Sunday, September 25, 2011

Independence Days 2011-10: Winding Down

Now that fall is here -- in truth as well as in spirit -- I'm content to start seeing the garden die back before winter. I had hoped to plant more fall crops to extend the growing season, and I'm pleased to report that the beets and turnips I put in last month seem to be growing nicely, but I'm also happy to start clearing the garden and adding layers of mulch for a nice winter coat.

But though things are winding down in the gardens, I'm picking up in the kitchen. Cooler weather seems to encourage people to buy more bread, so I've been hard at work daily keeping my shelves restocked and keeping the Cafe supplied. I plan to bring a couple of old favorites (rosemary cider bread and pumpernickel bread) back into the weekly baking routine soon, and I'm trying to make more time to bake sweet treats for the bakery case.

I've signed up to teach two more classes at Today's Kitchen Store later in the year, as well as a book-making class at Local Roots, so the prep for those classes will take some time, too. And I'm really trying to make an effort to catch up on book reviews and to write more articles.

It's good to know that as the year starts winding down, I'm getting some things done:

1.
Plant something: kale, lettuce, and arugula seedlings at the Renaissance Man’s

2.
Harvest something: basil, purple beans, zucchini, butternut and spaghetti squash, golden chard, tomatoes, peppers, nasturtiums, radishes, carrots, celery, rhubarb, chocolate mint from the Contradance Callers’; sage, lavender from the Renaissance Man’s

3.
Preserve something: cured squash for long-term storage; dried thyme, lemon verbena, chocolate mint, pears, basil, rosemary

4.
Reduce waste (Waste not): using the empty 50# flour sacks for garbage bags and for paper recycling; returned empty syrup bottles and got 50 cents off new syrups; donated more bread at the end of the market week, only taking home 1 loaf each week (because I just can’t eat that much bread any more!)

5.
Preparation and storage (Want not): restocked oil, sugar, honey, flour, cheeses for baking

6.
Build local food systems: baked for market and café; did more prep for upcoming cooking classes; wrote article about poly-farming project; updated brochures for fall/winter tisane blends and holiday baking; started work on October newsletter for Local Roots; taught cooking class at Today’s Kitchen Store; enjoyed a couple of shared potluck style meals with friends

7.
Eat the food: cucumber slices and corn crackers; pasta with tomatoes, garlic, basil; raspberries; eggs with chard; pizza with leftover garlic-herb dough; the Renaissance Man’s lasagna; lots of crisp apples dipped in peanut butter; roasted potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, and kale


Welcome Fall!

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

So Apple Together

After my first official cooking class -- with me as the teacher -- this summer, it took me a while to build up enthusiasm and interest in doing it again. Fortunately, my contacts at Today's Kitchen Store were both patient and encouraging, and since you know my love of local foods, you can imagine it didn't take long before I was ready to sign up for another class -- or three.

The first class I developed for this fall was yet another Local Roots-sponsored class aimed at featuring one particular produce item and sharing with people the joys and the ease of eating seasonally. After talking about blueberries in July, it seemed fitting to stick with fruit and to come up with "An Apple a Day" for the class theme.

The menu I had planned ranged from breakfast to dessert, and everything included apples from Moreland Fruit Farms:

--Apple Sausage Hash Browns with potatoes from Boii Gardens, lamb sausage from Fox Hollow Farm, onion from Martha's Farm, and cheddar cheese from Meadow Maid


--September Salad, a mixture of salad greens from Martha's Farm with some nasturtiums from my garden, a homegrown carrot and herbs, Swiss cheese from Heritage Grass Farms, hickory nuts from The Shepherd's Market, and a hickory vinaigrette with hickory syrup from Simple Products

--Harvest Saute, with butternut squash from The People's Garden, more onions, homegrown garlic and sage, rosemary from Karen's Garden Delights, my homemade garlic-shallot jam, red wine from the Winery at Wolf Creek, homegrown chard, wheat berries from Covered Bridge Gardens, and Black Swamp Gouda from Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese

--Garden of Eden Apple Tart, with homegrown rose petals, wheat flour from Stutzman Farms, butter from Hartzler Dairy, and local honey


Along with the cooking demo, I had the class sample four different varieties of apples that are at their peak now: Honeycrisp, Ginger Gold, Empire, and Cortland. They enjoyed eating the apple slices plain or dipping them into the goat milk caramel from Sugar Nanny.

Everyone in the class seemed to have a blast, and they had plenty of good questions and ideas, as well as rave reviews for the food. Happily, I had everything planned out well and only had one gap where we were waiting for something, but everything wrapped up in the allotted time frame. I didn't get any pictures during the class (of course), but Rick (the owner) took plenty and posted the best on Facebook.

The next class I'll be teaching at Today's Kitchen Store will be a garlic class, and my friend the Delighted Gardener (Karen Geiser) will talk about different varieties of garlic and how to grow it while I show off easy ways to prep and enjoy garlic in the kitchen. Should be fun -- and fragrant!

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Independence Days 2011-9: Is It Fall Yet?

I have been so grateful for the cooler weather this week. I'm not a hot-weather lover -- 75 is about perfect for me -- so I'm more than happy to throw on slightly warmer clothes these days, to huddle under the blanket at night, and to say goodbye to summer favorites such as okra and cucumbers.

Of course, this means that garden clean-up time is coming, and I really need to make the most of what's left before frost returns and takes care of it for me. So every now and then I nudge myself into the garden, or pull out the dehydrator, or tuck another couple of things in the freezer for winter.

Here's the latest Independence Days report:


1.
Plant something: nothing, but I've been watching the turnips and beets grow a little more

2.
Harvest something: tomatoes, basil, lemon balm, sage, peppermint at the Renaissance Man’s; broccoli, basil, golden chard, zucchini, purple pole beans, nasturtiums, dill, tomatoes at the Contradance Callers’; basil, tomatoes at the Southern Belle’s

3.
Preserve something: canned twelve pints of pizza sauce; made three half-pint jars of garlic-shallot jam; froze broccoli, celery, roasted red peppers, breaded eggplant; dried rosemary, oregano, basil, tomatoes, lemon balm, peppermint, sage

4.
Reduce waste (Waste not): used grass clippings from the neighbor’s yard to mulch the garden at the Renaissance Man’s; used water from the canner to water potted plants; used up last frozen stock in Indian lentil stew (with seasonal vegs)

5.
Preparation and storage (Want not): picked up requested half-pint jar of local garlic powder from the Herb Lady; made garlic-shallot jam in advance of next TKS cooking class; restocked butter, flours, tomato paste for canning; deep cleaned the kitchen! and reshuffled bins and such

6.
Build local food systems: baking for market and for the Local Roots Café; bartered more bread for canning tomatoes; met with a group to try to set up a local business incubator to help other small businesses (food-related and otherwise) get a boost; talked the Renaissance Man through canning peaches; worked on Local Roots newsletter; enjoyed a pesto pizza party with the Southern Belle, the Absent-Minded Professor, and my Adorable Nephews; made an applesauce cake especially for my one Nephew; did some research and compiled recipes for upcoming TKS classes; worked on brochure for holiday baking orders; gratefully filled a bit of my neighbor’s freezer since my own is FULL; interviewed people about a new local “poly-farming” project

7.
Eat the food: homemade pizza with broccoli; zucchini surprise casserole; beans!; fried okra; hash browns with kale and egg; red raspberries and local yogurt; peach-raspberry smoothies; fresh tomatoes and mozzarella; leftover veg rolls and cheese bread; pesto pizza; lentil stew; watermelon lassi; fresh edamame


Are you ready for fall yet, or are you enjoying the last fruits of summer? Or both?

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Making the Roast of a Cool Day

Fall has decided to slide in a little early around here, with cool temperatures, grey skies, and occasional rain. And after last week's flirtation with 90+ degree days, I am more than happy to embrace the cooler weather!

I took advantage of that weather over the holiday weekend in order to give the kitchen a deep cleaning. While I try to keep the kitchen in respectable order from week to week, some things just need a little more effort -- and some things need to be kept from piling up. By breaking the cleaning into smaller tasks, I managed to get everything done without completely knocking myself out before I could enjoy the gleaming surfaces and open spaces.

The cooler weather definitely gives me more energy, and so when I dropped off bread and such at Local Roots this morning, I browsed the shelves and picked up eggplant and red peppers for preserving. I mean, how can I get through winter without a little bit of breaded eggplant for eggplant Parmesan -- and roasted red peppers for who knows what?


After lunch, I cut open the peppers and scooped out seeds, then placed the pieces on a parchment covered baking sheet. It took about half an hour at 425 F, but finally I had almost-broiled peppers that went straight into a plastic bag to steam.


The extra time in the oven, plus the steaming, made these peppers very easy to peel, so I made short work of it. I only bought four peppers, but that was enough to pack one smaller freezer box (labeled with the date and the farm from whence the peppers came).

I followed that with a tray of breaded eggplant, and that, too, will end up in the freezer (once I find a corner).


And what makes me even happier and ready to put up my feet than preserving a little more of the summer's bounty? That would be my new "baking" shoes, a cushiony pair of leather clogs that should make standing in the kitchen for long periods a whole lot easier.

And I had enough energy after all that to blog about it! (Though that might be thanks to the three cups of tea I had this morning...)

Is it any wonder I love cool days? I am so much more productive...

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