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frittata with asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms and chard

For one reason or another, I’ve always liked Thursday. You could say it’s my Friday—when I was in grade school I relished having the maximum number of weekend nights ahead of me, and in college Thursday was a weekend night since I managed to avoid ever having Friday class (that’s right, all eight semesters). It’s safe to say I’m primed to look forward to Thursdays now, but at Love Apple I can add another check to the pros column: Farm Dinner.

I’ve mentioned Farm Dinner before, but really it deserves its own paragraph. Every Thursday between 7 and 7:30 p.m. a rag-taggle group of farm dwellers, apprentices, and the odd visitor or ten assembles on the patio, everyone bearing food from the kitchen and glasses of wine. There’s a fire roaring in the pit and children dashing across the lawn adjacent, and the tables sport red-checkered cloths and settings for 30. Sometime around 8 p.m., just as people start eying the food and Cynthia begins to rise from her chair for the anticipated announcement, the Shivs are sighted walking down the driveway. Catherine and Shiv are our closest neighbors, and they are always preceded by a small child on a skateboard and bring the most delicious curry I have ever tasted (their British accents also lend a certain dignity to the conversational games that follow every meal).

What exactly are conversational games? you may be wondering, as I did on my first day when I heard circulating accounts of farm Thursdays. Once everyone is settled with their food the bios portion begins, with those who are new to the table giving a two-minute run-through of their life and/or relationship to the farm. Next come the questions, which go around the table campfire style and range from the cheapest thing you bought and loved (my Bond Girl prom dress) to whose voice you would choose to read your eulogy (I said Lincoln, but in retrospect Barack Obama) to what your roller derby name would be (“Little Bo Streak”). Every once in a while the odd serious question will pop up (“What is the greatest act of love you have ever experienced?”) and everyone will roll their eyes but answer it very admirably.

I think what I really love about Farm Dinner (other than the grown-up icebreakers) is that it’s about something I’ve never been particularly good at: sharing. You share your time and attention. You share your stories. You share food. When I cooked Thursday nights in college it was just for myself, but here it’s a sort of offering, not just from me but from the farm—in this week’s case, from the chickens, the overburdened zucchini plants, and the towering chard. Making food is something I’ve always loved, and here it’s something that’s loved in return. Well, if not loved, at least appreciated—if only for the fact that I used 60 eggs in one go.

Frittata with Asparagus, Zucchini, Mushrooms and Chard

We have a LOT of eggs, so I aimed for a high egg count and didn’t add much else. Feel free to experiment, and the overall size of the dish can also easily be altered.

30 eggs (or thereabouts)

2 medium zucchinis

6 small potatoes

good handful of asparagus

several handfuls mushrooms

4-5 large chard leaves

salt and pepper

Crack the eggs into a large bowl and beat well, seasoning with salt and pepper. Slice the zucchini into rounds and saute in olive oil until lightly browned; meanwhile, boil the potatoes until soft and slice when cooked through. Arrange the potato slices on the bottom of a large baking dish and layer the sauteed zucchini on top. Chop the asparagus and mushrooms into bite-sized pieces and layer on the zucchini, then shred the chard for the final layer. Pour the beaten eggs over the veggies (they should be almost entirely covered) and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 1 hour, or until nicely browned.

beef empanadas with green olives and raisins

Often when I tell people about the farm, I find myself talking about time. As quickly as my college days went by, they were structured neatly into classes and midterms and semesters, and time works differently as a farm apprentice. Instead of weekends you have ever-changing days off, so it’s easy to go long stretches of time without knowing whether or not it’s Monday. Each workday is structured in much the same way, so everything tends to link together into one continuous stretch of time instead of the usual weeks and months. As Ross put it jokingly, it feels a bit like you’re “trapped in an alternate universe,” one where you wake up at 6:30 every morning and start easing towards bed every night around 10:00.

All that was an elaborate build-up to saying how unusual it is for me to be up until midnight. Visiting my sister in Berkeley on my days off this week (a Monday and Tuesday—but it felt like a weekend) was a bit like stepping briefly into another life, one where I could happily throw on high tops, a chunky sweater I stole from the couch at the cottage, and enormous headphones and wander around the campus with my sci-fi novel pretending to be a Berkeley hipster. And going to bed around midnight was a thrill indeed, especially since it involved all my favorite elements of Barbour sister-time:  eating, trading music, re-watching British tween romantic comedies on youtube, more eating, and Milo (a “chocolate malt beverage” that is ubiquitous everywhere but the US).

Eating is a prominent theme in our family, and Rae and I both took up the mantle with gusto when we chose to go to college in New York City and Berkeley. In my 48-hour visit we hopped from bakery to restaurant to market, our trajectory marked by a fresh honey whole wheat loaf (perfect moistness) that we enjoyed with homemade goat cheese, cardamom rose ice cream, thai bubble tea, fried eggs with thyme, and Dahi Papdi Chaat at my favorite Indian place Viks. And then there were the empanadas, a cooking inspiration that involved just about all my favorite things: pastry, ground beef, briny olives, raisins, and a healthy dose of spice. We ate them hot from the oven and then it was back to part 7 of Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging—just the kind of night to stay up late.

Beef Empanadas with Green Olives and Raisins

(Adapted from

for the pastry:

2 1/4 cups flour

1 stick butter

1 egg

1/3 cup water

1 Tbs rice vinegar

for the filling:

1 medium onion

3 cloves garlic, crushed





red pepper flakes

1 lb ground beef

1 cup green olives with pimientos, chopped

1/2 cup raisins

1 14oz can tomatoes

1 egg

To make the pastry, cut butter into small cubes and add to the flour, mushing together with your fingertips until the mixture is light and crumbly. Beat the egg with the water and vinegar and add to the flour mixture, stirring and pressing to form a ball of dough. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

For the filling, chop the onion and saute in a large saucepan with olive oil. Add the crushed garlic, then add the cumin, cinnamon, salt, thyme, and red pepper flakes to taste. When the onions are translucent, add the ground beef and cook until browned. Add the raisins, olives, and tomatoes and simmer until most of the liquid has cooked off and the meat filling is thick and fragrant.

Roll out the dough to your preferred thickness and use a small bowl to cut out rounds. Add a large tablespoon of the meat filling to a pastry round and fold closed, pressing the edges with a fork. Arrange the empanadas on a baking sheet and brush with beaten egg before cooking at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

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