Gratitude for the Feast

photo(2)It is only now beginning to sink in that tomorrow, Tuesday, my boys and I won’t be going to Flying Plow to pick up our CSA share. For the first time in three years the season doesn’t end with the anticipation of beginning anew in May, after a time for the fields (and their keepers) to take a well-earned rest. Instead this season is a finale of sorts, as Tom and Sarah prepare to move their operation north to their new farm.

At the final regular Tuesday pickup last week, there was nostalgia, and some sadness, as CSA members congratulated Sarah on finally closing the sale of the new land. There were hugs and goodbyes, and some “see you in the spring!” promises from those who have already rejoined next year. It likely won’t be our family, though, because we are also moving to a new home in Monkton, and the distance and logistics involved in a weekly CSA pickup become rather less sustainable.

I met Tom and Sarah during their first year, shortly after they dug through ten feet of Snowmaggeddon drifts to erect their first greenhouse. Back when their newly launched CSA had all of 30 members (if memory serves). I wasn’t one of them — we belonged to another CSA that year — but as we became friends, I got to witness their hard work, intelligence and commitment to sustainability and organic agriculture. The next year my family became proud Flying Plow members, and ever since we have been enjoying the bounty of Tom and Sarah’s hard work, along with the work contributed by many interns and volunteers as well as some very hard working plow horses.

When my own economic fortunes took a downturn and I could no longer afford to purchase a share, they generously offered a workshare arrangement where I would write this blog in exchange for enjoying more righteously raised vegetables than I sometimes knew what to do with. My boys and I have many happy memories from our days at the farm: picking strawberries and stringbeans and Sungold tomatoes, petting the horses, and frolicking in the fields through the ice cream socials and fall harvest parties that immediately became touchstone events in our year.

So this week, as we gather at Thanksgiving, I will be giving thanks for all the usual things. But I will also be voicing a special, specific gratitude for the past four years. For getting to know Tom and Sarah, and for the nourishment – both food and friendship — we have received through knowing them. Thank you for the feast. Not just the ritual holiday we celebrate this week, but for all the seasons before as well.

I would also like to say that I have greatly enjoyed writing this blog, and getting to know other members who so generously shared their cooking knowledge and culinary creativity. I always felt like I was getting such the better part of the work-share deal, because it was always fun, and I will miss everything about Flying Plow. The food, of course – it will be difficult if not impossible to find another CSA with such dedicated and gifted farmers raising such impeccably, deliciously sustainable animals and vegetables. But also the place, and the people. Thanks, everyone.

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Butternut Soup – Eight different ways!

Here is the basic butternut squash soup recipe that I used for the soup at today’s demo.  Following it are all the ways you can change it up to make it yummier, amp up the nutritional value, or just have fun with it!

  • 2 large butternut squash (about 4 1/2 lbs.) or 4 lbs. peeled and cubed butternut squash
  • 2 medium onions
  • 3 cloves garlic (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp. butter or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt plus more to taste
  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth


  1. Halve, seed, peel, and cube the butternut squash. Set aside.
  2. Halve, peel, and chop the onion. Mince the garlic, if you like.
  3. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the butter or oil and the chopped onion. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Consult the list of variations below to plan any additions you might like — many are added at this point.
  6. Add the squash and the broth. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until the squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.
  7. Use immersion blender to puree the soup. Alternately, transfer small batches to a blender or food processor and whirl until completely and utterly smooth. Either way, be very careful about spattering the hot soup — it can burn you!
  8. Return the soup to the pot and add more salt to taste.
  9. Serve with a sprinkle of cilantro and a swirl of sour cream or plain whole-milk yogurt.

Garnishes & Variations

  • Creamy Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup heavy cream, or up to 1 cup plain whole milk yogurt, after blending and gently heat until warmed through.
  • Southwestern Spicy Add 1 chopped jalapeno chile and 1/4 tsp. cayenne with the garlic. Stir in up to 1/4 cup brown sugar at the end. If you like, cream is also a nice addition to this version.
  • Butternut-Apple Add one cored and diced apple along with the cubed squash – the more tart the apple, the more flavorful the effect!
  • Roasted Roasting adds an extra step but concentrates the flavor of the vegetables. You can use this method with any of the other flavor combinations you like. Put halved and seeded squash cut-side-down in a large pan. Arrange halved, peeled onions and garlic around squash. Pour in 1 cup broth and roast in a 375°F oven until very tender, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly. Scoop out the squash flesh from the peel and put it in a blender, along with the onions and garlic and remaining broth.
  • Gingery Add 1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger and 1 tsp. ground ginger along with the garlic. Make it even gingery-er by melting 4 Tbsp. butter in a small frying pan. Cook until it turns light brown and add 1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger. Swirl the ginger butter on top of each serving.
  • Warm Spices Add a combination of 1/4 tsp. each ground cloves, cardamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, cinnamon, and/or black pepper along with the garlic.  Very good with yogurt on top.
  • Squash-o-Rama! Switch out up to half of the butternut squash with other hard winter squash, like acorn, or pumpkin, or even carrots. A sprinkling of toasted pepitas or pumpkin seeds on top of this one is extra tasty.
  • Protein Packed! Blend up to 8 oz. of soft or silken tofu into the soup. Pour two cups of soup into a blender or food processor, cube the tofu and drop it in, whirl together for a full minute or so to fully incorporate the tofu, then stir back into the soup pot and gently heat to serving temperature.
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Final “Second Week at the Farm” food demo today!

Hi Everyone — stop to say hello and try some tasty butternut squash soup during pickup today! I’ll be presenting a very basic (and quick and easy) butternut soup, — s soup-er versatile base. We will be talking about the different ways and additions you can use to change the flavors and amp up the nutritional power!

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Harvest Party Photo Gallery

H A R V E S T   P A R T Y !

What an incredibly great, wonderful, marvelous party on the 13th!  The food was fantastic, the music was swinging, and folks were frolicking in the fields…Thanks to Tom and Sarah for making it happen, to Laurrapin for another incredible meal from Flying Plow foods, to everyone who worked so hard to bring it all together.

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This week’s Friday food demo: postponed

Hi all — just a quick note to let everyone know that due to unforeseen circumstances, Darin won’t be able to be at the pickup shed tonight. He will be there one week from today doing a fermenting demonstration — sauerkraut? Kim chi?  How exciting to find out!  Darin makes rockin’ sauerkraut, and we have lots of cabbage and other brassicas coming our way….

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Going Combo: Interesting things to do with kohlrabi, part 2

51193090Kohlrabi and Apple Salad

Interesting as the previous post’s fancy Kohlrabi, Fennel and Blueberry Salad was, it was more a special occasion dish, not something I would make often. And I wanted a new way to combine fall veggies for salad. Then I saw that the new issue of Bon Appetit magazine has a really fantastic recipe for a kohlrabi salad that makes use of seasonal produce, is quick to make, and doesn’t call for a special grocery shopping trip (assuming you have caraway seeds on hand, which I always do for making sauerkraut — stay tuned for a future blog post on DIY sauerkraut fermenting, by the way!).

This is a great salad — crisp but hearty, it serves as a substantial side dish for a fall dinner. I reduced the amount of caraway seeds it calls for — 1 teaspoon caraway overpowered the other ingredients, but 1/2 teaspoon is just right (for my palate, anyway — and I like caraway). I love that this combines so many of the fantastic fall veggies showing up in our shares these days. Note that if celeraic returns later this season, you can also use that in place of or along with the kohlrabi.  You just have to remember to stop by the Flying Plow herb garden and snip some chives!

This salad totally makes it into the everyday arsenal.

Kohlrabi and Apple Salad with Fall Greens

  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (or cider vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 2 medium kohlrabi or 1 medium celery root (celeriac), peeled, thinly sliced on a mandoline
  • Fall salad greens: lettuce, arugula, curly mustard, Tom’s salad mix (about 6 cups)
  • 1 crisp red apple, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, divided (optional)
  1. Toast caraway seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat, tossing often, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop.
  2. Whisk caraway, oil, vinegar, and mustard in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add kohlrabi, frisée, apple, and 2 tablespoons chives to bowl with dressing and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper.
  4. Top salad with remaining 2 tablespoons chives just before serving.


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Going Combo: Interesting ways to mix up early fall veggies


Like many hard-working but time-pressed home cooks, I tend to rely on stalwart favorite recipes that come through every time. Dishes I can cook from memory, either because I’ve made them so many times they’re engraved on my brain — because they’re simple and straightforward that a recipe is beside the point.

This second approach is how I tend to treat our fall vegetables — often, I just prep a large baking tray of whatever came in the CSA share that week and roast everything together in the oven. In warmer months I take a very similar approach, turning everything into giant variegated slaw or salad dishes. These are foolproof strategies for our family and they do make use of the wonderful variety of things we get each week, but sometimes I feel like I ought to branch out a little. Try new things.

So when I came across this kohlrabi and fennel salad from Food and Wine magazine, I had already been thinking I should try to do something new with both these interesting and flavorful foods. I loved the idea of them playing nicely together. (The salad is featured in Food & Wine‘s Best New Chefs issue and comes from Stephanie Izard, winner of Season 4 of Top Chef and owner of The Girl and the Goat in Chicago). The ingredient  includes some unexpected items, like goat cheese and maple syrup. Plus there’s soy sauce, mayo and balsamic in the dressing, which initially seems like an odd combination. But I had everything on hand except the goat cheese and blueberries, and I was feeling experimental.

So this recipe required a special trip to the store, and it also violated my usual rule regarding not using imported, out of season ingredients — in this case, blueberries. But it was an extremely interesting outcome. The vinaigrette alone was terrific: a touch sweet, but it was balanced with rich, salty and sharp flavors. Once it was paired with the other salad ingredients — kohlrabi, fennel, almonds, blueberries and goat cheese — the results were complex, compelling, and pride-inspiring. I felt like this dish was something you’d get at an upscale restaurant.

Kohlrabi, Fennel & Blueberry salad

Total time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6

  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar (or other light vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed or other light oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 bulb kohlrabi, peeled and very thinly sliced on a mandoline
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced on a mandoline
  • 2 ounces semifirm goat cheese, shaved or sliced thin (1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons torn mint leaves

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the almonds on a pie plate and toast for about 7 minutes, until golden. Let cool.

In a food processor or blender, combine the ginger, shallot, vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard, soy sauce and maple syrup and puree. With the blender on, add the grapeseed oil in a thin stream and blend until creamy. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss the kohlrabi with the fennel, cheese, toasted almonds and dressing. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Add the blueberries and mint and toss gently. Serve right away.


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