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.”