Monday, July 30, 2007

One Local Summer 2007: Week Five

Welcome again to the Midwestern roundup of One Local Summer! We've just made it through Week Five, so we are halfway there. (Please don't tell me summer is half finished though!)

At our house, it has been a busy week of canning things for the winter, so I made some chili and cornbread from local sources. Oh, and blueberries are almost finished for the season because of our drought, so I panicked and (eeks!) purchased 20 pounds.

Phelan just finished doing a 24 hour blogathon for Farm Aid. Whew! She posted something every half hour for the day, and she made some great stuff during that time. Check it out!

Matt treated his family to blue potatoes, which the kids loved, along with burgers this week.

Lucette is with me on the summer being NOT half over. She had a FEAST! Those mushrooms looked quite yummy.

Farm Mom Ang got to harvest her first and lonely eggplant this week! (Don't worry, it won't be her last.) She made her meal quickly, but it was delicious, so she proves that local doesn't always mean slow.

AnnMarie is pulling in quite the harvest lately (even I haven't tried to grow Yugoslavian finger fruit), thanks to a lot of rain.

Stacie also pulled off an eat-it-when-you're-ready chili this week. Her boys helped shell the beans, too. Yum.

Guess what color the soup is when you make it out of white tomatoes? Jennifer will tell you!

Kelly's meal this week was...interesting. Well, we can't all be Top Chefs all the time! And frankly I think it's great to tell of our successes and our, er, less than successes in this challenge.

Joanna's tomatoes aren't lasting long in her house! Go check out the meal she made this week, which included her first harvest.

Are you ready for this? Linda made...Watermelon gazpacho! I simply HAVE to try it; it looks so yummy.

E4 and Lori made some inspired barbecue this week, including the charcoal. Now, THAT is local eating!

Debbie's local meal this week has been her local meal for days now. It's inspired by an Indonesian dish!

Becke has been cooking lots lately, too. She made a stuffed pepper soup! It sounds very fall-like, actually.

Manerva has been dealing with hot weather lately, but that didn't stop her from turning the oven on to make hamburger buns!

And Kate made some pesto! Please go take a look at her colorful meal here.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Au revoir

Knipofia uvaria: red-hot poker

We're leaving the farm for a few fun days in the Second City. It's always bittersweet, going "off the rez," especially when the veg garden is producing. Surprises always greet our return.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

One Local Summer 2007: Week Five

Beans and Cornbread had a fight. Let's eat!

It has been cool here lately. I've been on a canning spree, so the fact that the kitchen isn't unremittingly broiling has been wonderful. All this cooking, though, has left me very little time to think about dinner. So this week's meal is a thrown-together affair.

Some of my leftover beans (i.e., those that did not make it into some cans) were the basis of this simple meal today. I made a chili with black beans (from mid-Michigan), local corn, and our garden's squash, peppers, garlic, onions, and canned tomatoes and dried hot peppers from last year. Hot, but not too hot. Oh, and some fresh and cold cukes to take the edge off.

My greatest find, though? LOCAL CORNMEAL. I am in heaven. The cornbread is local flour, cornmeal, and honey; our eggs; and nonlocal butter and milk (sniff!)

We finished it off with blueberry muffins, all local ingredients except the vanilla.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Thinking ahead, part 2

Under pressure (think a crooning Freddy Mercury)

It has been cool. This is a good thing, as I have been doing a lot of canning lately.

I have learned one thing: I should only can the things that we enjoy eating. The logic of this amazingly obvious statement escapes me when I see the myriad fruits and cheap veggies at the local farm stand or --eeps-- in my garden. It'll be January and I realize I am the only person in the household who will eat canned beet greens.

I've learned something else, too. I tend to treat that which is rare as something that is really precious, and thus, not for eating. When I was a city gardener, I remember well my first crop of eggplant. I waited and waited for some sign that dang, I should pick and cook those things, and when that sign finally showed itself the eggplant was seedy and gross. I do this with some canned items, too. There are dilly beans down there from 2005. Eat them, I tell myself. And we have been. When things start getting going in the garden in May and June, it is also the Season For Emptying The Larder, whereby I cook everything in the freezer and pantry.

So! The kitchen is full of glass jars and big kettles at this time of year. We have a pressure canner, too. I have been putting away dried beans in it: making them cooked beans first, or soups. Oh, and vegetable stock. Can't have enough of that. I am rather fortunate in that I work from home most days, so in between phone calls, emails and drawings, I am banging pots on the stove. The convenience of pulling a can of tomatoes and a can of beans and making a quick chili or pasta in the middle of winter makes it worthwhile. And, probably most importantly, I know where the food came from, and how it was prepared. And it's quick, or at least it's quick when they're finished!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Thinking ahead

Buh-bye pretty things (white onion blossoms)

I spent Sunday afternoon in the garden. There was a lot of work to be done: I had to play sheriff and hand out eviction notices to a lot of plants! Actually, that is what it felt like, but this "tough love" is something I must do if I expect to get a second, or even third, harvest out there.

You see, I am a succession-planting fool. (I need the labels, believe me: nothing stays for long, including in my brain.) I haven't even harvested a tomato, yet I am thinking about September's crops. So, out of the garden came the seeding biennials (radicchio, parsnips, onions, leeks) and in went the second plantings of broccoli, rapini, and Asian brassicas. It may be early, but in went the first round of fall peas. And I also pulled a lot of the beets for canning. Throughout the season, I plant things like bush beans about once a week: bush beans are ripe all at once, so it helps to plant them weekly to keep the fresh ones rolling in. I do the same thing with lettuce and rapini, and beets and carrots. It was a fun and productive day.

So the modus operandi around here is "no soil left unplanted."

Monday, July 23, 2007

One Local Summer 2007: Week Four

Here is this week's One Local (Midwestern) Summer roundup!

My daughter and I made some egg pasta with broccoli. I'm still getting lots of salad fixings out of the garden, but now other veggies are becoming available, too. And local wine, like any wine, certainly clouds my vision!

Phelan in Kansas missed last week, but this week proves that she is able to fix a mighty fine meal on what is simply available.

Matt in Iowa made quite a lot of things from local goodies this week. Frittatas are easy yet so tasty, so he shows us how.

Lucette in Ohio demonstrates the Exhausted People's Dinner! For many of us, summer is the time of projects, and of course afterward nobody wants to cook.

Farm mom Ang in Michigan relied on Deborah Madison's Local Flavors for her meal this week. (I can't state enough how great Ms. Madison's cookbooks are, but this one is WONDERFUL for farmer's-market fixings.) I wished we lived closer, Ang, because I would've dropped by and asked for a bowl!

Frugalmom in Illinois and her family usually have pork on special occasions only. Well, Week 4 qualifies! It was worth the wait.

This is Mary's first OLS meal. Her CSA has had harvest problems, and she has classes on Saturdays so she misses out on most farmer's markets, poor thing! She has found another CSA to try, but luckily, she's got one beautiful meal posted here. She lives in Ohio.

Evie in South Dakota made (and it was only a matter of time before SOMEONE in the midwest made it)...ratatouille! Her experience with local pasta was not so exciting, though.

Stacie in Illinois keeps finding more local farms! For this week, she's found a source for organic chicken just 12 miles from her door.

Kelly is in Ohio, too. She craved borscht, and she and her daughter had a somewhat frazzled farmer's market trip to get many of its ingredients. What she pulled together sounded really yummy.

Also in Ohio, Jennifer made a wonderful stew, all from her garden!

Pat is in Oklahoma. It's been hot there, and she has had a busy summer. She had a salad, a huge one, out of her garden!

Linda is in Missouri. This week, almost everything came right from her farm, including her own chicken and eggs. She laments she can't grow olive trees there, though! (Oh Linda, I swear olive oil is a food group in this house, I use it that much.)

Miranda in Minnesota made a crowd-pleasing meal with some of the bounteous corn available now.

Norma Jean is in St. Louis. Veggie sandwiches were on the menu this week, paired with some homebrew! (Hmmm. Beeeer....) SO: does anybody out there have any good ranch dressing recipes? Send them her way.

Manerva in Minnesota gets bonus points this week for posting not one meal but two. Two husband-approving meals, natch! She feels really happy about this, but she knows these days are fleeting, harvest-wise.

And finally, Kate in Wisconsin posted a picture on Flick*r of her meal. Calzones, people! And fava beans (my personal favorite). Yum.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Well, the calendar says I have been blogging for a whole year now. (Where did that year go?)

My main objective in this blog thing was garden journaling. Of course, I have fallen far from my goal, and instead have had a number of detours instead, mostly soapbox-worthy things regarding the quality of our food. Besides, a journal of "X bloomed on Y day" is really insufferably boring copy, even to its gardener!

But memory fails, often, especially regarding the garden. So I will give you all a tip. I expanded my veg beds considerably last fall, and now it's far too large for me to keep on top of it all, especially as a sketch on a piece of paper. So here is my answer. Recycling.

This is a cut-up piece of a vinyl miniblind. Yes, it's recycled, but from GoodWill: our farmhouse was last decorated in the days way before miniblinds, frankly. If you cut them at 6-7", and write on them with a permanent marker, these things will be legible through the season. A deciphering of my scrawl lists the seed variety, the plant date, the point of origin of the seed, and the date I got the seeds. I usually bury them to a height of 2", and hill mulch around them enough so I don't have to look at them, unless I really want to.

Where this blog will go is a mystery. It has been an enjoyable morning routine for me. I have really enjoyed "meeting" all of you, as that has been the biggest surprise of all: readers!

Friday photo

Hank wanted another digitalis shot. That's easy enough.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

On bounty

Digitalis, second blooming

Summer is a time of heady excess. I dump a lot of my garden pictures in one folder called (unimaginatively) "Garden," where they are, for the most part, chronological. So in this I see the dearth of the gray snaps from winter and the overwhelming pictures that are the green of the growing season. What do I have to talk about in winter, I wonder, as now, well, there's TOO much to discuss. Like the little hairs on the foxglove above.

But I swear I have a form of ADD, gardening-wise, during the season of sprouting, too: What hairs.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

One Local Summer 2007: Week Four

Food stylist? No. Glutton? Check.

One Local Summer: Week Four meal

On Tuesday, I made pasta for our OLS meal. Making it from scratch is a fairly easy thing to do, provided you have a pasta-maker and a willing 3.5-year-old to give it a turn. (Making it from scratch without the maker is fairly easy, too, frankly; it's just a bit more laborious.)

Herbed egg pasta with Broccoli in a garlic/white wine reduction
Guess-The-Squash caramelized with garlic, shallots, and sweet onions
Green beans! Late edition! First batch of the year.
Salad of chard, kale, arugula, cress, and oakleaf lettuce with vinaigrette
Blackberries for dessert
Tabor Hill White Heritage wine

Notes: The flour is some of the last of my local stash. I need to order more, but am hesitating, as it's summer and whole-wheat flour doesn't keep for long, and I am not making nearly the amount of bread I made this winter. The Guess-The-Squash were the products of one planted crookneck squash and three volunteers: one looks like an eight-ball zucchini, one looks like a white pattypan, and one looks like a zephyr. Did I ever plant, or even compost, anything that looks like any of the above? NO. (One's growing in the compost pile, though, so I must have some culpability.) I tossed them with some very non-local EVOO and broiled them on a cookie sheet. With the exception of the flour (90 miles), the wine (19 miles) and the olive oil, everything else was a product of the garden or the chickens.

After two glasses of wine, I thought about the meal and said to myself, geez, this meal is vegan. Then I remembered the three eggs in the pasta (thanks, Bea and Pauline) and scratched that notion. The meal was dairy-free, however. (Oh how I wish I had local butter. My meals would be so guilt-free, local-purchase-wise. But I thought about it, and believe me, olive oil and coffee are something I would definitely trade a few hides for...maybe there's a dairy who needs some architectural work done out there??? Will Work For Butter, her tagline)

Pasta recipe follows in the comments...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Drip drip drop

Finally! A little moisture, this time provided by Mother Nature and not Mother Hose-Dragger.

I feel happy for the perennials/flower beds. I tend to adopt a sink-or-swim attitude toward them, as I have not been very generous with my watering. They're mulched to high heaven, or, at least they used to be...the chickens love mulch. The only care I really attend to them is a dilettantish dead-heading with the pruning shears.

The veg gardens fare better in a drought. Yes, these beds are heavily mulched, too, but I spoil the vegetables much more. How can I help it? These favored things grant us food as a reward. My only concern now is the tomatoes might split with this quick uptake of water. Hmm.

Monday, July 16, 2007

One Local Summer 2007: Week Three

HOT, hot and dry: who wants to cook in such weather? My prescription for eating this week was tapas, mostly made ahead of time, for this week's OLS.

Matt mined the depths of Epicurious for inspiration. His kids took seconds, and even thirds, on some greenery! Success!

Lucette hit the farmer's market, but she's also getting lots of goodies out of her garden. Go see her meal here. And she is very close to having tomatoes!

Ang was a little disappointed by her hamburger buns, but her kids didn't seem to agree with her. Practice makes perfect! And her squash is just beautiful.

Frugalmom was delighted by her grass-fed beef. Its leanness required a bit of a different cooking spin, but it was worth it.

Evie had an All-American meal of meat and potatoes this week. You HAVE to see what her husband cooked the meat on, though: he made it! Amazing. (If you're ever in Michigan...)

Burgers seem to be all the rage this week: check out Stacie's beautiful pic. She's been having a hard time sourcing local flour. Isn't that nuts, considering she lives in the Grain Belt?

Jennifer found it too hot to cook, too, so she relied on her microwave and her rice cooker for her meal. Her gardens are beginning to go into high gear, too.

Kelly hosted a potluck dinner this week. Though not 100% local, the spirit was definitely right, and, she notes, the part of the meal that DID fit the "rules" was certainly a meal in itself. She also found a source for local flour.

Joanna admits she dropped the ball this week, as it has been a crazy one. She's packing local fare for her camping trip this weekend, though.

Pat also had burgers this week: made from buffalo! She also has some interesting observations about all this organic food.

Linda points out that there's an unexpected upside to this local eating: no huge grocery bags to lug around! She is getting lots of stuff out of the garden now, and between her chickens and butter made from a neighbor's cow, she's saving lots of money, too.

Kelli tried out some of the Swiss chard she grew. She's so far not convinced of its merits. Send recipes her way, people! Meat came from the back 40, and they made onion rings, too.

Lori and E4 had a quick and yummy meal this week from their farmer's market goodies. Quick was key!

Miranda proves breakfast fare can be dinner fare too for this week's meal. She made frittata and spuds.

Debbie followed Matt's recipe (so, do you see how all this is catching? It's his recipe from this week!) with the kid-friendly greenery. Yum.

Norma Jean hit the farmer's market big time this week. She and her husband are completely enjoying this challenge, and are considering expanding their gardens even further next year to help in their quest for local food.

Becke went all vegetarian on us for this week's meal. It was inspired by a side dish at a barbecue joint and was served up with a bit of POW!

Manerva has been eating local for a while now, as she doesn't get off her farm often! This week's meal was a simple and satisfying one, but she served it with some local wine.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Summer = visitor season

Flowering leek

James Beard once said that, without the allium family, there would be food, but no cuisine.

Maybe it's cuisine we "et" around here, because I have been known to put onions in dessert. And I've got aioli on my mind: it's Bastille Day, after all, and I have lots of new garlic and newly laid eggs. But instead I am making a simple soup of flageolet beans and a ton of things I pulled out of the garden. Maybe some corn, maybe a salad.

I honestly admire people who can think ahead and plan out every meal their family eats. It is not something I can do, though. I honestly don't know "what's for dinner" until I go out and see what's edible. Even with people coming! Some folks just left (having brought some lovely bread and pain chocolat from the city) and more are coming tonight, more's just GREAT!!!!

Hope everyone else is having a great weekend, too.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Book sales

Tom hit a library sale yesterday and this was his take for me.

Now that we have a kid, library sales are our book-gathering method of choice. There's a lot more bang for your buck there, and, let's face it, with a few exceptions, children's literature is a fleeting thing, captured and consumed.

I give him vague directions ("Oh, anything gardening, I guess") and he usually nabs something that contains a few gems, a few pearls of wisdom. The Gourmet mags were a fluke. They are from the 1950s, and, without exaggeration, a good 25% of the pages are liquor ads! All of a sudden, all those John Cheever stories make complete sense. I can just imagine Pauline Hausfrau setting her ruffled apron afire while making crepes Suzette, fortified, as she was, by all those cocktails.

The gardening books are always fun reads, especially old issues of Organic Gardening. I usually can glean some earthen tidbits from all of these books. And, if not, our own library sale is in about a month, so we can recycle the duds.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

One Local Summer: Week Three

I forgot to grab the focaccia

It's HOT, people! Like, over 90* hot, which is a rarity in these parts.

I had friends coming for dinner on Wednesday night, and I certainly didn't want to be doing much cooking. So, my answer? TAPAS.

Unlike the Spanish fare, which mostly features the salty versus the sweet versus the piquant, this meal was lots of salad-based grub, all either from the garden or from the farm stand down the road.

Local cheeses (camembert, gouda)
Rosemary focaccia (local flour, my herbs, olive oil/salt were imports)
Cucumber/dill "salad" (Telegraph cukes, dill, honey, water and homemade red wine vinegar)
Corn frittata with smoked gouda (Sauteed corn on the barbie: cut first, cooked in fajita pans on grill Tues. night; tossed with local cheese and garlic scapes and our girls' eggs)
Two Beet caviar (chopped beets, bibb lettuce, last of the feta, red onion, my vinegar)
Sagey baked beans (last year's cranberry beans, sage, honey, salt, parsley)
Big salad (lots of stuff is bolting!!! Eeks.)
Fruit salad (cherries, peaches, plums, blueberries from down the road)
Wine from Round Barn and St. Julian

I'm indebted to Deborah Madison for many of these recipes and ideas.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Boss got you down?

Spouse driving you crazy? Kids? How 'bout this unwinnable war, you know: the one that now costs us OVER $12Billion a month?

NO, I am not talking about the knives. The mortar and pestle! Get them out, get some garlic and some green herbs, and salt, and get POUNDING. Take it from me: it is therapeutic, and oh so tasty.

This lovely pistou went on some spuds last night.

What, you don't have these things growing in your back yard? Well, if you have a particular seller you like at your farmer's market, and you don't see these things, just ask them. Almost all growers have these things for their own use: if you ask nicely, they'll bring you some next week. Believe me, farmer's market folks would love to expand their markets, and with more choice, we'll all benefit!

So get pounding.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A nickel will get you on the subway...

...but garlic will get you a seat!

My usual gardening tasks are done with hand tools: the hori-hori, the hand fork, and maybe (maybe) the stirrup hoe. I don't bring in the big dogs (the shovel, mainly, but the broadfork too) unless some major devastation is called for: bed-building, trenching, post holes...and harvest.

Yesterday was my self-designated Check The Underground Stuff day. Mainly, my kid loves her spuds, so I'd been judiciously watching the bloom rates on some mid-season potatoes for their viability. I'd expired last year's harvest months ago and we've been grabbling (i.e., stealing) for about a month, but I hadn't undergone Potato Plant Butchery until last night, when I brought up about 3/4ths of a pound of Carolas. (Not bad for one plant.)

Garlic, too. The picture above is of one row each of three of the four cultivars I planted last fall. Unfortunately, you do need to pull up most of a row to find out if the garlic has "headed up" enough; just checking the browning of the leaves isn't an adequate method to tell you when to harvest, nor will one plant tell you. These three types of garlic will need another week or more to reach their full size.

So, yesterday, for the first time in a long time, the shovel got a workout.

Monday, July 09, 2007

One Local Summer 2007: Week Two

Week Two of One Local (Midwestern) Summer

It was a busy holiday week for many of us, and I wasn't able to grab everyone in this roundup, but there certainly were lots of delectable dishes shared by all.

I LOVE beets, so my meal used the roots and the leaves. I also made feta for the first time with milk from my goat guy. VERY tasty, and it certainly didn't last long.

Phelan and her family celebrated the Fourth with local fare. Her picture quality is LOTS better, but her post proves that life with three growing boys can keep one on one's toes. (Breathe, Phelan.)

Matt in Iowa is doing his own round-up of OLS folks. This week he stayed away from frying things and instead made lots more than one meal with local food! He is proving that this can become a way of life, with a bit of effort. His one 100% local meal can be found here.

Lucette went to the farmer's market for her fare and found CORN! How exciting: fresh corn is always such a fun find.

Ang's meal was also on Independence Day. She is considering it Food Independence Day! That fried kohlrabi looks great, Ang!

Frugalmom showed us that even major surgery (an appendectomy) can't keep her from cooking local! Now that's devotion.

Evie listed some of her biggest challenges this week with eating locally: her family! I think we all, in some form or another, have to "work around" our loved ones' particularities, certainly, in this and any other food preparation scheme. But this week was Italian Night, so go check it out.

AnnMarie still thinks salads, which she thinks are boring, are still the best local meal going. She did some experimentation with flowers that really added a good dimension to her meal.

Gina is trying to make a bigger effort to source local "minor ingredients" for her meals, too. She cans a lot of things, like barbecue sauce and baked beans, so go check out her meal this week; a barbecue sounds great!

Joanna made up some lovely local pasta. She tells us one juicy tidbit about her Eat Local Challenge: it hasn't been expensive! And she loves these new discoveries.

Stacie is not calling it shopping, this roundup of local food, she's calling it procurement! Go check out her findings. (And Stacie: Michigan cherries DO rule.)

Pat made a leg of lamb for the first time ever! It was moist and yummy so she'll be trying it again.

Linda has had a lot going on this week at her home, so her meal this week was very small but satisfying. Her post was interesting: all this new experimentation she is doing with local food has really opened her eyes and gotten her excited. Trouble is, it's gotten her husband excited too so she has to try to get pictures before he eats everything!

Kelli was so busy she missed the first week. She and her family don't have to go far to get their meat: try the back yard!! She lives in Iowa, and usually has interesting farm-related tales to tell, so check out her blog, and, if you're local, buy some of her goodies.

E4 questioned some of the "local" origins of his dinner, which reminds us that even stuff in the farmer's market can be goodies that were trucked in from very far away.

Miranda's local meal was more kismet than an active plan with a recipe. Her day was set up that way, and her friends brought along a somewhat local and intriguing cake for the meal. Sometimes, the best-laid plans are no plans at all.

Debbie, likewise, set aside earlier plans for her meal. It was simply too hot to cook! She also mentions her new grains and beans shipment from a farmer nearby: there is lots more local eating in her future, and lots more experimentation, too. (Debbie, homemade tempeh is both fun AND relatively easy, and you've reminded me I need to get cracking!)

Norma Jean is on vacation this week, but before she left she was snacking on some homegrown tomatoes. She won't have internet access this week, but she's bringing along a lot of local goodies for her trip.

Becke made a cooling, soothing dish of chicken pot pie??? Boy. This girl has the a/c on for her comfort food!

Manerva made a quick and satisfying meal for herself when her husband was out fishing. (Girl, I so have to work around the obstacle that is my husband for good food, too!) Her farmer's markets are starting up next week so she's expecting a lot more on her plate soon.

And Kate so shamed me: she is blog-FREE thanks! (SO sorry!) She made the following good eats from her farmer's market finds on Saturday: "We had grilled sandwiches with bread baked from 100% local whole wheat flour and Wisconsin onion/mushroom jack cheese. I also made Honey-Spice Roasted Cauliflower (ExpatChef on with local cauliflower, and we had the first ears of sweet corn of the season. For desert we had Door county cherries."

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Bee worried

Bee-less borage: I spooked the one bee I saw this morning. Granted, it was early and the dew was up, but normally, it's not one bee I annoy with the camera: it's dozens.

This was to be the year that we got honeybees for our farm. I've done a lot of research, and let me tell you: hives are very complex things. Maybe it's just the very social nature of the insect, but I find the ins and outs of beekeeping rather complicated. (Complicated, but not too much: I think my biggest downfall as a human is this oft-uttered statement: "Well, how hard can THAT be?") Human society confuses me at times, too: I will never understand war, for example.

Of course, Colony Collapse Disorder is out there. Out there, and out HERE too. My bee guy (who, coincidentally, is my goat guy) has 20+ hives. ALL ARE DEAD. He doesn't move his hives; he doesn't live in a biological wasteland; he doesn't do anything that would make his bees susceptible. There are no known beekeepers near him. Yet, pfft, all dead. He is very worried.

I plant many inedible flowering things within the veg garden to attract honeybees, and the more ubiquitous bumblebees (those little aerodynamic marvels: how DO they fly, they're so big) and mason bees and the like. I still do see some honeybees on the parsnip umbrels and beautiful blue borage, and I see some worrying over the yard's clover, but there are not nearly the numbers I have seen in the past. The bee balm, too: it's empty, save the hummingbirds.

I am not alone in worrying, it seems. I will keep planting pollinator-friendly things, and keep my fingers crossed. My bee and goat guy got a few nucs and hopes to be able to give me one in a year. So, maybe next year? Maybe?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Friday panic

Dang, I have been so busy, I'll just let the picture do the work for me today.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

On record keeping, part 2

Alcea rosea

My lack of garden note-taking sometimes rankles. These are some of the hollyhocks that are blooming now. I planted them from seed LAST year, and it is this year that they bloom: they're true biennials. Did I remember that they are doubles? NO. I saw the first one bloom and I kind of cringed, "doubles, drat." Then the second flower came out and you know what? They're rather pretty. And when they fall, it's like a milliner's store-worth of Easter bonnets on the ground. Not bad.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

My One Local Summer: week two meal

Not dinner yet

I ask myself this question on occasion: Am I an epicure?

I hesitate to answer it in the positive for many reasons. Mainly, I don't think I am there yet. (And also, can I really be an epicure if I deny myself the pleasure of animal flesh?) Yes, 'tis true, I do have high standards. I mean, hell, I moved my family from the city to the country so I could GROW SOME FOOD. And at restaurants, I have a very low threshold for the mediocre: if I am paying for a meal, especially now that good meals are hard to find, that meal better sing. But I mainly answer in the negative (so far) because, in essence, I am asking myself, Am I Insufferable Yet?

This was last night's fare. (It was my birthday, so I cooked for five.) Beets are coming in, and boy, do I love them. Crepes are easy yet people think they're magical. Feta. I made my first feta ever with milk from my goat guy. And fava beans. They never do really well for me, yet, like a spurned lover, I keep planting them, year after year, and tend them with such care. Oh, and salad. We're at the point here where our salads are bigger than the salad spinner can take.

Buckwheat crepes: ground buckwheat from last year's planting; eggs from Bea and Bonnie; local whole wheat flour; stock from last year's veggies; salt and butter not local.

Beet filling: Chioggia and Detroit Red beets and their greens; Walla Walla onions; hardneck garlic; Italian parsley, Par-cel cutting celery, garlic scapes and onion greens as garnish. All from the garden.

Crepe topping: Stock, goat-milk feta.

Salad: Speckled romaine, Amish deer tongue, bibb, arugula, cress, onion greens, garlic scapes and the last of the peas, with vinaigrette made from last year's scallions, garden herbs and local gone-bad red wine

Favas: Just butter.

Dessert: Mom made a tart cherry pie, with some of my local flour, Michigan sugar, and local (to her) cherries.

Beverages: Local wines from Tabor Hill.


Monday, July 02, 2007

GO MIDWEST! Lots of great goodies for Week One

Go meet some hot Midwestern cooks! These happy folks have completed Week One of One Local Summer.

ME, for one. I completely cheated this week as today is my birthday (yes you can send gifts if you like, or at least sing) and we actually splurged last night for a yum-licious meal at a local restaurant that features local artisanal food AND wine. In one simple meal I supported something like seven farmers, which is something I doubt I will be able to claim the rest of the summer.

Don't ask Phelan about the poor quality of her photo, but her meal sounds great. She is homesteading with her three boys, husband, scores of critters and one mean donkey in Kansas.

Matt in Iowa is generously acting as a subset to the Midwest (I know Iowa is big, Matt, but really) and the OLS challenge in general by being the catch-all to folks who didn't make our sign-up deadline in time. His site has loads of local food he likes, so if you're ever in I-o-way...

Lucette and her husband are in Cleveland. Check out her cookbook-crazed blog and her local meal; there's lots to see. Venison burgers and homemade strawberry ice cream...that sounds good to me!

Fellow Michigander Ang (Farm Mom) made up some wonderful grub this week. She had BOTH asparagus and morels so it was quite the ode to spring! Sigh; asparagus, sigh. Morels. SIGH!

FrugalMom lives in Illinois and is on the path to simple living. One of the fun things about this challenge is finding out how to cook previously unknown items like kohlrabi. She whipped up something good with it!

Evie in South Dakota made her family taco salad for her first meal. Before you say "Hmm, tacos" I'll mention here that she made the tortillas herself AND served them with buffalo meat! She's been known to see bison out home on the range when she's running down her country roads.

AnnMarie has been practicing her local meals for a while now with lots of raids from her garden. She and her husband are following a path of simple living. She did the challenge last summer, too! She's a Cheesehead, er, Wisconsinite. I envy her access to dairy. She envies my access to peaches. The grass is always greener...

Stacie is a laugh riot, IMHO; she and her husband and two young boys are in rural Illinois. This is her second summer of doing the OLS challenge; she's a great cheerleader of the idea because, well, after doing the legwork, local eating is simply now what they do! There's no turning back...

Gina and her husband homestead in Indiana with their two young boys. They have tomatoes already, so I am exceedingly jealous!

Jennifer calls her blog DisOrganization but dang, she even published the recipe for HER first meal. She's in southern Ohio.

Kelly and her family are also in Ohio. She grilled up some pizzas for their first meal. What's telling about her post is how hard she tried to source out local stuff, even going so far as to hopefully reduce her food miles for next time. (Hey, that's the fun part of the game!)

Joanna is a newlywed and newbie cook in Indiana. She fixed up brats in beer for her first meal! Yowza.

Pat is in Oklahoma and for her challenge, she decided OK was OK for her definition of "local." She's a mostly sci-fi writer who lives with her three kids and hubby.

Linda in Missouri is homesteading and grandkid-adoring with her husband, with whom she built their home. She made a lick-your-plate-clean meal this week!

Eric and Lori are doing the homestead thing in Ohio with their twins. Their meal sounds quite yummy!

Miranda is in Minnesota. She's looking to lighten her footprint on this earth with her husband and five kids. Check out her site; you'll learn a lot! The first week of the challenge was Italian Night and she made some ravioli.

Debbie is in Iowa, trying hard to simplify her life through cooking. There is truth to that, really there is. She got goodies from both her CSA and her farmer's market for her meal.

Jennifer is in Madtown. (That's the capitol of Wisconsin for you non-Wisco-savvy types.) You will have to go to Flick*r to see a pic of her meal, but it sounded pretty good to me.

NormaJean is in St. Louis with her husband, and she secretly hopes to one day be a farm girl. (Be careful what you wish for, NJ, is all I can say.) Her weeks have been crazy lately but she's still taking stabs at the challenge.

Becke is happily devouring her way through Ohio via Columbus. That sounds like a laudable goal, right? Come on go check out this foodie's yummy site. She made a favorite of hers for the challenge with all local ingredients, and it came out great!

Manerva is in Minnesota and much of what she eats she grows herself. She and her husband have a huge pack of animals on their acreage. Here's her first meal (and no it was NOT chicken, so they're all still happy).

We have a blog-less participant. Kate's also in Madtown, and she, her hubby and baby boy are also backyard chicken wranglers! She "had a homemade pizza with crust made from half locally grown wheat flour, canned tomato sauce from a local farm (Tomato Mountain), Wisconsin mozzarella, and oregano/basil from our backyard garden. Also a side of broccoli from a local farm." Sounds great!

I hope you all enjoyed Week One! There are some great ideas out there...