Archive | July, 2007

Blue And Green All Over

31 Jul

Eating Liberally CowQ: So what tastes good and is blue and green all over?

A: Eating Liberally.

I just stumbled upon Eating Liberally, part of the Cosmopolity network (whose catchy slogan is “Political Action Through Social Interaction”). Eating Liberally is a wonderful combination of progressive politics and food activism. They have local chapters that bring people together to talk and connect over food, building community and “nourishing the netroots.” The website is rich in news, articles, great recipes, and other pleasures of the mind and the body. So take some time and check them out.

Adventures in Pickling

26 Jul

From wikipedia.orgLast week we got some great pickling cucumbers in our farm share. So last night we made refrigerator pickles. The big debate – dill or sweet? Josh likes dill, I like sweet. Luckily there are plenty of cucumbers at the farm and we’ll be getting more in this coming week’s share. This week Josh got his way and dill pickles we did make. We used a recipe that came from a little cookbook that was included with our canning pot. Hopefully it works just as well when you stick the jars in the fridge instead of processing them in boiling water.

We canned some (the boiling-water canning way) the past couple of years but they didn’t turn out so well. The cucumbers got mushy, and this past year they came out so salty they were inedible. So sad to throw out jars and jars of pickles! Hence our decision this year to try a different method. (I’m realizing as I gain more experience – canning is always an experiment and the results are often difficult to duplicate, for better or for worse!)

Hopefully the results will be better this time around. I’ve heard that the cucumbers stay crisper when you do them this way. For now our pickles are marinating in their jars in the back of the fridge. I’m eager to see how they turn out. I’ll keep you posted.

Check out this site where I found all sorts of pickling recipes I’m interested in trying later this season!

Vegetarian Inclinations

24 Jul

So, I’ve been saying that what I really want is to have a closer relationship with my food. And that I have. Every week I go to the farm and I see the fields, how the crops are progressing through this season, I chat with Farmer Dan and the farm interns, I go out and pick snap peas or whatever else is ready. But that’s not all. As I’m walking around the farm I can hear the chickens cluck-clucking away, punctuated occasionally by a rooster’s proud crowing. I see the big black cows staring calmly at me over the edge of the electric fence, blinking with their big eyelashes. And the little pigs, oh the pigs! I haven’t seen the pigs at the farm the past two years we’ve been members. Were they kept off site before? Continue reading

Food, Place, Memory

21 Jul

My friend Abby Dallmann recently returned for a brief visit in the middle of a two year stint working and living in Hungary. My wife (and co-author of this blog), Erica lived in Hungary for a year when she was sixteen, and so the two of them swapped stories and compared notes about the area. When Erica was there, living in a small town called Szeged, it was nearly impossible to find a person who spoke English, or find many foods commonly found in America.

In contrast, Abby reported that she and her family were having a hard time practicing their Hungarian (a notoriously difficult language to master) because so many people speak English. Abby is also living in Budapest amongst a fairly large diplomatic and expatriate crowd. She said that she can find most any American food from peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to Doritos, but that it usually involves a long drive out to a oversized supermarket (often a chain which has moved in from Germany or other near-by countries).

Abby told us that the only reason she really feels compelled to track down such items is for her kids. She remarked on the profound way that kids associate food with place. Her kids are both pretty young, first grade and preschool age. For the most part they have been handling this adventure with aplomb, but when they get lonely for home it is often in the form of a desire for some familiar food. This got me thinking about the unique intersection of food, place, and memory.

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Keeping up with the vegetables

19 Jul

Still trying to find a balance with the amount of vegetables we bring home from the farm every week. This week I really tried to curb myself because I knew we still had a bunch of stuff from last week to work our way through. That daunting head of napa cabbage! I’ve made two different types of asian inspired salads and still have some left to use up. Otherwise we’re doing pretty well. Been snacking on the snap peas and snow peas and still eating lots of salads. We made delicious zucchini -blueberry bread and muffins. Continue reading

Save the Bees

18 Jul

I just read a couple of articles recently about the worrisome trend of bee populations dwindling. Over the past 50 years the number of bee colonies has shrunk by half. The phenomenon is called Colony Collapse Disorder. Worker bees basically just fly off and die. Nobody seems to be certain about the causes but potential factors include: viruses and bacteria (toxins in genetically modified crops may have an impact on the health of bees making them more susceptible), parasites, cell phone frequencies (might interfere with bees’ navigation back the hive), genetically modified crops, pesticides, and global climate change. Coincidence that bee populations started to decline about 50 years ago and it was also around 50 years ago that genetically modified crops, chemical fertilizers and pesticides made their way onto the scene? Think of the impact this could have on our food supply. I read that about one third of what we eat is pollinated by bees – most of our fruits and veggies. But it extends even further than that – bees pollinate alfalfa, which is fed to cows, which produce milk. The negative impact of GMOs, chemical fertilizers, and chemical pesticides is so vast. I feel like I’ve just begun to scratch the surface when it comes to my own education on these matters. There is so much more for me to learn and it scares me to think there is so much more bad news out there.

If you’re interested, check out these articles:

“Buzz Kill” by Tom Sturm, published in the Valley Advocate July 5, 2007:

and “Moving a hive of bees while saving the swarm” by T. Jeff Williams, published in the San Francisco Chronicle June 16, 2007:

Sexy Tomatoes

16 Jul

Ugly RipeNot long ago NPR did a story about the Florida Tomato Committee, who hired an advertising firm to create a new image for the little red crop with an identity problem (is it a fruit or is it a vegetable? You call it tomato, I call it tomato…). Why do Florida tomatoes need an advertising agency? It seems that in the wake of recent storms and distribution problems, grocery stores began ordering fewer and fewer tomatoes. So Florida farmers were suffering crop damage from the weather and lower than normal demand. The reporter painted a grim picture of Florida fields, stained red with rotting tomatoes.

The story compared this tomato makeover to a few other famous food marketing campaigns from milk mustaches, to the other white meat and beef (it’s what’s for dinner tonight). Up to this point I had never considered the meaning of marketing vegetables. In the case of tomatoes, they are such a staple in my diet that I have a hard time imagining a need to advertise them. Even with my years working in communications, I don’t know that I would have thought of advertising as the silver bullet to move more tomatoes from the vine to the table. I can’t help but wonder, is advertising really a solution, or is it a symptom of a much larger problem?

Continue reading

Wants and Needs

16 Jul

The first time Erica and I walked through the big barn doors into the cool shade of the CSA barn, we were struck by the commotion inside. The roof over the biggest room in the barn is held up by two 8×8 timbers. Both are surrounded by tables where big baskets overflow with lettuce, kale, and cabbage. On our first day carrots, radishes, and a few early chives were laid out on the table in neat piles as well.

Families and farmers milled around the tables of vegetables, while friends stood in the corners getting caught up, nibbling on the fresh produce they were carrying. The entire place smelled of warm dirt, kicked up from kids chasing each other in one door and out the other.

In our first weeks at the farm Erica and I arrived each day to pick up our share, with wide eyes. We marveled at the bountiful food and community that this place encompassed. We filled our canvass bags with nearly reckless abandon, taking everything we could take, as much as we were allotted. We then made our way over to the big chalkboard map of the farm’s many fields. The variously colored chalk outlines tracing the different crops. With scissors in hand we stomped out into the fields to gather strawberries, green beans, snap peas, and herbs. Some days we spent hours in the fields talking over the leafy rows about the days past or the week ahead.
Continue reading

Northwest observations

16 Jul

Written on 7/6/07

While we were in Seattle we spent some time wandering around Pike Place Market. I love it there. It’s such an overwhelming whirlwind of sights and smells. The food and flowers are so gorgeous. I can even appreciate the beauty of the oysters and big dead salmon sprawled out on beds of ice for everyone walking by to admire. I bought some local, organic bing cherries. They were at their peak and amazing – probably the best I’ve ever had. Also tried some apriums (cross between an apricot and plum). Interesting but didn’t blow me away. Driving from Seattle to the San Juan Islands, the road to the ferry terminal in Anacortes was lined with farm stands selling strawberries and cherries. I always associate Washington with apples and I forget it has so much more to offer.

Return to the farm

16 Jul

Written on 7/6/07

Back from vacation on the west coast. We did manage to pick up our farm share right before we left town though. We froze two beautiful quarts of strawberries, made a couple of big salads, and gave most everything else to family or friends. Though I am sorry to say we came back from vacation to realize there was some kale that didn’t get eaten up before we left. Shame on us! Continue reading