Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tracie's Community Farm: The Magic is in the Details

Tracie Smith started growing vegetables and selling shares of the harvest while she was in college, and she’s never stopped. Now, Tracie’s Community Farm in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire has hundreds of share members, enjoying the produce she grows for both summer and winter harvests. 

In my instructional kitchen at Masuk High in Connecticut, I have a sign on the wall: The Magic is in the Details. Tracie pays attention to the details. The rows on her farm are straight and weed-free; her field tomatoes carefully trellised and standing straight and strong. She and her staff carefully trim the vegetables as they pick them, taking back buckets of beautifully prepped vegetables to the barn for inclusion in the CSA baskets. Her members have lots of choices, all carefully weighed and bagged and tucked into quaint farm baskets. Add-ons include mesclun, kale, herbs, and chard. Eggs, bread, cut flowers, and some dairy products are also available in the barn. Half of her shares are delivered to the member-- just one example of her focus on making sure her members are treated with care. The magic is in the details.

Back in Connecticut, I just picked up my share from Stone Gardens Farm this morning: eggplant, zucchini, corn, kale, potatoes, onion, garlic, yellow grape tomatoes, tomatoes. I also picked up a half-bushel of tomatoes for canning sauce. 
Most of the time those grape tomatoes don't make it to the dinner table- they're perfect for snacking! But if you do have a hankering to cook some, here's a simple recipe:
Hot Herbed Tomatoes
From Kathy’s recipe box
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
3/4 cup soft breadcrumbs
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons minced onion
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons minced parsely
1 large clove garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons olive oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place tomatoes in a single layer in a 9x13-inch pan. Combine remaining ingredients except olive oil and sprinkle over tomatoes. Drizzle olive oil over all. Bake 6 to 8 minutes.

And a simple way to make zucchini look fancy:
Zucchini "Pasta"
2 medium zucchini
2 medium carrots
1 medium onion
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Using a vegetable peeler, peel the zucchini and carrots all the way through, turning the vegetable as you do so to make long peels. Toss the carrot peels and zucchini peels together. Cut the onion in half and then cut it into strips. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet until hot and add the onion. Lower the heat and cook until soft and beginning to brown. Add in the carrots and zucchini and toss well. Continue to cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender but not mushy, about 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.


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