“Welcome, welcome, fresh new year. The girls are sleeping over with friends tonight and Mark and I have a romantic evening planned, just the two of us and a pile of seed catalogues. The 2015 growing season will never be as perfect as it is right now, when it all fits, neat and beautiful, in the imagination. I expect the summer will be more colorful than usual. One of our new farmers, Kirsten Liebl, comes to us from the famed Chanticleer gardens in Pennsylvania. She knows flowers. When she was considering working here, one of the conditions of her tenure came in the form of a list of seeds that she handed to Mark. Required: helichrysum, gomphrina, ammi majus. The fact that Mark didn’t even insist that the flowers be edible means he really wanted her to be here.
New Year cleanup included an overhaul of the walk-in freezer this week. Lindsey and Sabrina spent long days making lard – which Mark has dubbed North Country Olive Oil – from the frozen fatback we had stored up. I am reading the Little House series with the girls (again), and watching Sabrina stir and stir the melting bits of lard reminded me of this passage from Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder:
All that day and the next, Ma was trying out the lard in big iron pots on the cookstove. Laura and Mary carried wood and watched the fire. It must be hot, but not too hot, or the lard would burn. The big pots simmered and boiled, but they must not smoke. From time to time Ma skimmed out the brown cracklings. She put them in a cloth and squeezed out every bit of the lard, and then she put the cracklings away. She would use them to flavor johnny-cake later.
We do have the cracklings in the share today, members, but when it comes to cracklings, remember what Ma says:
Cracklings were very good to eat, but Laura and Mary could have only a taste. They were too rich for little girls, Ma said.
And big girls too. I know from experience.
We have some lovely uncured pork hocks from the freezer in the share today too. I admit to taking more than my fair share of hocks in the past. They are my favorite cut for pozole, which I make, using our own field corn for the hominy, in enormous multi-gallon batches for the freezer. I’ll post my recipe one of these days….” Continue reading this Essex Farm Note.