Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘New Hampshire locavore’

nasturtiums

I put myself through another onrush-of-memories experience this morning.  I stopped by the Dartmouth Organic Farm, three miles north of campus on Lyme Road.  There was a space in the dirt driveway, so I parked my car next to the house I lived in senior year, and walked across the yard that, on my graduation morning, was a brilliant swath of dandelion yellow.

house

Things looked pretty much the same—seedling trays in the greenhouse here and there, the dry-erase board marked up with to-do lists and sunshine doodles, cast-off chairs and tables and grills in the garage—except for the plant life.  I couldn’t believe how overgrown the hillside had become.  I took the familiar path down the hill to the garden, (remembering how annoyed we got when people stepped over instead of around the switchback we’d built to keep the hillside from eroding) but what used to be an airy walk through saplings had become a dark walk through forest dense with vines.  Twelve years have gone by.

a freight train goes by now

a freight train goes by now

The garden, though, when it came into view, looked unchanged.  Beds of lush vegetables, some beds of mixed cover crops, stretching down to the grassy bank of the Connecticut River. The valley fog was just burning off.

Scott Stokoe, the farm manager, was talking with the head intern, John, about what had to be done before the CSA delivery to students this afternoon.  He acknowledged the growth on the hillside when he pointed out the shade that was keeping down the winter squash.

shade

John went off to start harvesting, and Scott and I had a long conversation about the farm’s evolution over the past decade, about that first year, when it was a pilot program and I lived there with three friends—weeding, planting, picking, eating well—and about integrating sustainability into the liberal arts curriculum (which I’m involved with at Auburn).

I walked through the fields snapping pictures, and then helped the interns harvest sungold tomatoes for the afternoon delivery.  They were ripening nicely, but the vines were sparse because of the hungry deer who come for a nightly meal.  The students recently erected a fence, which will hopefully keep the deer away from everyone’s favorite crop—the unbelievably sweet sungolds.

sungolds

I looked up the hill to the north, where we used to swing from a rope into the river and swim upstream as far as we could go until we got tired.

There was another familiar sight: crew practice.

crew

onions

onions

John, who lives in the house now, said he didn’t mind if I peeked in.  The year I lived there, 1996-7, was the first year it was used by the College as “the farm house.”  It had been a long time since it had been occupied.  It’s a solidly built old farmhouse with sturdy hardwood throughout.  I moved in with three girlfriends—Amy, CJ, and Christine—and we brought just a few pieces of furniture and kitchenware.  It was spare and neat.  After twelve years of both female and male undergrads moving in and moving out, let’s just say the house looked lived-in.  I opened the solid wood door to the screened-in porch out back.  You used to be able to see the river.  I remembered the first time I invited Peter—now my husband—over for dinner.  We cooked vegetables harvested that day on the fields below, and ate on the gray-painted floor of the porch (we had no chairs).  I also went up to the room that used to be mine and looked out the windows at the familiar view of the river.  I remember sitting at my desk—a door on cinderblocks with a batik tapestry on top—and writing a poem about the ice on the river breaking up in the spring.

That was a good year I spent there.  I’m glad I went back.

tassels

Read Full Post »

Mmm…

Making a margherita pizza tonight with many scrumptious local ingredients.  It’s also sort of a Norwich Route 5 pizza, because Killdeer is just down the road from King Arthur Flour, and most of the ingredients were purchased at these favorite spots.  The fresh mozz is sold at Killdeer and made at Maplebrook Farm, in Bennington, VT–another of my old hometowns.  We lived on a straight-uphill narrow dead-end road preposterously, or optimistically, named Crescent Boulevard.

Traditionally, the only toppings on Margherita are sliced tomato and mozzarella, fresh basil, and olive oil.  I may jazz it up a bit, though.  It’s been a long rainy day.

I also want to avoid a scuffle with the carabinieri.  I think it’s illegal to call my pizza “Margherita,” which is a designation protected by the E.U.–like “Champagne” or “Manchego.”

Jazzed-Up Margherita Pizza

for the crust:
1 c. warm water
1 tsp. yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 tbs. olive oil
3 c. unbleached flour

fresh, local tomatoes
fresh, local basil (or homemade pesto)
fresh, local mozzarella
(And… stepping out of the locavore range by a long shot… kalamata olives or anchovies for kick)

Mix the dough, let rise for an hour.  Flatten and stretch on a semolina-dusted pan.  Pre-heat oven to 425.  Let the crust rise up a bit more, and then strew with the toppings.   Bake until the cheese is golden and sizzling.

za

Oops… I overloaded it.

Read Full Post »

Roving is a romantic way of saying moving from place to place.  At one time, the word contained more layers of significance than it does now, including something like “lookin’ for love.”  This sense finds its beautiful epitome in Byron’s love lyric, “We’ll go no more a-roving.” More than a poem of love, this is a poem of eros.  The short, simple poem, which Byron wrote while in Venice, speaks of the sweetness of longing and nostalgia as it relishes ironic double entendre.

Today, I’ve had a decidedly more banal, and boring, experience of roving: I drove all around this spread-out rural center of civilization in the northeast—seemingly just to keep the car capable of more driving.  It was a day of logistics: dropping the boys at camp; driving to White River Junction with my sister to get her tire repaired for $13, which took all day; driving to drop off my sister at my dad’s office so that she could use his car; driving to the library for two hours of 1794 literary journals on microfilm; driving to pick up my boy; driving to CVS and the Hanover Food Co-op; driving back to the back roads of Norwich to drop off the cold food; driving to my dad’s office to pick up my sister; driving to the mechanic’s to pick up her car.  On the way out of there, my automatic transmission problem alert signal came on.  It’s an orange-lighted gear with an exclamation point in the center.  Whoa!  So, then we drove, in caravan, to another mechanic’s, who directed us to another, farther south along route 5 in Vermont.  This will probably cost me quite a bit more than $13.

And then we drove back up route 5, which, happily, leads to Killdeer Farm Stand.  I dropped off my sister and the boys at the UPS warehouse to see the trucks (my nephew’s current obsession) and drove to Killdeer.  After a day of aggravation, this was bliss.

The vegetable baskets are more bountiful every day.  I wanted to make a pasta dish with a classic combination of vegetables.  I bought an eggplant, sweet green pepper, sweet onion, costata romanesca.  I looked at everything, admired everything, knew I’d be back tomorrow.

spring veg

I left, reluctantly, to do more driving.

For dinner we had farfalle with all of the above, and some sweet Italian sausage, flavored with fennel seeds, from Cloudland Farm, which we’d had in the freezer.  It was warm, green, springy, delicious.

Spring Pasta

Get the water boiling for pasta.  Meanwhile, break a half-pound of sweet Italian sausage into chunks, and slice half of a sweet onion, one or two Japanese eggplants (their skin is more tender), one sweet green pepper, and one costata romanesca.  Sauté the sausage until mid-rare and let drain in a bowl lined with paper towel.  Sauté the vegetables, beginning with the onion, followed by the eggplant, pepper, and eggplant.  Cook the pasta.  When the vegetables are lightly caramelized, spoon in a couple of big spoonfuls of pasta-cooking water, and cover for a minute or less.  Put the sausage back in the pan, and then combine pasta and vegetables in a big bowl or pot and toss with grated parmgiano  reggiano.  Serve with extra cheese at the table.

Read Full Post »

I spotted a forager at the Farmers’ Market in Hanover.  He was busy behind another farmer’s stand, borrowing the scale to weigh his haul of early chanterelles.   He divvied out the cache of beatifully gouda-colored fungi into straw baskets.  $8 each.  6 hours of foraging had yielded six baskets, he told me.  I’m sure those six baskets were picked up in a flash, after which he probably ducked back into the woods.

chants

When cooking, they smell, and then taste, of nuts and apricots, earth and sunlit woods, fruity wine.

Lacking rabbit, I’ll cook them up and toss them over chicken.  Sauté until they release their juices, in butter, with pancetta, herbs, and minced shallot.  Maybe a few pinenuts.

Rosé…

Read Full Post »

radishes
After a stop at the Norwich Bookstore and Nana’s apartment, we went to the Hanover farmers’ market, on the Dartmouth green.  I’d had some pent-up desire for this kind of variety and plenty, and I went a little wild.  Jack and I ate half of the bunch of salmon colored carrots right away.
carrot

Then, after craning my neck to assess the competition, I settled on Fable Farm for my armfuls of kale, lettuce, and motley radishes.

fable farm

Then there was raw-milk cheese from Piermont, New Hampshire to sample.  I bought some of the manchego style “Manch-vegas.”  (Did it have that name because it was so over-the-top-flashy-flavorful?  It had to be followed by a full-bodied red.)

cheese

Strawberries!  Next weekend Cedar Circle Farm will have their annual strawberry festival, but we had to stock up before then.

cedar strawberries
There were sausages, pasture-raised chickens, eggs, breads and baked things of all sorts, fresh-squeezed lemonade, popcorn popped in an aluminum vat the size of a bathtub:

lemondae

beef pork

And asparagus.

asparagus I got a big bunch.  The vendor suggested grilling them, which we did later.  I usually roast them, and I have to say, I’m going to stick with roasting.  They were fine grilled, but they got a bit black.  It’s easier to control the cooking when they’re on a pan in the oven, rolling around in olive oil rather than errant flames.

Around here, it almost goes without saying that the produce, poultry, meat, fruit, and fungi are raised without the help of synthetic chemicals.  Here is a fiercely proud bastion of organics where the suggestion of doubt would be taken as an affront to the dignity of the farmer and her land.  The collective identity of this community, which is scattered across mountains and back roads, is strong in spite of, or because of, the old New England ethos of pioneering individualism and eccentricity that is summed up on New Hampshire’s license plates: “Live Free or Die.”

Jack, exercising his right to sit down wherever he wants to.

Jack, exercising his right to sit down wherever he wants to.

Later on, for dinner, we grilled sausages and the asparagus, sautéed the kale with some crushed garlic, sliced the walnut ficelle, and ate outside while the sun went down.

Read Full Post »