Tuesday, October 30, 2007

CSA crop share 2007 23

This week is the second to last pick up of the season. How sad!

Looking at that incredible harvest and all those vibrant colors, it's so hard to believe that in just a few days, we'll be receiving the last share of 2007.

Blooming Glen has some great cheerleaders and received fabulous press and publicity, which all seems to have contributed to a flood of requests for 2008 CSA subscription registration. What a wonderful testament to the farmers' hard work, dedication and passion - and too, to the supporters and members of the community. Knowing that so many families, when given the choice, prefer naturally grown food from a local farm is reassuring and smile-inducing. I do hope that Blooming Glen's continued success and their neighbor's continued support inspires the CSA model to grow in this area.

As they say, "If you build it, they will come!"

> Cross-posted at www.farmtophilly.com.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

CSA crop share 2007 22

We got some pretty cool radishes this week. Our choice of Daikon, watermelon, or the mysterious Nero Tondo, which is described as “round, black, hot” by our farmers.

(Click photo to read notes at flick’r regarding names and quantities of this week’s share.)

My sister thought the kale was looking especially happy this week, and I have to agree!

> Cross-posted at www.farmtophilly.com.

PS: The cows were very interested in us this week. These pics by Avery:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Cooking together: Beet, Barley and Black Soybean Soup with Pumpernickel Croutons

Ms. Kelly and I were recently discussing ways in which we could encourage one another to try all the sure-to-be awesome recipes in Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. It's not like we don't like to cook, and it's not like Isa's recipes are ever less than brilliant. It's more about that bit of extra planning and time trying new recipes calls for. We just needed to come up with that little extra push. Choosing and cooking the recipes together seemed like a perfect solution, but the little bugger abandoned me for the big city a couple months ago. We're not terribly far away from each other, though it's far enough to be a pain in the ass.

And then, once again, the internets, specifically the Google, saved us.

We can cook them "together" using GTalk. Sweet!

We don't actually have copies of Veganomicon yet, and decided that we could warm up using a recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance, Isa's first book. Kelly and I both had an abundance of beets on hand from our CSA shares and with that in mind, she smartly chose the Beet, Barley and Black Soybean Soup with Pumpernickel Croutons recipe.

Smart, yes, but really... ew. I thought it sounded gross. I can honestly say that even if my pantry held nothing but barley and black soybeans and my fridge nothing but beets, I never would have considered making that recipe. Ever.

In the name of collaboration and our goal of trying new things, I played along.

The choosing, planning and prepping went well, as did the first half of cooking time. Somehow we became unsynchronized and she ended up eating 30 minutes before I did, but other than that, everything went really well.

Even better, the soup turned out awesome. The color was to die for and the light texture offered by the barley didn't weigh down the bowl. Most importantly, the relatively small list of ingredients allowed the fresh beet and dill flavors to take the lead in a simple broth of tamari and water.

Huh. Who knew I was a such borscht girl?

About half of the ingredients were local: beets, onion, dill and garlic from Blooming Glen, and pumpernickel bread from Bakers on Broad. Non local ingredients: black soybeans, barley, tamari, olive oil, balsamic vinegar (all organic and purchased at independently-owned health food stores) taragon leaves, pepper and salt.

We had fun, accomplished our goal and determined the venture a success. Yay, us! Hopefully, we'll be doing cooking together again soon :)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A peck of pickled... cucumbers!

To supplement my garden and CSA tomatoes for canning, I bought a box of tomatoes from the Shoemaker's road side stand.

A side note here, that the link will take you to the Shoemaker's machine shop. The family has run their welding and machining business and lived on Leidy Road since the 1950's. It's been as long as I can remember that they've sold their garden crops out front. Out here in the 'burbs, among all the McMansions and age-restricted townhome developments, there are occasional glimpses of realness that reflect the area's agricultural, small town roots. The several front yard road side stands in town are probably my favorite of those reflections :)

While I was there, I couldn't pass up a few delicious-looking cucumbers. I don't usually see cukes so late in the season, and my mouth was watering at the thought of a crispy cucumber sandwich.

Shortly after, when my tomatoes and I headed over to my dad's for canning, I was surprised with a bunch of local kirby cucumbers. Thanks pops, but yikes - what to do with them all? Naturally, pickles seemed out best option, though neither of us have preserved them before.

Thank goodness for the Pickle Preservation Society (seriously, who knew?!). They have several recipes on their site, and I copied the one we used below. We went with an easy, traditional kosher recipe that required no hot-packing, and also one that utilized local ingredients we had on hand. The recipe called for dill and garlic, which I received in my CSA share that week (though the dill was not flowering as the recipe recommends). Man, I just love it when things work out like that!

Kosher Pickles: The Right Way
From Mark Bittman, New York Times

1/2 cup kosher salt
1 cup boiling water
2 pounds small Kirby cucumbers, washed, and cut into halves or quarters
5 cloves or more garlic, peeled and smashed
1 large bunch dill, if desired, fresh and with flowers OR 2 tablespoons dried dill and 1 teaspoon dill seeds, OR a tablesoon of coriander seeds

1. In a large bowl*, combine the salt and boiling water; stir to dissolve the salt. Add a handful of ice cubes to cool down the mixture, then add all remaining ingredients.

2. Add cold water to cover. Use a plate slightly smaller than the diameter of the bowl and a small weight to hold the cucumbers under the water. Keep at room temperature.

3. Begin sampling the cucumbers after 2 hours if they are quartered, 4 hours if they are halved. In either case, it will probably take from 12 to 24 hours, or even 48 hours, for them to taste "pickly" enough to suit your taste. When they are, refrigerate them, still in the brine. The pickles will continue to forment as they sit, more quickly at room temperature, more slowly in the refrigerator.

Yield: About 30 pickle quarters.
*We went with pickling in one of those giant industrial-food-sized jars instead of bowls. We tried the bowls, the jar was just way easier to manage.

These turned out quite garlicky, so next time we'd probably use only three or four cloves. I can totally see how people get into making their own "special recipe" pickles. With slight adjustments to so many different and easy-to-find ingredients (garlic, hot pepper, peppercorns, mustard seed, onion, celery, sugar), there are endless taste possibilities. This is definitely a project we'll be doing again next season!

> Cross-posted at www.farmtophilly.com.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

CSA crop share 2007 21

(Click photo to read notes at flick’r regarding names and quantities of this week’s share.)

And an extra view this week:

> Cross-posted at www.farmtophilly.com.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

My one and only. Like, EVER.

I was reading through the forums at the MotheringDotCommune website (the online forums for Mothering Magazine) and came across an interesting thread titled "Any Moms of an Only Child." I was intrigued for two reasons. Number one, because I have an only child, heh. And Number two, because I've found my only child scenario to be very different than those of my closest friends (both online and off) who either have several children or none.

Now that I think about it... I don't think I know any moms of one. Huh.

Anyway, finding this thread prompted me to add my voice, which kind of caught me off guard. Not the adding my voice part, that's rarely a problem, but the adding my voice to this particular subject. Considering, apparently, that all my friends are either one extreme or the other, one would think the topic would've come up. It almost seems taboo, or at the very least, to be a sensitive subject to approach.

But why?

We're talking about such a basic topic here. Maybe it falls too close to sex and/or religion and/or politics? Even so, the reproduction of the human race greatly effects so much of this planet and society, how can we not talk about it?

At any rate, clearly the thread got me thinking. Too bad for you, eh?

There were so many reasons why the moms chose to be moms-to-one: sustainability of the earth; having the ability to travel said earth more easily; experiencing a difficult pregnancy or infertility issues; not having the resources (time, money, energy) to afford more children; just plain wanting one kid; and on and on.

Of course this is all one-sided, and what would be really interesting (to me, because I'm selfish like that) is to hear why people choose to have more than one or none. Obviously, I can relate pretty easily to the moms about having an only, and it's nice to find a tribe of ladies in a similar situation as my own, but hearing differing opinions and thoughts makes for a way richer head trip, don't you think?

And so, in conclusion (that was for you, kah)...

Really though, in the name of self-awareness, honesty and mindfulness, I'm copying my reply posted to the forum, and placing it here on my blog. It's neither long and detailed, nor very opinionated, it's just more than I would normally put here, and for no good reason. Important topics are sometimes hard to talk about. Like MPG's and plastic bags and veg*nism and chocolate. Wait chocolate isn't hard to talk about. Though it's VERY important!

By the way, for all this disclosure, you can thank St. Francis and OMSH for their recent inspiration.

Hi, everyone!

I'm a single momma to a 10-year-old monster. There are lots of reasons why I've chosen to have only one child, all of which have evolved and changed over the years. Currently, my primary reasons involve sustainability and durability of our planet. No explanation needed I'm sure, as I see many of those reasons listed here

Of course, I've found being a single mother affects my decision greatly, as well. Becoming unexpectedly pregnant as a teenager determined that my son and I would be faced with some unique challenges, and that things might not be as easy as they could've been had I done things in a more traditional manner. Overall, I love being a mom and I don't regret a single moment of it. That's not to say that things haven't been nearly completely overwhelming (financially, emotionally, spiritually) many, many, many times over the past ten years. Though I wouldn't want trade any of it for a second, and I know that my son and I have an amazing relationship because of it, I certainly don't have the desire to repeat it

I appreciate the general sense of control and manageability that comes with one child, which is also something I've seen mentioned here, and is especially important to me not only as a single parent, but one who works full time out of the house. I can't imagine having to not only shuttle two kids around to lessons, practices, etc., but also afford everyone's interests. And in the middle of it all, still have the energy, time and money to hit the gym and cook healthy meals. In my house, I feel like we're already using all of our resources and adding another life would cause something (like sanity?) to suffer. I'm in awe of how parents make it work.

Also, I'm pretty sure fighting with one kid about bedtime/homework/showering/incessant texting/picking scabs at the dinner table/et. al. is just plenty for me. We all know what a mess one kid can make, I don't need to experience the carnage three or four little monsters could cause on a daily basis. I mean, isn't it generally a good idea to not be outnumbered?

It's funny because I absolutely love when my house is full of kids. I enjoy the loudness and energy and happiness and even the mess I just don't think I'd love it every day.

Eh, who am I kidding? The real reason why I'm not having any more children is because the one I already have is my favorite. We're not supposed to have favorites - I mean, really, what kind of mom would I be if I had another?!


PS: I do know two other mommas of one - Amy and Leanne, AC's bro's mom (bro below)!

CSA crop share 2007 20

My sister and I split our share each week, and it only recently occurred to me, the extent of our literalness.

> Cross-posted at www.farmtophilly.com.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Busy bee!

You know that FedEx commercial?

"Worky work! Busy bee!"

God, that cracks me up :)

Are you a busy bee preserving some of this fantastic fall food? I've scheduled the last four weekends around dates with my Foodsaver and Ball jars. I'm sure there's a joke somewhere in there. Maybe something about "cold" versus "hot" dates?

Anyway, so far I've preserved pumpkin, peppers, pears, peaches (what's with the P theme?), butternut squash and tomatoes. Details to be forthcoming - as soon as I can slow down on all the worky work! This is the most food preservation I've done and I'm open to any tips, suggestions and/or recipes. Share 'em, if you got 'em!

> Cross-posted at www.farmtophilly.com.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

St. Francis Feast Day

My simple garden.

Does St. Francis rock, or what?

The Saint of Ecology, He was the first saint to perceive that creatures communicate not only with their own kind, but also that there is communication between species. It sounds so simple: there must be a subtle bond between everything, right? We're all creatures of God/the universe/Mother Earth/whatever/etc., and so we're all connected.
"Francis was in awe of the swallow, the cricket and the wolf. 'Where the modern cynic sees something 'buglike’ in everything that exists,' observed the German writer-philosopher Max Scheler, 'St. Francis saw even in a bug the sacredness of life.'

"St. Francis of Assisi addressed creatures as 'sisters' and 'brothers,' that is, as equals, not as subjects to be dominated. " --via american catholic
Just as importantly, St. Francis recognized this synchronicity throughout all of ecology. Water and the moon are sisters, fire and the sun are brothers. The flower, the tree, the grass, the worm, the bird, the star, all are brothers and sisters, and all must be considered and respected. This philosophy is echoed throughout religions all across the globe, most strikingly for me in a beautiful letter from Chief Seattle: "All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it." St. Francis so believed in this web, that he even appealed to Brother Fire to be good to him when, in the last years of his life, the surgeon opened the veins between his ears and his eyebrows with a red-hot iron in an attempt to cure him of his eye ailment.

St. Francis was able to communicate this connection and peace because he lived a very simple life. Growing up, though he always had a sense of his discontent regarding his environment, St. Francis enjoyed the easy life that came along with being born into a well-to-do family. In young adulthood, after a stint in the army and an illness, he had several visions that prompted him to "give it all up,"and dedicate his life to God. He turned his back on his inherited wealth, and so his father, and renounced all property. (Similar to young Siddhartha's journey, yes?) This life dedicated to poverty however, was not about suffering or going without. It was about removing earthly bonds, cutting them off so that they didn't hold him back from his mission to spread the word of peace. It was by living this simple life that St. Francis could demonstrate the connectedness between human, creature and earth.

What a guy!

In his honor, I'm planning to reconnect with the simple things in my life and rededicate myself to the messages of love and peace. For me, the first step in that is securely connecting my mind, body and soul - a little detox, if you will - so that I can completely affix myself to my environment. This is a bit more personal that I usually get in this blog, but I'm putting it here in writing, so that it will be.

Happy Feast Day, St. Francis!
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

A big *MUAH to Stefanie Francis, who made St. Francis "our saint" :)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

CSA crop share 2007 19

No picture of the share board this week, but I think this beautiful share speaks for itself.

Broccoli and Bok Choy and greens - yum!

> Crossed-posted at www.farmtophilly.com.