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February 18, 2018
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
Once again the view over the farm makes me think of Narnia during the Snow Queen's reign.
Last night I took Mara's new sled and zipped down the steepest hill to the nursery. The snow fell so thick I had to close my eyes and surrender to the thrill of gravity and a slick slope. At the bottom, the nursery gleamed like a beacon through the storm, lit by the grow lights that give our light-dependent seeds a jump start. I couldn't help but wonder if an overhead reconnaissance survey might be drawn to the lit greenhouse, raising questions about what exactly we grow here. I suppose ten thousand onions might be a boring answer to the follow-up investigation, but to us the new green shoots emerging from their planting trays thrill us. Thyme, mint, rosemary, lavender, pansies and other slow growing herbs and flowers have also made their appearance.
When fantasy trips to distant tropical islands remain out of reach, spending time in the nursery on a sunny February day puts a dent in the winter blues. The air is warm, humid and reviving to our parched skin and nasal passages. Potting soil under the finger nails is a happy thing and the time we spend in there as a family, all four of us working with a peaceful rhythm will likely be something the Farmer and I miss when we are empty-nesters.
The forecast tells us that this snow will be short-lived on the ground, with temperatures nearing, or exceeding 70 this week. That means the nursery will brighten up like a green onion lawn before the first of March. The anticipation of spring, and the hint of it in the February air, fragrant with the scent of thawing earth never fails to quicken the heart of the Farmer and get him moving out and about, itching to warm up the tractor and plough. Soon we will have information about our Spring Share available so that you can take advantage of the most delicate early greens and sweet roots of the entire season.
Spring is my favorite; always has been and always will be.
February 7, 2018
Scandinavian Apple Cake
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
Even though it’s been a super “green” week in Philadelphia (we are proud of those Eagles!) the farm is still white. Kids are home from school today and the Farmer’s Wife is inspired to bake while the Farmer sleds with the little one in the sleety snow. We have an amazing hill for sledding and I can watch the two of them zooming down the fields while I write.
Winter is a wonderful time to re-connect with baking. Secrets-be-told, one of our favorite dates is to cuddle on the couch and watch the Great British Baking Show
. We love the vicarious adventure into the English countryside and the glimpse of these rookie bakers, their character and their delectable creations. Afterward the Farmer elbows me with a subtle hint, “Hey, why don’t you make that?”
This morning, in my baking-ful mood, I decided to return to my ancestral roots and pulled out my rarely used Scandinavian Kitchen by Camilla Plum
. This cookbook is full of authentic Norwegian and Scandinavian treasures, that sometimes call for unusual ingredients (partly why I rarely use it) such as eel, lingonberries, pork trotters and offal (which might really be as bad as it sounds).
I have been thinking ahead to our summer Farm to Table gourmet feast, and I am thinking a Scandinavian theme might be fun. Something like Baby Beet Salad with Fresh Smoked Cheese, Creamed Wild Mushrooms on Toast, Slow-roast Chicken with Tarragon and Peas, finishing with Cardamom Ice Cream. Sound good? We have a terrific time at our VIP dinners, relaxing and laughing with customers-become-friends, and always, always enjoying fantastic local food.
Many years ago when I was 16, I travelled to visit my Aunt and Uncle in Jönköping, a small town not too far from Stockholm. I fell in love with their habit of afternoon tea with piles of pastries, cakes and whipped cream. Thinking of this, I flipped the pages to the back of the cookbook to find something sweet. An apple sponge cake caught my eye, simply called “A Very Good Apple Cake.” The following recipe is my adaptation of the original, which makes three cakes, instead of the one that I made. I used a lot less sugar and still found it quite sweet, so adjust according to your tastes.
A Very Good Apple Cake, adapted from The Scandinavian Kitchen by Camilla Plum
3-4 large apples, cored and sliced, but not peeled
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup rapadura sugar (or use regular white sugar
1 1/2 cups flour (gluten-free if preferred)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp star anise
1/3 cup dark brown sugar - I used muscovado which has a strong molasses flavor
Extra cardamom and star anise for sprinkling.
Heavy cream, optional.
Heat oven to 325 or 350. Grease a deep 8 inch cake pan, or bundt pan.
Beat butter and sugar until fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating each one thoroughly into batter.
Add flour, baking powder, salt and spices and mix gently, just until blended.
Spread into bottom of pan and pile the apple slices on top - you should have way more apples than you think would work.
Sprinkle top with brown sugar and spices.
Bake 45-60 minutes, until center tests done with a skewer.
Serve with heavy cream if feeling decadent.