Local food

I spent $40 at the Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market this morning. This is what I got:

11 HUGE fragrant freestone peaches: a couple for eating, the rest will be sliced and put in the food dehydrator.

About 6 delicious little pears, plus the one she gave me as a taste sample.

2 big sweet onions

About 4 pounds of speckled butterbeans in the shell for freezing. I love shelling butterbeans. My inner child is saying “What?”

A pint of baby okra to go with the butterbeans.

A dozen ears of bicolor corn: some for eating today, some for freezing, shucks for papermaking.

One big free-range chicken breast

Two pounds of grass-fed ground beef

A head of hydroponic green leaf lettuce

Numbness in my right hand fingers from hauling this bounty back to the car!

Dang! I forgot the goat cheese.

I have kale, garlic, potato onions, tomatoes, basil, parsley, rosemary, my own butterbeans, field peas, other shell beans, carrots, and figs, if I can beat the birds to them.

Life is good.

Local food, political activism

HR 2749 defeated, but not dead

Received this email from Carolina Farm Stewardship Association today. My disappointment? My N.C. rep is not on this list. Miller voted for the last b.s. food “safety” bill too. Whenever I write to him about agricultural issues, he replies that he is not on the agriculture committee. Well, by God, he eats, doesn’t he? If he is from North Carolina, then he ought to be interested in agricultural issues.

This is why I am leaving the Dems. They definitely don’t always get it right, especially when it comes to food. The appointment of Monsatan henchmen to important food posts clinched the party desertion for me. The Democrat Party is too happy to wallow in the corporate slime.

Not that I’ll ever, ever, ever be a Repub. But I do recognize a few of these names as Republicans, which shows that sometimes, rarely, but sometimes, they DO get it right.

Dear CFSA members:

HR 2749, which did NOT have the Kaptur-Farr language CFSA supported that would have provided better protections for small and organic farms, was defeated today. Thanks to Reps. Heath Shuler, Howard Coble, Virginia Foxx, Walter Jones, Patrick McHenry and Sue Myrick of NC, and Reps. Barrett, Brown, Inglis, and Wilson of SC, for voting against the legislation. If one of those folks is your representative, please feel free to thank them. Your calls, emails, and our work educate our legislators made an impact—without those 10 votes, HR 2749 would have passed.

The bill is not dead. It was brought to the floor under a special rule that required a 2/3ds majority to pass the bill where the vote was both on the question of having the vote under 2/3ds majority requirements and on the underlying bill. So now the bill can be brought back up under “regular” rules, which means that there will have to be an opportunity for amendments on the floor. Or it could be brought back under special rules, but obviously they’ll have to make a few changes to get the extra few votes they need. If it were to come back under either scenario, that would be a chance for our community to influence positive amendments. When, and whether, there’s another vote is anyone’s guess right now.

Both NC Senators are on the Health, Education, Labor Committee, which has jurisdiction over food safety, and I know personally that the offices of both Senators are concerned about supporting small and sustainable farms. We should take advantage of the opportunity to exert our influence on them.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, Local food

Sunday sweep

Aw, I see rain to our northwest on the radar, but I doubt that we will get it. The weather forecast all week is “y’all might could git a few thunderstorms. If yore lucky, hit’ll git y’all a tiny little bit of rain. If you ain’t, hit’ll blow away yore trailer and flood yore crick.” That’s my interpretation, anyway. We need rain badly – Pat told me that it hasn’t rained for five weeks at her farm. I haven’t been counting but I know that it is terribly dry.

I did not get the artwork done that I meant to yesterday. And I probably won’t get it done today either, but I hope to at least get set up to make it easier during the week. I’m partially there. I have a workspace cleared and a few more covers ready for binding. I have to prepare signatures (the paper) and pierce some holes and do some beading.

I did get a little bit of Silver Queen corn blanched, cut off the cob, and frozen. It brought back a lot of childhood memories. In July, the main activity at my house was shucking corn and freezing it in one of the three large chest freezers we had. We ate corn and field peas or butterbeans almost every day of the year, so we froze a lot of it! We had to cut it off the cob because of my daddy’s false upper plate, but I tried freezing it on the cob and I didn’t like it, so I’ve gone back to cutting it off. It’s not that much more effort and it is a lot more convenient and tastier and easier to add to other recipes.

I have to say, though, that I am saving some freezer space for some Peaches and Cream type bicolor corn. When I see it, I’m going to buy a bunch of it. I’m also considering buying a bushel of butterbeans and a bushel of field peas to freeze, since it looks like I’ll never be able to grow enough of them myself.

In the Back Forty, I’ve harvested some of the Purple Pink Eye field peas and the Carolina Sieva butterbeans. (I think. They are interplanted with Willow because I mixed up the identical beans when I planted. So much for heirloom seed saving.) Because they got ripe suddenly when I was on vacation, I had enough for a good-sized pot. I only added Liquid Smoke and salt, and they are delicious!

I’ve also gathered enough dried Toscanelli and Jacob’s Cattle beans to plant next year’s crop, but I’ll have to weigh whether giving the space to them is worth it.

No ripe tomatoes yet. My green cotton has been flowering. And I could probably pull a few carrots.

I did weed-whack the front yard enough to keep the city and neighbors happy. I bought an electronic mouse repellent. I tried to take my camera back to Office Depot, but it turns out that the salesperson lied to me when I bought the warranty and they wouldn’t give me my money back. I have to do some bureaucratic BS and send the camera back in the mail to somebody and they are supposed to replace it. Except that it is discontinued, so now the line is that they will send me a better camera. I don’t want another Canon 500 series because I’ve had the same problem with both of mine. Granted, I worked the hell out of them. But I wanted to use the money to buy a better camera. It would have been a win-win situation for both Office Depot and me to refund my money.

Whether they handle this to my satisfaction or not will convince me whether buying the extended warranty was worth it and whether I want to do business with Office Depot or not. I don’t do business with Best Buy anymore because of the way their customer service department treated me when I returned a new defective PC years ago.

I’m not over my exhaustion from earlier this week, clearly. I did manage to go to sleep at 12:30 last night and sleep straight through the night, but I woke up at 10 a.m.! I think that part of the problem was that I got off my vitamin regimen so I started back on that this morning. I’ll try not to take a nap today, but it is the sabbath so I’m not promising. I’m going to bind books, make some paper, maybe weave, and organize so that I can come home from work and get crackin’ right away on a project. And cook some pork chops and spaghetti sauce, and do some laundry. And freeze some squash. Sheesh, I’d better shut down this laptop.

Local food

Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market Love

Okay, I swear that I’m getting off the computer after I write this, but I am filled with love and needed to express it.

Whenever I go away on a trip, especially somewhere as beautiful as Alaska and Vancouver, I begin fantasizing about moving there. I have lived two places in my life – in Marietta, NC with my parents, and in Greensboro, NC. I think, isn’t it time for a new start, a change?

Then I go to the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market for the first time in several weeks. How did I stay away so long? I would live in Greensboro for the rest of my life because of this place alone.

I bought whey-fed, pastured pork chops. Grass-fed beef. Freestone peaches. Blueberries. Cantaloupe. Yellow squash and Silver Queen corn, enough to freeze some. Cherokee Purple and Sungold tomatoes. Okra. Red sweet pepper. That’s when I made myself stop, only because I was getting really hot and needed to leave.

Otherwise I would have bought fresh baked bread. Handmade soap. Baba ganoush. Marinated goat cheese. Organic beets. Whole free-range chicken. Stone-milled grits. Hydroponic lettuce. Sweet onions. Local honey. New potatoes.

I wish that this place was open every day. Our community is blessed to have this market, and even more blessed because we CREATED this market.

Local food, Slow Food

Yesterday was a wonderful day, all day long.

I restrained myself at the Farmers’ Market – bought a whole hen which took most of my money, milk, popcorn cornmeal, and strawberries. I’ll put the hen in the slow cooker today. The mulberries that grow along the creek there are huge, sweet, and extra delicious.

I constructed a tobacco stick trellis and planted all the Loudermilk butterbeans, this time poking holes in a paper mulched bed and then spreading compost on top. The trellis itself is very pleasing to my eye. It reminds me of the fun I had playing with tobacco sticks as a child. I took these from an old barn at the farm – my mother was using them for kindling. I went to a craft fair last year where someone was varnishing and selling them, and said that she had been featured in the magazine Southern Living! Funny how people see simple objects in different ways.

Sandy and I went to lunch at Fishbones (I ate lunch there Friday with JQ too – one of those places where I’d happily eat every day – corner of Walker and Elam, Greensboro), went to Lowes and picked up a few items, went to Ed McKays where I had much success with the free shelf. Found a book on British Columbia, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, an old Golden Guide to Flowers (love those little Golden Guides), an old Rand McNally atlas (love maps!), a Truman Capote paperback of The Grass Harp and short stories, an old children’s dictionary with lots of illustrations and color plates of butterflies and fish, and various old cloth-covered books I’ll recycled into altered books and collage.

Then we went to see Star Trek, which, as reported, was FANTASTIC. Makes me want to go back and watch all the old Star Trek episodes that I’ve already seen a zillion times again. They set it up very neatly for a totally new franchise.

And then to Riva’s Trattoria, a very small Italian restaurant in downtown Greensboro. Riva’s is a Slow Food place, and according to the owners they use local ingredients when possible. However, they don’t put their sources on the menu other than the ubitiquous Goat Lady Dairy cheese, which many restaurants use not only for the delicious quality and taste, but also to claim to be local food buyers. I would love to see the names of the other farms that they buy their ingredients from on the menus. I hope that will be a requirement to get the new Slow Food Piedmont Triad “Snail of Approval” for restaurants. But I am out of that scene now. Anyway, I hate feeling compelled to ask where ingredients come from, but there are certain foods I don’t generally eat if I don’t know that the source is sustainable and humane.

I had tilapia over linguini with a lemon and caper sauce that was wonderful and Sandy enjoyed his Giacomo’s sausage and peppers over penne. I know that Riva’s uses fresh tomatoes for their pomodoro sauce because that is on the menu. I suspect that they are local but it would be interesting to know the source(s).

So that pretty much covers my lovely day yesterday. Now I need to get on with my lovely day today. I hope that it will also include a little more planting (skeeters stopped me as soon as I began to sweat yesterday) and working on a mica covered book that I began noodling around with yesterday. Maybe some weaving to justify that new yarn purchase last week? But first, I need to study and get that wool skirted. I can do the rest in between changing the wash water on the fleeces.

Back Forty, Local food, Slow Food

Back Forty update

Today has been very pleasantly busy. It’s not often that I don’t turn on the computer until late afternoon!

It began early this morning when I picked up the Fabulous Zha K on our way to Carrboro (siamese twin sister city of Chapel Hill) to buy some compost bins at a fabulously low price. I believe that it was arranged by the municipality of Carrboro, and the sale was out of a big truck in a Park and Ride lot. They ordered 1000 and sold them for $40 each, with optional turners and kitchen bins. From the line we were in I bet that they sold them all.

Anyway, when we got there, I called my sister on my rarely used cell phone to let her know about it. She and her husband were nearby in her car, and she didn’t want a bin but we all went to breakfast and then to a small farmer’s market in a Walmart shopping center outside of Hillsborough. It was nice for one reason because I’ve told Lisa and Tim all about ZK and vice versa, so they finally got to meet my fabulous friend, and she got to meet a terrific sister and brother-in-law.

The farmer’s market was small but very high quality. I think that it was their first time setting up in this new location on Hwy 86 near I-85. There were several meat and poultry farmers, all pastured/free-range and/or organic, a great cheesemaker, several bakers, herbal folks and other craftspeople. I bought pork chops from Caswell County Organics, and I didn’t get the names of the other vendors, unfortunately. The cheese was named Durham Blu and was a Italian Taleggio style cheese that had sharpened a bit from her normal cheese. I bought some whole wheat/rye sourdough bread and a bar of goat milk soap, tasted samples, and petted a chicken. That’s right. I petted a CHICKEN. There were witnesses.

I came home to re-sign all the refinancing paperwork again, which would have irritated the snot out of me except that they offered to give us $200 back to make up for the inconvenience of signing my name for 30 minutes in my own home. That was worth it.

Then I set up the composting bin and shoveled about half of my pile into it. The bottom half of the pile looks like it’s ready to put out in the garden beds. So if you are one of my friends that donates scraps to my compost pile, please put it in the black plastic bin from now on.

Thanks to a very generous and kind reader, I now have some solar lighting in the Back Forty! I have four staked lights to mark the path to the studio door, and a string of white Christmas lights that I’m going to hang around the gazebo. This is something that I’ve been wanting for some time, so thank you very much, Meadowlark!

The seckel pear tree is flowering for the first time. The Korean Giant asian pear appears to be dead. This was not a big surprise because I knew that I didn’t water it enough during the drought. Fortunately, I found that seckel pears are self-pollinating. The cherry bushes and the Yoshina ornamental cherries are blooming too. Most of the greens are still alive, and asparagus spears are beginning to emerge. Can’t harvest those until next spring. It will be hard to wait! Violetto artichokes are coming back too.

It’s been a very good week. I’m very happy right now.

Local food, Market report

Market report

It’s been a while since I posted a list of what I bought at the Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market, my favorite place to shop. I’ve been trying to pay off credit cards so I’ve been living out of the freezer a good bit. Plus it’s the first Saturday morning in a while that I’ve felt good. Not quite sure what that pattern is all about, but I won’t voice my suspicions here.

At the end of January, there are a few empty tables. But you’d be surprised at how much is still available from local farmers. And you don’t have to fight the crowd.

Hamburger and stew beef: Rocking F Farm
Milk: Homeland Creamery
Eggs: Moore’s
Soap: Mimi’s Soap
Bibb lettuce: Flora Ridge Hydroponic Farm

I would have liked to have bought more but I’m still on a tight budget, and I still have plenty that is canned and in the freezer, fortunately! There was plenty of variety there, especially meats and prepared foods.

Local food, Slow Food

Join Michael Pollan’s Army!

Received the following email, as well as a disturbing one yesterday that rumoured conservative Democrats were backing pro-industrial anti-sustainable people for deputy secretary of ag, so your input is VERY VERY important! Tom Vilsack was a huge disappointment, but hopefully he would be balanced and influenced by sustainable advocates.

At least we can say we tried to make change!

Fellow Citizens,
Join Michael Pollan’s Army! – Invite your Friends

Now that the inauguration is behind us, it’s time to get serious about change. President Obama has indicated that he will not be able to do it alone, that’s why it’s important to grow our movement.

Right now, if you’ve already signed the petition at Food Democracy Now! it’s more important than ever to get our allies to sign as well.

Already you have become a part of sustainable history. We just got the news that two of our Sustainable Dozen are under serious consideration for Deputy Secretary. In order to put Chuck Hassebrook or Karen Ross in a position to be able to implement sustainable change at the USDA you need to act now!

Invite all your friends to become a part of Michael Pollan’s Army! If we each get two or three friends to sign the petition we will reach the critical mass needed to create serious reform at the USDA.

Right now President Obama needs your help to Show Him the Movement! so he will be able to support family farmers going forward.

If you want to see this grassroots effort continue, please donate as little as $10 or $25 to make sustainable change possible.

Go ask your friends to join Michael Pollan’s Army and give President Obama the reinforcement he needs.

Grow the movement. Act Now.
Be the Change!

David Murphy
Director, Food Democracy Now!

Back Forty, Local food

I’m in between morning and afternoon activities at the moment. My first pot of butterbeans is on the stove seasoned with a hambone that I saved in the freezer a while back. There is a separate little pot of okra, which I’ll add to my beans, and I bought bi-color corn, and we’ll eat that all weekend. I pulled up all my beets and I’ll cook those and their greens separately for me to eat this week. And tomatoes, lawd, the tomatoes. We’ll eat what appears to be next to the last of the Cherokee Purples for lunch, and I have lots of Garden Peach and canning tomatoes. I’ll be canning and drying all weekend. It’s good timing on the slicing tomatoes, because the Green Zebras are just beginning to ripen.

For breakfast I ate figs and sweet cherry tomatoes right off the tree and vine. Doesn’t get much better than that.

The other things I bought from the curb market: peaches from Kalawi Farm, pork chops from Bradd’s pastured pig farm, hamburger from Rocking F, and half a loaf of garlic rosemary bread from Simple Kneads. I signed the Molners’ petition, with the highlighted note that I only supported the half of the petition that allowed exceptions for customer requested specialty items that were unique to the market. In other words, “Amish cheese and butter from Ohio.” I explained my feeling about it to Francine and she totally understood.

I went to a Sentry hardware out on Hwy 70 that I liked a lot, enough to order a pallet of cement pavers and I bought spray paint to paint the patio table and chairs. So if you come to see me, you won’t get a creamy white shadow on your clothes after sitting down. I don’t know what kind of paint the last owner used! I also bought some landscape fabric, so after I paint the patio set over the cardboard, I’ll cover it with the fabric, then I’ll be ready to put down the pavers.

So, I have a lot to do this weekend, and it’s time to raise my butt from chair and get going on it. Bye!

Local food

Saturday morning post-market post

Whew! It’s gonna be a scorcher today, and I have an outdoor wedding to attend at 5 p.m.

I’m going to be like Dr. Horrible’s henchman, Moist. Have you seen Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog yet? Really, you’ve got to see it. The first three episodes are free on iTunes or at hulu.com.

I posted a lot of new photos on Flickr this morning and will post a few of them here this weekend.

There’s a bit of controversy at the Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market today. Market management, with ample warning to the vendors, began enforcing their rules about selling only what been certified that you grow. There is a process for applying for variances. I don’t know why the Molners’ Amish cheese and butter from Ohio are not under a variance, but I will miss it if it doesn’t come back. The problem was just a few vendors who were selling items that they do not have certification that it was grown on one of their farms, and if they aren’t inclined to tell the truth, they could be reselling produce that they bought from a wholesaler. I can guarantee you that at least one farmer was doing it, because once I caught them red-handed with stickers on their produce, and another time when the farmer was away and another person was tending his booth, he made a joke to me about their other farm in Peru.

So, what I’m saying here, is that if you’re upset over the rule enforcement, consider that it is to protect you as a consumer and the other vendors who have always abided by the rules. The rules, in the past year or so, were being pushed to the point that something had to be done. And the rules have been the same for at least a couple of years, and the vendors were given ample opportunities to come under compliance. The market management needs your support – I know for a fact that they had good reasons, and their rules were made with plenty of vendor and customer input.

All the same, I think that there is a petition to let the Molners continue selling cheese and butter, and I support that since I am addicted to their cheese. I have to wonder why they did not get a variance though. They are sensitive to rules and regulations (Ron Paul supporters!). Did they apply for one? Let me know if you know the scoop.

One upset vendor was telling his customers that “slow food people” were behind it. That was absolutely misleading, since Slow Food as an organization has had nothing to do with it. He promised me that he would set the record straight with his customers, since we were beginning to get complaints. I’m writing about it here to set the record straight as well, and my disclaimer is that the thoughts I have posted here are mine as an individual consumer. Other Slow Food members feel differently, and I understand their feelings also. We can’t be painted with the same brush on this issue.

Anyway, I really loaded up at the market since I just got paid and I’ve either missed markets or ran in and ran out with just an item or two. I picked up my CSA chicken and bought hamburger, Fordhook lima beans, corn, okra, yellow and Zephyr squash, peaches, red pepper/walnut spread, wholegrain bread, and soap. Not that I needed soap, since I am still using the absolutely wonderful soap that Beverly sent to me. But I didn’t want Glenn to think that I’d forgotten them. Pat gave me a few Aunt Ruby’s Green tomatoes to try – she said that they were wonderful but they weren’t selling and that she’d probably have to feed them to the chickens. They were ugly as sin so I figure that they will probably be delicious. She says that they are peppery. I’ll have a tomato sandwich for lunch.

With only Duke’s mayonnaise, salt, and pepper, of course. Over the kitchen sink.