Column: Local dairy can make for special treats

Condella, Catherine

Condella, Catherine

I was out in the garden this morning to take pictures for this column. As I surveyed the wet ground, still sporting patches of snow, I reflected on how spring is really taking her time getting here this year.

I can’t really complain; the snowpack we’ve had this winter is much better for the soil than last year’s bare ground. Still, I can’t help but wish that warmer weather and its accompanying fresh vegetables had already arrived. It was heartening to see the garlic poking bravely up, and the red crowns of rhubarb just beginning to show themselves through the soil.

Your CSA farmers are already hard at work, of course, growing seedlings to transplant out, readying fields if they are able to get in them, and finishing up last-minute maintenance. I can tell you that one of the many perks of farming is being able to walk into a greenhouse this time of year and be surrounded by the sight and smell of growing things, weeks before we feel it outside.

As we work our way through the remainder of last season’s storage vegetables and wait patiently for this year’s bounty, don’t forget the other seasonal fruits New Hampshire produces. I’ve talked about our local meats and eggs here before, but I haven’t yet touched on dairy.

Historically, dairy made up a large part of New Hampshire’s agricultural industry. These days, the number of dairy farms in the state has dropped dramatically, for many reasons. Luckily for us, there are still several local dairies that produce delicious milk, cheese and ice cream. Right here in Peterborough, we have Sunnyfield Farm and nearby in Temple is the Connolly Brothers. Slightly further afield there’s Manning Hill Farm in Winchester, and in Walpole you can find Boggy Meadow Farm, which makes various cheeses.

Try adding some milk and cheese to your storage potatoes for decadent mashed potatoes, or making a scramble of eggs, milk and cheese for a very local spring breakfast. For something a little different, try braising pork loin in milk. Brown the loin in butter first, then braise for several hours in milk with some added grated nutmeg. Another possibility is stopping by Connolly Brothers for some of their homemade ice cream. Enjoy it, while dreaming about the harvest that is just ahead of us.

Catherine McCosker
is the farm and CSA manager at The Well School in Peterborough.

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