sustainable agriculture and the end of cherry harvest

If you have read my blog at all, you probably have noticed that I am a big fan of sustainable agriculture and buying local, growing your own and farmers markets. With that in mind, I just want to call your attention to an article that Michael Pollen wrote about the farm bill here. He is my hero, he and Michael Moore, but that is a different post. Thanks to Chez Pim for posting it first so that I was aware of it and could send it on to others! He does mention the bad nutrition of tater tots, however I am a huge supporter of those little tots, everything in moderation. They were a potato once upon a time, after all and I did grow up on a potato farm (and fruit). Since my family has always been in the fruit and veg area, they are subsidy free. Yet, still cannot control the price they get for their products unless they sell them directly to the store or at the Farmer’s market. But I will save the rest of that discussion for another post or at least cocktail hour…..

Cherry harvest is now over on the farm (always a sigh of relief, no downpour of rain, no injuries), all except for the Balatons, a newer variety of tart cherry that gets picked by hand. If you can find these in the store, snap them up. They are tart, sweet, dark and juicy all at the same time. They really look like a dark sweet cherry, but in fact are a tart cherry. They make great pies, jam, sauces and I just eat them straight. Last year ours were distributed via my bro and a refrigerated truck to stores like Whole Foods in SE Michigan. Hopefully they will be again. Strangely enough I have no photos of cherries or of harvest on this computer. I will see what I can find and post one soon.

My next post will be about Pancetta our pig, finally. I actually had the entire post written up, went to move a photo and lost the whole post. I have been unable to speak to my computer for 2 hours now. I think we have made up now.

i’m out

Cherries, not just another berry…berries and other things I forgot to mention

The last two weeks have been busy with other things too, distracting things. I did a bone density test and found out I have the early stages of osteoporosis, not being even 40, this was a bit of a shocker (even though it runs in the family). Thank goodness for a new doc who looked up what treatment Celiac patients should have on a regular basis. I am getting two crowns put on my molars, this is just so much fun. And the kicker, I got my hair cut. Too much. It is now a bit (ok a lot) too short for me. I had at least 5 inches cut off and now feel surprised every time I see my self in the mirror. Of course it looked great the day I came home and I can’t seem to duplicate the look twice.   Moral of the story, if you are Celiac, get a bone density test done asap.  And take calcium supplements with vitamin D.  Do it.

And now, back to cooking and gardening….or gratuitous farming and shopping via traveling friends.

I am a lucky girl. I am from a fruit farm (3.5 hours and 200 miles away) and it just so happens that one of my friends (fellow homebrewer and hobby cook to boot) works with a fruit program on campus and has to go visit many cherry farms all season long, including a site at my dad’s. So, when he goes up, he lets me know and then I let my family know and beg for what ever is in season to be sent back down. I find this to be a near perfect grocery shopping method, esp for that it is free! Recently I received 5 quarts of strawberries and some new potatoes that were volunteers in the oat field (my bro planted oats to feed his pheasants and chicks). Then I received 4 quarts of cherries and 1 more quart of strawberries and more new potatoes. One of those trips blessed us with an organic, free range chicken that my brother had just processed. While I haven’t taken a photo of the raw frozen chicken, here are some fruit photos to make me go yum! I couldn’t eat all of the cherries before they were going spoil, so I pitted them and put them in jars of vodka. Of course then I remembered that I had done that with raspberries from the farm last fall and they are still in the fridge – beautiful pink juicy vodka laden fruit. Perfect for the cocktail that I keep forgetting to make.

cherries, white sweets for maraschino dark sweet cherries from the farm Bardenhagen Berries!

ah summer fruit from the farm

“Cherries, not just another berry” is the new marketing slogan for the Cherry Marketing institute.   Lots of cherry recipes on that site.  I tend to just eat them as is.  Now I just have to ask for some tart cherries and the new Balaton tart variety to be added to the shopping list.

i’m out

Ah…those little moments and some delish grilling

I know all three of my readers (if there are more, please feel free to comment for no reason at all!) are wondering why I haven’t been posting photos and blogging more often. I am sure I mentioned in an earlier post that we are putting my house on the market and we finally have. The sign is in the front yard and the house is looking spiffy. However, just because I don’t blog does not mean for a second that I don’t cook. I cook everyday (with the exception of the three days the kitchen cupboards were being painted) and I take photos most days. They are all on I just haven’t had/taken the time to write up some bloggity and cut and paste photos.

But first, before I do that, a little gushing moment. My significant other (boyfriend seems too trite, we are buying a house together after all) works in Ann Arbor now. This means he commutes an hour a day one way, plus a little bus time. One bonus to this is, he parks his car just a couple of miles from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Yesterday afternoon he asked if we needed anything from either store. Well, I had just driven though A2 for work last Friday (visiting a hog farm that had a complaint filed against it – a little idea as to what my day to day job can entail there). It had been a while since I had visited TJ’s, so I went there and stocked up. They have GF waffles and pancakes in their freezer by the way, and since I had to throw my Belgian waffle maker out for fear of it burning down the house, this is convenient, esp when I have house guests over because I don’t cook a lot of breakfast foods. But I digress. I was there on Friday, yet forgot to get the all so important mint shampoo we use from Whole Foods, so I said, we are low on shampoo and shower gel. Some how I have three giant bottles of conditioner. Therefore he made a trip over there after work.

I started cooking up some saag paneer, beef korma and aloo bhaji soup for dinner, because when I am in the mood for Indian, I want a variety, and always have to make one veg, one meat and one soup. So far, it seems that they don’t really combine veggies with meat in one dish, they are always separate – garlic, onion and tomatoes don’t count as veggies, those are seasonings. I have been studying Indian cuisine lately, as you probably could tell.

In walks my wonderful guy with two big brown bags from Whole Foods. He starts pulling items out and it is like Christmas to me. This guy knows how to get me. He unloads a pack of garlic and herb marinated lamb kabobs, chipotle marinated skirt steak kabobs, an herbed goat cheese, a rogue blue cheese that used penicillin vs bread mold to inoculate the culture, a new variety of frozen GF pizza crusts to try, a new variety of Gluten Free dark beer from England, and a Michigan made hard cider. I melted. Who wouldn’t? I looked at him and said, your bill was over $100 wasn’t it? He replied yep! We started laughing as we can’t seem to go to Whole Foods with out spending the paycheck. I should mention that he picked up several specialty beers for himself. And he remembered to get shampoo.

Ok, now for some cooking. I recently took the challenge given to me by a friend when I said I had too many cucumbers and they send me a recipe for barrel fermenting my pickles. I now have a 2 gallon container sitting on my counter for 4-6 weeks fermenting. It is actively fermenting, it sounds just like beer and has gone all cloudy. Very cool. We found these fermented pickles in the local grocery store next to the eggs and are trying to duplicate them. I hope it works!

We have been grilling a lot lately to keep the heat out of the kitchen. Grilled peaches with honey, black pepper and a creamy blue brie-ish cheese. Grillled asparagus and grilled polenta. Grilled corn and grilled salmon with a yummy garlicky glaze.

grilled peaches with blue cheese, honey and black pepper
grilled asparagus and grilled polenta
grilled filet of salmon with tacoma glaze

No recipes this go around, just yummy photos.

i’m out

The sacred first tomato…roasted broccoli with garlic

I am happy to inform you that I just ate my first ripe garden tomato of the year.  One jar of sauce left in the pantry.  Good timing.  Two more are on the way moving from that muted orange tint to red ripe.  In celebration I am making a loaf of cheese bread with parmeasan, garden rosemary, chive and thyme that I will turn into BLT’s tomorrow!

To give you an update on the spelt report:  I ate spelt off and on for two weeks (apparently not long enough) and then did a full blood test.  Nothing showed up.  My doc recommended that I get a second endoscope/biopsy since it has been well over a year since the first.  I talked to the gastro doc via an exchange of phone messages and apparently spelt is a grey area.  He says some with Celiac can eat it and some can’t.  So, I am doing the Spelt Gluten challenge for 5 weeks until the endoscope.  Then we will know for certain if the spelt is doing damage even though I do not have a reaction.  So, the cheesy bread is going to be made out of spelt. What a change to measure the ingredients for the flour from one bag vs 4 or 5.  Ok, two bags as I am using 3 parts spelt flour and 2 parts whole spelt flour as I ran out of white.

Stay tuned and I will try to post a tomato pic before I eat it next time. It finally rained and now my cucumbers are the size of rolling pins.  I am not used to that with cucu’s, only zucchini.  We ate the first of the broccoli too!  I sliced it up, tossed it in a bit of olive oil, s and p and coursely chopped garlic and roasted it at 400 F until it was crispy.  Try it, you may never eat broccoli any other way again.  I made it for a dear friend who was here helping me put a new hardwood floor in the kitchen and now she is a convert.

My blogging has slowed down as we are trying to get my house ready to put on the market, a market that is horrible at the moment in mid Michigan.  We found a place with 20 acres and a house that we want to put an offer on.  Then we can begin the plans…greenhouse, farm market garden..maybe some chickens…

But first, get rid of clutter, clean the house, fix things up and start packing….

i’m out

I really, really love washing dishes…still life with spice

My dishwasher fill valve has decided to move on. Funny how not having a functioning dishwasher can demotivate you. But not for long. The Sears guy was here today. The part will cost $20, labor $157 and there is the waiting. They must wait for the part and then we can reconnect 12 days later. So, for the next 12 days the dishes will be done by hand. Not really a big deal. My sink is a one sinker, so you have to wash and rinse at the same time, it just wastes water this way. I do more than half of the dishes by hand anyway as several would take up too much space in the dishwasher.

The thing to focus on is that I am lucky to have a dishwasher.

I was assembling some blackening seasoning a while back and realized that I had the perfect still life with spice on my hands. Here it is:

still life with spice

i’m out