Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A day in the life of a market gardener

I wake up sleepy in my bed still recovering from the nasty bug I caught the week of Christmas and the first thing that comes to mind is "remember to investigate further what is eating the broccolini and I wonder if McMurrays still has Black Australorps chicks", and off I go to make coffee with my mind already racing with what needs to be done this day including the mundane chores of laundry and cleaning toilets.  As I drink my coffee and look up those Australorps I am sitting here watching the clouds get thicker and thicker wishing for a beautiful layer of snow to irrigate my trees and praying that it happens without any broken water lines or loss of water to animals.  The laundry is going, the chicken is out defrosting for the stir fry, which will have carrots, bok choy and green onions from the garden, cabbage and broccoli from Angels Farm at market and green peppers from the garden freezer, and I make a note on my calendar to plant extra carrots so that we can freeze those next year too to make sure we don't run out of carrots like we did this year and to buy out Glencairn of his limes when in season so we don't have to try and wrestle a teaspoon out of a store lime again!!  Well, my coffee is done, and I have another project I am anxious to get started because as I was reading last night I came across this fantastic idea of three different"teenage" heads of lettuce in a box to sell at market.  I have always sold baby lettuce and cut leaf bags, but never full heads because they so much of the head is discarded.  Teenage lettuce is not baby but about 6-7 inches tall and still nice and tender and perfect for salad or sandwiches....I really like this idea, off to thinning lettuce! 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Canned peaches

With everyone headed off to college I am finding myself looking for more ways to use my canned goods than ever, which is not a bad thing to happen.  Today I was talking to my best friend from Maine and told her we were still overloaded with canned peaches and she said "they are delicious in pulled pork".  Hmmmm....so I went googling and to be honest I have not tried this recipe but by the looks of it with the peaches, the lager and the Dijon mustard it is a winner.  We have farm fresh pork roasts in the freezer, arugula in the greenhouse, peach jam and canned peaches on the shelves and it is 40 degrees outside...this is definitely going into the crockpot this week! 

  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 lb. boneless pork shoulder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1½ tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into 6 wedges
  • 2 (12-oz.) bottles lager beer
  • 1 (1-qt.) jar canned peaches in syrup, drained or use store-bought, 1 cup syrup reserved

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 large red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup peach jam
  • cup Dijon mustard
  • Sliced multigrain bread, lightly toasted, for serving
  • Baby arugula, for serving


1. Make the pork: Heat oven to 325°. Heat oil in a 6-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season pork with salt and pepper. Cook until browned, 10–12 minutes; transfer to a plate. Add paprika, cloves, bay leaves, garlic, and onion to pan; cook until golden, 6–8 minutes. Add beer; cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan, until reduced by half, 10–12 minutes. Return pork to pan; add half the peaches. Bake, covered, until pork is tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted into pork reads 190°, 3–3½ hours. Let cool, then using 2 forks or your hands, shred pork; transfer to a bowl. Slice remaining peaches; fold into pork with ½ cup pan drippings and peach syrup.

2. To serve: Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium heat. Cook onions until caramelized, 25–30 minutes. Stir jam and mustard in a bowl; spread over each slice bread. Divide pork and onions between half the bread slices; top with arugula and remaining bread slices.


Summer aromas

During these shortest days of the year it is nice to inhale the scents of summer while cooking.  One of the easiest ways to do these is by cooking with your dried herbs.  I used to go to all lengths tying up my herbs or creating some contraption for them to stay in outside protected from the critters and the wind and now I simply bring my unpurchased herbs back from market and toss aside in a tray or vented basket in the garage and four to eight weeks later I have perfectly dried herbs.  Today I was making a stuffing for our turkey and grabbed a bunch of thyme, sage and parsley from the garage, and by stripping the thyme off the stem, chopping the sage and crumbling the parsley in my hand the wonderful summer aromas of fresh herbs wafted through the kitchen again.  Thyme, rosemary and savory all strip off the stem easily after drying.  Sage is one of the thickest and usually does well with chopping.  Parsley, oregano and basil do well with crumbling in your hands and removing any thick stems.  Simply save your old store bought herb containers and refill and you will have the fresh dried herbs available anytime of the year.  Merry Christmas everyone!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I earned my cowgirl stripes today.

I earned my cowgirl stripes today.

The day started as usual and as I strolled down to feed with Molly nipping at my heels (she thinks I need to be herded to get the job done) I heard Aurora's usual mooing, but it was exceptionally clear this morning.  As I hit the top of the hill at the chicken coop I was greeted by Aurora who luckily was not brave enough to go any further.  I quickly took a survey of the scenery down below mainly to ascertain where the BULL WAS!!  He was out of the corral but happily munching on the mulch pile.  Aurora was simple enough to get back in since she is what my husband calls a "grain addict" and will do anything for a handful of it.  The gate was broken in the small corral so I put her into the large corral leaving the small corral open and thus began the tricky part.  Now, my bull is a mellow bull, but he is still a BULL.  With a few "Yaws!" I got him moving and thus the games began.  With a full gallop he began his journey across my property, but fortunately a "Yaw!!" in his direction brought him racing back towards the corral and ME!!  I knew the only way I had of getting him back in was to stand my ground so I did and prepared to dive since he was not stopping.  When he was within about 8 feet from me he halted and changed direction and headed around the other side of the corral where he stood next to where Aurora was.  He obviously decided I was no fun and he wanted back in with her so with a few more "Yaws" and me chasing HIM this time he was back in the corral happily eating his Bermuda that was waiting for him.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Rowena McDermott
Moonstruck Farms

P.S. We harvested the first Moonstruck Salad Mix and it will be at market each week until further notice :).


Saturday, December 6, 2014

We're back!!

The last year or so is kind of a blur??  To say the least life got a little "out of control" with ailing neighbors in need of great help, a chicken and turkey season that took over our lives, computer after computer crash and so much more, but now onto the positive!!  Here at Moonstruck we are enjoying turning things upside down, but we are not doing a lot of it on our own anymore.  Thanks to my "Moonstruck Angel" things are looking amazing around here!!  Yes, I have an employee, but I hate calling him that because he is so much more than that!  So from hereon he will be referred to as the Moonstruck Angel.   Both greenhouses are cleared, planted and ready to go.  The 20x100 is full of salad mix and spinach and more and the 20 x40 is at about 90% completion of being converted to a "berry house".  We have strawberries and blueberries in there.  We had a lot of time thanks to my Moonstruck Angel to sit back and observe and absorb all the lessons I have learned over the last five years, and even though our summers hit the 100s we are still a very cold season microclimate here at Moonstruck, and the great news is so far the BERRIES love it!!  So between the 300 fruit trees we put in and the expansion of berries we are doing this year you will be seeing a lot more fruit come from Moonstruck.  We have a 20 x 100 field that gets hit horribly with the wind in the Spring and Summer and has never done very well so we are going to run a test on it this year with a small row cover of raspberries and if the results are stupendous we will convert the entire field to raspberries!!  As always thank you all for your support through the years.  Moonstruck signing off....but just for a little while.