Friday, July 30, 2010

Independence Days #61

July is coming to a close -- summer is about half over!

I know we can expect more heat in August to go along with more work in the fields and gardens, but in return, we'll be seeing even more delicious colorful produce! And I have got to clean more food out of my freezer in order to put up more of this year's harvest.

But I'm working on it...

1. Plant something: Started seeds for Rainbow Lacinato kale, Laurentian rutabaga, Scarlet Queen turnips, Thompson broccoli, Frigga savoy cabbage, Tender and True parsnips at home; started seeds for lettuce, kale, beets, kohlrabi at the OEFFA Male's farm.

2. Harvest something: Cucumbers, broccoli, beans, tomatoes, oats, basil, summer savory, chamomile blossoms, carrots at the fabulous Jen's; peppermint, basil, golden chard at the Renaissance Man's; blackberries at the OEFFA Male's farm.

3. Preserve something: Dried chamomile blossoms, savory, peppermint; froze basil pesto, green beans, broccoli; strained and bottled yarrow tincture.

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): Took more "seconds" off the OEFFA Male's hands; shared excess cucumbers with friends; tried to stay on top of fresh produce for once!

5. Preparation and storage (Want not): Gathered all the vegetables for this week's veg-cheese rolls; restocked butter, cheese, oats, whole wheat flour.

6. Build local food systems: Swapped leftover market bread for herbs, design work; baked dessert for a client; shared onion flatbread and fruit salad at potluck; gave beets I haven't used to the Bread Pimp for one of her culinary projects; worked out a bread commission for an upcoming fundraiser; worked at the OEFFA Male's farm three days; baked for market; baked bread for the Flour Guy (who took the value off my bill for oats and wheat flour!); talked with writer for Edible Columbus about Local Roots.

7. Eat the food: Gazpacho with croutons; Greek salad; French toast; fresh cucumber slices and carrots; broccoli-walnut pasta.

What flavors of summer are you enjoying most?

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Independence Days #60

This is definitely turning out to be a hot and heavy summer. The temps soared again this week, and while work at the farm wasn't too bad, by the time my baking days rolled around, I was glad to get most of the oven work out of the way early in the day.

But oh! am I exhausted!

Still, can't let that stop me from getting a few things done...

1. Plant something: Started seeds for bunching onions, zucchini, beets, kohlrabi at the OEFFA Male's farm.

2. Harvest something: Red clover blossoms, lambs quarters at the Farm; bunching onions, basil at the OEFFA Male's farm; chard, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli, basil, dill, anise hyssop, celery at the fabulous Jen's; oregano at the Renaissance Man's garden.

3. Preserve something
: Dried lemon verbena, rosemary, red clover blossoms, anise hyssop, oregano; froze green beans.

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): Gave away a LOT of cucumbers since I can't eat them all! Also thawed a loaf of bread from the freezer and ate that, freeing up a little more freezer space.

5. Preparation and storage (Want not)
: Picked up bulk order of cheese from Abbe of Lucky Penny Creamery; restocked on milk, butter, cheese for baking.

6. Build local food systems: Weeded the garden beds at the Farm; worked at the OEFFA Male's farm three days; shared cucumbers with My Wonderful Parents and other friends; "paid" the fabulous Jen for services rendered with fresh bread; baked for market.

7. Eat the food: Sliced cucumbers; spicy peanut noodles with pac choi and beans; hash browns with chard; Greek salad; haydari; cooked cabbage and onion; peaches on ice cream; lemon verbena iced "tea"; herbed chèvre with pita.

What fresh garden delights are you enjoying these days?

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Garden Gone Wild!

Though most of my garden updates have appeared on my farming blog this season, I'm a little behind on updating that site. And after the visit to the garden this afternoon, I have to share the news!

While the original two gardens are looking a little peaky in spots this year, the new garden is prolific! These Suhyo Long cucumbers were planted from seed in May -- five mounds in all. Last Wednesday I picked a dozen foot-or-more-long monsters; today I found 18. And that doesn't count all the cucumbers the fabulous Jen has picked in the interim! Whew!

I'm definitely getting my fair share of haydari, Greek salad, cucumber slices, and gazpacho this year. No doubt about it...

I'm also pleased to report that the six or so broccoli plants (started from seed waaaaaaay back when) are all heading up, to one degree or another. This head was the fullest and most ready to pick -- my pride and joy! I have never grown broccoli before, so this is exciting.

The tomatoes aren't quite ripe, but they are coming along nicely. I also harvested a few celery stalks (not like the stalks you see in the grocery store), golden chard, basil, dill, and anise hyssop. And I need to head back out this weekend to pick more beans, dig up more potatoes, and harvest more herbs.

What a wild ride this season is turning out to be!

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Independence Days #59

I'm slowly catching up after the bumpiness that was last weekend...

1. Plant something: Started seeds for lacinato kale and Scarlet Queen turnips at home; started seeds for 2 kinds of cucumbers and planted kohlrabi seedlings at the OEFFA Male's farm.

2. Harvest something: Chamomile blossoms, cucumbers, basil, dill at the fabulous Jen's.

3. Preserve something: Dried chamomile blossoms, Italian parsley, basil; froze garlic scape pesto.

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): Nothing really news on this front.

5. Preparation and storage (Want not): Collected more clean and empty glass jars from My Wonderful Parents for dried goods; restocked milk, butter, cheese (bulk order from Lucky Penny Creamery) for baking.

6. Build local food systems: "Paid" the fabulous Jen for services rendered with leftover bread from the market; swapped more leftover bread for zucchini, herbs; worked at the OEFFA Male's farm two days; worked a bit in the garden; shared cucumbers with the fabulous Jen, my hairdresser, and The Photographer.

7. Eat the food: Toasted cheese bread; sliced cucumbers; potato salad from "seconds"; peach tart; spicy peanut noodles with pac choi and beans; iced tisane made with lemon verbena, bronze fennel, and nettle.

Going offline for the weekend -- computer problems, plus a bit of vacation!

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Monday, July 12, 2010

A Man's Peach Must Exceed His Grasp

With nearly two quarts of sweet little peaches in the refrigerator, I've been racking my brains and raiding my cookbooks for ideas for showcasing those luscious beauties.

This evening, I made the first heavenly attempt:

...a tart, using a whole wheat tart crust (as found in King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking), the remains of the almond filling used in Saturday's almond croissants, sliced peaches, and wildcrafted black raspberries.

Now that's a dessert worth reaching for!

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

To Peach His Own

Since I have plenty of food from the OEFFA Male's farm this week, I didn't need to buy much at either the downtown market or Local Roots this weekend, aside from restocking on baking ingredients.

But sometimes a little splurge happens:

A new member brought these wee little peaches -- slightly larger than golf balls -- to Local Roots to sell this weekend at an utterly extravagant $2.25/quart. (Yes, I'm being facetious.) How could I resist?

So I picked up a quart yesterday and shared a couple with My Wonderful Parents -- and when I returned to Local Roots this morning, I discovered the peaches had been restocked, so I splurged on yet another quart.

I'm not sure yet if I will attempt to bake something luscious with these beauties or if I will simply eat them straight up (or with ice cream).

But I'm sure going to enjoy them!


Friday, July 09, 2010

Independence Days #58

I don't even want to go into the details of just how crazy this week has been. Suffice it to say that after three days of intense heat, life switched over to a couple more of intense anxiety. (Things have improved, but now I am exhausted!)

So let's just jump into the Independence Days update, shall we?

1. Plant something: Golden Detroit and Chioggia beet seeds in flats at home; beet seedlings at the OEFFA Male's farm.

2. Harvest something: Garlic, potatoes at the Southern Belle's; garlic, lettuce, bunching onions, beets, green tomatoes at the OEFFA Male's farm.

3. Preserve something: Dried bronze fennel, blueberries, cherries; froze blueberries.

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): Cleaned out the fridge, cooked, and took scraps to compost; otherwise, the usual.

5. Preparation and storage (Want not): Bought more rosemary for baking; picked up a bunch of bread bags from the Chef Mother; restocked on milk, butter, cheeses for baking.

6. Build local food systems: Took my nephews blueberry picking; worked in the Southern Belle's garden; worked at the farm 3 days; Local Roots board meeting; shared unsold bread with others; swapped bread for parsley; treated the Chef Mother to lunch and My Dear Papa to the sweetest little peach of the season (which beat the hospital food he was getting).

7. Eat the food: Potato salad made with "free" food (potato "seconds" from the farm, swapped peas, dill from the garden); spice-roasted roots with beets, turnips, rutabaga, radishes; leftover bread; herbal iced "tea" with lemon balm, peppermint, red clover, rose petals, honey; spicy peanut noodles with pac choi and beans; sugar snap peas; fresh berries.

What was the excitement in your week?

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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Take This Job and Chèvre It

I've been remiss in past months about posting links to my articles and book reviews over at The Ethicurean. Too many things going on!

But now that I have your attention, I will milk it for all it's worth!

The latest post is a long overdue report on my day at Lucky Penny Creamery in Kent. Though my hands-on cheese-making experience came later in the day (as we skimmed and bagged chèvre to drain), I enjoyed the tour of the creamery, asked lots of questions, and learned a lot more about goat milk, cheese-making, and business in general. Thanks to Abbe Turner for the invitation!

Other items recently published at The Ethicurean:

--A review of Homegrown Whole Grains
--An introduction to my life in farming (a tightened-up summary of the first two posts from my farming blog)
--A report on the Local Roots Market Grand Opening
--A review of the movie "PolyCultures" (a local documentary on the northeast Ohio food system)
--A report on Preserving Traditions and my visit to Ann Arbor this spring

I've got a couple more book reviews lined up to post there as well, but for now my reporting and such is taking a back seat to everyday work.

So take your time and enjoy these!

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Sunday, July 04, 2010

Free Lunch

Science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein was well-known for his acronym TANSTAAFL -- meaning, "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch."

Generally, that's true. And truth be told, today's lunch wasn't exactly "free" as there were some costly ingredients and a lot of my time and hard work was paid into others.

But it's as close as it gets:

At top: spice-roasted root vegetables, including turnip and beet "seconds" from the OEFFA Male's farm and radish and rutabaga thinnings from the garden at the fabulous Jen's, tossed with safflower oil and Indian spices.

At bottom: the current variation of posh potato salad, with Purple Viking and Red Gold potato seconds from the OEFFA Male's farm, snow peas acquired in a swap with the Delightful Gardener, dill from the garden -- as well as walnuts and feta cheese and a delicious pumpkin seed oil given to me by der Freiburger (on his Christmas holiday from teaching in Austria).

For dessert (not shown): a mojito bar made by the Bread Pimp and given to me as a swap for some of my truffle surprise cookies after the market yesterday.

And I may just follow that up with an herbal iced "tea" made with herbs from the Renaissance Man's garden. (He lets me cut to my heart's content, and I return some of the dried herbs to him for his annual tea stash.)

As free lunches go, this is a wonderful one, perfect for Independence Day!

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Saturday, July 03, 2010

Berry Good Boys

Early July has long meant tradition for me. I'm not talking about the traditional parade or trip to see fireworks for the Fourth, though those have their place.

The tradition I cherish deeply is that of picking blueberries on a warm, sunny, July morning -- and sharing it with others.

Growing up, naturally, I shared this tradition with the Chef Mother, and we picked for a couple of hours in order to fill the freezer with fresh berries for wintertime muffins or pancakes or other treats.

Since coming here, I've found friends over the years who were interested in joining me for a berry-picking excursion: first the fantastic Phoenix, and now the Southern Belle and My Adorable Nephews.

Last year was the first time the nephews joined me for the adventure, and they enjoyed it thoroughly. For them, an hour of picking blew by so fast, they could hardly stand to leave. This year, then, they were old pros, and they knew everything I wanted to remind them about: avoid the poison ivy, pick the deepest bluest berries, and enjoy one or two along the way.

As you can see, they got off to a great start and never once faltered. By the end of the hour, the four of us had picked five quarts of berries, cleaning out the first part of a row, both high and low.

I returned home with them and did some work in the garden -- mainly digging up garlic and the saddest-looking potato plants -- before we all sat down to a hearty lunch of pizza, salad, and fresh berries. Scooter announced a couple of times that these were "the best berries ever!" and that he really, really liked them. (Beaker agreed, as did their infant brother, who gobbled up a handful of cut berries and was later found to have the remaining few decorating his bottom.)

They planned to eat some of theirs fresh and to freeze most for later, while I froze some and also poured two-plus pints onto my dehydrator trays for drying.

And I think we're all berry happy with the results.

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Friday, July 02, 2010

Independence Days #57

Here we are, on the cusp of the Fourth of July weekend, waiting to celebrate Independence Day with a picnic, parade, and fireworks.

Food independence isn't nearly that flashy, but it's very satisfying nonetheless. I'm really grateful that things have worked out in such a way this year as to keep me very well fed at comparatively little cost, thanks to my farming work and to neighborly "swaps" of my bread for other goodies at the market.

It still means work, though it's work I'm glad to do:

1. Plant something: Seeds for flats of cucumbers at the OEFFA Male's farm.

2. Harvest something: Snap peas, chamomile blossoms, dill, pac choi, chard, potatoes at the fabulous Jen's; lots of garlic, lettuce, bunching onions, and wildcrafted black raspberries, raspberry leaves, yarrow at the OEFFA Male's farm; garlic at the Renaissance Man's.

3. Preserve something: Dried lemon verbena, thyme, parsley, chamomile blossoms, yarrow, raspberry leaves, spinach, dill; froze blueberries, garlic scape pesto.

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): Reused parchment paper on one baking sheet for about half of my artisan breads this week; continued turning leftover garlic scapes into pesto.

5. Preparation and storage (Want not): Milled spelt for flour; restocked milk, cheeses, butter for baking; dried herbs (above) for winter baking; picked up more parchment paper and wax paper as well as more olive oil (since 'tis the season for pesto!).

6. Build local food systems: Worked on Local Roots newsletter for July; swapped leftover market bread for more herbs and some peas; worked three days at the OEFFA Male's farm; took seconds to share with My Wonderful Parents in return for zucchini casserole for dinner; worked in the gardens; made garlic pesto flatbread for the fabulous Jen in return for her help on another project; looked into buying extra mixer parts from The Photographer.

7. Eat the food: Snacked on kohlrabi; leftover bread; broccoli-walnut pasta; spicy Thai peanut noodles with pac choi, Hakurei turnips, garlic scapes; zucchini casserole; grilled cheese with chard.

Hope you are celebrating food independence this weekend, too!

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