• Editor's Note Winter 2011

    Editor's Note Winter 2011

    I’ve never fired a gun. The closest I ever came to one as a child was at my aunt’s house. She’s a cattle rancher in Arizona and often kept a pistol by her phone. I’d walk past it gingerly, as if getting too close meant it would suddenly go off like a stick of remote-controlled dynamite. Having grown up in a big city, I’d always associated guns with hot-headed maliciousness and revenge.

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  • Set the Table with Venison

    Set the Table with Venison

    LedgEnd Deer Farm doesn’t have a sign, but the special fencing and the deer give it away. Plus, after more than 15 years of venison farming, owner Hank DiMuzio doesn’t need to advertise. “I can’t raise enough animals to keep up with demand as it is,” he says. “It’s a good problem to have.” And at a time when dairy farmers and other farmers are struggling to stay afloat, this problem has become increasingly rare.

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  • The First Localvores

    The First Localvores

    I have always been fascinated by wild foods. When I was a kid growing up in Indiana we had a copy of Euell Gibbons’ book Stalking the Wild Asparagus, and I remember how exciting it was to read about eating cattails, making acorn flour, and brewing sassafras tea. As I recall, the cattail stalks tasted a bit like mild turnips, the acorn flour was tannic and needed a lot of processing before being edible, and the tea tasted like something just this side of root beer. Little did I know as a kid that wild edibles such as cattails and acorns were just a couple of the foods historically gathered and consumed by the first people to inhabit the state I would one day call home.

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  • Good Walls Make  Good Gardens

    Good Walls Make Good Gardens

    The phrase “New England stone walls” conjures images of dilapidated boundary walls winding through our forests, half buried by leaves and by the sharp turns of our region’s economy. But stone, and stone walls in particular, are enjoying a renaissance, of sorts, as gardeners are discovering that the simplest stone work can lend structure, meaning, and a living complement to the seasonal and perennial plantings of an outdoor space. I first discovered my passion for stone work while helping a friend build a stone bread oven near Hardwick.

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  • Counting Their Chickens

    Counting Their Chickens

    Yes, there is a knoll—and it’s misty.

    At least it was on the day this past October when I visited Misty Knoll Farms, Vermont’s largest chicken producer. Standing on the small rise at the eastern edge of the farm in New Haven, facing a swath of Addison County dairy land below and the spine of the Green Mountains beyond, I spotted a light fog in the valley that looked misty enough.

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  • A Food and Farming Legacy

    A Food and Farming Legacy

    The spine of Vermont is made up of green, craggy mountainsides whose tops disappear into the clouds, and whose valleys wake up to a cloak of low mist that dissipates with the morning sun. Most accounts of the musical von Trapp family’s arrival in Vermont mention how they were instantly attracted to these views, which reminded them of their Austrian home. A lesser-known tale, however, is that they also fell in love with the land itself: generations of von Trapps, including the youngest generation today, have been working to feed and nourish themselves and their neighbors ever since the family put down roots here.

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  • Why I Hunt

    Why I Hunt

    It’s only been in recent years that I’ve come to realize I was pretty much raised as a localvore long before anyone had ever heard of the word. And it wasn’t due to any sort of middle-class shift in culinary consciousness. This was the early 1960s, and we were a large working-class family with a very rural home on three open acres in Westminster. We planted large vegetable gardens, had a big potato patch, and raised chickens, ducks, and on occasion, grass-fed beef. We also hunted, and venison was a year-round staple. More on that a little later, but all of this was really just a reflection of how my parents’ families had dealt with the Great Depression.

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  • Taking it Slow in Italy

    Taking it Slow in Italy

    Getting together, the listening to and exchanging of ideas— that is the miracle of Terra Madre.”

    With this, Slow Food International founder Carlo Petrini welcomed us to the 2010 Terra Madre conference and set the tone for our four days in Turin, Italy. He addressed an audience of 5,000 representatives from 161 countries—small-scale farmers, producers, educators, and observers—who had traveled to Italy to meet with their peers and discuss global issues of food, culture, and justice. We came to take part in the conversation, too, along with two dozen other Vermonters. The experience renewed our appreciation for the value of gathering around a table to break bread and to exchange ideas.

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  • Farmers' Kitchen—The Versatile Quince

    Farmers' Kitchen—The Versatile Quince

    When asked “Why quince?” Zeke Goodband, the orchard manager at Scott Farm in Dummerston, will answer, “Because they are a wonderful fruit.” So wonderful that he sips on quince nectar during the farm’s annual Heirloom Apple Day, when he leads three apple tastings and speaks at length about the many heritage apple varieties growing at Scott Farm.

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  • Last Morsel Baking Bread in the Firebox

    Last Morsel Baking Bread in the Firebox

    My 85-year-old friend, Gladys Thomas, used a wood cook stove all her life. After her children left the farm in Jericho and her husband died, she did her best to keep the place going by herself. As she grew older, members of her church tried to help.

    “Now you just let that wood pile be, Gladys,” a church member told her on the phone one day, “and we’ll have a bunch of men come and split it for you.”

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Farmers' Kitchen—The Versatile Quince

quince

Written By

Jane Booth

Written on

December 01 , 2010

When asked “Why quince?” Zeke Goodband, the orchard manager at Scott Farm in Dummerston, will answer, “Because they are a wonderful fruit.” So wonderful that he sips on quince nectar during the farm’s annual Heirloom Apple Day, when he leads three apple tastings and speaks at length about the many heritage apple varieties growing at Scott Farm.

While much of the farm is planted with apples, one will find—beyond the rows of Baldwin, Orleans Reinette, and D’Arcy Spice—small, graceful quince trees with fuzzy-backed leaves. Quince, which is related to the apple and the pear, has a flavor of honeyed pear and apple with overtones of vanilla, hints of pineapple, and exotic guava. When fully ripened, quince may scent a room, and they are a treat to eat, whether poached, roasted, pureed, or baked. But they are hardly ever eaten raw, as they have a hard, gritty, grainy, and astringent flesh.

My husband, David Tansey, is president of Landmark Trust USA, which owns Scott Farm, and he is also the farm manager. I do writing and photography for the farm. We take frequent walks through the orchard, and from bud until harvest, we like to keep an eye on the development of the quince, delighting in the tightly furled, pink buds that untwist into crimson-veined, cup-shaped blossoms. The immature fruits are covered in a beige-pink, felt-like skin that turns green as the fruits grow. By October the quince take on a sunny, golden yellow color, and whether the variety is pear-shaped or flattened and round, they brighten the orchard at midday and lend a glow in the early evening.

Quince (Cydonia oblonga), a native of Persia, have been cultivated for more than 4,000 years. In paintings, Venus is often depicted holding this fruit of love and happiness in her right hand, and it is quite possible that it was quince and not apple that got Adam’s Eve into trouble. Quince paste, so thick you can cut it with a knife, is a traditional food in the Mediterranean. The Portuguese call it marmelada, the Spanish membrillo, and in Sicily everyone gets into the act when quince are ripe to make cotognata. It is delicious with sharp or creamy cheeses, a treat on morning toast, or as a sweet end to a meal.

Following is a recipe for poached quince. But one of the easiest ways to prepare quince is to toss unpeeled, cored chunks of it into the roasting pan alongside freshly harvested carrots, chopped lovage, onion and a leg of lamb. We do the same when roasting a chicken, deglazing the pan with water, white wine, or better yet, Calvados, to make a sublime juice to drizzle over the meat and vegetables. This year we will surely add quince to the preparation of our Christmas goose.

The Scott Farm has been in active cultivation since 1791. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been owned since 1995 by The Landmark Trust USA, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to rescue important but neglected historic properties and to bring them back to life. In season, the farm sells gooseberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, pears, plums, nectarines, white peaches, grapes, pumpkins, medlars, quince, and an extensive selection of heirloom apples. Contact scottfarmvermont.com or 802-254-6868.

Photo by Jane Booth

About the Author

Jane Booth

Jane Booth

Jane Booth is a writer and photographer living in Vermont.

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Home Stories Issues 2011 Winter 2011 | Issue 15 Farmers' Kitchen—The Versatile Quince