Daylight savings has ended and rain clouds are not an uncommon sight: November has arrived here on the farm, bringing with it shorter days and cozy nights spent thumbing through cookbooks.
Even wet with morning rain, the gardens are still beautiful, spotted with brilliant leaves of scarlet, orange and yellow on the pond and pathways. The animals are beginning to spend more time in the barns, with the “girls” getting extra grain each night to supplement their diets and the goats enjoying a “spa day” to clean and prep their coats and hooves for winter. The end of the workday finds us cozied up in the kitchen, marking the pages of our favorite fall recipes—rich risotto with locally-foraged mushrooms, roasted Delicata squash flecked with fresh herbs, plus warm soups and stews.
Late fall also brings us to the ultimate cooking holiday. Our Thanksgiving is always filled with a beautiful assortment of seasonal Italian vegetables: hearty Lacinato kale, colorful squash and crunchy radicchio, plus family favorite, cardoon. Grown here at Bella Luna, this tall, sculptural plant with pale, silvery leaves is a member of the thistle family and has a variety of uses. The dried flowers have been used as a cheese coagulant in Spain and Portugal for centuries, a technique we use in our own creamery after learning it from Spanish cheesemaker Enric Canut at a VIAC cheesemaking workshop. Every Turkey Day, our Nonna Pat also puts the creamy, white stems to good use, frying until crisp and golden brown, dredged in farmstead eggs and breaded with fresh breadcrumbs. This wonderful appetizer is tender-crisp, tasting faintly of artichoke heart, and completely of family.