family cow farmstand

Ramblings and a shout out to our neighbors....Late June, Early July 2016

As we transition into summer, the pace changes at the greenhouses and in the garden. The focus is on plant maintenance, fertility, pruning, culling and weeding. We are also busy transplanting at the herb farm and harvesting and selling herbs to local grocery stores and food hubs. We added the herb farm to Red Wagon Plants 3 years ago as a way to keep a few key people hired year round and to bring in revenue and activity during the months when people generally don't do any plant shopping. 

Sam weeding rosemary

Sam weeding rosemary

In the home garden, I have been busy looking for gaps in the perennials and filling in with some colorful annuals wherever I get the chance. I have learned ornamental gardening entirely by trial and error,  approaching it all as a vegetable grower, and some things work and some things don't! But one thing I have really appreciated is that garden mistakes easily turn into opportunities. As one plant gets pulled out for various reasons - not the right amount of light, planted too close to its neighbor, or any other number of oopsies- a gap is created for a new plant. For me this is often an annual flower - something that will give color all season long, will give me time to figure out what perennial to put in, and will be a good friend to its neighbors. Right now, a combination I am loving is Nicotiana langsdorfii with Gomphrena 'Strawberry Fields' and Ratbida columnifera. The Ratbida is a perennial (we have it in 4" pots so it is possible to plant en masse without breaking the bank) and the other two are annuals. I just love how the rust and green and yellow play off of each other and catch the light. 

In the vegetable garden, we are harvesting snap peas, lettuces, escarole, frisée, beets, cucumbers (out of the greenhouse), swiss chard, and lots of herbs. The early plantings of mache, napa cabbage, boc choi, and lettuce have come and gone leaving spaces to fill. In go more beets, spinach, lettuce, and green beans.

In the kitchen, I keep making the same salad dressing over and over again - a crushed clove of garlic in a one pint mason jar, 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar, a hefty teaspoon of dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp salt, a good 2-3 grinds of the pepper mill, and 1/2 cup of sunflower oil. Close tightly, shake like mad. It is perfect for everything. If you like it more or less acidic, just adjust the proportions of oil to vinegar. Olive oil is good here too, but sometimes a more neutral oil like sunflower highlights the flavor of the greens a little more.  See my rave below about the sunflower oil at Family Cow Farmstand, our neighbors on the farm. 

Garden Chores this week:

  • fertilize with Pro-Gro all of the annual flowers to give them a little boost during the heat. Sprinkle a bit around shrubs and perennials that are finished blooming too. 
  • water everything religiously in the mornings
  • weed the vegetable garden and replant as needed
  • throw a handful of Compost Plus in the flowering hanging baskets and other potted plants
  • bring (finally) all the poor and neglected house plants outside for a good shower and leave them on the screened in porch.
  • fertilize the garlic with Pro-Gro (should have been done a few weeks ago, whoops). 
  • hill the potatoes 
  • plant a row of beans
  • transplant beets, spinach, and more lettuce

Public Service Announcement! 

And finally,  I have been meaning to let you all know about our new neighbors! Family Cow Farmstand was purchased in April by Scott Hoffman and Aubrey Schatz. You may have noticed the cows sweetly grazing next to the greenhouses this spring. Please go visit Scott and Aubrey's farm stand! They are selling the cows' delicious raw milk (they do sell out, so consider signing up for a weekly membership), pork from previous Family Cow owners Lindsay and Evan (best pork chops and chorizo ever), veggies and strawberries from Shaky Ground Farm, their own eggs (the hens are pastured out with the cows), sheep's cheese from their friends in Marathon, NY, and their own pastured, organic chicken. And lots of other goodies like sunflower oil, yarn, maple syrup, caramels, etc. Some of you know me personally, and you will know that I can be a little particular about how food is produced and how it tastes (okay, not a little .... a lot). So please hear me clearly when I say that you should absolutely try everything at the Farmstand! The chicken is the best I have EVER had. Yes, EVER. It is huge, with plump, juicy meat and that iconic chicken flavor that is often masked by  poor feed or improper processing. Scott and Aubrey move the birds onto fresh grass every day and use the birds and cows together as a way to manage the grass. The sunflower oil is velvety and perfect for any dressing. The sheep's cheese is some of the best cheese I have had in the this country (the French person in me is being extra emphatic here, my hands are waving around, and I am really begging you to listen)...a blue cheese like a mild Roquefort and a sheep's Tomme that is perfectly aged and has that nutty, sparkly taste and texture unique to the best alpine cheeses. The chickens are available fresh every other Friday or in the freezer anytime. To get a fresh chicken, you have to sign up - just email Aubrey and Scott (familycows@gmail.com) or stop in and talk to them....they are often around and do their evening milking between 5:30 and 7:30.

Pardon the horrible picture, but I just wanted you to see how plump and huge these chickens are from Family Cow Farmstand. Before putting it in the oven, I took out the backbone (just slice down either side of the spine with a sharp knife) and split the chicken open so that it would cook faster (about 1 hour and 15 minutes) and so that the skin would be super puffed and crispy (it was, yum). I also slathered it in softened butter mixed with finely chopped fresh oregano, salt, pepper, and a little lemon zest. The whole thing got laid on a bed of sweet potatoes and sweet onions.  I roasted it in a super hot oven (450F) for 15 minutes then turned it down to 375F.  Prep time - 10 minutes. While it cooked, I ran some errands, weeded a raised bed and planted a whole tray of annuals. How easy is that? 

Pardon the horrible picture, but I just wanted you to see how plump and huge these chickens are from Family Cow Farmstand. Before putting it in the oven, I took out the backbone (just slice down either side of the spine with a sharp knife) and split the chicken open so that it would cook faster (about 1 hour and 15 minutes) and so that the skin would be super puffed and crispy (it was, yum). I also slathered it in softened butter mixed with finely chopped fresh oregano, salt, pepper, and a little lemon zest. The whole thing got laid on a bed of sweet potatoes and sweet onions.  I roasted it in a super hot oven (450F) for 15 minutes then turned it down to 375F.  Prep time - 10 minutes. While it cooked, I ran some errands, weeded a raised bed and planted a whole tray of annuals. How easy is that? 

One more bit of business: We are starting our summer hours this week.

We will be open every Tuesday through Saturday 8 am to 6 pm. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

It has been a great season, and I hope you have enjoyed your spring and early summer with us. We certainly have loved seeing all of you. We are staying open through August this year with lots of fantastic perennials, veggie and herb plants to replenish the garden, annuals for pops of color, and houseplants and succulents for gift giving and adding to your personal collection. Come visit! 

Sweet Potato & Milk Recipe Contest

We are holding our Second Annual Sweet Potato Slip Sale to benefit Friends of Burlington Gardens this Saturday and Sunday (6/5/10 & 6/6/10)  from 10 am to 6 pm both days.   We will provide 4.5" pots of rooted sweet potato slips (4 to a pot) for $5.00 each. This will provide you with tremendous yields of this delicious "super-food." Also on Saturday, June 5th, our neighbors at Family Cow Farmstand will be holding an open house from 11 am to 3 pm. You can meet their adorable cows, taste their creamy, rich, raw milk and even help build the new stone calf corral with Charley MacMartin from Queen City Soil and Stone.  It's a great way to meet all the great businesses based here at 2408 Shelburne Falls Rd in Hinesburg.

crop food tour burlington 017
crop food tour burlington 017

To celebrate this joint effort, we are holding a fun and friendly contest. Everyone is invited to submit a recipe that uses both sweet potatoes and milk by 5:00 on Friday 6/4 - online via email at julie(AT)redwagonplants(DOT)com or on Facebook. We will post all of the recipes on our website, and on Saturday morning we will announce the winner of the contest.   The winner will receive a $25 gift certificate to Red Wagon Plants and a free gallon of milk from Family Cow Farmstand.

Here is the first recipe we have received so far.

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup Recipe

from Carin Laughlin Hoffman (5/31/10) INGREDIENTS 2 Tbsp (1/4 stick) butter 1 cup chopped onion 2 small celery stalks, chopped, greens reserved 1 medium leek, sliced (white and pale green parts only) 1 large garlic clove, chopped 1 1/2 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 5 cups) 4 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth (use vegetable broth for vegetarian option) 1 cinnamon stick 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 1/2 cups half and half 2 Tbsp maple syrup The leafy tops of the celery stalks, chopped METHOD 1 Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add chopped celery stalks and leek, sauté about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes. 2 Add sweet potatoes, chicken stock, cinnamon stick, and nutmeg; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. 3 Remove cinnamon stick and discard. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return to pot. 4 Add half and half and maple syrup and stir over medium-low heat to heat through. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool soup slightly. Cover and refrigerate soup and celery leaves separately. Bring soup to simmer before continuing.) Ladle into bowls. Sprinkle with celery leaves. Serves 6 to 8.

Here is an another recipe from Melissa Meese  (6/1/10)

Sweet Potato Buttermilk Biscuits 1 C. of mashed sweet potatoes 1 Tbs. baking powder... See More 2 Tbs. packed brown sugar 1 tsp. of salt 1/2 C. butter, room temp 1/2 tsp. baking soda 2 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 C. buttermilk

Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Combine flour, baking powder & salt in a large bowl. In a mixing bowl, combine sweet potato, brown sugar and butter. Beat at low-med. speed until fluffy. Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk. Stir buttermilk & sweet potato mixture alternately into dry ingredients. Roll dough 1" thick. Cut with floured 2" round cutter.

Place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Sweet Potato and Corn Chowder

From Nora Doyle-Burr (of Last Resort Farm - a great farm stand and pick-your own berry farm)

(serves 6-8) 8 ears corn, husked and silked 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth 2 tablespoons butter 1 leek, white and tender green parts, thinly sliced 1 garlic clove, minced 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced Salt 1 1/2 cups milk 1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste Freshly ground black pepper

1) Strip the kernels from the corn and set aside. Combine the broth and corncobs in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain, discarding the cobs and reserving the broth. It should now be infused with corn flavor.

2) Melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the leek and saute until softened, about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.  Add the stock, corn kernels, sweet potatoes, and salt to taste.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

3) Add the milk and sugar.  Season with the pepper.  Taste and season with more salt, sugar, and pepper, if desired. Simmer for 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Adapted from "Serving Up the Harvest:  Celebrating the Goodness of Fresh Vegetables" by Andrea Chesman

From Clare Joy of Shelburne, VT

Sweet Potato Bake Ingredients: 3 sweet potatoes, sliced thinly 1 lb Emmentaler (Swiss) Cheese, grated 1 pint cream Some herbs of your choice, optional (I like a little lemon thyme) Salt & pepper

Directions: Layer the sweet potatoes sprinkling over the cheese and seasonings as you go.  Top with a layer of cheese.  Pour the cream slowly in one corner so it spreads across the bottom of the dish but not over the top of the other ingredients. Bake covered for 1 hour at 350 degrees then remove the cover and bake a further 15-30 mins.  until all the liquid is absorbed. Enjoy!

from Carolyn Siccama

Velvety Squash (and Sweet Potato) Soup

1 (3 pound) butternut squash (*I have used many different types of squash in this recipe, Delacata is particularly good) 1 (2 pound) acorn squash* 1 sweet potato 2 cups chopped onion 2 tsp canola oil 5 cups veggie broth 2/3 cup apple cider (when I don't have cider I use applesauce and it works just as well) 2 tablespoons molasses 1 tsp curry powder 3/4 tsp salt 1/8 tsp ground red pepper 2/3 cup milk

Peel and cut squash and sweet potato into small cubes and cook in boiling water until soft.

In another pan, saute onion until soft. Add cooked squash & sweet potato. Stir in broth and next 5 ingredients (through pepper). Reduce heat. simmer 5 minutes.

Place half of squash mixture into a blender and blend until smooth.  Repeat until all soup is blended (I do like to leave a few chunks of squash and potato un-blended).  Return everything to the pan. Stir in milk.  Cook over medium heat until thoroughly heated.  Enjoy!

Vermont Sweet Potato Milkshakes & Creamsicles

From Deirdre Holmes

1 sweet potato (med-sized) 2 cups milk 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or maple liqueur) 3-4 ice cubes crystalized ginger (optional) lime or lemon juice (optional)

1. Bake washed whole sweet potato in a 400º oven for approximately 45 minutes or until soft. 2. Remove peel and put insides into blender or food processor. 3. Add Lindsay's finest whole milk including cream layer, maple syrup and ice cubes, and pulse until smooth. You can adjust the consistency by adding more milk or ice cubes. 4. If you're agreeable to adding a few non-local ingredients, several pieces of crystalized ginger, juice of 1/4 of a lime or lemon, and/or your favorite pumpkin pie spices make delicious additions. 5. For Creamsicles, pour this mixture into a popsicle mold and freeze.