Pinch me - the sweetness is over the top! The farm is bustling with babies from every corner; piglets, bunnies, goats, little freedom rangers, baby turkeys and Sadie, our new farm lab to keep us company during chores. It is midsummer and I can’t for a moment think of a happier place. We hope there is sunshine in your corner of the world. If not, get out here for a visit and let heavy thoughts just slip away. Love....
This quick and easy recipe is a constant in my kitchen. And if I'm completely honest, so many summer vegetables are cooked this way in my house for a few good reasons:
- IT'S QUICK AND EASY!!
- Allows each vegetable to do it's thing. Carrots get to be carrots, crunchy(not soft) and sweet. Broccoli gets to be broccoli, crunchy(not drabby green and mush) and fresh.
- Soft herbs and an acid(like lemon) help brighten and enhance your vegetable cookery. You even get to use less salt because herbs and acid help bring out flavors as well.
Give it a try. And I strongly encourage you to do it with other veggies as well. Summer squash takes to herbs super well. Carrots like grassier, greener tasting herbs, like parsley and tarragon. Play around. There are no rules!
One of my all time favorite herbs, chamomile is a mainstay in my garden and, when it's fresh, a mainstay in my kitchen. The plant in it's entirety is edible, although you almost only find recipes for it's delicate flower. Used for it's many medicinal attributes, chamomile is often overlooked for it's plethora of culinary properties. Floral and herbaceous, light and subtle. The flower is of course beautiful to look at, but holds much of the plants oils which is why it is used the most in the herbs transfer of flavor. However, it's important to be careful not to impart too much flavor. This is a time that practicing restraint is as good a tool as any. If you've ever had a dessert that used too much lavender, this is the territory we're treading. If you're not careful you'll have something that tastes more like soap than the herb.
Here is a recipe that utilizes the stems, leaves, and flowers of chamomile. Give it a try and let us know what you think or what you'd do differently. And if you have any extra, maybe you'd like to make a chamomile crown too.
Little gems. That really is what they are. I first got my hands on on this lovely green while working at a restaurant in Portland, Oregon. I learned a lot at this place in particular and maybe my favorite skill or tool I've developed: restraint. The produce I had the honor of working with was some of the best I had ever seen, and it is because of this that we did nearly nothing to it. And that's one of my favorite things to do with little gems. I peel off the outer leaves, cut the exposed root end, slice it in half keeping the head intact, season and eat.
Here's a recipe where you can grill the head after you've cut it, although this recipe would be equally delicious if you choose not to fire up the grill and leave all those beautiful veggies raw.
Our heritage Blue Slate, Bourbon Red and Royal Palm turkeys arrived today. We will keep this happy crew in the nursery for the first three weeks before graduating them to the pasture. Come November, you can take part of the harvest in a class that ends with you taking home a pasture-raised turkey for Thanksgiving! Check it out at: https://www.walker-homestead.com/offe…/heritage-breed-turkey.
Many of you are aware that our sweet little farm house and home to Shanti and Andrew, caught on fire on March 2nd. First is the shock of losing something we cared so deeply about, losing belongings, family heirlooms, photos, and most painfully, two beloved farm dogs. But once the smoke clears, there is the awakening to the realization that we are not defined by a physical structure that can fall victim to simple elements of nature. Our farm family is stronger than that one unfortunate event. In the same way a field burn brings on fresh growth and vigor, we have renewed energy and new found resiliency that is core to an ag community.
We will address the mechanics of dealing with the fire but we have every ounce of our being focused on forward movement. Andrews’s plans for our heritage Kunkune pigs are now laid out. Chris and Shanti are constructing the rabbit houses this week. Miraculously Shanti’s garden seeds survived the fire and the seedlings are coming in strong. There were tears of joy when the small sprouts confirmed for us their survival of the fire and water assault. A big thank you to the community for all your support and to those who helped build the Muddy Miss Farms cat tunnels last week!
How fitting that we kick off spring of 2018 in a demonstration of how this community pulls together to support one another? With love and gratitude from all of us on the homestead, thank you.
-Bob, Kristy, Chris, Shanti and Andrew
This is our palette.
We look forward to the promise of spring.
So excited to be on the shelf of all three of the New Pioneer Food Co-op Stores in Iowa City, Coralville and Cedar Rapids. New Pioneer Foods Co-op is locally owned natural foods grocery retail that we have long respected for their environmental stewardship and values for local and organic foods. We will be sampling Walker Homestead wines at their Friday Night Flights from 4:00-6:00 pm February 2nd.
Come shop local. Come sip wine. We look forward to seeing you in the stores!
We want to take a pause to give thanks for our blessings over this past year. At the top of the list is our appreciation of those who chose to invest in Walker Homestead Vineyard and Winery.
To recap this past season, we expanded the homestead from five acres to eighty-five. We grew our vine count from 150 to 750, adding 300 Petite Pearl and 300 Verona vines. These two varieties hold much promise.
The Petite Pearl wine grape is a newer cold climate red wine grape, producing a full crop after -32◦ F. Vigor is moderate and bud break is mid-season. Petite Pearl wine has Syrah-like qualities, with good tannins and structure. It is deep ruby-red and should age well. Early wines have been very complex with lots of spice and jammy fruit qualities. The Petite Pearl should be an excellent blending component to add complexity and softness to other mid-west red wines but it can stand well on its own and produce an age worthy, dry red.
Verona is a new St Croix cross-breed. Of advantage is Verona’s late bud break in the spring and good production on secondary buds. Verona’s leaves have some resistance to fall frost, which allows the fruit to hang and ripen later into the fall, with harvest often taking place 10 days after Petite Pearl. In tests at North Dakota State University in 2012, ripe berries from Verona vines ranked No. 1 in tannin content out of 34 skin samples from northern grape varieties. The dry red wine made from Verona grapes has a velvety deep berry color and abundant soft tannins in the mid-mouth and finish, with a great balance between acid, tannin and alcohol. The aroma is complex; the characteristic raspberry aroma is dominant, changing to blackberry as it ages in the bottle. There are dark chocolate flavors along with raspberry, with an excellent balance and finish, all in a style that is reminiscent of a Tuscan red wine.
We very much look forward to what we can produce with these two varieties in their first harvest of 2019.
In partnering with Shanti Sellz of Muddy Miss Farms, we have our first two acres of an organic garden area underway at the homestead, which will come into a CSA offering this spring and source the food for our culinary classes and farm to table dinners led by Chef Chris Grebner of Provender.
We planted fifteen acres of pasture to make way for our heard of vineyard grazers that will come to us this spring. We are excited that our ‘Pick Me’ wine won a silver medal in the Mid-American Wine competition. We have bids out for the barn with plans to break ground in February. So much is happening - so much in the earliest of stages.
Thank you again for your investment in the Walker Homestead vision and joining us from the starting block. If you are interested in becoming a Vineyard Team Member, email email@example.com. For a $300 investment, you have three vines with your name on a plank in the vineyard, a Walker Homestead t-shirt and cap, a case of the first production of those grapes, and 10% off of all future purchases. Best of all, you are a part of this new venture.
As we start in to 2018, please friend us on Facebook if not already done so. We pledge to keep this website a good reference for you moving forward and cannot wait to dig into the calendar for this coming year. We very much look forward to our next visit with you.
Thank you and Blessings to all of yours.
Last winter Shanti and I sat down to plan fruit and vegetable plantings for 2017. If you've ever planted a garden you know that those seed catalogs you get in the winter can be dangerous. There you are, hunkering by the fire with a hot toddy and a magazine full of beautiful edibles. Once you've earmarked every single page, you fill out your order and wait.
As exciting as it is to think about colorful fruits and vegetables in the gray cold of winter, what you're really doing is giving yourself all sorts of work. I am a victim of this every .. single .. year. Except this year I took Shanti with me on this rabbit hole. Thankfully she is able to sell to much of the product to other cooks, kitchens, and homes over the season, but I for one was not ready for the onslaught of tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and the list goes on. In addition to my already busy work schedule, in order for us to actually put use to all this product I've got to preserve it. Literally hundreds of pounds of product and I have been able to preserve a little over fifty pounds. 50. Five-zero.
So what am I planning on changing for next year? My schedule. I have already blocked off multiple days next year where I plan to process product. I realize the risk of the product not being ripe, but it's all I can think of doing this early in the game. It will also help that we'll have a full kitchen on site next year and we won't need to schlep food all over.
So here's to hoping we can stretch the season out a bit and hopefully share with you throughout the year.
Last farm stand of the season will be Tuesday, October 17th 5:00 to 8:00 pm. Get your fresh local produce from Muddy Miss Farms here on Walker Homestead. Buy Walker Homestead and Revasser wines. Enjoy Provender pizza or roasted veggies. Get a free-range chicken or fresh farm eggs. The harvest is here. Pass the word. Last picnic of the season!
Here we go, getting our Ag on. On Tuesdays, once a month during the season, we are celebrating Local Ag with our farm stand. Come out to get your fresh local produce from Muddy Miss Farms here on Walker Homestead. Buy Walker Homestead and Revasser wines. See our barn plans. Enjoy Provender pizza or roasted veggies. Get a free-range chicken or fresh farm eggs. This is how to celebrate a harvest season. Pass the word. Come picnic with us and make it last!
We have had the farm for 10 weeks. The transformation in such a short period makes our heads spin. Pasture is in and 97 freedom rangers moved in, complete with a transfer from inside the cab of an air conditioned truck. No one is spoiled here, right? The vineyard is taking shape, with rows that look like (and felt like) they go forever over the rolling hills. The herb garden and bocce ball court has risen from the old barn foundation. Such a good spot to take in the end of the day. Even though we are physically exhausted by day’s end, we are rejuvenated by the beauty of the area and feel blessed. We look forward to the point where we can share this blessing with others. Stay tuned!
Welcome to our homestead. We have had quite the journey thus far to get us here and yet we cannot wait to see how it all unfolds. At this moment, Walker Homestead is a blank canvas that holds so much promise.
Despite the unknowns and challenges we have to get us to this point of taking ownership of this farm, we have held one core value and that is respect for the land and the sharing of its bounty with family, friends and neighbors.
Farmer’s will often refer to anyone in a five mile radius as ‘neighbor’. In that same spirit, we would like to extend that title to anyone we spend time with on the homestead. How do you share breaking of bread and the amazing farm life with others and not feel the glow of kinship?
When all the rest of the world is churning chaos and complexity, we look forward to creating a getaway on these 80 acres, where joy can be found in watching the chickens take care of the bugs, goats at play, and ginger walks through the gardens, enjoying warm pizzas from a wood fired oven topped with freshly picked vegetables, cheese made next door and wine from local grapes.
And this is just the beginning…
Extending a welcome from the team,
Shanti, Katie, Andrew, Chris, Dennis, Bob and Kristy