I went shopping yesterday for this and that and walked out of the store noticing that of the variety of things I bought, everything was a sky-blue ranging from light to vibrant. I also happened to have put on a bright blue shirt that morning. I felt like one of those Bowerbirds that collect the blue bits and pieces of the world to decorate their homes with. Maybe the blue things in my home will impress all my friends?
I think the color du jour was a sign of having let myself get a little more cooped up this winter than usual. But I am looking forward to playing in the snow as it (hopefully) starts to dissipate. Maybe I’ll make a snow man, just to watch it melt this weekend.
Seeing the sunlight return is my favorite thing about this time of year. Not setting the clocks ahead, I hate that nonsense, but having more daylight and having the sun higher in the sky is a good feeling. And a 40° high late this week? I am sure that will be a welcome feeling for most people.
The transition and back and forth nature of spring in this region can make winter seem like it’s dragging on and on. On the farm we’re hoping for not too much dragging. It would be nice to see fields drying and thawing out by next month. As soon as the frost is out of the ground, our plan is to build a deer fence on the land across the road. This will be the forth season of planting out there. So far we’ve had potatoes and squash (and cover crop) planted in those fields. Deer tend to leave those things alone, though they’ll go for the squash when they get sweeter. Janaki wants to put carrots over there this year, because of the soil being nice and sandy. If we plant, we’ll be up against the clock for putting up a fence.
It’s hard to picture weeding carrots over there. Not like it’s so very far, but we’ll all need to bike over, or jump in the van with bottles full of water, because there won’t be back and forth to get water in the middle of weeding. And the way the soil is over there, I’m sure on warm days it’ll feel like we are roasting from all sides, like rotisserie chickens. That actually sounds kind of nice right now, but I know that when I’m in the midst of carrot weeding, I’ll be picturing standing in the cool packing shed, putting all the carrots into bags.
Farming seems to always be a mix of being in the moment and looking ahead a few months, or a few rows. It’s life.
For the expectant farm crew,
In your share this month:
Beets – Carrots – Onions – Parsnips – Yellow potatoes and Purple Fingerlings – Rutabaga
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom or 1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract, divided
- 2 cups grated parsnip (from 1 large peeled parsnip)
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, cardamom, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, eggs, oil, 2 teaspoons vanilla, and parsnip. Stir in flour mixture.
Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners. Divide batter among cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
In a large bowl, with a mixer, beat cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, and remaining teaspoon vanilla until combined. Spread frosting onto cooled cupcakes.
Mashed Potato, Rutabaga and Parsnip Hot-dish
- 7 cups chicken broth
- 3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 ½ pounds rutabagas, peeled and cubed
- 1 ¼ pounds parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ¾ cup butter, softened
- 3 onions, thinly sliced
- salt to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
Combine chicken broth, potatoes, rutabagas, parsnips, cloves, bay leaf, and thyme in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and cover partially. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes. Drain.
Transfer vegetables to large bowl. Add 1/2 cup butter . Use an electric mixer, beat mixture until mashed but still chunky. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer mashed vegetables to a buttered 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish.
Melt remaining 1/4 cup butter or margarine in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions. Saute until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Saute until onions are tender and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spread onions evenly over mashed vegetables. Casserole can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes, or until heated through and top begins to crisp.