This is the second part of the Turnip Rock Farm visit that Eliesa Johnson and I did back in July (I am slow to post...sorry my dear blog and lovely Turnip Rock people). Eliesa Johnson who is a wonderful photographer and a relentlessly positive and energetic person took the beautiful photos. And Josh and Rama, the warm hearted owners and farmers of Turnip Rock farm, opened their farm to us to explore and photograph.
This is a special project for me mainly because I feel such a strong connection to the Turnip Rock Farm people. I have always believed in nature’s wisdom, natural processes and balance, where everything has its purpose and all the elements are interdependent. That is why I support and admire Turnip Rock farm’s mission where Josh and Rama strive to create an organic, sustainable farm with a whole ecosystem where each element of their farm is interdependent. They farm by balancing annual vegetables, natural habitat, grasses and trees with animals integrated into the fold. They grow 6 acres of produce and get supported by 160 CSA members. They also raise pigs, sheep and cows and from the milk Rama, the magician cheesemaker, makesa beautiful selection of soft and aged cheeses. Their love for growing and sharing their own food is so strong and anyone who encounters them feels that. They are a family of people who have a tremendous respect for the soil, their natural environment, resources, their produce and their lifestyle is a reflection of that.
It always makes me happy to see Rama’s and Josh’s smiling faces at the farmers market. They radiate warmth and genuineness that are always present and that is what makes them wonderful to be around (I could sit and chat with them for longer than they probably want). While at their farm, I realized that they attract people with the same qualities to work with them. Everyone on the farm was so kind and welcoming to us. They even invited us to join them for a home-cooked farm lunch prepared by Liberty. In the world we live today I so often get disconnected form what is real and important and I feel that food has been one of them – it’s easy to forget how it is made and to take its vast availability all for granted. What I loved about that farm lunch (which I will always remember) was that it was made from produce picked fresh from the farm minutes before it was to be enjoyed. The lunch was fresh and seasonal and it showed the loving and respectful relationship that every member of the Turnip Rock Farm had with the land and the gifts of nature. Liberty made us zucchini cakes with yogurt and cucumber sauce; arugula, potato and pesto salad; cucumber and quinoa salad all accompanied by a huge plate of Cosmic Wheel feta cheese, and to finish it Rama indulged us with the most amazing, finger-licking quark cheesecake (you can find the recipe in the previous post). I had eaten these dishes before but that day I felt like I discovered their taste all over again. Maybe it was the air, maybe the people or maybe the love and the care surrounding us is what made them so memorable and yummy. In the days after, I kept thinking about these wonderful people, their farm, the lunch and how lucky I was to be part of it. And every time this summer when I felt like being transported back to that day at the Turnip Rock Farm I made myself a huge batch of zucchini cakes, a plate of feta cheese and a big bowl ofthe wonderful warm potato, pesto, and arugula salad.
To honor Turnip Rock Farm and their wonderful produce I picked a few of the vegetables that grew in season on their farm as well as some of Rama’s Cosmic Wheel soft and aged cheeses. I used the produce in 2 different ways to create 2 recipes that tell the story of the farm. One is a fresh beets and carrot salad with honey-lemon on a quark cheese crostini. And the second one is a savory bacon, eggs and kale tart with a cheese crust.
This story is about community and being a part of one. And I hope with all my heart that you can find the strength to do the not-so-easy task of supporting and giving your time and energy to what is important to you. We are all connected in a beautiful web of people and their gifts of labor. And either that gift of labor comes in a form of a cheese, or vegetables, or a product, a service or a gesture of kindness, we all benefit from it. So support your community and you will be rich.
Beets and Carrots Salad Crostini
Makes about 20 crostini
• 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1 tbsp honey
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp caraway seeds
• 1 baguette, sliced, brushed with olive oil and toasted in the oven
• 4 medium red beets, peeled and thinly sliced on a mandoline
• 3 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on a mandoline
• 6 oz Cosmic Wheel Garlic Quark cheese (Goat cheese works too)
• A few sprigs of fresh dill
Place all the dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake until creamy.
In a medium bowl place the beets, carrots and dressing. Toss and let sit for 10 minutes. Taste and add more salt or honey if desired.
Assemble the crostini by spreading a dollop of Quark cheese on each piece. Top with a small amount of the beet salad and sprinkle with dill.
Bacon & Kale Tart with Cheese Crust
(Adapted from Donna Hay)
• 2 cups (300g) all-purpose flour
• 1 tsp salt
• 150g cold unsalted butter, cut in small cubes
• 1/2 cup (60g) grated aged Cosmic Wheel cheese (any kind)
• 1/2 cup (40g) grated Parmesan
• 1 egg
• 10 strips of bacon
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 1 bunch of Dino kale, center vain removed and chopped
• 3/4 cup (200ml) cream
• 3/4 cup (200ml) milk
• 5 eggs, lightly beaten
• 1 cup grated aged Cosmic Wheel cheese (any kind)
• 4oz (100g) Cosmic Wheel Garlic/Dill Quark
• Salt and black pepper
Place all crust ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until the pastry comes together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.
While the cheese dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
Line a baking tray with aluminum foil (this will ensure easy clean up) and lay the bacon strips. Bake for 10 minutes, flip the bacon and bake for additional 5 minutes. Remove the bacon and lay on a plate lined with paper towel. Reserve 2 tbsp of the bacon drippings. When the bacon is cool, chop roughly and set aside.
Lightly grease the base and sides of a 9-inch (23cm) springform pan. Grate the pastry and press into the base and sides of the form going all the way to the top. Line the pastry with non-stick baking paper and fill with baking weights or uncooked rice or beans.
Place on a large oven tray and cook for 25 minutes. Remove the paper and weights and cook for another 5–10 minutes or until the pastry is lightly golden.
While the pastry is cooking, heat the preserved bacon fat in a medium non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 4–6 minutes or until soft. Add kale and cook for 2 more minutes or until wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Place half of the kale, bacon and quark cheese in the pastry shell. In a medium bowl combine the eggs, cream, milk and grated aged cheese. Pour the egg mixture in the pastry shell and top with the remaining kale, bacon and quark cheese.
Reduce heat to 325°F (160°C). Bake the tart for 1 hour 15 minutes or until golden and set. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes before removing from the spring form to serve.