Thursday, September 1, 2016

August 30, 2016

Sloppos for Breakfast

     Last Friday morning we awoke to the faint sounds of a gentle rain.  In the semi-lightness of the early a.m., I felt gratitude.  The soft soaking downpour was the kind that delights the soil and those of us that work with it.

     We’ve experienced an unusual period of near-drought this summer, punctuated by the occasional thunder-noisy torrent that results in deep gullies on the steeply sloping dirt road that leads to the farm.  After those storms, if we dig into the soil less than half an inch, we find it powder-dry, the water simply having run off.  Friday’s rain was the good kind and within a few hours our browning fields began to show green for the first time since the end of June.

    After a day or two the cows were grazing happily in the meadows and I no longer had to supplement the sparse forage with any of the hay that we’ve stored in the barn in anticipation of the coming winter months. 

     Katherine went out to feed the few hundred chickens that remain as we approach the end of our summer meat bird season.  Boo, our blue heeler, accompanied her as Katherine made her rounds.  Boo dearly loves both us, but it’s clear that Katherine is her number one and they are nearly inseparable.  Boo has good sense.

     My early morning tasks include filling the water troughs for our beef herd and the rapidly-fattening pigs, who also get their morning ration of mixed grains and the heirloom field corn that has begun to ripen in the field just beyond their pen.

     After chores, we sat at the big dining room table for a leisurely breakfast.  The morning meal is often the one of longest duration, giving us a chance to compare notes and brainstorm activities for the day, the week and often far beyond.  Lunch, if it happens at all, is usually a brief affair, eaten almost on the run amongst the jumble of farming activities.  And the evening meal is usually eaten from our laps in the living room, when we’re exhausted from the day’s labors and we mostly desire to sprawl on the couch until it’s time for an early bed.

     We eat eggs almost every morning.  Our small flock of laying hens produces eggs that are certified organic.  There’s a lot of demand for those eggs at the farmers markets, because a free-range certified organic egg is almost impossible to find either at the supermarket or any of the local co-op food stores.  Our supply is small, because we like to eat eggs and because we try to save some for our agri-tourism guests that book lodging through Airbnb.

     The layers that are currently producing are getting older, so the egg volume has been steadily decreasing of late.  We do have an up and coming batch of hens that are in their adolescence, so we’ve high hopes that we’ll have plenty of eggs to sell in the coming months.  We’ll let everyone know when that happens.

     Some mornings we simply have fried eggs over easy, which is what we did Friday morning.  Occasionally we make scrambled and on Wednesdays, which is processing day for our meat birds, we do hard boiled and fix egg salad sandwiches to eat quickly before the day’s harvest begins when the state meat inspector arrives at 7:30. 

     On days when we have a bit more time, I like to make omelets, using chopped up farm-cured ham or bacon when we have it, or sausage meat made from ground pork shoulder, sage, ginger and garlic.  Onions, tomatoes and zucchini when in season, and shredded Vermont cheese make up the rest of the ingredients.

     From time to time I take a few extra minutes to make what Katherine calls “Sunday breakfast,” regardless of what day of the week it might be.  My name for that particular gourmet treat is “Sloppos.”  My daughter, Anna Diaphenia Puchalski will appreciate this one; it was a staple breakfast for us when she was much younger.

     It begins with home fried potatoes, organic Yukon golds or red Norlands from our garden or, when our supply runs short, from a neighbor’s organic farm.  I parboil the spuds for a few minutes, whole if they are small, or cut in half if a bit larger.  Then I remove them from the pot and cut them into smaller bits before dropping them into a hot cast-iron skillet of bubbling bacon or sausage grease, or Burelli Farm certified organic lard.  As the potatoes begin to brown, I chop a Burelli Farm onion or two, depending on the size, and add the bits to the pan, lowering the heat to medium.

     If the grease came from our home-cured smoked bacon or either breakfast or chorizo sausage, I crumble some of one or both on top of the sizzling veggies. 

     When the potatoes are starting to turn the brown that resembles tarnished gold, and the onions are nearly transparent I break four eggs on top.  I cover the frying pan and let the heat do its work till the whites are congealed and the bright yellow yolks have begun to harden.  If I have some good Vermont cheese, like Cabot’s Mad River Reserve, I’ll grate some of that on top as well.

     When it’s all cooked to one solid mass, it’s ready to eat.  I like it with ketchup.  Annie’s or Woodstock organic are both pretty good.  Perhaps one day when I get time, I’ll try making my own.

     VOILA!  Sloppos for breakfast.

     We have lots of our amazingly delicious certified organic Vermont State Inspected Burelli Farm whole young chickens in stock, both fresh and frozen birds.  We will stop processing in three more weeks, and that means that come October and going forward we will only have frozen chickens until the stock is depleted.  Come and get 'em at the farm any day (please call first (802) 595-2573) or see me at the Waterbury Farmers Market (Thursdays 3 - 7) 5 Corners Essex Junction Farmers Market (Fridays 3:30 - 7:30) or the Randolph Farmers Market (Saturdays 9 - 1).

     The week of September 25th we will have our much loved certified organic USDA inspected ground beef available.  We plan to harvest two steers before the end of the year, and the first will be in a little more than a week.  The meet has to hang in the cooler for 10 days before it will be ready for grinding and then we will have it for sale here at the farm.  The price is the same as last year: $6.50 per pound and if you pre-order 10 - 20 pounds your price will be $6.00.  Because of limited availability, this first harvest is limited to 20 pounds per customer.

     Contact me: or Katherine: to reserve your ground beef order and send us your check.

     And enjoy your Sloppos.

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