Friday, June 26, 2009

One Local Summer ~ Week #4 Goat Cheese Pizza

I decided to combine my OLS meal with our monthly Slow Food Community Potluck. We are one of seven Slow Food Convivia in Massachusetts. Everyone brings a dish made with as many local ingredients as they can muster along with their own place setting and beverage. Sometimes, if there is a small crowd, we will go around the room and share with everyone the local ingredients we used in our dishes ... Sometimes when it is crowded, like it was last night, there will just a be a few words to remind us of the three simple guiding concepts of the movement: GOOD, CLEAN and FAIR.

I decided to make a pizza using goat cheese from local goats, tomato sauce from tomatoes I had canned last season, spring onions, hot house tomatoes and basil from Morning Glory Farm, and some garlic scapes that I roasted on the grill before putting on the pizza.In acquiring my goat cheese I went through the charade of "receiving a gift" from the farmer. In fact, all the places I buy local cheese here the drill is something like this. You pull up to the farm, walk into the room where there are one or two refrigerators. On at least one fridge will be the sign. "This cheese could kill you." OR "This cheese is NOT for sale." You open the fridge, take the cheese, and make a contribution in the coffee can. In order to be able to sell cheese legally one farmer told me it would take an investment of $65,000 in upgrades and THAT is with USED equipment.

So I got to reflecting on the GOOD CLEAN and FAIR of this situation. The cheese sure is GOOD. It is fresh and tasty. Is it CLEAN? Well here is where the government and I differ on the meaning of CLEAN. This herd of goats is well cared for in a sustainable setting, and the petroleum used to get it to me would have been nil if I had ridden my bike to the farm. Is it STERILE? Well not to government standards. And because of that this farmer has decided to sell off some of his herd, because unless he makes the $65,000 investment, there is no way he can market his cheese.

So is that FAIR? It seems there ought to be a line we can walk in this country that understands that there can be a balance between the rules we make for agribusiness and the rules we make for small, sustainable farms. No, I do not want to get sick from cheese. But is this all or nothing approach the answer?

But enough of this ... Here's to communities gathering together to celebrate GOOD, CLEAN, FAIR food.

Friday, June 19, 2009

OLS ~ Week #3 Chicken Cacciatore

This week's meal began back in February when I heard by email from our local pasture raised chicken purveyor that he would be raising 5 rounds of chickens this summer. I signed up for a certain number of birds based on what I thought my needs would be on the dates that were set. I also agreed to front a deposit on each bird for start-up costs. I love seeing a new generation of farmers working the land. And I like have local chickens to buy when I can.I left with four birds in a feed sack and a dozen eggs. Then Doug took me out to see the next round of chicks in the field.I also got to see some baby goats.I decided to make a chicken cacciatore with what little else my spring garden could provide. I pulled up some onions, garlic scapes, some young garlic, some rosemary and parsley, and two jars of tomatoes I had canned from last summer's garden.To this I added a side dish of fresh spinach from Morning Glory Farm and the 10 snap peas I could forage from the pea vines. It was scrumptious !!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Something New

So last month I learned that blueberries have an aroma. THIS month I learned what a black locust looks like in bloom. How have I gone all my life not seeing this beauties in the spring?

Then today I was in the garden and I looked over and there was this oak tree FILLED with GIGANTIC leaves. This puppy is over a foot long !!! That is a quarter in the middle of the leaf to give you an idea of its size. How have I not seen these before?

Friday, June 12, 2009

One Local Summer ~ Week #2

Once again this year, Farm to Philly is hosting the One Local Summer Challenge. This is my third year participating and due to a mid summer absence, my participation will be spotty, but I like the discipline it enforces.
Did I miss week #1 you ask? Afraid there was no post last week. But now I am finally in the saddle and taking advantage of the last of my asparagus harvest. This week's meal is vegetarian. Stir-fried asparagus and garlic scapes, a bowl of asparagus soup (sprig of mint from the garden), and mint sun tea as my beverage.I make the asparagus soup from the ends of the asparagus that you snap off. When I get a pound of ends in the fridge then I make the soup. This recipe is built around one from Joy of Cooking.

Asparagus Soup

1 pound asparagus

1/2 cup celery
1/4 onion

4 cups water

1 Knorr bullion cube

Cook the ingredients until asparagus is soft. Let it cool. Puree in a blender and run the pureed mixture through a food mill. The recipe calls for you to add flour and cream ans stuff, but I like it just the way it is with maybe a dollop of sour cream.I don't think I have to explain the mint sun tea, do I? But if you have lemon verbena in the garden it is a nice addition.

With the exception of the celery and the Knorr bullion cubes, all of the ingredients came from my garden.


I watched the film HOME on You Tube the other day and I must say its message is powerful and its cinematography is stunning. It is the work of Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Whatever your level of commitment is to living and eating sustainably, this movie will offer new insights, not just through its narrative, but through the power of its images. Yann takes us above our home planet just high enough for us to see it in a new way ... to love it in a new way ... to commit to it with renewed focus. And in the process you fall in love all over again.

Check it out here:

An hour and a half is a big chunk out of your day ... so take it in 30 minute chunks ... oh and don't forget to watch the credits ... they are beautiful visuals of the countries of the world. Here is the image for the Netherlands.And here is the link to the follow-up website

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hey Hey

Up 30 degrees in one day !!! Not bad. Just for fun I took the thermometer over to the pile of fresh grass clippings.Now THIS is cooking !!! I am tempted to wrap a fish in aluminum foil and cook it in here !!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Compost ~ OR~

I used this morning to energize my compost operation that takes kitchen scraps.I began by turning out a wheelbarrow full half-digested garbage.Next I sprinkled some compost activator and wetted down the pile with a hose. I repeated that process as I returned the contents of the wheelbarrow to the bin stopping to sprinkle more magic dust and wet it down along the way.Finally I stuck my new compost thermometer in the pile to get a baseline temperature reading. A measly 72 degrees. Let's see what tomorrow brings

Monday, June 08, 2009

The beanstalk

I hauled the two rustic bean trellises I had made out of the cellar and went to work planting climbing beans. One trellis will be sporting Vermont Cranberry Beans and the other a mixture of Scarlet Runner Beans and Lynch Speckled Butter Beans."Ah! You don't know what these beans are," said the man. "If you plant them overnight, by morning they grow right up to the sky."

"Really?" said Jack. "You don't say so."

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Learning from Friends

My friend Marianne expanded her garden this year. It is filled with rich composted soil and a large part of it is dedicated to growing pumpkins for the grandkids big pumpkin carving party next fall. The fence is adequately tall to keep out the deer. She is using little collars on all of her tender seedlings to protect from cutworm, she has light row cover on her carrots and her greens, and the tomatoes are toasty cozy in their wall-o-waters.She is going to try to harvest corn from this garden. That is its only flaw in my opinion. Sure she can grow corn. We can all grow corn. She can grow it right up to harvest ... but I guarantee the raccoons are going to use that fence like a ladder once the corn is ripe and human harvest will remain illusive.

But what a miracle to share with grandkids ... who cares if the raccoons get there first.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Garlic and Sweet Potatoes

My garlic crop is coming along nicely. The hardnecks are putting up scapes and all the plants look green and healthy. It is hard to believe that NOW is the time to order for next year ... but it is. In fact, Filaree Farm is already out of Montana Giant and Youghiogheny Purple for planting this fall.

I have a little plan for maximizing garden space this summer.Inside my softnecked garlic bed I have interplanted sweet potato slips. The theory is that the garlic will be harvested BEFORE any growth would have taken place below ground. Then I leave the bed to the sweet potato vines, drown them regularly in Bobbex to keep the deer away and harvest my sweet potatoes just before I need to plant next year's garlic crop.

Friday, June 05, 2009


Because I will be gone for a big chunk of July, I have given over more of the garden to root crops this year. This has cut down on the space for tomatoes. Nonetheless, I do have 24 plants in the ground. Here in no particular order:

Better Boy (8) - These plants always are reliable producers.

Costolutto Genovese (4) - These are wonderful looking tomatoes and often produce early fruit
Costolutto Genovese (2007)

Red Brandywine (4) - These are probably the most finicky of the plants I have chosen this year. I hope the calcium I added to their compost will help me avoid blossom drop.

Big Zac (4) - These are taste wonderful and at least two of the plants I will dedicate to producing a "biggest tomato" contestant for the Fair.

Sweet Millions (4) - I didn't grow cherry tomatoes last year, and I MISSED them. THey are already showing fruit.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


I have not had a very good track record as an orchard keeper. The winter moth infestation of a few years ago set my little trees back considerably. But I have always been intrigued by apples especially after reading Michael Pollan's Botany of Desire. I wish that I could indulge in those mysterious apple varieties that you read about in the Fedco Tree Catalogue, but I am in a region FILLED with red cedars and must draw my varieties from those few varieties resistant to cedar apple rust.

So I decided this year I would get some help with my trees. I turned to a little kit provided by Garden's Alive designed to help renovate lagging apple trees. It is on the pricey side, but I bought it on one of their dead of winter "25% off today" offers. It consists of all the organic fertilizer and pest treatments I will need for at least two seasons. I began in late April with weeding and fertilizing. Then I followed the little sheet that came with the kit. The results have been pretty stunning. God bless the bees ... they found me during blossom time and rewarded me with copious fruit which I have thinned back considerably.

And we have FRUIT !!!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Once a Day Challenge

OK I am trying to get back in the blogging saddle here. But as we all well know this time of year there is LOTS to say and no time to write it. BUT I will commit to a post a day for the next week. And I will start with an update on the artichokes. They did NOT successfully overwinter in the Wall-o-Waters. It was a particularly brutal winter here.

When I dug up the bed to plant this years seedlings I pulled out a HUGE root system that was dead a doornail. Here it is posing on the top of my gate.

And here are this year's seedlings in their new bed. I planted the annual variety of Green Globe this year BECAUSE I waited too long to order and couldn't get he perennial varieties.