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Listen Lesson #1: Visiting the Farm

by Amber on September 20, 2010

The Flannery Brothers

Mike, Dan, & Jonathan dressed up as vegetables.

We take Ivan out to the farm whenever we can. We pick our own fruits and veggies, pet farm animals, and last weekend Ivan rode his first pony at Verrill Farm!

Farm days and farmers’ markets abound in Massachusetts from Spring through Fall and it’s a great way to teach your child about where their food comes from. And when you add a little music to the mix, learning about farms and vegetables suddenly becomes a game.

How can you not have fun picking, cooking, and eating a rutabaga while singing a song about rutabagas?

I spoke to Dan and Mike Flannery last fall about their song Farmers’ Market and all the songs they have about food, like Broccoli Yet and Rutabaga. These guys are really into farm-fresh produce!

Dan suggests getting a hold of Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables, an essential farmer’s market companion. The book is organized by season and tells you how to choose, store, and prepare all sorts of little-known (yet super tasty) vegetables.

You can read an excerpt on rutabagas from Farmer John’s book here.

Dan says that he doesn’t usually follow recipes when cooking rutabaga. “I find that it usually isn’t the star of the dish, but is a great addition to any stew,” he says. “Something I personally like to make is…”

rutabaga

  • Sautee onions or leeks and some garlic in butter in a big pot.
  • Throw in cubed beets, rutabagas, carrots, and maybe even a winter squash (like a buttercup or a sunshine).
  • Add enough water to just about cover everything. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the flame to a simmer.
  • For the protein I’ve made this stew with beef (which you would brown first with the onions) and I’ve also made it with lentils which you would add in with the water. I just season it with pepper and it’s a pretty delicious meal. I know there are no exact measurements here but there is a similar recipe here that gets at the same idea.

Mike and Dan insist that buying direct from the farm—or better yet, growing your own—is definitely the way to go with most vegetables, especially rutabaga. Rutabaga’s tend to be small, wrinkled, waxy things at the super market, while fresh rutabagas are bright and flavorful.

Learning to shop at a farmers’ market means that you will also be teaching your kids about which produce grows in each season: “I think that something that is very important to stress with any fall recipe is the concept of eating in season,” says Dan. “The reason why a root vegetable stew is a root vegetable stew is because in October in Maine, that’s what is available. This is what’s great about Farmer John’s Cookbook mentioned above, he takes you through the seasons and all of the ingredients that are available at that time. Before the advent of supermarkets, people had no choice but to eat in season, and locally too.”

Dan says he tried to emphasize this fact in his music: “In the Farmer’s Market song I try to get at this a bit when I call out what grows when. Rhubarb, for example, is the first thing you can make a pie out of that comes along in the spring, followed closely by strawberries. A lot of people like to make strawberry rhubarb pie because they grow at the same time.”

So the next time you’re visiting your local farm or checking out a weekend farmers’ market, bring the Flannery Brothers along with you. We can’t help but sing their songs while rutabaga shopping. And if you swallow a bug while out on the farm, they’ve got a song for that too coming up on their new album, The New Explorers Club, due out in October.

While you’re waiting, you can download a dance mix version of Farmers’ Market here.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Flannery Brothers September 22, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Amber,
Thanks so much for the great post! I just recently remixed the Farmers Market song for our up coming record, “Dance Songs for Silly Kids”
Folks can download it here:
http://flannerybrothers.bandcamp.com/track/farmers-market

Woot!

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