Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wild part two.

Last Sunday we had the chance to head back down to the farm for the actual Where the Wild things are dinner at the farm. Jess and I got there early and helped wash and sort greens again. We sorted greens until the first farm tour took place. I snuck away to hear Ralph talk about his system for raising his cattle. I didn't get the chance to hear him talk about the cattle last year and realy wanted to hear it this year. Ralph took us around his pastures and explained the way he rotates his cattle through them to maximize his return from the land while at the same time minimizing his negative impact on it. One point he mentioned was that with cattle he locates the bale feeders in the areas of the field that are most in need of fertilization and the cows take care of it while feeding.

Ralph took the crowd out to meet the herd. It was interesting to see the cows up close. I was surprised to see how few flies his herd had. I didn't get the chance to talk to him about pest control. Maybe I will ask him next year.

After the tour I went back to help out with the greens again. I had Jess take a break and get some of the wonderful cheese and wine that were available. Soon it was time for the main event.
It was great to see Scott and his staff preparing the meat on the open wood fired grill. It was even better to eat it. There was so much on offer and it was great to see the nettles and greens we had worked so hard to gather in turned into wonderful dishes.

After dinner there was a few talks and the opportunity to meet tons of great people. We stayed until everyone left and helped to put away the benches and pick things up.

There were some nettles left over so we asked if we could take some home. We had a few recipes we wanted to try and didn't want to see the nettles go to waste. The first recipe was to make a nettle pasta. The first step in that recipe is to briefly boil the nettle tops and then shock them in ice water.

After that the moisture is wrung out of the nettles and they are blended in the food processor untill they make a smooth puree.

The next step will be to mix the paste into the pasta dough and then roll it out to sheets. In one of his shows Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall made a dish with these and a squirrel ragu. Since we didn't plan to make pasta that night the pure went into the freezer until the next time we want to make pasta.

The next recipe is also from River Cottage. It was for a nettle beer. The first step was to pour boiling water over the nettle tops and let them gradually cool for an hour.

Then the nettles were removed and some orange and lemon juices were added. Also the sugar was added and then the brew was left to cool to below 100F so that the yeast could be added.

Finally the whole thing was set aside to ferment someplace warm. It started to bubble almost immediately so I have high hopes for this batch.

Well that brings us up to last Sunday night. I will write tomorrow to bring you all up to speed on the new duck house


Anonymous said...

Hi Rick,

Long time no talk! This sounds like a great experience. I just love gathering from the wild. Don't seem to do enough of it and I've certainly never done any 'bubbly' stuff with what I have gathered. I'll be interested to hear how it turns out.


Frustrated Farmer Rick said...

HDR-It was fun. I love visiting other farms and seeing how they do things. Yes it has been too long. We bottled the ale yesterday and it tasted fairly good flat. Can't wait for it to carbonate some. It may be even better.