Socializing in a farming community is a little different than the visual parade of trend setters that populate many of the farmers markets Smith Meadows attends. On Mondays at the farm the array of colorful people and their accessories are replaced by the quieter splendor of what’s in the fields. The banter of weekend shoppers is muted. Farmers and cooks converse on how to translate this splendor into physical and psychological sustenance for the following weekend.
“Pot pies didn’t sell that well this weekend. I think the season is over. Do you want to add cold minestrone to the list for this week?”
“You’re right. I’ll text Shawna and see what’s available. Zucchini might be in, but there are no tomatoes yet and onions are still small.”
Hi Shawna, I wanted to order ingredients for minestrone. I know it’s a long shot, but let me know what you have and I can tailor the recipe.
After an hour or so of paperwork, I turn to my phone to see what Oak Hart Farm’s owner, Shawna, has sent in reply.
Good Morning Nancy, I have onions but they are the size of golf balls. Zukes and tomatoes are just coming in, but I do have cabbage, broccoli, fennel, kale, collards and salad turnips.
Let me think on those and get back to you later today. Thanks!
I like collards, turnips and fennel, but getting trend setters to try them is challenging. How do you combine nutritionally dense, low calorie, organic produce into eye candy for the world weary market shopper? I dream of something that everyone in my house would eat. It needs to make the day easier for a busy mom with much more on my to do list than dinner. In this way, the farming community is no different than any other group of adults. My son would not touch collards on their own. I tried boiled turnips once and told him they were white beets. He was three and still remembers it. Fennel tastes too much like licorice for my husband, which never fails to wrinkle his nose. Tough crowd at my house- not unlike farmers market shoppers.
What to do? How about Vichyssoise? It’s creamy, it involves butter, it can be eaten cold and it goes well with empanadas or roasted sausage. Now how do I make this with turnips, fennel and collards as the main ingredients. I’m not sure yet, but I place my order with Oak Hart for my co-worker to pick up on her way to our farm.
I have a happy memory of Vichyssoise. One of my best friend’s served it at her bridal shower. It felt sophisticated to eat something we had always made fun of as children for its ridiculous sound. As young adults we thought, “My, how far we’ve come. Let us eat Vichyssoise!” It’s basically cold potato soup that’s full of onions, leeks, and cream. As I search through Mother Earth, Food 52 and Running with Tweezers’ various renditions, I settle on something that fits what I have on my kitchen table. I take the high turnip ratio from Mother Earth, refine it with the butter of Food 52, spice it up with the nutmeg & cayenne of Running with Tweezers and add my own panache. I also look at Julia Child’s recipe for Potage aux Cresson for good measure. How does it taste? My business partner’s response sums it up…
“It’s good. It’s very Irish. I like it.”
“Yes! I think it will taste even better cold.”
After reading Tim Carman’s insightful article in the Washington Post, as well as the positive comments from our loyal customers, I felt I had to do something new this week. It’s not to please the trend setters or create a new lifestyle choice. It’s because pot pie season was over. It’s because turnips, collards and fennel are in plentiful supply with the veggie farmer I talk to every week. More importantly, it’s because I want something that would work with my busy and picky family.
Building community is more than showing up on a Saturday in your new sandals and sunhat. It’s making something work with what you have around you. I have the good fortune of having amazing farmers, fertile land and intelligent customers. This is why I make Early Summer Vichyssoise. Try it! You’ll love it and check out what else we have this week from our kitchen!
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