Sunday, July 8, 2007

farmers' blood

This Sunday, a cool, cloudy, and humid afternoon, we stopped at a local farm stand called Stony Brook Farm on the way into work. Last year, the owners of the farmstand, Nick and Theresa, provided us with beautiful produce and honey for the restaurant. This was our first visit of the new season. Nick and Theresa used to live in the old farm next to the plot of land that they now work. There, they farmed for years and raised four children. Of retirement age, they leave our long, hard winters and spend the season in Virginia, then return for summer in Vermont to grow their favorite vegetables and herbs. They just can't wash farming off their hands.

Nick and Theresa have taken over a few acres that they plant with old-fashioned varieties like Brandywine tomatoes, pole beans, yellow wax beans, basil, rosemary, mint, lovage, broccoli, summer squash, sweet corn, beets. They have one lattice of beans grown from Theresa's family seeds, at least a hundred years old and passed from generation to generation. They are called Uncle Ernie's beans because Uncle Ernie grew and nurtured them, and Nick thinks they are the predecessors to French green beans. Theresa's family has been in the States for a long time and have an English name, but we all thought perhaps their roots were once Italian, or even French.

We picked new basil and admired the beet greens and lettuces, arranging to procure them for the following week at the restaurant. We coveted the zucchini and squash blossoms, imagining them stuffed with ricotta and lightly fried, but Nick said with a slight smile he wouldn't have any zucchini if he let us have all the flowers. They showed us pictures of the piglets up the road raised by their son Danny--a blend of Land and Yorkshire. Some were White Sows. One of the sows had given birth to seventeen piglets, and even though she lost a few, Nick said she still had fourteen. The only problem was that she only had twelve dinner plates. We arranged for Danny to raise one of the pigs for us to have later in the year at the restaurant, plans for curing prosciutto and lonzino hatching in the kitchen of our minds.

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