Winter is all around us on the farm, and everything outdoors is frozen. That doesn’t mean all activity on the farm has stopped of course, but the daily rhythm is admittedly more subdued. The bees are huddled inside their hives, out of our sight and insulated by the snow, using their collective warmth to endure the bitingly cold temperatures. The garlic is in the Earth, waiting to begin its push for the surface. Looking out over the pond garden it’s obvious that snow covers the ground, but the apple and pear and cherry trees stand tall above the white carpet. The blueberries are huddled in their raised bed, wrapped in burlap to protect them from the elements. Life on the farm is abundant but moving at winter’s pace.
We’ve opened the doors to our hoop houses to freeze any pests that might be lingering near the ground’s surface. This should have an impact on weeds as well as insects, we hope! Because we farm using organic practices, we must use nature to our advantage when we can so that we don’t need to rely on chemicals.
In the sub-tropical greenhouse things range from toasty to a little bit chilly. We’ve been hosting farm dinners in the greenhouse and using its produce. We recently harvested Meyer lemons and used their skin and their juice for our value-added product line. There are more ripe lemons almost ready to be picked too! The greenhouse also provides us access to edible flowers, kale, chard, and chives this winter.
In the kitchen we are focused mostly on the things that we have preserved or saved from the summer and fall. Specifically, we are nearing the end of our supply of winter squash for the season, and we’ve about used up all the potatoes too. We still have lots of stored garlic and the pickles and preserves are still sitting proudly on the shelf. At our farm dinners, the menus have taken on the characteristics of winter. Gone are the ubiquitous salads and vinaigrettes and in their place are hearty pastas and warm soups.
One of the specialty products we work with at the farm is single-plantation artisanal chocolate from Mexico. This delicious and subtle chocolate is a pleasure to use, and we highlight it with recipes like chocolate pot de crème. Below is the recipe for your enjoyment!
CHOCOLATE POT DE CRÈME
Milk 1 ½ cups
Cream ½ cup
Chocolate 12 ounces
Sugar ½ cup
Vanilla a drop
1. In a small saucepan combine the milk, cream, yolks, vanilla, and sugar
2. Put the chocolate (chopped) in a blender
3. Heat the cream and milk mixture over medium heat while stirring constantly. Do not allow to come to a boil
4. When the cream mixture thickens (but does not boil), it should be very hot. Pour immediately over the chocolate in the blender
5. Blend until liquified and the chocolate is fully melted
6. Strain through a fine strainer and pour into ramekins or small bowls
7. Chill in the refrigerator until set