Farmer’s Market Sunday

Late on the market recap, but this weekend was pretty lowkey.  Lately they have been. We’ve had so many meals of leftovers and the veggies have lasted for lots longer than planned as well.

So this week:

  • 1 pint and 1 half-gallon of reduced-fat milk from Battenkill Creamery
  • 1lb beef short ribs from Sweet Tree Farm
  • .85lb Goat rib chops from ???
  • 1 oz. of poached pear tea from Divinitea

We’re out of meat until next week because once again, even eating it only 1x per week (most weeks) we’ve burned through our 5lbs from 8 o’clock farm.  We’ve also decided to not sign up for the next CSA cycle which starts June 1st.  We thought if there was trouble with the meat defrosting in April, imagine what it would be like in June, July and August!

So, though we were planning to buy another kind of meat this week, Sweet Tree had a special of $3/lb for beef short ribs.  Oh yum!  And $3/lb is just something we couldn’t pass up! So we bought a pound and ate them for dinner that night.

Then, K had heard from a coworker that one of the vendors was selling goat meat.  So we found that vendor (and I can’t remember who it was! Oops) and checked out the meat as best we could. It’s USDA certified, goats are supposedly pastured yadda yadda yadda.  We made a goat curry with it (but it was honestly not what we should have done with that tough meat, oh well).  I guess it’s good I can’t remember their name, but I didn’t get the best feeling from them, and I don’t think I would buy again. The guy also told us they weren’t meat goats, so all I can think about is that those goats were faithful milk givers who finally got too old or stopped producing milk and were otherwise useless, so their thanks was getting sent to the butcher. 😦 (I know, I’m making up stories to myself).  But, though the meat was pretty tasty, it was also tough, and full of gristle. I don’t want to buy again from them.

We heard from someone at Divinitea (talking to someone else, so I guess we were technically eavesdropping) that they’re getting a storefront?  I hope it’s true, and think it’s great that they’re doing enough business that they think a storefront is needed! Yay for local business!

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Urban Homesteaders Gaining Popularity

Another article on the rise of urban homesteading in the U.S.!

In cities across the country, the term “homesteading” has taken on a new meaning. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it referred to settlers occupying land, cultivating it and claiming it as their own.

Today in the Bay Area and beyond, urban homesteaders like Ms. Stone and her roommates are raising their own food in their backyards, in community gardens and on derelict and undeveloped spaces in the city. They’re preserving and pickling vegetables and fruits, sewing their own clothes, baking bread, making alcoholic beverages, and much more.

As the movement has flourished and become more mainstream — embraced by activists and food lovers alike — so too have the resources for would-be urban homesteaders.

Granted, I can’t exactly call where I live urban, as it is decidedly a mix of rural/surburban, but given that we have no land currently, it certainly feels urban!  However, living where we do, there aren’t as many resources for homesteading as I would like to have.  I have looked for a long time for homesteading peeps on meetup.com in my area – but alas, apparently there are none.  I think the major problem is that while I live technically very close to the capital of NYS, it is so rural right outside it that there are many real farmers who do these things and have always done them – so there’s no marketable need thus far.

But I really think that is changing.  Cloth diapering has made a big comeback in this area, and the farmers markets are HOPPING.  I can’t believe that at least a small percentage of those people wouldn’t be interested in some of those things, like canning workshops, seed saving, soap making, etc.  I know I would!

However, I don’t have many skills (with the exception of canning) where I would feel expert enough to teach others.  But that would be lots of fun! Ooh, imagine giving canning classes in my kitchen!

These people seem to do something similar, and they have arrangements with farms in their area to get their produce for canning from – so it IS something possible to do without having the produce grown yourself.

Oh man…maybe one day…

Quilt Block of the Month – Month 1

I’m almost done with my “fake” quilt (i.e. I didn’t know what I was doing so I decided to sew big pieces of cloth together and call it a quilt 🙂 ) so I’ve decided to take the next step in my sewing education and learn how to do a proper quilt.  Without getting TOO complicated though, I’ve decided to do Joann’s “Quilt Block of the Month.”  Ok, it really had nothing to do with easy – I just got captivated by the colors of this thing! They are colors that I would never think to put together, but they’re bright and intriguing and I was hooked!
What the final quilt will supposedly look like: (Yes, I say supposedly because you never know with me.)

I’ve had the first block sitting in the package for almost a month now, but this past weekend, I finally broke it out to try to put together.  I was actually nervous!

The pieces are pre-cut though (really, I could have done it myself if they had just told me what colors/fabrics to buy) so it was easy enough.  With 1/4″ seams I began sewing the block called “Sweet 16.”

First, I sewed two blocks each together (a yellow blue, another yellow and blue, then blue and green x 2).  From that, I made these rows.  Then I sewed the four rows together.

Finally, I sewed all the triangles together, and then to the correct sides of the “sweet 16.”  The finished product – voila!

Not too shabby for my first quilt block ever.  My only concern is that the package told me it should be 17.5″ all around, and it’s 17.25″ one way (and 17.5″ the other way).  I tried to stretch it out every step of the way, but it still didn’t come out perfectly.  I’m hoping when I put all the quilt blocks all together at the end, it will work out ok.  I’m sure this sizing problem will happen again.

Garden Update

I’ve decided that this time of the year may just be my favorite.  Going into the warmer months – the cold has broken, but it’s not too warm – the smell of freshly growing things, the creeping greenery extending each and every day – I love it!

Last week, my onions and leeks came in!

Ok, there were a LOT more than 100 onion and 30 leek slips.

I planted 28 leeks.  Not exactly sure why, except that we had room, and you never know how many will make it to maturity. I guess we can always thin them out later. Wait, I think that’s what we said about the carrots last year.

Newly planted leek

Then, we planted 103 onions.  ONE HUNDRED AND THREE!  We’re nuts. But we had the room, and we went through the 44 onions we harvested last fall by January.  Hopefully, the majority of these will make it and we’ll have enough onions to last us the whole year.

Onions readied to plant

Meanwhile, the rest of the garden’s bounty is still small, but growing daily.

Looking green!

The spinach that got started in our cold frame is heads and tails beyond the spinach we’ve planted directly in the ground.

Baby spinach

The garlic we planted last year is looking great!

Last year's garlic

Even the garlic we planted a few weeks ago has taken root, and though smaller, is also looking good.

Now, the lettuce.  We’ve got lettuce coming out our ears.  I didn’t realize that so much of the lettuce that went to seed last year actually blew all over the plot.  Now that spring is upon us, little lettuce seedlings are growing everywhere!

Ugh, I wanted LESS lettuce this year! They’re practically like weeds -that’s how much there is everywhere.  But luckily, other things are also taking root. The first thing we planted this year (besides the spinach in the cold frame) were the carrots, and they’ve finally sprouted.

The pea shoots have also shot up over the last two weeks.

And it’s the last week of April and the strawberries are already flowering!

One more month and we’ll be able to start eating some of our produce!

Not a Warm and Fuzzy Earth Day Post

My husband called me today to say he was depressed.   Now, there’s a lot in our house to be depressed about this week, for personal reasons which I just don’t get into much on this blog, so I was surprised when he said he wasn’t depressed about any of that stuff, but about Earth Day.  About how Earth Day just doesn’t seem important to people.

Now in my neck of the woods (the people I surround myself with anyway), Earth Day is actually getting bigger in their lives.  My friends are recycling more, paying more attention to the food they buy, not buying as many petroleum products – it’s not taking a “holiday” called Earth Day to spur them into making some changes in their lives.

But then I read this blog post, and it made me think. It was entitled WHY I HATE EARTH DAY, and yes, it was written by a self-avowed environmentalist. It was a good read, though a long one, discussing the truths about environmental justice, something long shoved under the rug. Depending on where you live, things may look like they’re getting much better, but for much of the world, and honestly, even in the poorer sections of the U.S., it’s getting worse.

As Sharon wrote:

If you live with the heavy smog of newly industrialized cities in the Global South, pollution isn’t something that is far away. If electronic waste leaks mercury and heavy metals into your groundwater, pollution isn’t magically invisible – you can see the vast piles of e-waste from the rich world, who have made their troubles better, largely by shifting things out of sight,.

In the net, quantities of nearly every major pollutant have risen, not fallen over the last forty years. Air traffic has risen by a factor of six, with all associated pollutants. We recycle 38% of our paper, but we’re turning trees into paper at double the rate of 1970. We have doubled the number of fish we extract from the ocean and tripled our fossil fuel consumption.

It’s not a happy thought, and it’s not the traditional warm and fuzzy message that Earth Day usually brings, but it’s something to acknowledge. In the U.S. we may be doing better than we once were, but a lot of our pollution gets passed off onto the other countries that make our cheap goods – and those people and animals also matter. No matter what little sacrifices we make, and face it, we make them because they’re easy, and we’re lazy, and because we’re not forced to live with the consequences of our actions – YET, it’s not enough.  It might not matter to us today, but it matters to someone on this Earth today – and it will matter to our children, or grandchildren someday soon.

I have to leave you with the same poem that the author of that post left her readers.

Questionnaire

by Wendell Berry

1. How much poison are you willing
to eat for the success of the free
market and global trade? Please
name your preferred poisons.

2. For the sake of goodness, how much
evil are you willing to do?
Fill in the following blanks
with the names of your favorite
evils and acts of hatred.

3. What sacrifices are you prepared
to make for culture and civilization?
Please list the monuments, shrines,
and works of art you would
most willingly destroy.

4. In the name of patriotism and
the flag, how much of our beloved
land are you willing to desecrate?
List in the following spaces
the mountains, rivers, towns, farms
you could most readily do without.

5. State briefly the ideas, ideals, or hopes,
the energy sources, the kinds of security,
for which you would kill a child.
Name, please, the children whom
you would be willing to kill.

Farmer’s Market Recap

This weekend at the market was pretty quiet for us, mostly due to the fact that we bought a lot the previously week.

  • 1/2 gallon reduced-fat milk from Battenkill Creamery
  • 1 basil plant from Cornell Farm
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe from Migliorelli Farm
  • 8 oz. fig chevre from Painted Goat Farm
  • 1 cinnamon twist and 1 croissant from Our Daily Bread

I’m so glad to finally get another basil plant.  I’ve now had this one for almost three years, and while it’s still giving us leaves, it’s overgrown and woody and just not that great anymore. Time to  get rid of that one and have this new little one take its place!

Old, woody basil plant

New little basil plant

Meanwhile, I’ve been craving the fig chevre cheese at the market sold by Painted Goat Farm for weeks now, and our left over baguette from last week (we froze it) made the perfect vehicle for it!  Yum!

Animal Welfare Approved!! I’ll get to that in a second, but first, look at this fig/cheese yumminess.

So good.

But anyway, the Animal Welfare Approved logo stamp is something I just learned about and am hoping to see on more of the products I buy soon. It’s a “market-based solution to growing consumer interest in how farm animals are raised and desire to know where their food is coming from and how it is produced.”  They grant the use of the AWA logo to farms that are audited annually and comply with their rigorous animal welfare standards.  Their aim is to give “consumers a way to identify products which come from humane farming systems.” You can read more here.

This is good to know because I’m just getting to know this vendor at our market.  They had some postcards at their “stall” that I picked up.

Not the greatest scan, but those look like happy goats.

So I asked about their farm, and if I could come visit it.  I am going farm hopping this summer to check out where all my food comes from!

Anyway, I was surprised when she told me they weren’t set up for visitors.  To me, that seems like an essential part of the farmer’s market culture – people interested in knowing where their food comes from pay a higher premium for that food.  So…no visit? Apparently not. At least not yet.  This AWA stamp of approval will go a long way towards making me feel better since I can’t find out for myself.

Where the Wild Things Grow

Well, this is so late, but I’m posting it anyway.  Last weekend at the market we saw the first of the ramps! Ramps are wild leeks, so certain farmers will go out in the woods and find them to sell at the farmer’s market.

Ramps only last 4-6 weeks around here, a very short growing season that makes us look so forward to spring!  K and I had JUST been talking about how ramps would be ready soon when we got notice they’d actually be at the farmer’s market.  This spring has been so warm that everything has been growing much earlier.

Last week at the market, here’s what we bought:

  • 1/2 gallon of whole milk (to make more ricotta), 2 quarts of cream (to make butter), 1 pint of chocolate milk from Battenkill Creamery
  • 5lbs of Washburn potatoes from Barber’s Farm
  • 2 bunches of ramps, 6 oz. of goat cheese from Painted Goat Farm
  • 1 loaf of german rye bread, 1 loaf sunflower flax seed bread, 1 french baguette, 1 cheese danish, and 1 croissant from Our Daily Bread
  • A few apples from Maynard Farm

We bought 2 bunches of ramps and all that bread because this weekend we’re hosting our friends who shared the meat CSA to finally split that roast we got last month.  We’re having a German-themed dinner with sauerbraten, potato dumplings, red cabbage, and for dessert, Schwarzwalder Kirsch Torte, Black Forest cherry cake.  K has dumped a quart of our frozen cherries from last June’s picking into a bowl Kirschwasser (cherry schnapps) to soak it up for the cake.  Yum!

In addition, I’m using the ramps to make Morel and Ramp Crostini as a very non-German appetizer.  Doesn’t that look good?

So, after the market last Sunday, I dragged K on a walk to see if we could find our own ramps.  I mean, we live near some woods.  Why pay $4/bunch if we have them nearby?

Well, unfortunately we didn’t find any, but we did find huge stands of wild onions growing!

So, I decided to pick some, brought them home to wash.

And that night, we made a baked ham with ramps and mashed potatoes with wild onions in them.  So good!

All together, that made two things on our plates that night that had been growing wild just a day earlier.
I would love sometime to go on an edible hike, to learn about what other things we might find in forests that we could eat.