Whole Farm dinner recap

Back on September 29, we held our 2010 Whole Farm dinner for the local chapter of Slow Food. This event is our way of displaying and highlighting the culinary possibilities on diversified small farms, sourcing the majority of the meal from our own produce, fruit, milk, eggs, and more. It’s a good way to share farm products that aren’t very economically viable, like cowpeas and cornmeal, or that are just plain illegal to sell, like cheese. Eating a meal here is about the only way you’ll get to taste things like these, which are a staple of our home diet. The event is also a good showcase for items we do sell at market, like produce.

Despite some early hiccups and miscommunication in arranging attendance, we ended up with 15 people out of 16 slots, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Here’s a brief summary of the event and menu, which was inspired by Mediterranean cuisine; all photos courtesy of Martha Dragich.

We showed the group around the farm, with special attention on the ingredient sources for the night’s dinner. Some attendees had been here before, but farms are always different on each visit. I tried not to talk too much, and as a result we actually returned to the house on schedule.

We were able to fit most folks around one large setup, with four good sports at a second table just to the right (we chose those four as folks we were sure would enjoy one anothers‘ company).

On to the food; ingredients are listed in italics if made & sourced on-farm.

TASTING PLATTER
Hummus: cowpeas, garlic, fresh yogurt, herbs, salt.
Raita/tzatziki: fresh yogurt, cucumbers, mint.
Pita wedges: scratch-made, partially from Missouri-sourced flour.
Vegetables: heirloom cucumber & pepper slices
The dried cowpeas, related to black-eyed peas but with a milder flavor, cook quickly and make an excellent substitute for chickpeas in this hummus.

SCRATCH-MADE RAVIOLI

Freshly-made pasta (egg, flour, salt) stuffed with fresh soft goat cheese, garlic, and herbs, topped with sauces of tomatoes, garlic, herbs and garlic, sage, butter, ricotta. These were, I think, the highlight of the evening. Nothing beats fresh scratch-made pasta.

For bread, we served homemade baguettes (containing Missouri wheat flour) accompanied by Siberian garlic butter.

GREEK SALAD
Coarse-chopped salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, brined goat feta, dresssing of garlic, herbs, oil & vinegar. Made to my personal recipe, Greek salad is one of our favorite ways to use produce & cheese.

BROILED POLENTA SQUARES
Fresh-ground heirloom cornmeal, butter & salt, topped with caramelized onions & peppers, grated aged goat cheese, broiled. A nice treat showcasing our cornmeal & cheese.

MISSOURI DOLMADES
Chard leaves wrapped around a filling of Missouri rice, onions, garlic, cucumbers, peppers, herbs; briefly steamed. Our version of the Greek staple using grape leaves. Folks seemed to enjoy it, though I thought it came out better in my trial runs than on this night. One difference seemed to be the Missouri rice, which stayed wetter than the standard organic rice I’d used in practice and thus the whole thing was a bit soggier than I intended. This was definitely an experiment but one worth repeating, it’s really easy to make.

GREEN SALAD
Baby lettuce greens, other mixed greens, sweet peppers, boiled eggs, oil & vinegar. A simple, refreshing dish, served Italian-style as the final course before dessert.

BAKED CUSTARD
Eggs, goat milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, topped with farm strawberries. A good way to feature our fresh eggs & milk, with the very valuable treat of some of the first strawberries grown on the farm (frozen at peak ripeness).

Both years we’ve done this event it’s been great fun, but also a huge amount of work. It takes us days to prepare, not counting the hours spent planning and the careful saving and marshalling of proper ingredients. Still, we really enjoy preparing and sharing all this special food, and having groups of interesting folks visit and enjoy the farm we’re working so hard to build. But we do need to think long and hard about whether to keep doing this event given the stress and time commitment. If nothing else, it sure does make us appreciate good restaurants.

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