Monday, November 28, 2011

Reflections On November--A Season of Gold

As November draws to a close I thought I would share this lovely poem with you all.  The unusually warm and wet month has lead to some very dramatic weather--highlighting the natural beauty of our Chester County landscape.  Its been a month since the CSA ended, so I have had plenty of time for walks and appreciation of the varied terrain at Inverbrook.  When I read this poem it had a particularly strong resonance with the month and my recent observations--a month full of gold.


Suddenly all the gold I ever wanted
Let loose and fell on me.  A storm of gold
Starting with rain a quick sun catches falling
And in the rain (fall within fall) a whirl
Of yellow leaves, glitter of paper nuggets.

And there were puddles the sun was winking at
And fountains saucy with goldfish, fantails, sunfish,
And trout slipping streams it would be insult
To call gold and, trailing their incandescent
Fingers, meteors and a swimming moon.

Flowers of course.  Chrysanthemums and clouds
of twisted cool witch-hazel and marigolds,
Late dandelions and all the goldenrods.
And bees all pollen and honey, wasps gold-banded
And hornets dangling their legs, cursing the sun.

The luminous birds, goldfinches and orioles,
Were gone or going, leaving some of their gold
Behind in near-gold, off-gold, ultra-golden
Beeches, birches, maples, apples.  And under
The appletrees the lost, the long-lost names.

Pumpkins and squashes heaped in a cold-gold sunset--
Oh, I was crushed like Croesus, Midas-smothered
And I died in a maple-fall a boy was raking
Nightward to burst all bonfire-gold together--
And leave tat last in a thin blue prayer of smoke.

-Robert Francis
Thanksgiving snuck up on me this year.  We did not raise many turkeys, so I was spared the typical busy chaos associated with distributing the culinary focal piece for this very important meal.  Strangly I was feeling a little less spirited about the holiday; a holiday that I usually relish in.  The themes of thankfulness, family and food--are all very important to me.  Thanksgiving morning I took a walk to the top of our hill to pick bittersweet and was once again struck with the peace and beauty embodied in our lovely local landscape. 
The time spent outside on such a lovely day quickly brought on a sense of thankfulness appropriate for the holiday.  My walk ended near the beehives (kept at the farm by beekeeper Dan B.) where I paused to watch their busy activity--thinking of the stores of golden honey inside of the hive.  My Thanksgiving spirit had been renewed in the observation of bees and their magical transformation of the landscape to sweet delicious sustenance-the metaphors are endless. 
As December is sure to bring cooler weather and a more barren landscape--I will hold on to the golden thoughts of November, ever thankful for the warm beauty of nature. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Yoga Retreat at Inverbrook Farm-Celebrating the Season

It has been two weeks since the last CSA pick up, and for some reason it has felt like months.  The end of the season is always a little emotional for me. I look forward to the coming months of rest, reflection and planning; but miss the structure and hope that comes with cycles of growth and harvest.  My open schedule makes the shorter days, lack of light, and soon to come cold temperatures easy to enjoy.   The move inside, however, is always a little bittersweet.   I think no matter what your profession, the onset of winter brings on emotional changes for us all. 

Making most of this season was the theme of a recent yoga retreat that took place at the farm.  The retreat was lead by Julia Horn who teaches a the West Philadelphia yoga, healing and arts center Studio 34.   I thought you would enjoy a little taste of the retreat--it is a partnership we are working on continuing. If you are interested in attending future retreats please let me know ( .  In the meantime enjoy some photos, recipes and a beautiful poem read during the afternoon retreat (thanks to the participants that allowed me to share their photos, recipes and poetry). 

The retreat included a workshop with urban farm guru Nic Esposito

Julia leads the group in a greens harvest

In return for the greens, the group helped the farm out by seperating garlic cloves for planting

Then time for some cooking

Gluten Free Sweet Potato Corn Bread

(Baker’s Note: I’ve made this bread so many times, I tend to just throw the ingredients together without really measuring. So, some of the measurements are estimated. Definitely taste the dough, and adjust to your own preferences. )

1 ½ cup almond milk
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
¼ cup veggie oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato (it’s okay if you leave it a lil’chunky)
1 cup cornmeal
2/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup quinoa flour
¼ cup tapioca flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
¾ tsp. salt


1. Heat oven to 375. Grease a small casserole dish, standard pie plate, or muffin tin.

2. Combine almond milk and apple cider vinegar and let set to allow the milk curdle.

3. Mix cornmeal, flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together in a large bowl.

4. In a separate small bowl, combine the milk mixture, oil, maple syrup, and sweet potato. Mix well before folding into the dry ingredients. Stir until well combined…you don’t have to worry about over mixing….No gluten J

5. Allow the dough to let sit for about 5 minutes before pouring into the baking dish, or muffin tin.

6. Bake bread for about 20 to 25 minutes….or 15 to 20 minutes if making muffins. When done, the surface bread will be firm to touch, and have cracks in the top. Let cool in baking dish for about 5 minutes before removing the bread (or muffins).

7. Feed yo’ face!!!!!

Irish Brown Bread
Recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

2 cups non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
2 tsp. white distilled vinegar
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. non-hydrogenated nondairy butter
I added ½ cup oat bran….totally optional


1. Preheat oven to 425. Lightly grease a round 9 or 10 inch cake pan.

2. In a small bowl, combine the milk and vinegar, and let stand for 5 minutes to allow milk to curdle.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the flours, baking soda, salt, and oat bran (if using). Add butter, and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.

4. Stir in the milk/vinegar mixture and combine until you have a sticky dough. Using your hands works best. Once just mixed knead the dough in the bowl or on a floured surface for about 10 strokes. Don’t over knead or the bread will become too tough.

5. Place the dough in the prepared pan, and cut a cross in the top. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the bottom of the bread has a hollow sound with thumped. Cool slightly before serving.

Bakers Note: Brown bread can dry out quickly and is typically good for 2 to 3 days.

Current Spice Bread
(Baker’s Note: This bread recipe utilizes a bread machine.)

1 cup warm (not hot) water
½ cup soy milk
2 Tbsp. non-hydrogenated nondairy butter
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. sea salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
2 tsp. dry yeast (or one proportioned packet)
1 cup dried currents (or raisins)


1. Place all ingredients, except currents, in the bread machine IN THE ORDER GIVEN. Do not stir, adding the yeast last, being careful not to get it wet. Select the DOUGH cycle and start machine.

2. After about 20 minutes of mixing, check the dough. Add more soy milk if the mixture is too dry, or add more flour if the mixture is too wet. Add the currents to the machine, and then allow the cycle to complete.

3. At the end of the cycle (a beeper sounds on most models) remove the dough from the machine, and knead lightly on a floured board for about 2 minutes.

4. Heat oven to 350, and grease a bread baking pan. Place the kneaded dough in the bread pan, and cover with a damp tea towel and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place until the bread has just about doubled in size…about 30 to 40 minutes

5. Bake bread for about 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown, or until the bottom of the bread has a hollow sound when thumped.

6. Cool slightly before serving…..if you can wait that long!

Beet Hummus
(Baker’s Note: Again, this is a recipe I make often. So, again, some of the measurements are estimated. Definitely taste the hummus while you go, and adjust to your own preferences. )
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium beet, washed and cubed
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
3 15 oz. cans chic peas, drained and rinsed, reserving the bean liquid
1/3 cup tahini
¼ cup fresh dill (or 1 Tbsp. dried dill)
½ cup fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. horseradish
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the beet and onion and sauté until the onions begin to sweat. Add the garlic, cover and cook for another 10 minutes until the beets become tender. Stir occasionally so the garlic does not burn.

2. Add lemon juice and beet, onion, garlic sauté to a food processor or blender, and mix until well pulverized. Add the chic peas and tahini and continue to mix adding the reserved bean liquid as needed to get the desired consistency.

3. Add the dill, parsley, cumin, horseradish, salt and pepper and mix…adjusting the seasonings to taste.

“Of Bright & Blue Birds & the Gala Sun”

Some things, niño, some things are like this,
That instantly and in themselves they are gay
And you and I are such thngs, O most miserable . . .

For a moment they are gay and are a part
Of an element, the exactest element for us,
In which we pronounce joy like a word of our own.

It is there, being imperfect, and with these things
And erudite in happiness, with nothing learned,
That we are joyously ourselves and we think

Without the labor of thought, in that element,
And we feel, in a way apart, for a moment, as if
There was a bright scienza outside of ourselves,

A gaiety that is being, not merely knowing,
The will to be and to be total in belief,
Provoking a laughter, an agreement, by surprise.

-Wallace Stevens

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Urban Apiaries on Friday Arts

Check out this great video featuring farmer friends Trey Flemming and Bill ShickUrban Apiaries honey is now available at Talulas Table
Watch Friday Arts for November 2011 on PBS. See more from FRIDAY ARTS.