On Eating with Pleasure

wendell berry quote

“Eating with the fullest pleasure — pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance — is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world. In this pleasure we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend.”
Wendell Berry: On the Pleasures of Eating

So much of our holiday celebrations are centered on food– food traditions, such as gingerbread houses and holiday hams, and meals as a gathering for friends and family. Wendell Berry’s statement above is a gentle reminder for us to extend the gratitude of the season to gratitude for the food we eat. How do you celebrate your gratitude for the food you eat?

By | December 27th, 2013|News|0 Comments

Winter on the Farm

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If you’re like me, you’ve always wondered what goes on at a farm in the winter. You too have imagined farmers burrowing into the barren soil and remaining there, in a state of hibernation, until the warm weather returns. (Or at least sitting around watching Little House on the Prairie reruns.) For most farms, however, wintertime can be surprisingly productive.

At our Pennington, NJ location especially, the colder weather gives us an opportunity to play catch-up on repairs and maintenance. The high tunnels are stripped of their plastic sheathing and their framing realigned, and the tractors and harvesters are overhauled. At Buckingham, where micro-greens are grown year-round in heated greenhouses, hoses, compost, and peat moss must be brought indoors to safeguard against freezing.

Winter is also a time to prepare for the coming growing season. The performance of last year’s harvest is reviewed, with new crops proposed or abandoned based on performance, profitability, and most importantly, customer input. Crop rotation plans are drawn up to ensure soil vitality. Cover crops planted in the autumn also contribute to soil health by capturing and cycling much-needed nutrients, as well as preventing against erosion.

Another wintertime focus is the creation of compost. In late autumn, anywhere from 1000 to 2000 cubic yards of leaf waste are trucked in from neighboring lawns to be composted. This compost is then used as a soil amendment, or sometimes even mixed with the soil itself. A well-balanced compost can help reduce disease, retain water, and discourage the growth of weeds.

Here in the office, the off-season means forging new connections with restaurants, caterers, and retailers. It also means finding novel ways to broaden our relationship with existing supporters. Above all, it is a time to review the previous year’s successes and shortcomings, to fine-tune our processes, to strive to be the very best Blue Moon we can be!

snow march 2013So while wintertime might see certain bears and hedgehogs retreating underground, it finds us farmers bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, our sleeves rolled up and our thinking caps on, dutifully preparing for the triumphant return of the sun.

 

By | December 20th, 2013|News, Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Chefs’ Bookshelf- Part 5

The Chefs' Bookshelf

 

The Chefs’ Bookshelf
Cookbook Recommendations from Blue Moon’s Favorite Chefs

Do you have an aspiring chef among your family or friends? You might consider picking up one of the cookbook recommendations below for young chef. My cousin Sean (12 years old and Thanksgiving’s best sous chef in family history) will likely be seeing one of these under his Christmas tree this year!

tonysauppe
Tony Sauppe
Executive Chef, Vault Brewing Co., Yardley PA
Recommended Cookbooks:
Culinary Artistry (Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page), Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor (Harve This), and the publication Art Culinaire

Chef Tony uses cookbooks mainly for inspiration, rather than for recipes. He sends aspiring cooks home with a stack of books to study from. He recommends three publications as must-reads.

culinaryartistrycoverCulinary Artistry by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page explores the creativity of culinary composition as it relates to imagination, food, and taste. It is essentially a pairing book, combined with many chef commentaries and working recipes. Culinary Artistry is on Tony’s must-read list for new cooks. “If you haven’t heard of this book, go out and pick it up.”

molecular gastro
Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor by Herve This, is all about the actual science of cooking- for instance, why starting a stock with cold water produces a clearer stock. Molecular Gastronomy is not so much geared towards modern cuisine as it is towards the science of every-day cooking. Tony appreciates it as “it helps me learn what’s happening, and understand the science behind the techniques that I’m using.” He’s always digging into this book for background knowledge.

art culinarie
Art Culinaire is a quarterly hardcover publication that uses recipes and photography to speak to the quality and beauty of professional food preparation. Tony looks to Art Culinaire for inspiration for future dishes. “When writing a menu and creating new dishes, I will breeze through Art Culinaire for inspiration and ideas. It’s all very beautiful and upscale cuisine.”

Tony has a modern style with a rootsy influence. He likes to recreate the classics, but with a modern twist, and his cookbook recommendations show that.

By | December 13th, 2013|News|0 Comments

Geothermal Energy Comes to Pennington!

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If you’ve been to our Pennington market, you’ve already experienced it—and probably didn’t even know it.

What am I talking about, you ask?

Geothermal energy.

Our market, harvest room, and upstairs living quarters are regulated using a horizontal geothermal heating/cooling system.

Geothermal energy, in its most basic form, is energy that is generated and stored within the Earth. To harness this energy, there are two basic methods. The first uses underground heat to generate electricity. The second, which we use at Blue Moon Acres, utilizes the Earth’s constant underground temperature to provide heating and cooling.

Here’s how it works:

Within the walls runs a circuit of pipes which are filled with an alcohol/water solution. After cycling through the market and harvest area, this circuit travels seven feet below ground, then several thousand feet across the farm, and then back again.

In the summer, hot air is whisked away from the house where it is dispersed through the much cooler underground layer. In the winter, the circuit draws warmth from that same underground layer, which remains at a constant 55 degrees. A series of fans then blows across the cooled/warmed pipes to distribute the temperature evenly.

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Some more fun facts:

  • If the mercury dips below zero for any length of time, an electric back-up kicks on, keeping the building nice and toasty.
  • The temperature is controlled using an ordinary thermostat—same as with a traditional system!
  • Excess heat created in the summer is used to satisfy over 90% of the farm’s hot water needs!

All told, the system provides heating/cooling for approximately 5,000 square feet. After the initial start-up investment, the system is inexpensive and reliable. Heating the same size space with electric would cost around $9,000 a year; doing it with oil would cost just under $13,000—and that’s with modern, efficient systems.  And let’s not forget the gobs of emissions that are kept out of the atmosphere!

Geothermal may not be the solution to all the world’s problems, but it’s a start. If you’re building a new home or business, or are in the market for a new heating/cooling system, you should give it some thought.

 

By | December 6th, 2013|News, Uncategorized|0 Comments

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