Cooking--Farming--Thinking

Eat--Work--Ponder
Posted 8/4/2017 5:00pm by Judy Lessler.

In my last post, I talked about Tomato Sandwiches and the controversy in NC as to the preferred type of mayonnaise. Tomatoes are often served as a topping to traditional Italian bruschetta (or fettunta), which is grilled, stale-bread with olive oil and garlic. My review of numerous articles and recipes has led me to believe this simple dish of grilled bread rubbed with garlic cloves and drizzled with olive oil can engender the passionate differences similar to those surrounding use the of Duke’s or Hellman’s mayo on a tomato sandwich. These differences may have a long history. Famous Italian cookbook writer, Marcella Hazan, is said to have determined bruschetta was likely invented by the ancient Romans. Burscare means to char and, supposedly, the ancient Roman farmers sampled their newly pressed olive oil with bread roasted over coals. Who knew?  

Italians drink wine with their bruschetta, and all embrace the foundational instruction to use, day-old bread, month-old oil, and year-old wine. But then they converge. Some recommend grilling the bread once, others twice but dipping it in a plate of water between the two grillings. Still others espouse using very stale bread and dipping it in water before a single grilling. One writer advises rubbing an entire clove of garlic into a single piece of bread; another to use one clove for four slices of bread. Finally, do you brush or drizzle the olive oil over the bread? Who knows?     

If you are using a tomato topping, many other issues arise. Do you peel the tomatoes? Must they be seeded? Should they be drained after chopping? Can you mix them with salt, basil, and olive oil to save steps at table? The statistician in me figured out if I tried all the variations recommended in the articles I read, I would need to make 72 different combinations.  

I did not try 72 combinations; however, I did develop my own recipe for Italian Bruschetta with Tomatoes, which I distilled from these readings (and some years of experience). It is given below.  

I did try three different ways of charring the bread. I was suspicious of Marcella Hanzan’s statements attributing the origin of bruschetta to Ancient Romans. Now I believe her. My three versions were: flamed charred bread, dark pan-grilled bread, and light pan-grilled bread. The two with black char on them were definitely the best.   I was surprised!

 

https://s3.amazonaws.com/sfc-dynamic-content/gallery/292/w500/bruschetta_assembled.jpeg         

Italian Bruschetta with Tomatoes

6 servings  

6 small ripe tomatoes or roma tomatoes

6 thick slices (half-inch or more) of stale Tuscan or sourdough bread

6 cloves of garlic

6 tablespoons top quality olive oil

6 large basil leaves (optional)  

Dip tomatoes in boiling water to loosen peels. Cool quickly, peel, split, remove most of the seeds, and chop into half-inch pieces. Drain in a colander, place in a bowl, and add salt to taste. Peel and gently crack the garlic with the side of a knife or a garlic press. You want the garlic to remain nearly whole.  Grill bread over charcoal, on a gas grill, under a broiler, or on the stove. Rub one clover garlic into onto each slice of bread. Drizzle with olive oil. Top with tomato mixture.  Sprinkle with basil cut into thin ribbons if desired. PEELING THE TOMATOES IS ESSENTIAL.

 

Posted 7/25/2017 11:18am by Judy Lessler.

It is tomato sandwich time. The picture is a tomato sandwich with turkey bacon. It just needs the last preparation step. It has to be smashed. After taking the photo, I pressed down hard on one side, turned it over, and pressed hard on the other. This causes the juices to penetrate the bread, and if you do a good job, you may need a bib to eat it.   

 

Here’s the scoop on tomato sandwiches: The classic tomato sandwich is simply tomato and mayonnaise on white bread. In assessing quality, people could debate the variety of tomato, the type of bread, and the appropriateness of additives, such as basil, dill, or a cucumber. These ingredients do not inspire much passion at least not the passion the type of mayonnaise does. Should you use Hellman’s or Duke’s?     

In the mid-twentieth century when I was growing up, some people were known to use Miracle Whip instead of mayo. This has since been recognized as a colossal mistake, and since the dawning of the twenty-first century, it is rare to find a Miracle Whip proponent. Curiously, Miracle Whip has become very popular in Germany, which a strange development given that Angela Merkel is now the leader of the free world, and you would expect that Germans, in general, would be upholding high standards of decorum and manners as benefits their new leadership status. I learned about the popularity of Miracle Whip in Germany from Wikipedia, and, upon consideration, think it may be OK. Wiki did not mention how the Germans were eating Miracle Whip.  Perhaps it is not on tomato sandwiches and does not represent a desecration of culinary standards.  

You do not need to search far to find articles and “research” on the Duke’s versus Hellman’s conflict. In 2015, Our State magazine published an article by Susan Strafford Kelly called Mayo Mutiny about this conflict. Kelly reports interest in resolving this conflict is now so widespread and intense that people are conducting their own blind studies and posting the results on social media. She also noted a general preference for Duke’s mayonnaise. 

Only 18 months later, Kathleen Purvis reported in the Charlotte Observer on the results of a small experiment conducted by the Piedmont Culinary Guild with chefs and farmer. This created an uproar among Duke’s proponents because Hellmann’s won.  

I worked for thirty-years as a research statistician. I can confidently state that these small scale experiments are flawed in terms of sample size, randomness, and control of extraneous variables. Therefore, just go with your own preferences, but remember to keep the Duke’s on hand to make a sandwich for your visiting aunt.    

Posted 2/1/2017 10:22am by Judy Lessler.

We farm organically to protect:

our staff--our customers--our world  

The following quote from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations says it all:   “…organic [methods] …are increasing soil organic carbon by [transferring] large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere to the soil … enhanced carbon sequestration, coupled with additional biodiversity…makes organic agriculture [has] potential for mitigating and adapting to climate change. From http://www.fao.org/organicag/oa-specialfeatures/oa-climatechange/en/  January 29, 2017.

We are doing our part to save the earth. 

Join us in our mission

 

Posted 11/11/2016 8:41pm by Judy Lessler.
Christmas Trees
American Red Cedar--Organic
 

The American Red Cedar is the traditional NC Christmas tree. When I was growing up, every family went out and cut one down for Christmas. Harland's Creek Farm will be delivering Christmas trees at the Saturday Market in December. Trees will be cut on Friday for delivery on the following Saturday. We will be taking orders starting on November 11, 2016.Come by,look at a sample, and place your order. Price is $25.00 per tree.   

Posted 5/10/2016 10:04am by Judy Lessler.

Escarole and endive (Chichorium endivia) are native to the East Indies, were brought to Egypt and known to the ancient Greeks and Romans. It was grown in England by the 1500s. It is in the same family as dandelions. A similar plant, Chichorium intybus, includes chicory and radicchio, is native to northern Europe.

I first became enamored with escarole after a visit to France in October 2012. Farmers markets were full of large escarole plants that sometimes weighed nearly a kilogram (2.2 lbs.).  It is a cool weather plant and grows better in a place like France where the weather is cool but not cold. We generally pick it much smaller than the French versions because of the heat of NC. Endive comes in two types, so called Belgian Endive or witloof  and is grown from roots that are stored in a root-cellar or cooler and then forced to produce leaves in the fall and early winter. I have never tried it because of the technical skill needed. 

Frisࣾếe is a very frilly form of endive and is called Trés Fine Maraīchère in France. I have grown this and found it to be a good addition to salads.

Below is a picture of the type we grow.

 

 

https://s.graphiq.com/sites/default/files/5806/media/images/USDA_Escarole_4345265.jpg

Posted 4/29/2016 9:22am by Judy Lessler.

Farm News: The big news of 2016 is that HCF is now an LLC with multiple partners, Judy Lessler, Erasmo Flores, and Rene Rios. Rene’s wife, Clementine, and Erasmo’s wife, Yoli, are also working on the farm. It is wonderful to have other women on the farm. Below is a picture of the three HCF women in front of the salad mix patch; Yoli, Judy, and Clementine in that order. 

 

It has been a good year for planting, and we have lots and lots of greens in the field. Look forward to a bounty during the next 6 weeks. We have also started the summer plantings. Tomatoes, beans, and cucumbers are already in the ground. Our potatoes got frozen back three weeks ago; however, they are now growing well.  

Posted 3/17/2016 8:07pm by Judy Lessler.

Finally, we have greens. We will be at the Durham Farmers Market on Saturdays with Braising Mix, Chard, Lacinato Kale, Siberian Kale, Sweet Potatoes and our famous, heirloom Bloomsdale Spinach. EVERYTHING is certified organic. 

Bins of Organic Heirloom Bloomsdale Spinach

Posted 1/28/2016 12:46pm by Judy Lessler.

We are proud to announce that as of January 2016, Erasmo Flores and Rene Rios became partners in Harland's Creek Farm, LLC. They have been in management training for a number of years. In fact, after Judy fell and broke her shoulder in June 2016, they took over all the day-to-day management of the farm for many months. 

This is a big step for the farm, and we are proud we were able to achieve it. As you may realize, Hispanics work on many farms,  but few become owners. Rene and Erasmo have done lots of studying and taken on more and more responsibilities over the years. They both come from farming families. Rene is married, has three children, and lives in Pittsboro; Erasmo and Yoli are parents of Michael and Ernesto, and they live in Siler City. The other owner, Judy Lessler started the farm in 1999 with her husband. She is now widowed and has 5 grown children and 10 grandchildren. Judy lives on the farm site.

We will celebrate this partnership when the weather gets warm. Stay tuned.

New LLC Certificates

Posted 9/29/2015 12:34pm by Judy Lessler.

We are proud to report that we had our organic inspection on Monday September 21 and passed without a problem! I was very proud of Rene and Erasmo; they handled most of the interviews for the first time, and did a great job. I still do most of the computer work and will probably do so for a few more years. I spent 30 years working as a statistician and have used spreadsheets since the first version available, which was called Visi-Calc. Rene and Erasmo have learned many things, but it is hard to match the efficiency of someone who has had 40 years of experience with spreadsheets and data bases.

Posted 8/18/2015 7:00pm by Judy Lessler.

Harland’s Creek Farm Okra Day August 19, 2015

Did you know that:

1)   George Washington Carver and Henry Ford dreamed of making a biodegradable automobile with plastic made out of soybeans and rugs and mats made out of okra

2)   Local artists make paper out of okra

3)   There are okra festivals all over the world

4)   Okra was used as a substitute for coffee in the South during the US Civil War

5)   Okra came to the new world during the slave trade  

We want to hear about your experiences with okra.

Our questions:

1)   Have you ever been in a parade that honored okra?

2)   How do you like to eat okra?

3)   Have you ever grown okra, picked okra, cooked okra?

4)   Did/does your mother like okra?

5)   Do you wear okra on your face at Halloween?  

Come by the Harland’s Creek Farm space at the

Durham Farmers' Market on

Wednesday  August 19, 2015. 3:30 to 6:30

Talk to us about okra.  

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Where to buy our organic food

You can get our food by:

Visiting one of these local restaurants:

Pittsboro restaurants that have local food we love are: