“Mom, did we have power on Halloween?”
“Did we have power the day before Halloween?”
“When did the power go out?”
“And what’s today?”
“Well that’s just ridiculous…”
**Note: Power went out 10/29 when 2 trees came down and took out a ton of lines. Thanks to Frankie for spearheading the tree removal process! Power was finally restored on 11/6.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Up here in Orange County, we’ve pretty much recovered and Hurricane Sandy is a distant memory. We lost power for 8 days but THANK GOD the river did not flood this year. Last year was plenty, thank you, and we really don’t need to hear any more than a trickle from the Wallkill River at this point. Sadly, the devastation caused by Sandy will be long-lasting and never forgotten.
As for the farm, we held our 6th Annual Open House at the Farm on November 18th. We had 10 vendors inside our barn selling all kinds of awesome things like bread, cheese, jam, baked goods, farm-raised meats, pulled pork, homemade soaps and incense, essential oil doo-dads and yes, we had lots of home grown veggies.
I baked a bazillion cookies to give away. No, I didn’t count them, but I measured and mixed and baked for about 11 hours straight before calling it quits. How was I able to do 5 big trays of cookies plus refills of 10 different kinds of cookies? Organization!
A day or two (or more, really – it’s just flour, etc) in advance, I measure and sift dry ingredients together for each type of cookie or muffin or cake and put them into a zipper bag. I label each bag with the recipe name and the number of times I multiplied the batch. I suggest writing out the recipe with the increased quantities rather than relying on your peri-menopausal brain to figure it out as you go. Large-batch baking is a snap if you get a system.
Also, enlist others to help by making their speciality! Thanks go to Mom for making a huge batch of her famous spritz cookies.
You owe me new jeans, Mother… your cookies are too good and I can’t keep my chubby paws off them!
Our Open House is our way of thanking customers for their support all season long and we’ve invited a variety of local vendors and producers to sell with us over the years. Coming to the farm is also a great educational experience. We have Dad’s Indian artifacts on display. Haleigh pops our homegrown popcorn and shows visitors how the antique corn sheller works. Kids visited with our friend Nellie the Goat this year and fed her many carrots. Our greenhouses were open for walking tours and several tractor seats were warmed by tiny kid-butts.
In addition to the cookies and cider and kids’ craft activities, we provided our customers with the opportunity to feel the true spirit of Thanksgiving and pay it forward. We organized a collection for victims of Hurricane Sandy’s wrath. Our collection tables were stocked with cleaning supplies, hats and gloves, flashlights and batteries, baby wipes, canned and boxed foods, pain relievers, Bandaids, and Clorox.
The day after the Open House I sorted through everything and boxed like items for transport. I was so moved by the generosity of our customers and friends that I had to wipe away a tear or two at times. I remember only too well how Irene and Lee treated us out here on the farm and September 2011 will forever be a dismal part of our lives. The bright spot in all of that? The wonderful people who helped us – brought us food, gave us cleaning supplies, helped us rebuild. I’ve been there, and it felt so good, so right, to be able to give back.
Thomas helped me when he got home from school. It was my idea, initially, but he got into it in no time. As we walked home he asked, why? Why did we collect things and where is the stuff going?
“Some people only brought a box of Bandaids,” he said. ” What difference is THAT gonna make?”
“Well, think about it this way. That single box of Bandaids costs about $3, the same as an ice cream cone with sprinkles. That $3 isn’t much to any one person. But when you add up everyone’s $3 and put all those small donations together in boxes like we did today, it’s an awful lot of help for just a few dollars per person.”
That wasn’t as concrete an example as he needed, however. Plan B!
“Thomas, have you ever done a tug-of-war? If you were on one side and I was on the other you would have to pull really hard to win. If you had lots and lots of helpers it would be easier for each of you but you’d still win because you worked together!”
He was quite satisfied with that answer, [PHEW!] and it made him even more proud to purchase a package of socks [with his own money] to include in our collection box. Thomas helped me load up my car with every last juice box and broomstick and I was on my way to NJ. I’m thankful for my car for 1) having fold-down seats so I could pack more stuff in and 2) new tires that were able to withstand the weight of dozens of bottles of bleach and cleaners.
I’m also grateful for Teri Powers. Teri is an organizer of our Ringwood market and she acted as the intermediary for our collection. Not long after my NJ run, our supplies were brought to The Shore and without Teri’s help, I doubt we would have been able to do as much as we did. Thanks, Teri!
Coming up, I’ll be going ‘back to basics’ and posting a recipe for a new staple in our house. In the meantime, it’s the right time of year for cookie baking! Try whipping up a quick batch of jam crumble bars using the best jam you can find. If peanut butter is your weakness, try these cookies. If you’re feeling sassy, you can turn them into ice cream sandwiches with some chocolate ice cream.
And if you’re up to it, bring some cookies to a friend, or even a stranger, who may need a pick-me-up. Kindness truly is food for the soul.