Saturday, August 29, 2009

Market Report 8/29/09

Though I had hoped to spend time at the Farm this weekend with the Renaissance Man, circumstances dictated that he leave early, before I was able to head off with him.

But no matter. That gave me time to have a leisurely stroll down to the farmers' market, to talk with the farmers, and to fill my bags with goodies.

--kale and broccoli from the Fiddlin' Farmer
--ground cherries, cucumbers, and cookies from Handyman Joe
--carrots and celery from the Spelt Baker
--cantaloupe and cherry tomatoes from the Lady Bountiful
--cherry oat cookies from The Culinary Artist
--boursin cheese and sun-dried tomato spread from the Experienced Market Farmer (a new producer at Local Roots)
--red peppers from the Newbies
--eggplants and a ground cherry streusel muffin from the Cauliflower Queen
--Mollie apples from the Orchardist
--edamame and another eggplant from the lady with the unusual vegetable varieties

I followed that with a visit to the Hungarian pastry shop for cappuccino, a couple of thin cookies, and a meeting with Jen, our wonderful graphic designer at Local Roots, to talk about marketing for the market and to brainstorm some ideas for upcoming events. We had a fruitful discussion -- as well as an inspiring personal conversation -- and gave me a boost of enthusiasm for moving ahead on projects.

My Wonderful Parents picked me up and delivered me to my doorstop so that I was able to return their pots with many thanks, and then they left me to get started on my food preservation projects for the weekend.

So... I'd better get started!

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Independence Days #16

After such a wonderful, restful time away last weekend, I got caught up in the mad rush of back-to-school busy work and lots o' Local Roots projects.

That meant that my Independence Days activities took last priority for once, so I don't have much to show for this week:

1. Plant something: Nothing. (Again.)

2. Harvest something: Black Cherry tomatoes from the Renaissance Man's garden.

3. Preserve something: Breaded, baked, froze eggplant slices; made tomatillo salsa (just to refrigerate); canned 11 pints of pizza sauce.

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): Preserved eggplant before it went bad; saved bread crumbs.

5. Preparation and storage (Want not): Dried, put away seeds (shallots from the Cauliflower Queen); made granola (with last year's dried cherries).

6. Build local food systems: Talked farming and local foods with the kind people at Raven Rocks; cooked with the Renaissance Man (and shared my birthday cake with him); wrapped up the September newsletter for Local Roots; worked on my little portion of our upcoming information meeting at the market building, which meant pulling together a list of potential events.

7. Eat the food: French toast from homemade bread; braised kale and cabbage over rice; pesto pizza with tomatoes; broccoli-walnut pasta; granola; sauteed zucchini.

Yep. Not much.

Maybe next week?

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Who's the Sauce?

So there I was, at my CSA farm, thinking I'd better get busy and can some tomatoes pretty soon. I bought a peck and felt rather pleased with myself.

And then I said to myself, "Self, just when do you think you're going to have time to can tomatoes this week?"

Hmmm, good point. The calendar contained a steering committee meeting for last night, a public meeting on Monday, and a trip to the Farm in between. And in what free time there might be between those events, I needed to cook, do the laundry, work on Local Roots marketing, and all sorts of usual things that end up taking more time than I think they will.

Sigh. Heavy sigh.

Happily, the Chef Mother, upon hearing my plans to make pizza sauce, generously offered to take the peck of tomatoes and process them down to raw sauce for me while I headed to work today. She even chopped an onion for the pizza sauce recipe.

So by the time I had picked up groceries after work today and settled in for a few minutes at home, My Wonderful Parents brought by a slow cooker full of sauce, an extra container of sauce, and a bag of onion. All I had to do was chop the pepper, puree some of the ingredients, and mix it all up to cook.

My original plan had been to turn on the slow cookers (yes, two, as I had to draft mine into service) in the morning and let the sauce simmer on low all day while I was at work. But I had thrown the ingredients together quickly enough that I thought cooking the sauce on high in the cookers this evening would allow me to finish the whole process before bed.

So I did. The sauce bubbled away, humming to itself (as the fair Titania would say), while I pulled together my notes for Monday's meeting, wrote a couple notes, worked on a stitching project, and generally felt the pieces of my world settle back into some semblance of order.

And though it meant staying up past my usual bedtime, I got 11 pints of pizza sauce canned by night's end. What a relief to have that done for winter already!

So thanks, Chef Mother and My Dear Papa, for your help in making this project go so quickly! (I know you're reading this, so thank you thank you thank you!)

And maybe next week I'll be ready to handle some plain sauce -- on my own.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Oh, Say, Can You CSA? 2009 Week 14

Another Wednesday, another CSA pickup to enjoy!

Today the Gentleman Farmer made a rare appearance, coming home early from work to help get ready for the pickup as well as to host a local county official who wanted to do some videotaping at the farm. Happily, this meant that while the Lady Bountiful got ready for CSA members, he set out a full share, just waiting for me to take a photo.

So I did. And doesn't that look like a scrumptious assortment of fresh fruit and vegetables?

--one cantaloupe (for my folks, alas)
--two sweet onions (split)
--two garlic bulbs (mine)
--one quart Red Pontiac potatoes (mine)
--two pounds zucchini (split)
--one pint tomatillos (for my folks)
--one bunch broccoli (mine mine mine!)
--1 1/2 pounds green and wax beans (for my folks)
--one pound Red Cordran carrots (for my folks)
--one bag lettuce (mine)
--one bunch cilantro (mine)
--one bunch Swiss chard (for my folks)
--four pounds tomatoes (mostly for my folks)
--one pint cherry tomatoes (split)
--two pounds peppers (mostly for my folks)
--my half dozen eggs (not shown)

I also bought an extra peck -- over ten pounds! -- of tomatoes for canning as I have the urge to put up some pizza sauce before the dreaded scourge of late blight threatens local crops. (It's getting closer...)

I did not notice until after we had left that the Lady offered (on our pickup sheets) to let us harvest our own basil, picking as much as we'd like. But perhaps it's as well -- I'm not sure I'd have time to make pesto before the leaves turned black.

Besides, I have plenty of good food to enjoy!

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Rockin' Birthday

I know summer is drawing to a close by the time my birthday rolls around. Classes begin this coming week, and my leisure time will be further curtailed for a while.

But I'm happy to report that I reached the Big 4-0 in due measure and enjoyed not an onslaught of gifts (thank heavens!) but an outpouring of love and generosity. The Forty Seeds Project, while not making a big splash, did inspire a few people (including My Wonderful Parents and my quilting friend Sari) to make donations to their local food banks, and my creative friend Jen (graphic designer and the person responsible for the public image of Local Roots) has begun a collection of Forty Seeds art pieces available for sale at her Etsy shop, with 40% of the sales going to an organization of her choice. (I'm rather smitten with her garlic!)

Best of all, though, the Renaissance Man gave me a gift I'll remember for a long time: a visit to Raven Rocks.

Raven Rocks as we now know it is a small community of Quakers who came together 30-40 years ago to buy land, to save it from strip mining, and to model alternative forms of energy production and use. The place known as Raven Rocks is within that "preserve": a hidden gorge down among the trees and dramatic rock outcroppings. The RM became familiar with the place last summer, introduced there by friends, and started visiting off and on to help with their various construction projects.

I've been sorely jealous of his trips because every time he came back he had such stories and photos to share! But this time around I had the pleasure of sharing it with him, visiting some of his newfound friends there and exploring the farm.

We also investigated the construction of a new cross-country natural gas pipeline running through their back forty -- as well as the effects from a longwall coal mining project now progressing steadily under the properties. All in all, we discovered some disturbing reminders of what happens when we rely so heavily on fossil-based energy.

We rounded out the long day with a hike into the gorge, where the dense trees and the enormous rock ledges and overhangs gave us the sensation of walking into some place mysterious, magical, and almost completely unknown to the outside world. What a joy!

We returned home very late and very tired, but after such a wonderful day, how could I complain?

So here's to a new year!

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Independence Days #15

I can tell it's almost time to overwhelm myself in tomatoes. How? I'm already overwhelmed by nearly everything else!

But before I run off (to celebrate my birthday!), here's this week's update:

1. Plant something: Nothing. (Again.)

2. Harvest something: zucchini, carrots, green onions, golden chard, pac choi from the Southern Belle's garden; Black Cherry tomatoes from the Renaissance Man's garden.

3. Preserve something: Dried red cabbage, cucumber slices, Reliance grapes, ground cherries, grape tomatoes, kale; froze green beans, roasted red peppers; strained and bottled herbal oils (rosemary, thyme) and herbal tinctures (basil, lavender, rose hip); canned 3 1/2 pts corn-zucchini salsa (above); started elderberry cordial.

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): Not doing so good here -- all the produce is coming in fast, and I'm not using it as quickly as I ought. Thank heaven for compost!

5. Preparation and storage (Want not): Winnowed the first batch of buckwheat grains; harvested, dried, put away seeds (Blue Coco pole beans, zucchini).

6. Build local food systems: Shared corn, elderberries, and spinach seed with My Wonderful Parents; enjoyed grape tomatoes from My Fabulous Aunt's garden; talked to other folks about Local Roots; wrote up another Local Roots piece for the local paper; contacted two professors about student participation in Local Roots.

7. Eat the food: Salad; Szechuan green beans; roasted brussels sprouts; fresh tomatoes, dressed with balsamic vinegar; roasted potatoes.

Not bad, for feeling like I didn't have much time this week. There's more produce waiting for me, of course, but I've done what I can so far.

Next week, the school year begins again, so I'm not quite sure how my schedule will shake down, but I'll keep picking away at my list.


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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Oh, Say, Can You CSA? 2009 Week 13

Another exhausting work week is well underway, but at least the highlight of the middle of the week is our weekly CSA pickup!

And as always, the Lady Bountiful had a gorgeous variety of fresh food for us:

--two sweet onions (split)
--one large garlic bulb (mine)
--one quart Rose Finn Apple fingerling potatoes (mine)
--1 1/2 lbs zucchini (split)
--one pint tomatillos (mine)
--one pint Fairy Tale eggplant (mine)
--1 1/2 lbs green and wax beans (for the folks)
--one bag lettuce (mine)
--one pound elderberries (for the folks)
--one bunch beets (for the folks)
--four pounds big beef or heirloom tomatoes (split)
--one pint cherry tomatoes (mine)
--two pounds mixed peppers (sweet and hot; split, and I took a purple sweet, a Hungarian yellow wax, a poblano, and four purple cayennes)
--my usual half dozen eggs

I also requested (ahead of time) an extra bag of elderberries. I knew My Dear Papa would want an elderberry pie, but I also wanted some berries for making a medicinal cordial or syrup, so I bought mine separately.

And now I don't think I have to worry about not having enough to eat for a while!

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Market Report: 8/15/09

We're really hitting the peak of the farmers' market season now. Everyone seems to have an incredible variety of produce, and the colors dazzle the eyes from booth to booth. Wow!

Is it any wonder, then, that it took me nearly two hours to make the rounds, talk to everyone, and buy a load of good food?

Right from the start, I loaded my bags with such delights:

--sweet corn, crinkled cabbage, curly kale, eggplant, okra, and a cucumber from the Fiddlin' Farmer
--ground cherries, mixed carrots, and parsley from the Cheerful Lady's son
--Reliance grapes from the local orchard
--golden beets and red peppers for roasting from the Spelt Baker
--a pint of honey from the Bee Man
--a small bag of Ruby Red popcorn from the Corn Queen
--a pint of elderberries from a new farmer
--more elderberries and a box of salad mix from the Cauliflower Queen
--brussels sprouts from Sustainability Man, a member of the Local Roots steering committee
--double chocolate cookies from the Gluten-Free Baker
--chocolate "irresistibles" from the German Baker

Once I'd filled my bags (and emptied my wallet), guzzled a refreshing iced tea, and fortified myself with a couple of "irresistibles," I headed back home, arriving all hot and sweaty and exhausted but thoroughly pleased with my morning's work.

I doubt I'll get started on much of this today as I'll be spending some time with family, but I know I'll be working through it the rest of the this weekend.

Sounds like fun to me!

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Independence Days #14

My schedule this week -- two Local Roots meetings, a Sustainable Energy Network meeting, a buckwheat harvest afternoon, and getting domestic chores done -- has not given me much time to spend on food preserving or much else.

So this week's report is a little scanty:

1. Plant something: Nothing. Nada. Bupkis.

2. Harvest something: Dandelion leaves, plantain leaves, peppermint, and yellow tomatoes at the Renaissance Man's garden; received loads of tomatoes and zucchini from the Absent-Minded Professor from our garden; started harvesting buckwheat.

3. Preserve something: Dried kale, zucchini shreds; started herbal tinctures with motherwort, dandelion, plantain, peppermint.

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): Nothing out of the ordinary here.

5. Preparation and storage (Want not): Laid buckwheat grains out to dry before cleaning and winnowing prior to storage.

6. Build local food systems: Baked cookies for Local Roots producer meeting; wrote up another couple of pieces to run in the local newspaper; accepted with gratitude a small loaf of multi-grain bread and a dozen jars of canned peaches from the Chef Mother.

7. Eat the food: Gazpacho; steamed kale; broccoli and tomato pasta; puffed omelet with chard, broccoli, and a yellow tomato.

Next week's schedule looks only slightly lighter, so I hope I'll be able to do a little more. I do have family visiting this weekend, though, so short of a farmers' market visit and some preservation, I'm not sure what else will get done.

But that's OK... I get a new chance each week!

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Oh, Say, Can You CSA? 2009 Week 12

Not only are we truly entering tomato season, but we're also finally enjoying the heart of the harvest season, when the variety of produce available broadens significantly and the range of colors on our seasonal plates presents a feast for our eyes as well as our palates.

And nowhere has that been more obvious than in today's CSA pickup:

The Lady Bountiful -- and her hard-working children -- had picked a rainbow of vegetables for this week's share:

--three leeks (split)
--two sweet onions (split)
--two bulbs of garlic (for my folks)
--one quart of Red Pontiac potatoes (for my folks)
--two pounds of mix and match zucchini and summer squash (for my folks)
--one pint tomatillos (for me)
--one pound cucumbers (split)
--one bunch carrots (split)
--one and a half pounds green beans (mine)
--one bag lettuce (mine)
--four pounds big beef or heirloom tomatoes (mostly for my folks)
--one pint cherry tomatoes (mine)
--two pounds mix and match peppers (split; I picked one poblano, one Hungarian wax, and a few purple cayenne to dry)

The Lady also graciously allowed me to pick a bunch of her colorful and delicious chard. She noted that people have actually been turning down the chard in their weekly pickups -- and while I sort of understand, not having been a fan of it until a couple years ago, now I can't understand why someone would turn down something so nutritious, versatile, and mellow!

Now that I have this week's CSA produce at home, I can see I'm going to have to get back into my cooking and preserving mode -- this is just the start of the most bountiful part of the Lady Bountiful's aptly-named harvest!

So stay tuned for more good vegetables...

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Buckwheat Stops Here

It had been a while since I visited my grain test patches, but the Farmgirl Wannabe kept me up to speed by sharing photos. I was tickled to see a picture on her cell phone of the buckwheat in bloom, but when she reported this past week that the plants were yellowing and falling over, I thought I'd better check since it sounded like they might be about ready for harvest.

So I called up the Contradance Callers, who were mightily interested in my grains, and asked if they wanted to come along for the ride (and bring a scythe, just in case).

When we arrived this afternoon, our prospects for starting the harvest looked pretty good.

Most of the grain kernels had reached this dark brown stage, and though they mostly needed a little help, they were about ready to be stripped from the stems. So the four of us -- the Contradance Callers, the Renaissance Man, and me -- started the harvest.

The Caller did pull out his scythe for a test run, but as he realized it hadn't been sharpened in "about forty years or so," it didn't prove very helpful. The RM headed back to his truck to grab a pair of garden clippers, but the rest of us just worked on one stem at a time. Not the most efficient way to harvest, I admit.

The RM cleverly gathered bunches of stems and rubbed them between his hands (over this towel) to release the grains more efficiently, but after a while he conceded that this, too, was not the best method for harvesting.

After an hour and a half (or so) of work, we had only cleared a small edge of the patch, gathering not quite half a gallon bag full of grains before my back gave out, the Callers headed home, and the RM grew tired as well.

I need to think up a better plan for harvesting, and by the time I have something figured out, it should be easier to get the grains off the stalks since they should be much drier. Perhaps this coming weekend I'll be able to tackle more of the patch.

In the meantime, I've spread the kernels over three trays to let them finish air drying before I clean out leaves and stems, remove the hulls, winnow, and thresh the grain. (That should be fun!)

And when I'm done, I'll have some good buckwheat for baking this winter!

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Looking for Pros... Producers, That Is

The whole point of our starting Local Roots has been to connect local farmers and other food producers with the people who eat the food. The local weekly farmers' markets make a great start on that, of course, but a lot of farmers don't make it to the markets, and a lot of community members don't shop there.

So all along, we've known that we need to recruit a broad -- and deep -- variety of local producers to sell at the market.

Though we developed our producer guidelines a couple of months ago, we weren't able to schedule our meeting for prospective producer members until tonight.

We set up for a meeting in the main retail space (still empty, of course, making it the perfect place for a crowd), with a computer and projector pointing images at one side of the room and tables with coffee and cookies at the back.

The producers trickled in, and I recognized several faces in the crowd, though many more were unfamiliar to me. (A good sign!)

The two farmers on our steering committee ran the meeting, explaining the guidelines, the way the market will operate, and how to use the online ordering system. The producers raised several questions (many of which we had already anticipated) and offered plenty of good suggestions.

It certainly seemed to be a productive meeting, and it was good to hear some other viewpoints. After being on one track for so many months, I know we have a tendency to see only our path, and it's good to have others point out other possibilities to us.

I baked some old-fashioned sorghum cookies (with lots of local ingredients) this weekend to share with the producers, and others on the steering committee brought a couple of other trays of sweet treats. I think the producers appreciated having someone else make some good things for them for once.

There's still a lot to do before we open, but we certainly can't do it without the producers.

After all, they're the pros.

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

I Want To Be a Gazpacho (Wo)Man

Oh, the joy of tomato season!

After weeks of cool weather and incredibly slow tomato growth, we've finally had some warm weather (a real scorcher today, really) that has nudged those lovely tomatoes into the red zone of ripeness.

I've enjoyed a few small early tomatoes adorning my recent forays in fattoush territory (oh, yum), but there haven't been enough to consider preserving them or cooking with them in quantity. Now, though, I'm ready to explore the possibilities.

And since cucumbers are well into their season, too, it's time to pull out my favorite gazpacho recipe.

So I pulled out some deeply ripened tomatoes, a couple of juicy cucumbers, a purple sweet pepper, a curling garlic scape, and chopped them all roughly before dumping them into the mini food processor and whirling them around with the rest of the ingredients.

It's a remarkably easy dish to throw together for such a wonderful result. I could just pour it into a quart jar, close it up, and tuck it into the refrigerator for my lunches this week. With a few herbed croutons from the local bakery on top, it will make a delicious, refreshing break in my work day.

I feel my strength returning just thinking about it...

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Zuke Out!

In honor of Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Day today, someone ended up with a serious load of fresh zucchini.

But it's not what you think.

See, this time around, I was the one facing down a load of zucchini -- and it wasn't sneaked onto my porch, I requested it. (Oh, what was I thinking?)

The Absent-Minded Professor brought me some fresh zucchini from our garden, at my request, so that I could send a jar of zucchini relish home with him to share with the Southern Belle's mother.

Trouble is, I didn't expect quite that much zucchini! Those babies ranged from 10" to 16", so they're not going to be used up easily.

So I guess I'll be drying more zucchini, making more zucchini bread, frying up more zucchini fritters, and maybe even pulling out the Chef Mother's zucchini surprise recipe so that I can do something with all this zucchini before I get sick of the very word zucchini. (Oops, too late.)

And I hate to say it, Dear Readers, but if I know any of your addresses, you may well end up with zucchini on your porch, too.

So look out!

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Market Report: 8/8/09

Heading to the farmers' market on a Saturday morning -- and going at a leisurely pace to talk to all the farmers and friends I meet -- always makes me feel better.

And today, I knew I didn't need to buy much since I have plenty on hand already and won't have much time to cook or preserve this week, so I could really emphasize the social aspect of the market routine.

So I spent plenty of time visiting with my favorites: helping the Lady Bountiful arrange a basket of summer squash for sale, teasing the Fiddlin' Farmer about his okra, talking markets with the Cheerful Lady, and discussing grow lights and winter farming with the Cauliflower Queen and her husband. (I'm considering this about 40 minutes spent in helping or learning from local farmers, and thus part of my contribution to the Forty Seeds Project.)

Oh, and I bought some food, too:

--broccoli, kale, and okra from the Fiddlin' Farmer
--Broadleaf Czech garlic (for seed), red cabbage, and ground cherries from the Cheerful Lady
--half a pint of honey from the Bee Man
--a quart of maple syrup from the Maple Folks
--two small eggplant, some beautiful dinosaur kale, and a zucchini streusel bar from the Cauliflower Queen, who also handed me a seed head for shallots and encouraged me to try planting some next year

See? Not much food this week.

But oh! so much fun!

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Friday, August 07, 2009

Independence Days #13

Good thing I got plenty done last weekend as I've run out of steam by the end of this week.

So without further ado, here's this week's wrap-up:

1. Plant something: Chioggia beets, French Breakfast radishes, tatsoi, Sierra lettuce, Nero di Tuscana kale at the Renaissance Man's garden.

2. Harvest something: Spearmint, peppermint, borage, and potatoes at the Renaissance Man's garden.

3. Preserve something: Dried carrot shreds, cauliflower, kale, spinach; froze Roma beans, regular green beans, broccoli; made and froze pesto; started infused herbal oils with rosemary, thyme; started herbal tinctures with peppermint, borage; strained and bottled herbal tinctures (lemon balm, shepherd's purse, red clover).

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): Saved glass bottles from beer and olive oil for future projects (reuse before recycling).

5. Preparation and storage (Want not): Received my first equipment for starting seeds in the winter; cleared cupboard space for herbal preparations; rearranged cupboard space for dried vegetables; bought more olive oil.

6. Build local food systems: Sent out Local Roots newsletter; informal marketing meeting (over a good lunch!); saw the first Local Roots "column" in the Wooster Weekly News; talked with the Cheerful Lady about livestock; milled seven-grain mix into flour for the Chef Mother.

7. Eat the food: A second round of fattoush; potato salad; blueberry-date bars; zucchini pasta.

I'm not counting on getting much done next week with a lot of meetings looming ahead of me.

But right now, I'm just going to worry about getting some rest!

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Oh, Say, Can You CSA? 2009 Week 11

Such a beautiful sunny day we've had today -- unlike so many of our gray, damp CSA pickup days.

And I had no chance to enjoy it because I developed a nagging migraine at work this morning.

So I headed home to rest, and I sent My Wonderful Parents off to pick up our produce.

They returned with all kinds of goodies to share:

--one bunch leeks (split)
--two sweet onions (for them)
--one quart Red Pontiac potatoes (for them)
--1 1/2 pounds zucchini (split)
--one pound cucumbers (for them)
--one pound sweet peppers (green for them, purple for me)
--hot peppers (I got one jalapeno)
--two pounds Big Beef and heirloom tomatoes (for them)
--one bunch Swiss chard (mine)
--one bag lettuce (mine)
--two medium garlic (mine)
--one pound green and yellow beans (for them)
--one bunch beets (for them)
--my half dozen eggs

I still have plenty left over from the farmers' market -- and I'm certainly in no shape to do much cooking tonight -- so I decided they should enjoy the bulk of the week's offerings.

As for next week -- who knows?

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Digging In the Spud

Dear Reader Jasmine asked recently if I had heard about the potato and tomato blight in New England -- I had not -- and if we were being threatened by it here in northeastern Ohio.

We certainly have not had the rainy year that the Northeast has had. In fact, several times lately you've heard or read me wondering about when we might get rain (aside from CSA days, when it was starting to become a tradition). So no, we're not having problems with blight.

But her question did remind me that since other growers are starting to harvest potatoes, I might want to consider doing the same.

Of course, I had already checked on potatoes in the Southern Belle's garden and found that they seemed to be the right size for harvest. But when I dug up the Renaissance Man's garden this evening, I had a pleasant surprise.

Though the short row of potato plants did not have a significant yield in terms of numbers, likely because I simply couldn't mound them up very well, what I harvested tended toward fist-sized spuds with vibrant red or papery taupe-colored skins.

What fun! Despite my original intent to dig up only half the plants, I found I couldn't stop the treasure hunt. I filled a gallon bucket with my harvest, and when I returned home, I promptly shared a few with the kind neighbor who had shared some of his carrots with me last month.

I'll brush the dirt off them soon and store them properly, but I'm already excited about having my first-ever home-grown potatoes to eat. This year's experience has also given me ideas about how to grow things a little more effectively next year.

For now, though, I've started some fall crops in the space where the potatoes came up, and I'll hope to spread a little more of that rich soil around for next year.

And that's spud enough for a first time.

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Saturday, August 01, 2009

Market Report: 8/1/09

It felt like autumn this morning, with a cool fog hanging over the town as I headed out for the farmers' market. Still, with the sun peeking through, I had no doubt that by noon the haze would be burned off and we'd have a beautiful day.

In the meantime, I had some shopping to do.

I was caught up with food preservation for the time being and no real plans for the week's meals (aside from wanting to make fattoush again), so I was willing to let what I saw at the farmers' market dictate my plans for the weekend.

And really, you can't go wrong if you listen to such beautiful seasonal produce!

I brought home a full pack and a full tote with loads of lovely food:

--cauliflower, kale, Roma beans from the Fiddlin' Farmer
--cucumbers, spinach, basil, and rosemary from the Cheerful Lady
--shallots and purple potatoes from the Sheep Lady
--carrots from the Spelt Baker
--green beans from another farmer
--two small zucchini (and a lot of good chatting) from the Lady Bountiful
--kale and broccoli from the Young Farmers
--Roma tomatoes from some new folks
--dried shiitake and oyster mushrooms from the Mushroom Farm

What you don't see here are the baked goods I picked up, too:

--a Concord grape pie and a granola bar from the Herb Lady
--maple walnut cookies and cinnamon rolls from the Mennonite Baker

I was tempted by those delicious gluten-free gingersnaps again, too, but I decided I was running out of room in my bags, so I'll have to wait until next week.

There still weren't a whole lot of truly ripe tomatoes on offer at the market, a sure sign that the weather is still a little too cool to keep us on track. Soon, though, I think we'll see some progress.

And in the meantime -- such good food!

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