The Farmer’s Table – September 2013 Edition

— Written By Shawn Senter

The Farmer’s Table

By Deborah Cox, County Extension Director

What an absolute wild summer for farmers this year trying to grow produce and crops in a season of rain. Our Extension Agents in crops, livestock, and horticulture have been fielding calls every day with folks trying to work with difficult conditions. Our markets are busy so they have found the will and the way to make it work. Prices were a little bit higher than normal, but let’s all hope the rain will not drown us next year.

Farmers thrive on hope and this month’s farm family certainly began their farming future on lots of hope. Randy and Sue Barnes have been farming for a relatively short period of time on Mother Holtz Farm. Their story is one we will probably hear more and more about at the Extension office since they bought 17 acres in 2007 as they sought out blissful retirement options. Randy and Sue have been married for 17 years, and Sue is so passionate about learning to cook and sew and recreate her life during retirement that I think she could write a book on how to do it well.

Sue has had a lot of time to think about what makes a good life and how to reinvent yourself. Sue earned a Clinical Psychology Degree from WakeForestUniversity and spent 20 years as a clinical psychologist with the Department of Corrections. Helping people to look at life as an opportunity to “do better” the next time is what helps incarcerated men and women to look at all the opportunities they have before them to start anew each day–a good reminder for all of us. Randy grew up in RandolphCounty and met Sue through a mutual friend. A very good match indeed. Randy was the Facilities Director of a local substance abuse facility, as well as supervisor of maintenance, housekeeping, and dietary services. They have two children from a previous marriage, and two grandsons, ages 15 and 20.

While Randy enjoys working the soil on their farm, Sue has set her sights on becoming the best baker and jelly maker she can be, and she has learned the lessons well. They farm 3 of their 17 acres in fresh produce. The farm is named after Sue’s great grandmother Holtz. The recipe books got handed down through the generations, sparking Sue’s imagination. They have 1/3 of an acre in muscadines, which prompted her jelly making. She makes small batches of jelly and takes special orders for groups who want a special treat for staff awards or special breakfast presentations.

You can find Sue at The Pioneer Hospital Farmer’s Market on Fridays from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.(open until Thanksgiving) and the Kernersville Market on Saturdays from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. But if you meet up with her, be sure to try any one of her baked goods:  pumpkin bread or muffins, chocolate zucchini bread, blueberry orange bread, sugar free and regular jams, such as Loveapple jelly (tomato jelly), apple jelly, grape jelly, or a decadent walnut jam for ice cream topping. Sue also carries homemade aprons and bags she has sewn. Sue has experimented with gluten-free baked goods and has adapted the recipes. If you talk to her at the market she will take special orders for those gluten-free and sugar-free products.

Sue has shared a recipe that can be used with cream cheese, but I like this recipe because she is helping promote another local farmer at Buffalo Creek Farm in Germanton by using fresh chevre (goat cheese) in this recipe. This is a fabulous dish that I got to sample at the market. Give this a try and it will soon become a favorite!

Swiss Chard Goat Cheese Casserole from the Kitchen of Mother Holtz

One bunch of Swiss Chard (or spinach )
1 egg
1 cup of mild
1/3 cup melted butter
¾ cup of toasted bread crumbs
Cayenne pepper
Anchovy paste
8 oz. fresh chevre ( goat cheese)

Dice stems and rough chop leaves of chard. Cook in 1/2 cup salted water until wilted. Drain and squeeze out excess water.

In food processor blend for 15-20 seconds:  1 egg, 1 cup of milk, 1/3 cup of melted butter, 1/2 cup of toasted soft bread crumbs, dash of cayenne pepper, 1 tsp. anchovy paste (don’t skip this, as it gives it the pizzazz and flavor–unless you have a seafood allergy, then add another spice).

Combine chard and blended ingredients.

Place in greased one-quart casserole, top with 1/4 cup of toasted bread crumbs. Bake in 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes till bubbly. Great with lamb, pork, and chicken dishes.

Thanks Sue and Randy! You have reinvented yourselves to be fabulous farmers, cooks, bakers, businesspersons, parents, grandparents, and happy reinvented people in retirement. Job well done! There is hope for more Baby Boomers to follow your lead!