Harvesting Garlic

IMG_0587Evan’s dazzling sister Chelsea and her (equally dazzling) husband Nate invited us up to their home in Waterbury Center, Vermont for a few days this July. Among the pleasantly packed days seeing VT’s highlights, we got to help out on their farm, Moonlight Farm, for an afternoon. IMG_0617Their farm is focused on fruits, with thousands of strawberry plants, a hoop-house full of raspberries, blueberry bushes coming into maturity, and beds full of ripening melons. In addition, they grow peppers for seed and rows and rows and rows of garlic.

IMG_0588IMG_1860 IMG_0593The hardneck garlic was reaching its peak when we were there, with other varieties to be ready the following week, and so our afternoon was spent pulling, clipping, stacking, and drying the wonderfully strong scented bulbs.

IMG_0605IMG_0610IMG_0612We went home that evening plastered in the aroma of garlic, smelling mightily like Italian food. It was phenomenal – so much so that I’m considering replacing my deodorant with just cloves of garlic. (I mean what can’t it overpower?)

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Oh. And yes, that’s me on a tractor. They let us take their awesome 1963 Massey Ferguson tractor out for a trip around the field. Proud? Yes, proud.

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Farm Friends

Sometimes new friends come in your CSA!

Don’t be startled, they come with the territory.  And if you let them, they’ll tickle your thumb.

Above is Albert. As we have a window garden there’s a convenient place for Albert to live when he accidentally arrives in our tote bag. Albert’s made several friends since: Mr. and Mrs. Frankenstein, Buttersworth, and Swarthy. They all live happily in the soil and throw bug parties and watch passers-by.

I suggest you burrow through your goodies from your share and make sure you don’t have any new pals nibbling on your vegetables. We had the alarming experience of almost cooking Buttersworth on Tuesday, and have since been more thorough in our searches.

Anyone have a suggestion on where to put farm friends when you don’t have a window garden? (Flushing not an option.)

Patriotic Muffins

Patriotic Muffins

We’ve gotten blueberries three weeks in a row from our share, which can only mean a clear blinking roadside sign that says “MAKE MUFFINS”. Which we did.  And are glad about it.

Blueberry muffins are the happiest way to celebrate the summer, and an even happier way to celebrate our independence. And brilliantly, our farm had a muffin recipe up on their website. We skipped their lemon-sugar topping, but used their ingredients as inspiration and were granted a spirited flag to top ’em off.

Our Share’s Muffins:
•    2 cups fresh blueberries (from the farm!)Patriotic Muffin Insides
•    1 1/8 cups sugar plus 1 teaspoon
•    2 1/2 cups of flour
•    2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
•    1 teaspoon table salt
•    2 large eggs
•    4 tablespoons of unsalted butter , melted and cooled
•    1/4 cup vegetable oil
•    1 cup buttermilk (or 3/4 cup of yogurt)
•    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Num num num…

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden. Serve with sparklers and a side of fireworks.

Fireworks on the Lake

Afternoon What Now?

Cucumber ToastWho says cucumber sandwiches have to be an upper class treat? Notorious for their place next to afternoon tea, cuke sandwiches have a nasty reputation for gracing the tables of the elite. But, as cucumbers came in this week’s share, along with this dazzling pile of delicious –

  • a head of lettuce
  • bok choy
  • swiss chard
  • escarole
  • zucchini
  • snap peas
  • cilantro
  • cucumbers
  • blueberries
  • strawberries
  • eggs

– we have decided to prove that afternoon tea comes in many forms. I’ve long since ditched the crustless, white bread, triangle-shaped cucumber sandwiches, and adopted a simple rendition of cucumber slices on buttered toast doused in salt and pepper, which in the painful 99° weather this week, was heavenly. Paired with a glass of water with extra cuke slices in it, we managed to fend off the heat for at least the extent of lunchtime.

Cucumber Water

Tea on another day perhaps. A day significantly cooler.

Foot-by-Foot Gardens

Our effort is to increase farming and gardening in the city by planting our own window garden and supporting rooftop gardens, urban farms and farmers markets. But sometimes we can’t help but escape to where the farming and gardening already is. Especially in the summer, the two of us find ourselves sneaking away to help family members with their gardening projects, and spending oodles of time hidden in the country jumping in lakes.

The Lake

It’s likely that we’ll be posting a handful of things that look decidedly un-New York this summer.  But we will continue to bring farms to city folk. For our first un-NY offering is a “foot by foot” garden project that we lent a hand to and think can offer ideas to apartment dwellers on how to grow a reasonable amount of food in a small amount of space – like a window.

My mum started a garden this year where she diligently divided her planter up with rope to section off 12″ by 12″ spaces and plant within each square.

Foot-by-Foot GardenShe’s growing lettuce, swiss chard, beets, peas, broccoli, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, strawberries, various herbs, and other glorious goodies!

Beets

Despite our teenie-weenie apartments, we all have one foot to designate to greenery.  So grow stuff!
(Keep it up, Mom.)

Season 2. Episode 1.

Farm EggsOur CSA is finally here! And there was a lot of spastic celebratory dancing on West End Avenue this Wednesday evening as a result.

Rather than collect our share bi-weekly or go through the process of pairing with an anonymous CSA member, we decided to rope our friends Tyler and Brittany into splitting a share this year. I think they’ll agree it was a good decision.

In just our first week we accumulated a whoppin’:CSA Share!

  • head of lettuce
  • broccoli raab
  • huge (but not genetically mondofied) radishes
  • arugula
  • mesclun
  • kale
  • rhubarb
  • strawberries!
  • and this year: EGGS!

We uncontrollably nibbled the minute we were inundated with farm food, but managed to control ourself enough to try some concoctions. Like! Wrapping strawberries in the surprisingly peppery arugula for a gnarly Ratatouille-like explosion (think cartoon rat, not tomato and zucchini). Very enjoyable and highly recommended.

Strawberries and Arugula

Below is our complicated exchange of vegetables on the street corner – less highly recommended. Soon to find a better solution.

Meet Tyler and Brittany

**It should be noted that right after this photo was taken a wide-eyed little boy walked by us, gawking at the 6-foot-4 Tyler, while the kid’s mother whispered to him, “Go ahead, honey, say hi!  Say hi to him!”
We all think you’re Superman, Tyty. Each and every one of us.

And so, the season begins!

Garden of Eve Farm

Our CSA is mere weeks from starting up again, and we are very prepared to be inundated by vegetable goodness!  We’ve started with a different farm this year, Garden of Eve (joyful picture above from their website).  Their farm has a CSA that’s a little closer to us than last year’s, and we’re excited to check out the new landscape.  This year we went for a whole share instead of a half and have split it with another couple, as well as a full fruit share, and two half-dozen egg shares.

We have big plans for dinner parties and picnics and trips to the farm!

As a refresher course, here’s the beloved 10 Reasons to Join a CSA, the abridged version (click to your left to see the loquacious version):

  1. Support local farms!
  2. Reduce your footprint!
  3. Be season conscious!
  4. Build a community!
  5. Try new veggies!
  6. Reduce your meat intake!
  7. Learn to cook!
  8. Improve your nutrition!
  9. Save money!
  10. Forget the brainstorm!

Find your own local CSA here.

The Fall Variety

When seated at the dinner table at seven-years-old, I remarked to my highly literal father (who does not take kindly to hyperbole), “I could eat an artichoke every day.” And so, for the next 365 days an artichoke appeared diligently on my plate, as if this would please and delight me.  Try explaining exaggeration to a parent at eight; I promise you it is ineffective.

This is when I learned that variety indeed is the spice of life. And cinnamon, it turns out, is the spice of butternut squash soup. And from these two lessons comes the great joy of eating seasonally. Months change, and so do our eating habits. Clearly, we’ve been appledated. But additionally, now we’re getting squashed, and pumpked, and yammed.  And most of these autumn ingredients landed in this week’s soup.

We managed to accumulate onion, garlic, butternut squash, a yam, and [more] apples in our CSA this week: clearly soup in the making.  So all of the above got roasted up, then blended, then cooked with vegetable stock, orange juice, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

And the fall variety was served. (Artichokes be damned.)

Watered Melon

Quite the belation!  In case there was concern over the writer’s survival of Hurricane Irene – no need – crisis averted.  Alive and well.

Even our farm managed to endure!

Watermelon

(Although many didn’t, but we can help by eating – ((oh, must I?)) at Dine Out Irene.)

Since the monstrous tropical storm we all got walloped by, we had our concerns that most of our vegetables would be, well, soup.  But they managed to survive beautifully, with few complications.

When this week we accumulated heirloom shell beans, salad mix, edamame, corn, carrots, peppers, watermelon, apples, and grapes, dinner tonight was a very easy and delightful hodgepodge.

Like for instance, a mesclun salad withWatermelon Salad sliced watermelon and some local cheese?

… I admit the seeds caused problems of the choking variety. Perhaps a plate of edamame and some corn on the cob?  Or grapes and apples for dessert?  Yes, I think so please.

Meanwhile, although our farm might have endured righteously, look what Irene did to our park!