40 Acres and a Mule

40acres_Mule_1I loved this post from a localvore in Georgia:

“Let’s be honest: This is no Vermont. Have you ever noticed how many organic, small-farmed, value-added products originate in Vermont? I think we in the South need to do what the railroads did in the mid-1800s: recruit by all means necessary. We need to paper New England with flyers describing what an idyllic, easy life can be had amongst central Georgia’s granite quarries and pine tree plantations. Just show up, bring your chevre and your micro-greens with you, and we’ll give you 40 acres and a mule.”

Good luck to Georgia. . . and kudos to all the chevre producing, micro-green eating localvores in New England!

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Rose Hip-Mint Tea

Rosa Rugosa Hips

Rosa Rugosa Hips

Have you ever made rose hip tea? I did a few years ago, using fresh rose hips. I was unimpressed. I’ve since learned one needs twice as many fresh ones as dried, and that mint makes a nice addition. Since rose hips offer a good winter source of vitamin C, I decided to try again. In late September, while vacationing at a cottage on Little Diamond Island in Maine, I gathered plump rose hips. (The rosa rugosa had been planted to prevent erosion and were doing a good job of keeping the cottage from falling into the sea!) I sliced off the rose end, cut them in half and seeded them . . . a sticky process. I left the hips for a few hours to dry in the sun, then put them on a cookie sheet in a 190 degree oven for about 8 hours until dried. This morning, I put a sprig of dried mint and a few rose hips in my little tea pot, added boiling water, brewed for 10 minutes, and added a spot of maple syrup. Ah, a tasty tea!

This winter is predicted to be a hard one – I love knowing I have this stash of dried rose hips, mint, and maple syrup (bits of spring and summer) to see me through the coming cold, dark winter afternoons.

Dried mint and rose hips

Dried mint and rose hips

Brewed rose hip-mint tea

Brewed rose hip-mint tea

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Fresh from the Garden Gazpacho!

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Tomatoes, cukes, and peppers are ripening – t’is the season for gazpacho . . .  and Long Wind Farm was having a sale on tomatoes!  There are lots of different recipes; some like it silky smooth, others like it chunky – I like to add side bowls of chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and chives to this recipe so we can have it both ways!

Fresh from the Garden Gazpacho
Serves: 16 (I usually reduce this recipe to 1/3, using one cucumber, 1 pepper, etc)
Ingredients
      • 3 medium red bell peppers, roughly chopped
      • 3 large cucumbers, peeled and roughly chopped
      • 12 medium ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
      • 1 large clove garlic (optional)
      • 2 cups water
      • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
      • ¼ cup + 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
      • 1 tsp salt or to taste
      • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp plain bread crumbs

    Home made croutons

    1 large french baguette (One could use different breads.)
    ¼ cup olive oil
    ¼ tsp salt or to taste

    Place all the ingredients in a blender (depending on the size of the jar, you may have to do it in several batches). Blend until smooth

  • Pour through a fine mesh strainer to get rid of tomato and pepper skin and cucumber seeds. (I use a Foley food mill.)
  • Chill for a couple of hours before serving.
  • Serve with home made croutons, bowls of chopped cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, chives, etc
  • Home made croutons
    Dice the baguette and place in a large bowl
    Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt.
    Spread the bread cubes on a cookie sheet lined with foil in a single layer
    Bake at 400F for 20 minutes or until golden brown
    Serve on top of the gazpacho. Enjoy!

    Tip:  Gazpacho can be made with frozen tomatoes.  If you want gazpacho next 4th of July, freeze tomatoes now!

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Food Solutions New England

Food Solutions New England has prepared a vision for New England agriculture that would have us producing 50% of our food by 2060, with self-sufficiency in dairy production and near self sufficiency in vegetables . . and no one going hungry:

http://www.foodsolutionsne.org/sites/foodsolutionsne.org/files/media/LowResNEFV.pdf

Discussion of “Food Most Feasible for New England to Produce” interesting (p.19+)

“No one can predict the future but it is worth knowing that, if pressed, New England could probably produce two-thirds of its own food.”

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As Local As It Gets!

According to the National Gardening Association, when the crocuses are in flower, its time to plant the seeds of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, onion sets and seeds, peas, potatoes, radish, rutabaga, shallots, spinach, and turnip. Finally! Our home grown food is as LOCAL as it gets.

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Herbs-from-the-Garden Crackers


Today’s Valley News had Carol Egbert’s recipe for homemade crackers with a suggestion to try different herbs. I had dried sage, rosemary and thyme from the garden as well as dried hot peppers . . . why not give it a go?

Carol Egbert’s Saltine Crackers

2 cups all-purpose flour (Note: I used 1 cup Beidler Family Farm whole wheat flour and 1 cup King Arthur All-Purpose)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (Note: the crackers were too salty for my taste – I’d use 1/4 tsp next time)

1⁄3 cup vegetable oil (I used olive oil- it would be fun to try Cedar Circle sunflower oil when it is next available)

2⁄3 cup warm water

1 local egg white, beaten

additional kosher salt to finish crackers

Carol Wrote:”I use a whisk to blend together the flour, baking powder and kosher salt in a mixing bowl. I stir the vegetable oil and water into the flour mixture to make soft but not sticky dough.

I put one quarter of the dough onto a cookie sheet that has been lightly oiled and use a small rolling pin to roll the dough into a large square, paint on a thin glaze of beaten egg white with a pastry brush, sprinkle the dough with a small amount of kosher salt and finally, prick the dough with a fork to keep the crackers from rising. The crackers are ready to be baked for 10 minutes in an oven that has been preheated to 400 degrees. Cool and re-oil the baking sheet between batches.”

I divided the dough into 4 quarters and mixed in about a Tablespoon of crumbled dried herbs in each quarter.  My favorites were the rosemary and the sage. I’d go easy on the salt next time. It would be fun to make these crackers and serve them with gazpacho next summer . . or with homemade tomato soup today!

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Hartland Seed Library

On a freezing, snow-covered Saturday morning in early January, the Hartland Community Connections breakfast brought Hartland residents together to talk about seeds and the proposed Hartland Seed Library

The goal of the Seed Library, initiated by Hartland Library’s Director, Amy Wisehart, is to support and encourage seed saving efforts in the Hartland community. Vegetable seeds will be available to “check out” for the growing season. The first year will focus on open-pollinated lettuce, beans, peas, and tomatoes, all of which are relatively easy for beginning seed savers. Participants will save seed from some of the crops they grow to return to the library at the end of the season. The Library will offer educational support, including pamphlets, books and workshops, to help beginning seed savers.

There is a growing movement to re-localize and reclaim stewardship of seed production. Seed diversity is being lost as large seed companies have come to increasingly dominate and monopolize the seed market. The practice of seed saving encourages greater self-sufficiency and community resilience, and enables us to adapt to a changing climate and to localize our seeds for best results in our region. Hartland seed-saver Sylvia Davatz says it is empowering and addictive!

Response from breakfast attendees was enthusiastic with lots of questions and suggestions. Many asked for a workshop on building healthy soils. Both Brian Stoffolino (Oak Wood Farm, N. Hartland) and Jaxson Morgan, Hartland Community Connections Director) suggested a harvest potluck for sharing experiences, threshing seeds, and further building this community of seed savers. Sylvia welcomed those who are interested to attend a meeting of the Upper Valley Seed Savers on January 9, 2014 at 5:00 pm. at the Upper Valley Food Co-op in White River, VT. She also recommended “Seed to Seed” as a great resource for those interested in saving seeds.

What a wonderful way to build community, increase local resilience . . . and re-use all those outdated library card catalogs!

For info on established seed libraries see:
http://www.concordseedlendinglibrary.org/ (Concord, MA)
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/02/02/170846948/how-to-save-a-public-library-make-it-a-seed-bank (a Colorado Library)
http://www.richmondgrowsseeds.org/ Richmond, CA
http://www.library.pima.gov/seed-library/ Pima, Arizona

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