Like you, our lives have been transformed in a nanosecond from super busy outside to less busy, but still busy, inside.
Among other endeavors, we are co-chairs of a national nonprofit that was scheduled to hold an international conference in Baltimore from this past Sunday to Tuesday (March 15 to 17) with over 800 attendees. Conference canceled, of course, but the CEO and staff transformed the event into a virtual all-day meeting with over 600 people participating—a remarkable demonstration of ingenuity in a crisis! It was also a reminder of how we need to find new ways to live and work during this pandemic—starting with supporting local farms.
Supporting local farms
One of our scheduled meetings this week was an interview with Jennifer Huberdeau, editor of the Berkshire Eagle’s Upcountry Magazine, at the newspaper’s Pittsfield office. We all agreed, of course, to switch to a Zoom call. Jennifer was interested in how we can support our local farmers, an idea that is now more important than ever. Zoom is a wonderful alternative to in-person meetings, but it’s not going to distribute what the farmers are producing to their customers. It can’t replace the Berkshire Grown Winter Farmers’ Market scheduled for this Saturday, now also canceled.
We shared on our Facebook page (@berkshiresandbeyond) and Twitter account (@BerkshireBook) an article by Food & Environment Reporting Network (thefern.org) by Leah Douglas entitled “As virus spreads, farmers fear market closures and lost income,” along with Berkshire Grown’s widespread email “4 ways to support local farms and local food,” among many other timely, topical posts and tweets. Please follow us for future updates and upbeat tips…
We also reached out to Barbara Zheutlin, former executive director of Berkshire Grown, for her thoughts. Our urgent message, echoed by others, is this:
More than ever, we need to support our farmers—and local restaurants that feature the products of these farmers. To reiterate Berkshire Grown’s message: Patronize farm stands and food stores with local products, look for farms that are offering home delivery, buy your CSA shares now, and purchase gift cards at restaurants and farm stands to provide needed cash.
For example: You can purchase products from High Lawn Farm, a family-owned farm that’s been operating close to 100 years in Lee, MA, through pickup and shipping via online ordering, in addition to its normal distribution channels. (Rob took the photo at top while we were working on the book.)
For the Farm Pick-up Shop: https://www.highlawnfarm.
And, for all of us at home, to add a little happiness quotient to our lives: Indulge in chocolate today! We are hunkered down with our son Ari and his fiancé Deborah, both working from our dining room table. “Unprecedented times call for chocolate,” Deborah said to us last night.
So we prepared Chocolate Ganache with Dried Cranberries, inspired by High Lawn Farm, from our cookbook, The Berkshires Farm Table Cookbook, now available for pre-order. We like to cut them into smaller pieces in addition to what’s called for in the recipe—they are simply that rich.
Our book proudly features accessible recipes with a manageable number of ingredients, and this ganache takes literally minutes to make. If you can’t find either dried cranberries or blueberries, make it without—this is the time for improvisation!
Chocolate Ganache with Dried Cranberries
Serves 10 to 12
These small ganache squares, using High Lawn Farm heavy cream, are so rich—one piece is typically enough for a serving. The dried cranberries may be replaced by any other favorite dried fruit, chopped into small pieces. If you can find them, tiny dried wild blueberries work exceptionally well.
Reprinted with permission from The Countryman Press.
14 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about 2 cups)
1 cup High Lawn Farm heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup dried cranberries, or other chopped dried fruit
1. Cut a wide strip of parchment paper to line a 9-inch square baking dish, allowing the paper to come up and overhang two opposite sides of the pan.
2. Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl.
3. Bring the cream and vanilla to a boil in a small saucepan over medium to high heat, then remove from the heat. Pour over the chips and mix quickly, and as the chocolate melts down, add in the butter and stir until smooth.
Fold in the cranberries and pour into the prepared pan. Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Do not put into the freezer as a shortcut since this will cause the butter to separate from the ganache.
4. Once the ganache is set, remove from the refrigerator and run a sharp knife along the sides without parchment paper. Use the overhanging parchment paper to lift the ganache gently out of the pan and place on a plate or cutting board. Invert the ganache over a large platter or clean, dry cutting board.
5. Starting from one corner, carefully pull the parchment paper off the top of the ganache. Warm a sharp knife in hot water, wipe dry, and cut the ganache into small pieces, about 1 1/2 by 3 inches. The ganache is best served slightly cold—make sure it doesn’t start to get too soft or melt. Enjoy the fudgy treat as is, topped with sweetened whipped cream, or drizzled with caramel or a fruit puree.