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Our Pay Dirt Farm School


Shrimp BakeOver


Garlic Drying - photo by Elaine McEnery


Garlic photo by Deborah Kirsner


Truck: 'Old Girl' - photo by Elaine McEnery

Wednesday, July 23 (continued)

MaryJane says that I am a “man with a pan!” She is pleased with my BakeOver making. I like her simple approach because it provides a gourmet backdrop for any vegetables. It really solves the age-old problem of how to prep tasty and healthful veggies. I am learning that “simple” and “easy” are two entirely different concepts. A frozen pizza is easy, but it isn’t simple. It’s processed, assembled and frozen, then transported, stocked and sold. That is anything but simple. Hoeing a garden is simple, but it isn’t easy. Instead, hoeing is work and exercise. MaryJane’s BakeOvers are simple because they allow fast preparation for fresh food from the garden. They are easy because you simply chop and stir-fry the vegetables and mix a simple crust and bake everything in the same pan.

Bedtime early tonight — it’s very hot, but cools down fast enough once I lay down.

Thursday, July 24

Last night the wind blew exceedingly, and I thought the hut would rock. It howled through the hut, but brought much-needed cool air. And by morning it’s nice and cool outside.

Brian shows me how the soil is very compacted in the garlic patch this year and demonstrates the use of a fork in harvesting the garlic. He is wearing a hat and shorts, and a good bit of caked, dried mud from his morning’s toil. Six inches away from the garlic, you press the fork tines straight down. The tines are curved so they move down and in toward the garlic as you press. The soil is so compacted here that Brian hops onto the fork with both feet to drive the fork downward. Then he rocks forward and backward to break loose the soil. If it is too compacted, you need to loosen both sides, which I discover when I try my own row. Brian is working twice as fast as I can, and later three times as fast as I slow in the heat. Must be at least 95 degrees. Brian keeps the garlic covered to prevent scorching in the sun and we drive back to the barn and hang the garlic upside-down, in bunches, from nails to dry. That’s how you harvest the garlic.

Tonight’s dinner was scheduled to be a potato bake, but MaryJane decided to move the Hobo Dinner forward and I prepare that instead. Now a Hobo Dinner can only be cooked in the coals of a campfire. That’s a rule.

MaryJane believes that carnivores should eat organic meat. Since I’m a meat eater, we are going to use pork sausage patties made from pigs grown organically by MaryJane’s children and smoked in the smokehouse. According to MaryJane’s instructions, I cut up the vegetables, and then assemble the Hobo Dinners. Ingredients include pork sausage, butter for greasing the aluminum foil, onions, garlic, carrots, two small potatoes and, in this case, a turnip. The veggies are chopped and seasoned with salt and pepper, then all the ingredients are wrapped and sealed in foil and placed in the coals to cook.

I ask MaryJane how long we should cook them. The answer is there is no time, just wait longer than you think it should take and check it. Hobo Dinners are delicious, and Nick joins us for dinner.

I walk alone tonight and realize how much I feel at home at MaryJane’s farm, even after such a short time. It’s a natural relaxation just being here. I wave to Nick as he passes in the truck.

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