The Farmstand New Look

We have been working on improving your experience at our Farmstand and restaurant.  If you haven’t already, please stop by and check it out.

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We started working with Jonathan Bryant Jensen early this year to make some improvements. Jensen, a self-employed carpenter, has been resourceful remodeling and designing built environments for the last 15 years, and he is a dedicated Gathering Together Farm customer to boot!

He was first approached by John Eveland to work on replacing the plastic paneling and installing a glass facade to the farm stand. Jensen was able to re-purpose wood panels from dairy in Lewisburg and salvaged glass from a local glass business. Now you can enjoy your meal with a crystal clear view of our bustling farm!

Jensen replaced our old, small and poorly functioning gutters with retired irrigation pipe. These sort of projects fit right into our farm’s vision for sustainability and gives Jensen the work he loves best: giving new life to the old. Let the water flow!

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As a customer, Jensen noticed the South West corner of the farm stand, where we store and sell our freezer goods, was a little too dark and gloomy.  He redesigned the corner and created a built-in display for our value-added jams, sauces, and pickles and other locally-produced goods.

IMG_4306A new produce island sits in a more open and bright farm stand. Jensen hand-crafted this work of art with reused copper and wood.  IMG_4309

So please come in and check it out! Our summer hours for the Farm Stand and restaurant are in full swing: Tue – Fri, 9 – 6 and Sat 9 – 5. Click here for more details.

Rhubarb – A Market Crew Member Speaks

The best thing about rhubarb for me has always been that it is red. In the usual Pacific Northwest Spring through to “Junuary” (a common term used by market folk) the weather is usually cool. Spring feels “late,” and the dedicated GTF market crew will do all that we can to keep the donuts from getting rained on. At sunrise when you open a market tub full of rhubarb, you are excited to see the rich and vibrant red amongst the sea of green you will need to display before the crowds start rushing downtown.

Unlike many of the market shoppers, I don’t have great memories of strawberry rhubarb pie. I am not sure we ate much pie at all during my childhood. And to be honest, I always thought it strange for the combo; rhubarb and strawberries don’t have much overlap on the market shelves. I have since tasted strawberry rhubarb pie and it is a no-fail tasty treat, don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t what drives me to pull rhubarb off the shelf.

For many years, I passed rhubarb up altogether, until I met and studied with Laura McCandlish, an incredible blogger, writer, and radio personality. She has a way for turning me on to almost anything. Several years ago in a Master Food Preserver class she demonstrated making rhubarb syrup with the same variety of rhubarb that we grow and sell at Gathering Together Farm. The color again was incredible – a hot magenta-pink.  She suggested using it in sodas and mixed drinks.  Two years ago, she used the same the syrup to make Italian ice with fresh mint. The flavor combo was perfect, and the frozen treat hit the spot for this eight-month preggo, at the time.

I started cleaning out my freezer early this year, because unlike the usual Oregon spring, this May feels more like July, and I want to make room for the blueberry harvest. I found two-quart bags of rhubarb and was inspired to make freeze pops to break this unusual heat. I boiled them down, added mint and honey to taste, strained, and voila: the taste of a cool sweet spring in a summery spell. Tonight I had the joy of watching three young boys gobble them down, and my 2-year-old son keeps dragging a chair to the freezer begging for more.

The Rhubarb Honey Mint Syrup Recipe

8-10 ribs of red-ribbed rhubarb, chopped
½ cup honey
3 Tbsp dried mint or double with fresh mint

In a large sauce pan, cook the rhubarb with some water on low heat. I used about 1 cup of water. Add mint. As the rhubarb starts cooking and more juice collects in the pain, raise heat to medium. When fully cooked, mash rhubarb and mint together. Strain juice into a bowl. Return to pot, add honey and warm until the honey is fully blended. Taste. This is the concentrated rhubarb syrup. Add more honey if you like it sweeter. It should be a nice blend of sweet and tart.

For ice pops, you can make a more concentrated pop, or a light and refreshing pop. It’s up to you. I added a little bit of water to the syrup. Pour into molds. If this is your first time using freezer pop molds, make sure that you warm the ice pop by running it under warm water to get it out of the mold. Don’t rush this, you will see the pop starting to release from the sides. Gently tug on the pop to remove. Enjoy!

Happy St. Patty’s Day

 

“Happy St. Patty’s Day!” says Ana Patty. Early Saturday morning she was caught making shamrock cookies to celebrate the holiday at the farm.

Ana has been our baker for two years. Trained at Portland’s Western Culinary Institute, she brought her love for classical French baking to the farm and you may have noticed all of the flaky, buttery, hard-to-resist danishes, croissants, and hand pies filling our pastry cases. Ana enjoys filling these yeasty puff pastries with the seasonal produce, creating what she calls a “farm pastry.”

Ana will be leaving us shortly for a grand adventure. Last season, during her time off she traveled through Europe and fell in love with an Irishman. She is excited to return to Ireland, and she jokes that she may open up a pancake shop and call it “Patty Cakes.” But first she will look for a job as a chef or baker. She knows she wants to be in a kitchen. Ana has had such a wonderful experience with the GTF Kitchen crew that she hopes to find a similar family that is fun and supportive with a shared passion for quality food.

The Countdown Begins…

We have been preparing for the opening of the Farmstand with a flurry of activity. New roof for the patio, and a new orientation for the Farmstand to make shopping and dining a little more comfortable. Also, the first batch of pepperoni is ready just in time to top the pizza on Thursday, February 28, our opening day for the 2013 season.

See you on Thursday,
jc