I skipped a couple of The Perennial Plate episodes (number 79 and 80) in my plan to cover their Real Food Road Trip from Season Two since Daniel Klein and Mirra were on a bit of a hiatus. So here’s Episode 81, which covers two of my favorite topics: growing food and New York City. And, one of my favorite places on the East Coast: Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture.
It’s a Farming State of Mind.
Join Bill and me as we drive across town to pick up produce from our winter CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), Lakeshore Family Farm. In this short video, we’ll explain how a CSA works and show you what we got in our half share one week in February. Special thanks to Grand Rapids radio station WLAV for providing a rockin’ soundtrack for a Wednesday afternoon road trip.
Please share this post with your friends, especially those who might want to learn more about a CSA program.
Posted in Buy Local, Cooking Videos, Eat Your Veggies, Happy Food, Produce from the Garden
Tagged Buy Local, cooking demo, food blog, foodie, garden produce, Happy Food, vegetables, you are what you eat
Remember all the turnips Bill and I got in our CSA share this week? Here’s the first dish we used them in. Bill cooked last night and created a melange of sliced carrots and diced turnips, plus last fall’s chopped leeks from our freezer—all sautéed in olive oil with salt and pepper. Simple and delicious. I like how the leeks balance with the flavor of the turnips.
For a few years now, Bill and I have been getting greens from a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), Mud Lake Farm. I love having fresh greens in the dead of winter, grown in the farm’s greenhouse. But this is the first time we’ve tried a more traditional CSA program–the kind where you sign up and pay for a share or half-share of produce and get a “grab bag” of vegetables for the week.
One reason we haven’t tried it before is because just two of us live in our household. Even a half share seemed like a lot. Another reason is because I stock up on produce at the Holland Farmers Market straight through December, squirreling away squash and onions and carrots and apples in the fridge or coolers in the garage. We also have a variety of frozen veggies and berries in our freezer from last summer. The third reason is because, frankly, I wanted more control over what veggies I got. (I really hate beets.)
But I kept seeing Lakeshore Family Farm’s posts on Facebook about what was in the CSA share for the week and, even with beets as a potential vegetable, we decided to try it out. I think the clincher was the “trade table.” I’ll explain.
If you haven’t participated in a CSA program before, here’s how it works with Lakeshore Family Farm: You sign up and pay in advance for an eight-week program. For their Winter CSA Program (half-share of produce) it’s $120. That comes out to $15 per week for fresh, local veggies. And all I have to do is drive across town to pick them up at a community location on my pick-up day (Wednesday).
Today was the first day, and what did I find in my share? Beets. Why aren’t there any in the photo? Because there was a bag of turnips on the trade table and you’re allowed to swap one item. I gladly left my bag of beets and took someone else’s turnips. Check out the photo above to see everything we got: apples, onions, celery root, acorn squash, turnips, sweet potatoes, more turnips, and carrots. (Can you buy all that for $15 or less at the grocery store?)
Yes, we have a lot of turnips. So watch my blog to see what we do with them. But, really, isn’t this the way we’re supposed to be eating anyway, in season? It’s like strawberries: When they’re ripe in Michigan I eat them almost everyday. Their season lasts about a month, and then I don’t eat them anymore except for what’s stored in our freezer. But it’s better than consuming produce from thousands of miles away. And what I like about Lakeshore Family Farm is they post produce recipes on their website so you can get inspiration for what to do with all those turnips (or beets!).
Graphic via Grist.org
Great news for locavores and anyone else who is trying to buy more fresh, local produce where you live: The number of winter farmers markets–those operating at least once between November and March–has risen by 52% this year!
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the number has increased from 1,225 in 2011 to 1,864 in 2012.
Graphic via Grist.org
The graphic shows California, New York, and Florida topping the list, but here are the 2012 top 10 states for winter farmers markets:
1. California with 284
2. New York with 196
3. Florida with 105
4. Maryland with 70
5. Texas with 63
6. North Carolina with 62
7. Massachusetts with 59
8. Pennsylvania with 58
9. Georgia with 55
10. Virginia with 53
It’s great to see a few states in the snowy North making the list!
Posted in Buy Local, Eat Your Veggies, In the News, Produce from the Garden
Tagged Buy Local, farm to table, farmers' market, food blog, garden produce, locavore, vegetables, winter market
The Sara Hardy Farmers Market in downtown Traverse City, Michigan, was hopping on a beautiful fall Saturday, the last of September. Also known as the Cherry Capital, Traverse City is the largest city in Northern Lower Michigan and home of the National Cherry Festival. The farmers market is located in a central spot, as Bill is pointing out on the map.
Although the cherries are long gone by September, there’s still plenty of local produce to enjoy in the fall in Michigan. I love seeing how many people come out to support the area’s farmers.
Usually when I visit Northern Lower Michigan I spend my time in the Leelanau Peninsula so I tend to visit the Leelanau County farmers markets. This is the first time I actually stayed in Traverse City. And what a fun weekend it was. The fall produce was amazing….everything from potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and apples to honey, leeks, kale, and pumpkins.
Once you’ve got your produce, it’s a short drive to a number of wineries in the region, such as Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery. Fall is a great time to visit Northern Lower Michigan!
Posted in Buy Local, Eat Your Veggies, Happy Food, Produce from the Garden, Travel
Tagged Buy Local, food blog, garden produce, Happy Food, Sara Hardy Farmers Market, Traverse City, True North, vegetables, you are what you eat
I’m not sure what the name is for my style of gardening. Half-assed? Amateur? Laissez-faire? Thankfully, I look at gardening as a creative release—without the perfectionism I apply to my writing profession—but you gotta wonder what the heck happened when you have a garden full of parsley.
I already mentioned in my post about okra that my garden is nothing to speak of this year. I am the one to blame, although the heat and drought didn’t help. But I also love the experimentation of gardening, which is why I have collards and onions and kale scattered among a couple rows of planted (by me) carrots. So when the parsley decided to go to seed–when? last fall?–I let her go. My parsley is free!
There’s nothing like going out to snip fresh parsley for pasta or taboulleh. But I’ve got more than I can use, especially since Bill isn’t a big fan of it. I gave away a plant. I put some chopped parsley in the freezer. I’m sure I’ll put more in the freezer. (Drying herbs isn’t an option at our house because of cats and another prolific species: spiders.) And I plan to repot some plants for my winter herb garden. Or, I can just leave it tucked cosily between the tomato plants to seed itself next year.
So last weekend when I was at the Holland Farmers Market, I was telling one of the farmers about my prolific parsley. He suggested selling it to a local organic food store but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go through the red tape of retail. On the way home I thought: Why not barter?
This post is an advertisement for my local community: If you want parsley and you’ve got something to trade for it, I’d love to barter with you. If you’re a nonprofit in need, I’m also willing to donate. And, I’m also open to suggestions for preserving and sharing my bounty!
Last month I was excited to learn that Michigan ranks in the top ten states for its number of winter farmers markets. Even though the Holland Farmers Market, my most local one, isn’t open in the dead of winter, the Fulton Street Farmers Market in Grand Rapids is. Generally, it’s a bit of a drive for me on a Saturday morning, but Bill was planning to be in town today so he paid a visit, picked up some produce from Visser Farms as well as some bratwursts from Crane Dance Farm, and took these photos. For now, the market is temporarily located in the Salvation Army parking lot while construction is underway to expand and upgrade the current site, including the addition of permanent roof structures to provide shelter for this open-air market.
Thanks to these hardy folks for enduring the elements each week to provide us their local goods!
Posted in Buy Local, Eat Your Veggies, Grassfed meat, Produce from the Garden
Tagged Buy Local, Crane Dance Farm, food blog, foodie, garden produce, Grassfed meat, Happy Food, life is fare, locavore, vegetables, Visser Farms, you are what you eat
I’m always looking for ways to whip up something quick and easy for dinner. My lavash pizza obsession is one way to solve the dilemma because the frozen Millet & Flax Lavash that Bill and I buy from Sami’s Bakery thaws quickly. So it’s just a matter of figuring out what to put on it.
We had a package of bratwursts from Creswick Farms that we recently got at the West Michigan Co-op. And I still had some curly kale in the garden. So here’s what I did….
First I braised the brats in a skillet to cook them through.
I let the water burn off in the skillet and added a little olive oil to brown them.
Meanwhile, I chopped the kale from my garden and steamed it, covered, in the microwave for one minute.
Then I sliced the brats and browned them again in the same olive oil and skillet.
Once they were done, I put them aside and sautéed half a large yellow onion, sliced, in the same pan.
When all the ingredients were ready, I browned the bottom side of two lavash pieces on a griddle.
Then it’s just a matter of assembly: First the onions, then the kale, then the brats, followed by some grated manchego sheep’s cheese.
The pizzas were browned under the broiler (set on low) on a cookie sheet for about 2-3 minutes. The idea is to brown the cheese and heat the pizza through.
Once it’s ready, just place the pizza on a cutting board and immediately cut into quarters.
One pizza makes a nice meal for one person.
Posted in Buy Local, Eat Your Veggies, Grassfed meat, Happy Food, Produce from the Garden, Recipes, Wheat-Free Corn-Free Dairy-Free Dinners
Tagged Buy Local, corn-free, dairy-free, food, food blog, foodie, garden produce, gluten-free, Grassfed meat, Happy Food, life is fare, locavore, Recipes, vegetables, you are what you eat
Urban gardening has hit O’Hare….as in O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, according to ABC7chicago.com. Using the aeroponics process to grow 44 different types of organic herbs and vegetables, this collaborative effort between the Chicago Department of Aviation and HMS Host (the company that manages most of the airport’s concessions) supplies produce to restaurants in the airport.
Anyone going through O’Hare in the near future? If so, send me some photos! I’d love to see the garden.
Posted in Buy Local, Eat Your Veggies, Happy Food, In the News, Roadtrip Fare
Tagged aeroponics, air travel, Buy Local, food, food blog, foodie, garden produce, Happy Food, life is fare, O'Hare airport, vegetables, you are what you eat