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A slice of summer

Sunday, July 1st, 2018

I sometimes hear people here (and elsewhere) saying that they never get around to finding the _____ (peace, relaxation, you can fill in the blank) they hoped to find once they had time to do so.

I have made an effort to find time to “stop and smell the roses” here, but with work and various other activities, I admit it is not always easy. Now that summer is here, I am done working at the college and in between a few other work projects. This week provides a great snapshot of how life here is when I achieve this.

On Monday, I worked in the garden in the morning, harvested some produce, and prepared some food for a lunch with friends that ended up stretching out to fill the whole afternoon. Most enjoyable!

That evening, I got a call from a neighbor whose apricots were ripe. We often pick for them and then can and split the results. Tuesday was spent doing some office work and laundry and also writing a few postcards to voters (exciting to be working on an Ohio campaign this month) and letters to friends. After that, we went and picked apricots.

Wednesday was a town day with a visit to fill a book box, a trip to the gym, and a tie dye activity at the library with some kids. In the evening, we went to visit a friend who had called to say he had several hundred pounds of onions he’d just harvested. I’m hoping to sell some and preserve some.

By Thursday, those apricots were calling, so I spent the day canning. I also baked for my sales tomorrow. (I’m not doing the farmer’s market this year, but am doing some by-invitation-only sales to a few folks.)

Friday morning was harvest and then off to Portal to sell and do some work at the library. Then more canning of apricots.

We finished off the week by going to Nogales to participate in a Families Belong Together march. We were part of a group who blocked the port of entry in protest of US immigration policy.

Lots of important, gratifying, and meaningful activities. I wish every week were like this!

First of the shishito peppers are appearing

End of the season

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

This week is the last farmers market of the season here. We are celebrating with a community potluck.

I am ready for a break from this. We’ve been going for 7 months (sadly, with me as the “anchor” vendor) and haven’t missed a week. Over the course of that time, we’ve produced approximately:

  • 175 loaves of bread
  • 120 bags of lettuce, arugula or other greens
  • numerous quiches; bags of sprouts and microgreens; cucumbers; radishes; green beans; containers of pesto, salsa, onion confit, and garlic paste, etc.

This has been a great experience, and the community has been enormously supportive.

PS I’m looking forward to eating all the greens and other things we produce this year!

end-of-season

It’s that time of year

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

This is lemon ginger pear preserves.

We are so grateful to our friends with fruit trees who share with us.

Another great use for the slow cooker

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

Onions (grown here). A little olive oil, red wine, salt, and fresh thyme. Eighteen hours on low.

Caramelized onion confit. Melty sweetness.

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This week at the farmers market

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

This week’s gourmet treat:

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And in a couple weeks, it’s National Farmers Market Week. Go visit yours, and thank a farmer. Trust me that no one is making much profit doing this.

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Onions

Sunday, June 12th, 2016

Having eaten all the tomatoes, the voles and rabbits moved on to the onions. Here’s an example of what they did a couple nights ago (I hope whatever ate this got very sick):

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So despite the fact that the onions were not really ready to be harvested, I decided to pull them to save what I could. There were a fair number that did well and will be good eats:

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There were some others that weren’t really mature enough so I replanted them in other places to see if they might grow further. We will also eat some of the smaller ones as “spring onions.” I will also be making a red wine onion confit this week. Yum!

The variety that did the best by far was the Texas Early White.

On the weather front, we’ve started getting some sporadic storms, which seem to me like early monsoons. (We don’t normally get monsoons until early July.) As the rain picks up, this should help the garden considerably and also the pest problems.

And this week for the first time, I sold everything I took to the farmers market, which included 8 bags of greens.

Farmers market today

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

Well, today we were the farmers market with no other vendors showing up for various reasons. Fortunately, we took our biggest selection of food yet:

market

There were somewhat fewer customers than usual but we still sold a lot. The ebb and flow of customers, as well as the variation of what they buy (sometimes I sell only wheat bread, sometimes only white; sometimes the sweet breakfast breads sell out quickly; other times I take some home), is still a mystery to me. We do have some seasonal residents here who leave for summer, and so it will be interesting to see if the numbers continue to be down. The number of vendors is also a factor.

Highlights for this week are that we took 8 big bags of greens to market this week (and even had a couple bags more to keep for ourselves) and that all the toum sold out. We offered samples of it, which were very popular. I’m thinking of more things like this that might fit into the little 5.5 oz. souffle cup containers we have. So far we’ve done pesto and toum, and pico de gallo is soon to come.

Things about the farmers market that make me happy: increasing access to good, healthy food here; spending a couple hours each week sitting under the shade of a big tree talking with nice people about food; having people ask me “who grew this?” or “who baked this?;” having people tell me their plans for what they’ve bought (a woman today bought some lemon cake and told me she was going to share it this evening with her husband for their anniversary); and giving away and/or taking home and eating whatever we don’t sell.

 

Toum

Monday, May 30th, 2016

We love the show “Splendid Table” (“the show for people who love to eat”…yeah, that’s us). Awhile back,they had a show on something called toum, a Lebanese garlic paste that was described as being light and fluffy like whipped egg whites. We knew we’d have to make it some time.

This week, we just harvested our garlic. And when we do that, there are always a few bulbs that get scuffed or something and need to be used sooner rather than later. Perfect opportunity!

While this toum sounded a little fussy to make, it wasn’t that hard. Only a few  ingredients: lots of garlic, canola oil, salt, lemon juice, and water. And the results — oh my, this stuff is amazing!

Toum can be used as a dip, for garlic bread, as a sandwich spread, in marinades or sauces, in eggs, or in soups, just to mention a few possibilities.

This will be for sale at this week’s farmers market. Very gourmet.

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Spring greens

Friday, May 27th, 2016

This week I remembered to take a picture when the beds were uncovered.

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The greenhouse is looking good as well.

eggplants and peppers

eggplants and peppers

chard

chard and edamame

green beans

green beans

 

Finally

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

We’ve had more than our share of struggles with the garden this year — beds of greens munched to the ground multiple times despite being covered, artichoke plants eaten beyond recovery, even the lemon grass got mowed down by something (most likely deer), a whole bed of tomato starts eaten down by the vole.

We keep trying though and are finally having some success. The new greenhouse is doing great, and we could be harvesting from it within a couple weeks. I also tried a new setup for greens in our regular beds where I put down a sheet of agribon (row cover) and then covered that with two layers of insect netting (the same stuff that we cover the hoops with — which has been getting chewed through and dug under — but this time I put it right on the ground with lots of rocks on the edges). This has worked well. I suspect that the animals either haven’t figured out what’s under there or they can’t easily get in. Probably both. At least for now.

Today we had our first harvest big enough to sell some of — arugula, tat soi, and lettuce all coming in strong. It will be nice to have our produce at the market this week in addition to bread, other baked goods, and pesto.

arugula