Westminster Farmers’ Market Report from Maple Heights Farm
Enjoy a Local Feast, Good Friends and Family…
The Thanksgiving farmers’ market is Friday, November 20th at the Westminster DPW garage (1 Oakmont Ave) from 3:00 until 7:00. We hope to see you there in order to stock up all the fixings for Thanksgiving dinner! We are planning to have a few fresh, Westminster raised turkeys for you to order (pickup day for turkeys is Sunday at the Westminster farms where they are raised) as well. The price will be $3.75/lb and they will be in the 15 pound range with a few smaller and some larger up to 20 pounds. Feel free to email in order to reserve one. Please read “the economy of a turkey” so that not an ounce of your investment will go to waste and you can enjoy every bit of your bird!
Massachusetts Local Food has orders opening this Friday. Orders will remain open until Monday, November 30th with delivery day on Friday, December 4th. This is a great opportunity to stock up for all your entertaining needs for the Holidays. Massachusetts Local Food is full of items that you cannot easily find anywhere else, including locally produced whole grains and flour (including Barley for last week’s Beef Barley recipe), goat meat, grass-fed beef and veal, lamb, locally produced cheeses, spreadable fruit, eggs, locally roasted coffee and so much more…
Thanksgiving food, family, friends and fun…
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I like the simplicity of the holiday itself and I like the great food and preparation, the company of family and friends – something I don’t seem to get enough of lately. I like that it can be completely devoid of commercialism (which is impossible to avoid in the following month). I like that people spend the time to prepare real food from scratch. And I like working side by side with Andy in the kitchen to pull it all together. I like that each of my children help in the preparation in some way, some even trying new recipes that add to our traditions. I like that Meghan takes on the task of making homemade butter every year, and each year forgets what a pain in the neck it was the year before. Still she tries, and after about 15 minutes of mixing with a manual mixer (that her great grandmother owned), finally gives up and uses the electric stand mixer that was given to us 20 years ago! I like that Max makes apple pie and always wants my help with the crust (which I am not very good at and it doesn’t matter to him). I like Sydney’s homemade ice cream, no matter what bits of cookies or candies end up in it (I may try to convince her to experiment with coffee and pumpkin donut flavor). This year, Russell will help with dinner rolls and help mold the cranberry jelly into whatever he likes (and I think it will be serving size John Deere tractors – just a guess). I like that it is the kick off to a season of family and friend activities leading up to Christmas and New Years – where we all regroup and set aside time to get together. I even like that that we plan to hike every year after dinner – even though the only time I actually do this is when my brother in law drags me along because no one else will go!
A few things we do for Thanksgiving food preparation include making sure our food is as local as possible (though a bag of bread crumbs and stick of butter or two or ten will surely work its way onto the table). We also make sure we are not using any hydrogenated fats or corn syrup (which we have finally eliminated from our jellied cranberry sauce and our pecan pie). We also make sure that some vegetables make it to the table in their original, perfect form. We may have plenty of casseroles, creamed onions and corn pudding, but also simple mashed potatoes, Brussels sprout, and carrots without the thick candy coating of butter and brown sugar. It is nice to balance out the rich dishes with lower calorie flavorful vegetables.
We will be roasting more pumpkin next week for pie and perhaps a few more batches of pumpkin donuts which may make it onto the table and into the freezer for later this winter (a nice accompaniment to soup or stew dinners). We will collect vegetables from the garden and make sure we have all our ingredients on hand. If the farmers’ market has celery, we may not have to purchase a single grocery store vegetable this year – though our creamed onions may be a bit stronger than usual (as I didn’t grow a good boiling onion) – no matter, they are from Westminster! I hope you all find ways to enjoy the madness of food preparation, cleaning and shopping in order to get ready for your feast!
Eat and then Get Out for a Hike!
I’m recommending a few of my favorite hikes for you to consider on Thanksgiving Day (remember that I always have good intentions and most times it ends with that).
On Mt. Wachusett:
· North road is great, a bit steeper in two places and a good solid constant climb most of the way to the look-out vista -- where you have a fine reward and a place to sit for a few.
· Pine hill for those that want a quick hike that is a challenge (like climbing a 900’ staircase) – great trail but my friend Margaret walks so fast that she can’t hear that even those of us that don’t have asthma sound like we do (just kidding Margaret – we are all glad you keep us in shape).
· Echo Lake, relatively easy and flat: a beautiful walk.
Also anywhere along the Midstate trail that is near your house. All you Batherick roaders are lucky enough to have a great jumping off point near our farm – and if you haven’t tried this section of trail, Thanksgiving Day is a great time to try it. There is even a small parking lot at the bottom of Howard (dirt road off Batherick) and I hope to see it filled up by 3:30 when we should get over there to feed the animals (if we don’t, you may see them wondering through the neighborhood eyeing the perennial gardens and lawns of the neighbors).
Broth is still on the menu…
When I made pot roast last week, I added beef bones so I would have broth for this week without any extra effort on my part (remember to roast the bones before simmering them). Here is another article on broth. Try googling “Nutrition Benefits of Homemade Broth” for even more information. The primary reason you should eat homemade broth is for your health which you can read about in the articles. Secondary though is, it is free or very inexpensive (free on Thanksgiving Day, for sure). This week: Taco soup. I looked at several recipes and created one based on the spices and foods I had on hand. I added no additional meat because I did not have any leftovers, no one even noticed. The meal was basically a long grain and wild rice, cheese and vegetables (corn: first non-local vegetable that I have purchased in almost 5 months). The cost of this meal was for frozen corn, one cup of rice, cheese, the incidental cost of spices and garlic, and the ingredients for corn bread. Probably less than three dollars to feed six of us, that’s 50 cents per serving (and about 15 minute’s worth of work). You may want to round out the meal if you are fanatical about getting all your food groups at every meal – I figure we get what we need over the course of a day or two and don’t worry too much about it. A third reason: your house will smell so good. Prepare your turkey soup while you clean up after your feast. Set up a large empty pot as you are cooking. Throw in the vegetable water of mild flavored veges (not broccoli or Brussels sprout), toss in all your bones, skin, bits of leftovers – get creative, chop up the bits of celery and onion that you were going to throw away and save the good celery ribs for those turkey sandwiches tomorrow. Add water and a bit of vinegar (to help extract minerals) and let it sit overnight in a cold place. Friday before you leave for shopping, turn on the pot to simmer. You will be glad you did when you arrive home to a warm house filled with the savory smells from the broth!
Our oil savings plan…
We are testing our home heating oil conservation plan (which you may remember we implemented so we can avoid the new, possibly untested formula of bio-fuel as long as possible (which I now believe is coming in June – hopefully because it is being tested)). All is going well and we have discovered that we only need to heat water for one cycle in the evening and one cycle in the morning. This seems to work very well for us at this time as we are not using it for heat and will not need it for heat until the weather is below 10 degrees (or 20 with a west wind) and then only through the night. The only thing I have to work out is: since the water “warms up” in our tanks (we have two super stores) as we use the hot water and it is replaced by well water, is it cheaper to keep bumping the temperature slightly through the night by leaving the boiler on, or is it cheaper to just heat it completely twice per day? I haven’t figured out how to figure this out yet, but I’m sure the engineers among us will tell me that it’s cheaper just to leave it on. I’m still thinking about it…there has to be a point of diminishing return where, if you don’t need hot water for x number of hours, it is cheaper to heat up the whole tank. I just need to figure out what x is…
Pre-order meat for the Farmers’ Market…
For this Thanksgiving Farmers’ Market, I will be there, but Andy will not as he will be heading to Homestead for the Nascar race. For all those of you that are thinking that Andy is not worthy of this Nascar prize, fear not! You will be happy to know that he is going with one of Westminster’s biggest fans, Doug Greenlee – just to redeem himself (for not being a fan) and so Doug can keep him informed of all that is going on – just in case there is something more than 45 cars driving around in a circle for 400 miles. Just kidding really (but you non-Nascar fans know what I mean – sorry Doug, really)! Anyway, because Andy will be enjoying himself in Florida instead of enjoying himself helping me at the farmers’ market, I will be limiting what meat I pack for the market. I will bring sausage for your stuffing needs and ground beef for those of you that make meat pies for Thanksgiving breakfast. I will also bring any meat that you pre-order, (look at our inventory here) but please let us know today as I will not have time tomorrow to prepare orders. Just email us a note about what you want. We will get back to you with a price, package it up and have it ready for you when you arrive at the market.
And of course our beef and pork will be available through the winter by appointment and at www.massfoodcoop.org.
Have a great week and we will see you on Friday at the DPW Barn.
Kerrie Hertel mapleHeightsFarm@verizon.net
Our Home for sale… Great home with beautiful views, overlooking Mt. Wachusett (across the street) and the private Noyes pond (in the back), and absolutely the most peaceful place I have ever lived in my life.If you do not receive this weekly and would like to, send your email and we’ll add you to our list. Conversely, if you would like to get off this email list, reply to this note and let us know.