We made it guys. We planted 3+ acres of vegetables. We packed 150 CSA boxes of produce every week to feed 200+ families for five months. We employed people. We hosted so many farm parties. We went to Hawaii. We came back. We planted garlic, raced to get things out of the field before the snow, harvested and delivered $3000 worth of produce to 40 very lucky storage share members, and we shut this thing down. We made it through six of the hardest and most beautiful months of our lives.
And now we celebrate. Now we eat. Now we cook from the five crates of vegetables I have stashed into every corner of our garage fridge and the other six crates packed into our basement. (Not to mention the three stuffed freezers I can’t seem to find one damn thing in). We’ll start the good eating with Thanksgiving decadence because, well, Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and then we’ll get to a different kind of work.
We’ll move out of the fields and indoors to one of my favorite parts of the whole year: the dreaming phase of our busy farm life where my main farm tasks include talking to everyone, researching trends, listening to my gut and creatively (and enthusiastically) planning how our business will be different next year. How it will be better. How it will get us closer to achieving a mission of healthy soil, high quality food, and a sustainable income.
One of the best parts of our seasonal farm life is that every single year we are able to reinvent ourselves. We draw fields maps. Again. We order seeds. Again. We update our prices, change our offerings, secure our delivery structure. Again. We start the seeds. Again. We essentially start from scratch each new year building on the foundation we built the year prior.
I love it. I love it perhaps more than any other aspect of our farm life. More than the sunshine and amazing vegetables I get to eat all year long. More than the time I get to spend with my husband and the lives I see us change. More than even our trusty wheel hoe. Because I love deconstructing eight months of hard work, figuring out what went well, what went wrong and what’s a new opportunity for us to explore. I love visioning and dreaming and coming up with something better. I love improving on a thing that is already so much better than I ever dreamed of. I love that this thing I’m building will never actually be built, but always a work in progress. It also exhausts me to no end, and I need to remind myself to prioritize balance in a life of constant growth and endless opportunities, but that’s a story for a different day.
This deep love of our business is what I will be celebrating tomorrow. Because even though this life is harder than I ever imagined and even though we still don’t know how long we’ll be able to keep forging this path, I’m so thankful for every gosh darn second of this ride (even when I’m covered in tears scolding myself for getting us into this mess). I’ve grateful for a husband that didn’t laugh in my face when I had this crazy idea seven years ago. I’m grateful for the man who said sure, let’s try it and gave our business every ounce of himself from that moment moving forward. I’m grateful for this adventure, for this wild ride, for this moment in time where I get to take chances every single day whether it lasts three more seasons or for the rest of my life.
I hope you’re able to dig deep into the ethos of your gratitude this week. I hope you find thankfulness for the food on your table, for the farmers who produced it, for the people who sit beside you and for the home around you. It’s a blessed life we’re all so lucky to live and not only because of green bean casserole.
In beautiful contentedness on the eve of this delicious holiday,
GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
You can use a mixture of whatever mushrooms seems appealing to you. I love cremini and shittake so usually go that direction but you can use whichever you prefer/love. We are essentially using them here to make our own cream of mushroom soup. The more variety and interesting flavors, the better! Also note that green beans from summer that you have already blanched and frozen are a-okay. That’s how I usually make this dish. In fact, I don’t even thaw them before adding them in. Feel free to do the same! It’s about 5-6 cups of green beans.
Takes 90 minutes
1/2 cup butter
1-1/4 pound cremini mushrooms
3/4 pound shittake mushrooms
4 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup white wine, optional
1 cup chicken (or veggie) broth
1 cup heavy cream
4 cups thinly sliced shallots (a little over 1 pound of shallots)
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt + more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Add 2 inches of a oil to a large heavy skillet suitable for frying (a Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet with both work great). Heat over medium heat while you slice your shallots.
- Combine your shallots, flour, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Toss until the shallots are well coated and there’s not much flour left at the bottom of the bowl. Drop a shallot into the hot oil. If it begins to sizzle, the oil is ready. If it doesn’t, let the oil heat a bit lower. When the oil is at the proper temperature, add about a quarter of the mixture (as close to a single layer as you can get) and fry for 4-6 minutes until lightly golden brown. They’ll brown more while baking so opt on the side of a little under cooked. Drain on a baking sheet lined with 3-4 paper towels and sprinkle with a couple pinches of salt. Remove to a bowl. Repeat with remaining shallots.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees (if making casserole today– this recipe can also be made it advance so long as you store the shallots separately from the casserole in an open container and bake together the next day).
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil on the stove to cook the green beans. If using frozen or canned you can skip this and the sixth step.
- In a large stock pot, melt butter over medium low heat. Add mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 20 minutes until mushrooms have softened considerably and begun releasing their juices.
- While this mixture cooks, blanch your green beans for 5 minutes until bright green but still maintaining a crunch. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set to the side until ready to use.
- Add flour to mushroom pan and stir until well-coated and you can’t see any white. If using wine, add to pot and stir a few times to deglaze pan. Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth slowly, stir until incorporated then add remaining broth. The mixture should thicken easily. If it isn’t, just continue cooking it a bit longer. Remove from heat. Very slowly stir in cream. Add blanched green beans and stir to coat.
- Pour mixture into a casserole dish and top with crispy shallots. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.