Back Forty, butterbeans, buying local, consumerism, Local food, Market report, Slow Food

Back Forty Update and Market Report

It finally got cool enough for my butterbeans (or lima beans) to produce again. They will keep going now until a heavy frost.

My field pea crop is winding down. I prefer to eat them freshly shelled (not dried like this photo) with “snaps” – the immature pods snapped like green beans. This year they have been besieged by big black ants who hang out at the top of each pea and will run up your arm and bite you. You have to be very careful when you pick them. I don’t know what I’ll do about this next year. At least they are not fire ants.

The fig tree has gotten huge again. I’ll have to cut it down by at least half this winter. Again.

The last fig of the season is now in my stomach.

Market report:

Back in the early days of this blog, the focus was on Slow Food, especially on local food at a time when Greensboro markets and restaurants were just beginning to get on board and understand the meaning and implications of buying locally. I was a member of the board of the Friends of the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market before that volunteer group went through an weirdly political totally insane lie-based attack resulting in its dissolution. Since that time, the management of the market passed to a non-profit group who has brought the market back to a wonderful community again, which I am particularly grateful for since the insanity migrated over to Deep Roots Market. But that will be the subject of another post.

This morning at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, I bought the following:

Water buffalo cheese from Fading D Farm of Salisbury, NC. WHOA! And so good!
Buttercrunch lettuce, hydroponically grown from Tony
Stoneground yellow grits from Old Mill of Guilford
Small sweet peppers
Okra
Soap from Carol at Mimi’s Soaps
From Anna at Zaytoon:
Baba ganoush
Tzatziki
From Rudd Farm:
Sweet bicolor corn, my favorite
Watermelon
Tomatoes
Butternut squash
Eggplant
From Daniel at Nimby Farm:
Onions

Normally I also buy milk, meat and bread there too but I ran out of money this morning! I have a lot in my freezer, though.

I used to go to Deep Roots Market after the market visit to buy what I couldn’t find, but honestly nowadays I find most of what I need at the farmers’ market. I’ll go to Costco or Bestway or Harris Teeter or Earth Fare to find the rest of my needs until Deep Roots changes course, if it survives. I do still go to Deep Roots occasionally to buy things when they have the owner discount month to buy only products that are cruelty and GMO free. Today I’m heading to the other stores.

Back Forty, butterbeans, coffee pot posts, critters, fiber art, Slow cloth, Slow Food

Sunday morning coffee pot post

This time, from the studio that I rent at a nearby church!

I have this floor to myself these days, at least on the weekends and evenings when I can get here. I guess it is just too hot for most people. Turning on my little AC unit the night before and covering my east-facing windows with fabric panels is the only way to get it bearable. I’d leave it on all the time but this church struggles for money and I want to be good to them. I absolutely love this studio space.

Now I have an old laptop and printer here so that I can blog and print off designs and photos for my artwork. Life is good.

Back Forty update: I haven’t done a lot of gardening this year, due to physical problems this spring, and nowadays the heat and the mosquitoes are too much for this post-menopausal body to deal with.

The herb garden is full of black-eyed susans. Apparently the woodchuck moved on this year because last year it ate the heads off all of them. However, I did see a raccoon run across the yard yesterday, with birds shrieking behind it. The cat from across the street, Penny, has been hanging out in the Back Forty lately. I am a great admirer of Penny because she just doesn’t give a fuck about anybody but Penny, plus she looks almost exactly like Miss Jazz. I like that in a cat.

The tomatoes are in the whiskey barrel planters and under chicken wire cages, but most of them are dying. Guess I need to change out the soil or plant them elsewhere. In this small area it is hard to rotate crops! My butterbeans are not producing yet. I got a late start planting them and they will not flower when it is this hot. Guess that they will be a fall crop. However, I am beginning to harvest some field peas. A couple of ground cherry volunteers came up and are producing.

Even though I still am not in the mood for cooking these days, there is no excuse not to this time of year. Yesterday I went to the Greensboro Farmer’s Curb Market and bought milk, eggs, lettuce, soap, Sungold tomatoes, okra, corn and green peppers. The milk from Homeland Creamery was in the cow on Friday morning. How often do you hear that? The eggs were from pasture-raised chickens, the lettuce was hydroponically grown, the soap locally handmade, the tomatoes organic, and the corn, ohhh, that corn. I grew up on a farm where we never ever ate corn out of a can. My father grew enough Silver Queen corn so that July was a time when pickup truckloads of corn were shucked in the shade of the pecan tree in our back yard, then blanched, cut off the cob (Daddy had false teeth) and frozen for eating all year round. So when I tell you that the bicolor corn that Rudd Farm grows is the best corn I ever tasted, I do so with the voice of experience.

I shucked the corn, cooked it up, and it was delicious without any butter or salt. That’s how good it is. I was going to buy enough to freeze some for this winter, but the folks at Rudd Farm said that they will have it until frost, so there’s no rush. I then cut up the corn shucks into pieces about an inch long to freeze for papermaking later.

Physically, other than another annoying cold, I am doing much better since a visit to my chiropractor. I am taking naproxen sodium once a day and doing stretches for my hip, and I’ve been able to get to sleep fairly quickly most nights. Now I am trying Slo-Niacin for my high cholesterol. So far the flushing has been minimal, since I am following the directions to start out with 250 mg, take at bedtime, and to eat a little something and take an aspirin about 30 minutes before. I found out something very interesting when I researched niacin and cholesterol. I have been taking no-flush niacin for quite some time with no real improvement in my cholesterol. HOWEVER, I discovered that no-flush niacin is NOT the kind that helps cholesterol. I wasn’t told this by the salesperson in supplements or the doctor’s office! You need nicotinic acid for that. Here’s an article about niacin and cholesterol.

All in all, I feel happier and freer than I have in a long time, if I don’t pay attention to the news. If I do that, then I crash. I feel helpless.

So, time to sew!

Back Forty, Local food, Slow Food

Lambsquarters

lambquartersbeansI’ve written about cooking lambsquarters before. They are easily foraged if you can find a place that isn’t sprayed with herbicides or other pollutants. This article from Mother Earth News is informative about other uses for this “weed.” I have some growing among my black-eyed susans right now and I’ll pick them for some nutritious tasty greens and beans tonight.

Here’s a post from back when I was food blogging and participating in an international Eat Local Challenge, back when almost everybody, including the Greensboro restaurateurs, didn’t understand the local food movement: https://slowlysheturned.net/2006/05/08/elc-day-seven-lambs-quarters/. I cooked them with white beans and garlic and a little liquid smoke to get that hamhock flavor. Of course you can cook them with bacon or pork…at the time, I couldn’t get local or humanely raised pork.

Also, I should point out from my article that I no longer support Gann and Faucette Farms, who are no longer at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market after a prolonged public battle about enforcing market rules that required vendors to grow what they sold. It is likely that the beans and mushrooms I referenced in the article were not actually local. And sadly, Deep Roots Market, while still a good source for organic foods and supplements, has changed their business model to the point where I consider it to be a different business using the DRM name. I’m still an owner, but I’m unhappy with the changes. I have some hope that the new board members and owners voting with their buying decisions may bring it back to its former mission.

My, how things have changed after ten years. Pretty amazing.

Local food, Slow Food

Not Campbell Soup

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We Southern cooks love our casseroles with cream of this-or-that soup, but since I moved to eating organically and locally as much as possible several years ago, I’ve adapted some of my favorite casseroles to using a cream sauce with whatever. I make faux condensed cream of mushroom soup by making a thick white sauce with fresh mushrooms cooked in the butter. That is what went into the broccoli casserole this afternoon instead of canned soup. Yes, it looks gross but it is SO much better.

It only took a few minutes to do it, although I’m not perfect and sometimes I keep a can or two of the processed stuff in the cabinet for when I feel super lazy. This one isn’t completely local or completely organic, but it is a combination of the two.

I can’t give you a recipe because I stopped measuring on this casserole years ago. It’s like a crustless quiche, with more cheese and less eggs.

I went to church this morning, the very liberal Presby USA one around the corner that I attended around the same time I began this blog in 2005. They are between ministers and Mark Sandlin, whose writing I adore, is filling in for several Sundays. I’m basically an atheist, but I respect a lot of different spiritual traditions, since I believe that any faith that helps you be a better person and encourages you to be compassionate and kind to others is a good thing. I don’t often admit to being an atheist…maybe a searcher would be a better label, but there isn’t really any label that describes my beliefs. I’ve explored a lot. So be it.

Tonight this broccoli casserole goes to my friend’s Hanukkah dinner where I get to be an honorary Jew again.

Blessings to you all.

art retreats, book arts, dyeing, fiber art, Madeline Island, Minnesota/Wisconsin, Slow cloth, Slow Food

Madeline Island: Chapter 4, Wednesday


Daisies, mullein, and lupines were everywhere on the island.


After finding out that the raspberry tea bags made beautiful pink marks that magically turned blue on the cotton paper, raspberry tea suddenly became the most popular beverage in our class!


Hmmph.

India shows us what we are to do with our cloth/papers. They will become books.


Going crazy making more bundles now.

My treasure book, out of the dyepot, unbundled and unfolded very, very, very carefully so that it has time to dry. Paper is very fragile when wet.

That evening, India made bee-yoo-ti-full soup for the class. We became quite silly after imbibing it, so I wonder what secret ingredient she added to it? I wouldn’t dare post the goofy photos, lest I be hunted down and murdered in my sleep, but I think this is a lovely photo of an absolutely fantastic group of women.

art retreats, book arts, dyeing, fiber art, Madeline Island, Marvelous meals, Minnesota/Wisconsin, Slow cloth, Slow Food

Madeline Island: Chapter 3, Tuesday


My bundles, freshly removed from a dyepot made with goldenrod plants (yes, you can use the leaves and stalks!)

I was a wee bit disappointed, especially in my wool samples overall, but I would soon learn that the secret of getting good plant prints included getting the tightest possible contact between the cloth and the plant material. The watercolor paper that we used to catch drips under these bundles ended up being some of the prettiest accidental artworks of the week.

One of our assignments was to stitch scraps of different natural fabrics and paper to a large piece of watercolor paper. The stitching was hard on the fingers, and toward the end I resorted to using a stapler to both tack down the pieces and to see what marks I could make when the metal reacted with the dye. We flipped it over and painted milk with handmade brushes onto the cotton rag paper for a mordant. It doesn’t look pretty, does it? That milk mordant would make my heart sing by the end of the week. I am totally into the milk mordant, since I work so much with cotton.

We would find out the next day what would be done to these sheets.

Now for the food porn. We went to a new restaurant on the island, Blue Green Organic. It was all about local and organic, and the chef who designed the menu was runner-up on one of those major cooking shows (which I confess not to watch since I don’t watch much TV and dislike reality shows in general, but especially those in which the contestants are abused or ridiculed). The service was very good and the food was luscious and artfully presented. Their signature item was a smoked trout chowder, in which the ingredients are piled into the individual bowls, then the hot cream stock poured over them at the table. As delicious as it was beautiful.

art retreats, critters, dyeing, fiber art, Madeline Island, Minnesota/Wisconsin, Slow cloth, Slow Food

Madeline Island: Chapter 2, Monday

The meadows around MISA were gorgeous; full of wildflowers and wildlife. Unfortunately that wildlife included many ticks. If you go, do take bug repellent of some kind. I think that I may have been one of the only people in my class that did not find a tick on me at some point during my stay. Whew!

On the first day, our class included a few sessions of gathering materials for fabric bundles, in which we were given limitations in order to open our eyes to different possibilities. This is a shot of my treasures in the last session, when we could gather nearly anything.

Bundles for the dyepot – one with a cord made from twining scraps of silk fabric. The shells are my markers, since these bundles became hard to recognize after they came out of the dyepot.

That afternoon, a group of us went to The Pub in the village of La Pointe for dinner and drinks. I decided to try the whitefish livers, even though I don’t like liver, because someone who had eaten them said that they were good and children liked them. I tried them because I have never in my life heard of eating fish liver, and I considered it my duty as a Slow Foodie to taste a regional food. They weren’t bad – they tasted a bit like chicken livers, and the accompanying veggies were excellent.

I got in a hammy mood when I insisted on sticking my toes in the very cold water of Lake Superior. Don’t mind the hole in my sock, there.

The sunset back at MISA:

Local food, Slow Food

The definition of Slow Food

Slow Foodies are often asked to define Slow Food, and it can be difficult to come up with the perfect “elevator” pitch. There are many misconceptions about Slow Food. It is definitely NOT vegetarian, as a fairly recent TV news story implied. It is not about cooking or chewing your food slowly. It is not even about organic or “health” food, although we think that food produced in this way is healthier for our bodies and our cultures. Here is a good, concise definition of Slow Food from an article about Carlo Petrini in the Independent:

From producer to plate: What is Slow Food?

Slow Food – Petrini’s term – is used to signal awareness of a food’s origin, on the part of the producer and “co-producer”, the movement’s name for the consumer. Slow Food shies away from the word “consumer” because “by being informed about how our food is produced and actively supporting those who produce it, we become a part of and a partner in the production process”.

Promoted by members of the organisation, the term stipulates that the food should “taste good, that it should be produced in a clean way which fully respects the environment, human health and animal welfare” and that “food producers are paid a fair wage”.

Slow Food is necessarily regional, promoting and protecting local produce. Its aim: “To counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how food choices affect the rest of the world.”

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.