Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Independence Days #66

OK, so I let the time slip by me again. Ooops.

But now that the month of October is winding down, perhaps the busyness will, too. (Not that I'm actually counting on that to happen...) In the meantime, here's the latest update:

1. Plant something: Planted lettuce, beets, pac choi, garlic at the OEFFA Male's farm.

2. Harvest something: Golden beets, chard at the Renaissance Man's.

3. Preserve something: Dried sage, oregano, parsley, lemon balm.

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): Took more "seconds" off the OEFFA Male's hands; saved flour from kneading dough for another project; took a couple of empty jars from My Wonderful Parents for more storage.

5. Preparation and storage (Want not): Stocked up on vegetables, cheese, milk, and butter for baking; ordered case of fillo dough for holiday baking.

6. Build local food systems: Swapped leftover market bread for herbs, greens, desserts; finished working at the OEFFA Male's farm for the season; baked for market; finished and printed holiday special orders brochure -- and took the first two orders!; worked on the Local Roots newsletter for November; contributed crackers to a prize basket at Local Roots.

7. Eat the food: Fall harvest soup; leftover rolls with kale and cheddar; cider; popcorn; more good stuff than I can think of!

Time to shift gears now...

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Are My Roots Showing?

I made some vegetable soup stock a week or two ago and finally realized yesterday that it was still in the refrigerator, unused. Not a good state of affairs, though all too easily done, given how full my refrigerator gets as I prepare for the week's baking.

With the weather growing a little more chilly, though, I thought I'd better make some soup very soon, before I lose that stock to mold.

When I dropped off my first round of baking at Local Roots on Thursday, I ran into one of the Winter Harvesters, who greeted me with a big smile and a hug. Since I haven't seen her since spring, I was eager to find out what she had brought to market. A lot, as it turned out: baby spinach, arugula, salad mix, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, and celery root.

Now, celery root is one of those vegetables I keep meaning to try and never do, mainly because I hadn't a clue how to use it effectively. But as I remembered that I've seen it in soup recipes -- and since I knew I wanted to make soup this weekend -- I thought I'd buy one and give it a shot.

Of course, there were other items from the market lingering in my refrigerator, begging to be added to soup, too, so after market this morning, I decided to pull them all out and throw together something hearty and warming.

I started by slicing and sauteing one leek, then added salt, pepper, dried thyme, and that celery root (peeled and cubed). After that, I tossed in cauliflower, carrots, and Daisy Gold potatoes -- all from Local Roots producers, hooray! -- poured vegetable stock on top, and let it all simmer for an hour or more.

I took out one cup of soup and pureed it, adding it back in to give the soup more thickness, and then I laid some torn kale on top, covering the pot and turning off the heat so that the kale would steam and not overcook.

I ran off for about half an hour to mill spelt into flour, and when I returned, the soup was ready to eat.

With chunks of homemade artisan wheat bread on the side, this soup definitely warmed me up! The combination of flavors turned out well, making a mild but not bland lunch. I could have added some shredded cheese on top, but I decided today that I didn't really need it. And best of all, I have leftovers for later in the week.

I'm so glad that root vegetable season is here. I love the comforting taste of carrots and parsnips -- and now golden beets from the garden, rutabagas from the market, and even this humble celery root.

Looks like it's going to be a tasty winter!

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Independence Days #65

Ooops. Meant to post this last week, and the time just slipped away from me. So, a week late and probably more than a dollar short, here's the latest Independence update!

1. Plant something: Planted lettuce, kohlrabi, beets, and transplanted bunching onions and leeks at the OEFFA Male's farm.

2. Harvest something: Basil and chard at the Renaissance Man's; tomatoes and squash at the OEFFA Male's farm (now that he doesn't have a Wednesday market for the rest of the season, my harvesting there will be limited); golden beets and tomatoes at the fabulous Jen's.

3. Preserve something: Dried lemon verbena, pears, thyme, basil, rosemary; froze some of the Cheerful Lady's second batch of cider.

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): Took more "seconds" off the OEFFA Male's hands; cleaned out (ATE!) a good amount of the produce in the fridge, and made a dent in other things, too; finished off a jar of sorghum molasses (using the hot water needed in the recipe to clean out the jar).

5. Preparation and storage (Want not): Stocked up on vegetables, cheese, milk, and butter for baking; requested more herbs from my herb source for drying; shuffled things around in the freezer; cleaned up more jars for storage; cracked the last of last year's hickory nuts (and the Chef Mother offered to pick out the meats -- thanks, Mom!) and put them in the freezer; got back to milling wheat and spelt for baking.

6. Build local food systems: Swapped leftover market bread for herbs, vegetables, and desserts; worked at the OEFFA Male's farm 3 days per week; baked for market; participated in Eat Local Challenge week at Local Roots and blogged daily; finished Local Roots newsletter for October; attended a talk given by Vandana Shiva on sustainable agriculture, especially in South Asia; made progress in planning holiday special orders of baked goods; went apple picking with My Adorable Nephews and the Southern Belle.

7. Eat the food: Leftover rolls with kale and cheddar, squash curry; hash browns with kale, cheese, egg; pita pizzas; steamed kale; herbal teas; lots of toast; popcorn; sweet potato braise; Uzbek carrot and beet salad; stir-fried tatsoi; broccoli-walnut pasta; baked cauliflower; lots of good cider!

What fun things did you do this week?

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Friday, October 08, 2010

Eat Local Ohio Week, Day #7

So here we are at the end of the Eat Local Ohio Week -- with a beautiful day and another farmers' market Saturday right around the corner. What a treat!

With the gorgeous weather, it was hard to stay inside and focus on baking, but I managed to wrap up everything except the last minute bakery baking scheduled for tomorrow early -- and still got out for a couple of walks to bask in the sunshine. What a way to celebrate!

--Up early to bake off more cheese-herb bread, pumpernickel loaves, and rolls -- man, do those smell good first thing in the morning!

--Enjoyed a hearty breakfast of hash browns (potatoes from the OEFFA Male's farm) with kale (Autumn Harvest Farm), Miami Erie Canal cheese (Canal Junction Farmstead), and egg (Autumn Harvest again) plus a cup of tea.

--Once the baking was done temporarily, enjoyed a sample roll filled with chèvre (Lucky Penny Creamery) laced with pumpkin spice syrup (from Local Roots), walnuts, and dried pears -- so tasty!

--Dropped off the day's inventory, ran errands, and returned home for a light lunch of the remaining Uzbek carrot-beet salad and another chèvre-pear roll.

--Took the now-dried pears out of the dehydrator and starting drying rosemary and thyme.

--Made two trips to the Renaissance Man's back porch to mill wheat berries into flour, so now that bucket is full and ready for next week!

--Cleaned a little more out of the refrigerator for dinner, making pita pizzas with homemade sauce (emptied the jar), slices of zucchini (Autumn Harvest Farm), and shredded mozzarella (Ohio Farm Direct).

--Capped off the day -- and week! -- with gingersnaps (Morgan's Munchies) smeared with pumpkin quark (Blue Jacket Dairy) and served with cider (local orchard) that is starting to get a little "happy"!

So, overall, I met my three goals for the week: at least one meal from garden produce (actually managed two), snacks made from local ingredients (between my breads and local fruit, that was covered), and preserving one local food for winter (dried pears, then herbs).

In addition, I worked on an unspoken/unwritten goal inspired by other people's challenges: cleaning out the refrigerator before I wasted too much food. That more than anything pointed out my biggest lesson for the week. Eating locally doesn't have to be a game of one-upsmanship, a case of being "localer than thou." Sometimes eating locally just means making the best of what you've got -- either in simplifying your cooking or in restraining yourself from buying extra ingredients on a whim.

For example, for my last meal in the week, I was tempted by a recipe that my food-loving friend Mr. Clean sent -- a zucchini taco. I could use pita breads instead of tortillas, but otherwise I had everything in the recipe except an avocado, and surely I could run out and get one of those! But I also had the remains of a jar of pizza sauce, a dwindling block of cheese, and an everlasting love of pizza -- and I decided that I would not just "make do" with that for dinner, it would taste really good and be very satisfying. So, I "made do."

With a little more time earlier in the week, perhaps I could have "made do" a little better by planning meals ahead and throwing something into the slow cooker -- using some dried vegetables from the cupboard and ending up with something not quite so heavy on the carbohydrates. But I did what I could with the time, energy, and food I had available to me at the time, so I'm not going to beat myself up (any further) about it. It was a good lesson.

No matter how much I've progressed in making my eating habits more local, I find there's always still more to try or to learn. So the next time the challenge rolls around, I'll have to see what else inspires me!

Did you take the challenge this week? What did you learn? Please share!

(And if you're interested in reading more about this week's challenge, you can enjoy this person's local foods tour or enjoy reading about the local foods scene in my little town, as written up in the fall issue of Edible Columbus!)


Thursday, October 07, 2010

Eat Local Ohio Week, Day #6

Look, I don't mean to complain about the chilly, damp weather earlier this week. It's a part of fall, and I accept that. I do.

But today? Sunshine, warmer temps, and a day to stay at home and bake. I'll take it!

Staying at home also meant that I was able to eat a little better, with the determination to add more vegetables to my menu (as well as to clean out a few more things from the refrigerator).

So here's today's Eat Local lovelies:

--Up before the crack of dawn to start baking the artisan loaves and rolls, and then to start the homestyle breads. It requires a lot of focus and nonstop work, so breakfast ended up being a half-sized grilled cheese sandwich (on homemade pain aux noix, with baby Swiss cheese from Ohio Farm Direct) and a cup of Irish breakfast tea (with local milk).

--I'm terrible about drinking water while I bake -- I just keep going and going and don't reach for a glass -- but I enjoyed a cup of cider from the local orchard as a break from baking come mid-morning.

--After dropping off the day's inventory at Local Roots, I decided to switch gears and make something worthwhile for lunch. So I cleaned out a small bag of yellow and orange carrots from the Cheerful Lady as well as a few beets from the OEFFA Male's farm in order to make Uzbek carrot (and beet) salad. Along with that I pulled out the last of the cooked corn and steamed some broccoli for lunch, and I added a few fresh cheddar curds (Blue Jacket Dairy) for protein. Look, Ma -- no bread!

--Went back to baking over the course of the afternoon: the last homestyle loaves, more pesto flatbreads, and a couple of vegetable flatbreads.

--Finally -- and I mean finally! -- tackled the remaining pears from the OEFFA Male's farm: peeled, cored, sliced, and tossed them in the dehydrator.

--Cleaned out some tatsoi from the fridge and stir-fried it with garlic from the garden and some curry powder, then dished it up with the heel end of a loaf of artisan wheat bread. A light dinner, but a good one!

--Walked down to the market to check my shelves, chat with the Farmgirl Wannabe (now our manager!), and indulge in a pumpkin bar from a fellow baker for dessert.

--Back to baking!

Now that is a good local food day!

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Eat Local Ohio Week, Day #5

If it's Wednesday, it must be time to switch over from farming to baking!

The rain -- light but persistent -- lingered this morning as we cleared another plot of withered tomato plants. Still, it was good to get some of the most exhausting fall cleanup work out of the way this week, even in the inclement weather.

But all that work out in the cool damp weather kept me reaching for carbohydrates, even as I tried to eat more vegetables. Still, they're local!

--Started the bread baking early this morning, whipping out the garlic-herb baguettes and pumpernickel loaves before breakfast.

--Enjoyed a grilled cheese sandwich (my wheat bread, local butter, baby Swiss from Ohio Farm Direct) for breakfast, along with coffee.

--Downed the last kale-cheddar roll from last week's market as I drove away from the farm at lunchtime.

--Continued baking through the afternoon (4 pesto flatbreads and 2 loaves of each of four kinds of homestyle breads).

--Nibbled on a piece of toasted wheat bread smeared with chèvre (from Lucky Penny Creamery) and topped with walnuts and a drizzle of local honey.

--Rewarded the Renaissance Man for fixing my trusty KitchenAid: made pasta with a fresh tomato-garlic-basil sauce for dinner, topped with shreds of Burr Oak (Parmesan-style cheese from Canal Junction Farmstead).

--Made the reward even sweeter by sharing the last of the tarte tatin with him, washed down with cider from the local orchard.

A good day!


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Eat Local Ohio Week, Day #4

We had another day of chilly rain at the farm today, but I managed to get more flats of seedlings planted in the field before the rain really settled in. (We've also started clearing out the tomato rows, too.) And I can tell you, it's not much fun unloading a flatbed truck of its cargo -- the components for the OEFFA Male's new high tunnel -- when the rain is blowing in your face.

So thank heavens -- and the Renaissance Man -- for a thermos full of hot tea: a green tea enhanced with sage and peppermint from the garden and foraged rose hips and nettle leaves. That definitely kept me from succumbing too badly to the chill!

But the continuing late-fall-like weather keeps me reaching for comfort food:

--Started the day with a simple breakfast of toasted wheat bread (mine) with local butter, some fresh cheddar curds (Blue Jacket Dairy), and coffee with local milk and non-local sugar.

--Sipped the aforementioned green-herbal tea all morning. Boy, was that nice!

--Had a leftover kale-cheddar roll and an apple (from the farmers' market) for lunch.

--Snacked on homemade cheese crackers on the way home.

--Started making fillings for this week's vegetable rolls -- more kale with cheddar, and then butternut squash sauteed with onions, hot pepper, dried cabbage, curry powder, and chili powder, with a little goat milk ricotta (or paneer, given the texture) added in. (Tried a nibble of that -- hope it heats up, flavor wise, a little more with a day or two in the fridge!)

--Made basil pesto for this week's breads.

--Cleaned out the fridge a little for dinner, making pita pizzas with leftover wheat pitas (mine), pizza sauce (ditto), and some crumbled feta. (Was too lazy to cook broccoli to add to the top.)

--Invited the Renaissance Man over for dessert: tarte tatin (he always enjoys a good tart, he says cheekily) and tea with peppermint and rose hips.

Yes, so far it's been a little dull in the kitchen. I'm hoping that once I'm done at the farm for the week I might do something a little more colorful for a meal!

Stay tuned...

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Monday, October 04, 2010

Eat Local Ohio Week, Day #3

The rain and the cold continued today, cutting short my first farm day of the week. Granted, I did get some onions transplanted, flats of lettuce started, and dying tomato plants pulled from the field, but after that (part of it done in a misting rain), I was more than happy to head home and change into warm, dry clothes.

Comfort food remained high on the day's menus, though I did manage to get more produce worked into my meals:

--Had a hearty farmer's breakfast of hash browns (potatoes from the farm) with kale and egg (Autumn Harvest Farm) plus Black Swamp Gouda from Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese; toasted wheat bread (mine); coffee laced with pumpkin spice syrup from a Local Roots producer plus local milk.

--Stopped by the Renaissance Man's kitchen for tea -- not local -- and he tanked me up with a small thermos for my work day. (What a love!)

--I had packed a reasonably balanced lunch but ended up just grabbing one roasted zucchini and tomato roll (left over from the market) and eating it on the way out to the tomato plot destined for cleanup.

--Enjoyed a cup of hot tea (not local) and a small bowl of popcorn (from Gale J Farm) for a snack once I got home.

--Baked off the cheese crackers, followed by a tarte tatin made with leftover dough (local ingredients), local butter, and local Wolf River apples.

--Picked chard from the garden at the Renaissance Man's place.

--Fulfilled one goal for this week's challenge by cooking a meal almost entirely from my garden(s): sauteed garlic (from the Southern Belle's garden) in olive oil, added fresh thyme from a pot here at home, tossed in cubed sweet potatoes (from the SB garden) and cooked Calypso beans (from the fabulous Jen's) and braised the lot in homemade vegetable stock, then added chopped chard from the Renaissance Man's garden and fresh parsley from my herb pot. Topped it with fine shreds of Burr Oak cheese from Canal Junction Farmstead -- a creamy, savory, delicious dinner!

--And for dessert? I plan on tucking into that tarte tatin, maybe with a cup of herbal tea...

So far, so good this week!


Eat Local Ohio Week, Day #2

Yesterday turned out to be something of a dismal fall day, with the temperatures too weak to struggle out of the 50s and the skies heavy with clouds and rain all day. Definitely a day for comfort food!

--Accepted the Renaissance Man's kind offer of breakfast: buckwheat pancakes (from a local mix with local flour) topped with maple syrup (our favorite, Gortner's) and accompanied by an English breakfast tea with local peppermint and raspberry leaf added in (plus local honey and milk).

--An unexpected outing in search of sturdy winter hiking books meant that we ate out for lunch, so sadly, this lunch was not local (beyond the Renaissance Man's gentle teasing that if the food was in front of us, it was "local" to our immediate location).

--Got started on the week's baking, with rosemary walnuts and sesame crackers, plus dough prepped for cheese crackers. That got my place warmed up a little!

--Definitely a comfort food dinner: steamed kale (from Autumn Harvest Farm) with a dab of local butter, leftover corn (also from Autumn Harvest Farm), and toasted wheat bread (homemade, with local wheat flour), followed by a cup of good local cider.

Here's hoping I work more vegetables into my meals as the week progresses!


Sunday, October 03, 2010

Eat Local Ohio Week, Day #1

I'm glad the Eat Local Challenge week started on a Saturday -- I actually had time to stop and think about what I was eating, and thus to enjoy it even more!

--Started the day with a simple breakfast of scrambled egg (from Autumn Harvest Farm) with cheese (Miami Erie Canal from Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese), toast (my own pain aux noix with Hartzler Dairy butter), and tea (not local, but the milk was).

--After finishing the baking, dropping off the last inventory at Local Roots, and shopping the farmers' market, I enjoyed my mid-morning smackerels at Roots: an apple-peanut butter bar (with local wholesome ingredients, from Lily Bean Bakery) and locally roasted coffee (Al's Beanery) with maple syrup (Gortner's) and milk (Hartzler Dairy).

--Headed home to make a pot of vegetable stock with celery and carrots from the farmers' market, potatoes from the farm, sweet potato and garlic from the garden, baby onions from My Wonderful Parents' small patch.

--Warmed up at lunchtime with a grilled cheese sandwich (on my pain aux noix, with baby Swiss from Ohio Farm Direct and radishes from Adonai Acres), a couple spoonfuls of homemade kim chi, some ground cherries (from Boii Gardens), and a cup of cider (from the local orchard).

--Savored leftover kale-cheddar rolls (my creation, with Adonai Acres kale and Blue Jacket Dairy cheddar curds) for dinner, with a bit of popcorn to round it out.

--Snacked on ground cherries during a break at the contra dance.

The up side to concentrating on using more local foods so far has been that I've eaten more vegetables and fruit than I have been grabbing lately, and it's also made me look in the refrigerator more carefully, so I might actually use up some food this week!

Looking good for the week so far!


Friday, October 01, 2010

Independence Days #64

I think a lot of people assume that gardening and farming is largely a summertime event, because I've had a lot of people say to me lately, "Well, now that it's fall, things must be winding down for you at the farm."

The harvest may be tapering off, but I'm still working lots of hours preparing for farmers' markets, seeding and planting fall crops, weeding, and cleaning up summer crops to make way for cover crops or mulch. And let's not forget that planning next year's crops starts now, based on what worked and what didn't.

No, I'm still busy. And that's going to make this next week even more challenging.

You see, October 2-8 has been designated Eat Local Challenge Week here in Ohio -- both by the Ohio Department of Agriculture and by the Columbus-area organization Local Matters. And at Local Roots, we intend to make this a high-profile challenge, beginning with a visit from ODA Director Robert J. Boggs TODAY to kick off the statewide event at our market. Exciting!

I did sign up for the challenge (and got my cool button!), but it took some thinking as to what my challenge would be. I mean, most of my food now is local! But I decided to push myself a little with these three goals:

--Eat at least one meal from my own garden produce (the challenge being to actually get to the garden and find enough to eat).
--Make this week's snacks from local ingredients (so that I'm not tempted by highly processed junk).
--Preserve one local food for winter.

And I'm going to add one more goal: to blog about it daily. Given my slack attitude toward blogging lately, this may be my biggest challenge!

Add to that the ongoing Independence Days challenge, and I think it's safe to say that I have my work cut out for me this next week. But here's a quick report from this past week:

1. Plant something: Planted beets at the OEFFA Male's farm.

2. Harvest something: Tomatoes, basil, red pepper, anise hyssop, chocolate mint, calendula blossoms at the fabulous Jen's; peppermint at the Renaissance Man's; sweet potatoes! and more basil at the Southern Belle's garden; many market crops at the OEFFA Male's farm.

3. Preserve something: Dried rosemary, parsley, thyme, tomatoes; froze garlic scape pesto (last of the season).

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): Took more "seconds" off the OEFFA Male's hands (many of which were used in weekly baking or put up for winter); finished off the fingerling potato seconds; tried to stay on top of the produce in the fridge a little better; used leftover flour from kneading in pizza dough for myself; trying to clean out butter wrappers by greasing loaf and cake pans with them.

5. Preparation and storage (Want not): Stocked up on cheese (Canal Junction), milk, flour, and butter for baking; laid sweet potatoes out to cure; requested more herbs from my herb source for drying.

6. Build local food systems: Swapped leftover market bread for herbs; worked at the OEFFA Male's farm over 20 hrs/week; baked for market, including new items for sampling at the Artisan Day; signed up for Eat Local Challenge week at Local Roots; worked on Local Roots newsletter; talked garden plans with the Southern Belle and a writer friend; ran a naming contest for new herbal tea blend and offered bread to the winner(s); made new herbal tea blends to sell at Local Roots.

7. Eat the food: Cinnamon-pecan French toast; roll with kale and cheddar; hash browns with kale, cheese, egg; broccoli pizza; corn on the cob; potato, carrot, broccoli salad; new herbal teas.

This next week, won't you join me in this Eat Local Challenge?

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