Thursday, December 18, 2008

Help Fund the Cincinnati Neighborhood Gardens Program

The city of Cincinnati is considering eliminating all funding for the Neighborhood Gardens Program, which assists low- and moderate-income neighborhoods develop vacant lots into gardens. Forty-two community gardens with over 600 gardeners provide outreach to over 2000 residents, supplementing their food budgets with fresh produce and as a side benefit helping clean up and maintain neighborhoods.

The program's budget is $40,000 for 2009 and another $40,000 for 2010. To help save the program, you can sign the online petition. The petition includes possible solutions for funding the program.

Just Cured Available at Kroger, Dorothy Lane Market

Starting Friday December 19th, Just Cured smoked salmon and gravlax will be available in select Kroger stores in the Greater Cincinnati area. The initial stores to carry the salmon are:

Kenwood (Fresh Fare by Kroger)
Hyde Park
Harper's Point
Blue Ash

Just Cured is also now available at the three Dorothy Lane Market locations in Dayton.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Boulder Belt's Farm Share Program

Boulder Belt has updated the page for their 2009 Farm Share program (which is similar to a CSA but has some important differences from most CSAs.) For more information, visit their site.

Monday, December 15, 2008

thefoodpeople: Local Still Big for 2009

thefoodpeople (a UK-based food trends research firm) predicts the Big Food trends for 2009 in the UK. Most of their predictions (transferred here with their original British spellings) probably also apply to the US or can be interpreted for the US:

  1. Comfort food - Incorporating retro, nostalgia, feel good foods of the past, treats;
  2. Scratch cooking and home baking - More cooking from raw ingredients, cheaper cuts, also more cakes, tray bakes, sponges not just because it saves money but also it makes you feel great;
  3. British - British will continue to be big – British regions, traditions, ingredients, breeds and species; [editor: translate this to the US as "Local will continue to be big."]
  4. Less protein - Less protein on plates, it is expensive and also there are so many possibilities with vegetable accompaniments;
  5. Head to tail - Eating more of our fish, meat and vegetables and throwing less away, using new and forgotten recipes to utilise more of the animal, a principle that can be applied to anything;
  6. Sustainable meat and fish - More about new varieties and those that we should be eating more of – rock fish, gurnard, flounder, mahi mahi;
  7. Changing drinking habits - Drinking at home rather than out in pubs and restaurants, also big in drink is beer, cider and cocktails;
  8. Thirst for food skills and knowledge - More entry level cookery schools teaching the basics and how to get the best out of what you have;
  9. Restaurant and farm alliances - Savvy restaurateurs teaming up with farms to bring the consumers food that they know and trust;
  10. More miniaturisation - More things getting smaller – greater choice, less cost, more variety, more cute factor;
  11. More customisation - More brands and businesses offering consumers the opportunity to customise or tailor their goods, products or services;
  12. Health - Instant nutrition, ultra low calorie, health through natural choices.
Emerging Food trends for 2009:
  1. Beauty foods - Foods that enhance your inner or outer beauty;
  2. Raw food - Foods that are raw and retain all of their natural goodness, raw food diets;
  3. Free food - Incorporating foraging, freeganism, growing your own, fishing;
  4. Bistronomics - Avant garde cuisine at bistro prices by using what’s in season, not throwing anything away and using modern cooking techniques;
  5. Next generation desserts - With less sugar, more flavour from the ingredients and a blur with savoury;
  6. More food by mail - More foods delivered to you, personalised as you need / want them by post;
  7. Sous vide - Use of sous vide to deliver convenience, consistency and quality as well as colour, flavour, texture to chefs and industry;
  8. Community food projects - Power to the people, groups of people sharing land, skills and knowledge to share food within communities;
  9. Modernised and interpreted cuisines - Look out for Greek, African, Mexican, Indian and Scandinavian influences in 2009;
  10. Anti (this and that) foods - Foods that fight certain conditions and aliments;
  11. Fun - Introduction of more fun, personality and informality into brands and the dining room;
  12. Multi sensory emotional food experiences - Use of alternative techniques to cook, serve, present food to deliver a more all encompassing food experience that is multi sensory.
Here's hoping the trends toward eating local, scratch cooking, eating more sustainably, developing cooking skills, and restaurant/farm alliances turn out to be more than just trends.

All I want for Christmas is…

A compost bin!!

No jewelry. No cashmere.

Just somewhere to recycle ALL that vegetable refuse that I produce over the year instead of putting it in (gulp!) my garbage can on its way to the landfill! My husband (bless him!) delivered my lovely black, rotating bin early. Along with a book called “Let It Rot! A Gardener’s Guide to Composting” by Stu Campbell for some holiday reading by the fire! I generate a LOT of green waste and each time I place that in my kitchen garbage can, I cringe. Living in a suburban neighborhood, with manicured lawns on each side, left us with no place to build a bin intended for rotting refuse.

My husband came through with an Enviro-Cycle Composter bin that rotates easily on a roller base. From the operational guide, you can compost year-round, and in the winter, apparently, freezing breaks down fibers readily so you’re ready for some fine decomposition in the spring. As a lovely accessory, I also get a stainless steel pail to store my veggie waste until I have enough to make the trip outside worthwhile! I have a lot to learn – but after glancing at the guide, I realize I need 50% ‘brown’ refuse to mix with my green. Brown material includes leaves, grass clippings, straw, shredded paper … I’m thinking that sounds like a job for one of my kids. I’m sure I can hold up my end of the bargain producing the green!

After 10 years as a CSA sharer, I don’t know how I’ve existed this long without one! I hope you get exactly what you wish for this Holiday as well! I’m going to go peel some carrots for lunch so I can get started…..

Beef Short Ribs in the Slow Cooker

Although I have five of them in different sizes, I'm not a huge fan of the crockpot. There always seems to be a better way to cook almost everything, and I use mine mostly for making oatmeal overnight and for keeping food warm as an alternative to chafing dishes and warming trays. (At Thanksgiving, I had one full of gravy and another full of mashed potatoes.) But for cooking tough cuts of meat when you don't have time to babysit the oven for hours, a crockpot does a great job.

I had some great-looking beef short ribs from Green Acres. I've made beef short ribs in the oven before and always seem to end up drying them out, so this time I decided to try the crockpot. To go with, I made some mashed sweets and sauteed chard, both from last week's winter CSA box, so this turned out to be a 99%+ local meal. Even the leeks (the last of a bunch I'd bought late spring from Boulder Belt at Oxford Farmers' Market and frozen), beef stock (homemade) and butter (from our herdshare) were local. Which sort of underscores the point that eating locally isn't difficult after you've been doing it a while. I had all those things in my fridge, pantry and freezer.

serves 6

3 pounds beef short ribs
salt and pepper
flour for dredging
3 T butter
1 c chopped leeks
2 c beef stock
3/4 c red wine vinegar
1/3 c brown sugar
1 T chile-garlic sauce
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T catsup

Salt and pepper meat; dredge in flour. In a large skillet, heat butter and brown meat on all sides. Add meat to crockpot. Add remaining ingredients to skillet and scrape up all the little sticky bits. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer gently until reduced by one-half, about half an hour. Pour over ribs in crockpot and cook on low 9 hours.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Last Open-Winery Date for Harmony Hill

Harmony Hill winery & vineyard will be open one last time this year on Saturday Dec 13th from noon until 5pm and will then close until May of 2009. Their wines are also available at Biggs locations in Anderson, Hyde Park, Eastgate and Mason

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Locavore Series of Dinner Parties at Nectar

Polly Campbell announced the upcoming Locavore Series of dinner parties at Nectar in Mt. Lookout, which regularly sources locally. The dinner parties start next week and include The Rustic Flavors of Bourbon with Woodford Reserve's Whiskey Ambassador Peter Wagner, A Taste of Honey with State of Ohio Bee Inspector Andrew Kartal, and Spinach: A Tasty Green with Turner Farm's Bonnie Mitsui and Melinda O'Bryant, with more local-food dinner parties to follow. Price per person is $55; for reservations call (513) 929-0525.

Nectar on Urbanspoon

Factory Farming Subsidized by Environmental Quality Incentives Program

A report (pdf) released yesterday by the Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment (CFFE) exposes how industrial hog and dairy operations are subsidized through the federal Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The report, Industrial Livestock at the Taxpayer Trough, estimates that between 2003 and 2007, roughly 1,000 industrial hog and dairy operations have captured at least $35 million per year in taxpayer support through EQIP.

“This report demonstrates what family farmers have known for years—this corporate-controlled, industrial model of livestock production can’t survive without taxpayer support,” said Rhonda Perry, a livestock farmer with the Missouri Rural Crisis Center from Howard County, Missouri. “Taxpayers should not have to foot-the-bill for this corporate welfare that is fueling the industrialization of the livestock industry at the expense of family farmers, rural communities and the environment.”
EQIP was established in the 1996 Farm Bill as a cost-share program targeted at family farmers to help them incorporate conservation practices into their farming operations. However, the 2002 Farm Bill opened the program to factory farms, allowing them to use EQIP to help them expand their operations.

CFFE is leading the fight against the corporate takeover of the hog industry and working for policies supporting independent family farmers. Member groups include: Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, the Land Stewardship Project (MN), and the Missouri Rural Crisis Center.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cabbage Rolls

I found a great cookbook recently: Bake Until Bubbly. It's a book of casserole recipes with nary a can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup to be found. All of these casseroles are from-scratch, which is very exciting to someone who loves the ease of a one-dish meal but would rather not use industrial "food" products in homecooked meals.

Yesterday I had several heads of savoy cabbage I wanted to use up. The book contains three recipes for cabbage rolls (one each from Finland, Poland, and Croatia) so I modified the Polish recipe. The original recipe says it will serve six, but I think that's wildly conservative. The recipe calls for three pounds of meat, for gosh' sake! I ended up with two 13x9 pans of rolls, so I froze one.

Both husband and son gave these the thumbs up. They were a lot of work, but I think next time I'll probably make four smaller pans containing one meal's worth each out of this recipe, so for me that's worth the time and multiple dirty pots and bowls.

Cabbage Rolls
makes 2 13x9 pans, 6 servings each
or 4 8x8 pans, 3 servings each

3 pounds of cabbage
salt, various uses
6 T butter, divided use
3/4 c rice
1/4 pound bacon, diced fine
2 med onions, cut into 1/4" dice
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground chicken
1/2 t ground pepper
1/2 t ground celery seed
1/4 t marjoram
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1 c ketchup
1 T Worcestershire sauce
2 c water
1 c tomato puree
1 T brown sugar

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to boil in a small saucepan with a cover. Preheat oven to 325. Oil two 13x9 or four 8x8 pans.

Core cabbages and remove outer leaves. Drop into large pot of water for 10 minutes, peeling away leaves with a tongs if possible as they loosen. Drain leaves on paper towels. After ten minutes, remove remainder of heads and drain, then peel off leaves carefully and drain. Trim the large thick outer vein to make leaves more flexible.

Add rice to saucepan along with 1/2 t salt and 1 t butter. Stir, return to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and cook 10 minutes. Set aside.

In a skillet, saute bacon until crisp. Add onion and saute until transparent. Transfer to a large bowl. Add rice, beef, pork, chicken, pepper, celery seed, marjoram, nutmeg, ketchup, Worcestershire, and 1 t salt. Mix well.

Arrange cabbage leaf flat on cutting board with stem end closest to you. Place 2 - 4 T stuffing (depending on the size of the leaf) onto the center of the end of the leaf, roll once, fold in ends, and continue to roll into a neat package. Place seam side down in baking casserole, arranging the rolls into a bricklike pattern so that empty spaces are filled neatly.

(If you'd like to freeze one of the pans, press plastic wrap down over rolls, cover with aluminum foil, and freeze for up to two months. Thaw completely before continuing.)

In a bowl, mix water, tomato puree, and brown sugar. Pour evenly over cabbage rolls. Dot with remaining butter. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake 2 - 2 1/2 hours.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Split Half of Beef

Our split half (that's one-fourth of a cow) from Hillsboro-area farmer Adam Hershberger of Highland Haven arrived yesterday, 108.5 pounds of beef at $2.15/pound, plus processing charges of $60 for a total of just over $293. That works out to $2.70 per pound and includes steaks, roasts, chops, ribs, ground beef, and all the other cuts. And it's a lot of meat -- I had two medium-sized coolers filled.

For those who are interested in eating locally but worry that it'll cost more, I have to believe that this much beef -- which I think will probably work out to around a year's worth for my family, as we tend to eat beef maybe once a week or so -- for this little money is an incredible deal. If you have a freezer and the financial ability to shop in bulk, I can't imagine you'd be spending more on this unless the only beef your family normally eats is ground beef.

I'm glad I asked for a share of a smaller cow -- I was fortunate that it all fit into my freezer! And fitting it all in pretty much destroyed my careful organization. Usually I keep beef (along with beef bones and beef stock) on the bottom shelf, pork on the second, poultry on the third, seafood, lamb, and butter on the fourth, fruits/veggies on the top shelf, and flour/grains/nuts in the door. With several dozen packages of beef arriving, I had no choice but to shove some of it in with other things. And of course I should really get any older beef out first, so that's going to mean taking things in and out for a while. I'm hoping by the time I get all the older beef out, I'll have figured out how to get all the new beef onto the 'beef shelf.' Being the AnRet that I am, I'll probably be out there this afternoon trying to organize it. I want to add a layer of wrapping to help it keep longer, anyway, so I might as well do everything at once.

There are a lot of cuts included that I've never cooked before. I'm really looking forward to this as a challenge -- what do you even do with beef liver? Oh, wait a minute...liver and onions, right? I tried a bit of a friend's order once in a restaurant, years ago. Bleah. Tasted like mud. Oh, well, maybe I can find something else to do with it. Suggestions are welcome!

It's going to be an interesting education in proportions, too. My family eats a lot of ground beef and the very occasional steak or ribs or roast and not much else. I don't really even have much understanding of how much of any one cut is on a given cow.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Local Foods Wheel

Here's a great idea I'd love to see implemented here in the Ohio River Valley for our foodshed. It's the Local Foods Wheel, a pocket tool to help people know which locally-produced foods are in season at what times in a certain area.

Friday, December 5, 2008

re-Review of Lavomatic at Wine Me, Dine Me

Wine Me, Dine Me has done a mini re-review of Lavomatic.

Food Congress of the Cincinnati Region

Wow, lots going on in the Local Foods movement around here!

The first Food Congress of the Cincinnati Region will take place in early March, 2009, and aims to gather delegates from Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky, and Southeastern Indiana concerned with local land use, public policy, health, environment, and economic development as they relate to food production, distribution, and consumption. The general objectives of the Food Congress are to foster a culture of collaboration between urban and rural stakeholders concerning local food systems in the Cincinnati area.

The first meeting of the Food Congress will be Thursday, December 11th, 2:00 - 4:00pm at the Community Design Center at UC (2728 Vine Street in Corryville) and will focus on logistics and delegating planning responsibilities to interested groups. All interested parties are welcome.

Those unable to attend but interested in helping with planning, email Food Project Coordinator David Mann or call him at 513.556.3282.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Winter Squash Addiction: A Confession

Okay. I admit it. I can’t walk away from winter squash. I love ‘em. All types. All sizes. My sideboard is filled with pumpkins of varied lineage, also acorns, butternuts, spaghetti squash. And when I go weekly to pick up my winter CSA share, I feel compelled to buy one or two more squash over the few included in the share already. Perhaps it’s a way to stay connected to that bounty of fall, especially now that the stark winter weather is here and the trees are bare. Perhaps it’s because I love to eat any dish or baked good that has pumpkin or winter squash as part of its makeup. Soup, pasta, chili, muffins, pie, cake, pancake, pudding…..oh, stop me now!

Two days before Thanksgiving, my friend Kathleen and I pureed two types of winter squash to make pies. We sliced up a large musque de provence squash (otherwise known as fairytale), and roasted each slice until a fork slipped through the outer skin easily. Then into a food processor, into a custard, and, finally, into a homemade pie crust (courtesy of Kathleen!). We also halved a Long Island Cheese pumpkin (so named because of its resemblance to a wheel of cheese, pictured above) and roasted it. Looking at the two types of puree, it was apparent which would make the better pie. A taste test clinched it. The Long Island cheese puree had a creamy texture, golden color, and a sweeter taste. The fairytale was a more vibrant orange (oh, the beta-carotenes!), but a more watery texture and the taste, though good, wasn’t as sweet as the Long Island. We made pies from both, and while both tasted wonderful (oh, so much better than a pie from that fast-food restaurant I shall not name….), the Long Island Cheese pumpkin pie was heaven!

I am aware that not many people would choose to spend precious hours taste-testing pumpkin varieties right before Thanksgiving, but I skimp on the table decorations. (You guessed it: I put a few of the prettier squash in the center of the table and have done with it!) Anyway, I plan to use the gallons of winter squash puree in my freezer in just about every way I can think of. Kathleen suggested the pumpkin pancakes – I substituted the puree for mashed banana in one of our favorite pancake recipes, added cinnamon and a little ginger, and the kids couldn’t eat enough of them! We’ll make pumpkin bread to hand out to aunts, great aunts, grandparents, etc.. And I’m looking for a good pumpkin scone recipe…..

The one type of winter squash that I don’t puree and freeze is the spaghetti squash. These last a good while – though we’ve been eating ours weekly in a dish, Spaghetti Squash with Sausage Filling, that’s become a family favorite. Below is the spaghetti squash recipe. Enjoy!! I’m off to continue my winter squash odyssey......

Spaghetti Squash with Sausage Filling
1 spaghetti squash (3 ¾ - 4 lb), halved lengthwise and seeded
1 lb bulk Italian sausage
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cups marinara or tomato sauce
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Place squash halves, one at a time, with a little water in microwave safe container with cover slightly askew to allow steam to escape, cook on high for about 8 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Cool slightly. Meanwhile, sauté sausage, pepper, onion, and garlic in a skillet until sausage browns and vegetables are tender. Break up sausage with spoon. Mix in marinara sauce. Using a fork, pull out squash strands from shells. Mix strands with sausage mixture. Season mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Place in casserole dish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (alternately, you can leave skins intact and place filling into the shells for a fun presentation). Bake uncovered in a 400° oven for about 20 minutes, or until thoroughly heated and bubbly.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Chalk Reviewed by Get in Mah Belly

Local food blogger Get in Mah Belly has re-reviewed Chalk Food + Wine.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cincinnati Magazine names Cincinnati Locavore 'Best Food Blog'

Cincinnati Magazine has named Cincinnati Locavore "Best Food Blog" in their Best of the City issue, on newsstands now.

From the article:

Cincinnati Locavore is the go-to source for foodies who care where their vegetables come from. Get info on hometown producers, recipes, and links to local-eating resources. Seeds of change? Yup.
Thanks, Cincinnati Magazine!

Going Local: Ideas and Resources for Eating Locally

Grailville Retreat and Program Center in Loveland is offering Going Local: Ideas and Resources for Eating Locally on Saturday, January 31, 2009 from 9:00 am-Noon.

The workshop is designed to provide tips and support for folks with questions about eating locally. Steve Edwards, an organic farmer at Grailville, shares his experiences of the challenges and joys of growing food in our climate and ideas for starting or expanding your garden at home. Deborah Jordan, publisher of the Central Ohio Regional Valley Local Food Guide, talks about ways to go locally without growing your own.

The workshop will be followed by lunch and an optional tour of food production facilities at Grailville. Tuition is $25/$35 with lunch. Reservations are required. Contact 513-683-2340 or for more information.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Chile-Garlic Sauce

This very hot, very garlicky sauce is the perfect addition to any recipe that will benefit from a good kick in the pants. Use sparingly! I drop a teaspoonful to a tablespoonful into soups and sauces, mix a scant teaspoon into meatloaf, and add a tablespoon to a 1/2-cup each of sour cream & mayo for a great veggie dip.

Chile-Garlic Sauce
make 2 - 2 1/2 quarts

1 1/2 - 2 pounds small chile peppers. I use a mix of habanero, scotch bonnet, jalapeno, small red Thai chiles -- whatever looks good at the farmers' market. Remember that the smaller the chile pepper, the hotter, so if you want this sauce hot, choose the small chiles.
1 1/2 - 2 pounds fresh garlic cloves, peeled
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup vinegar (almost any vinegar will work fine with this recipe)*
1 tablespoon sugar
1 2-qt lidded jar, run through the dishwasher

IMPORTANT: Use gloves while handling chiles.

Rinse chiles, slice off stems, and drain. You don't need to remove the seeds.

Working with half the ingredients at a time, place half of each ingredient into the food processor and grind into a paste, then scoop into a large mixing bowl and repeat with the other half of the ingredients. Combine the two batches, adding extra vinegar if necessary*. Spoon sauce into prepared jar, pushing it down to remove any air pockets. Put lid on jar and allow to sit on counter for twenty-four hours, then move to refrigerator. Allow to age for one to two weeks before tasting. Taste cautiously -- this stuff's fiery! Keep refrigerated and use within one year.

I usually have a little more of this than I can fit into a single 2-qt jar, and I package up the extra and hand it out to fire-loving friends.

* Finished paste should be just that: paste. If it's too thick, add a little more vinegar, but don't add too much as this sauce will become more liquid over time as it's stored.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

It's Not Too Early to Think About a 2009 CSA

If you're thinking next year might be the year to join a Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA), you should probably be investigating now. Several CSAs in our area have started taking reservations for next year's programs, and others are putting together their waiting lists already.

Here's information on everything I could find. If anyone knows of additions or changes, let me know and I'll update.

Balanced Harvest Farm
pick up: Carmel, Broad Ripple, and Meridian St. Farmers' Markets
June thru October (June thru September for spring/summer shares)
Full and half shares available.
Spring/summer shares (17 weeks) and full season shares (22 weeks) available.
Accepting applications now for the 2009 program.

Bluebird Hills Farm
pick up: farm in Springfield, OH, or pickup locations in Yellow Springs, Dayton, Clayton, Beavercreek, Bellbrook, Lebanon, Kettering, Centerville, Tipp City, West Chester
May/June thru October
2009 application will be available in January.

Boulder Belt Eco-Farm
pick up: at the farm in Eaton OH
April thru October (31 weeks)
Monthly shares available; pick and choose which months you want to participate
Accepting applications by early December via the farm's website; join the email list to receive notification when applications are being accepted.

Cedarmore Farm
pick up: at the farm in Hillsboro OH
May thru October
For more information: leave message at 937-588-2195.

pick up: at Grailville in Loveland OH
mid-May thru mid-November (26 weeks)
working and non-working shares available
Accepting renewals from 2008 members. Probably full for 2009, currently accepting names for waiting list.

Eaton Farm
pick up: at farm in Madison, IN or at Hyde Park Farmers' Market
May thru October
full and half shares available
Currently accepting reservations for 2009 program. Contact via email link at their LocalHarvest listing.

Elmwood Stock Farm
pick up: at farm in Georgetown, KY
mid-May thru mid-October (22 weeks)
Three share sizes available.
Currently accepting requests for the 2009 season.

Fox Run
pick up: at farm in Falmouth KY or pickups in Alexandria and Dry Ridge.
(20 weeks)
For more information: Email

Goodlife Farm
pick up: home delivery (as far south as Kenwood area)
June thru October
pick up at farm also available for reduced rate
For more information: 937-212-3720 for more questions, or email for an application form.

Gravel Knolls Farm
pick up: at farm in West Chester
June thru September (18 weeks)
2-person, 4-person, 6-person shares available
Accepting reservations now for the 2009 program.

Greensleeves Farm
pick up: at Findlay Market or Campbell County Farmer's Market
mid-May thru October
working and nonworking shares available
Accepting reservations now for the 2009 program.

Hazelfield Farm
pick up: at Hyde Park Farmers' Market
May thru October (22 weeks)
whole and half shares available
Currently accepting reservations for the 2009 season.

Hidden Ridge Family Farm
pick up: at farm in West Union OH or at dropoff points in West Union and Peebles OH
May thru October (24 weeks)
Five share sizes available
For more information: 937-544-0778

Martin Hill Farms
pick up: at Hyde Park and Northside Farmers' Markets
May thru November (30 weeks)
Currently accepting limited numbers of new members, but space is very limited and will likely fill soon. For more information, visit the website to see how the CSA operates, then Email.

Pennington Hollow Farm
pick up: Batesville and Brookville IN
June thru September
working shares available
For more information: Email

Pickin and A-grazin' Farm
pick up: at farm in Morrow OH
May thru October
Currently accepting reservations for the 2009 program.

Stoney Hedgerow Farm
pick up: at farm in Camden OH
May thru October (25 weeks)
working shares available (25 hours for the season)
Currently planning 2009 CSA. For more information: Email

Thistlehair Farm
(Thistlehair is currently deciding whether or not to offer a CSA next year; we'll update when they make a decision.)
pick up: at farm in Union KY
May thru October (20 weeks)
For more information: 859 384-3317

Turner Farm
pick up: at farm in Indian Hill
May thru October (22 weeks)
working shares (44 hours)
Full for 2009, but accepting names for waiting list. Leave a message at 513-561-7400 to add your name to the list.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Winter CSA Workday

I spent some time this morning out at Turner Farm working as part of my winter CSA agreement. Many CSAs operate this way: In addition to the share cost, a sharer works a specified number of hours each week helping with farm chores.

Today I washed radishes, carrots, and Jerusalem artichokes and bundled the radishes and carrots for sale at tomorrow's farmers' market down at Findlay. It was cold, but I got to work inside a heated building for which I was very grateful! I was there about two-and-a-half hours, so I've made a dent in the 20 I'll need to put in over the entire 20-week season.

If you're down at Findlay tomorrow, stop by the Turner stall and check out the radishes. I found two I'd missed after I'd bundled and packed away all the others, and they were delish! I was telling Melinda, the Garden Manager at Turner, that most of them were the perfect size for sauteed buttered radishes, a recipe I've posted before. I sorted them into bundles of similar-sized radishes, so grab two or three like-size bundles for a wonderful side dish on a cold day.

serves 4

2 T butter
salt to taste
~25 small tender radishes, trimmed
2 t sugar
1 t red wine vinegar
1 1/2 t ground pepper

In a small skillet, melt butter. Add radishes and salt, coat radishes with butter, then cover pan and leave over low heat for 4-5 minutes depending on the size of the radishes. Add sugar and vinegar and saute 2 minutes, add pepper, remove from heat, and serve.

Kinkead Ridge Takes Top Honors in 1st Ohio-Michigan Wine Clash

Kinkead Ridge's 2006 Revelation won "Best Red" in the first Ohio/Michigan Wine Clash, sponsored by Slow Food Columbus. Separate judging events were conducted simultaneously in Ann Arbor and Columbus to coincide with the Ohio State-Michigan football game. Over 60 wines were blind-tasted by judges, who were wine retailers, restaurant proprietors, accredited wine professionals, wine enthusiasts and writers, including Wine Girl.

The Winter Farm

Val has asked my to contribute to the Cincy Locavore blog from the farmers point of view so periodically I will post things here about the life of one small farmer (that would be me) and her sustainable farm. To learn more about my farm visit my blog

Winter is here-it is cold, snowy and most everything that is not we covered is dead. This means things have slowed way down for us (yay!) It is nice to be able to kick back for a month or so before the 80 hour a week grinds starts again.

People want to know what we farmers do in the off season. For us, we spend a lot of November cleaning up stuff like the store, the garden beds, popcorn, catnip, onions. Crunching numbers on the various produce items we grow so we have an idea as to what is selling and what is not selling so we know what seeds to plant for the coming season. Eugene does not do much on the computer so it is me who keeps the blog and website updated and that can be time consuming, especially this year since it looks like Boulder Belt is back in the CSA biz and that means at some point I need to design an informative CSA page for the Boulder Belt Website.

December is too often spent removing snow from hoop houses and driveways. It is also the time we put in our main seed order with Johnny's Selected Seeds (our favorite seed house). In the past we have waited until after Christmas to put in our order but there are rumors that there will be seed shortages this year so I believe I will get at least part of the order in in early Dec. or even late November. December is usually the Month that we start the onions and leeks indoors, though this year I believe the onions will be started today or tomorrow (that would be mid November). The reason for moving up the date is due to the fact we have quite a few Copra onion seeds left over from last year and We decided that those should be planted to see if they have strong germination. If they do than we do not need to order more seed. If they do not than we will know by Dec 1st if the seeds are working or not and can get an order into Johnny's early enough to avoid the dreaded back order that can set one back several months.

If December, January and February are mild (which is the NOAA prediction for us this winter, but I will believe that when I see it) than the crops in the hoop houses will continue to produce pretty much all winter and someone has to go and harvest and package the crops periodically (weekly-as growth slows way down in the winter even if it is relatively warm and sunny). We than sell the greens, leeks, etc., at the Oxford Monthly Winter market and this year the CSA gets their share as well. We also sell through the store via email appointment and occasionally to a restaurant or Miami University.

If the winter months are cold with a lot of precip, than most things quit growing until Late Feb and cannot be harvested, the exception to this are the leeks and scallions. Than we sit around twiddling our thumbs waiting on the greens to come back to life. Okay, we don't spend much time thumb twiddling (but we do start craving greens in a big way and are delighted when things are harvestable again). If it is a snowy winter than we are spending lots of time removing snow from the hoop houses, otherwise they get flattened and are unuseable and have to be repaired or replaced. this has happened a couple of times to us and incredibly the crops under all the snow and plastic are generally unharmed and producing very well when we finally get to them

What we are doing by Feb is starting seriously seeds indoors. This starts out slowly with around 15 pots of onions and leeks planted in Dec/Jan. Those are followed by the brassicas-kale, broccoli, cabbages, etc., and lettuces in mid to late Feb. Those crops are repeatedly seeded indoors through April/May so we have a continual harvest April through June/July. By late March we are also starting early tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and melons to be planted in mid April in hoop houses. In April the main crops of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, celery, celeriac, parsley, flowers, etc., are started which fills up the grow room along with cold frames and hoop houses with thousands of seedlings.

Once the seeds are started we are tied to the farm. The seeds need daily tending-watering, fertilizing, pricking (this means to re pot into a larger container), making soil (we make our own soil mix for seed starting as we have a hard time finding soiless mixes that don't contain petroleum products or chemical fertilizers. Add to that, we start seeds in soil blocks and we make our own soil blocks so the soiless mix has to be just so for it to work for us. Making our own soil blocks means we use very little plastic when starting our seedlings. It probably saves us around a thousand bucks a year as well (of course it increases our work load by at least 100 hours as we have to make a lot of soil and a lot of soil blocks.)

So you can see that we small sustainable farmers really don't have much down time at all. Some day, perhaps, we will quit this idea of winter growing and marketing and will shut the farm down in November and go to the Caribbean for 4 months.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Drink Local this November 20th

Le Beaujolais Nouveau est (almost) arrivé...and it's time to change that.

The third Thursday in November is the traditional arrival date for each year's Beaujolais Nouveau. Beaujolais Nouveau is a wine made fast to be drunk young -- it's only a few weeks old on its release date. Most will be consumed before Christmas, much of it at parties celebrating the "big event." Because of the huge demand for it on its release date, literally tons of it are airfreighted around the world each year. Over a million cases will leave small towns in the Beaujolais region of France this week (French law requires it not start its journey more than one week before release date), headed for Paris' deGaulle airport for frantic shipment all over the world so people can throw Beaujolais Nouveau parties this weekend.

Here's the funny part: Beaujolais Nouveau was traditionally produced to be consumed in the small towns of the Beaujolais region as a stopgap while waiting for the the good stuff to mature. It was exciting to the locals because it was the first wine of a particular vintage. And it was cheap and plentiful, so local festivals grew up around the release date. Not because the wine is so good it's worth celebrating, but because people are always looking for a reason to party. The idea just snowballed from there, helped along by savvy marketers of Beaujolais Nouveau. There's nothing more to it than that. All the hype surrounding it is just that: hype. It was never about the wine. The idea of all that fuel being spent on flying so-so wine halfway around the world as fast as possible is almost obscene.

A better choice for oenophiles and locaquaffers alike: drink something local. You'll almost certainly get a better wine, you'll be supporting local wineries, and you won't be contributing to all that wasted fuel. Our local Appelation is Ohio River Valley, with fifteen wineries, some of them truly excellent.

Two wines worth holding a party to sample: For a medium-bodied wine that will beat the pants off Beaujolais Nouveau, try Harmony Hill's 2007 Rubato, which won a Silver Medal at the 2008 American Wine Society Competition. For something more complex go for Kinkead Ridge's 2006 River Village Cellars Cabernet Franc.

And if you've already ordered your Beaujolais Nouveau for this year's party? Kinkead Ridge's Ron Barrett says, "Save the bottles. Next year, fill them with jug wine. No one will know the difference."

Update: Wine Girl reports that two of the biggest importers of Beaujolais Nouveau have taken some steps to make the event less environmentally unfriendly.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Of Voles and Sweet Potatoes, or: Linguica, Sweet Potato and Spinach Chowder

My Winter CSA box this week from Turner Farm contained sweet potatoes...lots of sweet potatoes. The ugliest sweet potatoes you've ever seen.

This is what a sweet potato looks like when it's been damaged by voles. Pretty ugly, eh? But other than the obvious cosmetic damage, there's no harm to the sweet potato -- you can trim off the damaged parts and use it as usual. Vole-damaged sweet potatoes even store just as well as perfect specimens. But of course a lot of people would be put off by the visual and pass these up in favor of more perfect-appearing sweets. So when you're hitting the farmers' markets at the end of the season, if you see some ugly sweet potatoes cheap, snap 'em up! They're a bargain, and you're rewarding a farmer for using organic methods.

I also had some excellent-looking young spinach in the CSA box, and I had a few onions from the farmers' market down at Findlay. I'd picked up some wonderful linguica from Linwood Sausage Company at one of the last Hyde Park Farmers' Market days a few weeks ago, and I always keep chicken stock in my freezer. It's a blustery day, with the first sleet of the season. I'd had my fireplace going since mid-morning. Soup seemed like the perfect choice. So I made one of my favorite rustic autumn soups.

Linguica, Sweet Potato, and Spinach Chowder
Serves 6

1 pound linguica
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds sweet potatoes, roughly chopped
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 pound baby spinach
salt and pepper to taste

Heat 6-quart stock pot to medium high. Score linguica links and squeeze sausage out of the casings into hot pan; break apart with wooden spoon into small pieces. Add onions and garlic and fry until sausage is cooked through. Add sweet potatoes and cook fifteen minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes to an hour and a half, or until sweet potatoes start to fall apart. Add spinach and cook until wilted; correct seasonings; serve.

Greater Cincinnati Independents Gift Certificates

Greater Cincinnati Independents is offering new group gift certificates redeemable at any member restaurant. The gift certificates are available online. GCI group certificates may also be purchased over the phone by calling (877) 870-3463.

“Now, more than ever, it's important to support local businesses,” says Drew Hester of Cuisine by Jean-Robert. “We need to work together to keep money within our community.”

The new program makes it easy for faithful restaurant enthusiasts to introduce people to Cincinnati’s vibrant independent restaurant scene while infusing more money into the local economy.

“We believe that this is the ideal holiday gift,” says GCI President Annette deCavel. “It takes the guess work out of gift-giving in so many cases.”

Discount rates are available for local professionals looking to make large holiday gift orders. Adds deCavel: "It’s perfect for corporate executives who don’t know what to give their staff.”

Friday, October 31, 2008

Local Eating, Delicious Eating

The Sierra Club's monthly meeting will feature Kristin Secaur speaking on "Local Eating, Delicious Eating." She'll cover the reasons local eating is important to your health and to the environment, how to find local food in the Cincinnati area all year round, and offer resources and meal ideas.   Monday Nov 3rd,  7 - 9pm at the Cincinnati State Workforce Development Center (10100 Reading Road, between Glendale-Milford Rd and Sharon Rd, enter from parking lot at rear of building.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Blue Oven Bakery Winter Availability

Blue Oven Bakery will be at Tino Vino (3665 Erie Ave) Thursdays 4 - 7pm starting November 6th.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Vines, Wines & Farms October 25

Several local wineries will be offering tastings at Southern Ohio Farmland Preservations Association's Vines,Wines and Farms: A Toast to Farmland Preservation event Saturday, October 25 11:00am - 4:00pm on Courthouse Square in Georgetown, OH.

Entry is $10.00 per adult and includes a souvenir glass and 7 tasting tickets, with additional tasting tickets available for purchase. Featured local wineries include Harmony Hill Vineyards (Bethel), Henke Winery (Cincinnati), Kinkead Ridge Vineyard and Estate Winery (Ripley), Lakeside Vineyard and Winery (Felicity), Meranda-Nixon Vineyard and Winery (Ripley), Renascent Vineyards (Georgetown) and Woodstone Creek (Cincinnati). Live music by Ely Beyer (bagpipes) and Ben Pedigo (bluegrass.) There will also be a silent auction with proceeds to benefit Southern Ohio Farmland Preservation Association.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Canning Report 2008

I finally finished up my canning for this year (unless over the next few weeks at market something grabs me or I find some late tomatoes) and my final tally is:

Chili Sauce 7 half-pints
Chile-Garlic Sauce 1 quart
Dandelion Capers 2 half-pints
Dilled Green Tomatoes 8 pints
Ketchup 5 pints
Linda Lou's Sweet Pickle Chunks 15 pints
Garlic Mustard Dill Relish 6 pints
Peaches 18 quarts
Pepper-Vinegar Onions 4 pints
Pickled Beets 6 quarts
Pickled Cherry Tomatoes 5 pints
Pickled Hot Banana Peppers 4 4-oz jars
Pickled Sweet Peppers 13 half-pints
Plum Jam 8 half-pints
Stewed Tomatoes 10 quarts
Strawberry Preserves 9 half-pints
Tomatillo Salsa 9 half-pints
Tomato Salsa 13 pints
Tomato Sauce 19 quarts + 9 pints

I had been hoping to get nearly twice as much tomato sauce put up; what I ended up with is probably enough for four months, which means along about April we'll be back to buying tomato sauce to make spaghetti sauce with. I processed maybe two bushels of tomatoes into sauce, another one and a half bushels into salsa, ketchup, and stewed tomatoes. So next year, I guess I'm going to need to aim for 5 1/2 bushels. Aiieee. I'm going to need a heavier-duty food mill.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Last week was the final pick-up for my CSA’s summer season. It’s always (I admit) something of a bittersweet time. It’s usually a bit of pressure, once school and all the fall activities start, to find the time to fully embrace the farm experience. And by that, I mean putting in the hours on the farm and putting all those vegetables to good use on the dinner table. (I love to cook from scratch, I love to eat what I cook from scratch, but, let’s face it, it’s a time killer!) I freeze whatever takes minimal processing at this time of year - tomatoes, soybeans, greens, pesto. I have yet to make the foray into canning – though next year is my year. I’m sure of it. Really.

Anyway. Many of the vegetables in my share at this time of year keep for a good while. As I sit here, I’m looking at two Amish pie pumpkins, one very nice-sized musquee de Provence squash (that's the pretty squash pictured above!), a pink banana squash, and three spaghetti squash of a variety known as Hasta la Pasta (just love saying that). I can enjoy those in the weeks, and months, to come. Turnips and sweet potatoes will stick around. So, there’s more to look forward to.

And yet, at last week’s distribution, I found myself lingering. Buying extra. Chatting. One of my fellow sharers remarked how much will have changed when next season starts up in May, 2009. So true. I am a simple person. I can tell when I need to turn off the radio and put down the newspaper. Stop trying to make sense of it all. And head to my kitchen – where things do make sense to me. Not to get too esoteric, but it feeds my soul to create something in the kitchen that looks good, tastes good, and IS good for me. For me, it’s an antidote to the craziness of our 21st century lives. Like I said, I’m simple.

So this year seems like a good year to join the Winter CSA at Turner Farm (it’s a smaller, informal, relaxed version of the summer CSA with mostly greens and root veggies). I have a feeling I’m going to need that regular connection to the good kind of dirt and what grows out of it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Northside Farmers' Market Announces Fall Markets

Northside Farmers' Market, which is scheduled to stop at the end of October at their Hamilton & Lingo location, will continue through November and December at the Village Green, 1415 Knowlton Street. Hours are the same: Wednesdays 4:00 - 7:30pm.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Woodstone Creek Now Available at the Distillery

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland has created a new liquor permit, A-3a, which will allow microdistilleries to sell small batch spirits from their own premises.

The very first such permit has been issued to Woodstone Creek. Owners Don and Linda Outterson have been busting their butts for this change, which is a crucial step in allowing small spirits producers to compete with established (and hard-lobbying) liquor distributorships in Ohio’s liquor control system. Since 1933 Ohio's liquor control laws have required all liquor to be distributed through state outlets which buy from a small handful of entrenched distributors.

The new permit allows a distiller to sell his own products with strict (and as usual for Ohio liquor laws, arcane and protectionist) limitations. A single A-3a permit can be issued in any county with a population of more than 400,000 -- essentially limiting the entire state to three permits: one each for Hamilton, Franklin, and Cuyahoga counties. Woodstone Creek may sell two bottles of full-proof spirit to any single customer on any single day at state-regulated prices.

According to the Outtersons, the new licensing is not all they proposed, but it's a step in the right direction. They credit State Senator Bill Seitz for getting behind them early this year and providing crucial leadership in Columbus to finally get this project, which they've been working on for four years, off the ground.

From their press release:
Much remains to be done for artisan spirits to progress in Ohio. Currently, one other micro license has been issued in Clinton County, but this start-up will not be eligible for the self-sales permit under the recent change. Many other states have evolved with the growth of the microdistilling industry. Indiana, West Virginia, and Kentucky have already enacted more liberal changes. Nationwide, microdistillation is the newest growth segment in alco-tourism, which began with wineries and microbreweries. In 2004, the newly formed American Distiller’s Institute listed 50 microdistilleries. In 2008, the list had expanded to 220, with a concentration in California and Oregon, which have the most progessive alcoholic-beverage control laws.
Congratulate the Outtersons by stopping by the shop at 3641 Newton Avenue (off Dana between the Victory Parkway and Montgomery Rd) in Evanston, Saturdays 1 - 5, to buy a bottle or two. For more information call 513.569.0300 or email them.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ground Beef 10 pounds/$30 at Green Acres

For a limited time (while supplies last) Green Acres in Indian Hill is offering their excellent 100% pastured ground beef at $3/pound for 10 pounds or more. For more information, contact Peggy at 513.891.4227, or email her.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

In Support of Child Labor

Kids on the farm. Communing with nature. Connecting with the source of their food. Frolicking with lambs, piglets, and chicks that may someday grace their dinner table.

Okay, not in my world. We fall somewhat short of that idyllic picture. I have to admit that I prefer to be by myself when I head to the farm. It’s wrong, I know. Part of the reason I’ve stayed a CSA member so long is in pursuit of that description above. But, man, is it more relaxing when I’m solo!

I had such good intentions on one particular ill-fated outing to the farm with all three of my kids. We have work days on one Saturday a month at Turner Farm. It’s a good time to make up hours and work on bigger tasks with other sharers. Usually, there’s a good job for kids. Well, this work day, it was a nice cool morning and the kid-friendly task was harvesting potatoes. The farm has a horse-drawn cultivator that brings the potatoes to the surface and it’s an easy, if not dusty, job to collect the potatoes just sitting there in the upturned soil. Great job for little hands.

Or so I heard. We didn’t quite make it to that first potato harvest. We (myself and my three, five, and seven-year-old kids) went to the second potato harvest. Happened to be on the hottest, most humid night of last summer. And, in a serious lapse of judgment, I did not bring a drop of water. The potato field is, of course, one of the farthest fields from the produce shed and the water faucet. Within seconds of stepping out of the air-conditioned van, we were covered with sweat. Within minutes, we were covered with mud, as the dust from the fields settled on us. The whining commenced. And continued for the entire time we were in that field. Other sharers harvesting potatoes gradually moved further and further away from me and my mud-streaked pack. I cajoled, encouraged, threatened, bribed. And eventually gave up. When we returned home, looking like a family of migrant farm workers, my husband had an ‘I told you so’ look about him, but wisely kept quiet. So much for that vision of my kids enjoying the productive and meaningful task of harvesting their own food. Did I mention I tend to be a romantic?

We’re making progress, though. My daughter attended a day-camp at Turner Farm this summer and loved it, even though she worked hard feeding animals, planting, harvesting. (By the way, I think it’s a brilliant move on the farm’s part to have us pay to have our kids work for them. I’m all for it!) The older they get and the more exposure they get to the produce, to being on the farm - it’s all good. The fact that my son actually asks for okra (okay, fried okra, but still!) brings a smile to my face. I just need to adjust my expectations and appreciate that any exposure to good food, soil, and fresh air is beneficial.

Shocking News from the USDA: Farmers' Markets on the Increase

The USDA (rather belatedly) began tracking farmers' markets in 1994. Although they're still not very good at it (a check of their database shows exactly THREE in Cincinnati which of course in reality hosts dozens every week) even with their limited knowledge of and connection with actual farmers (!) they're seeing significant growth in number of farmers' markets over the years.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Food Production on the Homestead

Food Production on the Homestead
Washington Court House, Ohio
Saturday, October 4, 2008 1:00-5:00pm

Recently featured in Mother Earth News, Tom and Mary Lou Shaw will share the secrets of how they have been able to provide most of their own food without going to the grocery store. The Shaws' 13-acre farm is home to two Dutch Belted family cows and a small flock of Dorking chickens that together provide the eggs, meat, and milk products they need, as well as compost for their garden and orchard. Their garden and orchard provide a large variety of chemical-free vegetables and fruits, many of which they enjoy all year, along with fresh herbs, and flowers in the summer months. Homesteading is a relatively new career for both the Shaws. They will share what they are learning as they sculpt their new life and what they have planned for the future.

For more information or to register, email Laura Wies.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Free Online Home Food Preservation Course

The National Center for Home Food Preservation is offering a free, online, at-your-own-pace course in home food preservation including the canning of acid and low-acid foods. For more details or to register, visit Preserving Food at Home: A Self-Study.

Power again!

Been offline with a power outage! 8 days without lights or hot water is a lot of fun when I'm camping. Otherwise, not so much.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Seasons of a CSA Season

This is my favorite time of year at the Farm. The weather is cooler, so spending time in the fields starts to look very appealing again. You still have the bounty of summer crops – eggplant, tomatoes, squash, basil, peppers (hey, ratatouille, anyone?) – and we’re starting to see the fall crops like my favorite winter squash and pumpkins appear around the produce shed.

Which brings to mind something that I’ve gained from being a CSA sharer besides access to the freshest produce anywhere. I’m a little less clueless about what’s in season when. Truly, I was not hip as to why asparagus was such a good Easter side dish. Did I mention that I grew up in the ‘burbs where the only thing in our “garden” was tomatoes – I guess I knew that much. How Dad’s tomatoes in July just blew the store-bought ones right out of the water. Okay, and corn from the farm stand. That corn-on-the-cob and sliced, salted tomato combo on my plate sort of defined summer for me.

It took me a season as a CSA sharer to realize that we wouldn’t be getting those sugar snap peas all summer long. That I should enjoy each crop as it appeared, because that particular vegetable wasn’t going to show up again until next May, or June, or September. So now I have recipes that I pull out once a year, create a dish that tastes so much more delicious because it’s the right time for it, and then put that recipe back in my overstuffed binder until next time. One of these recipes is Pasta with Fava Beans and Pancetta, a recipe I found on It’s pretty yummy, but I wouldn’t dream of buying frozen fava beans to make it in October. (Assuming you can buy frozen fava beans? I’ve never looked.) Another is my favorite okra dish, Okra and Tomato Stew, courtesy of my vegetable bible, The Victory Garden Cookbook, by Marian Morash. I‘ve found a LOT of my recipes from this book over the years. We have okra and tomato stew weekly during okra season. Though my kids aren’t necessarily thrilled by this, I am. I love this dish – it’s especially good with a little diced ham over rice.

This seasonality is also what drives me to make the most of what’s in my share each week. I’m kind of neurotic about trying to use everything – it seems almost criminal to throw something from my share in the garbage because I didn’t get around to using it. When something so vitally nutritious and ripe gets rotten on my watch, well, I take it personally. I don’t get nearly as emotional if the expired veggie in question came in a cellophane wrapper. So, this afternoon when I surveyed the contents of my refrigerator after our power finally came back on, I had to pull myself together when I realized that the ½ lb of basil from last week’s share was no longer fit for the pesto I had planned for it. Of course, it would have thawed in my freezer anyway, I guess.

I’m often forced to get creative in the pursuit of using up my weekly share. Another post, another day, perhaps? Anyway, I sincerely hope your power is back on and your food loss was minimal.

Okra and Tomato Stew (The Victory Garden Cookbook, Marion Morash)
1 lb okra
1 lb tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1 small hot pepper 2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onions
½ cup chopped celery
salt and pepper

Clean and trim okra; cut into ½ inch pieces. Peel and chop tomatoes. Mince garlic and hot pepper. Heat butter and oil in sauté pan. Stir in okra, onion, and celery; sauté until lightly colored. Add garlic, tomatoes, and pepper; sauté for 5 minutes longer. Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, or until okra is tender. Season to taste and serve. (Note: you can alter the amounts or the ingredients for this recipe to fit what you have. Omit celery, include bell or banana peppers. Add carrots, corn, or cut up green beans. Add diced ham. Or fry up bacon, and use some of the bacon fat in place of the butter and oil, then top with the crumbled bacon. Yum! Great over rice!)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Culinary Pawpaw at the Cincinnati Nature Center

The Ohio Pawpaw Growers Association is offering a class called The Culinary Pawpaw on Thursday, September 25, 7 - 9 pm at the Cincinnati Nature Center at the Rowe Woods location on Tealtown Road in Milford as part of the center's Nature of Food series. Topics will include storage and processing of pawpaw fruits, nutritional values, uses in cooking as well as pawpaw trees in the home landscape. Samples of several varieties of pawpaws will be available for tasting. Each registrant will receive 2 pounds of pawpaws and a bread recipe to take home. Cost of the class is $7.

Pawpaws are a Midwest-native fruit that isn't generally found in supermarkets because it doesn't store or ship well. It is often grown organically because it has few pests. Which adds up well for fans of local, sustainable eating. They're available in farmers' markets in late summer/early fall and can be eaten raw, canned as jam, or substituted for bananas in recipes.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Canning Class Saturday September 13th

The Pea Pod Cafe (6227 Montgomery Road in Pleasant Ridge) is offering a free informal canning class Saturday, Sept. 13th from 11 am - 1 pm.   Participants will learn how to safely can and preserve the summer's bounty.  Topics will include tools and methods, reference books, and other resources.  Plans will be made for future in-home canning events.  For more information, call 351-2460.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

One CSA Sharer's Story

Hi! My name is Jayne. I’ve been a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) sharer for some time now, and I’m going to appear on Val’s Cincinnati Locavore blog from time to time to give you a sense of what it’s like to be a CSA sharer. Below is a little piece I wrote in Sept, 2003 for the Turner Farm CSA newsletter. Tells you where I’ve been on this journey:

One Sharer’s Story……
I became a Turner Farm sharer in 1996 –really through no effort of my own. A friend had seen an article in City Beat about the farm and approached my husband and I about joining together. Seeing it more as an opportunity to get together regularly with some close friends, my husband and I signed on with no predetermined expectations about what it would be like to be a CSA sharer. Seven years and two (and a half) children later, I have found that being a part of Turner Farm continues to enrich my life in a variety of ways, even though those friends have since moved away and my husband has relinquished all sharer responsibilities to me.

Growing up in suburbia, I had little appreciation of the work it takes to grow your own vegetables, let alone run an entire farm. I was more than a little impressed at seeing ripe asparagus and prickly okra on the plant. And I remember a particularly beautiful day in October in one of my first seasons when I was harvesting purple wax beans from the vine. I believe I came close to achieving a state of Zen that day – with the sun on my skin, moving slowly down the row on my little wheeled cart, my mind at peace. Participating in this type of soul-satisfying work was such a welcome change from my usual fast-paced life.

And then there were the vegetables. My novice kitchen had never seen the likes of Swiss chard, okra, turnips, and edible soybeans. Now chard (or “shard” as my daughter calls it) is my family’s favorite vegetable. As I gazed at each week’s variety of veggies, I was forced to seek out new ways to cook them and as a result, I discovered that I love to cook. Who knew? As my family grows, and life seems to consist of more things, more activities, more responsibilities, I’ve found that my connection with Turner Farm has been a wonderful antidote to it all.

Five years later, I’m still here. So while you’re still digesting the little romantic overview above, here’s a few logistics about my CSA: Turner Farm is one of those CSA’s that require all sharers to work a certain number of hours each season (fostering that community part of a CSA). Our summer season runs from May 15 – Oct 15 each year, and we need to work a total of 44 hours, that’s 2 per week. For the past 8 years, I’ve created the shareholder newsletter to fulfill the majority of my work hours. This has worked out well during a period in my life that included three pregnancy-through-toddler stages, when my productivity in the fields was somewhat limited. Now that my kids are old enough to be of some actual help (well, sort of), I’m happy to be back in the dirt on occasion. I pick up my weekly share each Thursday, and that pretty much determines what’s on my dinner table for that week. Turner is a vegetable CSA – we’ve had a couple forays into fruits (raspberries one year, yummy melons another), but the fruit hasn’t been a rousing success so far. That’s fine – the veggies keep me busy enough.

Well, now that I’ve introduced myself – I’ll be back to share more of my adventures as a CSA sharer.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Equinox Feast at Grailville

Grailville in Loveland is celebrating the harvest with an Equinox Feast featuring a buffet of Grailville-grown and other local foods September 21st 2008 at 5:30.

If you show up a bit early, you can drop in for the free-to-the-public opening reception for their new photo exhibit, Documenting a Season of Growth at Grailville, featuring photographs taken throughout the 2008 growing season on Grailville's 300 acres of woodlands, pastures, and organic gardens with music by Auburn Cantiga.

Cost of dinner is $15 for adults, $10 for kids. Reservations required; call (513) 683-2340 or make your reservation online.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Market Night Dinners at Vineyard Cafe

The Vineyard Cafe (Erie & Edwards in Hyde Park) is offering Market Night Dinners on Monday evenings (following the Sunday farmers' market across the street through October.) Dinner is a 3-course prix-fixe menu for $30, with an optional half glass of wine pairing offered with each course for an extra $10. Each course highlights products from Hyde Park Farmers' Market vendors. Dinner hours 4 - 10 pm. (513) 871-6167 for reservations.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Drink & Democracy: A Stroll Through Kentucky's Bourbon Country

Hard Cider

TableTours is offering a three-day local eating and drinking tour of Kentucky's Bourbon country October 2 - 4.

The price of the tour is $350 per person and includes diverse Bourbon tastings, customized breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus from some of Kentucky's most celebrated chefs, distillery and museum visits, and lectures on Bourbon and Kentucky history. Lodging is on your own from a selection of Bardstown bed-and-breakfasts.

If you're interested, act now! Registration closes today.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Taste Here: Celebration of Local Foods

Central Ohio River Valley Local Food Initiative (CORV) is hosting a local food tasting fundraiser Sunday September 21st from 3 - 5pm at the Civic Garden Center.  Local foods made by local chefs.  Local music.  Proceeds benefit CORV and are used to produce their Local Foods Guide.  Tickets are $20 and available at or by calling the Civic Garden Center at (513) 221-0981.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oat Groats: Cheap, Tasty, Healthy Breakfast

I'm eating a lot of oat groats these days. I found a source for locally-grown oat groats, but the minimum order was 25 pounds. Oat groats are the least processed of all edible forms of oats, so they store a very long time (some sources are giving them 30 years under the right conditions.) So even though I'd never tasted them before, I decided to give them a try. I figured any minimally-processed food was a good addition to our diet, and even if it took us years to use them up, it'd be okay. And in the meantime if the apocalypse arrived, there'd be something to eat. Win-win-win.

Oh. My. God. This is what oats taste like. I like good old-fashioned oatmeal just fine -- I've eaten it for years, still happy to eat it if that's what's on the table. When I discovered pinhead oats and stone ground oatmeal, though, I realized just how much regular oatmeal had lost in the process of being...well, processed. (Don't speak to me of instant oatmeal. That's not a food.) So it comes as no surprise that getting closer to the whole grain results in an even more interesting taste and texture.

Even so, oat groats were a revelation. If you've never had them, you are missing out. They take a while to cook -- these are not a convenience food -- but they're so worth it. They're nutty, with a firm texture. The cooked grains are bigger than a grain of cooked rice, which along with the chewy texture makes them much more interesting than the soupy-paste of rolled oats and superior even to that of pinhead oats, which up until now I'd thought the pinnacle of oat gastronomy.

And I'm starting to see the 25-pound minimum order as an advantage. I paid $0.65/pound for my oat groats, which works out to about five cents for a 3/4 cup serving. In the morning, I bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add a 1/2 t of salt and a cup (~5 oz) of oat groats and set it over my heat diffuser on the lowest setting on my stove. It barely simmers for 45 minutes and is ready just about the time the rest of the family rolls into the kitchen. Add a splash of milk and you've got breakfast for four. Pretty good for about thirty cents.

Originally posted at Eat.Drink.Better.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Kinkead Ridge Annual Vineyard Tour

Kinkead Ridge Estate Winery in Ripley (about an hour east of Cincinnati) will be open for the Annual Vineyard Tour Saturday August 30 and Monday September 1 for the release of the 2006 red wines. Visit the winery and vineyards, meet the winegrowers. Pets and children welcome. (No public restrooms.) Winery: 904 Hamburg Street, Ripley. Vineyard: 4288 Kinkead Road.

When I discovered Kinkead Ridge wines last year, they quickly became my pour-of-choice. This is Ohio wine for true wine lovers. Definitely worth checking out.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

New Website for Just Cured Salmon

Just Cured, an Over-the-Rhine company smoking fresh sustainably-raised salmon, has a new website.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Cultivating The Web: High Tech Tools for the Sustainable Food Movement

Eat Well Guide has announced the release of their new book, Cultivating The Web, which discusses using the web to promote sustainable & local eating. According to The End of Nature author Bill McKibben,

It is undeniably odd and lovely that among the most important parts of our food system - a little behind rain and sun and seed - are the new digital tools that allow us to bypass the big advertisers, the mega-chains, the junk peddlers, and instead find all the other people growing, processing, cooking and eating actual, delicious food.
The book is available for download free in PDF form.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Woodstone Creek's Straight Bourbon Whiskey Debuts at Party Source

Woodstone Creek's Straight Bourbon Whiskey, made locally in Norwood at Ohio's first microdistillery, will debut tonight at the Party Source's Craft Spirit Tasting event in Covington.

Woodstone Creek is the first Ohio-made aged bourbon released since 1865. Bottles will be labeled with barrel number in limited edition releases one barrel at a time. Barrel #1 bottle #1 will be auctioned off September 6th at Gourmet Sensation to benefit Hospice of Cincinnati.

Based on the quality of Woodstone Creek's Vodka, I intend to find a bottle soon.