At a sustainable farm in northern New York, the first meal of the day is often the best.

Modern Farmer Breakfast
Credit: Paola + Murray

Workdays on Essex Farm, our CSA occupying 1,100 acres in Essex, New York, next to Lake Champlain, usually begin with a 5 a.m. alarm. The first thing that crosses my lips is a cup of coffee, which, thanks to a hearty splash of cream skimmed from the milk produced by our 20 Jersey cows, practically counts as a meal. It’s enough to power me through the first two hours of chores, milking cows and feeding calves.

Family breakfast is around 7 a.m., and it’s usually a serious feast. Our two daughters head off to school afterward, and since dinner is often the least impressive meal in our house, breakfast is my best chance to fill them with nutrients. It’s not unusual for the girls to start their day with cheeseburgers and a side of kale salad. The farm’s 400 hens keep us (and our 225 CSA members) supplied with eggs by the dozen, which we often soft-boil, adding a melting hunk of butter into the creamy yolk.

Breakfast Popcorn and Milk
Credit: John Kernick

My husband, Mark, is famous in our family for his baroque breakfast sandwiches of sausage, farm cheese, greens (butter lettuce in the spring, arugula in the fall) and sauerkraut piled on toasted slices of his sourdough bread. Everything on those sandwiches is grown or made by us and our team. Occasionally, when the girls—or their parents—are running late, and something simple and fast is called for, we do popcorn and milk. It’s the instant, farm-grown, whole-food answer to packaged cereal. And it’s also great for snacking.

Try the recipe:

Breakfast Popcorn and Milk