Breakfast is a very important meal on the farm. I’ve always been a breakfast eater (mostly Cheerios during my formative years 🙂 ) but farm work burns a lot of calories, so these days a nice big protein and carb load in the morning is absolutely necessary to get from 7am start time until noon lunch. We get pretty experimental and crazy with these breakfasts – gotta use whatever is in the fridge and pantry – and we sometimes come up with something surprisingly good!
My hot cereal breakfast is a very regular one. I start with Bluebird Grains’ cereal mix, which we trade for at the farmers market. I mix in some rolled oats for texture. When I cook it I use about half water and half milk (raw & organic whole milk from Sea Breeze Farm which we trade for at the farmers market). Then I put on sweet or savory toppings depending on the mood I wake up in. I enjoy being able to check in with my stomach in the morning: is it a day for cheese, sauerkraut, and seaweed/sesame sprinkle on top? Or a day for peanut butter, raisins, and honey mixed in?
Savory breakfasts definitely have more sticking power than sweet. I make eggs often, with the quickest and yummiest preparation being poached eggs on toast. The other day I woke up craving something tomatoey, and we were also almost out of water in our tank at the yurt… so I poached my eggs using a jar of last summer’s canned tomato puree instead of water! It was so simple and delicious and fulfilling, I wanted to write it down:
Eggy Tomato Bread
- 1/2 pint tomato juice/soup/puree (Butler Green Farm 2010)
- Couple sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme (my porch)
- 2 eggs (trade from Stokesberry’s at Ballard FM)
- 2 slices ciabatta bread (trade from Alex the baker at Carnation FM)
- Salt & pepper
Crack 2 eggs into a small bowl. Bring tomato to a simmer with herb sprig in a small saucepan. When tomato boils, turn it down to maintain slow simmer. Extract the herb sprig and then gently ease the eggs in. Simmer for 3-5 minutes until eggs are cooked but yolks still soft. Place 2 slices of ciabatta bread in the bottom of your bowl. Pour in the egg/tomato. Sprinkle salt & pep. EAT IT. The bread soaks up the tomato and egg yolk for a mouthwatering mouthful.
If you’re catching a theme here, it is that Oxbow LOVES trading veggies for other goods when we work markets. This is the great thing about being a producer in addition to a consumer. I get to eat exactly the way I want to eat: whole, real, best-quality foods straight from the farms. I get to do this for basically free. We grow our own veggies, so there are ample pick-your-own salads and roasted and sauteed veggie meals to be had. Then when we hit our three weekly farmers markets, we get to trade our extra veggies for all kinds of other items. We get to know the other vendors who we trade with on a weekly basis. It is so fun to run around and trade with Aaron for Seabreeze’s milk and sausage, snag eggs from Stokesberry’s, cheese from Mt Townsend Creamery’s Annika, smoked salmon from Tim at Wilson Fish, piles of bread from Farhad at Greatful Bread, honey, fruit, etc and etc. I was hesitant about it at first, but people at these other booths are stoked to get our veggies in exchange for their products. If someone wants to send me home with bacon or strawberries in exchange for arugula, why would I question that?!? Alice says that this is the time of year when she basically stops going grocery shopping. I’ll be buying in a few bulk staples and some 70% cacao dark chocolate, and I’m pretty much set to go :-)!
As the Solstice approaches, we can feel the change in our farm even though the temperature has still been very up and down. As spring turns finally to summer, the plants are increasing in size more rapidly and the tenor of the work is starting to turn more toward harvest and processing instead of planting. The busy season is dawning. Our first week of CSA shares are happening this week! I got to help harvest and process and then deliver the very first shares to Ballard on Sunday! What a great culmination to have folks come down on purpose to bring home their own veggie allotment! 300 area families will be eating vegetables from our farm boxes this summer. It’s fun to think about that group of people and what they will all be doing with their garlic scapes, greens, and rhubarb this week. Here’s what I did with mine:
Kale and White Bean Casserole
- 2 cups dry white beans (PCC)
- 1/2 lb sausage or ground pork – optional (Seabreeze)
- 1 bunch kale (Oxbow)
- 1 bunch garlic scapes (Oxbow)
- 3 cups fatty fatty chicken broth (Nature’s Last Stand chicken from last week)
- 1 cup Bread crumbs or crushed up chips (I used corn chips Trader Joes)
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds from Trader Joes)
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (Trader Joes)
The night before, soak the white beans in water. Drain. Cook them in the chicken broth with fresh or dry herbs (sage, thyme, and/or rosemary). Chop up and sautee the sausage. Add the garlic scapes and sautee. Add the kale and sautee til cooked. Season with salt, pepper, maybe a little vinegar. Mix the beans & broth with the sauteed ingredients. Pour it all into a baking dish. Top with a mixture of the chips, almonds, and cheese. Maybe dot with butter if you’re feeling crazy. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until it gets bubbly! Enjoy with lettuce salad.
At home at the yurt, our bunnies are also growing up quickly. 4 weeks old now, they are acting like real little rabbits, eating and drinking a TON, and are squirmy little handfuls to pick up. We have just started pasturing them (putting them out on grass). Alice did an excellent carpentry job on an old rabbit run we had inherited from farmer Luke, so they get to escape the confines of their hutches during the day and we put them back in with their Mamas overnight. They are sooo happy eating grass and the piles and piles of lettuce scraps that we bring back from the barn! I did rabbit “processing” (slaughter and butchering) with Noe in Seattle again last Saturday to get some more experience under my belt. I feel moderately confident about it. Our rabbit experience has not been perfect or without mistakes. I want to make sure to point out that everything has not gone swimmingly; in our learning we have fudged up a number of times. We started out with 15 rabbit babies and are now down to 10 (kind of 11, as I will explain…). Two died at birth. One got out of the nest overnight when it was just a few days old and we found it dead the next morning – possibly from cold? Last week we had our two unfortunate incidences. One: a bunny escaped. I left the door open for a second while I turned my back and a little guy got out of the hutch and trundled off into the woods! To his/her credit, this little bunny has been living wild around the yurt for a week now, foiling all our attempts to catch him. I see him almost every day, hanging around, enjoying life! The second incident was more tragic: a bunny got through the hutch partition into the wrong side with the other Mom and the other Mom beat it up. When Alice got home from work, the poor little one was on the wrong side, alive but severely lacerated on its haunch and underbelly. I had no idea that Margie would have done such a thing; they are only separated from the others by a chickenwire divider so have been able to see and smell each other the whole time – but clearly having an intruder into her enclosure warranted her trying to kill the foreign baby. The rabbit was severely enough wounded that the only thing for us to do was put it down. I luckily knew how to do it because of my experience at Noe’s, so we did it quickly and properly and buried the bun behind the yurt. I cried a bit as I did it, which was a different emotion from what I’d experienced during the planned slaughter at Noe’s. It was sad and a wakeup call that this animal had to experience pain and die because of a mistake on our part that we had not made the two hutches isolated enough. I feel strongly that we should not be taking these animals’ lives lightly because we know they are intended for food. The whole point is that we want them to live the best possible lives under our care and then die quickly and painlessly. It is a learning experience for Alice and me, but we need to be more careful. I do still feel good about this experiment with raising our own meat. We are getting into a good daily routine with the bunnies, and it will be a new experience when I cook and eat my own meat for the first time. I don’t know if raising meat rabbits will be something I continue with or not, though.
To wrap up, here are a couple of pics – more on my Flickr as usual!