Debbie's Blog

Van Till Family Farm Winery


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Summer in the middle of winter…

That’s what I feel like when I can take the last produce from the garden in October and keep it in the house and make salsa in January!

Take the Roma and yellow grape tomatoes harvested in mid October that finished ripening indoors, along with our garlic harvested in July and jalapeno peppers that I froze and one lonely little red onion and add…

cilantro and more onion that I purchased from the store, to make…

a lovely salsa to eat in January! Make some guacamole with avocados in season and this combination pairs great with our Citrus Sangria Wine.

These tomatoes were grown in soil rich with humus and microbes, thus they are high in nutrients. The theory behind nutrient dense produce is, that as the fruit ripens and holds, the fruit or vegetables will dry up rather than rot.

So, even though the tomatoes were ripe and ready to eat a month ago, sitting on the counter they simple dehydrated a little, but that just makes the flavor intensify. Bring out the chips!

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The Pawpaws are ready to pick!

Though we are really busy in the middle of grape harvest and have tanks of wine, at different stages of production, that have to be monitored and grapes ripening in the vineyard, we make time to keep an eye on the fruit trees in our gardens.

The pears are ripening and will soon be turned into Pear Dessert Wine (port).  But, there is one kind of fruit tree that I think I will use for cooking and not for wine.

There are two Pawpaw trees in our Wine Barn Garden and the fruit is ready to pick!

Pawpaw Tree in Wine Barn Garden

Pawpaw Tree in the Wine Barn Garden. This tree is 10 years old and about 12 feet tall.

 

The race is on to get the fruit when it just ripens, but,  before the raccoons or the opossum.

More Pawpaw Fruit Ready to Pick

Pawpaws ready to Pick.

 

Pawpaw trees (Asimina triloba) are native to North America, growing wild in much of the eastern and Midwest portions of the United States.

The fruit tastes similar to a banana, and can be used in recipes similar to how one would

use a banana.

This month Chef Matthew is making a special dessert with the ripe pawpaws.  He’s

made a wonderful Pawpaw Cake and Pawpaw pudding topping to accompany the cake.

This will be on the menu and served in the Wine Garden this weekend. Should be very tasty.

Now, which wine will we pair with that?

 

 


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Farm to Thanksgiving Table

All went well with the wine pairing this weekend.  The favorite, hands down, went to the Medium Body Gravy

with roasted turkey paired with our  2013 Chambourcin wine.  It was a wonderful taste treat! The wine really enhanced the gravy and

vica versa.  Bits of Cliff’s handmade chicken/apple sausage really added depth to the gravy which

brought out the character of the wine.  In this case, the turkey was there for the gravy!

Here’s the recipe:

Gravy

Pair with Van Till Family Farm Winery 2013  Chambourcin Wine

4 ounces butter
6 ounces flour
6 each chicken/apple sausage links
2 tbsp olive oil
5 each shallots, sliced
1 tbsp mustard seed
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp fennel seed
2 qts. turkey stock

In a saucepan over low heat, make a roux by melting the butter and stirring in the flour.
Cook the sausages according to package directions and dice into small pieces.  Reserve.
Add olive oil to a medium sized sauce pot over medium-high heat and caramelize the shallots
with mustard seeds, black peppercorns, coriander and fennel seed.  Add turkey stock and reduce
by one half, approximately 20 minutes.
Once reduced, strain mixture.  Place liquid back in pot and stir in roux.  Continue stirring over
medium heat until gravy becomes thick.  Add diced sausage.
Keep warm for use right away or refrigerate.
Enjoy!

The  favorite gravy for our “under 21 staff”, who couldn’t taste the wine part of the pairing,

was the Red Wine Gravy made with our 2013 Norton Wine, chicken livers from local free range birds and fresh sage from the garden.

They couldn’t pair with any wine, but they felt this one could stand alone.

Here’s that recipe:

 

Red Wine Gravy

4 Ounces chicken livers, or giblets

2 tbsp butter

1 1/4 cups diced onions

2 cloves garlic, diced

3 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

6 cups chick or turkey stock

1 cup Van Till Family Farm Winery 2013 Norton  Wine

1 sprig fresh sage

 

Saute livers, onion and garlic in sauce pot in butter until done.

Once brown, add the butter and flour  and mix well.  After 2 minutes,

deglaze with the red wine, stock and sage. Cook the gravy for at least 25 minutes

uncovered.  When it has reached the desired thickness, remove the sage and transfer

the mixture to a hand blender.  Blend until smooth.  Serve warm or refrigerate.

 

 

Cutting celery, onions and fresh sage from the farm garden.

Cutting celery, onions and fresh sage from the farm garden.

The cornbread dressing paired beautifully with the 2011 Chardonel Vintner’s Choice wine, which was finished

on oak.  The fresh sage, celery and onions harvested from the farm garden really made this pairing

smooth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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In spite of the freeze last week, the farmscape still had enough life left to harvest …

….for the up coming wine pairings for our Open House this Friday and Saturday.

Look at this sage!  The freeze didn’t bother it.

Sage with willows

It is beautiful and the succulent leaves will give great flavor for
the cornbread dressing.  You can see the willow hedge behind this sage.

This willow turns bright orange during the winter, which gives

a lot of color.

Cutting Celery is a great plant to have in the garden. It is easy to start from
seed and very hard to kill. I tend to be very successful with neglect, and this
one endures and survives.

cutting celery ready

The first time I had experienced growing celery was in California, when my oldest
sister, Kathy, spent  a summer working in a celery packing shed near Nipomo while she and I

attended California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo,

The fog would roll into the coastal hills
in the evening and roll out late morning and the weather was mild and gentle. Great
for celery. Well, Missouri weather has no such gentleness, but this celery does well
here. And, in spite of the freeze, it looks great!

Even the  grasshoppers are  hiding in here hoping to stay warm.

cutting celery ready

Onions are another plant that survived the freeze.

onions in veg bed

These are green onions that propagate themselves in the garden. They emerge first thing in the spring, slow down and just
sit there during the heat of the summer, and then start growing again during the cool
of the fall.  We use these to garnish salads that are served in The Wine Garden.

 

Now, I need to take the harvest and cook and sample.  Friday is our Open House

when we will be offering guests, who are tasting wines in the Wine Shop,

the opportunity to pair wines with samples of dishes that we serve for Thanksgiving

and during the holiday season.  We will be showing how red

wine can be paired with turkey.   The harvest from the farm will be an integral part of that

experience.  Stay tuned!


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Drip Irrigation Project

Cliff Hooking up drip hose in Kitchen Hoop House

A frog on a lettuce leaf in the shade on a 95 degree summer day.

Shade cloth and regular watering with drip tape means sweet lettuce!

Today, Cliff is hooking up the drip irrigation for the Kitchen Hoop House where we have been growing lettuce for the salads and basil for the pesto sauce for the wood-fired oven pizza.  We have shade cloth stretched over the hoops that block 45 % of the sun.  The real test has been this last month, with daytime temps  in the 95-102 range and we have been growing lettuce the whole time!  We pick the outer leaves as they get to the size we want and leave the rest of the plant to grow.  This allows us to harvest the same lettuce plant over 4-6 weeks.  I have planted small lettuce plugs in between the lettuce plants that we are harvesting so that they can get established.  When we pull the older plants, then the smaller ones take off, keeping bare dirt to a minimum.  Growing lettuce during the middle of the summer has been quite challenging because it can get bitter rather fast.  But we are finding that growing under this shade cloth, with regular watering, we are harvesting sweet, succulent lettuce.


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Never underestimate the power of green onions!

Last winter about this time, in preparation for Friday Night Pizza, I was gathering up the green vegetables in the Farm Kitchen  that Chef  Josh had discarded to go into  the compost   when I noticed on the top,  a bunch of green onions (scallions)  that we had purchased from the store.  He had used what he needed and cut off the root ends which were

still bound together with the rubber band.  I could see that they were still alive!  I took those out, set them aside and took the  onion peels, outer leaves of the lettuce, carrot ends and cilantro roots to the compost bin.  How could I discard something that was still alive!

Green Onions in February on the Patio

The next day, I found a 1 gallon nursery pot, filled it with potting soil mixed with compost, took off the rubber band and planted and watered  those

scalllions in the pot.  The next week  I could see they were growing, and soon we were harvesting the tops of  these green onions for our Southwestern Pizza.

It was pretty simple and didn’t take much effort.  In fact, they even survived with  very little water in the summer,  winter in an unheated greenhouse  and are now growing on the patio, ready to be harvested again this week.  And we thought the onion was only an ordinary  vegetable crop.

Oranges and Lemons on the Patio Pavilion in February

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Order the Southwestern Pizza and you will be enjoying local fresh grown greens, in winter, in Missouri!  And did you notice the bright orange and yellow in the picture?

Yes, those are oranges and lemons growing on trees in our Patio Pavilion!  Stop by and see them,  but please don’t pick the oranges!