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Posted 10/28/2013 5:27am by Rod Hornbake.

The CSA share this week included a small pumpkin.  Sometimes called a pie or sweet pumpkin these are excellent for pies, cookies or bread.  But here is a recipe for an appetizer or main course savory pumpkin dish from Afghanistan.



Kaddo Bourani (Afghan Pumpkin)

This is baked pumpkin topped with 2 sauces.  Omit the meat if you prefer and increase the tomato sauce by 1/2 cup.  Serve with warm flat bread such as Naan or Pita as a first course or light meal.  Serve with a rice pilaf for a main course.

1 Pie Pumpkin 2-3 lb

2 TBS oil (I like coconut oil)

1/4 C Sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon


1 C plain yogurt (or a little less Greek style thinned with milk.  You will want to pour the sauce)

1 garlic clove crushed

Salt and pepper to taste


2 TBS oil                                                    

2 medium onions chopped

1 lb lean ground beef

1 clove garlic crushed

1 C tomato sauce

1/2 C water


Preheat the oven to 350


Cut pumpkin in half from pole to pole and remove the seeds and strings

Then peel (I cut the pumpkin into 2 inch crescents, place the crescent cut edge down and cut off the skin an inch or so at a time.  You can also use a vegetable peeler)

Cut into 2 inch chunks

Sautee the pumpkin in the oil until nicely browned on all sides.  This takes 15 minutes.

Transfer the pieces into an oiled baking dish in a single layer.

Mix the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the pumpkin.

Cover tightly with foil and bake until soft.  About 1 hour.


While the pumpkin is baking prepare the sauces.


Mix the yogurt with the galic, salt and pepper and allow to sit at room temp.


Sautee the onions until clear, add beef and cook until browned.  Add the garlic for the last minute of cooking.  Add the tomato and water and allow to simmer and thicken.  Add salt as desired.


When the pumpkin is done, top with the tomato sauce spreading it evenly over the top.  Then pour the yogurt sauce over the top.  Sprinkle fresh or dried chopped mint leaves lightly on top.



Rod Hornbake

New Mercies Farm

Posted 10/18/2013 11:40am by Rod Hornbake.


This is Tatsoi an asian braising green that you might not be familiar with.

We are including a mix of Tatsoi, Kamatsuna, Red Russian Kale, Red Mustard, Arugula in this week's offering as a "Braising Mix"

Here is one way to prepare the greens.  You can also Google Asian Braising Greens and Recipe for more ideas.


Chopped Garlic

Greens (larger leaves should be torn into bite size pieces)

Oil (coconut oil works very well)

Salt and pepper to taste


Lightly sautee the garlic.  Add the greens and stir until wilted. Add salt and pepper.  Cover with pan and cook over medium heat about 10 min or until the texture suits you.  Add stock and cook uncovered if you like.

I like to serve this under grilled salmon.  A great combination of flavors and textures




Rod Hornbake

Posted 7/28/2013 10:34am by Rod Hornbake.

Bob Zemmel,  the owner of Al Forno Restaurant in Old Saybrook stopped by the farm this week and bought some items to try out.  It seems everything he left with has found its way onto the menu this week.


Here is the content of Bob's weekly newsletter to his customers:

New Mercies Farm Organic Produce Comes to Alforno    

We're happy to introduce New Mercies Farm heirloom tomatoes, and other produce that we will use in our Featured Summer Dishes. 

Farm manager, Michael Melillo, has introduced us to new vegetables including Red Russian kale; which is crisper, sweeter and less bitter than our regular kale along with Suyo cucumbers, a real treat.

A few of our dishes made with New Mercies vegetables:

Panzanella made with Heirloom Tomatoes and Suyo Cucumbers 
Fresh chunks of New Mercies Farm Heirlooms, red onion, basil, red wine vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil over croutons with a touch of salt and pepper.

Burrata (fresh mozzarella filled with cream) and New Mercies Farm Heirloom Tomatoes
The ultimate fresh mozzarella, served with New Mercies Farm Heirlooms, dressed with the best extra virgin olive oil, garnished with fresh basil and served on grilled garlic bread.

Pan Roasted Cod

Pan roasted Atlantic cod topped with chopped pistachios and served with a salad of New Mercies Farm's Red Russian kale, corn (fresh off the cob) and cherry tomatoes.

Please visit our website at

Posted 7/13/2013 5:05pm by Rod Hornbake.

Purple Martin in Flight


One of the many joys that comes from operating a farm is the ongoing airshow provided by the Purple Martins which live in the neighborhood.  They usually show up in the morning and again in the late afternoon untill dusk.  Their acrobatics are incredible to watch as they twist and turn, dive and climb in their pursuit of insects.  This is their entire diet, flying insects and they have evolved to be the masters of the aerial hunt for their next meal.


Well since Connecticut has a significant winter with no flying insects, where are the Martins in the winter?  Do they hiburnate like bears?  It turns out that they enjoy tropical winters.  Here is a map of their migration.  What wonders!  Morning by morning, new mercies I see!


Posted 7/11/2013 8:14am by Rodney Hornbake.

Hello Folks,

I'd like to announce that New Mercies Farm now has summer CSA shares available. The summer season will begin next Tues July 16 and will continue on through the fall ending November 19. 19 weeks of the freshest, highest quality certified organic produce grown right here in Lyme, CT. Pick up time and location is limited to Tuesdays from 3pm-6pm  at the farm. We are only accepting 12 members at this time so dont miss out!
There are three share sizes to choose from. Cost of the share reflects a 20% discount off the farmer's market price! I invite you to visit our CSA information page (click here) for complete details.

1. Weekly Family Share size- Feeds a family of four or a couple who dines in most nights or an individual who likes to juice at least once a day. Cost of this share is $760/19wks =$40/wk, retail value-$760/wk or $50/wk.

2.Bi-Weekly Family Share size- Feeds the same amount as the Weekly Family Share but your pickup is every other week. Cost of this share is $400 for 10wks =$40/bi-wkly, retail value =$500 or $50/bi-wkly.

3.Eat for Two Weekly Share size- Feeds a couple for the week or a single who juices frequently. Cost of this share is $425 for 19wks =$22/wk. Retail value =$532 or $28/wk. 

Egg and flower shares are also available! Please see our webpage for more details.

A 50% down payment is due at the time of your first pickup and the remaining balance is due by your third pickup.

We hope you join us this summer

Michael Melillo

Land Steward

New Mercies Farm


Posted 6/23/2013 5:56am by Rod Hornbake.



Buckwheat is shown here emerging in the 3000 square foot section of land that will soon be covered by our first winter hoophouse.  There we will plant cool weather crops in late summer for harvest until spring next year.

Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) makes a good warm weather cover crop for several reasons.  First is for weed control.  The plant grows quickly depriving weeds of needed light.  After many sowings all the weed seeds in a plot can be forced to germinate and die.  Buckwheat residues also have weed suppression properties.

Second is to add organic matter to the soil.  By tilling the plants into the soil nutrients are added along with water holding capacity.  This makes the land more drought tolerant and reduces plant stress.  Organic matter also facilitates micronutrient absorption by plant roots increasing the nutrient density of our food.

Third is nitrogen fixation.  While Buckwheat is not a legume it produces "associative nitrogen fixation".  That is, microorganisms associated with buckwheat growth capture nitrogen from the air and add it to the soil.  Thus buckwheat acts as a green manure.

Summer is the time for buckwheat.  It makes a great cover crop after residues from spring harvested vegetables have been plowed under.  The "organic" in organic farming is not just about avoiding pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers.  It is also about harnessing the forces of nature to produce high yields of nutritious and delicious food for our families while improving the land for future generations.

Posted 6/14/2013 4:51pm by Rod Hornbake.

So what do you do when a brief hot spell makes your cool weather crops go to seed?  Here is one solution.  Napa cabbage starting to bolt was harvested and turned into Kimchi.  This required a quick run to East Hartford's Je Market for the special ingredients:  Kochukaru or dried red pepper (think Korean paprika) and Saeujeot or tiny shrimp brined to preserve them.

Pieces of cabbage were tossed with non-iodized salt and allowed to sit for 24 hours.  Then after draining the cabbage was mixed with chopped scallions, the red pepper, garlic, ginger, shrimp and sugar.  After 3 days of lactofermentation, the kimchi was refrigerated for 3 days then packaged.

The result is quite good and not too spicey to enjoy.  The trick is to get the staff at the Je Market to help you sort through the varieties of red pepper to select the right one.

CSA members can buy the Kimchi when they pick up their veggies this week.

P.S. If you go to the Je Market be sure to have a meal at the Goong restaurant next door.  Fantastic!

Posted 6/12/2013 5:55pm by Rod Hornbake.

New Mercies Farm is an outgrowth of my 50+ year passion for gardens and gardening.  Our garden in Hadlyme includes a woodland garden.  There I have taken care over the past decade to create the right light, soil and moisture for Trillium, Jack in the Pulpit and Hellebores to flourish and self seed.  Other shade loving plants are also thriving as is a collection of special trees.  These include native hollies brought as seedlings from my late father in law's garden in Virginia, Korean dogwoods,  Japanese maples, a moosewood tree from my sister's woods in Vermont, and this treasure.

Ashe's Magnolia is native to the American Southeast where it grows as an understory plant.  A mature specimen can be seen near the road in full sun at White Gate Farm in East Lyme.  It is a subspecies of Magnolia Macrophylla and has the largest leaves and flowers of any North American tree.  The leaves are 24" long and the flowers 12" across.  But alas the bloom lasts only days before rapidly fading.  In the woodland and out of sight, it demands a daily search in June.  But it is a search well worth the effort.  

Posted 6/10/2013 5:51am by Rod Hornbake.

I was hunkered down by the fire this winter with the seed catalog from Franchi of Italy.  The peas caught my eye and I found the edible pod varieties labeled "Mangia Tutti"  or "eat the whole thing" in English.  Indeed, that is just what I did on Saturday after we were misled by the first few plants in the row. These appeared ready to yield an abundance of pods.  After picking over the entire 200' row however, I had just a 0.6 pounds.  Michael and I debated what to do.  I suggested a lottery or  a game of hidden treasure - which crate has the special treat?   But in the end my wife's voice in my head prevailed.  "Do not come home without something for supper."

So I will share the "test kitchen" results for the soon to come harvest of mangia tutti.

  • Cubed chicken breast
  • Peas cleaned and trimmed of the stems
  • Mushrooms
  • Ginger root
  • Garlic
  • Chicken stock

Mix the chicken with a little cooking wine, soy sauce and corn starch. 

Stir fry the peas over high heat and remove when still crunchy

Now stir fry the mushrooms and remove

Stir fry the garlic and ginger root about 30 seconds and add the chicken.

Cook until no longer pink.

Add enough of the stock to make a sauce of desired thickness.

Correct seasoning and add back the mushrooms and peas.  Stir to coat the vegetables and serve.

Posted 6/7/2013 2:51pm by Rodney Hornbake.

Hello members,

This weeks box will include:

Napa Cabage
Tuscano Kale
Swiss Chard
Hakurei Salad Turnips
Head Lettuce
Gold Beet Greens
And possibly snap/snow peas!

Please visit our blog for recipie ideas located on our website under the About Us tab or click here.

Michael Melillo

Land Steward

New Mercies Farm