Tuesday, August 21, 2012

From Farm to Feast

When Joshua returned home for the summer after a most amazing semester in Rome, we expected him to be able to find a job somewhat quickly. Within a week, he had submitted close to 10 job applications for jobs which he was definitely qualified. After hearing from not one business in a week, he decided to wait it out a few more weeks while gratefully starting to teach a few lessons at Salem Classical Fencing as well as helping me around the house with long-awaited projects that needed finishing.

Still not hearing from anyone, we all wondered if he was going to spend the summer without any being able to earn some money for school. In June, a surprise job offer came his way from our new friends, Raymond & Annette Fordyce of Fordyce Farms. We attend Saint Joseph's with the Fordyce family & had the opportunity to start to get to know them as we attended different holiday celebrations with them over this past year. Anyway, Joshua was offered a job to help out at their farm~ doing everything from helping at the u-pick strawberry stand to picking apples to sorting blueberries to working in the farm store. He has had a wonderful time & has learned a lot about farming & customer service. A special added bonus has been being able to help Mr. Fordyce with his "intellectual stimulation" as they have had numerous conversations about everything from philosophy to politics to music. I told Joshua this has been terrific to help keep his brain in gear while home from Thomas More College of Liberal Arts (plus it has given him someone other than me to talk with [insert "mom smirk" here]). 
Another benefit has been getting to know the Fordyces (mom, dad & six awesome kids)~ We've enjoyed spending time with them and building relationships. I have especially felt blessed by getting to know Annette as we seem to have so much in common (not to mention, she is really fun to make laugh)! One more benefit has been being able to go to their farm store to get the delicious produce and baked goodies- plus Graham's ice cream. I've tried all kinds of new produce plus we've got a nice variety of berries sitting all bagged up in our freezer straight from the farm. I also must talk about Raymond's scones. Now, you all know how much I like to bake. I think I am actually a pretty decent baker. This being said, the Fordyce Farms scones are the best I have ever tasted~ moist, just the right amount of fruit, chewy but not dry...I could go on, but my mouth with start watering. If you get the time to go out to the farm, do so---soon. If you can't make it this summer, be sure to go to the Salem Public Market this fall to pick up some of their scones or stop by their store for the hay maze in October!

Now that I have waxed (eloquently or not) about Fordyce Farms, I want to share a recipe I made with berries from their farm for the Feast Day of Saint Maximilian Kolbe~ I have shared before about celebrating Feast Days with special food before. The kids and I were heading to another family's farm to help prepare for the Saint Joseph's Knights of Columbus Chapter's Oktoberfest booth & I wanted to take a dessert to share. I decided on a strawberry jam tart. I made it using strawberries from the Fordyces along with puff pastry and homemade yogurt. It was a big hit with everyone who tried it. They especially liked the significance of the design and colors- red for martydom & white for purity.
Here's the recipe for you to try for your next Feast Day Celebration~

Strawberry Jam Tart


  • pound strawberries, sliced
  • tablespoons sugar
  • tablespoons cornstarch
  • tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • sheet (9-inch square) frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt (homemade or store bought)
  • tablespoons honey


  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees . In a large saucepan, cook the strawberries, sugar, cornstarch and vinegars over medium heat, stirring, until syrupy, about 7 minutes. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring, until reduced to about 1-1/4 cups, 10 to 15 minutes; let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, on a lightly floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry into a 10-by-14-inch rectangle. Place in 9 x 13 baking dish and fold the edges of the pastry inward to form a half-inch rim. Spread the strawberry mixture within the rim.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and honey and dollop over the jam. Bake until the crust is golden, 22 to 25 minutes. 

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