Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Butterworks Farm Article


Simple recipe, worth striving for

By David Rocchio for the Stowe Reporter

A staple in our refrigerator is a 32-ounce, white plastic yogurt container featuring an old-fashioned drawing of a jersey cow.

On the container, under the cow, is written “Jersey Milk, Organic Whole Yogurt.” It is the best yogurt I have ever tasted.

But it’s not just the taste of the yogurt. The yogurt is made right on a family farm in Westfield, Vt.; the Butterworks Dairy, not far from where we sit.

The farm is self-sufficient and organic, growing everything the cows eat. The cows eat well — grains and alfalfa, corn and oats and barley. The herd is closed, meaning all of the cows are born and raised right on the farm — no imports.

This yogurt is so good, it could become the Ben and Jerry’s of yogurt (and all that implies. both good and bad). Right on the package, though, the family writes, “We want to remain a small, one-farm operation.” A successful, organic, closed-herd, single-farm, family-run dairy with the stated goal of not becoming too big: I had to visit this farm.

I parked my car near the barn just beyond an abandoned old split-windshield truck. Jersey calves roamed about in the tall grass hemming in the truck. I meandered around the farm and found Jack Lazor in a small, crowded room near a loading dock.

Backed up to the dock sat an old white refrigerator truck, hand-lettered with the name of the farm. The truck was being loaded, and the processing room was busy.

After Jack apologized for being tired — “I was haying until midnight last night” — we walked together to a field, where it was time to stake out new pasture for the milk cows. We talked as we walked. Jack and Anne Lazor met in the early 1970s. Jack was farming at Old Sturbridge Village, where he was practicing some of what he had studied in college — agricultural history.

Jack graduated from college in 1972 and was not interested in the political ragings around him. A deceptively simple question — how did the original colonists feed themselves? — stuck in Jack’s head, and that question turned into a life.

We walked into a field of grass. Jack described what was growing under my feet, a mix of five or six different grasses and clovers, and we began to pull thin fiberglass fence posts from the ground. As I pulled the posts, Jack twirled the electric fence wire onto its spool and poured a fire-hose volume of knowledge over me: land management; treatment for sick cows without use of antibiotics; how to grow grain corn and strip the kernels from the husks; impact on the milk of different feeds; new grasses now growing on certain fields; organic composting; milling grain; using wind to make electricity; his idea for a steam plant.

We finished moving the posts and stringing wire to create a new area for the cows to graze.

“I move the cows every 12 hours, so they eat all of the grass in an area and don’t just pick and choose, leaving a monoculture of weeds behind. They eat and fertilize an area, and then we move them a bit and they do the same again. The grasses grow up again behind the cows and the fields remain complex and healthy.”

Behind us, two work horses grazed. A tall tower hosted the windmill. The barn, granary and milk shed spread out near the field. Trucks and tractors were tossed around the landscape.

Jack and Anne began farming their land over 25 years ago. The idea of making great yogurt wasn’t a careful plan; the original small herd made too much milk and they needed to do something with it. So, the kitchen became a laboratory, and the products made sold briskly at markets nearby. The farm grew, well, organically.

We finished staking the field and Jack struggled with his new cell phone and called the barn: “Send the cows.” The cows walked past us to the pasture, knowing the drill. I could see the personality in each lady as she swayed by and Jack had a comment for each one. The herd closed in 1981, so the family and each cow know each other well.

When the milkers were all in, we stopped talking. The only sounds were cows eating grass and church bells in the distance.

We toured the rest of the operation. We walked to the house for lunch. The house is not reached by a road. It is reached by a path from the barn. A garden and more fields dominate the view.

Inside the house, papers and notes and reports and whatnot are piled high; a true farm house. Jack offered me some bread and butter — all ingredients from the farm — and I could not help but ask for more.

The butter was a deep yellow and sweet as pie. “How do you make it?” I asked. “Put cream in a jug and shake it,” Jack replied. He told me someone who buys their butter once called to ask what went in it to make it yellow. “You’d have to ask the cows,” was the gist of the answer.

Anne joined us and we ate, interrupted by orders coming in over the phone, scribbled on scraps of paper to be brought to the barn. Most everything we ate was made on the farm. Anne guesses they produce 85 percent of what they eat.

Jack walked me back to the barn, where the work of shipping yogurt continued. Someone joked about the radio — it was tuned to a Quebec station — and I asked if it was a good station. “It’s the only one, so I guess so” was the reply.

Jack told me the farm’s No. 1-selling product is the fat-free Jersey milk yogurt, which is ironic. Jersey cows are known for their cream. If you take away the fat, it’s not really the cows that distinguish the yogurt. Maybe people are trying to buy something other than yogurt in that 32-ounce container. Maybe they are just supporting a straightforward and direct approach to life.

It is a simple recipe to recite, like making butter, but it is harder to execute and well worth striving for.

David M. Rocchio lives, works and writes in Stowe. E-mail our writers at news@stowereporter.com. All messages will be forwarded.

Newsletter Dec. 12

Pete's Greens Good Eats Newsletter Dec. 12, 2007

This week's share includes: a small bunch of leeks, kohlrabi, mixed potatoes, mixed beets, shallots, festival or red kuri squash, popcorn, Oyster or Shitake mushrooms, organic raw honey, organic yogurt, Elmore Mtn. bread (organic unbleached flour with germ, salt, water, sourdough starter), organic Quebec rolled oats


Notes and Localvore Goodies
As we enter the second half of the share, there are a few updates and notes to share with you. Most importantly, please note we will not be distributing a share on December 26, 2007. Next week, December 19, we will have a bonus share with lots of localvore goodies, including cranberries, organic butter, organic apple cider, cave aged clothbound cheddar from Jasper Hill, and some more of the organic Quebec grains. The next share will be January 2, 2008.

We are beginning to plan the next share period that begins on Feb. 20. We are still sorting through the legal issues but are actively considering providing raw apple cider and raw milk in our Feb.-June share. Raw cider would replace our currently pasteurized cider in the Vegetable/Localvore share. Raw milk would be offered as a separate share by itself. So, I want to hear from you! Do you want to have access to raw cider and milk through Good Eats? Do you have health concerns about either product? Do you think this is a good direction for Good Eats to take (providing harder to source, more delicious and nutritious but potentially controversial foods?) Please e-mail all responses to pete@petesgreens.com

I have been working on the newsletter formatting and hope that it is legible for all of you this week. If it is full of symbols and nonsense, please email heather@petesgreens.com. You can also read the newsletters at petesgreens.blogspot.com. There, you will find previous newsletters, related articles, and recipes. Check it out!
An important issue came up this past week concerning the vinegar from Reed Miller. As mentioned, and written on the label, it’s from Dummerston (north of Brattleboro). We have consistently attempted to source our localvore food from within 100 miles of Craftsbury and Reed's vinegar falls outside that circle. While we'd prefer to source all localvore food from within 10 miles of Craftsbury (and perhaps someday we will!) we feel that important products not available within the 100 mile radius are still worth including. Production of local food of all types is an evolving process. You (Good Eats customers) are an important stimulus that is creating more and better markets for localvore producers, and I suspect that it won't be long before we can enjoy vinegar from much closer to home.

Once again, we have some fabulous localvore items for this week. The oyster (grey, blue and yellow) and shitake mushrooms are from Amir Habib in Colchester, VT, Organic raw honey from Northwoods Apiaries in Westfield, VT, Butterworks organic yogurt, also from Westfield, and bread from Elmore Mountain Bread, made with organic flour from Quebec. I also have packed up 5# bags of Quebec grown and milled organic rolled oats.
Storage and Use Tips
Leeks: Leeks are good keepers in a bag in the fridge if you don’t use them right away. Should the outside start to look spotty, don’t despair. You can peel back a few layers and the inside will still be fine. Use all of the white and light green of the leeks. The very dark green is good for use in stock.
Potatoes: Keep in a dark cool location. They will turn green when exposed to even indirect light.
Winter squash: Stores best at about 50 degrees. Red Kuri tends to have a thinner skin and may not keep as long as others. If it does develop a spot, just cut it off, the rest is usually fine.
Popcorn: This is Pete’s own popcorn and we are thrilled to have it for Good Eats. Last week Melissa popped a test ear in the microwave (which you can do without removing the kernels from the cob). Unfortunately, she didn’t have it in a bag and there was a popcorn explosion! Put it in a paper bag and tape it closed. If you don’t have a microwave, like me, you should be able to twist the corn off of the cob. Start on the fat end of the ear and work a few kernels off the ear by slowly spinning the ear inside your tightly clasped hand. Once you remove a few kernels the rest comes off more easily. Once the kernels are removed you can use it like any popcorn.
Recipes
Perhaps you have a growing collection of beautiful winter squash and pumpkins decorating your counter top. They are stored sunshine on these snowy dark days. Here are a couple of yummy dishes, one with a southwestern flavor, the other East Indian. Other dishes I’ve made recently include roasted squash and black bean burritos, roasted squash soup, and simple steamed mashed squash with maple syrup and butter.
COLACHE
¼ c oil
4 cups cubed peeled squash
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cumin powder
1 pepper, chopped
1 fresh hot pepper, minced or dry chile pepper to taste
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes or equivalent of frozen tomatoes, chopped
1 c frozen corn
1 tsp salt, to taste
Sauté squash in oil in a dutch oven or deep wide skillet for 5 minutes. Add onion, garlic and cumin. Continue cooking 5 minutes. Mix in remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer gently about 20 minutes, until tender. Add water, if necessary.
Adapted from The Best from New Mexico Kitchens
BRAISED SQUASH WITH INDIAN SPICES
3 # winter squash, peeled and cubed
¼ c oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp each cumin, coriander
½ tsp turmeric
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt, to taste
1 c water
1 tomato, diced (frozen works great)
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp garam masala (cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, black pepper blend)
Chopped cilantro for garnish, optional
Heat oil in a dutch oven and sauté onion, garlic, ginger, spices and mustard seeds. Cook until the seeds start to pop around. Add the salt, water, tomato maple syrup and squash. Simmer until squash is tender, covered for the first 15 minutes. Stir in the garam masala and cilantro, mashing the squash a bit if you’d like.
Adapted from The New American Cooking
And the kohlrabi, what to do with those big green or purple orbs? In the Farmer John’s Cookbook, there’s a great idea for making hash browns. Peel and shred the kohlrabi as you would potatoes. Squeeze out excess moisture in a dish towel. Combine 2 eggs, 1 diced small onion, 2 tbsp bread crumbs, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp ginger powder, ¼ tsp red pepper flakes. Mix in the kohlrabi. Heat a griddle with a bit of butter. Fry up patties of the mixture, until golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes per side.
You could also make fabulous mashed potatoes and kohlrabi. Oh, and add some sautéed leeks, too. Yum!
Happy Cooking!
Heather


Pete's Greens at Craftsbury Village Farm
266 S. Craftsbury Rd, Craftsbury, Vermont 05826
802-586-2882, #2

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Newsletter 12/5/07

Pete’s Greens Good Eats Newsletter Dec. 5, 2007
This week’s share vegetable/localvore share includes: yellow onions, sweet potatoes, napa cabbage, parsnips, celeriac, mini pumpkins, leeks, vegetable soup base, bread (whole wheat flour, spelt flour, roasted potatoes, sourdough, salt), cream, hard winter wheat flour, and vinegar
This week’s root share contains: sweet potatoes, parsnips, celeriac, carrots, beets, and kohlrabi
Please note that this week veg/localvore shares are in tan bags and root shares are in purple bags. Please return bags and egg cartons to sites. We will gladly reuse them.
Weird root storage and lore
Celeriac: Also known as celery root, this has a lovely celery flavor. It goes well in soups and stews. You can make a cream of celeriac soup. Don’t be scared by the wild gnarly shape, it peels relatively easily. We store these with the soil on for better keeping. They are cleaned and trimmed before we send them to you, and so will keep for about a week in the fridge.
Parsnip: It looks like a white carrot, but is a closer relative of parsley. These roots are sweet and mild
Kohlrabi: Think of this as something between broccoli stems and turnips. The bulb of kohlrabi grows above ground at the base of flat kale-like leaves. In the spring you may see these with the leaves on, but the primary vegetable is the bulb. Peel it and it will look just lovely. Put it in soup. The flavor gets stronger with storage, but it keeps fine in the fridge.
Localvore Treats
I had hoped to have all the grains here from Québec for this share, but it wasn’t to be. With production difficulties at Michel Gaudreau’s mill, and now this exceptional snowfall, it will have to wait until next week.
The localvore items this week include Butterworks cream and Patchwork bread, falsely advertised for last week. Again, I want to apologize for that unfortunate mistake, all mine to be sure. We also have more flour from Ben Gleason in Bridgeport, VT; fine whole wheat bread flour. I made a delicious flatbread and also a rosemary focaccia last week to try it out. While yummy, the gluten content was low and neither bread was as chewy as it would be with some unbleached flour. I asked Ben about unbleached white flour and he said he doesn’t mill it for two reasons. One is that he would need more equipment, but more importantly, the whole wheat is better nutritionally.
And lastly, we are so excited to have found a source for Vermont made organic apple cider vinegar. Reed Miller is both the grower and the vinegar producer. It was especially fun to connect with him because his daughter, Ruth, is a student here in Craftsbury at Sterling College. That’s my other day job! You will see from the label, it’s from all the way down in Dummerston, but he dropped it off when he brought Ruth back after Thanksgiving. Carpooling must count for something when you’re dealing in localvore miles.
Recipes
This week, Pete challenged me to create recipes for a couple interesting items in the share. The soup base is a puree of potatoes, carrots and beets that Meg and Maria made at the Food Venture Center in Fairfax. The scrubbed and trimmed roots were cooked in big steam kettles and put through a food mill. I’ll admit I was skeptical about it at first and now I’m a convert! It’s so mellow, sweet and smooth, making for a rich and creamy soup. The mini pumpkins were a different challenge all together. I found their flavor quite delicate; the texture is fine and not at all dry. It’s been fun trying some different ideas. I hope you enjoy the results from my “test kitchen”. About ginger, I guess the weather has put me in a mood for some spicy heat. While I’m considering it a spice, of course it’s not localvore at all, so omit it if you like.
Here’s a very loose and adaptable recipe for using the frozen soup base and whatever vegetables you have on hand. You can give it a spicy ginger kick, or keep it totally localvore with earthy herbs such as rosemary and thyme. Last night I made this with squash, carrots, beets and parsnip with the ginger seasonings. It was creamy thanks to the vegetable base, and had a nice heat from the spices. It would also be delicious with a single vegetable, such as winter squash if you still happen to have that pretty sugar pumpkin decorating your counter!
ROASTED VEGETABLE SOUP
1 QUART VEGETABLE SOUP BASE
1 QUART WATER
2 TBSP VEGETABLE OR OLIVE OIL
3 CLOVES GARLIC, CUT IN ½
1 LARGE ONION CUT IN WEDGES
8 CUPS PEELED AND CUBED ASSORTED WINTER VEGETABLES; CARROTS, BEETS, PARSNIP, WINTER SQUASH, SWEET POTATO, CELERIAC, LEEKS, ETC
SALT TO TASTE
SEASONING OF CHOICE:
1 TBSP MINCED GINGER, 1 TSP CUMIN, ½ TSP CORRIANDER, ½ TSP RED PEPPER FLAKES
OR
2 TBSP FRESH ROSEMARY, PINCH THYME, BLACK PEPPER, PARSLEY
2 QT WATER OR VEGETABLE BROTH
PREHEAT OVEN TO 425
PLACE SOUP BASE AND WATER IN A SAUCEPAN, COVER AND SIMMER UNTIL MELTED. STIR OFTEN TO MAKE A NICE SMOOTH PUREE.
COMBINE CUBED VEGETABLES WITH ONION WEDGES, GARLIC, 2 TBSP OIL, SALT, AND GINGER IF USING. ROAST IN OVEN FOR AT LEAST AN HOUR; STIR OCCASIONALLY.
WHEN VEGETABLES ARE TENDER AND NICELY CARMELIZED, COMBINE IN A LARGE STOCK POT WITH THE PUREE AND ADDITIONAL WATER OR BROTH AS NEEDED. PUREE WITH A STICK BLENDER, OR IN BATCHES IN A FOOD PROCESSOR OR BLENDER. ADD WATER OR STOCK AS NEEDED TO MAKE A SMOOTH AND CREAMY SOUP. ADJUST SEASONING AND SIMMER 15 MINUTES TO BLEND FLAVORS.
These pumpkins make a lovely side dish to impress company or delight your children. Omit the ginger to make these completely localvore.
MINI PUMPKINS WITH MAPLE GINGER APPLES
4 MINI PUMPKINS, TOPS SLICED OFF AND SEEDS SCOOPED OUT. SAVE THE TOPS
4 APPLES
1 SMALL ONION, IN THIN VERTICLE SLICES
1 CLOVE GARLIC, MINCED
1 TBSP OIL
1 TBSP MAPLE SYRUP
1 TBSP GRATED FRESH GINGER
DASH RED PEPPER FLAKES
SALT
PREHEAT OVEN TO 350
BAKE PUMPKINS IN A BAKING DISH WITH AN INCH OF WATER FOR ABOUT 30 MINUTES.
CORE AND CHOP THE APPLE. IN A SMALL SKILLET, HEAT THE OIL AND SAUTE THE ONION, GARLIC AND GINGER UNTIL FRAGRANT. ADD SALT, AND THE RED PEPPER IF USING AND SAUTE A FEW MINUTES MORE. ADD APPLES AND MAPLE SYRUP; COOK FOR 5 MINUTES. REMOVE FROM HEAT AND FILL EACH PUMPKIN WITH ¼ OF THE APPLE MIXTURE. RETURN TO OVEN, ALONG WITH THE TOPS FOR 20 MINUTES, UNTIL PUMKINS ARE COOKED THROUGH AND THE APPLES ARE TENDER.
The following is a recipe I saw in the Williams-Sonoma catalogue that came in the mail last week. Then, since this share has all the vegetables and the cream it calls for, I decided it was meant to be. I would probably cut the cream with half milk, since the Butterworks cream is so rich. I have not tried it yet, so if you do, please let me know.
ROOT VEGETABLE GRATIN
1 TBSP BUTTER
3 CLOVES GARLIC, MINCED
3 CUPS HEAVY CREAM (½ MILK ½ CREAM, OPTIONAL)
SALT & PEPEPR TO TASTE
¼ TSP NUTMEG
1 LB PARSNIPS
1 LB SWEET POTATOES
1 LB CELERIAC (CELERY ROOT)
8 OZ GRUYERE OR OTHER STRONG, SHARP CHEESE, GRATED
1 TBSP FRESH THYME, OR 1 TSP DRY
3 TBSP MINCED FRESH PARSLEY, OR 1 TBSP DRY
PREHEAT OVEN TO 400 AND BUTTER A 3 QUART BAKING DISH
MAKE CREAM SAUCE:
IN A MEDIUM SAUCEPAN, MELT THE BUTTER AND SAUTE THE GARLIC FOR A MINUTE. ADD CREAM, SALT, PEPPER, AND NUTMEG. HEAT JUST UNTIL BUBBLES FORM AROUND THE EDGES OF THE PAN, 5 MINUTES. REMOVE FROM HEAT, STIR IN THE HERBS AND LET STAND 10 MINUTES
PREPARE VEGETABLES:
PEEL AND THINLY SLICE THE VEGETABLES.
ASSEMBLE GRATIN:
ARRANGE A LAYER OF HALF OF THE VEGETABLES: PARSNIPS, THEN SWEET POTATOES, THEN CELERIAC. SPRINKLE WITH HALF THE CHEESE AND POUR OVER HALF OF THE CREAM SAUCE. REPEAT LAYERS WITH THE REMAINING INGREDIENTS, ENDING WITH CHEESE. COVER WITH FOIL AND BAKE FOR 1 HOUR. REMOVE FOIL; LIGHTLY PRESS GRATIN DOWN WITH A SPATULA. RETURN TO OVEN FOR ANOTHER 15-30 MINUTES, UNTIL THE VEGETABLES ARE TENDER AND TOP IS GOLDEN BROWN. LET STAND 15 MINUTES BEFORE SERVING.
Heather