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Why Farms Want Cold Winters

You wouldn't believe it but here at Rolling Hills we adore cold Winters. I do find myself worrying about the wildlife and the crops growing protected in our tunnels, but this weather is more beneficial then anything else for our farm. Why? First, Winter kills. With death comes life again in the Spring, and in this case a more healthy life. The frigid temperatures kill so many of the bugs and diseases that survived on our farm with the very warm Winter last year. With this long period of temperatures below freezing we are expecting much less bug and disease pressure this Spring. Second, it stops growth. Our garlic, planted back in November sits dormant under the ground all Winter, ready to stretch it's leaves come March. If Winter is too warm it will start growing and like all perennials can be severely damaged by a late Winter frost if given time to grow now. This is why 2 years ago it was impossible to find local cherries and peaches. Third, the pond is very pretty frozen and lovely to skate on, especially with a small fire, hot chocolate and hot dogs cooked on skewers. When many of us think about climate change we think it means very warm Winters and very hot Summers. It is however these erratic temperature changes that are associated with climate change that can be the most detrimental. I can still remember days in February last year where I was in the fields in a tank top and the forsythia was already trying to bloom. It died a week later from a frost. We've decided that if our Winter crops all survive through the -1 degree weather predicted for this weekend then not only is Winter growing quite mind blowing, but that just about anything really is possible. A good mantra for this New Year.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 ½ cups beets (can be a mix of yellow and red), peeled and diced ¼ cup white onion, diced ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 teaspoon ground cumin ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes 1 ½ pound fresh tomatoes, peeled and diced (or 1 ½ 14.5 ounce cans of diced tomatoes) 1 cup kale leaves, packed ¼ cup goat cheese 3-6 eggs (up to you!) Cilantro for garnish Crusty bread or pita for dipping


In a large sauté or cast iron pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add in beets and onion with ½ teaspoon of salt and sauté for 5-6 minutes until slightly soft. Then add in garlic and sauté for one more minute. Add in cumin and red pepper flakes and stir. Then add in tomatoes and simmer uncovered until sauce is thick and beets are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Add more salt if desired. Then add in kale and stir to wilt. Crack eggs one at a time into a ramekin and then gently pour each one into an egg-sized hole you make in the shakshuka, evenly spaced around the pan. This method helps the eggs keep their shape. Simmer eggs for about 5 minutes until the whites are just set. They will continue to cook from the heat of the pan. Dollop with goat cheese, garnish with cilantro, and serve with crusty bread right out of the pan!

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