October: Here's to Fall at Hauser Creek Farm

Field flowers at Hauser Creek Farm

Field flowers at Hauser Creek Farm

Hello, October. Fall is definitely in the air around here and the farm is blooming! If you have a minute, take a look back at my post from May which included a photo similar to the scene above. These flowers were sown in early spring and they peaked around the middle of May. By late July this whole area was invaded with weeds and the flowers spent. I haven't kept good notes this year but I think it was the last week in July when I bush hogged it down, thinking at the time that maybe I might get a second bloom. Sure enough! Only this time around there's sulfur (aka orange) cosmos in the mix which is perfect for autumn. Many of the perky blooms have gone into mason jar centerpieces that I've put together for various functions off-farm. I enjoy simply resting my eyes on this scene when I'm working, and it's been a haven for busy bees and butterflies.

Bucket of fresh-picked flowers at Hauser Creek Farm

Bucket of fresh-picked flowers at Hauser Creek Farm

In keeping with the spirit of autumn, I recently bought a bushel of wine sap apples and have been plowing through them baking all sorts of pies, and this French-themed apple lavender frangipane, which I love! Frangipane is a type of rich pastry cream typically containing ground almonds except in this case I used almond flour. Check out the recipe, below, which I adapted from relishmag.com. If you do not have lavender sugar, no worries. Simply use regular granulated sugar, and vanilla extract can be used in place of lavender extract.

Lavender-infused apple frangipane with fresh borage flowers for garnish

Lavender-infused apple frangipane with fresh borage flowers for garnish

Prepare the crust: Combine 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium-size bowl; cut in 6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter (cut into pieces) with a pastry blender. Add 2 tablespoons ice cold water or just enough to make mixture come together to form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour. 

Roll out the dough placing the plastic wrap underneath the dough as you roll. Roll dough to fit a 9-inch tart pan. Lift dough using the edges of the plastic wrap as a guide and flip it into the pan. Remove and discard the plastic wrap. Press the pastry into the pan, folding edges over if necessary to fit even with the rim. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

While pastry is baking prepare the frangipane: Combine 6 tablespoons butter and 2/3 cup lavender sugar in the bowl of a food processor; top with cover and process until combined. Add 3/4 cup almond flour, 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, 1 egg, 1 egg white, 1 teaspoon lavender extract, and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract; process for 30 seconds or until smooth. Spread mixture in the pastry shell. Peel, core, and thinly slice 2 large apples; arrange apple slices in a pretty pattern on top of the frangipane. Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake about 40 minutes or until puffy and golden. Let cool completely before serving. Serves 8.  

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Autumn: Thick in Turnips and End-of-Season Celebrations

I've made good progress at whittling down my cool-weather jobs list. With the help of a local farmer, our wildflower field has received a facelift - meaning, it is newly re-seeded. Over time the original planting had petered out, so it was time to begin anew. Included in the flower mix are black-eyed Susan, coreopsis, poppy, and purple coneflower. While opinion varies on when to plant wildflowers, I'm a believer in fall planting rather than springtime. Planting in the fall means a better established crop and also an earlier bloom time next year. Elsewhere, a second area has been planted in winter cover crops. Mother Nature has been cooperative and within a few short weeks the field was transformed into a green sea of oats, crimson clover, and turnips. Cover crops, a form of organic farming, are beneficial for several reasons. For one, they enrich the soil and make it more fertile. Cover crops also suppress weeds, and, in our case, serve as food for an array of wildlife. I've noticed a family of deer routinely grazing on the lush greens. The benefit of adding turnips to the mix is that the bulbous root vegetable helps break up clay-packed soils. In the spring, the crop will be mowed down and worked into the field prior to the next planting.  

We're wrapping up the 2012 lavender season with Fall Open Farm Day on Sunday, November 4, noon to 4. The year has been abundant, and we are extremely grateful for family, friends, neighbors, and customers. Your support is greatly appreciated! We'll be serving hot tea and pound cake, both flavored with lavender, and our end-of-year clearance table will be stocked. Additionally, anyone who wants to pick some greens can do so! We'd love to see a bagful of fresh-from-the-field turnip greens end up on your dinner table. Hope to see you soon!