December 2017: Twists and Turns, Parsnips and Squash



Gray-bellied clouds are sailing the winter skies, but the colors of summer are still gleaming, in the jars that line the pantry shelves, or the sweet orange flesh of winter squash. The days are short, and the nights are full of owls and raindrops, the slow drip of water from the leaves.

Plunk, plink, plunk.

Drop by drop, the creeks gather themselves and flow faster towards the sea. Roots stretch and sigh and draw up moisture and nutrients, their white tips wrapped in an invisible web of mycorrhizae. The parsnips sweeten in the ground, after the first frosts, like the brassica leaves do.

We sweetened them a little more, in an unusual, earthy cake. It’s rich, with dates and hazelnuts and olive oil and yes, parsnip. If you leave off the icing, Joshua Mc Fadden says you can call it a breakfast bread. But really, there is nothing wrong with cake for breakfast. In moderation, don’t you know.

Parsnip Date Hazelnut Olive Oil Cake

parsnip cake

Here’s another angle on that sweet white root, the complete opposite of the cake above. Tart and tantalizing, this unusual shrub takes a long, slow soak in a bath of red wine vinegar, melding and trading flavors with fennel, herbs, and carrot. By the end, it’s hard to taste where the vegetables end and the vinegar begins. A splash of this vegetal shrub in sparkling water is never amiss, but it pairs nicely in a seasonal cocktail, too. 


Parsnip Fennel Carrot Shrub

savory srub

We like to get to know you, all over again. Like friends who meet and part and meet again. Like neighbors who live across the road from each other for years, and one day end up cooking a meal together. In revelations and conversations, the familiar is made new. So it was recently, when the Empire Grade Purveyors accepted our invitation to cook together. We created a beautiful Delicata squash tart, and talked and talked. About art and life and food and culture and gluten and the state of the world. The notes from that day are tangled and melded in the sweetest way, like a pile of carmelized onions, insightful offhand remarks peppered with directions for baking, browning, and serving. We untangled the strands of conversation and recipe and present here the Empire Grade Purveyors take on a winter squash tart, rich and bright with fried sage and those carmelized onions and garlic oil.

Delicata, Onion, Sage Tart


Yes, garlic oil! It really ties a recipe together. If you make more than you need for the tart recipe above, you’ll be glad; a little dash, a little splash enlivens almost any recipe. 

Garlic Oil
garlic oil


What a treat it is, to harvest seasonal produce for such recipes. Even something as simple as sage leaves, from the small gray plant that lives on the edge of the sidewalk, can fill the heart of a gardener who is missing the red ripe smell of tomatoes. While December is not the busiest time of year in the garden, there’s still a lot going on beneath the mulch. 

Garden Notes
garden notes

Workshops & Events

Santa’s coming to town, as he does every year. We’re hosting Santa at the Feed and Farm this year on December 9, from1-4 pm. He’s gonna need more than cookies to sustain him, because we like to celebrate this event in full, family-friendly force. We’ll have live music from the Banana Slug String Band, jamming from 12-1. Complimentary ice cream from Mission Hill Creamery, and activities especially for kids on this special day.

Christmas trees have arrived in the nursery, both live and cut, and the sweet green smell of conifer needles fills the air. It mingles with the warm steam from hot apple cider, which we serve free daily during these cold winter months. Made from local apples and spiced with a delicious blend of mulling spices, it’s something we look forward to providing all year round. We’ve got free gift wrapping, as always, and wreaths and ornaments and all sorts of holiday gifts for everyone on the list. Come on down and check it out anytime.

We’re hosting a special Holiday Open House after the usual hours on December 15. From 4-7 pm, Katie Bell of Golden Bear Bitters will be sampling fun cocktail ideas, and we’ll have a sampling of Friend in Cheeses preserves to pair with holiday cheese boards for entertaining. We hope to see you there!

When we meet here again, on the page, on this glowing screen, the new year will be here. Before it passes us by entirely, let us take a moment. Perhaps even, A Moment. A Brief but Meaningful Moment, in which we pause to give a heartfelt thanks to this community of readers and makers and tasters and farmers and friends. In a changing, uncertain world, it is the repeated rituals of gathering, friends and food, that lend some of the deepest comfort and strength. That community, a network of slender threads like mycelium that connects all elements to each other, is deeply nourishing and sustaining. We appreciate so much your place in this community, your curiosity and your engagement. At the close of one year, on the threshold of another, we are savoring just one more backward glance at 2017. There will never be another year quite like this, as each year is unique, and will never come again. So it will be with the year ahead. We’ll see you in it. Let’s make it a good one, together.  

Over to You...

It’s part of our mission here at Mountain Feed to help you make delicious, sustainable, homemade food more often. Stop by and say hello on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. Or, as always, you can do it the old fashioned way and come by the store to speak with one of our in-house experts.
This journal and the articles in it were written by Jessica Tunis, unless otherwise noted.