Embracing Winter

My winter kitchen rendezvous continues with a fresh batch of cranberry ketchup.  I was first introduced to this delight when I worked at Willow Pond Farm in Sabattus.  A customer would bring us a bag of fresh picked cranberries every year and Jill would turn it into this fascinating condiment. Living in Maine where we are lucky to have so many fresh berries, I wanted to continue making this gem at Little Ridge.  Folks are sometimes shy to try it, but once they do, they are hooked.  It’s spiced nicely with just enough sweet and tart cranberry flavor.  It pairs perfectly with pork, chicken and burgers AND it’s a gorgeous shade of deep cranberry!
We are proud owners of a new walk in cooler!  We have been in need of additional cooler space the past couple years but I have not sprung for one because they are freakin’ expensive!!!  Even used ones are nearly 10 grand and, well, that is a hard pill to swallow.  This baby actually came all the way from California.  I found a company who was passing their PPP (COVID aid money) along to their customers (who are mostly ag and restaurants).  It was still a good chunk of change, but a good deal, and brand spanking new so I should not have any problems with the compressor for a long while.  John and I took advantage of the lovely weather and assembled her piece by piece.  I won’t bore you with the hitches that came along with some missing parts during shipping and somewhat lean assembly instructions (although they were in plain english, yes she was handmade right in Cali).  But what I do want to share is our ingenious way of getting the super heavy ceiling panels in place.  Unfortunately there is no footage of our genius because we needed all hands on task, but let me tell you it was brilliant.  We used our block and tackle that we use to lift crates of onions up to the 2nd floor of the barn. I think it was even sort of safe.  Way safer than lifting a heavy, super slippery awkward object 9 feet in the air, over our heads, while climbing a ladder.  So, yep, the brilliant inventor of the block and tackle saved our backs and although it took some finagling, we set the ceiling panels in place and voila!  we have a new cooler.
Another toy, another deal.  Every year I go to a conference in NH and at the trade exhibits, I drool over one particular farm implement.  It is made by a fellow farmer in PA and the videos he displays shows this beauty flinging weeds leaving strawberry plants happy and weed free.  It’s a simple tool with lots of flexibility so I can use in many crops beyond the strawberries.  This winter I reached out to him (again) asking the price and shipping fee.  It’s reasonably priced for its use, however still several thousand dollars.  With a sigh I figured I would continue to make due with the implements we already have and continue with lots of hand weeding. But then a few minutes later he emailed me about a NY farmer who wanted to sell his model and upgrade to the larger model.  And just like that I found my toy at a discount price!
I decided to take a drive and pick it up in NY.  I was also able to enjoy a view of the Hudson and the Catskills, take a few hikes and visit a fantastic farmer friend.  A perfect deal all around I should say : )
I hope you are finding sweet deals and ways to embrace winter too!
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