Waiting, Watching, and a Big Pot of Soup
Driving to Granville Friday morning, I was listening to the news on public radio, and it hit me. There's more than a washed out Halloween to be worried about.
Before that I had gotten tidbits of an idea that there was some sort of late season Hurricane in the Caribbean that might cause a few days of rain in the Northeast. Oh, at one point, someone mentioned snow. Maybe a nor'easter? My mindset was along the lines of, who knows, we've had wet snow on Halloween before, and hurricanes rarely bring anything more than rain to upstate New York.
It's not unusual for news events to take time to sink in for me.
But, driving in the early dawn of Friday morning, the newscast made me think this might be something worth paying attention to.
My thoughts were more for my employer than for my own property. In the midst of a come-back year after Irene, I worried about the effects of another storm on the farm. I was headed there, and made it a point to ask about the preparations. I did so with absolutely no plans to write about it, but as I sit down with the intent of giving my readers a new thread of connection to our food, I realize this is likely what's most important this week.
Part of what I learned is there isn't too much that could be done in preparation other than watching the forecast. While Michael and his brothers were well aware of the meteorologists' predictions, I didn't feel any panic in the air Friday.
As I suspected, the potential for crop loss is not as great as it would be early in hurricane season, as the bulk of the winter storage crops have been harvested. We won't suffer another year without beets or winter squash. They are already safely stowed in the root cellar and garage.
The biggest concern seems to be for the haygrove. The haygrove is a huge hoop house, or greenhouse, covered with super special plastic made to withstand 50 mph winds. It's where many of the summer's peppers, tomatoes and green beans grew, and has recently been transitioned to a field for winter greens. If the winds prove too much for the haygrove, it would be significant.
Inside the haygrove
I'm sure the possibility of driving rain damaging crops is also a cause for concern. There are still crops like kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts in the fields. But, no one seemed to think there was an imminent risk. I'm praying those favored cool weather crops are safe. We really won't know the impact until the storm rolls in.
As Sandy gets closer to home, I'm starting to think more about my home. I'd better check the yard for loose objects and say an extra prayer that the ancient birch tree standing outside my front door is still strong enough for one more big storm.
At home today, like at the farm Friday, there's not a whole lot I can do other than watch and wait. Perhaps I will take stock of my flashlights and make sure I have lots of candles handy.
Of course, while waiting for the storm, I will also spend time in the kitchen. A big pot of soup seems to be in order. Here's a recipe for one I made last week.
Kale and White Bean Soup
* 1 pound dried white beans (great northern or cannellini)
* 2 onions, chopped
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 4 garlic cloves, minced
* 5 cups chicken broth
* 4 cups water
* 1 (3-by-2-inch) piece parmigiano-reggiano rind
* 2 teaspoons salt
* 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
* 1 bay leaf
* 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
* 1 pound kielbasa, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
* 3 to 4 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
* 1 pound kale, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
Cover beans with water by 2 inches in a pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand, uncovered, 1 hour. Drain beans in a colander and rinse.
Cook onions in oil in an 8-quart pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add beans, broth, 2 cups water, cheese rind, salt, pepper, bay leaf and rosemary, and simmer, uncovered, until beans are just tender, about 50 minutes.
While soup is simmering, brown kielbasa in a heavy skillet over moderate heat, turning, then transfer to paper towels to drain.
Stir in carrots, kale, sausage and remaining 2 cups water and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until kale are carrots are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper.
Kris Nusskern is a mom who writes for the Kilpatrick Family Farm in Middle Granville when she’s not busy herding her four year old son. She is frequently in the kitchen experimenting with locally grown foods and likes writing about our relationship to the land.
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