Our farming season begins next week! Our CSA is 55% full! We’re hiring! It’s one week until March, four weeks until spring. We have a bazillion pieces of infrastructure to research, buy and build. I just got home from nearly three weeks in Europe. Lordy lordy do we ever have a lot to catch up on!
Let’s start at the beginning.
It’s t-minus 6 (or 8 or 9) days (depending on the night-time temperatures predicted for next week) until we fire up that greenhouse and get to seeding the first trays of onions, lettuces and herbs. It’s one week until we get to play in a warm greenhouse and smell things growing everyday. I’m giddy with the energy of another season. We have seed boxes all over our house to inventory and a planting calendar to finalize but largely we are ready to get to work in that greenhouse!
Our planting season will look a little different this March because we will be using chain pot trays for a lot of our early crops (because we are purchasing a new shiny paper pot transplanter with another farm couple!!!) and the system comes with a dibbler and seeder. We’ve always done 100% of our seeding by hand without a seeder so it’s fun to think about which crops will be more efficient and how these tools will change our greenhouse flow.
We’re also ditching the germination chamber (an enormous, useless eyesore that doesn’t fit with our happy heating mat methods of germination) and building new tables in the greenhouse. Hot dog is it ever going to be a fun spring at Raleigh’s Hillside Farm!
While we prepare to get seeding started there are still loads of other kinds of winter work to accomplish that have nothing to do with growing plants. You know, small things, like hiring crew members and selling 80% of the produce we plan to grow this summer.
We launched the 2020 CSA on February 1st and I’m thrilled that we’re already 55% full! We are expanding to 400 members this year which feels totally crazy but it’s important to continue our little farm’s expansion as we’ve got some seriously big financial goals for 2020– the kind of financial goals that might even have a chance of sustaining the bulk of two farmers’ incomes instead of just one. More on that later.
We’re also deep in the midst of hiring. We hope to have three employees again this year and have luckily already secured two of those three positions (including our first ever management position!). We’re considering taking on a formal farm apprentice for our third and final crew member but there’s still a lot of evaluation to be done. If you are interested in learning more about who we are looking for, head to our website. We’ve extended the hiring deadline to March 13th!
And in other news, we just got back from nearly three weeks in Europe on Thursday evening! We started in Barcelona, took a ferry to Rome, headed north to Genoa on a train and then onward to Nice and Monaco before flying back to Barcelona, dropping off our friends, and heading north to the Costa Brava of Spain for four days of rest (the vacation within our vacation). It was a magical whirlwind that included loads of history, culture and coastlines and I seriously hope you followed along on Instagram because there is just not enough time to summarize it all for you here. I will definitely share the highlights of our favorite stops soon along with some meals inspired by the trip.
But for now, on to this week’s recipe.
It was, of course, inspired by my vacation cravings. It’s funny to me how no matter how good the food and/or how much I’m enjoying it all, I always miss the food of home after about two weeks. Even though we were dining on amazing pasta and pizza and pastries (oh how the Europeans love their carbs), I was starting to dream obsessively of green smoothies, bowls of microgreens, and big American breakfasts by day 13.
The first thing we did after we got home from Europe was head to our local food cooperative to stock up on so many freaking fruits and vegetables. Okay, that’s not entirely true, the first thing we did was crash hard from 24 hours of travel and then wake up early to track down Kyle’s suitcase which got onto the wrong plane in Miami. Then we headed to the grocery store and bought all the organic produce.
I ate several smoothies upon our return to the states (my new favorite combination is 1 cup spinach + 1 apple + 1 pitted date + 1 cup hemp milk + 1 tablespoon hemp seed) and then, after giving my stomach a brief rest, devoured the biggest, bestest most decadent Saturday brunch. We ate Benedict on Madison Sourdough toast with soft boiled eggs and massive sides of roasted potatoes and microgreens.
It was only after engulfing my brunch that I realized I somehow, after five years together, have never shared with you my tried and true best ever recipe for perfect roasted potatoes. You know, the kind that feel elusive: crispy as hell on the outside, creamy and fluffy on the inside, a little oily, a lot salty, the perfect companion to any savory egg dish.
I hope you enjoy and I hope you spend these last weeks of winter enjoying all the potatoes left in your basements and root cellars.
Enjoy my friends and happy Sunday!
PERFECT ROASTED POTATOES
Takes 1 hour
3 pounds potatoes, preferably red
1/4 cup canola or olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
8 twists freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
- Cut potatoes into pieces about 3/4-inch in size. For potatoes the size of a golf ball, you will have 6-8 pieces. For potatoes the size of a tennis ball, you will have 12-16. You are looking for delicious bite-size pieces that aren’t too small (if pieces are too small they will shrink down too much when cooked and you’ll have plenty of crispy edges but no soft, perfect interior).
- Drizzle baking sheet with oil. Add potatoes and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.
- Increase oven temperature to 425 with the potatoes still inside. Set the timer for 30 minutes. Check for desired crispiness and cook 5-10 minutes longer if needed. If you have a convection oven, you can definitely cut this step down to 20-30 minutes total.