From the desk of Christopher Kimball
View Photos of Hiking a Vermont Farm
Dear Home Cook,
One of the nicer points about our small town is that almost every spot has a spectacular view, whether one is perched up on a hillside overlooking Minister Hill or down in a valley, looking across Baldwin Brook. Of course, old-timers never thought about the view. If you spend most of your day outside, you come indoors to warm up, fill up, and drink up, not to stare out the window. (The one exception to this rule is when you peek out your window to see what your neighbors are up to.) It makes perfect sense. You have been looking at that bloody view since sunrise!
In fact, not looking at the view is just one of many traits that define a Vermonter. When they sit down to noon dinner, they just eat; they don’t talk and eat. They spend a lot of time sitting around not saying anything, which, of course, reminds me of a story. Three local farmers were sitting on the front steps of the country store when approached by an out-of-towner. He tried to start a conversation but was notably unsuccessful—their lips were sealed. Finally the visitor, slightly irritated, inquired, “Is there a law in this town against talking?” One of the farmers finally looked up and said, “No, there is no law in this town against talking. But we aim to keep our mouths shut unless we’re damn sure we can improve on the silence!”
Just last weekend, I had the same experience. I walked over to the country store and passed two gentlemen, one of whom was a bit long in the tooth. I commented, “Well, looks like we finally got some hot summer weather!” There was no response. I bought a carton of milk and a loaf of bread (one of my neighbors makes excellent sourdough and sells it at the store) and walked out. On my way past the old gentleman he said, “Yup, nice day.” Well, at least he talked back!
Coming up in August is the Old Home Day parade, which features homemade floats, fire trucks from all over, the best french fries in four states, and the Win a Cake contest, which we always enter. (We enter one of our own cakes and then try to win it back.) We have already put up a lot of hay in the barn courtesy of Joe and his family. They do a great job and are nice folks to boot. Our lame horse, Kansas, is still lame. Our half-blind horse, Dakota, is still half-blind but otherwise well. Feels like an equine retirement community! Tom and I plan to take his new beagle out for some rabbit hunting trials this summer, just to give him some practice before the season starts in the fall. I will also be heading up the Green River to find a few of the hidden pools that only the locals know about. There are some very big trout in there and it’s about time I hooked one.
I have also posted photos of a long hike I took recently. I started from the very top of the mountain and then headed down into the hollows. Just click here. I think that it will give you a good sense of why I love Vermont so much and our farm in particular. Hiking is a whole lot better than reading the newspaper these days!
I leave you with a few simple Vermont sayings, collected by Allen R. Foley, author of The Old-Timer Talks Back.
• What you don’t say won’t ever hurt you.
• You can’t always judge a cow by her looks.
• It’s better to wear out than rust out.
• Independence is better than riches.
• It’s nice to sit and think but sometimes it’s nicer just to sit.
Take a break from all the bad news, sit back, and enjoy the summer!
Founder and Editor
America’s Test Kitchen