Essex Farm Note

Week 38, 2017

It’s the week of the equinox, and Rosh Hashanah, and, according to some sources, the beginning of the apocalypse, but let’s officially recognize this as the Week of the Broccoli. Broccoli can be a tricky crop to grow. It takes up a lot of space, bugs like it, and it will bolt in hot weather. But everything clicked for our broccoli this year -- weather, soil, seeds, weeds – and harvest is at peak now. In our kitchen, we are taking full advantage of it. Last Friday, we made cream of broccoli soup. (The keys to its success, I think, were a base of sautéed celery, onion and carrot; good homemade chicken stock; and sour cream instead of heavy cream.) The kids got raw broccoli florets with onion dip in their lunches all week. Tonight, for team dinner, I’m making a giant hotel pan of roasted broccoli to go with roasted chickens and challah bread. Roasting is my new favorite way to cook broccoli; it requires minimum effort and yields maximum deliciousness. Here’s the method: Toss the broccoli with a generous amount of olive oil, season with salt, and spread it on a sheet pan so the pieces don’t touch. Then throw it into a 425 degree oven until the stems are tender and the edges of the florets begin to brown and crisp, about 20 minutes. You can do other things to it at that point – spritz with lemon, or sprinkle with parmesan cheese – but straight-up roasted broccoli is hard to beat. Broccoli also freezes well, especially when the quality is this good. To do that, blanch in boiling water for three minutes, cool thoroughly in ice water, then drain. And brace yourselves, because we’re about to start harvesting cauliflower, and it looks just as good as the broccoli.

            It was an exciting week. On Wednesday, Ben stabbed Anne through the hand while killing chickens.  Or, Anne impaled her hand on Ben’s knife while gesticulating and simultaneously killing chickens, depending on who is telling the story. Either way, the knife was very sharp. The dialogue that followed went like this: Ben: Hey, where’s my knife? Anne: Errr…. here. The blade somehow missed tendons, bones and major blood vessels, and after a thorough through-the-hand irrigation and a wallop of antibiotics, Anne is back on duty today, one-handed.

            The big fall projects continue. A crane arrives tomorrow to lift the trusses into place on the new barn. The new drainage is in place on Blockhouse Road, and we spread it with compost this week, 8 tons to the acre. Today, the field west of the driveway looks like it was hit by a giant meteor, leaving a one-acre crater. This is part of the conservation reserve enhancement program, and will be for wild plants, fish, amphibians, and waterfowl (also hockey). Just south of that site, there are several loads of sand roughly in place now, in anticipation of adding an actual building there in the next year or two, to replace the trailers. We dream of a real bathroom, farm kitchen, and protection for the elements so our intrepid members can pick up their food without getting frostbite, or sunburn. We have no timeline yet, nor means, but with the heavy machinery here already, we decided to move one step forward. Finally, farewell,  Charlotte! We will miss you terribly. Thanks for keeping animals alive and happy, and for your steady, cheerful presence here. That’s the news from Essex Farm for this broc-tastic 38th week of 2017. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on Instagram at kristinxkimball or essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, IRL, any day but Sunday.                  

–Kristin & Mark Kimball

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