November 10, 2006

Simple Beans

from Seacoast Eat Local:

This is more a preparation guideline than a recipe, though following these ingredients will produce wonderous results. However, substitutions in seasonings and stock are highly encouraged. This method allows the unique qualities of these heirloom variety local beans to come through. Since these beans are fresher by far than dried beans in the grocery store, they require less soaking time, less cooking time, and less seasoning.

Along with bread and a light salad, ample for four as a hearty meal.

1 1/2 cups dried beans

about 6 cups ham stock (made by simmering a ham bone in water for about 4 hours)

2 tbs olive oil

garlic – as much as you like, minced

onion – about a cup chopped

1/2 tsp rosemary

1/2 tsp marjoram

1/2 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp sage

1 tsp black pepper

(Poultry seasoning is a mix of the above ingredients. I prefer them separate, but if you have the powdered mixture on hand, by all means, use it.)

Soak the beans in water. These beans do not have to be soaked overnight, but should be soaked for about 6 hours. Longer is fine. Shorter is fine, too, the beans will simply need to cook longer. In a heavy pot, sauté the onion and garlic until soft, then add the beans and their soaking water. Add stock until the beans are covered by at least an inch. Cover. Simmer on low, occasionally stirring. Add more stock as necessary to provide enough moisture. After two hours, begin tasting the beans. They should be tender. The beans should have imparted a starchy thickness to the liquid, and much of it should have been absorbed by the beans or evaporated. The overall consistency will resemble very thick stew. Cook longer as needed, continuing to taste test for tenderness every 20 minutes or so, adding stock as needed. When they are close to being done, add the seasonings.

November 5, 2006

beans are here!

A lot of people at market are surprised to hear that we grow our own beans. We do all of the processing the old-fashioned way, too. Here are some photos of this year's bean harvest:

Josh threshing with a hand-made threshing tool, 'Yin-yang' beans waiting to be winnowed, sorting 'Peregion' beans.

September 12, 2006

wake up, it's not over yet!

It's September you say? The fall migration has begun, the leaves are starting to turn, and there's frost up in the North Country. Although the nights have definitely been chilly, things are still crankin' down here: tomatoes, eggplant, green beans, and tons of flowers. The dried beans got in late. (Remember the rain? May seems like ages ago!) They are close, but not ready yet. I've been keeping a wary eye on the weather. Josh and I are at the ready in case the whole thing needs to be covered. Let's just keep our fingers crossed for a late frost. Global warming has to be good for something, right? In the meantime, we are starting to put things to bed. (Oh squashey, we hardly knew ye.) We are also starting to think about next year, and putting in some fall plantings. Before we know it, we will be watching the snow fly...

August 15, 2006


...better late than never. Many of our plants have put on some beautiful new growth, and we are getting into some serious harvests. Whew. Here is some delicious "fairy tale" eggplant. We are have some gorgeous tomatoes, and snap and shelling beans are beginning to go crazy!

If the weather hasn't been strange enough, we have had night temperatures dip into the 40s, with frost warnings up north. If it's not one thing, it's another. I'd be fine with a late-mid October frost, personally. I don't mind cool crisp fall days, but I having just barely sampled summer's delicious bounty, I would like to keep the heat around for a good few weeks.

July 27, 2006

the great garlic harvest

After weeding, mulching, fertilizing, and nine long months of waiting, they are all finally out of the ground and hanging in the barn to cure. There will be much eating, rejoicing (and guaranteed no vampires) in the months to come!

July 20, 2006

where it's at...

Ok, so things have been a little dismal lately. However, I want to make one thing clear, if it hasn't been made so already... FARMERS' MARKETS ARE HOPPIN'!!!
The Seacoast Growers' Association is an organization of farmers, crafters, and food vendors from Rockingham, Strafford and York counties.
Just because there was an isolated weather event doesn't mean that everyone is hurtin'. There's tomatoes, corn, jewelry, flowers, lettuce, pottery, kale, garlic, squash, sandwiches, herbs, and much much more. And it is all locally grown and produced, so you can be sure you are getting the very best the Seacoast has to offer. So come on out! And bring a friend to help you carry all that great loot back to your car or bike!

July 17, 2006

I get knocked down...

but I get up again.

I've been talking to farmers about weather a lot in the past week. It seems like everyone has at least one story. The bottom line is, sometimes you loose a crop (or part of a crop or many crops.) There are no guarantees. The only thing that comes close is this: plants want to survive. They are tough. I could take a lesson or two from them.

Each season brings it's own challenges and (hopefully) rewards. Looking out onto the fields I am beginning to see recovery. It has been a huge setback and pulling off all the damaged fruit has been nothing short of heartbreaking. Although I am sure we haven't found the last of the unpleasant surprises, I am encouraged by the energy that is left in those plants. We're doing what we can by pruning and adding compost tea to get them healthy and productive again. It is still too early to tell, but as long as the weather cooperates, we should have a shot at something.

In the meantime, we've been showered with advice, encouragement, and seeds to plant from friends and fellow growers. Not to mention the fact that the hail didn't seem to bother the weeds and bugs a bit. So though we may be a little rough around the edges, we're back in business. Things aren't going to be what they could have been, but you can't cry over blemished green tomatoes (after all, they might make for a delicious salsa...)

July 13, 2006


from top left: summer squash, tomatoes, cucumbers,
eggplant (plants)


This is what fell from the sky onto our tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, squash, snapdragons, swiss chard... You name it - ice cubes were hurtled at it. Down the hill in Exeter, the same hail smashed windshields, dented cars, and collapsed a roof. At the time it seemed as though someone had turned on a giant ice cube dispenser somewhere. Only it didn't seem to stop. Things are not looking good for our little farm at the moment.

July 5, 2006

ladybugs 'r us

Organic growing is all about finding a balance. The idea is to work with nature to keep plants healthy. It's a proactive approach. However, that is not to say that organic farmers don't have their issues (and boy, do some of us have issues!) Oh, and some of us have pest problems on the farm too.

Ours came in the form of an aphid ourbreak on our artichokes. In the past, we have had great luck with aphid problems. We've used a soap solution which seems to take care of the situation. This year, we are trying a new approach: ladybugs. While there are plenty of natural ladybugs around, purchasing ladybugs helps increase the numbers, which in the time of aphid crisis can be really helpful. Many of them will fly away, but hopefully they will stick around long enough for the aphid buffet!

June 19, 2006

morning buzz...

I've wanted to keep bees ever since my neighbor gave us a taste of the honey from his beehives when I was a kid. Josh and I have been talking about beekeeping for a few years now, and for one reason or another it didn't happen. One wintry evening this March I had visions of blueberry blossoms dancing in my head, and it occurred to me: we live on a berry farm now, we simply must get bees! So a few weeks ago, we took the plunge and got two nucs (small colonies.) Two colonies isn't really a lot in terms of commercial beekeeping; we are hoping to get enough honey for ourselves and family & friends.

They are remarkably gentle. You might think that having hundreds of bees buzzing around your head would get freaky, but, they just aren't aggressive. They are busy. They have places to go, flowers to pollinate. The last thing they want to deal with is some guy in a big white suit.

So we have been checking on them periodically. One colony is definitely more active than the other, but both seem healthy. The more active colony has already begun to make honey. And now that the sun is out and things are blooming, I have seen them foraging all over the farm.

June 5, 2006

bloom'n june

After another bout of rain, the soil is still too squishy to plant in. To cheer myself up, I decided to go for a walk. Much to my surprise, I found the fields abloom! Squash, favas, tomatoes, and of course, peas!

May 23, 2006

front page farm

Amidst floods and tornadoes, somehow our little farm made the front page of the Exeter Newsletter today! Actually it was taken two Fridays ago, right before things got really insane weatherwise in New Hampshire. When foul weather strikes, farmers in particular are hit with the stark reality that there just isn't one umbrella big enough to cover the field when the torrents and pea-sized hail come down. Fortunately our crops survived the rain and high winds. Though many were completely submerged on Mother's Day, it looks as though things are going to dry out. Hopefully.

May 12, 2006

look ma, it's chard!

Here's a peek at what is to come! Yay, we finally have FOOD!

May 3, 2006

Eat Local or Die? Thoughts on local eating New Hampshire style

There's a lot of buzz out there about the eat local challenge the whole month of May.) While. It's up and running nationwide (for that's great for those living out in California, here in the northeast the folkfood plan is to do the "ELC" in August when there's more than eggs and frozen meats to be had for staples. While that's admittedly taking some of the "challenge" out of it, the point is to set reasonable goals, and to get in touch with local farmers, who in New England spend most of May (a.k.a. mid/late mud season) planting, not harvesting. However, there are a few things that are just getting ready in the field. Lettuce, chard, and lovely radishes! I am debating whether or not we will have enough to bring to market this Saturday.
I must admit that as a grower, I feel a bit disloyal not stepping up to the plate with the eat local thing. However given the current state of the fields (mostly unplanted) and my back (somewhat achey) there are only so many things a girl can do with a bunch of radishes. I am proud of all those die-hard locavores out there. I have a lot of homework to do before August!

May 2, 2006


The garlic is looking pretty good. We had a bit of a time during a warm spell back in February- some of our varieties began popping up through the hay mulch thinking it was springtime! Unfortunately the blustery 20 degree days that followed were none too kind on their tender young leaves. The good news is that we didn't loose many, although those varieties suffered a bit of a setback. Garlic never ceases to amaze me, though.

I have been told that a few weeks (not to even mention a month) is like a century or two in blog-time. This first picture was actually taken the same day as the 'pea-mergence' shot. The picture below is how the garlic looked this evening.

But I digress... I would like to keep my posts more current with the images. After all, plants do tend to grow and change from one day to the next.

All I can say is that I will do my best. Now that we are getting into the full swing of things season-wise, it is hard to find the time to reflect, let alone publish anything. The weeks have already begun to fly by.

April 6, 2006

"pea" mergence

After a few good days of rain ( and snow) our peas are finally up! Sweet crunchy goodness is just around the corner.

April 5, 2006

Snow in April!

We took our artichoke seedlings out of the greenhouse a few weeks ago. They need to be tricked into thinking that it's winter. Well here we are bringing them in the basement for the night. It's already 28 degrees out!