Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Berry Nice Benefits

I have to admit, though I had my concerns going into it, farming is a pretty sweet living.

OK, I'm not make the big bucks as a farming apprentice (nor does my boss as owner). But the benefits are amazing!:

--I get to work outside and bask in the sunshine and fresh air.
--I get to work with plants.
--I get to hang out with a pretty cool dude of a boss.
--I get a free refill on good coffee and plenty of sweet tea in hot weather.
--I get occasional "bonuses" like gardening tools or pickled garlic scapes.
--I get as many "seconds" in produce as I can handle (this week it was beets, scallions, garlic, and potatoes).
--I get paid a pretty decent wage at the end of each work week.

--And when my work is done, I get to forage around the farm for these beautiful and delicious wild black raspberries. (Blackberries, too, when they come ripe.)

I told you I wouldn't go hungry this year!

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

My Little Cabbage

The French have an endearment they use for loved ones: mon petit chou, or "my little cabbage."

I never understood why calling someone a cabbage was a good thing. Until my work in the garden this weekend:

Here's one of several savoy cabbages growing in the garden, all ruffles and vivid green deliciousness. Most of them have developed heads about this size -- still a ways to go, but I'm getting hungry for them already.

Now that's a sweetheart of a cabbage!

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Market Report: 6/26/2010

More things are coming into season at the farmers' market, but since I'm starting to get a full refrigerator just from produce from the farm and my own gardens, I'm not buying as much for myself.

I still shop at Local Roots for ingredients for next week's baking, though:

--lots of cheese! dill-cheddar and feta from Blue Jacket Dairy, more blue from Canal Junction, and cheddar from Ohio Farm Direct
--butter and milk from the local dairy
--zucchini for next week's vegetable rolls

I made a quick run through the outdoor market this morning and bought spinach from The Heirloom Farmer and parsley from The Cheerful Lady -- both for drying for winter cooking or baking. And I enjoyed a warm pretzel roll from The Photographer and a slice of mocha spice cake from the Bread Pimp (both from Local Roots) as well.

Now -- to do something with all of that!

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Independence Days #56

I put in more time at the farm this week, since the OEFFA Male decided to skip his Wednesday market. Fortunately, that dovetailed with my plans to rework my baking schedule, so though I was very busy all week, the pace was a little better.

Good thing, too -- I had a lot of other things to accomplish!:

1. Plant something: Lime basil, hon tsai tai, Red Choi pac choi, Chioggia beets at the Renaissance Man's garden; beets, pac choi, kohlrabi, basil, radishes at the OEFFA Male's farm.

2. Harvest something: Radishes, first garlic bulb, lavender, oregano, peppermint at the Renaissance Man's garden; pac choi seconds, peas, garlic at the OEFFA Male's farm; rutabaga thinnings, radishes, pac choi, golden chard (above), dill at the fabulous Jen's.

3. Preserve something: Dried tarragon, lavender, parsley, dill, pennyroyal, oregano, apple mint, peas, peppermint, rose geranium leaves, strawberries; froze garlic scape pesto, wild black raspberries.

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): Used the bran sifted off the spelt flour to cover the compost; took the remaining garlic scapes off the OEFFA Male's hands for making more pesto (he was grateful!).

5. Preparation and storage (Want not): Milled wheat for flour; restocked milk, cheeses, walnuts, olive oil, butter for baking; dried herbs (above) for winter baking.

6. Build local food systems: Worked on Local Roots newsletter for July; swapped leftover market items with other bakers; made dinner for a friend just back from the hospital and his lovely wife; worked three days at the OEFFA Male's farm; swapped bread for herbs again; reassured the fabulous Jen on her handling of the potato beetle problem; worked in the garden.

7. Eat the food: Borani with radish and kohlrabi (plus dill and chèvre); chocolate rolls; curry stir-fry omelet with "seconds"; The Photographer's most excellent Jewish apple cake; leftover bread; fruit leathers from the Madcap Farmer's Wife; more spicy Thai peanut noodles with seconds from the farm (yum!); French toast; crisp kohlrabi.

Looks like the heat is returning this weekend, so I'm not sure how this next week will start!

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Market Report: 6/19/2010

The market season is really starting to pick up -- everywhere you look, there are new items to be had and luscious treats to find!

My purchases this week fell into three categories: items needed for the baking business, items to preserve, and items for eating this week. And that's the order of quantity as well as importance!

From Local Roots:

--butter and milk from the local dairy
--lots of cheese! blue cheese and Swiss-style from Canal Junction, dill cheddar curds and Ludlow from Blue Jacket Dairy
--apple mint from The Cheerful Lady
--maple syrup from the Maple Man
--eggs from the Young Amish
--peanut butter from a new producer
--mocha spice cake and mojito bar from the Bread Pimp
--berliner (jam-filled doughnut; FRESH!) from the Photographer

From the Downtown Market:

--strawberries and broccoli from the Amish Farmer
--carrots and shelling peas from the Cheerful Lady
--two fruit leathers from the Madcap Farmer's Wife

On top of that, I swapped bread for tarragon from one other producer and a pumpkin lingering from last fall for parsley, dill, and pennyroyal from the Bread Pimp -- all of which have been run through the dehydrator (with the apple mint, peas, and strawberries to follow).

So, since I've got more work ahead of me this weekend, I'd better get to it!

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Independence Days #55

Summer is almost here officially, and the weather reflects that change in seasons. It's hot as blazes and brilliantly sunny out today, so I think I will wait a while to work in the garden!

And as the weather turns up the heat, so do I, with my food preservation activity. I've been busy this week and plan to continue the efforts this weekend.

1. Plant something: Kohlrabi, lettuce, leeks, beets, radishes, turnips at the OEFFA Male's farm.

2. Harvest something: Kohlrabi, snow pea, pac choi, and turnip seconds, plus kohlrabi, turnips, radishes, kale, lettuce, pac choi, bunching onions for market at the OEFFA Male's farm; lettuce, pac choi, broccoli raab, Hakurei turnips at the fabulous Jen's.

3. Preserve something: Made 7 half-pints of strawberry jam; dried dill, lemon verbena, elder flowers, roses, rose geranium petals, yarrow; started yarrow tincture; froze 6 small bags of snow peas, 2 small containers of garlic scape pesto.

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): Rescued more seconds from the farm and preserved what I could, including the first of the garlic scape pesto.

5. Preparation and storage (Want not): Milled wheat, spelt for flour; restocked milk, yogurt, pecans for baking; used odd glass jars for dried herbs (saving the mason jars for canning); ordered more oats for baking.

6. Build local food systems: Worked in the garden with the fabulous Jen and dropped off trellises for her to use with peas and then beans; shared leftover baked goods from the market with My Wonderful Parents and the fabulous Jen; made a dessert "kit" for a client; worked three days at the OEFFA Male's farm; took in shelling peas for The Cheerful Lady as she had them in town too early for the market; baked for market; swapped bread for herbs with one friend and a pumpkin for more herbs with another; printed recipe cards to include with this week's market offerings; started working on the July newsletter for Local Roots.

7. Eat the food: Salads; fresh kohlrabi for snacking; strawberry shortcake; last of the whole wheat croissants; spicy Thai peanut noodles with pac choi, garlic scapes, snow peas, radishes; French toast; radish sandwiches; broccoli-walnut pasta; ice cream with canned sweet cherries.

How about you?

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Feast and Famine

While I've had a bounty of good food to eat and to play with this week, I've lacked the time or inclination to write about it. So if you've been hungry for news or inspiration, I'll share the week in photos and verbal snapshots:

--The first canning of the year: strawberry jam. Three quarts of berries yielded 7 half-pints of jam, lightly sweetened with organic cane juice crystals. I shared a small jar with the Renaissance Man and the "scum" with My Dear Papa.

--At the farm, it's time to prune and trellis tomatoes. We worked through the first two beds this week, and though some seedlings succumbed to root rot and needed to be replaced, most are looking very vigorous. More on this over at the farming blog later this weekend.

--No photo here, but I brought home seconds from the farm every day this week. What a delight to snack on fresh kohlrabi or to whip up a quick stir-fry of garlic scapes, radishes, and pac choi and then to toss it with pasta and a spicy Thai peanut sauce. Coming this weekend (to beat the heat): a borani with yogurt, chèvre, dill, kohlrabi, and radish.

--In looking for a new bread idea and flavor combination to showcase the fantastic blue cheese from Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese, I struck gold in making a garlic scape pesto with walnuts and the blue cheese, then smearing it over a flatbread. The fragrance of this as it bakes is mouth-wateringly irresistible! So this weekend I plan to use more of the garlic scapes from the farm in batch after batch of pesto to freeze.

--The herb crops have been bountiful this year: I've taken four cuttings of lavender just at the Renaissance Man's place (haven't even made it to the Southern Belle's garden for the same!) and have hung them up to dry. The oregano patch is begging for a serious shearing, too, so I suspect I will be able to dry enough herbs to get me well into winter baking this year. And for those I don't grow, I'm swapping bread for herbs with a couple of producers at Local Roots. Truly a cooperative effort!

That's all for this week!

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Market Report: 6/12/2010

I am beginning to realize that it may not be possible to write up coherent farmers' market reports this year. This week, I actually had about four market days on which I could report! Let me explain...

Wednesday, I visited the OARDC Farmers' Market for the first time. Since it had rained all morning and was threatening to continue, there weren't many vendors or customers when I arrived. But I visited with the OEFFA Male and checked on how he had set up his market table, then did the same with The Photographer (selling her bread and One Happy Guy's coffee). I did buy two quarts of strawberries from a young woman and some fresh rosemary from another, but overall it was a quick visit.

Thursday, I dropped off the first of my inventory at Local Roots around noon, in time for the market to open. I bought milk and butter, since I needed more for baking, as well as a large jar of honey. Then, I headed home to continue baking.

Friday, I returned to Local Roots around 10:30 to drop off most of the rest of my items -- and discovered that Thursday's sales had been so good in the cheese-herb breads, I needed to go home and bake more!

This morning, I popped into the market very early to drop off more cheese-herb breads (a good thing, as I only had one loaf left), more spinach-feta rolls and espresso chip shortbread for the bakery case, and the broccoli raab I had picked yesterday. From there, I headed out to the Downtown Farmers' Market for my usual wander and chat with the farmers.

Between Local Roots and the downtown market, I ended up buying:

--spinach and green onions and a mocha chip cookie from The Cheerful Lady
--potatoes from the Fiddlin' Farmer
--a strawberry-mulberry fruit leather from the Madcap Farmer's Wife
--buckwheat flour from my local flour folks (since I'm now out of my own)
--coffee (roasted by One Happy Guy)
--a snickerdoodle cookie bar from the Bread Pimp (her choice of names, not mine)

Then, when I returned toward the end of the market day, I picked up my online order of decaf coffee beans and rhubarb and threw in a block of the new blue cheese from Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese. Whew!

And as for my breads -- it was a great day! Yes, I had half a dozen loaves left over, but out of 55, that's pretty good -- and I have enough to pay off a friend for her help on a project.

So, time to sit back and relax -- before the whole cycle begins again!

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Independence Days #54

Now that was a week!

I've been go-go-going since the last Independence Days report, but despite the occasional frazzles, I find I'm really -- no, really -- enjoying keeping this busy. And did I mention I love my work at the farm and in the kitchen?

Now I just need to find more time to preserve all the great food I'm getting this season! So here's this week's update:

1. Plant something: More tomatoes, peppers, beets, kohlrabi, lettuce, melons, winter squash at the OEFFA Male's farm; left tomato and basil seedlings at the fabulous Jen's; planted Black Cherry tomato seedling and basil at the Renaissance Man's garden.

2. Harvest something: Radishes, fava beans, lavender at the Renaissance Man's garden; elder blossoms, garlic scapes, kohlrabi, turnips, radishes at the OEFFA Male's farm; broccoli raab (middle; for market!) at the fabulous Jen's.

3. Preserve something: Dried elder blossoms, lavender; meant to do more, but haven't yet (perhaps this weekend).

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): Enthusiastically brought home more seconds from the farm; learning to use less flour in kneading bread; saved spinach stems, turnip leaves for stock; decided to take surplus broccoli raab to sell at market.

5. Preparation and storage (Want not): Milled wheat, spelt for flour; stocked up on cheese for this week's baking; rearranged storage of canning jars; restocked butter and milk.

6. Build local food systems: Swapped crackers for spinach after market Saturday; enjoyed The Photographer's potluck; wrote two short columns for Local Roots for the Wooster Weekly News; worked three days at the OEFFA Male's farm (two of which were 7-8 hrs!); helped the OEFFA Male get ready for market; shared seedlings from the farm with my other gardens; shared seconds with My Wonderful Parents and the Renaissance Man; baked for market, then baked more today after seeing what sold yesterday!; swapped bread for fresh herbs; worked in the garden at the Renaissance Man's; worked with the fabulous Jen in her garden.

7. Eat the food: More French toast from leftover bread; pasta with spinach and dried tomatoes and feta; broccoli pita pizzas; rice with preserved (canned, dried, frozen) vegetables; dried cinnamon apple slices; strawberry-rhubarb shortcake; hazelnut shortbread; grilled cheese with kohlrabi or turnip greens; broccoli-walnut pasta.

I expect to do more this weekend -- planning to make strawberry jam and run one or two loads of fruit and herbs through the dehydrator -- but I'll also have to use the time to figure out a way to keep preserving the harvest without running myself ragged. After all, I'll be seeing a lot more good food very soon now!

Back to baking!

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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Seconds for Dinner

I feel extremely fortunate in my choice of work this year. Not only am I learning a great deal from the OEFFA Male as his apprentice, but I am also enjoying the work, getting paid a decent wage, and receiving as many "seconds" in produce (and even seedlings) as I want.

As I told a few friends early on, I certainly won't go hungry this year!

I only spent 3 1/2 hours with the OEFFA Male this morning, harvesting produce in a steady rain and getting thoroughly soaked in preparation for his Wednesday afternoon farmers' market. We gathered beets, kohlrabi, turnips, radishes, kale, and mustard greens to go with the garlic scapes I picked yesterday.

Along with the market-grade produce, of course, came the "seconds" -- items too holey, slug-damaged, split, or otherwise unattractive for the market table. And these, of course, were offered to me -- not because he's too cheap to give me the good stuff but because he knows that I know that there is still plenty of good food in those seconds.

So I returned home with a bin full of kohlrabi, radishes, and turnips, as well as a bag of garlic scapes, a bag of lettuce, and the first small bag of snow peas (not enough for market). And I put them to good use:

Easy, quick, and loaded with good fresh flavor, this stir-fry looked and tasted just as fantastic as if I had bought all the produce at market. Actually, it was probably even better since a great deal of my own work went into it!

I can tell I have a very tasty summer ahead...

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Saturday, June 05, 2010

Market Report: 6/5/2010

Now that June is here, it's time to welcome back the Downtown Farmers' Market!

This year, the city finally allowed the market to close one street block so that all the vendors could be in the same general area. It brings everyone together in the same space instead of scattering them around the square, so I hope this will help everyone bring in more business.

I arrived early, after a quick stop at Local Roots to "fluff" my shelf and check on what had already sold. Many of my favorite farmers were there, setting up and wandering around to visit with others, so I settled back into the routine comfortably.

The problem I'll have with the farmers' market this year is going to be sticking to a budget: now that I've reduced my income, I won't be able to spend as lavishly as I'm accustomed to doing. I'll have to remember what I'm going to be able to harvest from the garden (or seconds from the farm) and only spend on those things I don't have access to otherwise and know I will use for specific dishes or for preservation. That's going to be a challenge!

But today I met it comfortably -- partly by permitting myself to take only $20 to the market. I managed to stretch that both at the outside market and back over at Local Roots:

I bought a bag of spinach from The Cheerful Lady since I used up all of last week's in making spinach-feta rolls for the bakery case. (And as it turns out, that proved to be a popular item -- it had already sold out! Guess I'll make more next week!) I also visited a long time with the Lady Bountiful, someone I had not expected to see at the market, and bought a basket of her delicious strawberries, with plans to use a few in shortcakes and to dry the rest.

Back at Local Roots, I found a fragrant rose-scented geranium that made me long for the one I had years ago, and I restocked on eggs from The Fiddlin' Farmer.

So I managed to stay under budget, visit with friends, and be able to carry everything home safely. Good job!

So good to have the market back!

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Friday, June 04, 2010

Independence Days #53

Another full week! As summer comes on, I find I'm having to adjust my schedule a little more every week -- when to get the best baking in, how to avoid too much heat at the farm, when to get around to working in the gardens.

Somehow, I'm managing to hold it all together and still have some fun!

1. Plant something: Floriana Red dent corn, Ziar Breadseed poppy, Black Kabouli garbanzo, sorghum, Contender bush beans, summer savory, fenugreek, calendula, Double Click cosmos, Meadow Pastels Iceland poppy at the fabulous Jen's; basil, eggplant, tomato, onion, summer squash, lettuce, leek seedlings at the OEFFA Male's farm.

2. Harvest something: French Breakfast radishes, wee little Hakurei turnips, broccoli raab at the fabulous Jen's; spearmint, lavender, roses, one little strawberry from the Renaissance Man's garden; kohlrabi and radish seconds from the OEFFA Male's farm; fresh dill from the Southern Belle's garden.

3. Preserve something: Dried spearmint, lavender, rose petals; froze extra bread.

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): Turned leftover garlic-herb baguettes into herbed bread crumbs to sell at market; shared other leftover breads with others (including a swap for cheesecake!).

5. Preparation and storage (Want not): Milled wheat, spelt for flour; stocked up on cheese for this week's baking; picked up first major bulk order for flour and such; ordered more wheat and spelt berries; rearranged kitchen storage.

6. Build local food systems: Shared an excellent Alsatian dinner with Le Boulanger and his family after picking up bulk order; tucked leftover bread in the Renaissance Man's refrigerator as "rent" for housing my grain mill; finished the June newsletter for Local Roots; worked at the OEFFA Male's farm three days; baked for market (including two new items to test); stored extra yeast in My Wonderful Parents' freezer; picked up replacement blueberry bushes for the Southern Belle's garden.

7. Eat the food: Pasta with sauteed greens (broccoli raab, golden chard, kohlrabi greens); a divine salad fresh from the garden with a delicious herb dressing; pavlova with strawberries and blackberries; pizza with spinach; pasta with asparagus, walnuts, and feta; lots of French toast with leftover cinnamon pecan bread; kohlrabi and radishes for snacks; grilled cheese and chard.

I'm sure that more food preservation will come into the weekly schedule soon, so I'll need to find time for that. (It's about time to make strawberry jam!) And the outdoor farmers' market returns tomorrow -- time to clamp down on my wallet so I don't spend as extravagantly there as I did last year!

What a tasty time of year!

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Berry Satisfying

The small strawberry patch I put in this year (courtesy of My Spiral Friend and her berry "babies") actually has produced a few ripe berries over the past couple of weeks.

Unfortunately, the slug invasion of 2010 meant that I've gotten to savor almost none of the sweet fruit as they've devastated the berries before they even reached full redness.

Last night, though, I scored one beautiful little berry. Yes, it had a small hole in it, and yes, a slug was still clinging to it. But most of it was still in good shape, and I claimed it all for myself.

As soon as I took this photo, the berry disappeared. It's in a better place now.

And how sweet it is!

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Thursday, June 03, 2010

Bin Busy

Yes, the days have been moving swiftly around here, with plenty of work to do. Three exhausting but satisfying days of farming blend smoothly into intensive baking sessions, followed by market drop-offs and total collapse.

It's really a pretty good life, all things considered.

And everything is picking up, both as the season progresses and as I learn more.

In the kitchen, I've found that with the quantity of baking I do weekly, I needed to move beyond picking up 10-lb bags of flour at the local bulk food store every other week or so. This past week The Photographer and I placed a major bulk order with Le Boulanger (a French artisan baker I met at a Lehman's demo), and we picked up our 1/2 ton of flour on Sunday.

Though The Photographer cheerfully offered to store some of my surplus flour, I also went out and got several of these square-bottomed buckets with lids for better storage at home. Monday morning I unloaded a portion of my order into these buckets, labeled them, and lined them up on the new shelving unit.

And by the time I hit a break in my baking today, I had emptied one bucket and was making a significant dent in two more. This is serious baking, and it will only become more so.

As you can see, I've been busy...

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