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Posts Tagged ‘Cedar Circle Farm’

When we got to the Hanover Farmers’ Market yesterday, thunder was rumbling in the not-too-far distance.  We wouldn’t be able to linger.  I went straight for the Cedar Circle Farm booth, where I was almost overcome by the vivid colors spread before me!

I spent all the cash in my pocket on this pile of (always organic) beauty:

cedar circ vegs

When we got back to my parents’ house at the far end of Turnpike Road in Norwich, it was still too hot to turn on the oven or even think systematically about a meal.  I pulled out a tub of hummus, and we used it as dip for the celery (the most celeryish celery I’ve ever tasted!) and the sungolds.

In spite of the sky–another storm brewing after some hot sun–we decided to cook out.

dark clouds over the back hill

dark clouds over the back hill

We had some grass fed ground beef from Hogwash Farm, so we decided to do burgers, corn on the cob, and a big chopped salad combining the tomatoes, some peppers, radishes from Killdeer, and cucumbers and herbs from our garden.  Dressed with a bit of mustard vinaigrette, it was flavorful, cool, and perfectly satisfying.

This is the only season when a raw salad like that, with little adornment or special treatment, tastes so vivid.

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Thanks to the Seed Savers Exchange, Brandywine heirloom tomatoes are grown by many small farmers, and bought by many tomato lovers like me.  I spent a pretty penny on these green-shouldered beauties this morning at the Cedar Circle stand at the Norwich Farmers’ Market.

I bought two each of two varieties: Black and Pink Brandywine.  They are sweet and juicy, but touched with a delicate acidity, like a Provençal rosé.  I almost hate to dress them with anything but salt.

Adorned best by sun:

heirloom tomatoes

Or shade:

tomatoes

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We drove to Cedar Circle Farm, in Thetford, Vermont, this morning, to pick raspberries and blueberries.  The bushes were lush.

J picking

The best strategy for finding juicy berries, we found, was to mimic Jack’s height: crouch down, go in deep, and look up.

rasp. bush

Many of the blueberries were just getting blue.  The season is late this year, because of all the rain.  We picked three pints, though,

Cedar C. blues

and found a little nest in one of the bushes.

nest

Cedar Circle operates their self-service picking patch on the honor system.  There is a sign with the prices per pint, and a little money slot in the wall of the the shed, where pickers can deposit their bills or a check.  Jack loved watching the money disappear…

money slot

Jack's cousin, Jeremiah

Jack's cousin, Jeremiah

Now, it’s raining again, and I’ve been making buckle.  What is it that happens to blueberries when you warm them up?  They become gorgeous taste-bud luxuries.  I guess this is the season for this luxury, though, because I had blueberry pancakes for breakfast, and a piece of buckle for snack.  I’d better not start thinking about dessert…

buckle

Blueberry Buckle
from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

Batter
¾ c. sugar
4 tbs. butter
1 lg. egg
½ c. milk
2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cardamom
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. blueberries

Streusel
¾ c. sugar
¾ c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
2-3 tsp. lemon zest
½ tsp. salt
5 1/3 tbs. soft butter

Grease and flour a 9-inch round (or square) pan and preheat the oven to 375°.

Cream together the sugar and butter, then add the egg and mix at medium speed for 1 minute.  Whisk together the dry ingredients.  Stir in the milk alternately with the dry ingredients and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Gently fold in the blueberries.  Spread the batter in the prepared pan.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, lemon, and salt.  Add the butter, mixing to make medium-sized crumbs.  Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the batter.

Bake the buckle for about 45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven, and cool it (in the pan) on a rack.  Serve the buckle with coffee in the morning, or with whipped cream for dessert.

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wagon

Strawberries were the totems of childhood today, at Cedar Circle Farm’s 7th annual strawberry festival.  Of the milling, stooping, picking, licking population, about two-thirds were fewer than four feet tall.  Many wore the totem on their shirts, hats, or cheeks. The folks at Cedar Circle make this day as much a celebration of childhood as of strawberries and local food in general.  There were three horse-drawn wagons, a mural-drawing section of the barn wall, a coloring station, face-painting teenage girls, a sandbox, strawberry smoothies and shortcake, coffee for the parents, puppetry, kite-making, tractors to sit on, and live music.  And, of course, picking.

tractors

wagon ride

We hit the face-painting table first; the boys both got trucks.

my son, the sceptic

my son, the sceptic

cheek truck

Then we walked around the food stations.  There were local sausages from Hogwash Farm on the grill, organic pizzas cooking in a wood-oven on wheels, and strawberry shortcake with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream from Strafford Organic Creamery.  In honor of this berry, which has been cultivated since medieval times, everything was very forward-looking.  The food was served on compostable dishes with compostable utensils; there was a complex trash station.  Near the coloring table there was a photo-and-text display (a low-tech, stop-time PowerPoint presentation hung with clothespins) about “The Real Costs of Cheap Food”, which included descriptions of chemicals that flow and leach from non-organic farms into ground water, lakes, and rivers, and a definition of food miles (how far a food travels from farm to table, with the fossil fuels required a big consideration), and some charming spelling errors.  There was also a photo-narrative of strawberry growing, from bed preparation during the winter to picking in June.  This display included lots of pictures with hay around the edges, in the middle, and present as a general tone (hay keeps down the weeds) as well as shots of very tan, lightly clad interns happily working the dirt.

real cost

Cedar Circle grows eight varieties of strawberries, and an array of vegetables—all certified organic.

and flowers

and flowers

My mom and I, with the occasional help of Jack and his cousin Jeremiah who preferred sitting on tractors, and my sister, Bridget, who helped them up and down the tractor steps, picked four pounds of berries.  We chose two varieties: Wendy, known by its petite size and light sweetness, and Mesabi, which is bigger, and almost raspberry-like in flavor. The plants were so high that lifting the leaves to look for spots of red was like opening the curtains—in a doll’s house.  The pleasure of discovery became addictive.  It’s hard to stop, even when the basket’s full!

Strawberries fresh off the stem, warmed by the sun, melted into juice in an instant in our mouths.  There were many worshippers.

worshippers

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