Monday, September 10, 2007

Farm Bulletin: Bits and Bites

Our correspondent from out near Gaston, Anthony Boutard, sends an update on the end-of-summer doings at Ayers Creek. Look for his and Carol's terrific produce at the Hillsdale Farmers Market every Sunday from 10 am to 2 pm.

• The termite princes and princesses were out for their nuptial flight last week, a sign that autumn is creeping nearer. Our resident bat was giddily pursuing the rich, nutritious bounty, much like we do when the shad or alewife run. Once the union is consummated, the gravid queens drop to the ground, shed their wings and seek a location to establish their colonies, generally some decaying log. On the ground, they have to avoid a gauntlet of mice and shrews. These flights occur even in the city, and seem to coincide with the last full moon of the summer.

• Fecund grapes are always tastier than the celibate kinds. Squire Phunt of Branchport, our grape expert who provides us good information by way of his lover and soon-to-be wife, offers the following explanation. The maturation of the seed during berry ripening initiates the development of certain aromatics in the berry. In a celibate grape, the seed never matures and thus never gets to initiate the development of those lovely aromatics, and a chunk of complexity is lost. Makes sense to us. Thanks, Phunt.

• We don't use any tunnels or greenhouses, as everything is field grown. Makes us tardy relative to other farms, but we get there eventually. Finally, we get to enjoy our first glass of Moroccan Tomato Soup. We highly recommend this soup, which is closer to a fragrant salad:

Ayers Creek Moroccan Tomato Soup

Take 3 to 5 pounds of tomatoes and run through a food mill. We use a mix of paste and slicers. Shoot for about six to eight cups of milled tomato. The original recipe suggested peeling and seeding them first, but this is only necessary if you use a food processor. Put a quarter cup or so of olive oil in a pan and heat very gently. Add three or four cloves of garlic put through a press and cook until transparent. Add 1/2 tsp. of ground cumin and 2 tsp. of ground coriander and cook until they foam slightly. If the spices or garlic burn, which happens in a thrice, discard and repeat. Add 2 Tbsp. of paprika. Heat very gently for a few more moments and then pour the mix over the tomatoes. Squeeze in a lemon, stir, add salt to taste. Serve in a bowl or glass with some minced celery on top.

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