Strawberries

MFF strawberry fieldsIt was a long, delicious season.  See you next year!!

The early spring brought early berries-- yum!   If you've never had fresh-picked berries, it's time to change that!  Come pick your own and find out.  We've expanded our fields and they're already full of luscious bright all natural berries, just waiting for you.

We use sustainable farming practices so we do not use any sprays or commercial fertilizers on our berries, which makes our berries ready to eat (or make into jam or strawberry shortcake or maybe strawberry margaritas?)

berries

We're really sad to say it,  but we are cancelling Strawberry Fest.  The fields are already quite soggy and the forecast is for more rain this weekend:(

Weather permitting, we will open for U Pick next weekend, May 28-29.  Please check our Facebook page for updates.

 

We are open. Please visit our new Cunningham Creek website for hours, directions and happenings!

Cunningham Creek Winery at Middle Fork Farm is under construction! (Can you hear the excitement in my voice)? The walls are up and, as I write this, the roof trusses are being set. With a lot of hard work and an equal amount of luck we’ll be open in June.

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We were hoping to complete construction before strawberry season but that’s looking a bit iffy—especially since spring seems to have already arrived and strawberries may be here earlier this year. It’s farming in Virginia (Translation: plan for the best and adapt as we go)!

So, we’ve adapted and adopted Plan B: Set up a tasting bar in the Pick Your Own Berries picnic Middle Fork Farm strawberriesarea. What could be better—fresh picked strawberries, a picnic by the creek, and your first taste of Cunningham Creek Wines? We’ll post on Facebook as soon as we have an opening day for Pick Your Own. In the meantime, mark your calendar for our inaugural Strawberry Fest on June 4.

Cunningham Creek Winery will have 4 sections: a tasting room, a community meeting room, a farm store, and of course, the winery operations.   The Tasting Room is Cunningham Creek Winery Merlotdesigned to provide plenty of room for sampling our wines, and once you’ve selected your favorites, there’s an open area with comfortable seating to linger, sip, and chat.   On a nice day, you can move outdoors to the patio or the lawn. In winter you can warm by the farmhouse-style fireplace.

The Community Room will be available for meetings and private parties. It’s a versatile room with a separate entrance that can be completely closed off from the Tasting Room.   We’ll do our tastings in here on Friday nights when we have live music in the Tasting Room!

 

Our Farm Store will sell our strawberries and strawberry spreads, and so much more: locally Middle Fork Farm Spreadsproduced and grown vegetables, meats, cheeses, eggs, honey, chocolates, breads, and other specialty items. From pasture-raised fresheggslocal chicken to creamy artisanal Virginia cheeses--we’ll have something for everyone!

 

The Winery barrel room will be visible from the tasting room and if you want to learn about the wine making process, you can sign up for a tour!  Throughout the year, we plan to host special events in the winery.

We’ll also be having regular events, including bringing live music to Fluvanna on Friday nights! LocalVocalsWe’re still working on our regular event calendar but for now we’re planning to have Yoga (outside when possible, inside when not), Lady’s Night, BYOBBQ, and a fall pumpkin festival with Middle Fork PumpkinFarm pumpkins.

As our opening gets closer, we’ll post dates and times. For now, please “like” our new Cunningham Creek Winery Facebook page.   Watch for updates and photos there as well as on our Middle Fork Farm Facebook page!

 

It’s taken awhile but now those of you who don't live in the Charlottesville area can buy our gourmet spreads on-line at Etsy.  A big thanks  to our friend, Jimmy, for encouraging us and to our daughter, Lindy, for starting the process.

So, as you’re starting to plan holiday gift giving, think about all the people who might like something homemade and sweet like strawberry spread – maybe teachers, neighbors, holiday hostess’s, UPS-FedEx-USPS drivers, co-workers, babysitters and everyone else.

DisplayOur Etsy store name is Middle Fork Farm Store and you can find it at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MiddleForkFarmStore. You can purchase  9 oz jars of Strawberry Balsamic, Strawberry Lavender, Strawberry Merlot, and Spicy Strawberry as Farmers Market Boardwell as our Classic Sampler (Strawberry Balsamic, Strawberry Merlot, Strawberry Vanilla) and C-ville Sampler (Strawberry Balsamic, Strawberry Lavender, Spicy Strawberry).  Shipping is reasonable and we can ship up to 6 - 9 oz jars in one box for the same rate as one jar.  Please check us out!

Besides setting up the Etsy store (and finishing the harvest), we’ve been busy with jam events. We finished the Farmers in the Park market on September 31 and as the holiday season approaches we'll be at local holiday boutiques and fairs. Stay tuned to FaceBook for information.

Beth at Williams-Sonoma

In late September, Sara, Beth, and I had another great day at Williams-Sonoma. As part of our quest for tasty "non-toast" ways to use our fruit spreads, we focused on savory dishes. Customers were surprised and pleased to sample chicken, salmon, and quesadilla made with our fruit spreads.

Spicy BBQ Chicken

 

 

We made  Spicy BBQ Chicken,

Ginger Peach Salmon

 

Ginger Peach Salmon (the recipe is at the very bottom of this blog0 and Quesadilla with Strawberry Merlot Spread, smoked Gouda and arugula.

 

Once again, we extend our gratitude to Erica and the entire staff at Williams-Sonoma for inviting us to their wonderful kitchen!

Sara at State Fair

Sara, Beth, and I also had the excitement (in multiple ways) of having a booth sponsored by Virginia’s Finest at the State Fair.  I say excitement because we were there on October 1, the day the rains and threat of Hurricane Joaquin came to town. Normally, the fair would have closed at 9 pm that night and then continued through until Sunday. But, not this year. For what may have been a first ever, the Fair closed early for the season at 7 pm Thursday night. Happily, the hurricane turned away and conditions improved over the weekend.

State Fair 2015State Fair 2015A

 

 

 

 

We were in the Ag (as in Agriculture) Building right across from an amazing sand sculpture—worthy of multiple photos. Inside there were lots of interesting displays like  a pile of corn kernels for kids to jump in, a fake cow to fake milk, bees (and honey), and raw tobacco. Outside there were giant colorful pumpkins, fried food and, of course, rides.

State Fair Pumpkins

Salmon with Ginger Lover’s Peach Glaze

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Ginger Lover’s Peach Spread
  • ¼ tsp. ground Chipotle pepper
  • 4 T bourbon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 Atlantic salmon fillets
  • 1 T canola oil
  • Black sesame seeds

Procedure:

  1. Combine Ginger Lover’s Peach, chipotle pepper, bourbon in a small saucepan
  2. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes
  3. Lightly oil a broiling pan
  4. Lightly salt and pepper each salmon filet and top with spread mixture
  5. Cook for approximately 5 minutes under high heat broiler until it spread mixture starts to brown. (Test salmon for doneness according to personal taste).
  6. Sprinkle black sesame seeds on each filet before serving

We had another great day at Williams Sonoma this past Saturday. Erica and her crew, as well as the customers are total foodies, which makes sharing our spreads a pleasure.

Once again, we made our turkey, havarti, and spicy strawberry Paninis. These were a big hit last time and we love them, as well.  Also, we're trying to highlight ways jam can be used with savory foods—there are so many possibilities!   I also admit to loving the Breville Panini maker at Williams Sonoma and wanting to use it again (I promised Erica I wouldn’t hide it in my bag when we left).

But, if you’re like me and you don’t have a Panini maker at home, two frying pans work just fine or any non-stick surface to weigh down the sandwich.  Also, if you don’t want the turkey (or ham), jettison it and make a “grown-up” grilled cheese with your favorite cheese and lots of spicy strawberry spread. Or, if you’re gluten-free, substitute a corn tortilla and make a “grown-up” quesadilla.

OK, let’s talk about dessert.  We made two.

Middle Fork Farm at Williams Sonoma

We made strawberry lavender ice cream with dark chocolate chunks—yum! For this we used the sweet cream base #2 recipe from Ben and Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book and added a jar of strawberry lavender spread and a bar of 72% dark chocolate roughly chopped. At home, I would also add nuts (walnut or pecan) to this and maybe put fresh fruit or hot fudge on top. Or, just eat it plain right from the ice cream canister.

For our 2nd dessert, we served chocolate thumbprint cookies with strawberry vanilla spread. If you like chocolate and fruit, these are for you. Any of your flavors would make a delicious filling with the possible exception of spicy strawberry. We adapted the cookie recipe from Pinch of Yum.

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies with Strawberry Spread

  1. Chocolate Thumbprints with Strawberry VanillaCream 1 c + 2 T softened unsalted butter and ¾ cup sugar.  Add 1/3 c cocoa (we used King Arthur Double Dutch Dark Cocoa)
  2. In a clean bowl, combine 2 c flour, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp baking soda, & 1 tsp baking powder
  3. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and combine
  4. Roll into small balls. Make a thumbprint and fill with jam (the yield depends on the size ball you make. Ours were pretty small and we got about 40 cookies).
  5. Bake at 3500 for about 9 minutes, depending on your oven and how soft/crisp you want them
  6. Let cool completely. Store in the refrigerator.

As you can tell, it was a tasty event!

In September, we'll be back at  Williams Sonoma and plan to share some new fall recipes. If you’re in the area, I hope you'll join us!  In the meantime, we're always looking for delicious new recipes that use our spreads so,  please share them with us and we'll post them.

Our friend, Pat, has a passion for many things —playing great music (see Local Vocals), selling real estate (he spent 4 years searching with us), and cooking delicious food for friends. After tasting our Spicy Strawberry Spread, he was eager to “play” with it.  A few evenings later, he showed up with a late night treat -- Spicy Strawberry BBQ Chicken.

Sara was eager to try it out (and take photos for this post) but had limited time.  She skipped the marinade and roasted it in the the oven.  Her family reported that it was  "delicious.”

Thanks, Pat! Thanks, Sara!

The timing couldn't be better because whether you grill it or roast it,  Spicy Strawberry BBQ Chicken is perfect for Father's Day!

So, here’s Spicy Strawberry BBQ Chicken 2-ways using Pat’s recipe with a slight modification from Sara.

Spicy Strawberry Sauce

thumb_IMG_7139_1024Combine the following ingredients:

1 jar Middle Fork Farm Spicy Strawberry

¼ c. Ketchup

¼ c. Canola oil

1 garlic clove crushed (added by Sara)

Salt and pepper

Grilled BBQ Chicken

Directions:

  1. Marinade thighs in Italian dressing and garlic cloves for 1-2 hours
  2. Sear chicken skin-side down
  3. Flip chicken and cook bone side down (Pat says the bone will radiate the heat to the meat)
  4. When 80% cooked, brush BBQ sauce on skin side
  5. Serve with extra sauce

thumb_IMG_7147_1024

 Oven roasted BBQ Chicken

Directions:

  1. Cover top of chicken with Spicy Strawberry BBQ sauce
  2. Bake covered for 1 hour at 3500
  3. Remove foil and put under the broiler for 10 minutes
  4. Top with red pepper flakes
  5. Serve with extra sauce

thumb_IMG_7156_1024

If you've been "playing" with our strawberry spreads, let us know what you created. ...continue reading

Bruce, Rick, Sara, Snickers, Doodle & I all want to say THANK YOU for choosing us as your destination for U Pick strawberries!

Thank you for supporting local farming!

Thank you for being kind to the plants (so they can keep on producing)!

Thank you for keeping our farm and creek clean!

Thank you for spreading the word!

Middle Fork Farm U pick

Middle Fork Farm U PickWe loved meeting so many enthusiastic berry pickers, strawberry spread tasters and picnickers over the Memorial Weekend.   From what you told us, you were busy making a lot of strawberry pies and ice cream once you got home. And, of course, eating good ol’ delicious berries right from the bowl.

Middle Fork Farm berry picking

 

 

It was wonderful to see berry pickers of all ages, including a lot of multi-generational families sharing holiday fun. The toddler set definitely had an advantage due to their proximity to the berries (but probably limited by their attention span).

Middle Fork Farm creek

 

 

After picking, the  creek was a fun place to cool off.  Our creek (Middle Fork of Cunningham Creek) is quite healthy so we heard lots of shrieks and giggles as kids caught (and released) frogs, crayfish, and baby turtles.

 

Snickers and Doodle were much less active than the kids. They greeted a few early pickers and then decided to sleep at the check-out table for the rest of the day—we should have hung a "do not disturb" sign on them.

MiddleForkFarmSnickersNext weekend we’ll be sampling our brand new strawberry spread flavor, Strawberry Merlot (in anticipation of our tasting room/winery opening in 2016).

Weather permitting, we'll be open weekends through the end of June--check Facebook for updates.  We're also available for private pickings for groups of 10 or more on Wed., Thurs., and Fri.

Come see us, taste all our yummy spreads, and pick your own berries.

 

We know you love strawberries -- so we made the assumption that  you might be fascinated by some strawberry trivia.

  • Over 53 percent of seven to nine year olds picked strawberries as their favorite fruit.
  • Eight strawberries will provide 140 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C for kids.
  • Middle Fork Farm strawberriesOne cup of strawberries is only 55 calories.
  • Strawberries are not true berries because their seeds are on the outside—usually around 200 of them.
  • Strawberries are a member of the genus Fragaria, which is the rose family.
  • Strawberries are grown in every state in the United States and every province of Canada.
  • Native forms of strawberries adapt to various climates and are indigenous to every major continent except Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
  • Seventy per cent of a strawberry's roots are located in the top three inches of soil.
  • Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen in the spring.
  • The Musee de la Fraise is a museum in Belgium just for strawberries.
  • According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the annual per capita consumption of fresh and frozen strawberries is 4.85 pounds (Yours are waiting for you at Middle Fork Farm!)

Middle Fork Farm strawberries

Remember we'll be open for Pick Your Own on Sat. and Sun. through the end of June (maybe longer, if the weather is kind! Check our Facebook page for exact times and weather updates)  If you have a group of 10 or more, you can also schedule a private picking on Wed.,  Thurs., or Fri.  Be sure to get your Berry Lover's Club card---buy 10 get 1 free!

Sources:

http://extension.illinois.edu/strawberries/facts

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/strawberries.html

http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/food/strawberries.html

 

 

You’ve already read a lot about our goats and you’ve met Snickers and Doodle, our Australian Shepherds, but lots of people want to know what other critters live on the farm. So, this blog is all about the non-human residents of Middle Fork Farm--horses, a mini-mule, cats, and chickens.

I’ll start with horses and introduce you to our newest barnyard resident, Cunningham (aka Charlie).

MiddleForkFarmAvery&Charlie

Cunningham is a Warmblood colt born on April 15 to my mare, Avery. He’s a big guy and quite rambunctious. We were lucky enough to get to watch his birth, which was really exciting. Avery is doing an amazing job as a first-time mom. She’s super attentive to Charlie, but perfectly happy to allow us in to handle and admire him.

MiddleForkFarmCharlie

 

MiddleForkFarmGracie

 

Avery’s herd-mates include Gracie, Isabelle, and Jackson.   Gracie is a registered Paint without any spots. This is known as a breeding stock horse. She’s a wonderful trail horse and even though she’s the smallest, she’s the alpha mare.

 

 

MiddleForkFarmIsabelle

 

Isabelle, another Warmblood, is my friend, Bennie’s, dressage and trail horse. She and Avery are best buddies and before Charlie, were always together.

 

 

Jackson, our clever and precociousMiddleForkFarmJackson mini-mule has experience as a foal-nanny and can't wait to play with Charlie.  Last fall he discovered a way to escape through the electric fence. After we caught and returned him several times, he decided he didn’t need an escort and as soon as we got close, he’d take off and put himself back in the pasture.

 

Keeping the horses company in the barn are our 5 wonderful barn cats. They are friendly and earn their keep as incredible hunters! Two years ago a neighbor gave us Jewel and her week-old kittens. All are solid grey. Two, Subway and Pepper, went to live with Sara and Rick (really with Laura and Maya), one went to a friend, and other two stayed with us. As they were identical, it seemed only appropriate to name them Darryl and Darryl.

MiddleForkFarmGrayCats

 

MiddleForkFarmLarry

 

 

And, since we had Darryl and Darryl we needed a Larry (see Bob Newhart show). Larry is either trying to roll over on the top fence board or following someone around. He was with us to watch Charlie’s birth!

 

 

IMG_8713

 

Ty Kitty is our last addition. She was a rescue after Sara’s friend found her stuck in the engine of her car. She was a tiny kitten when we got her and has since grown into a beautiful fluffy cat determined to catch the birds in the rafters of the barn (totally impossible!).

 

 

Twelve laying hens round out the barn. We do love our fresh eggs but have discovered the origin of the expression "dumb cluck."  Recently we added 7 Cochin hens to our flock.  I was warned that this variety likes to "sit" (i.e. sit on eggs and try to hatch them, even if they're not fertile).  It was certainly not an understatement. How many chickens do you see in this box?

MiddleForkFarmCochins

The answer is 3.

If you’ve been following us, you know our goat herd has grown. Most of the kids have moved on to new homes, but we added 7 doelings from this year’s group to our herd. We do have our last 3 bucklings are for sale (for more information contact Sara at 540-540-424-3986).  Two of the bucklings (now wethers i.e. neutered males) are 4-H market projects and will be for sale at the Fluvanna Fair in August. Quizno, our buck, will be with us through this year’s breeding season.

MiddleForkFarmDoelings

Snickers and Doodle haven’t gotten into any trouble for awhile, although Doodle did present us with a dead raccoon this week—it is the beginning of raccoon and possum hunting season for Snickers and Doodle (mostly Doodle). They had their spring buzz-cut and, as you can see, look like puppies with big feet.

MiddleForkFarmAussies

Strawberry News

The berry fields are looking quite white with blooms. We will be opening for Pick Your Own on Sat. May 23 and continue to be open on Sat. and Sun. through June (maybe even July, depending on the weather).  Exact dates and times will be posted on our Facebook page. If you have a group of 10 or more, we will schedule a special private picking for you during the week.

Please come visit us, pick some berries, meet Snickers and Doodle, and enjoy a picnic by the creek.

MiddleForkFarmBerries

 

It snowed—hooray! I know not everyone shares my excitement, and I wouldn’t want to be living in Boston with 95” of snow, but it’s really beautiful! First thing in the morning it’s so pristine and quiet.   It just seems like for those few minutes, the world is a calm and peaceful place and I love it (so do Snickers and Doodle)!

IMG_8774

IMG_8784

The strawberry rows and vineyard looked lovely covered in snow for one last sleep before spring. They are both in a dormant state so the snow will not be harmful.

IMG_8909

 

 

Rick, however,  was planning to start pruning vines this week but looks like he'll have to delay a bit.

 

The kids weren’t too sure what to make of the strange white stuff on the ground and the does weren’t leading the way. They all came out of the barn to soak up the sun but only a couple brave kids ventured out to investigate.

IMG_8840

So, this blog isn’t really about snow but it had to be mentioned. It’s about the Valentine Wine Tasting/Strawberry Spread Sampling event last Friday at the Jefferson Pharmacy . We visited with neighbors, including Leslie and George from Thistle Gate Winery and made some new friends.

Sara, Beth, and I had a lot of fun preparing and sharing a couple of new Middle Fork Farm strawberry spread recipes.   We served our old favorite, a melted Brie with Strawberry-Balsamic Spread, and introduced two new dessert recipes: mini no-cook cheesecakes topped with Strawberry-Lavender Spread, and mini “pop-tarts” filled with Strawberry-Vanilla Spread.

Both are simple yet scrumptious recipes. Of course, the strawberry spread flavors can be switched around depending on your favorite or what you have on-hand.

No-Cook Mini Cheesecakes with Strawberry Topping
Makes 30

Ingredients:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened FullSizeRender
½ c. sour cream
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Middle Fork Farm Strawberry-Lavender Spread
2 packages mini phyllo dough crusts (you can use directly from the freezer or crisp them in the oven at 350 ˚F for 3-4 minutes. Cool before filling.)

Directions: 

  1. Beat cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl; refrigerate 30 minutes.
  2. Spoon cream cheese mixture into phyllo cups.
  3. Add 1 tsp. Middle Fork Farm Strawberry-Lavender Spread to each cup.
  4. Enjoy!

The pop-tarts were really Sara and Beth’s creation, kid-tested by Sara’s daughters, Laura and Maya. Their idea was to come up with something easy for an after school snack. We made a mini size for sampling purposes but they could be made any size depending on how you cut the dough.

Mini “Pop-Tarts” with Strawberry Filling

Ingredients:
1 package refrigerated pie crusts, brought to room temperature IMG_8856
Middle Fork Farm Strawberry-Vanilla Spread
Sprinkles (PINK was preferred by the 6 and 9-year old set)
Powdered Sugar Glaze (whisk together 1/2 c. powdered sugar and 1-1/2 tsp. milk)

Directions:

  1. Roll each pie crust to 1/8 in. thin on a lightly floured surface.
  2. Cut the crust into rectangles, approximately 3in. x 1in.
  3. Place a small spoonful (about 1/4 tsp.) of Strawberry-Vanilla Spread on the bottom half of each rectangle.
  4. With your finger, wet the outside edge of each rectangle and fold in half, pressing edges together and sealing the spread inside.
  5. Bake at 375 ˚F for 10 minutes.
  6. Before they cool, drizzle your powdered sugar glaze over each piece and immediately sprinkle with your favorite (PINK) sprinkles!

Let us know if you like our strawberry spread desserts  and send us your dessert ideas to share.