Westminster Farmers' Market

  (Westminster, Massachusetts)
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Westminster Farmers' Market Report for 10-30-09

Westminster Farmers’ Market Report from Maple Heights Farm


Farm Fresh Food for the Holidays and Beyond!


This week is the last regular season farmers’ market for 2009, but don’t worry, I have the answer to your fresh food needs for the Holiday season and beyond!  Our market is looking for an indoor location for a pre-Thanksgiving (November 20th) and a pre-Christmas (December 11th)  market.  And Mass Local Food will be open all year, providing delivery once per month (next delivery November 6th – check the website for the soon-to-be-determined Westminster delivery Location – or Berlin or Sterling for that matter).


Massachusetts Local Food…


Orders are closing for Massachusetts Local Food on Monday so don’t forget to place your order.  Membership fees are refundable through the end of this year if you decide this program is not for you, so you can try it risk free!  All products are locally produced and offered directly from the producer – just like at the farmers’ market.  We are adding more eggs this month and we hope to have pastured veal and organic yogurt online soon.  Go online and read about each producer and consider your food needs for the winter.  Orders close on Monday and Delivery day is Friday November 6th -- after our farmers market has closed for the season.


What’s in the market


Even this late in the season there is plenty of food available in the market.  If you have spent the past six months eating one (at least) local meal a week, this is your last Westminster Farmers’ Market local meal in a while.  If you haven’t taken the challenge of one local meal a week, might I propose one local meal a season?  And it is not too late for that.  Of course there are still plenty of opportunities to jump on board the one-local-meal-a-week bandwagon using a bit more planning and Mass Local Food, but why not just one last Westminster Farmers’ Market meal?  You could have chili (I’ll even share Meghan and Caitlin Bell’s award winning chili recipe if you ask).  Along with the chili, some salsa made with Karen Sargent’s salsa kits and Pat Glover’s tomatillos.  Smith’s country cheddar and some greens that you find in the market.  I saw a few tomatoes last week and there are plenty of onions and peppers to add to your condiments.  Don’t like chili?  How about burgers on some thick slices of fresh bread served with beets?  Meatloaf and oven roasted potatoes (with onions and rosemary), make enough of both for sandwiches later in the week?  Not your thing?  Top round roast of beef with all the trimmings.  Have one last Farmers’ Market meal to get you through until May!


I have a 100% whole wheat bread in my oven now, in an effort to try to duplicate the delicious whole wheat bread that Ann Patsis is selling.  I’m using a 4.5 hour “sponge” method and I know I still won’t come close to hers.  I am using molasses and I can taste that she is using honey (I don’t have enough to spare).  I’m crossing my fingers, but I suspect I’ll be visiting her booth to buy my whole wheat bread for next week.


I was lucky enough to attend Oakmont’s National Honor Society Banquet last evening and we were served a delicious dish of butternut squash that everyone raved about (everything was delicious but where conversations revolved around food, this squash dish was the talk of the evening).  People were still talking about it this morning – it was that good!  It was butternut squash, pearl onions, peas and cranberries.  Rumor has it that this was all sautéed in a skillet.  I’ll be experimenting on my clan this evening.  Here are some other great squash recipes for you to try.


Don’t forget to plan ahead with meatloaves, pot roasts chili and soups on the weekends.  A bit more work up front, but worth the effort as the week progresses (and gets busy) as they provide you with endless opportunities for delicious, high quality and quick meal preparation.


For Christmas, it’s time to stock up now!


I’ll tell you about a shower gift that we gave that would have also worked well as a wedding gift or a gift for that hard-to-please person on your list.  It was a bit pricey for a shower gift but the gift was from my two daughters and me, so it was a three way gift – and it was really fun for the three of us to pull together.  It was a steak set.  We put together a reusable shopping bag filled with (of course) our own tenderloin steak along with a beautiful cutting board, spice rubs, and really nice steak knives – the kind that everyone should have, but most of us won’t buy for ourselves.  In addition we added kitchen odds and ends that would be used for a steak dinner – grill items, salt and pepper shaker, garlic press… go crazy and have fun with it.


Get creative and try to come up with some other winning combinations from our market.  How about a baby basket filled with beautiful clothing, socks and lotions?  For the college student on your list, how about a box of cards already stamped and addressed so they don’t miss any important family birthdays?  Perhaps add a calendar so they even have a reminder to send them out.  How about a super-bowl kit for your favorite football fan: cheese, meat, and all the fixins for a super super-bowl party?  There are many items in our market that would work as terrific Christmas gifts.  Hand crafted cutting boards,  Baby clothes, knit goods, hats, mittens and hand warmers, jewelry and tiles, wine gift sets, cards, baskets, soaps, perfumes, birdhouses, fudge, goat cheese, cheddar and gouda cheese, meat and so much more.  And don’t forget treats for the dog in your life!   


How we are Saving on Home Heating Fuel this Winter…


I thought I would pass along a few ideas that we are using this winter in order to keep our home heating costs as low as possible.  We have an oil burner for hot water, radiant floor heating and hydro air system.  We also have propane for our cook top, two fireplaces and our dryer. 


Now, we don’t hear from the propane or oil company too much during the year (maybe once or twice), but then winter sets in and they are in my driveway about every other week.  I have cancelled these automatic deliveries, partly because we don’t need fuel that often, partly because I want to watch the prices and fill up when prices are lowest and partly because I hate writing and sending checks within 10 days of delivery.  So, we have entered the fall season with a fill up on our oil and propane tanks – mostly because it should be cheaper now than in December.  Around the beginning of winter (middle of December) I am going to top-up both tanks.  From that point on, we are going to try to get through the whole winter with just one tank – I can almost hear Spadafore laughing.  I’m not saying we can do this, but trying to do it will automatically reduce our fuel consumption.  This idea originally came from the news that the formula for home heating oil would be changing in January due to Massachusetts state mandate and the rumor that it *may* have a detrimental effect on many furnaces.  We don’t want to be testing this new formula on our furnace (I have since heard that this formula change has been postponed, probably until July 2010). 


Our house is well insulated and holds its temperature very well.  The only real exception to this is westerly wind (which is most of the wind that we get) which seems to suck the heat out of our house very quickly.  We will need to turn the radiant heat on if it is below 10 degrees and very windy.  The hydro air system is in the bedrooms and not required very often as most of the bedrooms open into our wood-stove heated area of the house.  Bedroom doors are closed during the day and opened in the evening to warm them up.  All the beds now have a very thick/plush comforter (after looking for the entire spring, summer and fall, I only found what I was looking for at Wal-Mart for $34 each.  Not a great selection of color or texture but I was going for heavy and warm). 


As I write this, the oil burner has kicked on to heat water that will not be needed until at least .  During the morning I will be shutting off the furnace, turning it on in the evening and leaving it on overnight.  That way, if the house gets too cold overnight, it will go on automatically and we will have hot water for the dishwasher and evening and morning showers.  If the house gets cold during the day, firewood is only a few steps away.


So, for oil, we basically need to reduce our hot water consumption and we should be all set.  We run the dishwasher once per day, mostly wash laundry in cold water, and take showers (6 people including two teenagers in this house).  I’m hoping to have everyone keep their showers under 10 minutes (and only one a day).  I’m thinking of investing in a timer-style light switch (about $15) but I have yet to find one that sets for 10 minutes or less.  Turn the light on when you go into the shower (no windows in the bathroom) and try to beat the timer.  If I was designing my bathroom from the beginning, I would consider a 10 minute timer switch outside the bathroom with no light switches in the bathroom.  Take too long and you have to step out of the shower to turn the light back on.  You may say to me that this seems a bit harsh, and I will say to you that you probably aren’t paying for teenagers to shower in your house.


For propane, we don’t use that much and I’m not willing to reduce my dryer time or my cook top time.  We will only use the propane fireplaces as needed – which shouldn’t be too much, just to occasionally warm up the living room if it is in use, and the master bedroom if my bed warmers don’t feel like reading in my room before they go bed.


Think we can do it?  Let’s hope.  If you decide to take on a similar challenge, please let me know all about it!


Entertainment for the Upcoming Weeks


I hope you had a chance to stop by and listen to Gibby Lashua last week.  He was wonderful on the accordion, providing stories and songs along with his music!


This week we have the encore performance of the award winning team of Ron and Meghan McGuire!  And the singing and songwriting talent of Tess Rembetsy-Brown.  If you have never been to the market, you should at least come to hear this group of talented performers!


At Maple Heights Farm we will have meat available throughout the winter.  You can find it on Mass Local Food and you can order by email during the month.  We will schedule a pickup day and we will have your order ready when you arrive.


For a little fun, Russell (5 years old) is selling horse chestnuts.  Help us create a little fun and entrepreneurial spirit for him.  Stop by our booth and get a quarter from us, then find him and “buy” a horse chestnut or two.  He is deciding if they are a nickel or a dime, but either way, use one of our quarters and help him make the change.  And you can keep the horse chestnuts!  Thanks to all of you, he has had a wonderful season (as we all have) and enjoyed every minute.  That is thanks to your kindness and thoughtfulness.  Some kids spent Friday afternoons at home watching TV, but Russell has spent the entire season at the market, running errands for vendors, shopping, chatting, visiting with his friends, and having the time of his life.  Thank you all for that!  If it takes a village, look around you.  The village is here.


Kerrie Hertel    mapleHeightsFarm@verizon.net

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