We finished picking and husking the last of the field corn yesterday on the windiest day of the year! The wind had blown down many of the stalks and the horses were uneasy standing with the wagon, while we picked, but it is good to have it done and the new corn crib looks great!

Jim Adding the Last Two Ears of Corn to the New Corn Crib.
Jim Adding the Last Two Ears of Corn to the New Corn Crib.

Cut Leek Lengthwise and Wash Away Dirt Between Layers.
Cut Leek Lengthwise and Wash Away Dirt Between Layers.

Celeriac is such an ugly looking vegetable that many people are scared of it, but it is a wonderful addition to the soup pot. I would like to share a recipe adapted from a new cookbook, Roots by Diane Morgan. I found the “bouquet garni” adds a very nice flavour to the soup. The easiest way to clean a leek is to cut it lengthwise and then wash away the dirt from between the layers under running tap water.


10 pepper corns

1 bay leaf

4 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs

4 fresh thyme sprigs

2 tbsp butter

1 large leek – white and light green part only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

1 large garlic clove, minced

4 cups water

1 large celery root, trimmed, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes

2 tsp kosher or fine sea salt

¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup whipping cream

¼ cup crème fraîche , sour cream or yogurt

2 tbsp finely snipped fresh chives

1) Cut an 8 inch square of cheesecloth and place the peppercorns, bay leaf, parsley, and thyme in the center. Bring the edges to form a bag and tie securely with kitchen twine to make a bouquet garni, Set aside.

2) In a 4- to 6b qt. saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and swirl to coat the pan bottom. Add the leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 98 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the water, celery root, salt, pepper, and bouquet garni and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered, until the celery root is tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for a bout 10 minutes.

3) Discard the bouquet garni. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Return the pureed soup to the saucepan, place over low heat, and add the cream. Warm the soup until steaming hot. Do not allow it to boil. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (The soup can be prepared up to 3 days in advance. Let cool, transfer to a covered container, and refrigerate. Rewarm over low heat just before serving.

4 Ladle the soup into warmed bowls. Garnish each bowl with a dollop of crème fraîche, sour cream or yogurt and a pinch of chives. Serve immediately.

Giant Winter Kohlrabi
Giant Winter Kohlrabi


Picking Kale in the Snow!
Picking Kale in the Snow!

We are getting ready for the 3rd Fall CSA Pick-Up. Fortunately we spent the better part of last week digging root crops and washing them before instant winter descended! We left some crops in the field and wonder if they will survive under the snow. We had winter kohlrabi this year that grew to be giant in size. Last year I thought it was a bit small and planted it earlier this year. Perhaps I went too far in the other direction. I was able to harvest kale out of the snow and it looks fine. We picked our first greens from the hoop house today. I am always amazed  by how the small greens can grow so nicely in an unheated hoop house. It seems so special to be able to pick them when there is snow outside.

Bill with his Ears of Corn
Bill with his Ears of Corn
Heading Up with the Afternoon's Picking
Heading Up with the Afternoon’s Picking

I decided to try and grow some field corn for cornmeal in our CSA corn plot. I found a source of white open pollenated organic seed. Ken heard of growing white corn because if it cross pollenates with GMO corn the kernels would show up as yellow corn.  I ended up with more seed than I had asked for initially and as a result Ken decided to plant a bigger block of corn. We had to wait for it to dry down enough before we picked it and now the snow has come. Jim Conrad has been building a little corn crib to hold the cobs. This afternoon we headed down to start the picking job. It wasn’t too bad with five of us, but we only got about half of the plot picked when the sun was starting to go down. Jim is hoping for some cornbread. We will see what we can do about that once it dries down some more so that we can grind it in our mill powered by the horse treadmill.

Ecological Farmer’s of Ontario is having a conference the beginning of December and they were requesting 8×8 cake recipes and asked me for my parsnip cake. I have copied the recipe here.

Parsnip Cake Recipe for 8 x 8 inch pan from the kitchen of Martha Laing
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
3/4 cup sunflower oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups grated parsnips
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup crystallized ginger
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine sugar, flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger; beat in oil until mixture is light in colour, about 3 minutes.
Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating for about 30 seconds after each addition. Add parsnips, mixing thoroughly.
Spread in well-greased and floured 8 x 8 inch baking dish. Bake for 50 – 55 minutes or until tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Let cool in pan before spreading with Cream Cheese Frosting.
* Recipe can be doubled for a 9 x 13 inch pan recipe. It can also be doubled and divided between 3 – 9 inch round cake pans for a layered cake. For a fancy cake, I put caramelized apples between the layers and add crystallized ginger pieces to the cream cheese icing.
Cream Cheese Icing for 8 x8 inch pan
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2  cup butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
In mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter, add enough milk to make fluffy spreadable consistency.  Double recipe for layer cake.
Caramelized Apples for filling between layers of fancy cake
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 pounds Golden Delicious or Honey Crisp apples(or other firm apple variety), peeled cored, cut into 1/2 inch slices.
2/3 cup whipping cream
Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat; cover with sugar. Stir until sugar begins to melt, about 1 minute. Add apples.  Cook until apples are brown and tender and juices form, about 10 – 15 minutes. Add cream and simmer until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Cool before assembling cake.
Jim Picking Field Corn
Jim Picking Field Corn
Clay Moving the Suffolk Horses and Wagon Ahead
Clay Moving the Wagon Ahead
Grayden Picking Field Corn
Grayden Picking Field Corn

Kailea and Andy
Kailea and Andy

Ken and I had a wonderful break away from the farm between the end of our Main Season CSA and the beginning of our Fall CSA. We were privileged to attend the beautiful wedding of Kailea MacGillivary and Andy Pedley in Cape Breton. Andy apprenticed here at Orchard Hill Farm in 2010 and 2011. We were also able to visit two other farms, Olde MacKenzie Farm in PEI and Broadfork Farm in Nova Scotia. Both relatively new farms growing produce with ties to Ontario, where we met the farmers originally. It was fun to visit another part of the country and see other similar operations. We came home feeling blessed to have good land to farm and ready to dig in and harvest for our first Fall pick-up.

The digging has been made considerably easier with a our newest horse drawn implement, a Ken Laing manufactured Root Lifter. It is a U shaped bar that pulls along under root crops and loosens the soil around them to make them easy to pull out of the ground. What a help it is and time saver! Ken has also been busy in his shop making a barrel root washer and it was well tested yesterday and today washing potatoes, beets, carrots, parsnips and winter radish! I am thrilled to have both new additions to our line of equipment.

Root Lifter
Root Lifter
Root Lifter Blade
Root Lifter Blade
Jim and the New Barrel Washer
Jim and Clay and the New Barrel Washer
Clay and Jim Washing Carrots
Clay and Jim Washing Carrots
Ken and Martha in Cape Breton
Ken and Martha in Cape Breton