Saturday, December 19, 2009

Headed towards Solstice

Brrrr.....winter is here! I hope you are all keeping warm. We are burning lots of wood these days. The sheep and pigs are staying warm in their nests of hay, inside the old sugarhouse.
We had a great time at the Brandon Farmers Market Christmas Fair last Saturday, meeting other vendors and new customers! I mentioned to some of you that, with enough interest, we would consider a drop-off point in your area. This would require someone to volunteer as coordinator, but it can be done. Please drop me a line if you are interested and we can discuss for the coming season.
This Friday, December 18th, is the Bellows Falls Winter Farmers Market, being held at Boccelli's on the Canal in downtown Bellows Falls (see for directions). We'll be there, and hope to see you! Here's a note from market manager Abi Miller:

This market is a great chance to reconnect with the regular vendors and farmers from the Bellows Falls Farmers Market, as well as a few new vendors, to purchase holiday gifts and foods for your holiday table, to stock your pantry with hardy root vegetables and canned goods, and to have an enjoyable evening at Boccelli's with live music by the Red Fox Band starting at 6:00.

Here is our list of vendors, along with the products they will be selling.

Basin Farm: bread & produce
Deep Meadow Farm: produce
East Hill Farm: pastured meat & pickles
Ewetopia Farm: maple syrup
Grace & Miss Mouse Soaps: soap, body products, gift baskets
Harlow Farm: produce, eggs & meat
Jersey Girls Dairy: cheese, eggs, veal
Maya Zelkin Pottery: pottery
Sherwin Art Glass: hand-crafted glassware & art
Salt Jewelry: jewelry
Sunshine Cottage: hats (crocheted), scone mixes, an assortment of teas, and pre-packaged cookies
Zoe Scott: jewelry, chair massage
We are nearly sold out of smoked hams and bacon, and at a couple of requests, I am taking reservations for fresh hams for next season. We'll probably have some available in mid-May. We do have plenty of sausage, chops, and ribs left, so contact me if you'd like me to set some aside for you. I'm happy to pack an order for pick-up at the Bellows Falls market, as well.
Broiler chickens are dwindling in our freezer. We are still offering them for sale and expect to sell out in the next month, so please let me know if you want a few for the winter still.
Now that we're dealing with some major changes in temperature, we should all be taking good care of ourselves, eating lots of immune-supporting foods. One staple we recommend is meat stock. This is something I make year-round, whenever we cook a chicken, and then put in the freezer in quart-sized yogurt containers. If you have a pressure-canner, you can store it in jars. Meat stock (or broth) is highly nutritious, containing minerals from bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is easy to assimilate. Adding an acidic vinegar during cooking helps to draw those minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, and potassium, into the broth. The gelatin from bones that is released during cooking is equally nutritious, aiding in digestion and allowing the body to more fully utilize complete proteins. Including soups made with gelatin-rich stock helps us make use of meat eaten in other meals during the week. This is good news for your checkbook as well as your body -- by buying fewer cuts of quality meat, bone-in, you can still eat many nutritious meals which complement each other.
Sally Fallon's wonderful cookbook, Nourishing Traditions, is a source of more information about the benefits of using the whole animal when cooking.
See below for a recipe for chicken stock. Note the simmering time -- I often let the stock sit on the wood stove for a day or two. It reduces quite a bit, but is rich and delicious. I can also provide recipes for other bone-based stocks -- they're basically the same, but usually call for roasting the bones first. Email me if you're interested.
Peace to all as the New Year approaches.

Chicken Stock

1 whole chicken,

or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts,

such as necks, backs, breastbones and wings

or 1 leftover carcass and pan drippings

chicken feet (optional)

4 quarts cold filtered water, or enough to cover chicken

2 tablespoons vinegar

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

2 carrots, scraped and cut into large pieces

3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped

1 bay leaf

several whole peppercorns

If you are using a whole chicken, cut it into several pieces. If you can find them, use the chicken feet – they are full of gelatin. (Jewish folklore considers the addition of chicken feet the secret to successful broth.) Farm-raised, pastured chickens give the best results. Many battery-raised chickens will not produce stock that gels.

Place chicken in a large stainless steel pot, cover with water, add vinegar, vegetables, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Let stand, with the heat off, for 30 minutes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Skim off any scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat to lowest setting, cover, and simmer for 6 to 24 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be.

Strain the liquid, discarding the vegetables but reserving the chicken carcass. Let cool, then pick any meat off the carcass and save for other uses, such as chicken salads, sandwiches, or potpies. To store the stock with its fat, simply portion out into quart-sized containers or freezer bags, and place in your refrigerator or freezer. To remove fat, place stock in a large container or bowl, cover tightly, and refrigerate. When it is chilled, you can skim the fat off the surface.

Adapted from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions

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