While Dan and I were living in Chicago, we started a tradition of making waffles every Saturday morning. Now that we’re back in New Hampshire the tradition has continued.
Below is the best waffle recipe ever. There are three things that make this recipe great.
First, the whipped egg whites. It’s a little extra work, but it’s worth it. Do it once – you won’t go back.
Second, using grass-fed, raw milk from Benedickt Dairy . If you’re local and haven’t checked them out yet, you need to. They are amazing farmers up on Shirley Hill Road.
And last but not least, the maple syrup. Real maple syrup is the only option. I’m obviously biased and think our is the best, but just make sure you’re not using Aunt Jemima or some other “table syrup.”
Lowell Drott’s Waffle Recipe (from a North Park an old North Park cookbook)
2 cups flour
1 T.baking powder
1 T. white sugar
dash of salt
2 eggs separated
1/2 cup oil
2 cups milk
Mix together dry ingredients. Add the egg yolks, oil, milk, and stir until combined. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the waffle batter. Pour onto a hot waffle iron and enjoy!
Last month, we wrapped up our first maple season in the new Maple Barn at Clarkridge Farm. It was a great first season and we are already looking forward to next year!
The construction of the Maple Barn is a journey I don’t want to forget. I was planning on writing blog updates as the building progressed, but we were so busy trying to finish the barn before the winter, that there wasn’t time for blogging!
As you look at these pictures and read the story below, please know that Dan and I would never have been able to complete all of this without the help and support of both of our families, many friends, and my dad. Without my dad, Russell Gocht, there would be no Maple Barn. So thank you, Dad, and all of the people that helped. We appreciate everyone who supports us at Clarkridge Farm as we work to figure out how to be a sustainable, small scale, organic farm in New Hampshire.
So, below is an over due post on the construction of the Maple Barn. It’s a long post, so grab a cup of coffee and enjoy!
The construction began last June, 2015. Dan went out to the woods with his chain saw and cut down some trees. He dragged pine and hemlock trees out of the woods to be milled up and turned into timbers for the barn.
We hired a sawyer with a portable sawmill to come over and cut the logs up into 2×4’s, 4×4’s, 2×8’s, 1×12’s and so on. My dad (the true mastermind behind the entire project) designed the barn and had a cut list with all the dimensions of the timbers we would need.
Once all the wood was cut to the right dimensions, the tedious work of notching each board began. None of the timbers were cut to length, so my dad took every timber cut it to length and notched it to create the joints. With lots of precise measuring and angle calculations, he cut each timber so that all the timbers fit together, almost like a jig-saw puzzle, to frame the building.
Laying on the concrete is the first wall assembled. Our yard looked like a construction zone all summer long!
Once the wall was assembled, we were ready to raise the barn! Over labor day weekend, a lot of family and friends (shout out the Paul Revere Road crew!) came out to help. With all of the help we had, the walls were almost easy to lift! (Or so I heard, I actually didn’t help lift the wall…)
I’m not sure if we were raising a barn or a jungle gym!
No barn raising is complete with out your official oversee-ers. My grandparents gladly took on this role!
Nor is it complete without a big potluck! Picnic lunch complete with Clarkridge Farm burgers (not pictured).
After the walls were raised, the next challenge was putting on the roof rafters. My dad, being the engineer he is, decided that using a “gin pole” would be our best approach. Dan found a tall, straight, fresh oak tree in the woods and cut it down. We used pulley’s to raise it up next to the barn and attached a block and tackle pulley system to the top of the pole. Then, we attached the roof rafters and pulled them right up! Well, sort of. Sometimes it took a little finagling….
Once the framing was complete, we began putting on the roofing and the siding. At this point, we were starting to feel the chill of winter coming.
Since we had rough cut wood, in order to side the barn, we had to run all of the siding through a planer. Although this took a little bit of time, I didn’t mind doing it. I loved watching the wood go in the machine and come out the other side so smooth. I also loved the smell of the wood shavings. I am excited about doing other projects with the planer this summer!
Right around before Christmas (notice the wreath making supplies on the table) we finished the roofing and the siding. There was still work to be done inside, maple lines to be hung, and more but we were excited to boil inside the maple barn in the spring!
We were so excited when we made our first batch of syrup! There is nothing better than than spending the last days of winter huddled next to the evaporator (the large pan that boils the syrup), smelling the syrup, and feeling the steam on your face, and sampling nature’s sweetest treat.
There is more to be done but for now we are happy to have a functional Maple Barn. The inaugural season was an adventure and are as excited as ever for next year!
Dan and I have realized that we are not short of ideas for our farm, what we’re lacking is skills and knowledge. So, we are trying to be intentional about taking opportunities for “Farming Professional Development.” It’s hard to make time for it when there is already so much to be done at home, but we feel it’s important to learn and connect with other farmers in the region. We want to learn what farmers in our community are doing, what’s worked and what hasn’t, in a climate and culture that is similar to ours.
Earlier in September, Dan and I went to Essex Farm in upstate New York to visit Mark and Kristin Kimball’s farm. Ten years ago, they started a full diet CSA for the the people in their community. Their farm is horse powered and their story is incredible. If you’re living on a farm (or planning to) and haven’t read The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball, I highly recommend it.
I read her book in Chicago before Dan and I moved to New Hampshire. Her story of transitioning from city life in New York with heels and a handbag to a rural farm life with Carhartt’s and a pocket knife gave me perspective on the transition Dan and I were about to make. I am so thankful she shared her story. It was incredible to see their farm operation and all the work required for a full diet CSA.
Next up for Farming Professional Development is maple syrup! We’re almost done with the beef season and looking ahead towards our winter projects. As we continue to live and work on the farm, Dan and I are hoping to slowly increase our maple syrup production. Last winter we had fun making maple syrup and visiting other New Hampshire maple syrup operations. At the end of October, Dan and I will be attending the New Hampshire’s 2nd Annual Maple School. It will be great to connect with and learn from other maple producer’s in New Hampshire.
We’re busy getting ready for farm day on Saturday. We’re hoping it will be a great day!
My new favorite weekend = New Hampshire Maple Sugar WeekendWe had a good run of sap earlier this year and we made some of our own maple syrup! It was a learning experience for me, and this weekend I was able to see how other people in our town and neighboring towns run their maple sugaring operations.
We probably visited about 6 or 7 different sap houses. We don’t have a sap house, so sometimes our maple sugar equipment is hard to use.
It’s difficult to boil down the sap when all the equipment is covered in snow! And it’s not fun to boil it outside if it’s raining. However, when it’s not covered in snow and the sap is flowing, it works great!
I wish you could smell it. There’s nothing better. A sweet and smokey smell. You’ll just have to come visit sometime so you can smell it for yourself.
The set up we have now is good for a couple of gallons of sap. We have about 15 taps out and have gotten about 1 or 2 gallons of maple syrup. (Keep in mind 40 gallons of sap = 1 gallon of syrup.) We easily have the potential to put out about 1,000 taps, but we would need a sap house to boil the sap into syrup.
Seeing all the sugar shacks was inspiring for Dan and I. It made us think that maybe we could do that here!
They all varied. Some were big full-time operations.
And some were small family-run operations. I loved the ones with a small kitchen for making coffee and treats while hanging out in the sugar shack.
Each sap house offered tastings of their delicious fresh maple syrup. And then there was lots of donuts, coffee, maple butter, pancakes, cookies, and people to talk to! My favorite treat was coffee made with sap instead of water. It’s my new favorite way to drink coffee. (As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a coffee drinker, so we don’t have a coffee maker. I’m going to need to get one though so I can make coffee with sap. There’s nothing better!)
People were also selling maple sugar and maple pepper. I’ve never heard of maple pepper so of course we bought some. If anyone knows what to do with it, let me know!
Dan loved this contraption that allows you to easily bring the wood from the outside in.
And this is a real big operation! Maybe someday we’ll have an evaporator that big. There are definitely plenty of trees around to tap. Right now, I’m enjoying the little pan in our backyard.
I’m already looking forward to NH Maple Sugar Weekend 2014. Maybe we’ll be hosting an open house on our farm! There’s lots to do though, so I’ll keep you posted…