Monday, August 17, 2009

Smashing Pumpkins

Of course, all my pumpkins look really great, but that's not what this post is about. Last week, vandals cut off the lock on the community garden gate and had a "field day" with lots of melons, pumpkins and other local food and property.
When I first got to the garden, I found the container for the food bank turned over, and several watermelons strewn about in various pieces. It wasn't until I found a row of ripe beefsteak tomatoes ceremoniously gored on a row of rebar fencing that I realized it wasn't just the work of rats.
This is disappointing because after all our challenges with weather, fires, bugs, rodents and disease, for some gardeners, it all came down to some bored neighbors standing between them and some really great local food.
Luckily, most of my pumpkins have already been harvested.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New farmers' market

Around here, farmers' markets are springing up on any open bit of sunny pavement, like wayward celery plants after a winter storm. Last summer, there was only one local market, and it was a bit of a drive. Finally, I have a market I can WALK to!!! At a convenient time!!!
It hasn't started yet, but I am ready, market basket in hand. Let's see: straw hat, sunblock, birkenstocks, big organic or bamboo fiber skirt with a flower pot applique, small bills, canning jars waiting for me at home.

May local farmers live long and thrive

I always thought it ironic that at the entryway to my HMO's regional medical center, brimming with "creative and passionate" medical professionals eager to deliver cutting-edge preventive care, stood a coffee kiosk studded with sugary drinks and snacks. During a recent visit, I was pleased and astonished to see the front driveway lined with fresh food tables instead of ambulances.
Read about it HERE

My Syncretic Food Culture – Part 1

Michael Pollan seems to have a clear picture of what his ancestors ate and what we need to get back to. But what is my food culture? It's a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll, with a huge dollop of the food-fads-du-jour.

Mom’s from a tidewater family, so on our frequent vacations to the seashore, while most headed right for the sands, mom and grandma headed for the local fish market. During our stay at the efficiency hotel, we ate “home-made” crab cakes, ocean fish, shrimp and whole fried soft-shell crab. We rarely fished ourselves, and always from a borrowed hook. As a hot young babe in a bikini, I was often offered food, beer and strangely, fishing gear while combing the beach merely looking for seashells. Grandma always knew how to handle whatever I caught, but she did reserve comment about any of the guys.

And then there was the unlimited saltwater taffy, and the huge bag of peanuts that only lasted as long as they did because they had to be shelled first. Grandpa taught me how to shell peanuts. He opened the first one, and then I was on my own. This was traumatic. It took me a long time to figure it out.

On the drive back home we bought a Smithfield ham. I have never tasted a real Smithfield ham. They were always to be used as gifts.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Potato disaster

I finally harvested the last of the potatoes after I found a large one on the open pathway with an animal bite taken out of it. I still rescued a few, and was busy daydreaming how I would eat them in the winter sometime, when it really matters.
When I opened my kitchen cabinet this week, I was disappointed (and a little grossed out) to see that a few of the potatoes had these weird sack-like pro"tuber"ances, and worms were crawling all over the shelf.
Oh well. Those visions of local potato chips might never be translated into reality, at least this season. I just hope the Jerusalem artichokes do as well as I need them to do. Right now they are towering over everything in the garden.
I am also very grateful that I have another kitchen cabinet. The other potatoes are still fine.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

August exceptions

Fish. Rice. Cinnamon.
I could go on no longer without the cinnamon, now that apple season is here. So, to celebrate, I whipped up a batch of fake dried apples out of an overgrown yellow crookneck squash. I just peeled the squash and took out the seed area (mine was old enough to just start being a seed cavity), sliced it up and dipped the slices into a mixture of honey, water and cinnamon and put them in the dehydrator.
Can't wait to try them in a mock apple pie recipe. Of course, the crust has to be made with amaranth, so I guess I should call it a mock apple mock pie creation. I harvested two varieties of amaranth today, and also a bushel of flour corn. The corn won't be fully dry for a week, and who knows how much I will yield. At least it was a better crop than last year. Some of the nicest ears were totally eaten by animals, so I have mostly the smaller ears.