Boy did it feel like Fall this morning, huh? With perfectly cool sleeping weather and warm sunny days we are really noticing the shift of seasons this week. Most of all, we are noticing the total farmstand take over by the apple faction.
Rivaled only by the fall decor giant Hay Man out front and his many pumpkin minions, the apples are really where it is at right now. Today we had 19 varieties available on the stand, several of which we have never had before at Volante. This week’s newbies included Red Gala, Pinova, and Crimson Gold joining the rest of the gang on our apple list. Be sure to click-through to our variety guide for tasting and usage notes on your apples, and while you are shopping be sure to grab a page of our apple notepads so you can identify your favorites later at home.
In addition to the fresh apples, we have Massachusetts Made Cider back on the stand after along absence. And not just in liquid form. If you have been following our other social media this week you know that Cider Donuts have finally arrived at Volantes! We, and our Donut Robot, are thrilled to have found another way to get you hooked on an amazing home-made product. Buy them by the each or the half-dozen ready bagged in our bakery, and be prepared to eat them while they are still warm. Stop in this weekend for a fresh hot coffee and donut.
Speaking of warm apple treats, the Ice Cream Stand is countering with a few temptations of their own this weekend. They have begun serving warm apple crisp from Mann Orchard with a cool scoop of Crescent Ridge Ice Cream on top. This weekend they will also be making fresh caramel apples, something we have long wanted to offer, and finally have the means of keeping the mess to a minimum.
With so much apple-ing going on it seems prudent to whisper the official date and time of the years’ preeminent apple event. The 2012 Volante Farms Apple Pie Contest is Official, Sunday October 14th at Noon! Rules and Registration to follow soon, but mark your calendars and start refining your recipes. This is a different day than we had originally talked about, so be sure to note that it is on a Sunday this year, and will be well over before the Pats game if you want to keep eating and on the same day as the Needham Historical Society Walk if you feel the need to work off some pie calories.
Finally, for a different sort of taste, this weekend is the Life is Good Festival at Prowse Farm in Canton. The two-day event raises funds for a variety of children’s charities while treating festival goers ears to some very fine music. As part of the event this year, Pete and Gerry’s Eggs invited us to be involved and had Chef Todd create a signature sandwich to be served to the volunteers and attendees this weekend. His Sandwich, “The Barnraiser” consists of Volante’s Homegrown Roasted Eggplant Spread, sauteed Homegrown Sweet Peppers, Homegrown baby Arugula, Cabot Cheddar Cheese and a fresh heirloom Ameraucana Egg from Pete and Gerry, all together served up on Barowsky’s 12 Grain Bread.
Chef Todd joined chefs from Henrietta’s Table, No. 9 Park, The Seaport Hotel, and The Met Group in creating special sandwiches for the event, proceeds of which at the festival go directly to the Life is Good charities.
If you are not lucky enough to attend the fest, which at this point has already sold out for Sunday, and will likely for Saturday as well, you will at least be able to try the Barnraiser here this weekend, 8-11 in the morning.
Otherwise, think fall. Pumpkins, winter squash, mums, salt marsh hay, cornstalks, they’re all here and ready to celebrate the season that is New England. Pop in this weekend for a quick seasonal spruce up for your yard and some fresh tastes for the lunch table as well.
This week you’ll have to catch us on the run. We are all over the place with new flavors, flowers and festive events.
Sticking with the alliteration, Fortune Apples arrived this week. Macouns are expected shortly as well, maybe as early as this afternoon.
Also round and red, local cranberries are back on the stand this week, from The Berry Guys in Carver MA. This year they have fresh, dried, and two types of sauces for us.
Out in the field some of the summer tastes are fading away. Summer squash and cucumbers are succumbing to the season even though are last crop is just starting to produce and winter squashes are pumping up their production. We have a wide variety of homegrown winter squash coming into the stand now plus many more from our local partners. The beginning of Pumpkin season is here too. Pumpkins are coming in in sugar, jack-o-lantern and Cinderella styles from Araujo Farms in Dighton.
We also have a new crop to crow about. Our first ever Parsnip pick this week has fresh Parsnips available on the root table right inside the Farmstand door. The combination of their growing popularity and our lengthened season made it seem like it would be a good time to try this special root vegetable. The fact that they had to go in the ground over 180 days ago means we are really quite excited to be pulling them out now. Let us know how we did!
The greenhouse has many more mums coming into bloom now, as well as some impressive disco-bell hibiscus, flowering cabbages and kale, plus those beautiful fall flowering shrubs we showed you last week.
Chef Todd is busy this week too. He is up at Babson this afternoon at their Sustainability Fair, introducing the new arrivals on campus to their local farm. Plus he is whipping up some fall favorites for the prepared food section as well including:
The last few months at Volantes have put to rest any theories and notions that we don’t like change. We have thrown ourselves whole-heartedly and with only enough caution to this exciting venture into the what Volante Farms is becoming, a true Place for All Seasons. We have always sought out new produce and vegetables for your tables and have tried to keep pace with food trends. Every year we scour seed catalogs for interesting new vegetables that might just hit the spot. This year for example we are trying a couple new (old) tomatoes, parsnips, turnips, asparagus, and something called a flower sprout, which we aren’t so sure about yet. We have tried new varieties of corn, beans, peas, lettuce and peppers. We are always interested in finding the plants that will grow the best for us and will taste the best and will spark an intriguing meal for you at home.
There is a firm contrast point to this though that helps define why we are successful at what we do. We recognize our triumphs and we embrace them. We learn what varieties of corn grow best in cool weather, or what green beans do not. There are even local tastes to be taken into account. We know our customers prefer a yellow squash that is not too crooked neck and that has a green as opposed to white or yellow stem. We also know that one of our mot popular spring garden seedlings is our very own Mr Volante’s Cornetta Pepper.
This pepper was brought from Italy by Ferdinand Volante. It is a slender red when ripe pepper reminiscent of its hot cousin the Hot Portugal. But hot it is not. In fact it is one of the sweetest peppers you may ever taste. We harvest the first two plant-ripened bushels of Cornettas every year for our own personal seed stores. Ferdinand used to collect, dry, and save the seeds from these peppers himself. Since his passing one of our field crew, Lefty, does the arduous cutting, coring, and cleaning chore to make sure we have plants the following year. The trick to this tradition, is not just in the seeding, but in the aftermath. Ferdinand would have a tendency to fry up those peppers after he got all the seeds out and then would bring them down, oily and warm at 6,7 or 8 am on a cold fall morning. We employees would scoop the peppers off the plate, in their sandwich layers of paper towels, and shove them into hot loaves of Cavagnis Italian Bread. And this tasty situation was worth looking forward to year after year. A little oil, a little salt, a little garlic was the only recipe we ever got. the trick was always to know that to Ferdinand nothing was ever little.
Considered an Italian frying pepper, if you are a fan of peppers at all you should learn to love this pepper. How? By trying it once in the traditional Volante way. If you haven’t grown them yourselves, we are now done with our seed harvest for 2012, and are now offering the excess for sale on the stand. Grab a large handful. I would say enough to cover a standard baking sheet will yield enough for 4-6 sandwiches. All the extras will be eaten by you, the chef, on their way out of the oven.
Follow this recipe, more or less, which is Ferdinand Volante’s recipe, more or less for an amazing treat from the garden. Accompanying photos are from last week’s harvest of seed peppers, which we can now cook on site in our Farm Kitchen, instead of at my house. Like all good traditions the first batch of peppers still went to the employees of the Farmstand this year and we gathered around a batch of soggy sweet peppers in the back room and scooped them up with our home-baked baguettes late last Tuesday afternoon. Satiated, we have released some to chef Todd to include on steak sandwich specials this week in his own way, but the recipe below is pure Volante:
Choose ripe red Cornettas. they can even be ripe to the point of wrinkly they will still taste fine. green ones are ok, but nothing beats the reddest ones.
Cut the stem end off and slice in half, length-wise, trimming off especially bad spots, and scraping away the seeds. Once you acquire the taste for these peppers you will probably forgo the whole seed scraping portion so that you can eat them quicker, but for the first few rounds, I’d suggest seeding.
In a large bowl combine cleaned peppers with a healthy pour of olive oil. Salt liberally with coarse sea or kosher salt. Grind on some fresh black pepper. Drop in a head’s worth of peeled garlic cloves if you are a fan of garlic, leaving them whole allows for easy removal for those with more sensitive palates.
Using your hands, toss peppers and spices liberally in the oil so that they are fully and well coated. If you think they may not be oily enough, you should certainly add more. The same goes for the salt.
Spread evenly on a baking sheet, one with preferably high sides. place in a preheated 400 degree oven. Check after 15 minutes. peppers should be soft and melting into pan a little bit. you need to gauge your own oven on this, but ideally another 5-10 minutes will finish them off. You may want to broil the last 5 minutes to get a little carbon on the peppers, that is a personal touch.
remove peppers from oven, set down tray and consider burning your fingers to try the pepper that is calling your name.
Set tray aside and line plate with absorbent paper towels, place peppers on it and layer paper towels on top, continuing until all peppers are on plate and having oil drain a little bit.
Find a warm loaf of bread, slice open, and fill with peppers. Enjoy. Realize it is very early and time to go to work. Repeat as necessary while the season lasts.
We’ve finally moved beyond mums. Well not beyond, but we found them some accompaniments that are worth lauding. The blooms of spring and summer are fading quickly and the short days and cooler nights will soon be changing the profundity of your garden bed blooms. It may be just the right time to spruce them up and give them a boost of colorful flowers to wow annually and foliage to strike year round.
While Chrysanthemums are the standard bearer this time of year with their gorgeous full blossoms and mounding habits, avid gardeners are always on the look out for something a bit different. We are thrilled to have some great options this year in addition to all the colorful mums you are used to.
We have received some gorgeous shrubs and perennials in this weekend that are really striking in form and function. These plants are not only in prime time right now, but they are destined to repeat their performances year after year. So if you have a spot that really needs regular brightening this time of year, consider one of these to do the trick.
The cooler and wetter weather September usually delivers is perfect for transplanting in the yard, as plant stress is at a season long low and getting plants established is a little easier.
Stop in and check out some of our recent arrivals, including fully blooming pink hydrangea, rose-of-sharons, lavender, ageratum, coneflower, and sawgrass, plus much more.
Of quick note in the rest of the Farm this weekend: Needham’s The Center Cafe will be having another cooking demo in the Farmstand at 11 am on Saturday. Vanessa has been working on a dish that may or may not invoke the bounty of peppers we are experiencing right now. Stop in and see what she comes up with.
Speaking of bounties, the greenhouse has been pushing baby arugula out the door like mad, so chef Todd will be whipping it up into all sorts of dishes this weekend. Keep an eye out for a peppery green addition to this weekend’s sandwich, pasta and other specials.
In soon to be bountiful news, the fall broccoli crop looks like it is ready to blow. No more squealing by on the dinky side shoots of the early summer crop anymore, expect to see some large Homegrown heads on the stand by the end of the weekend, and what a beautiful crop this looks like it is going to be!
Also in season, pears! We rode out to FlathillOrchard in Lunenburg today to pick you up a bin of local Bosc Pears. So if out dozen types of apples aren’t enough we’ve added the fun of pears to the mix. A few new apples are expected over the weekend as well, though I don’t have the specifics on them yet. You’ll know when I do!
Hello again everyone, the updates are coming fewer and farther between these next few weeks as more and more is happening at the farm all the time.
So with the onset of September, Apple Season is in full swing. When I checked this morning we had 11 varieties of locally grown apples on the stand. You might remember that is the same number as we had last week. Well, we are conscious of the seasonality of these precious fruits. Each has a peak time of readiness and as such many early varieties have already come and gone. Don’t fear, I am sure there are some if not several available now to suit your needs. Keep track of what’s new this week by checking our Apple Page regularly. I keep it fairly up to date, even more so than our Now Picking page, which is also freshly updated. New apples this week of note are of course the beloved Honeycrisp, Mutsu, McIntosh, and Jonamac. For more about these apples check in our apple variety guide too.
The Farmstand is also making room for a few other new arrivals. This week we finally saw the return of Lima beans. Which, I have almost decided to stop lauding because honestly enough of you have gotten clued in that these aren’t the gross pasty frozen beans of old but quite possibly end all and be all of beaniness, which means there are barely enough for me. Oh ok fine, one last plug: shell a pile of these, chop up a super ripe tomato over them in a skillet, add salt pepper (maybe a hint of garlic and oil) and simmer for about 20 minutes on med-low covered til the beans get a slight pucker to their skin. Slurp gratuitously.
Also making a dignified and cautious entrance, Winter Squash. Black and Orange acorn, Carnival, Festival, Sweet Dumpling, Delicata, and even a few small Orange, Blue, and Lakota Hubbard squashes are ready. I won’t spend too much time on this now, we have a long fall ahead of us, but if you’ve been craving that taste of fall now is your first opportunity.
In the kitchen fall tastes are starting to develop as well. The Summer BLT special is still going strong though and they are curing and smoking at least one pork belly a day to keep the sandwiches well bacon-ed with house made strips. As long as our homegrown heirloom tomatoes and lettuce keep up I think Chef Todd and crew will stay at it. This sandwich has been very popular and is only gaining in popularity.
For a really tasty night, consider picking up a pack of his homemade Vegetable Curry, made with our own homegrown vegetables. It has been flying out the door this week and is proving to be another popular choice, plus it is a great way to enjoy some of our homegrown veggies without the work on your part. Speaking of that we found a way to make determining what’s Homegrown in our refrigerator case even easier. Now all dishes containing something right from our Needham fields will have a bright “VF” sticker in Volante Green & Gold on it, so you know you are getting the best of all worlds. Look for it now!
Fall colors are appearing in the greenhouse as well, plenty of mums in all sizes are arriving regularly, as well as other fall blooming annuals and perennials. If you are just about done dealing with your summer color and ready for a change, now is a great time to get into the next season early. Also, in other fall decorating news, we will be bringing in bunched cornstalks and salt marsh hay soon too.
I know that I already gave you one recipe above but now for something a little more structured. You may have noticed over the past few weeks our Featured Local Partners tab on the upper right of the blog. With so many Local vendors, bakers and growers represented on our sales floor–not to mention artists, more on that later–in addition to our own wares we want to take the opportunity to introduce you to a few of our favorite partners in locavorism. This weeks featured partners include Wellesley’s Pure Gold Granola. When Laurie was in last month judging the cooking contest she mentioned a fantastic recipe for Pirate Cookies, using her special handmade granola. I begged her to share it with us all, so here goes:
PURE GOLD, Drunken Raisins and Other Buried Treasure
Fill a large jar with raisins and pour a mixture of ¾ dark rum and ¼ bourbon to the top. Cover and let the raisins sit overnight or for a week or more to get them good and drunk on the rum/bourbon. You’ll have extra for future.
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ cups rolled oats
1 ½ cups drunken raisins
12 oz Ghirardelli 60% cacoa bittersweet chocolate chips
I ½ cups PURE GOLD GRANOLA
Preheat oven to 375°.
Sift the flour, salt and baking soda.
Cream the butter and sugars until light.
Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Beat in flour mixture until well combined.
Add oats, raisins, chocolate chips, PURE GOLD GRANOLA and mix until just combined.
Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drop generous tablespoons (about the size of golf balls) on cookie sheet. Press down slightly. Bake 12 minutes.
Remove sheets from oven. Allow cookies to continue to bake on sheets for about 5 to 10 minutes. Move each cookie to wire rack to cool.
Store in locked treasure chest.
© 2012 Lauli Creations, LLC
Be sure to check out Pure Gold and our other local favorites here and then again when you come and shop with us. Support up to a hundred local businesses every time you support ours.
Speaking of that, one last Labor Day note, we will close an hour early on Labor Day at 6 PM but the Ice Cream stand will be open as usual 11-9 for those last tastes of summer freedom.