Saturday, May 21, 2011

Satisfaction-or Maybe Rod Stewart Should Hang Out On Our Farm Someday...

Today we went to the farmer's market. I got up predawn to make up some of our cornbread, pancake and brownie mixes so that customers could taste and see that freshly milled whole grain mixes really are a wonderful thing.

As per normal, we scurried and hurried and gathered and rushed, heading out the door. Patrick milked as I showered. Thomas loaded. Maggie baked her freshly milled whole wheat chocolate chip cookies and Nora and Rose followed instructions.

We were on the road by 7 am.

We sold breads and granola and lamb, along with Maggie's cookies. Maggie gave Nora part of the proceeds to pay her for services rendered. The rest of her money she used to buy some very stylish aviator sunglasses at the Urban Gyspy.

Going to market requires hours of preparation, but there is something quite satisfying we receive in the social arena.

Kids walk around town and hang with friends. Thomas walks to the library. Patrick tends another market and has his own set of pals. We chat and sell, educate and barter. Then we head to the bank, very grateful to have money we can use to pay bills.

Sometimes I get home so tired I collapse in bed. Today I swept the downstairs and washed up the morning dishes. Answered a couple of phone calls while the kids enjoyed their library finds. A market farmer bartered me some organic herbs for bread. In the bundle was a nice bunch of thyme.

I discovered that a package of lamb chops had gotten thawed out. Not enough for the whole family. I gave the kids smoked trout (from Big Pine) and our freshly milled whole wheat peasant bread. With a side of Aah Organics quinoa banana bread. I pulled out the remaining three parsnips from Patchwork Farm from the veggie bin of my fridge. And a big ziploc bag of Randy Deel's shiitake mushrooms. Hmm.

What to go with that bottle of Malbec from Kimberly Eakin's Wine Gourmet? (Cheap, but good) The thyme inspired me to go french. After cooking for HOW many hours the last three days, you might assume that I would be happy to go to bed with a slice of bread. But all those friendly ingredients called out my name and as the kids enjoyed their movie, I enjoyed bruising the thyme between my fingers and rubbing it onto the lamb chops. Then smeared them with dijon mustard and garlic. I cut the parsnips into sticks and drizzled them with olive oil and placed them in a baking dish headed toward a 400 degree oven. I know that shiitake mushrooms aren't exactly french fare, but I had no chanterelles so they were a wonderful substitute. Sliced, they went into another baking dish, were laced with more bruised thyme leaves, some garlic, plenty of sea salt and olive oil and they joined the parsnips.
I heated a skillet, added more olive oil and seared the chops until brown and crusty, rare in the middle. Then deglazed the pan with red wine, added more mustard and thyme leaves and cooked down quickly. Poured the sauce over everything, poured myself a glass of wine and went to the deck.

Two books accompanied me. Dante's Divine Comedy, because I bought it at the library for 10 cents and I wanted to become smarter. And Tender to the Bone by Ruth Reichl because I had a feeling I would enjoy it.

Ribeye munched grass on his side of the fence. The male rouen ducks had a swim on the pond. Which poured over the dam and gurgled. Brownie and Blackie placed themselves a respectful distance from the table, anticipating their treat. A perfect picture of hope? Or faith in the goodness of their mistress?

I ate with my fingers, savoring the earthy flavor of thyme and garlic. The meaty mushrooms. Sweet roots and succulent lamb. After 10 pages of introduction to Dante, I headed over to Reichl and got sucked in.

Evening is bright here in early May. Peepers sing and all smells of cropped clover. Bright and green, not the musky smell of September and toasted fescue.

I was quite pleased with my solitary meal on the deck, serenaded by early summer on the farm. All the food on my plate connected to some sweet person in my life, the sweet young mama of Hazel who grew the parsnips that are now only a memory. Randy, the amazing farmer over in Fincastle who not only grows shiitakes, but also many many other delicious veggies and even makes sorghum molasses and alfalfa hay. The thyme from the slim tall farmer woman with a delightful accent who has no idea she inspired my meal, and lamb that used to frolic and cavort and eat our grass. Bread baked from flour milled on my mill which was built by some really cool fellows down at Meadow Mills in Wilkesboro, NC.

Cool moist air wrapped around my shoulders and the dark chased me indoors. Now the kids head to their beds, well-tired, with books to read. And I will read more recipes and stories by Ruth, savoring the flavors of my life.


PS The other day I discovered the nesting/brooding spot of our mama rouen duck. She is settled under an old antique window, resting against the wall of the old milking parlor. Her nest is warm and dry. 10 eggs? I wonder when the little things will hatch?

PPS The kids noticed the first fireflies a few days ago. I exclaimed with joy when one lit up in front of my face last night.

PPPS I can distinguish at least 4 varieties of frogs singing outside my window. Wonder if there are more?


Anonymous said...

What a nice way to end the day, sounds wonderful. Just wish you were close enough to share some of those great sounding dishes. So glad you girls learned to cook in spite of your mom who would rather do most anything but cook. Thank the Lord for your Dad who does like to cook. love you, Mom

CountryDew said...

I remain envious of your cooking abilities. I am lucky I have learned how to roast a chicken. I am glad life is handing you fireflies and frogs. That's so much better than what it could be giving!

morebutter said...

so glad you're reading reichl! i think i told you about her on my last visit. she is my favorite!