Monday, February 07, 2005

The snow-covered fields of a New England farm

Last night we farmsat at a friendly organic farm in western Rhode Island, making sure the dog, cats, and rabbits got the attention they deserved while the owner was on a much-deserved getaway. In the summer, the fields are covered in herbs, wildflowers, squash, and greens of every sort. In fact, the greens are planted on a weekly rotation so there's always something new coming up. But nowadays there's just a vastness of silence, barely disturbed by the pitter patter of melting snow. The sky was a clear blue, which let the deep color of barns' reds and tractors' rusts, and pines' greens.

And the food! Though there will always be an envy of California's seemingly limitless harvest, New England has its own variety of winter wonders. If we were constantly bombarded with fresh local avocados and peaches, we would never experience the flavor that time imbues upon those fruits and veggies lucky enough to be cold-stored, canned, dried, or pickled. Carrots and squash, which sweeten as the months pass, are a due reward for patience and planning. The farm and later our tummies were stuffed with the summer and fall harvest: supersweet yellow carrots, hubbard squash, pumpkin, dried heirloom corn (which made for an irresistible nutty-flavored popcorn), kimchee, pickled zucchini, frozen blueberries. A white bean soup with parsnip, kale and spinach, the latter two perfectly frozen for the occasion, and a stock made from onions and celery slow-cooked for hours. Warm blueberry-apple-apricot pie with a kamut-spelt crust topped off with pecans. Aged cheeses, homemade yogurt sweetened with beets, arugula pesto. And, well, fresh slices of avocado and orange brought back from a friend's visit home to her family's grove in... California. Everything organically grown and bursting with flavor.

The weekend was the epitome of homemade and it tasted damn good.

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