Sunday, February 24, 2013

Local Food Challenge - End of February

While Ken is away at the organic conference I have been experimenting with hash browns.  I had a bunch of tiny potatoes that I did not want to roast or peel, so I grated them up, squeezed,  added a bit of salt to take out more moisture, and laid out in a colander while I got the rest of breakfast ready.

I chopped some parsley and whipped up some eggs, placed some of our unfrozen strawberries in a dish with a bit of cream.  And I retrieved Ken's ketchup from the refrigerator.

Once the cast iron skillet was warm on the old cook stove, I added some of our pork fat, and after giving the potatoes one last squeeze ( I added the starchy liquid to some soup stock), I spaced them out in the skillet - usually I try to do too many and I may get a crust with mushy middle.  We like crisp here.

After flipping the hash browns, I cooked my eggs in another pan.  Plated up and voila.  When company calls I will add some side pork.
Purchases: local cream, salt, pepper, black tea, vinegar and spices for Ken's ketchup.

Meanwhile our friends hosting Ken at the organic conference have been sending food photos - not sure if this is to let me know what I am missing or what....
 Here was their breakfast this morning.  The eggs and tortillas came from Keppers

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Baby Salad Greens vs. Heads of Lettuce

Plants under a light; cat outside
In winter the days are so short here that little grows.  Eliot Coleman, well known organic grower and author, calls this the Persephone period.  This name comes from Persephone, the daughter of Demeter the harvest goddess, who must return to Hades and the underworld each winter.  During her absence and her mother's  sadness plants do not grow.  During this time of short days and no plant growth, Coleman tries to maintain full grown plants using greenhouse and row covers for winter harvest.

Winter greens
Our goal is to provide vegetables all year.  This comes from two things: we eat food from our garden all year and our CSA members told us how much they hate going to the grocery store after a season of our produce.  So, we began winter shares with stored crops like onions, and potatoes and beets and more

Greens before trimming
Last year Ken began experimenting with micro greens and salad greens.  A bag of greens in winter in is a real treat.  We work with our limited window space and cut the greens we have each month.  

Pea shoots

Often people ask why we don't do baby greens all year.  That is very easy to answer.  Seed costs.  Labor. Efficiency.

Greens after trimming

Imagine planting a seed and clipping it with a scissors for a forkful of leaves. 

Lettuce in late April

Imagine planting a seed, transplanting a seed, cultivating once or twice and getting a full head of lettuce or endive or a Chinese cabbage.  

Which would you do?

Local Food Challenge February Week Four

What's local for this meal?

First, I would like to thank my patient husband Ken as he waits for me to snap photos where the food looks appetizing and the background piles of unfinished projects are minimal!

Today it was pork spare ribs slow cooked in a variant of a Jane Brody barbeque sauce recipe - saute onions, add 1/4 cup vinegar, 2 tablespoons molasses instead of brown sugar,  powdered mustard instead of prepared ball park mustard(1/2 t - 1T - how hot do you like it?), juice from one lemon, home canned hot sauce and tomatoes instead of ketchup, and instead of my usual 1 tablespoon each of fish sauce (from Asian grocery) and organic tamari, I used some Worcestershire that Loyal made from unknown recipe and ingredients.  Bring the sauce to a boil and simmer a bit to meld flavors while browning the ribs in a heavy skillet.  Combine and bake at low temperature, turn frequently  until well cooked and slightly browned.  

We also had left over corn bread - our corn masa soaked in our kefir, add and beat one egg and sweetener like honey if desired.  In separate bowl combine 1 cup of flour or for the gluten intolerant 1 cup rolled buckwheat groats, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon baking powder (I mix my own to avoid gmo ingredients). Place pie "pan" or quiche pan in oven.  Preheat to 425 degrees. Once hot add 3 tablespoons fat (our lard or butter here) until melts. Swirl in pie plate to grease pan. Pour most of the melted fat to masa mixture stirring so egg doesn't cook.  Stir in flour mixture gently and pour into greased, warm pie pan.  Bake about 15 minutes until sides come away from pan and top has browned a bit.

For a vegetable it was broccoli from the freezer with a creamy cheese sauce and a sprout and baby green salad with cultured vegetables.

Purchases from unknown location: molasses, fish sauce, tamari, lemon, vinegar, baking soda, flour or buckwheat groats, salt
Locally sourced purchases: milk for kefir, milk and cheese for broccoli sauce.
From our farm: meat, onions, garlic,  and tomatoes for sauce, corn and egg for corn bread.  broccoli, salad greens, vegetables for cultured vegetables.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Local Food Challenge Week Three

Today I realized I had not posted any local food meals this week - eek!  So today's three sisters lunch included the following: our black beans with sauteed onions and chopped chicken breast with turmeric, cumin, smoked paprika and chipotle, cooked squash with salt pepper, a beaten egg dropped in a skillet of chopped nuts in butter from local milk, and corn bread from our corn.  Pea sprouts with a creamy kefir dressing.

Purchased ingredients: flour in cornbread, baking soda, spices, and some local milk for the cornbread, butter and kefir.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Potato Recipe

Leftover mashed potatoes?

Beat an egg, add some onion trimmings or minced onion and mix.  Form patties and dip in flour

Fry up in a cast iron skillet on the cook stove.  Flip.

Serve with home made hot sauce

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This box has red and yellow onions, shallots, garlic, carrots, beets, black radishes, sweet dumpling squash, pie pumpkins, fingerling and red skinned potatoes, celery root, and the last rutabagas.

Field Notes.  Ken continues planting.Although many farms stop planting and harvesting, we are proud of our winter boxes.  And the greens got better from last year - both in volume and variety.  Ken loves this challenge.  We want to provide vegetables year around.

The onions are up.  Each year I get excited when Ken plants them because they are the first planting for the new season.   And they pop up folded and then spring open.  It is like a dance chorus line.  And it is exciting as day old chicks!

Ken is also checking air and soil in all the greenhouses so he knows as soon as he can plant.  He is still formulating his planting plan for each greenhouse to use each for it s best assets

From the Kitchen.  Greens!  As the days lengthen, and there is more sun, the greens are growing, so we have a real mix: lettuce, brassicas, and pungent greens like baby endive.  And soon with more sun and heat, we can move from the small greens to larger.  It is much more economical to plant once, cultivate once or twice, and harvest a full head for that seed.  And a beautiful head of lettuce has more flavor than the baby greens.  I used a yogurt vinaigrette at lunch today.

The cabbage today is a full season cabbage.  I tend to cook these.  I like to saute an onion, stir in some sliced or chopped cabbage to wilt slightly and then make a white, cheese, or cream curry sauce.
We also add chopped cabbage to soups and stews.

We have been cooking squash and pumpkins as they develop a bruise or soft spot.  Ken usually makes a pie, and I toast some nuts in a cast iron pan and then add some butter then cooked squash and once it is warmed I flip the pan to serve so the nuts are on top.  Sometimes I add a beaten egg for more of a souffle texture.

I did not cut the growing tops off some of the roots.  We often cut the top at the shoulder and set the cut side in a dish and grow out greens.  Beets and rutabagas and radishes are all really nice.

'Til Next Month

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What's a ball mill? How isit used in making glazes?

In the post on Ken making glazes, I mentioned a ball mill.  What's a ball mill I was asked.  A ball mill is a jar or large drum that opens at one end. A substance is placed in the mill with porcelain balls and some water. 

The ball mill is closed, and rotated so that the porcelain balls grind the substance.

At first the mill is quiet, but as the substance is ground finer and finer, the porcelain balls hit each other and the sound of their hitting each other gets louder.

Then the  mill is opened, and emptied into a colander and then a strainer .

Voila.  Glaze

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Glaze Tests Continue

From the sample to the notes
What is the first thing you do in the morning?

Check the glaze tests, of course!  

Ken is checking to see how various samples - including his local clay came out of the test kiln.

Clay tests in front, glaze samples in back

He was surprised by some samples - even after all these years, it is a lot like Christmas...

But more tweaking remains to be done - stay tuned!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Local Food Challenge February Week Two

What are we eating here in winter?  A friend asked me to shift focus from the negative - pesticides, gmo's, and such.  Concentrate on the beauty and joy of good food. Good advice.  

As a result, I have been thinking of what I eat and how far it traveled to my kitchen and plate. I keep telling people to eat local food; just what am I eating?  

So, I am taking the local food challenge NOW, not August when it is easy to source local food.  My goal is to demonstrate that we can eat locally all year.  Today I served the following at midday:

Baked chicken from our farm, stuffed with our homemade sauerkraut, 

roasted onions, carrots, and potatoes 
with a pea vine garnish,

with gravy from the chicken and vegetables drippings,

and a sprout salad with cultured vegetables.

What is not from our farm: salt to make the sauerkraut and cultured vegetables, pepper, a tablespoon of organic flour, olive oil and vinegar for the salad dressing.

Pottery and place mats also locally made.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Local Food Challenge - February

Winter,  when we have time to think, also means we have time to cook.  So I am thinking and cooking as much local food as possible.  Usually these local food challenges happen in August when there is a great deal of local food available.

Today I made tortillas. 
And dog food.  Part of dog food is cooking up beans.  So we cook double the amount - half of the beans go to dog food and we save out the other half for us.  Ken ran them all through the food processor, so I took part of our beans, and with our lard, our onions and our meat made re-fried beans.  Combined the re-fried beans with the tortillas, Ken's hot sauce (our tomatoes, peppers, etc. He might have bought the vinegar), sprouts (some seeds from our plants, but some purchased at co-op).

Add a locally brewed beer and voila - another local meal. Purchased items: lime to process corn, spices, salt and pepper, vinegar in hot sauce, some seeds for sprouting, and the beer (I did not brew this batch).

Making Dog Food

Years ago when we brought our dog to a non-traditional vet, we heard that we could make our own dog food - most purchased dog food is like eating tv dinners.  Well, that began Ken making dog food from the vet's pet food recipe book.

And today I am making dog food. 

Once this is done, we add beans, and things like kelp, brewers yeast, etc.

And then I hope to get off the computer and away from the cook stove and back to the loom!

Glaze Testing continues

 A few days back, Ken ran glaze tests.  He had to let the glaze ingredients hydrate, re mix, apply to test pottery, label, and fire.

Glaze tests and local clay test
Now he looks at the test pieces, the list of ingredients in the test, and tweaks.

Of course he also continues research - back to the pottery shelf.

Soon there will be improved samples and more tests.

My First Tortillas

 For years Ken and I have grown corn.  Ken researched how to make masa a few years back. 

Cooking the dried corn in lime (like pickling lime,not the green citrus fruit) makes more nutrition available to humans.  

This tradition is still common in cultures with a long maize history.

So, today I moved forward to making tortillas.  
We had tried this before without success. 

After a few tips, voila tortillas from our own corn.  What could be better!