December is a wonderful month for on-farm food, as we have about the highest possible diversity of ingredients to work with. Some fresh produce is still available, we can justify starting to dip into preserves, fresh meat is back on the menu, and we can start making time to do some really interesting and enjoyable things in the kitchen. In addition, we often end up hosting many visitors throughout the month, giving yet another impetus to culinary extravaganzas. Here’s an extra-long photo essay on the kinds of food we can source and make from this one diversified farm. As always, ingredients listed in italics were sourced on-farm.
Joanna’s birthday party
We held a special birthday celebration this year, as it turned out that a couple from Joanna’s college geology department would be visiting for the first time over her birthday weekend. Her old workplace at the USGS hosts several other college geology alums, so we invited everyone out for an evening of catching up. Here’s the diverse spread we put together to feed the crowd.
Tasting platter: smoked pork shoulder, smoked Canadian bacon, cucumber pickles, beet pickles, fresh goat feta cheese, aged goat cheddar cheese.
At left: homemade ravioli with creamy (goat milk) winter squash sauce & sage leaf. At right: pork loin simmered in goat milk sauce with carrots and parsley.
At left: fresh bread from Missouri flour. At right: sweet potatoes chopped for roasting.
At left: mixed salad greens (not the same ones served this night, but a similar fresh mix). At right: birthday carrot cake (our eggs, goat yogurt), with creamy (goat chevre) frosting and organic Missouri pecans.
This was a fun meal to put together. Overall, Joanna wanted an Italian theme, as her college geology department has strong ties to Italy. As Italian food is generally her realm (partly because of her experience there), this was mostly her meal to prepare, which she was quite happy to do. I insisted on the nice Germanic tasting platter just to even things out a bit, and give me something to do. Plus we had all this fresh pork begging to be shown off…
We try to invite our main restaurant chefs/owners out to the farm every winter. This allows them to see the place and maintain a direct connection with their ingredient sources, allows a good discussion of the past and future growing year, and lets us thank them for their support by preparing a good farm-sourced meal (especially from things we can’t/don’t sell them). Last month it was Trey from Red & Moe; this month we hosted Mike from Sycamore. We went with a Mexican theme this year.
Fresh-made Missouri-wheat tortillas in the cast-iron skillets, plus two sauces. Upper right, smoked pork simmered in a spicy red pepper sauce (dried anchos, jalapenos, red anaheims, garlic). Lower right, green sauce (roasted green tomatoes/onions/garlic, dried peppers, herbs).
Tortilla fillings (along with meat and sauces): fresh goat cheese, cowpeas.
Other treats: fresh pepper sausage (ground pork, dried anaheim/jalapeno/ancho peppers, garlic, cilantro, stuffed in our hog’s casings). Fresh carrot sticks & watermelon radishes for garnish.
Not shown: baby greens mix and cilantro for topping the tortillas & fillings.
Other random meals
When we’re not hosting guests, there’s still lots of interesting food to be made with December ingredients. Here are just a few more meals that we happened to take photos of:
Stir fry of ground pork pepper sausage (see description above), rehydrated peppers, daikon radish, Filipino noodles. Side of fermented kimchi (cabbage, carrot, daikon).
Healthy breakfast: Diced sweet potatoes fried in lard; fried eggs & cured bacon. Side of strawberry yogurt (goat’s milk yogurt, preserved strawberry jam). BTW, we define healthy as “hearty enough to get us through a morning of work without being hungry two hours later”.
Above left: baked beans (beans unfortunately not ours due to crop failure): organic white beans, maple syrup, mustard seeds, cured pork, onion. Above right: our weekly staple cornbread (ground corn, goat’s milk yogurt, eggs, leaveners).
Above left: BST (bacon, spinach, & cheese sandwich; cheese on left is our aged cheddar, cheese on right is purchased smoked gouda) with cucumber & beet pickles. Above right: sweet potato pancakes (sweet potatoes, eggs, onion) with simmered cabbage (onion, cabbage, pork, organic Missouri apples, wine, caraway) and a rare treat of brussels sprouts (from a depressingly low-yielding test planting).
There were many more interesting meals, and most of these photos are drawn from the first half of the month alone. Don’t let anyone tell you local foods are boring or restrictive.