Winter Farming: Planning for Summer – Seeds

Winter Pasture and Garden
Winter pasture and garden

All of life has its ebb and flow. In CNY, winter is less soil intensive, just because things don’t grow in the winter without a cover. That makes it a good time to evaluate the previous season and plan for the coming one.

The Garden Guys – this year Tim and Caleb, assisted at times by the young crew – have thought about things and planned what they want to grow. Next they looked through their seeds to see what they have – mainly squash and pumpkins – and to see what they need to order.  They place the order typically with Fedco Seeds, Maine Potato Lady, and Johnny’s Seeds. Finally the seeds arrive!

Seeds for 2020
Seeds for 2020
Then we wait for the ground and air to warm so we can plant!
Summer Garden
Summer garden

From Corn to Table

Over the years we have grown a flint corn. [The corn is to the left. The broom corn is to the right. Sweet corn is what you eat as corn-on-the-cob. Flint corn is what you grind to make cornmeal.]This year we are using it for ourselves as cornmeal. Here is the process:

Take an ear of corn.
Oh! Look at the color variation on the backside of that one!
Put the corn sheller on it, twist push from the tip to the back of the cob.
Eventually you get a bucket full of corn kernels…
…and a container of empty cobs.
The kernels we take and grind and get cornmeal.

We have used the cornmeal several ways this year – as polenta, as cornmeal mush, and as cornbread. Polenta and cornmeal mush are just cornmeal mixed with a liquid and cooked on the stovetop until the liquid is absorbed. Polenta is good made with milk or broth. Mush tends to be made with water and served as a breakfast dish.

Here are the recipes for polenta and cornmeal mush and for 2 kinds of cornbread. Enjoy!

Cornbread recipes

We have recently been using cornmeal. Here are 2 cornbread recipes that we have used over the years.

Basic Corn Bread:


Dry Ingredients

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, opt.
  • 2-3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dry milk powder, opt.

Wet Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup oil


  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls, then combine. (OR mix dry ingredients; then add wet ingredients and combine.)
  • Pour into greased 9 X 9 pan and bake 25 minutes.
  • Serve hot with meal; or with butter, honey, milk, syrup, jam or jelly.


  • To use sour milk (buttermilk, yogurt, etc.) in place of milk, reduce baking powder to 2 tsp. and add 1 tsp baking soda.
  • For all the liquid ingredients, substitute 1 egg, 3/4 cup of milk, and 1 cup of cream style corn. This makes a more corny cornbread.


Original recipe is from More-With-Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre.  Found at

Moist, Sweet Cornbread

Having a little more fat and a little more sweetener makes this a moist sweet cornbread.


Wet Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted or at least softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk, sour milk, thinned yogurt

Dry Ingredients

  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt, opt.


  • Combine wet ingredients.
  • Add dry ingredients and mix together.
  • Pour into greased 8×8 pan. Bake at 375 F for 30-35 minutes or until done.
  • Serve hot with butter, jam, or jelly.


The sugar seems a lot for the quantity of grains.  And the extra fat does make it a moister cornbread than some.

Polenta and Cornmeal Mush

Based on my observations and looking at the recipes, it seems that Polenta and Cornmeal Mush are very similar. Both use some cornmeal – 1 part to some form of liquid – 2-4 parts. They are stirred or whisked on the stovetop over heat until the liquid is absorbed. The main difference seems to be in how they are served. Polenta tends to be used as the starch with a main dish, similar to how rice would be used. It tends to be made with milk or broth. It goes under things. Cornmeal Mush tends to be the main dish for a breakfast and would be served with syrup, molasses or honey. It tends to be made with water. So here is the combined recipe:

Polenta or Cornmeal Mush

Cornmeal is mixed with a liquid and served under the main dish or as the main dish.


  • 2-4 cups milk, broth, or water
  • 1 cup coarsely ground cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, opt.


  • Combine the cornmeal, liquid, and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat.
  • When the mixture comes to a light boil, turn the heat to medium low, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the liquid has been almost completely absorbed by the cornmeal. Whisk every few minutes, so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. Add more liquid if necessary to keep the polenta/mush from becoming overly thick.
  • Serve with cheese or sweetener: honey, syrup, molasses or sugar.


This can be made with 1 part cornmeal to 2-4 parts liquid.  Using 1 part cornmeal to 4 parts milk makes a really creamy polenta.  I think that you end up with about how many parts of liquid you used – 4 cups, end up with 4 cups of polenta or cornmeal mush.
Original polenta recipe is from

Animal Glimpses in January

Here are the animals in their winter environs:

Ted, the calf, resting
Butter and Honey lounging outside
Goats nibbling hay
Goats nibbling hay
Goat close up
Goat close up
Barred Rock Hen
Barred rock hen wandering
Piggie close up
Piggie close up

Thankful List

Thanksgiving is the season for reflecting on our blessings! From Beth, the face and voice of the farm, here are some of ours –

Butter and Honey
Butter, the mom, and her heifer calf, Honey
Free range chickens
Free range chickens
Gaia, our livestock guardian
Gaia, our livestock guardian
Pesch, our milking goat
Pesch, our milking goat
Piglets rooting in their pen
Piglets rooting in their pen

I am thankful for the family involved in our farming venture:

  • For The Farmer who is the brains
  • For the Sons who are the brains and brawn
  • For the Young Crew who are the faithful helpers

And most of all I am grateful for our customers, Typically, they are a customer at times and a friend at all times. Relationship is what it is all about!

In this season, may you reflect and come up with your own thankful list!

Winter Squash Vegetable Medley

Recently I designed a recipe using winter squash. I like it with ingredients we have saved from the garden. But it can be made with any 6 cups of veggies + the winter squash. Enjoy!

Winter Squash Vegetable Medley


  • 1/2 butternut squash, peeled, quartered, and cut into 1/2 in. thick slices; other squashes or pumpkins will also work
  • 2 cups snowpeas, in bite size pieces
  • 2 cups green beans, in bite size pieces
  • 2 cups Swiss chard or other leafy green veggie, in bite size pieces
  • Olive oil or other fat


  • Prep veggies.
  • Put oil in Dutch oven, covering the bottom well. Heat over medium to high heat. Saute squash in 1 layer for 2-3 minutes one side and about 2 min on other side. Move squash to another dish or plate, do more squash, repeat until all squash is sauteed. If other veggies are not cooked, lightly saute them in batches, adding oil as needed.
  • Mix all veggies together, adding oil. Stir or toss as best you can.
  • Cover and cook over low heat. Check and stir every 5-10 minutes, until all are cooked and soft, probably around 30 minutes.
  • OR Put in a crockpot and cook on high for 1 hour, then turn to low until ready to serve.


  • This can be made with any 6 cups of veggies – frozen veggies, sauteed veggies, canned veggies, fresh veggies – whatever you have available.
  • This can also be doubled or halved and still taste good.


This was fashioned after reading about sauteing winter squash in Ruffage: a practical guide to vegetables by Abra Berens. 

Janet’s Chicken BBQ Sauce

Here is a BBQ sauce contributed by one of my regular customers.  I haven’t tried it yet, but it seems simple enough and looks to be tasty.  While it especially works with chicken, I imagine that it could also work with beef and pork.  Enjoy!

Osso Buco – Crockpot variation

2 meaty soup bones sit side by side in the package.

Osso Buco - Crockpot variation

The meaty shank soup bone is browned, put in the crockpot, then veggies are added and all of it is simmered on low for 6-8 hours. Yummy-licious!


  • 2 tbsp oil, butter, or fat
  • 1-2 meaty shank soup bones
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1 cup celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 18 oz. diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cups broth Opt.


  • Brown meaty shank soup bones in oil for 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove to crockpot or slow cooker.
  • Add veggies to crockpot.
  • Cover with diced tomatoes. Add broth, if using. Cover with lid.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  • Take meat out, cut into fine pieces or shred. Cut marrow into small pieces. Add back to pot and stir it all together.
  • OPT - If you used up to 2 cups of broth, drain liquid and cook down on the stovetop.  Add back to meat and veggies.
  • Serve as is or over rice or potatoes.


This is my stovetop Osso Buco recipe modified to be done in a crockpot.  2 cups of liquid are optional in the crockpot.  The tomatoes, veggies and meat will make their own liquid which will work for this meal.

Garlic Scapes

It is garlic scape season again!  This is a 2-3 week period in June and July about a month before the garlic is ready to harvest.  Scapes are the flower umbrel of a hardnecked garlic. Since we want the energy of the plant to go into the garlic clove, we remove these and eat them.

Garlic scape in the garlic bed

  • Uses for Scapes –  We use scapes in 2 ways – as a green vegetable and as a major ingredient in pesto. Raw, scapes taste like a solid green garlic. They are rather strong. Cooked, they mellow in flavor. The texture is somewhere between cooked green beans and cooked asparagus. The flavor sort of resembles a garlic-y green bean.
    • Green Vegetable – We chop the scapes to a size similar to green beans and cook them in a similar manner. They can be steamed, sauteed or boiled. They can be added to soups, stews or stir-fries. They can also be blanched and frozen – we blanch them for 2 minutes.
    • Pesto – For our family, I take 1 part scapes to 1 part nut or seed to 1 part cheese to 1/2 part oil. I blend these together in the blender or food processor. The blender takes more oil, the food processor less. I have found that any nut/seed, cheese or oil will work. We don’t like the traditional pesto nuts and cheeses, so we use the ones we have, usually walnuts, cheddar cheese and olive oil. The flavor of this mellows with refrigeration. It can also be frozen. We eat it with veggies, crackers or bread OR eat it plain.
  • Just for reference or planning, 1/2 lb scapes chopped = about 2 cups.