Tag Archives: summer

Sweet summer treat

I’m going to admit it – I am pretty damn lucky. I live in an amazing part of the world surrounded by farmland, friends, mountain views and great food. Top that off with a job that allows me to combine all of these things and, well, things are pretty damn sweet. The past few weeks I’ve been grabbing some delicious fruit from the Market and nibbling on it throughout the week but the truth is, I can’t eat the fruit fast enough. So instead of letting it go to waste, I’ve been making the most delicious, simple and summery treat I can think of: cobbler.

Last week it was cherry cobbler, this week it’s been peach and next week who knows? Maybe plum? Yum! Cobbler is so amazingly simple to make, the toughest part is waiting the 45 minutes for it to cook. It’s best served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (Battenkill Creamery is my choice) but I’ll fess up to eating it cold, straight from the pan for breakfast too!

Easy Fruit Cobbler

4 T butter
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt (I usually skip)
3/4 c. milk
2 c. fresh fruit (sliced if needed)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Put butter in an 8-inch square pan and set in oven to melt. When butter is melted, remove from oven.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk dry ingredients together. Add milk and whisk until it forms a smooth batter.
  4. Pour batter into the pan then scatter the fruit evenly on top.
  5. Bake until batter browns, about 45 to 50 minutes.

Eat and enjoy!

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So I took a break

You may have noticed that I haven’t been around for a while. There have been no recipes, insights or reflections from me for nearly a month now. Somewhere along the line a week’s long break to get things in order here ended up being a month (or more). So where have I been and what have I been doing?

Well, I started a new job.

I am now the market manager at Schenectady Greenmarket. It’s only been a week, but what a week it’s been! I’m trying to get into the groove of balancing my new role with my writing and family and friends and all the other things that make up my days.

For those of you in the area, the Market runs on Sundays from 10 to 2 on Jay Street in Schenectady. Stop by, say “hi” and enjoy all the wonderful food and wonderful people the Market has to offer. I’ll see you there.

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It just hit me…I’m getting old

Yup, it’s true. Now, I’ve written about the small, occasional realizations that my youth is slowly slipping away. There was this lovely monologue on the slowest escape ever. And other random thoughts about getting older. This morning though it really, really hit me when I couldn’t focus on the small print of a paper I’d printed up.

Ugh!

Am I going to turn into one of those people who make comments about “not everyone can read that small” or makes up excuses why the design is wrong and fail to admit that their eyes are just failing them?

I’m going to have to buy reading glasses. Reading glasses! Well, they better be stylish that’s all I’ve got to say about it.

This really sucks.

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I think I’m being courted by a farmer…

…but I’m not really sure.

I mean, does courting still exist? Apparently it does and let me tell you it is a very slow process. I’ve dated farmers before, but I’ve never been courted by one. I thought that the normal, socially accepted dating progression went a little like this:

A) Meet, B) Flirty texting, C) Two or three dates, D) “Interpersonal” activities, E) Dinners at my place and Saturday nights at his.

This is the pattern dating has taken most of my adult life. Granted, when I lived in London there was more “consistently snogging the same guy while drunk” which (naturally) lead to “activities” and dinners. Courting has never played into my dating life and I don’t think it’s played a part in most modern couples either.

…Until now. I think that courting is the only word to describe what Mr. B and I are doing. I say “I think” because I’m afraid to spook him by directly asking. So, in lieu of being an absolute chicken, I’ve comfortably fallen back on my social scientist background – I’ve done research or, at least, I’ve looked up courtship on Wikipedia. The result was this:

…during courtship, a couple gets to know each other and decide if there will be an engagement or OTHER SUCH ARRANGEMENT. Gifts are exchanged…

Alright, with the exception of the whole engagement thing (which would make us both run) that seems to be what’s going on.

Gifts have been exchanged in the form of produce. (Hey, he’s a farmer.) Farm fresh produce grown with his own hands (and tractor and whatever) has been given to my family. My mother and I have then processed it (jams, pickles, frozen items) and Mr. B has been gifted with the products. I’ve mentioned before that, to my utter surprise, I find the whole “providing for me” aspect amazingly, primaly, hot. Independent, capable, feminist, self-supporting me can’t help but bow to the early ancestor within. And every time I think about it I smile.

And studies have shown that courtship is actually led by the woman. I can see that too. We’ve been in and out of each other’s lives for a number of years and now that he’s had time to readjust after a major break-up, I’ve decided to get the ball rolling. We seem to get to a certain point and I have to nudge that ball along again. I’ve always gotten us to the next level with a little poke or prod and he’s moved things along at a speed he’s comfortable with.

And thought the whole “getting to know each other” aspect has taken a lot longer than I thought it would and included some odd moments of interview-like questions, I can’t help but find it sweet. Sweet is the word I keep coming back to when I describe Mr. B, the fact that he gives me food, the questions he’s asked about my job and what I usually have for lunch, the way he always responds to a text even if it’s just to reply “OK” to something that didn’t actually need an answer. And sweet is what his offer was this weekend when I needed a place to escape and he invited me to his home/barn/work in progress (tractor sitting in his future living room and all).

According to the same Wikipedia entry…

“[A recent] phenomenon in British relationships has seen a growing number of couples express a desire for a courting stage. This has coincided with a growth in external influences on nascent relationships caused primarily by new social media. Thus, couples feel liberated to develop their bond without the pressure of outer agents. Studies of such relationships have shown this approach to be very successful in the medium to long-term…”
 

So, bring on the courtship. Say hello to the slow process of getting to know you. Be prepared for the odd question about your day, your tastes, your interests and views on relationships. Get ready for dinners with your family where he sits and talks tractor talk with your father and brother. Learn how to make jam and pickles…

And learn a little about yourself too. This whole slow process has made me step back and think about how very different Mr. B is to all the other men I’ve had flit in and out of my life. None has ever held me in such high regard, thought that I could conquer anything, been in awe of the life I’ve led or the odd humour I’ve gotten along the way. I’ve had to slow myself down too. I tend to be impulsive and jump into things regardless of what might happen. That approach hasn’t exactly worked out for me yet and in fact has been to my detriment more times than not. So, maybe slow is sweet too.

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A lazy day?

If you were to ask me, my weekends are shamefully lazy. I sit around and watch a movie or two. I read a book. I paint. I write. Sure I do practical weekend things like do the laundry, go grocery shopping and/or meet a friend or two. But to be completely honest I end up feeling like a perfectly contented sloth most of the time.

But, at the same time, I am surprisingly busy. I say this because today I realized that in all these lazy hours I am amazingly productive. I may remember hours on the couch or in a wicker rocker, but the point of fact I’m up and about more than stationary.

In the last 24 hours I have:

  1. Made a yummy batch of Valencian empanadas
  2. Made carrot-blueberry buttermilk pancakes
  3. A pot of fresh tomato sauce is currently bubbling on the stove
  4. And a bowl of bread dough is rising on the counter

All this culinary activity is ongoing. Dinner will be chicken parm made with the sauce and accompanied by a crusty slice of freshly baked bread.

My freezer is literally bursting from my lazy day efforts. I have six sandwich bags with empanadas, eight containers with pancakes all neatly portioned out for future use. I’m honestly going to have to figure out how to fit some of the bread in as well.

Recipes will follow throughout the week with stories, but right now I’m going to curl up with my current read and in exactly twenty minutes I’ll go punch down the dough. How can so much work be so relaxing? And it is relaxing.

I think that maybe I cook when I’m happy or in turmoil and that maybe, just maybe, I’m a little of both right now. I had a very intriguing date/interview with Mr. B the other night. I say interview because he had a list of questions that have been clearly on his mind…He’s been pretty quiet since. I think it’s because he needs some time to process the responses to his questions. In the mean time I’m cooking.

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Filed under Day to day, Food

September better mean dating season starts

That’s all I’ve got to say. Actually, it’s not…

Romancing (or being romanced) by a farmer has a rhythm all its own. I’ve spoken about it in the past. There’s the Farmers’ Dating Calendar  and some other random thoughts on what’s in store  (at least from my perspective) when you date a farmer. These two posts alone make up most of my weekly readership and it amazes me. But I’ll admit that no matter how many times I read them, these posts are still true and act as reminders when I get a little pissy that my date has to be cancelled because of hay.

Well, guess what ladies? September is here and there is a break (I hope) in the non-stop marathon that is field work. Maybe, maaaybe, I can get a little lovin’. Fair is in seven days, fair weekend is in eleven (not like I’m counting). I seriously don’t care if I have to sit alongside a Jersey heifer in the cow barn as long as I get to spend some time with a particular cutie…on a date that has been made and cancelled repeatedly since June. (Sorry but several dinners with my folks is not a date.)

However, there is something to be said about this whole adventure. First, we have really had to take our time. No jumping into things here…No sir-ee. Slow and steady and surprisingly sweet. Second, every time he’s had to cancel I get something fresh and delicious out of the deal. Berries, cucumbers, next up are tomatoes and peppers. Last night my Mom and I were processing tomatoes and I realized that though this particular farmer is pretty darn good-looking, the thing I find really hot is that he can feed me all year long.

Yup. You want to get lucky? All this girl needs are some fresh veggies in the freezer and canned in the cupboard. Does that make me easy? Maybe, but well fed.

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Hanging on to summer flavors

This summer will go down in the record books as one of the hottest and driest on record. We’ve been lucky in New York. The worry of drought damage hasn’t disappeared, but the summer storms have finally hit parched fields. In my farm family at least, people are breathing a little easier. And while analysts and economists predict a rise in food costs come fall, I’m currently focused on savoring the taste of summer for as long as possible – well into winter.

 Summertime is the peak for New York vegetables and right now farms are ripe with edible possibilities. My family owns and operates a dairy farm. This means that the fields are full of corn and soybeans, both crops intended solely for the animals we keep and care for. Our garden is pretty pathetic too, thanks to a fertilizer mishap by my father. What it doesn’t mean though is that we can’t reap the bounty of fresh veggies summer offers.

 Anyone can easily enjoy the delicious harvest New York farmers provide. Local farm stands, farmers’ markets and produce auctions are great resources for produce – either a few ears of sweet corn for diner or a few bushels of beans to pickle, can or freeze. My father and mother spend Saturday or Sunday afternoons doing the latter. Freezing farm fresh veggies is an economical, convenient and amazingly delicious endeavor. One afternoon’s labor and $25 or so provides green beans as a side dish for nearly a year. And don’t get me started on the corn which tastes just as sweet and summery in January as it does right off the cob in July.

 Taking the time to preserve local produce connects the consumer to the farmer who raised the fruit and veggies. It continues the heritage of agriculture that has shaped New York State and ensures local agriculture continues in our communities. Most importantly though, it brings a smile to your face in the middle of winter as you savor the taste of summer.

 Here is quick and easy pickle. Though it isn’t processed, or sealed tight to keep in the cupboard till winter, it will keep in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for a month or so.

 Hungarian Pickles

3 large cucumbers (sliced paper thin)
1 t. salt
¼ c. sugar
1/8 c. water
¼ c. distilled white vinegar
½ t. celery seed
¼ t. paprika
½ medium onion (sliced thin)
  1.  In a large bowl, combine the cucumbers and salt. Mix well and set aside for 30 minutes.
  2.  In another bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and stir until everything is incorporated.
  3. After 30 minutes have passed, squeeze the cucumbers to remove most of the liquid. Add the squeezed cucumbers to the brine mixture. Mix thoroughly. Let sit in the refrigerator for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. After the mixture has had time to marinate, remove (with a slotted spoon) the cucumbers and onions and fill canning jars tightly, pressing down often with the back of a spoon. Pour the remaining brine over the cucumber mixture in the jars, filling the jars with liquid up to ¼ inch from the top.
  5.  Place sterilized lids on top of the jars and seal.

 Pickles can be kept in refrigerator for up to one month. I also pickle green beans using this quick and easy recipe.

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