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Thursday, December 18, 2014

What a Year! Also, Pies Needed!

Dedham Food Pantry
Urgent need for pies! 

December 2014
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ALERT! The food pantry urgently needs 110 baked pies for this Saturday's turkey give-away to our clients. Make a family's holiday season brighter by donating 9-inch bought, baked or frozen pies! 

Drop off times at the food pantry this week are 3-4:30 pm on Thursday and 8am -1 pm on Friday

Also, please consider the Dedham Food Pantry as your 2014 tax deductible organization.  Click here to make an online donation.

DFP Photobook

Check out the Photobook section of our website.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Let There Be Light ... and Yummy Latkes!

Latkes. You've heard of them. You've probably eaten them. If this picture doesn't arouse your taste buds, perhaps reading about one of my favorite time honored food traditions will inspire you to create the delicacy connected to the holiday of Chanukah that starts tonight!

Photo courtesy of Anne Innis
CSA Member, PEP Team Member &
Overall Powisset Cooks enthusiast

Last Sunday in the Powisset Farm Kitchen we gathered for a workshop on Potato Latkes and Lantern Making. Eleven kids and eight parents explored the farm in it's quieter, winter mode. We hand-grated potatoes and parsnips for our latkes and made lanterns out of recycled 2 liter soda bottles.
We used two different latke recipes - one that I consider traditional and one that is a more modern adaptation. Traditional and modern may be somewhat subjective classifications to use for cultural food practices as traditions often vary from family to family. My family uses the food processor to grind the potatoes for our latkes into a mush-like consistency. Egg, salt and matzo meal or flour are then added to help the latkes stick together. This is our tradition. A family that is dear to my heart, though not related to me, insists that potatoes for latkes must be grated, ideally by hand, as this is their family tradition. 

Many moons ago I had the opportunity to attend the annual Latke Cook-off at the James Beard Foundation in New York City. Two top chefs and one Jewish grandmother competed in a blind taste test to see whose recipe would win. We were presented with sweet potato leek latkes, zucchini feta latkes and variations on the classic potato latke. At the end of the evening the Jewish grandmother was awarded first prize for her simple and delicious potato latke! When it comes to creating foods from our past there is a nostalgic component to taste that is separate from objective flavor. In order to set your taste buds up for success in these situations it can help to clarify whether you're embarking on a new culinary adventure or hoping to replicate the past. 

Here are links to the two recipes we used 
Traditional Potato Latkes by Claudia Roden from The Book of Jewish Food 

Both of these cookbooks are wonderful for different reasons. In this moment I am particularly enthralled with Jerusalem. This cookbook is stunningly gorgeous and everything I've eaten lives up to the quality of the aesthetic presentation. Check it out if you haven't already and Ottolenghi has six other cookbooks!

The KEY to both of these recipes is rinsing, straining and squeezing out the potatoes after they've been grated. This process removes all of the potato starch that can make the latkes soggy. Ideally you want your latke "batter" to be relatively dry.  I can't stress enough the importance of the rinsing, straining and squeezing process. The relative dryness of the batter, in combination with a good amount of oil in the pan, leads to easy frying and crispy latkes.   

While our latke were frying on 4 burners of our induction stove top, we transformed recycled 2 liter soda bottles into beautiful, tissue paper covered lanterns. Kids and parents approached the craft project with creativity and enthusiasm. Some lanterns were decorated with snowflakes, while others features dogs, hearts, and many other shapes. We melted a single candle into the bottom of the 2 liter soda bottle in preparation for our departure from the workshop into the dark night.

As you know, the daylight has decreased in the last months and the amount of darkness has increased. This will shift after the Winter Solstice this Sunday - the amount of daylight will slowly increase. Chanukah is a time to bring light into the darkness. By lighting candles and eating foods fried in oil (as oil was once used to burn wicks and create light) we celebrate our ability to transform darkness into light. Whether we are frying latkes, creating lanterns or spending time with family and friends, there are so many ways to bring light into the darkness.

We ended the evening by tasting our two different latke recipes.  Success! Warm and crispy, the latkes were enjoyed plain or with the addition of applesauce and/or sour cream. In the words of one participant, "the potato and parsnip latke was delicious, but the plain latke was fantastic!" Our bellies happy with our potato treats, it was time to head out into the night with the candlelight of our lanterns to light the way home. 

May we be blessed with abundant light in this holiday season -- light that illuminates, heals and brings joy and peace into all of the dark places! 

Photo by Anne Innis
Rachel and The Powisset Farm Crew

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Last Awesome Winter Market of the Season!! This Saturday!

Powisset 2014 Crew! Thank you to an incredible team!

This afternoon, I made it down the treacherous farm road in the pounding rain and sleet to find shelter in the greenhouse where I was prepping and bagging onions and garlic for this weeks' share.  The rain was so loud as it fell upon on layers of plastic between me and the storm that I couldn't even listen to Amy Poehler's book on tape that I have been caught up in for the last couple of days.  So I put my phone away, took a big sip of my room-temperature coffee and sorted through yellow and red onions to the sound of raindrops. 

Sorting and bagging produce can only mean one thing...we're getting ready for this weekend's final winter share and winter market!  Hooray!  Pleas join us at the farm as we come the "official" (more or less) end of our 2014 CSA season.  The stand will be open and stocked with our produce, the last of our pork, and eggs from our chickens.  We will also have other goodies like; honey, jam, apple sauce, granola, freshly baked baguettes, frozen blueberries from this summer's wild harvest, coffee, beans, local flour and more!  We'll be at the farm between 10am-3pm!  It's even looking like this winter storm will pass by then, so you can enjoy a sunny walk around our fields when you get here.

See you at the farm,

Meryl & the Powisset Farm Crew

This Saturday!

The stand will be open from 10am-3pm this Saturday, December 13th!
You can pick up your winter share at that time, or shop from the stand!

In the share:  carrots, garlic, onions, winter squash, cabbage, celeriac, parsnips, diakon, potatoes, sweet potatoes, radishes, kohlrabi and maybe kale and lettuce mix or other greens!
In the stand: all above, plus shallots, hot peppers, leeks, rutabega, beets, herbs and maybe other greens!
Bulk boxes: half bushel boxes of potatoes and onions for sale for $20 each. 

Last Chance for Pottery This Season 
and An Extra Special Guest!

This Saturday our beloved potters, Lisa Walker and Sue Brum, will return to the barn for the final pottery sale of the year! Take home the gift of hand-crafted pottery for a loved one or for yourself. And if you’re looking for the perfect hat to wear while you sip your holiday nog out of your elegant pottery mug, look no further than the textile artwork of Kathy Zola. Kathy hand-knits and weaves her pieces with a variety of fibers (she even repurposes used plastic shopping bags and turns them into beautiful placemats!) to create hats, scarves and more. Stop by on Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm to chat with the artists and admire their wares.

Egg Shares!

We have a limited number of Egg Shares still available – as of this writing, there are only 15 spots left! If you’d like to continue to enjoy Powisset eggs this winter (Have you ever made a so-called Dutch Baby? Take a gander at this:!), please email Tessa at to sign up.

Join Powisset Cooks! for our Upcoming Workshops:

Sunday, December 14 | 2-4PM

Join  us to learn fun new ways to incorporate farm fresh veggies into school lunches!

Sunday, January 11 | 10AM-12PM

Walk, snow shoe or cross country ski around the farm trail and then warm up with Stone Soup created by participants!

From the Fields: Farm Chowder
Wednesday, January 21 | 5:30-7:30PM

Come experiment with different chowder recipes and learn about local, seasonal fish options!

Email Rachel with any questions!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Powisset on Paper

Before I began my training as a farmer, I spent some time living in Washington, DC. I was fresh out of college, looking to move somewhere new with my partner and was a rabid fan of The West Wing, so DC was the natural choice. I floated around for a bit before getting a job at a non-profit, through the regular channels of my twenty-something adrift peers at the time: starting as a temp, moving on to secretarial work and finally landing a job as an entry-level grants administrator. 
I loved the organization and the work it did, but not so much my own day to day. I’d find ways to fill my time – recreationally re-organizing my post-it drawer (by color! by size! free form!), or taking lingering trips to the kitchen for coffee refills – but I couldn’t avoid the heart of the work, which involved spreadsheets and spreadsheets of budgets. Before long, there came a moment of realization. I remember very clearly sitting in a meeting, failing to keep pace with my supervisor as she ran through line item after line item on a particular budget and thinking in a panic, ‘I have no idea what I’m doing here. I’m terrible at math, I hate this stuff, and I’m in way over my head.’ To my boss, the numbers had meaning. They represented tangible things, and she liked the challenge of making them fit neatly together into some larger mosaic. But to me, it was like looking at an eye chart when I take my contacts out – I could see that something was there, but couldn’t quite make it out. No amount of squinting and moving my head made any of it any more clear. I wasn’t able to grasp how the numbers meant anything beyond being just numbers. There was no connection to the work that these figures supported in the real world.
I quit my job soon after and moved up to Boston. I missed New England and needed a change of scenery, plus I had heard some interesting things from my partner’s cousin, about a farm she was working at with a funny-sounding name in a town called Dover.
These days, I’m still not a huge fan of budgets, or numbers at all, for that matter. It probably doesn’t help that I’m still terrible at math. If anyone had told me in my teen years that I would most certainly need to use math in my adult life, I probably would have stopped wasting so much time rolling my eyes at my parents and watching Dawson’s Creek and tried to keep my math textbook open longer. Alas, while it’s too late for me to become a budget whiz, some things have changed for the better. Today Meryl and I sat in the farm office, cats on laps, and began the work of drafting the budget for next season. I found myself looking down at the numbers, afraid to see the lines across the spreadsheet start to blur, but I realized it feels a little different now than it used to.
With a handful of farm seasons under my belt, I’m beginning to see these numbers as more than just formulas on a page. I am finally able to connect them to the work that we do. Each line item of the budget prompts long talks and visioning about what the particular work of next season will look and feel like. What will our crew be, what equipment do we need to sustain our work, what will our seed order look like, how much does potting soil cost, do we need to replace parts of the electric fence, do we need to renew our CPR training. . . ?
It’s a stretch of the imagination: to be sitting in the office in the early days of December, wrestling numbers that will only take on shape in the windy days of next April when we put up the deer fence; or the oppressive heat of mid-July, when we wish we had thought to invest in new tomato stakes because the old warped ones we thought we could get another year out of are bending ever more deeply under the weight of plants on the cusp of harvest. It’s a rare moment when the current season, not yet fully retired, intersects with the new season, still an unformed thing out there in the ether. And all those incidents of challenge, reward, humility and harvest that take ownership of our lives in the thick of the farm season start with this – a spreadsheet and some numbers. It gives budgets a new magic that was absent for me in those DC days. We’ve since formed a truce, these budgets and I. It’s a small victory, but I’ll take it.

Hope you all had wonderful Thanksgivings!

Tessa (on behalf of the Powisset Farm Crew)
My partner and family and I enjoying a stroll on Thanksgiving

Final Winter Share Distribution and Farm Stand next Saturday!

As a reminder, our fourth and final Winter Share pick up and Farm Stand will be next Saturday, December 13th, from 10 am to 3 pm. We'll be loading you up with all that we've got left, so no need to hoard your carrots and potatoes quite yet - you'll be getting plenty more. We'll also have some special guests with us to keep the barn festive with holiday pottery and beautiful hand-knit pieces for sale.

Announcing the Powisset Egg CSA!
A dozen beauties

Don't fret! The carefree days of fried egg sandwiches and Spanish omelets don't have to end this winter because we're excited to offer an Egg CSA! From the beginning of January through the end of May, come to the farm for fresh eggs, collected with love from our hens right down the farm road. $100 buys you a dozen a week for 5 months! (that's $1 off, per dozen, each week). Email Tessa at for more details and to reserve your spot.

Get your Winter Joy On!
This Sunday, outdoor enthusiast and all-around awesome human Reuben Blanchard will be offering a free workshop at the farm. Here are the details in Reuben's words:
The winter offers so many opportunities that are not there throughout the rest of the seasons. It is a beautiful time of year, especially in New England, but it is also incredibly easy to just stay inside. At this workshop, we’ll talk about how to get outside and enjoy it!
We’ll start with what most people mess up: dressing correctly for the weather. From there we’ll move on to other activities. Anything from the joy of outdoor fires, to tracking animals in the city and woods, to exercises that make you stop paying attention to the cold, and start paying attention the world around you.
We’ll spend time both inside and outside in the woods for the workshop, so please do your best to dress accordingly!
Sunday, December 7th, 10am-1pm, Free. Meet in the Powisset classroom. Email with questions or to reserve a spot.
All ages are welcome, but anyone under 14 needs to be accompanied by an adult, please.

Join Powisset Cooks! for our Upcoming Workshops:

Sunday, December 7 | 3-5PM

Potato pancakes and lantern making -- the perfect combination of activities to brighten any holiday season!

Sunday, December 14 | 2-4PM

Join  us to learn fun new ways to incorporate farm fresh veggies into school lunches!

Sunday, January 11 | 10AM-12PM

Walk, snow shoe or cross country ski around the farm trail and then warm up with Stone Soup created by participants!

Email Rachel at with any questions!