one particularly bleak winter here in the mountains I can tell you how rewarding it is to be able to put your perfect ripe tomatoes in a rich winter stew and feel all that sunshine from the summer warming your insides as you watch the snow fall. Last summer and fall I canned 750 pounds of tomatoes and that lasted until new year's eve at the restaurant for all my needs. This year the tomatoes have been more abundant than last and I have gotten a bit more aggressive. My goal this year has been to put up 2000 pounds of tomatoes and i believe that I am almost there. It has been my routine most mondays since july to spend a few hours here at the shop, on our one day that we are closed, and can one to two hundred pounds of tomatoes.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
The air and the light are subtly changing as we begin to round the slow curve into fall. The colors and textures of onions and garlic curing in the top of the green toe barn make me think of every fall i've ever been through and the excitement and energy in the air. i have been in a mad rush to put up tomatoes and potatoes for the winter. Not to mention keeping tabs on firewood and household repairs that need to be done before the roof is covered in snow. And while that is still a good ways off it must remain on my mind.....
This session at the farm was easy to plan as on each visit all the ingredients seemed to jump out at me. Onions, garlic, eggplant, sweet peppers, basil, and LAMB! I love getting lamb from Gaelan because I know what a luxurious life they have had. Sunny southeast pastures and lovely grass and fresh water all abundant. After eating so much of what this farm has to offer I feel that I could pick out their products in a blind taste test. The terroir is very evident and delicious.
This recipe almost made itself. I massaged a fresh basil and garlic paste onto two lamb chops and grilled them rare while I sauteed garlic, onion, pepper, and diced eggplant in a pan with extra virgin olive oil, salt,pepper, thyme and a splash of fresh lemon. Turn the sautee out onto a plate and top with a few fresh basil leaves and mount the chops on top and then drizzle a reduction of lamb stock over the whole! Fantastic!
Saturday, September 4, 2010
The hot sauce is real easy.
Just take one cup of sugar and two cups of apple cider vinegar and put them in a sauce pan. Add four cloves peeled garlic, one tablespoon salt, and ten mixed hot peppers. I used czech black, cayenne, poblano, jalapeno, and hidalgos. Then add two sweet peppers that are red. Bell peppers will work but I had jimmy nardello peppers and sweet red pimiento peppers. Bring all this to a boil and allow to simmer about thirty minutes or until all the peppers are soft. Then blend. I use a stick blender but you could use any other blender just make sure to follow maximum hot liquid recommendations as to not have caustic hot liquid explode in you face or all over the walls of your kitchen. This sauce will keep in the fridge in a jar for months but i usually don't have the chance to find out.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
So, without digressing into just the details of all the mad fun that we had at this last fourth of july roast, let me get into some details. When feeding a frenzied, hot, and tipsy crowd of revelers a roast pig make sure to have around one pound of animal per person. This includes bone weight and in this case pepperoni weighed in at about 140 with the three chickens and the organs and herbs.
It is of the utmost import that the fire is vigilently tended and maintained. The most quoted internal temperature for a fully cooked, pullable whole pig is 200 degrees F. This took us a full nine hours and to keep people from pulling too much skin off before she was done there was a giant, mostly vegetarian potluck buffet about an hour before the pig was done. This was a most capital idea. Also we had endless entertainment including the tunes and general MC talents of DJ Abbot and after dinner we had live music where I got to beat on the drums a bit and of course, fireworks, a fashion show, and lots of dancing. I long to do this again. If you were not there you really missed out.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
The setting of the outdoor pit could not have been better as I think these pictures illustrate. There were about 125 people there and everyone was helping with something. As you all may know if you build a fire and there are other people around the men will assemble and discuss the merits of proper firebuilding. Well imagine what happens when you stuff a pig with chickens and herbs and stand by it for 9 hours. Usually people would come, scrutinize and decided the pig needed some action so we would spin her. But then they would leave and I would be alone again with pepperoni. Jay Bolemon and Sally James did a good job of hanging out and taking it all in. There was lots of wine. Then the farm olympics began. I lost in a scuffle hoe contest against Joe, but he has a lot more practice than I do. Finally Gaelan and I hauled the pig over to the serving table and everyone dove in. There were hot corn tortillas and pickled jalapenos and some people just walking around with huge hunks of meat in their hands. It was greasy and barbaric. Then I took a huge bite out of the heart. It was the best meat I had ever tasted in my life. The world was spinning and I was in love and in the sun. Then the music began.
Monday, August 30, 2010
This amazing day started with a stout coffee and a 7:30am drive with my friend Tyler. We cruised along the south toe river's bends and pulled into the grounds of green toe. We were greeted by a crew of men that had been handling the details of the pig slaughter and cleaning. Pepperoni was peacefully laying in the back of Gaelan's truck wrapped in a clean plastic tarp. Fresh meat is such an amazing thing. No odors or questionable things to deal with. Using a good seven foot length of pipe and some bailing wire we prepared the pig for the spit. I had brought three fresh chickens from my friends Amos and Kaci Nidiffer in Elk Park and a half bushel of fresh thyme from Kelly Rothe. The heart, liver and kidneys of the pig had been saved as well. I placed the chickens, the organs , thyme and salt and pepper in the cavity of pepperoni then wound her all around with the bailing wire and we carried the whole package over to the fire and set her up about four feet over the fire. Then we jumped into the river!
The shot of salt and pepper and a mason jar labeled "4 the pig" leaning on the fire logs is a simple testament to minimalism. All the real work was done before we started cooking. Other than the ridiculous and glorious fact that we stuffed animals into another animal all we needed was salt and pepper and my homemade 7 pepper sauce made special 4 the pig. And of that I had made only two quarts that I occasionally dribbled on the upward facing portion of the roast throughout the nine-hour process. Not much active time here but a whole lot of great fireside chats with beautiful friends old and new. Here's a video by Jeff Goodman on proper saucing.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
So for this recipe I wanted to keep it simple crisp and fresh. I sliced some cucumber and tossed it with sauteed baby carrots, onions, garlic, and fresh italian parsley. Then I added some rich chicken stock. Then I garnished the vegetables with that amazing chicken from amos that I was talking about.
I am finally sitting down in august to write about june. These times go by mighty fast.I have had several thoughts of bringing the computer into the kitchen with me but last week I put my japanese water stone in front of my cutting board for days and I still could not find or make time to sharpen my two point-less knives that the whole staff shares at the knife & fork. This season has been abundant. Last year I arrived in burnsville at the beginning of june and last summer was cool and wet. This year has been so different. Hot and dry with intermittent showers for three day spells have brought thick, ripe and sultry vegetables. I mean this is the stuff you would tell your grandchildren; "...I picked peaches the size of babyheads and all the cars ran on syrup....." . Utopian. It has been dificult to keep up with the garden. And, I don't do it alone. My brother-in-law has upkept the two garden spots we have and it is an overwhelming job. This is still a small concern compared to green toe ground. They have sixteen acres and have a hand in it all.
It is easy to be influenced at the farm. The pics I have shown you of cucumbers and carrots all come together so well with the help of an amazing chicken from amos nidiffer at trosly farm.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
It is more exciting every time that I come here to Green Toe Ground. I have been harassing Gaelan about all the things i see.... "hey those fennel look ready! Can i have those cukes? You're growing parsley right?"
I know that I am jumping the gun but it is just so amazing to be surrounded with all this amazing growth. I have a few problems with patience. just a few. Anyway, its cucumber time and the sweet thin sugarsnax carrots have turned into brilliant subterranean icicles and I want them, in my mouth in my kitchen on your plate. God help Gaelan when the tomatoes start to ripen. You will soon see pics of me rolling on the earth smashing tomatoes into my eyeballs!
I really can't relate how much fun it is to pull your inspiration from the earth. It makes me breathe easier. It is my reason for being on this planet. I have been guided at times gently and at other times not so gently to this point my entire life. Divine providence is such a handy motivator! Thanks Nicole and Gaelan! It is wonderful that so many hard working craftsmen would dedicate their lives to an effort that betters so many other lives. This is the new selflessness that still can stand up to and hold hands with objectivist epistemology. We create our own eden in defiance of the blatant wholesale destruction of the rest of the world by those who solicit our trust and dollars. Am I ranting?
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
So we find ourselves in the glory of June! My birthmonth! There is so much happening on the farm that I find myself constantly jealous of my farming brethren who get to spend their days out of doors fondling all these beautiful plants. I love the time that I do get to spend on Green Toe Ground with them and I always get a fun task ... like sheep herding.
I find it amazing that the sheep talk to you and come to you unless you need them to. As soon as they sense that you are indeed herding them they rebel. This was my first experience and my friends had no end of laughter for my involvement and my enthusiasm. Overall, amazing way to start the day. I had to put my coffee down but it didn't get knocked over!