Saturday, December 5, 2009

Can Jam

Building off the success of the recent Canvolution, a group of bloggers is starting a Can Jam for 2010. Each month will focus on a fruit or veggie for canning and bloggers will share their experiences and recipes.

Clearly, I have to do this. Starts January 1.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving tacos

Our turkey was still frozen on Thursday, so we opted for Thanksgiving lamb tacos.

And, of course, margaritas.
The chickens, however, had a traditional pumpkin. The pumpkin is one of many from our garden which grew well due to chicken poop fertilizer.

Bill recently placed an order for 15 Narragansett turkeys to be delivered in April. The plan is to keep a few to breed, but to have a bunch of birds for Thanksgiving/Christmas, though not enough to make millions.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Apples in jars!

Today was apple day! We picked a few bags a couple of weeks ago and today turned them into curried apple chutney:
and apple maple jam (with our own maple syrup):
Bill claims that we have earned the right to survive the winter based on the amount of food we have in jars. I believe you can never have too many jams!!! I've got some pumpkin jams to make and perhaps a few more apple concoctions, but we're mostly done for the year.

This makes me quite giddy!

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Plums, pears and baking

We picked up half-bushels of pears and plums at the orchard this week. Unfortunately, neither is locally grown. The last time we got peaches we asked about their origin (as we didn't see any peach trees in the orchard) and learned they truck some fruit in. The fruit is delicious, however. A few pears ended up in apple-pear crisp and the plums have been made into butter, jam and chutney. We canned some of both fruits for winter baking.
This is the most amazing thing to happen to homemade jam since yogurt. Jammy shortbread stuff:

The recipe was shared with a canning group on Ravelry. It makes perfect use of one jar of jam (or can be doubled). Our first batch was with peach/cherry jam and it was ahmazing. Yeah, it takes two sticks of butter but just eat it. Trust me. Nom.

Shortbread Jam Squares

1 c. soft butter

1 c. sugar

1 egg

2 c. flour

3/4 cup pecans, chopped (optional)

1 half pint jar of jam or preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat on law scraping bowl often. Add egg and flour. Beat until crumbly. Stir in nuts if using. Separate 1 cup of the batter and set aside. Press the remaining dough into the bottom of a 9 inch square pan. Spread preserves to within 1/2 inch of the edges. Crumble the reserved dough over the preserves. Bake 40 - 50 minutes until light brown. Cool completely before cutting.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009


Last weekend we dove into our summer squash. We had too much to use effectively for one weekend, so we grated the extra squash, blotted it a little, portioned it into 1 cup sizes and put it in the freezer for winter use.
And we made some zucchini bread. 

This acorn squash was ready too. Bill roasted it and turned it into risotto with the chicken broth from our earlier adventures. It was all delicious!



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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Productive chickens

Despite a bit of drama with a red-tailed hawk in our chicken coop on Friday (we lost a hen), we have been making use of the productivity of the chickens.

We're consistently getting one egg a day now. So Bill has been enjoying one home grown egg and one store-bought egg for breakfast. It is hard to tell from the photo, but the yolk in our eggs is more orange AND, our eggs (on the left) are now roughly the size of those found in the store:

Last weekend we cooked one of our meat birds. Bill boiled the whole bird in a stock pot for about 8 hours. When he took it out, the meat all fell off the bones - half of it was slathered in Dinosaur and eaten on a hard roll and the other half had garden beans and carrots added to it, along with a bit of stock and cornstarch and was eaten over egg noodles.

Yesterday we made our first attempt at canning apples (u-picked from our local orchard) to keep for winter baking. We learned valuable lessons on "packing" the jars. The first two jars looked really full to me...but then we added the syrup and processed them:

From Pictures

We did a little better on the third but there are still lots of air bubbles. I think I need special canning implements (and practice) to perfect this technique.

From Pictures

We also made our first jelly from local apple cider and store bought cranberry juice. Jelly is so easy - and very pretty:

From Pictures

Finally, we were inspired by Julie and Julia to start baking our way through a cook book. Ours, however, was probably a Barnes and Noble bargain book, though it is very pretty (also, as it is a cookie book, we won't have to worry about boning ducks.). First up: bacon cornbread muffins.

Reading through Julie Powell's initial blog, I came across this, alternative view of food, which I found interesting. Thoughts?

Enough of the $40 olive oils and imported semolina flour and "please, Turkish oregano only." If I read one more dining guru gushing about "honest ingredients, treated with respect," I shall vomit, sir. And "Market Menus"? Dont get me started. The well-meant "food revolution" Alice Waters instigated some thirty years ago has metastasized horribly. The Victorians served Strawberries Romanoff in December; now we demonstrate our superiority by serving our organic, dewy heirloom strawberries only during the two-week period when they can be picked ripe off the vine at the boutique farm down the road from our Hamptons bungalow. People speak of gleaning the green markets for the freshest this, the thinnest that, the greenest or firmest or softest whatever, as if what they're doing is a selfless act of consummate care and good taste, rather than the privileged activity of someone who doesn't have to work for a living.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sunday, August 9, 2009

millions of peaches

Two weeks ago we got our second half-bushel of peaches from a local orchard. In addition to doubling our supply of peach butter, we made some honey-spiced peaches from the 2009 Ball Blue Book. After boiling the peaches in honey-sugar-water, we put them in jars and added cloves, cinnimon and allspice. I have high hopes for making some shortbread and turning them into delicious winter treats.

We also enjoyed our first ear of corn from the garden. We've been sharing it unwilingly with the indigo buntings. 

This morning we also shucked some coco rubico beans (and a pod of red kidneys). We have barely enough for a bowl of soup... next year we'll plant more. Now we know.


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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Local dinner

Thrusday night we had a lovely mostly local dinner of Farmers Market lamb steak and garden green beans (uncooked). 
The wine was not at all local (but it was good, which Indiana wine is not). 

Homemade bread with ginger-spiked peach butter that we made from local peaches for dessert.

Sugar approved as well - the sheep had lots of fatty edges, which were a nice treat for the dog. 

Today - we can more peaches! We bought a half-bushel (our second of the season) at the local orchard with plans to make honey-spiced peaches and more peach butter. 
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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Farmer's Market

Our farmer's market featured blueberries, cherries and corn from Vincennes, IN which is about 150 miles away. Not as local as it could be, but the market is new this year and features only a few vendors. We were talked into the cantaloupe. I've never particularly liked cantaloupe, but apparently they are far better if you buy them direct rather than in supermarkets. I'll let you know what we find out!

Bernie enjoys the corn husks:

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Community Supported Fisheries

Heard a story on NPR this afternoon about using the Community Supported Agriculture model for fisheries in the north east.

Buying and eating fish always stresses me out because of the double worries about health and environmental consequences. The long-lasting guilt factor alone limits my sushi intake to about twice a year.

This seems like a possible solution to the environmental issues at least and, according to the story, the group organizing the program provides education for their consumers so they should have a place to go to get health questions answered. It has been well received with 500 people on a wait list to join the program.

Check it out!

Garden status

Our garden, and lots of weeds, are growing. We are experimenting with hay mulch in the tomato patch (which has 27 plants at last count). Apparently, if the hay is thick enough - piled about 8 inches to start - even the seeds within the hay will not be able to grow.

This plant is a muskmellon called Vine Peach, which is an old fruit - good for jellies. We read that it is small and so aromatic that ladies would carry it in their pockets as a perfume in the days before regular bathing.

Corn - chest high by the 1st of July:

Not including the 27 intended tomato plants, we have a bunch of "volunteer" plants (as Bill calls them) growing in last year's garden. While the entire space has been devoted to squash and corn this year, we grew seriously yum heirloom tomatoes in this spot last year and are hoping the plants produce a repeat harvest.

Of course, Bill and Sugar spend much of their days being very cute:

Friday, June 19, 2009

Food, Inc.

There is a new documentary out this summer called “Food, Inc.” I don’t really want to see it, but felt a little guilty about that decision until Pajiba - my most favorite movie review site - gave me an out by saying “Food, Inc. is that warm smug self-satisfaction that comes with having a Trader Joe’s reuseable bag full of five dollar tomatoes.” And perhaps a blog about sustainable food?

So, I haven’t seen this movie, though we may Netflix it. I’ve only watched the preview and read some reviews. I’m going to talk about it anyway…

The movie seems to take a dash of food-related ideas that have been known for years, and combines with beautiful/shocking/inspiring visuals to goad people into actions they didn’t take when they initially learned the ideas without the beautiful/shocking/inspiring visuals. Maybe this works? But my cynical self seems to think it won’t do much beyond giving the hipster crowd fun new things to talk about over organic wine and stinky cheese. (Which, BTW, is a great activity, but perhaps detracts from useful action on these issues.)

Shocking thing you already know #1: Corn is subsidized by Uncle Sam (thanks for paying taxes!) and is in everything. Are there people who are not yet aware of high-fructose corn syrup?

Shocking thing you already know #2
: Fast food/slaughterhouses are assembly lines and seriously, seriously gross. The inclusion of footage from slaughterhouses is one of the main reasons I, myself, have no desire to see this movie. This is for many reasons (including the fact that I sat through K-Pax) but mostly because I have slaughtered my own chickens and made the commitment to only purchase other meat from small or local family farms. We have found this to be the absolute easiest modification to our food purchasing habits. I will admit that I don’t pay as much attention to meat when I am eating out. We still occasionally eat at Olive Garden and I’ll bet their chicken is likely gross. And what are the possibilities that the cashier at Five Guys knows what their beef was fed? I think I’ll have to work on this…

Shocking thing you already know #3: Big Agribusiness is in it for the money. Disclosure: Big Agribusiness pays for my house. The film spends a lot of time talking about Monsanto owning patents on the “biology inside” the GM crops it produces which is an argument that has been a talking point of anti-GM lobby for years.

I also take serious issue with the idea that you can’t eat well inexpensively. Bill and I had a grocery budget of $30/week when he was a grad student. We were able to eat plenty of fine food without resorting to BK and Taco Bell.

There is something that seems to be absent from the reviews and previews that I’ve seen – the idea that we could not sustain 6-7 billion people on this planet without industrial agriculture. I wonder if the movie includes any consideration of the things we enjoy in life that are made possible specifically because we designate a small number of people to produce lots of cheap food for the rest of us. I would hypothesize that a well considered list would include such things as the women being able to “work outside the home,” children going to school for 9 months a year, a lack of serfdom and movie theaters for independent documentaries.

So, this movie isn’t so much for me. And I’m not entirely sure what my beef with it is…perhaps I’m just annoyed that it throws a glaring spotlight on the idea that people have been eating under this system for so long and not paying attention.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

First Harvest

This blurry picture represents a transition of our garden from "place to get snack" to a productive source of food for a time that is not now. 

The radishes will be eaten this week, for sure. I was thinking of getting a brownie from Starbucks to compliment my lunch tomorrow, but instead, I'll have some radishes.

The peas (sugar and snow) have been put in the freezer to be used in stir fry and other dishes. I am not really a fan of cooked veggies, personally, but I believe that being a responsible eater means making a few sacrafices. It is dandy to live in a time when I can get a "3,000 mile" Ceasar salad every day of the week, but if I want to live in what I consider a more environmentally responsible and self-sufficent manner, I'm going to have to eat some damn cooked peas.   

Beans, lettuce and oats are on track to be the next harvest. 
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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Homegrown snacks

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Tacos, tequila, radishes

Last night we had tacos and tequila. The lamb from the tacos was local from Zen Sheep Farm within the 50 mile radius of our house. We picked it up at a Friday night farmers market at Traders Point Creamery, which is very near Bill's work. I think we'll be going back often.

Last night's festivities means we aren't really interested in eating a lot tonight. Dinner, therefore is garden radishes and french onion dip. The radishes are a bit bloated from all the rain we've been getting - plump but not very flavorful.

Monday, May 11, 2009

And then there were nine


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