Friday, April 30, 2010

Independence Days #48

Another busy week! so it's time for another action-packed Independence Days update:

1. Plant something: Started seeds for more pac choi, radishes, beets, lettuce, kale, basil at the OEFFA Male's farm; planted fingerling potatoes there, too.

2. Harvest something: Peppermint and spearmint from the Renaissance Man's garden.

3. Preserve something: Dried tarragon; started drying peppermint and tarragon.

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): Saved cheese rinds to add to soup; saved bread heels and bits for crumbs.

5. Preparation and storage (Want not): Found new contact for local wheat and spelt; restocked on butter for baking; made list of other items needed to restock for baking.

6. Build local food systems: Did a cooking demo at the market on wild edibles, shared recipes; shared extra bread with the fabulous Jen and donated some; signed up for another cooking demo; worked two days at the OEFFA Male's farm; sent out press release for Local Roots Grand Opening; attended meeting to flesh out details for Grand Opening; baked for market.

7. Eat the food: Leftover bread spread with chèvre; French toast from leftover bread; asparagus-scallion quiche; rhubarb crunch; chard-
chèvre pizza; hash browns with chard, cheddar, and egg; homemade grape juice.

Sorry this isn't more exciting -- playing catch-up!

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Way to Dough!

If this is your brain...

...then this is your brain on French pastries.

Any questions? (If so, answers are here.)

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Quiche Me Again

I missed posting about this Monday evening when I made it, but here's a true herald of Spring:

The year's first asparagus quiche, with fresh scallions and tarragon, a hint of dried dill, and chunks of creamy chèvre from the lovely Lucky Penny lady!

I baked this Monday evening to share with the Renaissance Man -- followed by a piping hot rhubarb-ginger crisp topped with melting vanilla ice cream -- and we enjoyed slices of it again tonight (this time with toasted chèvre-rosemary bread and a simple dessert of squares of dark chocolate).

I can't think of a tastier way to welcome the new growing season, can you?

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Grand Opening at Local Roots Market and Cafe

If you haven't heard the news yet, here's an event to add to your calendars:

One year after its initial public meeting, the Wooster Local Foods Cooperative, Inc., is pleased to announce the Grand Opening celebration at Local Roots Market on Saturday, May 15 from 9 AM to 3 PM.

From an empty county-owned building and a big dream for a year-round local foods market, the cooperative has moved swiftly over the past year to open, staff, and stock Local Roots with a wide variety of local agricultural products from nearly 100 producer members. "We'd like to thank everyone in the community who helped make this possible," notes market manager Jessica Eikleberry, citing a broad base of community support from the Wayne County Commissioners, who approved the use of the building, to local businesses such as Buehler's and Friendtique (who provided display units) and the many volunteers who helped to renovate the store space and continue to operate the store on market days.

"This is a celebration not just of spring and of the market, but of what this community can do together," enthuses Eikleberry, stressing the market's missions of supporting local agriculture and the local economy. The Grand Opening will include music, tastings of new and favorite items from Local Roots producers, a demonstration on how to create an herb pot for home, cooking demonstrations featuring items found in the market, arts and crafts items from cooperative members, and much more. Producer members have been invited to be on hand to share their goods or to talk about their farms and businesses.

The market is currently open on Fridays from noon to 7 PM and Saturdays from 9 AM to 3 PM, but Eikleberry expects to see expanded hours shortly after the Grand Opening. Products are arranged by broad categories such as produce, meats, dairy, baked goods, and other items, and within those areas by producer so that shoppers can maintain the connection to the people who grew, raised, or made the food. Everyone is welcome to shop in the market, though the online order system is available to Local Roots members only.

Local Roots will continue its missions of education and community involvement throughout the year, working with other people and organizations in the community. For information on upcoming events or membership, visit the web site at or sign up for the monthly newsletter.

Things are really popping at the market now that spring produce is flowing in and more people are visiting the market both on Fridays and Saturdays. It's definitely time to celebrate how far we've come in a relatively short time!

I'd like to extend an invitation especially to my fellow local-foods bloggers to come and share in the excitement. If you haven't been to Local Roots yet, you're missing out on the fun and enthusiastic community support for a great idea... not to mention a lot of great food!

I'm planning to do a cooking demonstration after lunch for the Grand Opening, featuring my own whole wheat pita breads, some excellent local cheeses, and fresh seasonal produce. If you make it to the Grand Opening, stop by and say hello!

And bring a friend -- or ten!

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Market Report: 4/24/2010

Having Local Roots open two days a week now means I have more opportunities to buy local foods for the week. Once I returned from my visit to Lucky Penny yesterday, I stopped by the market to check my shelf and to pick up the first round of groceries:

--asparagus and eggs from The Fiddlin' Farmer
--scallions from The Cheerful Lady
--celery seedlings from The Sheep Lady

I also discovered that my espresso chip shortbread had been selling extremely well, so I decided to make a second pan last evening to take to the market early today. That then led to the discovery that I needed to restock on butter, maple sugar, and coffee -- which I picked up at the market first thing today.

After that, though, I needed to focus on something else at the market for the day: cooking demonstrations. I paid close attention to the morning demo, featuring the delicious rustic baguettes of The Photographer (made by another fun person):

Once they finished their demo and cleaned up, it was time for me to unpack my items and get ready to cook with wild edibles.

I had made butter cookies with violet sugar to bring in for the demo, but I also cooked a lot of nettle fritters as well as a small amount of wilted dandelion greens.

The demo definitely got people's attention. First, their hands would hover over the food as they eagerly asked, "What's this?" When I mentioned "nettles" or "dandelions," they would hesitate or even exclaim, "I have that all over the yard! It's a pain! You can eat it?" When I assured them that, yes, these were completely edible and even good, they took a tentative bite -- and quickly responded, "This is good!" Several people then picked up the handout (which included recipes) and even expressed interest in going home and foraging some of the greens for themselves.

Even the kids enjoyed the wild foods: two little girls, after one bite of the fritters, came back repeatedly to demand more. No, they didn't want the cookies, they wanted the fritters, and did I have more done yet?, and if not, hurry up!

Suffice it to say, the enthusiastic response was gratifying, and I suspect I may get asked to do something similar again sometime.

And who knows what next week's market will bring?

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Independence Days #47

What a jam-packed week!

I knew at the beginning of the week that life would be very busy, but I'm happy to report that not only did I make it through safe and sound, but I also had a blast. The OEFFA Male worked me hard at the farm this week, and though my shins are a bit bruised from crawling around dry soil and rocks to plant potatoes, I feel like I got a lot done for him.

And I wrapped up the week with a special treat -- a visit to Lucky Penny Creamery in Kent, where I helped Abbe scoop out the chèvre. (More on that visit once I get photos and notes together.)

The week's not over yet -- I'm doing a wild edibles cooking demo at the market tomorrow -- and then I get a brief respite before jumping into yet another full schedule.

That's life! And it's good to get a few things done along the way...

1. Plant something: Strawberry "babies" at the Renaissance Man's garden; kohlrabi, lettuce, pac choi, mustard green seedlings and potatoes at the OEFFA Male's farm.

2. Harvest something: Sage at the Renaissance Man's garden; sweet overwintered kale (for a snack) at the OEFFA Male's farm.

3. Preserve something: Made violet sugar.

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): Worked out a better schedule for baking artisan breads so that I can stretch cheese containers over a couple of batches (instead of one and snacking); used sour milk in pancakes; all the usual stuff.

5. Preparation and storage (Want not): Milled the last of my wheat and spelt; sifted spelt; restocked cheeses and herbs for artisan breads; emptied and put away more canning jars; restocked on flours and oils.

6. Build local food systems: Took inventory to market; signed up for and purchased food for a wild edibles cooking demo at the market; visited My Spiral Friend and took home some of her strawberry "babies"; baked a pear chèvre crumb cake (above) for a client; shared fresh croissants with The Photographer, who shared coffee, brew, and dinner with me in return; worked at the farm three days; had a review of the documentary "PolyCultures" published at The Ethicurean; baked 43 loaves of bread this week (all but two for market); gave one loaf to Abbe at Lucky Penny Creamery; toured Lucky Penny and helped scoop the chèvre out of the vat.

7. Eat the food: Salad in a pita pocket; pancakes; broccoli pizza; white beans with dried kale and onions, simmered in homemade stock; hash browns with chard, cheddar, and egg;
chèvre with artisan bread.

Good times! What's new with you?

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Baking My Time

I started baking for market earlier this week and found that the cheese-herb artisan breads do especially well if started before I head out to the farm for a day's work and baked when I get home. So I managed to ramp up production yet again this week:

That's how the kitchen table looked toward the end of today, after I finished baking 43 loaves of bread (all but two for market) and a pan of espresso-chip shortbread.

Yes, that's a lot, but not a huge amount more than the 34-36 I've done the past couple of weeks. And with squeezing in loaves a little earlier in the week, I can see that I might be able to step up baking a little more as needed.

All in good time...

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Sprout in the Garden

I haven't done a whole lot in the garden of late, save for transplanting strawberry "babies" from My Spiral Friend, but what I planted earlier is starting to show:

The ever-faithful fava beans are making a good start along the house foundation. Pretty soon I'll have to set up a trellis for them! (The peas, not shown but to the right, are coming along nicely, too.)

The first greens, an Asian green called hon tsai tai, are starting to poke their wee little leaves through the straw mulch, too. I see stir-fry in my distant future...

The herbs are bouncing back daily, with peppermint and lemon balm begging to be picked and sage greening up beautifully.

I'm hungry!

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Market Report: 4/17/2010

She's in, she's out. She's in, she's out.

Market weekends sometimes get a little hectic. Now that I'm dropping off inventory on Friday mornings and picking up most of my week's groceries then, I find I still end up popping into the market on Saturdays, either to drop off new bakery items first thing in the morning or to wander around for a bit -- and then to come back at the end of the day to pick up remaining items.

Such was this weekend.

I dropped off all but one item yesterday and picked up my butter, cheeses, and coffee for the week, but I came back to the market this morning with freshly baked whole wheat croissants for the bakery case and ended up browsing some more, talking with other board members, signing up for a cooking demo next week, and spending a little more money, both for the demo and for my own experimenting at home.

For myself, I found:

--rainbow chard and butterhead lettuce from The Winter Harvesters
--a big roll of unsalted butter from the local dairy
--chèvre and feta from Lucky Penny Creamery
--dill and chipotle cheddar curds from Blue Jacket Dairy
--fresh tarragon from The Garden Goddess
--rhubarb from a fellow board member

For next week's cooking demo -- on wild edibles! -- I took advantage of the market budget line for general demonstrations and purchased violets, ramps, and dandelion greens as well as lined up stinging nettles, lambsquarters, and chickweed from the Garden Goddess. (That's going to be one tasty demo!)

I ran away for a large chunk of the day, visiting My Spiral Friend for a knitting lesson and for strawberry "babies" from her garden, but when I returned to the market, I found that I had very little left from the day's inventory. Hooray!

I suspect next week will be another busy week at the market!

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Independence Days #46

What a full week this has been! No wonder I hit Friday morning and my inventory drop-off and find that I don't want to do anything else for the rest of the day...

1. Plant something: French Breakfast radishes, Chioggia beets, Scarlet Queen Red Stems turnips, Golden chard, Tyee spinach, Magenta Improved Sierra lettuce, Red Choi pac choi, Scarlet Nantes carrots at the Renaissance Man's garden; kohlrabi, radish, bunching onion, turnip, kale, beet, pac choi seedlings at the OEFFA Male's farm.

2. Harvest something: Peppermint from the Renaissance Man's garden.

3. Preserve something: Dried peppermint.

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): Saving spent coffee grounds for the garden in a separate container from the rest of compost; used aging but still good scallions in a new roll for market; polished off the remaining carrots in the refrigerator as part of dinner last night.

5. Preparation and storage (Want not): Milled more spelt and buckwheat; stocked up on grains, butter, cheese for baking; contacted local farmer to get more spelt berries; pulled a few more vegetables from the freezer to use this coming weekend (need to keep cleaning out that space!).

6. Build local food systems: Sold baked goods at market; baked buckwheat butter cookies and sesame crackers from freshly-milled grains to use at Lehman's, where I did a demonstration of their grain mills; talked to a local supplier about getting organic compost for the fabulous Jen's garden; delivered seeds and onion starts to a friend who shared my seed order; signed up for a cooking demonstration at Local Roots; shared a loaf of bread for this week's cooking demo at the market; talked to My Dear Papa about seedlings I'll be able to supply him this year.

7. Eat the food: French toast with leftover maple oatmeal bread; broccoli pizza; peppermint iced tea; pita pizza with pesto and goat cheese; pita pizza with soaked dried pac choi and fresh carrots; pesto pasta with dried tomatoes; omelet with chives and cheddar; homemade grape juice.

Things are definitely picking up around here -- but how much more colorful and flavorful everything seems!

Welcome Spring!

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Waiting For My Chip to Come In

After last week's market, I had two packages of whole wheat pita bread left, so I thought I'd better experiment with them and see how I could use them up before they turned blue and moldy.

First, I made pita pizzas to share with the Renaissance Man for dinner earlier this week. I'm hoping to do a demonstration at Local Roots with these, but I need to work on the recipes a bit. I have an idea for a Thai-flavored pizza with peanuts (will have to make a spicy peanut sauce to spread on the pitas first) and stir-fried pac choi and carrots, and I also tried using pesto as a spread and topping the pizza with goat cheese. We agreed that the flavors and ideas were good, but the execution needed work.

This morning, after baking this week's batch of pita breads for market, I took one of last week's packages of four breads and cut them all into wedges, separating the layers where possible. I brushed each wedge with olive oil and sprinkled it with an herb mixture of dried basil, homemade garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

After about 15-20 minutes in the oven, they came out crisp and pesto-savory good. I nibbled on a few of the broken bits before packing up the rest to sell at market. After all, if my sesame crackers sell well, why shouldn't these?

We'll see how these go this week -- somehow I think I might end up having to bake pita breads AND chips more often.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Milling Around

I don't have a market report this week. I did make my Local Roots purchases yesterday, when I dropped off my inventory, but I limited it to more butter and cheese and maple sugar for future baking.

Today, I headed in a different direction entirely -- a few miles east to Kidron and Lehman's Hardware, in order to do a demonstration of their grain mills for customers.

A couple of months ago, Lehman's reached out to Local Roots to see if any producers would be interested in demonstrating equipment and spreading the word about Local Roots, and I decided I could find some time to show off my grain milling skills and to offer samples of whole grain goodies made with fresh flour.

So they set me up in the "buggy barn" where they often run movies or have live music, and they pulled out their big Diamant mill as well as the Italian roller mill (both of which I have and use at home). They also brought out buckets of grains, bowls, utensils (including a flour sifter), and other things for me to use.

I brought along fresh buckwheat butter cookies and sesame crackers made with freshly milled spelt flour, offering them as samples of how good things taste when you use fresh flour. I also mixed up a small bowl of muesli once I had rolled some oats -- combined with pecans, raisins, and local honey, it made a simple treat.

A number of customers came in to see what I was doing, and while many looked around, nibbled a cookie or a cracker, and left quietly, others lingered for a demonstration of the equipment, to ask questions about baking with whole grains, or simply to talk about local foods (which then gave me the chance to plug Local Roots). Some of the more interesting characters I met included a French couple who bake and sell artisan bread at their local farmers' market; a group of older gents wearing leather chaps and Harley-Davidson t-shirts; and an ex-Marine who is so into self-sufficiency and knowing where his food comes from that he talked with me for about an hour total over the day.

I'll do another demo next month, as well as team up with another Local Roots producer later this month for a cooking demo, so I think we'll start to spread the word about the market in another area. A very good thing!

Might as well have fun while doing it!

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Friday, April 09, 2010

Independence Days #45

The garden/farm season is well underway now, with planting seeds in my various gardens and starting the seedling planting out on the farm. We still get cold snaps, but the warm weather seems to stick around for longer stretches, and the sunshine prevails over the clouds more often.

What a wonderful time of year! Trees around town are blooming, decked in frilly cloaks of white and lavender and pink, and the spring bulbs are adding their vibrant golds and violets to the mix. Every time I step outside and smell the warming soil, I think how happy I am to spend more of my time working close to the earth.

And as planting picks up, so does harvesting and preserving -- definitely time to exert a little Independence!

1. Plant something: Planted Red Gold and Purple Viking potatoes, Sugar Ann snap and Lincoln shell peas, Prize Choy pac choi, Antares Oakleaf lettuce, Cherry Belle radishes, Chioggia beets at the Southern Belle's garden; grapevines at The Farm; planted kohlrabi, turnip, radish seedlings at the OEFFA Male's farm.

2. Harvest something: Stinging nettles at the fabulous Jen's place; chickweed, dandelion leaves, and wild garlic at The Farm.

3. Preserve something: Dried stinging nettles.

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): Used up half-jar of tomato sauce in one dinner; saved more eggshells for the garden; saved cooking water from pasta and kale for making vegetable stock; cleaned some scraps from the freezer to add to vegetable stock.

5. Preparation and storage (Want not): Bought more cheese for baking artisan loaves; sifted more spelt flour; bought a new shelving unit to get things more organized in the kitchen.

6. Build local food systems: Sold baked goods at market (almost everything sold!); baked fresh croissants for some Francophile friends; helped the fabulous Jen get her garden started; shared grapevines with the Renaissance Man's family; worked three days at the farm; baked more bread for market; attended a college class on marketing local agriculture.

7. Eat the food: Lots of delicious sweet turnip greens, along with pea shoots and radishes; a curry with potatoes from storage, dried peas, fresh turnip greens, leftover canned tomato sauce, frozen cauliflower; nettle fritters; hash browns with local cheddar cheese and egg; homemade pasta with dried kale; leftover bread.

My schedule is picking up steam every week -- this is going to be a very busy summer!

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Frittering My Time Away

You know how I can tell that spring is really here?

The stinging nettles are growing like crazy!

I found this bumper crop at the fabulous Jen's place on Saturday, and she graciously found me a bag so that I could start picking. Mmmmmm, fresh greens, gotta love them!

And while the title of this post would have you think I've been sitting around doing nothing, I've actually been very busy at various gardens and farms since then. Lucky for me, I wrote myself a note to make nettle fritters for dinner tonight.

I came home from the OEFFA Male's farm all hot, tired, sore, sunburned, and ready to collapse, so you wouldn't think that cooking would be my first impulse. But once I read my note, I realized that I could have a tasty and filling meal with very little effort. And here it is!

I've also laid out several more nettle tips to dry for tea, so the 2010 food preservation season is officially underway.

Now maybe I can relax... for about five minutes...

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Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Sun Rises In the Yeast

Here are a few glimpses from yesterday's baking adventure, courtesy of the fabulous Jen:

I decided to make up the last batch of croissant dough as croissants instead of pains au chocolat for the market -- and I decided to share them with Jen, her husband, and her in-laws (her father-in-law is French) on a sunny spring morning. Of course, I forgot to take along my silicone brush, so I had to brush the egg wash over the proofed croissants with my (very clean!) fingers.

I made sure I gave the croissants plenty of time to proof -- shaped them the night before, kept them overnight in the refrigerator, and then allowed them about 3 hours at room temperature to warm and plump up. (Thanks to the amazing Spicyflower for her professional tips when she last visited!)

These turned out to be the best-shaped croissants -- and the most voluminous -- that I've made in a very, very, very long time. And everyone was ecstatic with the treat, delicately tearing off small flaky bites and savoring them with reverence. We laid out a selection of jellies and enjoyed some good fresh coffee along with them, and with warm conversation and the promise of a beautiful day for working in the garden, we had about as perfect a morning as you could get.

What a fun way to start a sunny day!

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Saturday, April 03, 2010

Market Report: 4/3/2010

Technically, I shopped at Local Roots yesterday -- now that we're also open on Fridays, I can pick up additional baking ingredients and such when I drop off my inventory -- but I'll still keep the market updates on Saturdays, just to keep things consistent for when the outdoor farmers' market reopens in two months.

Once I had filled my shelf yesterday, I bought a quart of good local maple syrup, a dozen eggs, and a small container of chèvre for next week's baking. I knew I'd have other plans for today, so why not?

This morning, I popped into the market just to deliver these sweet treats -- pains au chocolat -- for the bakery case, and then I had every intention of spending the day gardening. Instead, I bumped into The Salesman Farmer, who pointed out that he had fresh chives that would go great in a cheese bread, so I bought a package before heading home. (I'm such a sucker...)

That minor detour notwithstanding, I did get plenty of gardening in, and I made it back to the market just after close in order to pick up my remaining inventory: a loaf of maple-oatmeal bread, a loaf of pumpernickel, a small bag of crackers, and one lonely pain au chocolat. An impressive sales day! And finally, I got to enjoy one of my own pastries for a change.

A good day!

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Friday, April 02, 2010

Independence Days #44

I know it's too soon for the warm weather to stick around consistently, but the past few days have been just beautiful -- and today the temperatures are due to hit the 80s. Hard to believe it's early April!

Things keep happening...

1. Plant something: Started more seeds (heirloom tomatoes, beets, turnips) for the OEFFA Male.

2. Harvest something: Nothing.

3. Preserve something: Froze duck fat.

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): Adding more to the compost pile (about time to turn it!); cleaned out the sorghum jar by pouring in hot water, swishing it around, and adding the mixture to the pumpernickel bread recipe; reused wax paper to grease bread pans.

5. Preparation and storage (Want not): Bought more cheese for baking artisan loaves; milled and sifted more spelt flour; put away more canning jars.

6. Build local food systems
: Sold baked goods at market (almost all the bread sold!); shared a few leftover inventory items with friends; baked an apple streusel cake for The Renaissance Man's birthday; made a Spanish spinach and chickpea dish for potluck; made a roast duck dinner for the Renaissance Man's birthday.

7. Eat the food: Pita sandwich with pea shoots, radishes, cheese; French toast; broccoli pizza; fried rice with leftover green beans; spinach and chickpea dish; grilled cheese; hash browns with kale and cheese and egg; big salads!

Another growing season is well underway!

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