Farm-to-Table Gratitude Supper

Last night we had a farm-to-table dinner to express our gratitude to a few people who made our first year of full-time farming possible. It was by no means an exhaustive guest list. We wish we could have hosted every single person for whom we are grateful this year. But, we narrowed it down to a few who have been so instrumental that we truly don’t know how we could have made it through this year without them.

A table prepared.

Friends and Neighbors

Farm-To-Table-To-Soul

We started preparing weeks ago by looking at what would be available from the farm in mid-September. And we planned accordingly so that as much as possible we could feast directly from the source!  The menu turned out beautifully. This time of year–with all the root vegetables and rich flavors–is my very favorite.

Prepping the feast

We did four courses.

Salad Course:

Warm Beets with candied walnuts, feta, and tarragon olive oil

Homemade rosemary and garlic whole wheat artisan bread

Champagne or sparkling cider

Fish Course:

Grilled Scup with lime and citrus fennel salt

Tian (potatoes, sweet potatoes, apples, sunburst squash)

Red Wine or Iced Tea

Main Course:

Individual Lasagna with grass-fed beef and goat meat

Dessert Course:

Cheesecake with cultured cream cheese

Blackberries with a raspberry brandy reduction

Coffee or tea

Salad Course
Warm Chioggia and Baby Crimson Beets with candied walnuts, with just a touch of heat. Feta warmed lightly in butter, herbs and white wine. And a drizzle of tarragon olive oil.

 

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Grilled Scup with limes and citrus fennel salt on a bed of fresh beet greens.
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The tian before it was baked. I forgot to take the after picture. But, it looked spectacular.

 

Lasagna
Individual lasagnas made with our homemade sauce, homemade cheeses, grass-fed beef, and goat meat.

 

Cheesecake made with homemade cultured cream cheese, topped with blackberries and raspberry brandy reduction.

It was a lovely evening, with lovely people. People who have inspired us, lent us many hands in days of hard work, provided encouragement and advice and support in so many ways. The dinner, though simple, was just our way of saying ThankYouMorePlease. We can’t say THANK YOU enough. Where would we be without you all?

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The Meal

Ingredients in the meal that we grew or raised or had some part in bringing to life:

  • Beets
  • Rosemary
  • Garlic
  • Wheat (in cooperation with Neal Pottle)
  • Beet Greens
  • Potatoes
  • Apples
  • Sunburst Squash
  • Eggs
  • Cream
  • Tomato Sauce (tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers)
  • Mozzarella
  • Ricotta
  • Goat Meat
  • Cream Cheese
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Blackberries
  • Mint
  • Basil
  • Parsley
I could have eaten about 40 of these.
I could have eaten about 40 of these.

With gratitude to friends who helped fill in the gaps:

  • Ground beef from the Hanley Farm
  • Scup from Doyon Farm
Uninvited, but not necessarily unwanted guest: a cat named Dixie
Uninvited, but not necessarily unwanted guest: a cat named Dixie

The best part of leisurely dinners with friends is lingering a little longer at the table, with wine or coffee and conversations and laughs.

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The Unromantic Side of Farming (and becoming a man)

Farm they said. It’ll be fun they said. And we had visions of picking our own tomatoes for sauce and walking in the early morning dew to milk the cow, her milk flowing warm and foaming into the steel bucket. And by the rhythm of the milk hitting the pale, we say our morning prayers. It’s the Divine Office in the chapel of the barn. We dream of rich dark soil, teeming with life and worms that grows potatoes that are so purple, doves cry. And oats and rye that blow in the breeze and rustle, creating their own music.

For every one of these romantic and lovely ideas, there is a day like yesterday. A day wholly unromantic.

The UnRomantic Side of Farming

And my son. Just a boy by some people’s estimation, but more of a man than most men I know. He loves his animals. Though he knows we grow them for food and the service of the family, he names every one, because everything deserves a name. Every animal is treated with the dignity it deserves. He respects the chickeness of the chicken, the cow-ness of the cow. Then that love gets put to the test.

Israel and the lamb

There’s nothing romantic about the weasel that got into the turkeys and the carnage left in its wake. I won’t describe it because you don’t need those images. Thankfully it was not a total loss; suffice it to say some of the turkeys did not make it. As my son held a bird in his hands, still very much alive, although so badly injured–we looked at each other and knew what had to be done. It was the first time I have ever heard my son swear.

I said I would do it. Our friend who is a vet said she would do it. My son, taking a deep breath, said he would do it.

This beautiful consent to embrace the messy and unromantic side of life and death.  He approached the problem with compassion and love and strength and character. He was not cavalier about what had to be done, as if he relished the job. Neither was he weak or irresolute. He was strong and compassionate. It was the picture of manhood–exactly what our world needs so desperately.

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He took the ax in hand and did what he had to do. I hugged him afterwards. Even though I said I would do it, I was grateful that he did, not just because it relieved my burden of having to do it, but because it revealed his heart to me.

At its core farming is a delicate dance between life and death. And a farmer takes on an enormous responsibility to see that that balance is respected and maintained. It’s a job not everyone wants these days. I once heard a speaker boast that he could never kill an animal, even though he loved his steak. He’d leave that job to someone else. And I thought that was no measure of a man. To enjoy the fruits of death, but to never participate in it. Farming demands a level of integrity and authenticity that is in short supply in our world. My son has this integrity and authenticity in spades.

“The average person is still under the aberrant delusion that food should be somebody else’s responsibility until I’m ready to eat it.” (Joel Salatin)

Israel and Duchess

This is why I know that whatever he chooses to do in life–butcher, baker, candlestick maker–he will succeed. Because he knows what life is about. And he knows what responsibility looks like. And he knows he is up to the challenge.

“Everybody has a vocation to some form of life work. But, behind that and deeper than that, everybody has a vocation to be a person, to be fully and deeply a human being, to be Christ-like. And the second thing is more important than the first.” (Brennan Manning)

Food as an act of theology?

Food as an act of theology

Maybe it’s because at the moment we are up to our ears in planting seeds, milking the calf and welcoming baby-everything to the farm. Chicks, ducks, lambs, piglets, etc. Maybe it’s because we spend a little too much time in our own heads. Maybe it’s because we are a bit theological geeks first and then we became farmers. (Did you know Gana actually has a Master’s Degree in theology from Fuller Seminary?) Maybe it’s the innate desire of every person to feel that they are participating in meaningful work. Whatever the reason, we feel compelled today to share a little bit of the divinity hidden in the stuff of earth. Continue reading