Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Our Own Private Vermont

her own private VT fig. a: Michelle, Shelburne Farms

Our own private Vermont is an awfully nice place. It's made up of many of the sites we've visited over the last ten years, as well as many of the tastes we've tasted. It consists of numerous trips and countless memories. 2010 had its fair share, so when we tried to figure out what we'd be serving at this year's AEB holiday bash, we ended up settling on a Vermont theme. Which, of course, meant we had to pay yet another visit to the Green Mountain state to stock up on Green Mountain goodies. And although we made sure to hit a few old favorites--like Al's for lunch, Shelburne Farms for aged cheddar, and Dakin Farm for ham and bacon--we also got a chance to visit a few new places and further expand our Vermont.

settlers sunset

settlers shadow figs. b & c: Jericho sunset, Jericho shadow

We arrived at Jericho Settlers Farm in Jericho Center just as the sun was setting, and consequently the light was as gold as it gets and the shadows were as long as can be.

settlers farmstand fig. d: Settlers' farmstand

We'd read some great things about Jericho Settlers Farm's pastured meat, and especially their pastured heirloom pork. We'd also read that you could get their meat in Burlington, but we were curious to see what the farm looked. And with that sun setting, and fresh snow on the ground, it looked pretty heavenly.

There was no one around, but Jericho Settlers Farm has a farmstand that's open to the public 365 days a year, and it runs on the honor system (!).

settlers birds fig. e: Settlers' birds

We stepped inside, took a look around,

settlers freezer fig. f: Settlers' freezer

and made some selections. We were pretty focused on their pork, beef, and chicken,

settlers sweet carrots fig. g: Settlers' sweet carrots

but we were happy to see that they had some root vegetables for sale too, so we added some beautiful multicolored carrots and some fingerling potatoes to our bag and logged our purchases. We noticed that we were the first farmstand customers of the day, which is hardly surprising, I guess, because Jericho Settlers Farm operates primarily as a CSA.

Jericho Center Country Store fig. h: Jericho Center Country Store

Just down the road, in the very center of Jericho Center, we found the Jericho Center Country Store, one of the oldest continuously operating country stores in all of Vermont (since 1807!). The interior is a true treasure trove--it's filled to the rafters with antiques and memorabilia from its 203-year history--and in addition to all the usual country store staples, they also carry meat from Jericho Settlers Farm, in case the farmstand happens to be closed.

In the village square, directly across the street from the country store, Michelle noticed a historical marker that told the story of Wilson Alwyn "Snowflake" Bentley. I had no idea who she was talking about, so she filled me in (scientist, photographer, snowflake specialist) on the ride out of town.

Old Red Mill fig. i: Moonlight on Vermont

A few minutes later, in Jericho (not to be confused with Jericho Center), we spotted an old red mill and decided to take a closer look.

snow crystals by W.A. Bentley fig. j: snow crystals by "Snowflake"

And inside the Old Red Mill (a.k.a., the Jericho Historical Society), not only did we find reproductions of the work of "Snowflake" Bentley for sale, but we also found a small museum display on his life and work. It included quite a number of Bentley's original photographs and slides of (what else?) snowflakes,

Bentley quilt fig. k: 19th-century Op Art

but it also included this magnificent quilt made by old mother Bentley.

On the way back home to Montreal, we listened to some episodes of This American Life that we'd collected on our mp3 player. One of the segments was a story of fate, faith, and destiny, chance and coincidence, and much of the segment focused on events that occurred in and around the town of Snowflake, AZ--a town that had been founded by two men, one named Snow and the other named Flake. Apparently, still to this day, half the town is named Snow and half is named Flake. Presumably there are a few Snow-Flakes there too.

When we got back to our neighborhood, I dropped Michelle off at home and then set off again to find a parking spot. When I returned our dining room table looked like this:

the loot fig. l: L is for loot

And a few days later we threw our Our Own Private Vermont party, featuring a smoked country ham from Vermont glazed with a mustard-maple syrup concoction, a selection of Vermont cheeses (Shelburne Farms' nutty, crumbly 2-year cheddar and Jasper Hill impossibly creamy Moses Sleeper and Bayley Hazen blue, Lazy Lady's lovely ashed Trillium, and Von Trapp Farmstead's [yes, those Von Trapps] washed-rind Oma), and some baked beans made all the more succulent with 100% pure maple syrup and a smoked ham hock from Jericho Settlers Farm. Completing the scene was a white birch.

Martha's Maple-Mustard Glazed Ham

1 whole (18-lb) bone-in, fully cooked, smoked ham, room temperature
1/2 cup champagne vinegar
1 cup 100% pure maple syrup
2/3 cup Dijon mustard
2 tbsp apricot jam
pinch of kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a roasting pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Rinse ham under cool running water. Pat dry and wrap with parchment paper-lined aluminum foil; place in prepared roasting pan. Transfer to oven for 4 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat vinegar over medium-high heat until reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 6 minutes. Add maple syrup, mustard, jam, and salt; season with pepper. Cook, whisking, until well combined, about 2 minutes. Set glaze aside.

Remove ham from oven and uncover. When cool enough to handle, cut off rind using a sharp knife. Slice off most of the fat, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick layer. Score fat on top of ham in a pattern of 1- to 2-inch diamonds.

Brush ham evenly with one-third of the glaze and return to oven. After 20 minutes, brush ham again with half the remaining glaze. Cook for 15 minutes and brush with remaining glaze. Continue baking ham until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of ham reaches 145 to 150 degrees, about 15 minutes more.

Transfer to a cutting board. Let ham cool 30 minutes before carving.

Serves a whole lot of people.

Note: We used half a ham (9 lbs) and adjusted the recipe accordingly. We fed 30+ guests.

[Martha Stewart ain't from Vermont, but she makes an awfully good maple-mustard glazed ham. This is pretty much exactly her recipe]

Jericho Settlers Farm, 22 Barber Farm Road, Jericho Center, VT, (802) 899-4000

Jericho Center Country Store, 25 Jericho Center Circle, Jericho Center, VT, (802) 899-3313

The Old Red Mill, Route 15, Jericho Village, VT, (802) 899-3225

If you're intrigued by the sound of Jericho Settlers Farm's pastured meat, but you can't make it out to Jericho Center, you can also find their meat at a massive health food store in South Burlington called Healthy Living (which lies in close proximity to Al's French Frys and South Burlington's Dakin Farm outlet, conveniently enough). They've got an outstanding meat counter with a wide range of organic, pastured, and artisanal meats on offer, and a talented butcher who offers workshops on everything from butchering to sausage-making.

Healthy Living, 222 Dorset St., South Burlington, VT, (802) 863-2569

For more on Jericho Settlers Farm's heirloom pork, as well as the state of sustainable, humanely raised pork production in America, please consult Edward Behr's in-depth report in The Art of Eating #84.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for reminding me why I live in Vermont.

Lisa H.

Amber said...

That is one heck of a quilt!

aj kinik said...

Hi, Lisa H.,
you're welcome--glad to be of service--if you think of places/things we should know about, please, let us know

Hi, Amber,
isn't it? probably the most ornate one I've ever seen--definitely the trippiest