Monday, September 29, 2008

Micheal Pollan speaking locally...

If you want to think about what you eat this may be for you...

Micheal Pollan is speaking
At Finney Chapel
Oberlin College
Tuesday, October 28, 2008, 8 p.m.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Today's share...

This week's share... about 1 lb beet roots, 1 lg slicing tomatoe, 4 plum tomatoes, a couple parsnips, 1 nice head of lettuce, 2 red onions, 1 yellow onion, 8 mixed sweet heirloom peppers, 6 apples, and 2 pounds of potatoes...

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Maple Syrup...

We are coming into, what I consider, maple syrup weather! The spring is great and the syrup fresh, but we so quickly go into warm days where the heaviness of it is almost (ALMOST!) to much. Plus right about the time we get our syrup is when we are usally to busy to make big production breakfasts, which is where maple syrup shines!

Why and I thinking this? Today I read that an estimated 90% of Americans have never tasted real maple syrup! 90%?!?! They don't even know what they are missing! People of North east onio do not be a statistic (although if you are reading this you are unlikely to be.)

Hubby and I go through over a gallon a year... That may seem excessive, but much of that goes into recipies for fall entertaining. Our use did spike two years ago when we found this recipie Cranberry-Maple Pudding Cake in Bon-Appeit. The tartness of the cranberries is a perfect balance for the maple, and this dish has become the "Impress the company" breakfast, so we made a double batch a few times a year and when using maple syrup a cup at a time it goes fast... ((Sadley this recipie is only good with cranberries, as far as we can tell, although we are meaning to try gooseberries!))

So if you don't want your family in other, deprived parts of the country, to be part of the 90% why not consider buying some bottles of maple syrup for christmas gifts. Now would be a great time of year to get them when you are getting apples and pumpkins this October...

Now excuse me, I have some pancakes to enjoy....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


what veggie will i grow up to be? If there is enough time...

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Here is a Great fall dish!

Onion Panade
(Heather’s Notes: This is one of our favorite winter dishes… It makes a hearty soup that is more like a wonderful casserole then a soup. Thick and full and perfect for a cool day. If you don’t make this recipe now, save it, it may become one of your winter standby’s as it did ours…)

1 1/2 lbs onions (about four cups, sliced), peeled and sliced
1/4 cup butter plus 2 tbsps, or olive oil
2 - 3 thyme sprigs
1/3 loaf day old country style bread, sliced
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 Gruyere cheese
3-4 cups chicken or vegetable, or beef broth

1. Heat oil in heavy bottomed pan and onions and thyme. Cook over medium low heat until quite soft, about 30 minutes. Turn the heat up slightly and cook the onions, stirring occasionally until a medium golden brown, about 15 minutes. Don't turn the heat up too high as onions burn easily. Add salt to taste.

2. While onions are cooking, place the slices of bread on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven until dry but not brown, about 5 minutes.

3. Grate and mix two cheese together.

4. Make a layer of bread slices in the bottom of a 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Spread half the onions onto the bread slices and sprinkle with about one third of the cheese. Make another layer of bread slices and cover with the rest of the cheese. Make a final layer of bread slices and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

5. Heat the broth and carefully pour it into the baking dish without disturbing the layers, until the top layer of bread starts to float. Dot the top with 2 tablespoons of butter.

6. Cover and bake in a 350°F oven for 45 minutes, then uncover the dish and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and crisp.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A couple ounces of basil, 4+ pounds tomatoes, 1 large lettuce head, two red onions, one white onion, 12 jalepenos, 2 horn of the bull peppers, 1 bell pepper, 1 yellow pepper, 8 small apples, and 3/4 lb of fingerling potatos...

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Let the winds blow!

Sunday was a windy pickup! Over a million people were left without power and four people died. In Ohio, not Texas! Winds over 60 miles per hour blew and trees came down!

We were pretty lucky, we lost lots of branches but no trees and no damage. We even kept power, which is a minor miracle, as our power comes up our road from the valley, through a windy wooded road. One of my coworkers, is still without power, as of Tuesday afternoon, they are saying it may be Friday before they get everyone back up, as his house has a well, that means no water either, and his kids are out of school...

We went outside and watched the trees blow and sway. It was beautiful... Of particular interest was a hornets nest hanging about eye level off a branch in the chicken yard. The thing was flying around, and I was just waiting for it to hit the ground. It came within inches!

I was keeping half an eye for it all the time, because I just knew that if it hit the ground all the hornets would bubble out and I would get stung, even if I was across the yard, they would find me... I have a fear of stinging insects which is pretty new, sense a bee sting sent me to the ER in a coughing, wheezing, and hive ridden mess in 2006.

In any case the wind was amazing, the power of nature, having traveled 1,400 miles and still bringing down tree limbs. It kind of humbles one (and reminds me NEVER to move close to ocean...)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Other's HFCS blogs...

HA! I am not alone in my grumpyness regarding the recent HFCS ads...

Read these if you'd like more info on the truth of HFCS...

5 minutes for going green blog
Mama K NJ blog

Sunday, September 14, 2008

after 4.5 inches of rain in 4 days picking is a muddy mess...

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

"A Sweet Suprise"?

Today I saw am add for high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). See here... I almost fell off my chair. I paused it and called CSA-Farmer Hubby in to watch it...

The commercial shows two moms at a party.

Mom 1: (happily pouring drinks into a cup.)
Mom 2: (accusingly) "Wow, you don't care what the kids eat, huh?"
Mom 1: (pleasantly) "Excuse me?"
Mom 2: (patronizing) "That has High Fructose Corn Syrup in "
Mom 1: (pleasantly) "And..."
Mom 2: (confused) "Well you know what they say about it..."
Mom 1: (pleasantly) "Like what?"
Mom 2: (Doesn't know what to say, stammers) "You know that it..."

Mom 1 (still pleasantly and like she is taking to a child): "That it is made from corn, doesn't have artificial ingredients, and like sugar is fine in moderation..."

Mom 2, unable to respond, picks up a glass and drinks, changing the subject.

Funny thing is that the way the world works these days is that a lot of half truths never seem to add up to the truth.

Believe me, I KNOW that giving up HFCS is hard. It was one of the first major dietary changes we made. It pushed us to cooking much of our food and forced us to organics in lots of items (tomato sauce, ketchup, ice cream, more) and home or small producer made in others (jellies, jams, breads, baked goods, more.) With the possible exception of giving up CAFO meats, it was the hardest dietary change we have made...

The piece states that the three things (1: it is made from corn; 2: it doesn't have artificial ingredients; 3: it like sugar is fine in moderation) equal one truth: Don't let the scare mongers scare you, it is fine!

This scare monger will say one thing to you before I start on the rest of this post: it is not going to kill you (or even hurt you) if you use a little bit of it once and a while, so if someone brings something to office, help yourself, you will be fine. But the message I got out of the commercial was "Don't worry about it, it's in stuff but its no big deal, sugar's in stuff to!"

So lets start at the beginning:

1. It's made from corn: . If you have a picture in your head of a corn mill somewhere where sweet corn is being squeezed for its juice which is then processed and refined, get that out of your head. The process is nothing as simple as squeezing sugar canes or beets for their juice and refining it (although that to is a complicated process and a reason we are eating more and more organic cane sugar.) It is a multi-stepped process requiring vats enzymes, and sophisticated processing facilities, there is a reason people did not start making it until the 1970s!
This article from the Weston Price Foundation explains the process.
Just a note, Being made from corn, does not mean we should, eat it. They make plastics from corn, ethanol is made from corn (glass of gas anyone?), and many packaging materials have corn starch... That sounds like a yummy lunch to me...

2. It doesn't have artificial ingredients. I guess it depends entirely on how you define "artificial." But the USDA has determined that it is not a "natural" ingredient... So I guess my question is if not natural then what? Or maybe the argument is that it IS an artificial ingredient and does not have any others in it, I'm not sure...

3. It's fine in moderation, like sugar. Lots of things we choose not to eat are fine in moderation. Lard for example is fine in moderation. Does that mean I want to give my kids a glass of lard juice?

The corollary argument made else where in the campaign is that it is nutritionally the same as sugar. This argument is made, I suppose, because table sugar is nothing more the calories from a purely nutritional standpoint, and HFCS is carefully formulated to the same calories per gram as table sugar. However, many people have suggested that the sugars in table sugar do not compare to the double whammy of HFCS.

The fact is we are not consuming it in moderation, and it is in almost everything. If tomorrow all the HFCS was removed from your grocery store shelves... Well you'd be shopping in the ethnic aisle mostly with a little help from canned veggies, fruit packed in water, and the organic section. The snack food, bread, convience food, frozen food, and refrigerated food areas would be decimated. But the fact is that we are not so much substituting HFCS syrup for sugar as adding it to... Our national sweet tooth is growing... Do an experiment. Try to go a week without using any product with it (be sure to read all labels) and see how moderate your use of it really is...

I guess my point is, you should make your own decision, but from facts, not from a 30 second commercial telling you it is OK or (what is in some circles now) a trendy choice. Know your reasons...

Here is some more research for you to do:
Gotta love Wikipedia
List of products
Finally read the Omnivore's Dilemma (or listen to it on your iPod,) Pollen has a long section on HFCS.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I wonder, should I write a poem
or let my ideal fancies roam,
On evils done a day so near at hand.

Yet, iron birds still do fly
daily migrations through the sky,
Carrying people all throughout this land.

And of the forest of towers which we rose
just two were fallen by those ancient foes,
Anger, hate, despair.

So why is it that still today,
I want to turn and run away,
My heart still fills with fear,
It all still seems so near.
CSA-farmer girl, 09-11-02

Take a minute today to remember what happened, where you were, how you felt.
Take a minute to say a prayer. Take a minute to meditate.
Thank a service member (past or present) for helping to preserve of freedom.

Remember how we said that we'd never forget?

Never forget.

(P.S. I never claimed to be a great (or even good) poet, so please limit critiques...)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


So this past weekend we did a little canning. We made salsa and pizza sauce. I thought I'd take you through the process...

First thing to do is to sterilize your jars. Our dishwasher has a sanitizing cycle, so that really makes it easy. This may look like a lot of jars but we ran two cycles that day...
Then it is time to prep the tomatoes. First, you blanch them by tossing them in boiling water for a minute or so and then in ice water. The skins should come right off...

After that you need to core them.

We ended up cooking a full bushel (actually a bit more) that day, so I was very glad of our new toy... You just throw tomatoes (skins and all) in the top and it skins and seeds them. We did about 75% of the tomatoes this way, doing 25% the old fashioned way so our salsa would have some tomato chunks.Then there is a LOT of seeding and chopping. With hubby and I working together it went quicker, but was still a couple good hours of work. Here is hubby chopping the five cups of diced jalapenos I needed for one of the three recipes we made...

When all that is done comes the easier part of the job, cooking the salsa. But when you are doing 15 pint batches...
That is a lot of salsa, and a lot of stirring. This is where our high BTU gas stove shines, when cooking 15 pints of salsa (which started as 20 some, as we reduced it by about 1/3rd.)

Then all you have to do is stick it in the jars (which we do to quickly to get photos, ensuring hot and clean jars) and put it in the not water bath. Our new one will hold 9 quarts (or nine pints) at a time, so each batch of salsa and the pizza sauce required 2 runs of the bath. To make it quicker, we do it outside on a turkey fryer burner, which will boil the water in 10 minutes, and keep the water roiling even after adding the jars.
In the end we worked from about 2 until about 10 and we ended up with quite a few jars!

Although to be honest, a couple dozen of these were previously canned pepper rings and jam, but over 50 pints of salsa and pizza sauce. Not bad for a day's work... The sad thing is we need not only do we need to do another 36 or so pints of salsa but also need to do 48 or more QUARTS of sauce, a project for another weekend (or two.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Downy mildew...

Why is it that I have not been able to grow cucumbers this year? We have planted twice this year, early (in June) and late (in late July.) Both times we planted a couple hundred feet in each of our two fields. They all died.

Out of the June plants we got a handful of fruit, maybe 80 total, before the plants succumbed. We did our best to keep them alive, we sprayed them with organic fungicide a couple times (options for these products are limited and expensive) but without success.

I fear the culprit is downy mildew, to which cucumbers are particularly susceptible and which thrive in cooler wet weather, like the weather we had this spring and early summer. Unfortunately, conventional wisdom says once you see the outbreak it is to late. The cure is spraying fungicides on your crops regularly, before an outbreak. But one of the hallmarks of natural production is that you do not treat a problem that does not exist. Scout and treat. Don't use fungicides and pesticides you don't need!

As our CSA members know this has not been a year for either squash or cucumbers. Most of our summer squash was also infected, which has limited our harvest to very small amounts of all but one very hearty heirloom zucchini (which our CSA members know well by now!) And unfortunately, our winter squash is also not doing well and the melons all had to be tilled under (no fruits at all!)

The Ohio State extension confirms that this disease which will not overwinter in our climate and was once considered only a late summer problem in Ohio, when some of the spores made their way up this far born on winds from hurricanes was spotted in Ohio (Medina, Erie, Summit, and other northern counties) as early as June this year. The theory, I gather, is that it is overwintering in Canadian greenhouses, which is why it is seen so much in Northern Ohio and not as much in southern Ohio.

So what can we do? First, we can take a little solace in the knowledge that it cannot overwinter, so future contamination will be from the wind and not our soil, even in areas which have been previously infected. Secondly, next year we will have to start a preventive spraying program on all our cucumbers, melons, winter squash, summer squash, and pumpkins. This will be expensive (as organic options for fungal control are limited.) It also goes a little against what we try to do, however we have had severe losses this year and while risk is part of being a CSA member, it's our responsibility as CSA farmers to do whatever in our power to reduce that risk.

So a sprayer for the tractor is defiantly on the list of purchases for next year.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

My problem with canning...

On Labor Day we enjoyed a rare day of almost off-ness... No "real jobs" and not much work in the garden, except for the omnipresent (these days) watering. (I am so eager for the irrigation system next season will bring! Turn on a pump and water!)

I did get some canning done, but here is the problem, why is it that all of the recipes I like seem to be "fun" things and not staples? So far I have 3 dozen or so jars done and NO STAPLES! I have TONS of pepper rings, lots of plum jam, and now 7 jars of Peach Rum Sauce! While very yummy, you will never open a jar and eat it (I HOPE!), it will go mainly on ice-cream and maybe on Belgian Waffles... I do have to say that I was planning on canning some Peaches in light syrup, but the peaches we had were small and almost impossible to peel (maybe not ripe enough?) I have been freezing peppers so we should have enough of those for the winter.

Eventually I will need to can more of what we will eat. I am planning at least 30 quarts of tomato sauce, and 12 quarts of just tomatoes. I also want 12-24 pints of salsa. I'd like to can some pears, plums, and peaches in syrup. I'd like to make some apple pie filling and some apple sauce!

With all that I should be able to eat some local fruit and veggies this winter. Now all I need is a pressure canner (if I am brave enough to venture into low acid foods!) and TIME to actually do it all...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Is brown the new green?

I found this great post on Hen and Harvest's blog...

My favorite quote is:

Mike Rowe had it right when he said: “Brown is the color of dirt, and dirt is the color of Earth. Under the blue ocean, the green forest, and yellow sun, there is always brown – a combination of all the primary colors. Steadfast. Fundamental. Unglamorous. Our food grows in the brown. Our bodies return to the brown. Without brown, there is no growth. There is no green.”

I live my life surrounded by "green." I work at a firm specializing in sustainable design and work in a building with solar panels and a LEED Gold certification. I come home and with my husband grow non-legally organic but naturally grown and sustainably managed produce for a small CSA supporting 38 families this year. We buy our milk, meat, and flour from local farmers or a co-op we belong to. We manage our carbon footprint and reuse products and try to avoid the lure of our consumer culture. We keep our house pretty cool in the winter and warm in the summer, we only have compact fluorescent light bulbs and Energy Star appliances. We recycle and we compost. We watch what plastics we use and what chemicals we clean our house with (when I have time to clean it at all!) I am trying to freeze, can and root cellar more items this year, so this winter we can still eat local, using other local farmers when our supply falls short of our demand.

But I feel green has been co-opted as little more than a marketing ploy. Maybe, just maybe, I am more brown then green. Somehow it seems to fit better, when my one week old work boots already look scuffed, old and dirty, when I cannot seem to get all the dirt from under my nails, when my tub has a brown ring after I shower, when I pull potatoes from the ground, and when I try to live my life close to the earth and not close to the marketers telling me which "green" product I can no longer do without?

Maybe, just like local is the new organic; maybe brown is the new green?