Marsh Edge Farm Notes

Marsh Edge Farm Notes:
Welcome to my farm blog. I don't have a farm, but I do everything possible to have fresh produce on my table all summer long, as well as can and preserve much of what I grow. I live on the edge of Tolland Marsh and three years ago began calling my home garden Marsh Edge Farm. I created a label to place on all my canned goods, and everything I preserve, from jams to saurkraut end up with one of my simple labels.

I have two gardens, one is a spring garden and the other is my summer garden. From each garden I usually can grow enough to keep me in fresh vegetables for the whole summer, as well as enough to can and freeze to last the winter.

I also grow many of the herbs that go into my dishes. One of my favorite things to do with all these vegetables is create recipes that my family will eat. That is what this blog is mainly about, the recipes I develop or create in my kitchen as I experiment. Hope you enjoy reading my farm blog, and I hope you will try some of my recipes.

Updates for 2014

After a few years of very bad crops, I have left behind the vegetable gardens for awhile. However, I have found that fresh produce is available throughout the summer at the many farmers markets in the area. Here is a list of some of the markets and farms I gather my fresh fruits and vegetables from.

Rockville Farmers Market: Thursdays from 10 to 1 at the courthouse parking lot.

Tolland Farmers Market: Saturdays from 9 to 12 on the green.

Coventry Regional Farmers Market: Sundays from 11 to 2 at the Nathan Hale Homestead on South St.

Wright's Orchard on South River Road in Tolland, CT

Larry Lemeks Berries on Goose Lane in Tolland, CT.

Johnny Appleseeds Peach Orchard on Old Schoolhouse Rd. in Ellington, CT.

Buell Orchards in Eastford, CT.

There are many other farmers markets throughout the state of Connecticut on different days as well as numerous roadside stands. Support your local farmers no matter how small and you will gain in health and well being by eating the freshest of the fresh.

A link to the Connecticut Farmers Markets for 2014

Sunday, November 23, 2014

American Holidays - Thanksgiving Potluck - Dedicated To My Sister Melanie Welch

Brother Craig carving the first smoked turkey we ever had.  ca. 2006
     Happy Thanksgiving!  It is the one week that I look forward to every year.  I love the cooking and warmth of this American of holidays.  We have always gone big with Thanksgiving since I was born.  Our Thanksgivings have always been a shared experience with family and friends, and we all participate on some level.  Either we are the hosting house, or we bring our own creations to the table.  We have had as many as 40 people at these family celebrations, and our table even today usually has at least 15 sitting down to share the wonders of this delicious holiday.  It is the one time of year when all the family and friends sit down in shared companionship to show our thankfulness for our many gifts and graces we are given every year by our Lord and by the ever giving life of the land. 
     Thanksgiving is the holiday to celebrate a successful harvest.  We have always canned many of our spoils from the summer, from pickles to relishes to vegetables.  We also love to bake and freeze many things to be brought out throughout the winter.

One of the last portraits of Melanie, ca.2012

 This year, we are missing one very important person to the event.  My sister, Melanie, has always
been the hostess every year for many years.  She lost her lengthy battle with cancer this past July.  We are still gathering at her house with her family this year, but her empty place at the table will be keenly felt.  Our brother, Craig, will do most of the cooking this year.  I have been asked to bring a few side dishes and sweet treats. So this particular blog entry is dedicated to my sister Melanie's memory, who's cooking prowess was always admired by many co-workers, girl scouts, church associates, family and friends.  We are thankful that we had 48 years of her presence.

        Thanksgiving at my house in 2009.  My dad is on the far right.  He passed away in 2013 from lung cancer and a blood infection, at 87 years.  On the far left is Melanie, shortly after her successful battle with breast cancer.  Her last bout began in 2012 as a soft tissue sarcoma.  Of course, our mom also died from cancer in 1998.  The remaining table from left to right is Melanie's youngest Sarah, our brother Craig, the love of my life Michael, me, and an old family friend Randy.  All will be there this year except Mel and my dad.
     Many of the recipes we love to make include pumpkin and maple syrup.  It is a New England tradition to always have some dish with maple products in it.  Connecticut has a few sugar houses, but the majority will be found in New Hampshire and Vermont.  I am choosing two recipes this year that use maple products, Maple Fudge and Pumpkin Tart with Maple Cream.  If I have time, I will add one more recipe, Maple Cinnamon Bread.  If I can't make it this week, keep looking.  I may add the recipe next week.  

     Most of the cooking will be done on Tuesday and Wednesday.  I am bringing the following dishes this year.  So, from New England, and the great state of Connecticut, here are my offerings for the Thanksgiving table this year. 
                  Appetizer - Savory Three-Cheese Ball   
                                     Heart Healthy Recipe - Lower Fat   


 1 cup (4 ozs. finely shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese - I use Cabot 50% cheddar
 1/4 cup soft style light cream cheese such as Neufatchel
 2 tablespoons fat-free ricotta cheese
 1 tablespoon finely snipped fresh chives
 1 tablespoon chopped roasted red peppers (such an Mancini)
 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
 1 1/ 2 tablespoons poppy seeds


     In a medium bowl, stir together the cheddar cheese, cream cheese and ricotta cheese until well mixed.  Stir in the chives, peppers Worcestershire sauce.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 4 to 24 hours.
     Just before serving, shape the cheese mixture into a ball.  Roll the ball in the poppy seeds.  Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.  Serve with your choice of crackers or vegetable sticks.
       This recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups or 12 servings.  Double recipe for large gatherings.

Variation:  Using the same recipe, rub a coating of smoked paprika on shaped cheese ball, then roll in chopped almond slices.  This makes a smoky flavored spread, almost like smoked gouda.  Excellent.  Like it even better than with the poppy seeds.
===========================================             Sweet Treat - Maple Butternut Fudge     


2 Cups Maple Sugar available from Mount Mansfield Maple Products in Vermont
1 Cup A or B grade maple syrup  

    Best Maple syrup at Rivers Edge Sugar House in Ashford, CT                                            
1 Cup Whole Raw Milk- Can get at Highland Park Market in Coventry, CT.
2 Tbsp Butter
1/2 Cup Butternuts available from Vermont
  or use Walnuts.  I actually used pecans.

Boil sugar, syrup and milk together until mixture reaches 235* F.
Pour into bowl, place cut butter to melt and cool to about 110 degrees F.

Stir until it shows a grain in the fudge, perhaps 6-10 minutes.
Add Butternuts, (or walnuts if you can't find Butternuts) and pour quickly into a buttered 8 x 8 pan. Makes 24 small pieces.

     The main step to getting a nice smooth fudge is to mix the cooled fudge to a dough like consistancy.  As you stir, the mixture will become heavier and harder to stir.  When it gets to the point where you can't put a spoon through it any more, then it is ready to put into the pan.  In order to add nuts, you will have to knead them into the dough.  
Properly mixed consistancy.

You have to  press the fudge into the buttered pan after kneading about 6 times.  This will make a very creamy fudge, which is what you want. 


                      Side Dish - Whole Cranberry Sauce

1 12 oz bag organic cranberries
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup 100% orange juice
1 tblsp. grated orange peel

Combine all ingredients into a medium saucepan.  Mix until sugar is no longer gritty.  Bring to a full boil, and boil on medium low heat until berries pop, around 5 minutes.  Place mixture into a serving dish, such as corning ware, and allow to cool.  Place in refrigerator until ready to serve.  This sauce gets better the longer it is made ahead of time.   I usually try to make it a week before Thanksgiving.


    Dessert -  Pumpkin Tart With Maple Cream


1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cubed
3 to 4 tablespoons cold water
1 can (15 ozs.) solid pack pumpkin
2 eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Maple Cream (recipe at end)

1.)  Combine flour, granulated sugar and salt in medium bowl.  Cut in butter with pastry cutter or 
      two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in water with fork, 1 tablespoon at a 
      time, until dough holds together.  Shape dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate 
      30 minutes.

2.)  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Roll out dough into a 12 inch circle on lightly floured surface  
      with lightly floured rolling pin.
      (I use parchment paper, but you can use a linen napkin or pastry cloth.)  
      Place dough in 10 inch tart pan with removable bottom.  Trim excess dough 
      from edge of pan.  

3.)  Combine pumpkin, eggs, maple syrup, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and 
       nutmeg in large bowl; mix well.  Pour into prepared tart pan.  

4.)  Bake 20 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.  Bake 30-35 minutes or
      until filling is set.  Test with very thin sharp knife.  If it comes out clean, filling is set.  
      Cool completely on wire rack.  

                                      Maple Cream

     Beat 1/2 cup whipping cream in large, chilled bowl with electric mixer at high speed until soft peaks form.  Add 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup; beat at lowest speed until just blended.  Add 1/4 cup sour cream (I used light sour cream); beat until well blended.  Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until chilled.  Add dollops of cream on the pumpkin tart before serving.  


     It should be a loving and happy celebration, and we will set a place at the table for Melanie.  She is away for now, waiting for the rest of us to join her.  She always loved to travel and see new places.  We know she is experiencing the best trip one can ever have in life, and she is now traveling with our mom and dad.  
     May your travels bring you delights and joys as you meet up with your own best peeps, whether they be friends, family, a soup kitchen, or a restaurant.  Take this day to celebrate with those you love the most.  Do us a favor.  Enjoy the day totally with your family.  Say no to shopping.  There is plenty of time for that after this most sacred of family holidays. Nothing is more important than sharing a complete day with family and friends.  You never know if they will be with you to share again next year.

                  Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!!!!   
   Melanie's favorites

Roasted Butternut Squash with Sage and Cranberries
Serves 4 to 6

1 medium butternut squash
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Fine sea salt and ground black pepper
2 medium onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
4 tablespoons dried cranberries or cherries

Preheat oven to 375°F. Peel squash and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds from the center and discard. Cut
squash into large chunks. Coat with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until well caramelized.
Peel onions and cut into large chunks. Coat with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and spread on a second lined baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until well caramelized. When squash and onions are done, toss with sage and cranberries. Serve immediately.

Our Mom's Best Carrot Cake

1 ¾  cups cooking oil
¾ cups whole wheat flour
1 ¾ cups white flour
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups carrots, grated
1 cup pecans

Beat oil and sugar. Add eggs. Sift flours, baking soda and powder. Blend in with egg mixture. Fold in carrots and pecans. Place in 2 greased & floured loaf pans. Preheat oven to 350°
and bake for 1 hour. Makes 2 loaves. Great with cream cheese frosting (recipe below). Time to Prepare: 1 ½  hours.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8 oz package cream cheese
1 stick butter
1 16 oz box confectionery sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Blend all ingredients with an electric mixer to spreading consistency. Time to Prepare: 20 minutes.

Scalloped Carrots Casserole

  • 12 medium carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 4 cups)
  • 1 Medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 Cup butter, divided
  • 1/4 Cup all - purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Dash pepper
  • 2 Cups milk
  • 2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
  • 3 whole slices wheat bread, cut into small cubes

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place 1 in. of water in a large saucepan; add carrots. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 7-9 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain.
  2. In another saucepan, saute onion in 1/4 cup butter. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until blended. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened.
  3. In a greased 11x7-in. baking dish, layer half of the carrots, cheese and white sauce. Repeat layers. Melt remaining butter; toss with bread cubes. Sprinkle over top. Bake, uncovered, 35-40 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Yield: 4-6 servings.


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