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 epicurious.com. 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.