Hello my dear friends. Did you follow along? Did you stay in touch via Instagram while my Carrot and I spent six sunshine filled days on the island of Maui with our farmer friends Jon and Steph? If you didn’t, don’t worry, I’ll recap the adventures here soon with a full list of favorite spots and a Hawaiian inspired recipe or two. If you did, could you feel the magic through your screen? Could you feel the resounding joy emanating through my photographs all the way across an ocean back to you?
What a perfect trip we had. What a truly mystical, magical, wondrous journey we took around the island. Based on the pain and struggle of this past farming season, I’m beginning to wonder if the exact amount of magic encountered on vacation is congruent with the hardship experienced prior to taking the trip. I guess I’ll keep working my ass off to test the theory if my reward may be more adventures like we encountered over these past couple of weeks!
October in general has been a beautiful busy month of celebration. A week before we left for Hawaii, we threw a huge fall harvest party at the farm. We invited everyone who mattered to us: our friends, our families, our CSA members, and our farm partners.
We spent a cool clear evening inside the pack shed eating vegan vegetable curry alongside Unconventional Acres pulled pork and ham. Friends brought dishes to pass. A CSA member brewed us a keg of a spicy chocolate coffee smoked porter with peppers from the farm and Rusty Dog coffee. We pressed apple cider and drank it warm with whiskey. We lit a bonfire and watched the stars. We turned half of our greenhouse into a fun zone for the kiddos complete with toys, crafts, temporary tattoos and a build your own caramel apple bar. We played the Brewers playoff game from our Subaru’s radio to an enthusiastic crowd. We moved a TV from our house into the other side of the greenhouse so sports fans needn’t miss the Badgers game. It was a silly party filled with everything we love most: people, food, sports, beer, bonfires and silliness.
Since way before we were even a couple, my Carrot and I have both loved throwing parties. But before we started the farm, we never had such great reason to celebrate. It feels amazing to bring people together around something tangible: to party on our farm in celebration of a bountiful beautiful six months of great harvest. Regardless of whether the season is easy or hard, it is a feat and it deserves a good party.
The day before we left on vacation, we had even more reason to celebrate. Twenty four hours before our plane left for Hawaii, we watched as the concrete floor of our pack shed was finally poured. Yes, we still need to get the garage doors installed and to construct a walk-in cooler but everything seems more possible now. The water lines and electric will be done next spring once the ground thaws. We’re a year behind schedule, but taking it in stride, absolutely giddy about the fact that by the start of the 2019 CSA season we’ll be washing, packing, sorting and bagging produce inside four beautiful walls and bringing our farm into its next level of efficiency.
I’m leaning hard into October and all it’s beauty, relishing in the end of season wind down, preparing to pack our last box of the season and eating the things that just came out of our fields with real glee. My favorite October treat has been this simple salad of roasted vegetables, a rotisserie chicken, crumbles of blue cheese, and some toasted walnuts atop a pile of raw cabbage and onions. Drizzled in a hearty, garlicky maple balsamic dressing, this salad is a massively robust meal fit for fall despite its delicate ingredient list. And it comes together fast with almost no attention whatsoever. Ten minutes of knife work and another five to whip together the dressing is really all you need, especially if you’re lucky like me and have a husband willing to shred the chicken.
Sending all my October bliss to you just in case this isn’t your season of celebration,
RED CABBAGE SALAD WITH SQUASH, BEETS & ROTISSERIE CHICKEN
Adapted from Epicurious
I discovered this spring that lettuce really isn’t my thing (which is ironic because we love growing salad greens). I love devouring huge salads and giant bowls of vegetables are definitely my thing, but much prefer a hearty green like kale or collards as my base instead of something as delicate and easily spoilable as lettuce. Its probably because I love plopping huge piles of roasted and steamed veggies on top of my salads and a hearty green wilts down beautifully while maintaining its crunch in a way lettuce just never does. After much summer salad eating and experimenting, it turns out that cabbage is actually my green of choice. And when I say green, I obviously don’t mean green literally because, well, this salad green is red.
Takes 1 hour, most of it inactive
Serves 4 as a meal (8 as a side)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 butternut squash, peeled, halved and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 pound beets
1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
1 grocery store rotisserie chicken (or roast your own chicken if you are feeling really ambitious), shredded (about 5 cups meat)
1 cups walnuts, toasted
2 ounces high quality blue cheese or gorgonzola, crumbled
Maple Balsamic Dressing:
2-3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss butternut squash with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes tossing once or twice for even browning. Wrap beets in foil and roast alongside the squash for 45 minutes or until they are well-softened (so the peel slips off easily).
- In a large bowl, combine red cabbage and onion.
- In a small bowl, preparing dressing by whisking together garlic, balsamic, mustard and syrup. Add olive oil and whisk until thick and creamy. Add salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
- When squash is finishing roasting add to bowl of cabbage along with chicken. Remove beets from foil, slide skins off and then slice thinly. Halve the circles if large. Add to salad.
- Dress as much of the salad as you plan to eat tonight and toss to coat. Sprinkle walnuts and blue cheese over salad and serve warm.