Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The first strawberry of summer!

I took photos of this strawberry. I tried to make them nice photos. I used different lighting. I took great pains to avoid getting the clutter of my house in the background. And now my computer (the one with the photo software) won't boot. Grrrr.

Instead I present you with a crappy cell phone photo of the event. In the interest of full disclosure, it wasn't really the first strawberry of summer. It was more like the fifth or sixth. But you get the idea. The furry individual is Mr. Grey, whose beatific image has graced this blog before.

Don't worry, I rescued the strawberry (and ate it) before Grey could tear it apart with his razor-sharp-claws-that-need-a-trim. Silly cat, you're a carnivore!

I went to the Westerville Farmer's Market this afternoon, and Bird's Haven Farm provided me with strawberries and a couple of cucumbers. I also picked up few bunches of radishes and a whole chicken (a small and leggy Rhode Island Red) from my friends at Frijolito Farm. The radishes will soon meet some butter and salt and bread (if you've never tried this I recommend that you eat some RIGHT NOW; it is an amazing flavor combination, no matter how weird it sounds) and the chicken will become coq au vin, or rather poule au vin, since I think it was a hen.

Yesterday I expanded my cooking repertoire by making chicken cordon bleu (chicken from Speckled Hen, ham from Blues Creek, garlic-herb cheese from Meadow Maid) with scalloped potatoes, steamed asparagus, and velouté sauce. My chicken pounding and rolling skills are a little lacking, but it was still quite tasty (although a fair bit of the cheese escaped during cooking. Bad cheese!) Monday I spent the day making chicken stock, 8-10 quarts of it. I was out of onions (gasp!) but I tried to make up for it with chives and leek tops. It's pretty tasty, though not as amazing as the stuff from North Market Poultry.

Now I must go eat some more strawberries. Looks like berries, granola and yogurt season has officially started! (Now only if I had bought granola today, and supplies for making yogurt! Ah well, that will be on the agenda for next week.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

One Local Summer - now with button!

(I just learned how to put the link into the button. The real trick will be doing it twice!)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Catching up on market reports, and One Local Summer

Boy, am I behind on market reports!

Two weekends ago I had a marvelous score at the Worthington Farmer's market: dried beans! We have a dearth of shelling beans at the markets around here, so finding that Pop and Judy had a whole slew of varieties was pretty darn thrilling! I bought soybeans, black turtle, calypso (black and white), soldier, stuben, and light (pink floyd) and dark (red ryder) kidneys. I used some of the dark red beans in a Jamaican rice-and-beans dish, and they came out perfectly!

The last few market days have seen me with asparagus (will I ever buy enough to freeze?) and morels (this was probably the last week); spinach (my own is floundering) and lettuce (mine is almost ready to harvest!); baby leeks (most wonderful thing EVER) and scallions (mine are tiny, and I only planted a few.)

I saw some leeks and scallion plants for sale at a local garden center. I didn't buy any, but I may go back and pick some up. I may have to dig a new plot for them, but I would love to have them in my garden (though my partner did point out that there is NO way that I could plant enough leeks. I do love them!) I picked up some yellow pear (closest I could come to sungold) and grape tomato plants, so it looks like I am giving tomato gardening another shot.

What have I been doing with my market finds? I have finally conquered risotto, and I will post my method (it's a method rather than a recipe) soon. I really like the onion-green veggie-mushroom combination (it's best with ramps, asparagus and morels.) I've both roasted and steamed asparagus and made a lovely salad with some local grilling cheese (only I fried it, because fried cheese is awesome.)

In other news, I have joined the One Local Summer challenge, hosted by Farm to Philly this year. I must produce at least one local meal a week, with the only exceptions being oil, salt and pepper, and spices. I am quite looking forward to it!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My garden, and my gardening hero (Ruth Stout)

First of all, a little information about my garden: we've got snap peas, lettuce, arugula, and spinach planted in existing beds along the patio. With the exception of the spinach, they are doing well. The snap peas aren't getting as much sun as they'd like, but they are planted along the fence to improve the soil in that bed. I also have pots full of herbs: the giant one has tarragon, sage, oregano, thyme, and salad burnet (the latter will soon be replaced by chervil.) Smaller pots have cilantro and parsley, chives, basil and dill.

A slight segue: if you cook at all and don't have an herb garden, do yourself a favor and buy the largest flower pot you can find. Set it by the door closest to the kitchen (outdoors, of course, in as sunny a spot as possible) and plant herbs in it. Don't forget to water it. Being able to nip out back with the kitchen shears and cut fresh herbs for cooking is one of the most fabulous things EVER. Trust me on this.

Anyway, we have also dug a new garden bed this year. It is currently sporting the following: chard, celery (very wee celery plants), scallions, Brussel sprouts, 3 radishes (that's all that survived), pole beans and snow peas. There are also a great number of mystery squash plants, courtesy of the compost heap. I hope some of them are marina de chioggia.

The garden is having some drainage issues (as in, I could probably plant rice in parts of it) thanks to our insanely heavy clay soil. I dug out the worst spot today and placed a layer of sand and leaf matter down deep, which will hopefully help the situation.

The other thing I did today was mulch the heck out of the garden bed. This is where my new gardening hero comes in: the amazing Ruth Stout. I'm currently reading Gardening Without Work, and it is an amusing and informative read. It's also one of the first gardening books I've been able to read cover-to-cover.,7518,s1-5-19-189,00.html

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A wonderful market day!

Today was the Cinco d'Ohio festival at the North Market, which marks the official start of the farmer's market season. A number of the vendors were selling things other than vegetables, but I guess it is still a bit early in the season for most farmers.

That did not, however, prevent us from bringing home a large haul. The items I am most excited about are: FISH!!! Locally produced fish, no less, from Freshwater Farms of Ohio. I've been meaning to drive out there, but they saved me the trip (it's uncertain whether they'll be at the market throughout the season.) We picked up some beautiful trout fillets and some smoked trout as well. The next bit of excitement involved fresh morels (wheee!) at $10 a pint, and the first of the asparagus! You can tell that this was a multiple exclamation point kind of a market day. I also picked up some spinach, watercress (never used that before!), baby leeks and scallions, and some ramps from the Greener Grocer (which I have also never cooked before.) Originally I was planning for a risotto with ramps and morels, but instead they may both adorn some cooked trout.

On a brief foray to the Clintonville plant sale/preview market we picked up some thin young hothouse (or hoophouse) green beans, as well as some potatoes.

I am so excited to have fresh local produce again! My own strawberry plants are in bloom (not that I've ever had a strawberry from them, I think the rabbits get them) so hopefully strawberry season is close!