Home-Cured Bacon, Merguez Sausage, Cured Egg Yolks: Charcuterie and more

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Dear cured but never ailing,

In our Food Lab Charcuterie Level One class, we got to play with a lot of really delicious, really wonderful pastured pork from Autumn Olive Farms. Their heritage pork is pastured, well-nourished and consciously raised. Read all the way down to find recipes for bacon, sausage, cured egg yolks and a special pork-belly dish!

Photo by Autumn Olive Farms; Berkshires in a cornfield.

Photo by Autumn Olive Farms; Berkshires in a cornfield.

The talented chef de cuisine Kevin Dubel, from Terrapin Virginia Beach, led an engrossed class through the steps of curing bacon, egg yolks, and grinding sausage at home. (Locals recognized the name of Terrapin instantly, but for our distant readers – it is the most elite and organic, sustainable and delicious fine-dining restaurant in all of Virginia Beach!) Students each prepared their own unique slab of bacon to take home and salt-cure in their fridge, and the self-selected flavors I saw flying across the table ranged from such traditional seasonings as black peppercorns and sage to more exotic choices like dried ghost pepper powder or kombucha. Everybody enjoyed a fresh charcuterie board, finished out with fresh cheese from Sullivan’s Pond Farm, and decanters of our famous farmhouse kombucha flowed!

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Students loved the chance to dig in and grind meat, add seasonings and experiement. We were blessed to have the expertise of Chef in our Food Lab; the pork for Terrapin is custom-raised, delivered from Waynesboro, VA, and chef breaks it down in his kitchen.  The salumi and charcuterie in the restaurant is house-cured and delectable – flavors are intense, fresh and undeniably delicious!  We loved the chance to meet with our readers and farm supporters, culinary enthusiasts and professionals as well as city-dwellers interested in eating better and living closer to their food.

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Home-Cured Bacon

Download home-cured bacon recipe here

10 pounds pork belly

450g salt, kosher (no iodine or anti-caking agents)

225 g sugar

50 g pink salt #1*

Optional: herbs, seasonings, peppers or other flavorings

1. In a shallow, wide bowl or pan, combine salt, sugar and pink salt, and add any additional flavors desired.

2. Use salt box method: roll pork belly in the salt and seasonings to thoroughly coat, and shake off excess.

3. Place in non-reactive bag or pan and set in a refrigerator. If in a bag, massage daily for seven days. If in a pan, flip every other day for seven days.

4. After seven days, remove and pat the pork belly dry. Smoke to an internal temperature of 150°F.  Alternately to smoking, place in 200°F oven until internal temperature reads 150°F.

5. Slice and enjoy!

*Manufacturers started adding pink color to their curing salts so chefs would not mistake it for regular salt. It is also called TCM (Tinted Cure Mix).  Pink Salt #1 or TCM is made up of salt and sodium nitrite; it is used for curing bacon, sausage, hams and other cured products that will be cooked. It is different from Pink Salt #2 which is salt, sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate, which is used for long dry cures such as salami or prosciutto. If you are concerned about sodium nitrites and nitrates used for preserving, remember there are more nitrites in a bowl of spinach than are used to cure an entire salame, and any cured meat that claims to be “nitrate and nitrite free” simply used a celery juice or other vegetable base, loaded with nitrites, to avoid using the sodium nitrite label. There is no nitrite-free cured meat.

Download home-cure bacon recipe here

More downloadable recipes from Food Lab Charcuterie: Level One

Charcuterie Level One Syllabus

Home-Cured Bacon

Merguez Unstuffed Sausage

Cured Egg Yolks

Download all of Level One in a single document!

For those interested in going further, the books recommended by chef are from Michael Ruhlman, the US authority on charcuterie and salumi and Chef Dubel’s mentor and teacher in the trade.

Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing (Revised and Updated) | Considered by chef to be the “bible” of the home curing world, this book has everything you need to carry off a successful venture in curing, smoking and salting your own foods at home. It’s a less intimidating world than you might think, once you delve in!

Salumi: The Craft of Italian Dry Curing | The techniques discussed in this book will be covered in our more advanced Food Lab charcuterie classes, but you can start researching now!

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Don’t strap your spurs on yet, there’s more!! The leftover slab of pork belly made a delicious staff lunch the next day, braised and slow-cooked in kombucha. Ready to try it out?

Staff Lunch Pork Belly

Download Pork Belly recipe here

One slab pork belly

Handful banana, carmen and green peppers, sliced into rounds

A few whole shishito peppers for good measure

A few whole beets, well-scrubbed

Kombucha

Salt, whole tellicherry peppers

Honey or maple syrup

Fresh herbs on the stem: oregano, thyme, sage and rosemary

1. Set a heavy Dutch-oven style pot over high heat. Gently sear the fatty side of pork belly.

2. While fatty side is searing, sprinkle meaty side with a two-finger pinch of salt, a scattering of tellicherry peppers, and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.

3. Flip pork over, with fatty side on top. Turn heat down to medium. Again sprinkle with salt, tellicherry peppers, and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. Pile with herbs, then heap in vegetables – peppers, beets, and potatoes if you wish.

4. Pour over pork one to two cups of kombucha, original or the flavoring of your choice. Cover pot and let cook slowly for one to two hours depending on size, or until tender and internal temperature reads 145F. Check occasionally and add more water or kombucha as necessary.

5. Let rest three to five minutes before slicing or shredding, and serve immediately to happy farm hands.

Download Pork Belly recipe here

Thanks for journeying through our Food Lab class with us!  What flavors do you think you’ll use for your bacon?  Any suggestions for our future classes?

Mrs H
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70 Awesome Things to Do With Your Vitamix (and the tools you may be spared)

This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.
That’s how I earn my blogging income, so thanks for clicking through!  

Dear nostalgic,

It’s Throwback Thursday! Time to reblog one of the hottest posts from the historic bloghouse. This post originally went up on February 11, 2013 and almost overnight it shot up to top trending post on the blog.  Vitamix shared it on their social media, which probably didn’t hurt the cause, but it’s also darn fascinating information!  If you want, you can see the old post, with old crappy picturesFor those of you that are asking, the model I prefer and recommend is the Vitamix 5200 Series Blender. This blender gives the most control and options to the user, with varying settings for speed. You can also attach the grain/dry cup and short cup for personal smoothies! I make hearty use of the large cup (that comes with) and the dry cup (for grains, coffee, dough). As a side note, those who buy other models usually end up switching to this model or adding it to their countertop.  

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Dear kitchen fiends,

I’m not embarrassed to say I love my Vitamix.  I’ve been yearning for one for years, and it was the fulfillment of many hours of longing when my husband bought me one as a gift!  It now graces my counter where it is used daily, usually several times a day.  Based on this expert evaluation, I added it to my list of the 25 best gifts for an urban homesteader last Christmas!

As I was flipping through my vintage Versatile Vita-Mix cookbook (this is the one we had growing up … I had to have it and found a used copy online), I thought it would be fun to compile a list of things one can do with a Vitamix, and even a list of tools the Vitamix could replace in the kitchen.

The Vitamix has a two-horsepower engine, and the blades travel at a speed of 400 revolutions per second.  This means that food in the blender, being hit with the four blades, is chopped 1600 times per second! This power means things that normally can’t be done in a regular blender – freezing ice cream, cooking soup, grinding flour – can be done with ease in a Vitamix (although if you run it too hard, you can overheat the engine, which will automatically shut off until it cools down.  This happens sometimes when I puree very dense nut mixtures).

This is not a comprehensive list of tasks; these are just the ones I could think of.  Vitamix is not paying me, advocating for me or suggesting that I do this; in fact, they don’t even know I’m doing it.  I just love this tool, and think everybody should hear about it!

70 Awesome Things to Do With Your Vitamix (and the tools you may be spared)

Download a printable list of the 70 Things

1. Churn and freeze ice cream (ice cream churn)

2. Cook milk for yogurt (stove)

3. Make sorbets and sherbets

4. Blend smoothies (weak-sauce blender)

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5. Chop carrots and cabbage for slaw, kraut or choucroute (mandolin)

6. Chop onions for stew (Slap-Chop or a knife and tears)

7. Shred potatoes for hash browns (shredder)

8. Cook blended or chunky soups (pot)

9. Puree batter for crepes (immersion blender)

10. Mix cold puddings (whisk)

11. Mix and cook hot puddings or custard (eons standing and stirring at the stove)

12. Crush ice for cold drinks (ice-crusher)

13. Crush ice for snow cones (ice-shaver)

14. Crush and blend slurpees (7-11)

15. Grind meat, such as hamburger (meat grinder)

16. Puree meat for spreads like deviled ham or chicken spread

17. Shred cheese (time)

18. Grind bread crumbs (processing attachment)

19. Grind quinoa, wheat, rice and other grains into flour (grain mill)

20. Grind wheat, oatmeal, cornmeal and other grains for hot cereal and porridge

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21. Grind coffee beans (coffee grinder) Read a tutorial at day2day’s blog!

22. Powder beans and other legumes for smoothies or soup

23. Blend large quantities of spices or herbs

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24. Coarsely chop beans for faster cooking

25. Hyper-rupture fruit and vegetables with skins for cheesecloth pressing or pouring into a juicer for maximum extraction and nutrients, impossible to achieve with a simple triturator/centrifigal juicer alone (commercial hydraulic press)

26. Blend vegetable drinks and cocktails

27. Blend yogurt with fruits and other flavorings

28. Blend breakfast shakes

29. Fully homogenize cocktail drinks (drink shaker)

30. Blend homemade powdered drinks like cocoa, especially involving chocolate chunks for richness

31. Knead bread dough, pizza crust, doughnuts, English muffins … (stand mixer)

32. Blend batters like muffins, biscuits, quick-breads such as banana or pumpkin loaf, popovers (hand mixer)

33. Blend pancakes and waffles, cakes

34. Whip and cook frostings (double-boiler)

35. Process pasta dough (food processor)

36. Mix cookie dough (wooden spoon)

37. Whip pie fillings like lemon meringue or pumpkin

38. Process pie crusts, both flour and graham variety (pastry blender)

39. Blend and cook baby foods (baby-food maker)

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40. Mix dips and spreads like guacamole, blue cheese and more

41. Make pureed bean spreads for sandwiches (a fork!)

42. Whip cream cheese, plain or with flavors

43. Blend fruit whips

44. Emulsify salad dressings and dipping sauces like cocktail sauce, ketchup, sweet and sour, or probiotic mustard

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45. Make mayonnaise and herbed or seasoned mayonnaise (tedious drizzling)

46. Mix Russian dressing for Reuben sandwiches!!

47. Mix and cook ice cream toppings like butterscotch

48. Blend and cook fruit syrups and mock maple syrup

49. Whip cream (Isi whipper)

50. Make finger paint!!

51. Puree nut butters and homemade Nutella (store-bought butters)

52. Blend powdered seasoning mixes (mortar and pestle)

53. Grind dehydrated fruit or vegetables into chunks for trail mixes or oatmeal

54. Grind dehydrated fruit or vegetables into powder, such as peppers (magic)

55. Blend granolas

56. Make delicious basil, kale or other unique pestos

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57. Make nut milks like almond or cashew milk

58. Froth milk for cappuccinos or steamers (milk frother)

59. Melt cheese for queso dip or chocolate for strawberries or fondue (fondue pot)

60. Blend perfect lump-free gravy (your broken arm)

61. Powder sugar so you can stop buying expensive confectioners’ sugar packets (mo money)

62. Shred chicken or other meat for Mexican potato salad, chicken salad, tacos (two forks and dexterity)

63. Blend fruit into puree for fruit leathers.

64. Blend the same fruit into puree for butters and sauces, like apple butter or apple sauce!

65. Make brown sugar.

66. Blend soap and hot water to be its own dishwasher!  Pour hot soap into the sink and wash the rest of your utensils … (dishwasher)

67. Make raw or just homemade butter (dazey churn, butter churn, tedious hours shaking a jar)

68. Make whipped, herbed, honeyed, berried or other blended butter spreads.

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69. Make homemade lotions, burn creams, and salves.

70. Powder dehydrated fruits, herbs or vegetables to use for make-up, as sweeteners or colorings in food, flavoring drinks …

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Download a printable list of the 70 Things

As a new mommy, what’s the best feature of all for me, you may ask?  Even when my baby is clinging to me and not in the mood to be put down, I have chopped cabbage for kraut, blended smoothies, made mayonnaise and washed the Vitamix – all with one hand! 

This is the blender I got, and (perhaps needless to say), I highly recommend it! I chose this specific blender because I felt it would give me the most options when it came to speeds and processing times.

What else do you do with your Vitamix?  Is there a tool or technique I’m missing here?  If you have any recipes, share your blog link or just type a recipe or tip into a comment!

Crushing like a best,

Mrs H
Even our Facebook is fancy and new, which of course is awesome
Instagram for short recipes you can screenshot srsly that’s the best

Fruit Scrap Vinegar, and a few chicken pictures, too

The pretty pictures are by Sami Roy Photography!
Thanks, lady! 

Dear frugal,

On the farm, we try not to waste food. I say try, because sometimes, despite our best efforts of selling all day and canning all night, a bin of peppers goes soft and is hauled out to the chickens. 

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Not a total loss, but still.

Any time we work with fruit, it’s an automatic assumption that the scraps will be made in to vinegar. It feels prudent, it makes a delicious vinegar for pennies, and it wastes not!  Keep your shelves stocked with creative blackberry, blueberry, strawberry, mixed apple or peach vinegar – not flavored, but actually made from the fruit!

Besides looking fancy, there are purported health benefits to vinegar, too. Without stretching beyond the limitations of proven effects, we know that vinegar helps with mineral and calcium absorption – so it makes a natural, and great addition, to salad dressings!  All that calcium in your kale and greens, might as well make the most of it.

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Vinegar is a solution of acetic acid (made by acetobacter aceti), and when you buy it at the store it has been watered down to the desired pH, usually about 2.4 – 3.4. As you’ll see in the following recipe, vinegar is a two-step fermentation process.

In the first step, sugar is converted to alcohol by good old-fashioned ethanol fermentation. You can use the sugars in fruit, grains (like barley), juice or cider, cane sugar, molasses, coconut sugar, honey, or any other source of sugar you can think of. The primary alcoholic liquid is where the finished vinegar usually gets its name, i.e. apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, malt vinegar. This can be done anaerobically, with an airlock or a tightly sealed container, or with just a cloth cover. 

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The second step converts the alcohol into vinegar: introducing live acetobacter to the liquid, as well as giving it oxygen – I cover it tightly with a cloth and it takes a few weeks, but commercial operations use bubblers and fans to make vinegar in a matter of days or even hours. Some fabulous vinegars sit in this stage for months or even years, like the beautiful balsamic vinegars that come from Italy. The acetic acid gives vinegar that familiar, distinctive sour note. You can use a live mother, which is a thin SCOBY (not a kombucha SCOBY, which is lactobacillus, but an acetobacter aceti SCOBY) that floats in, on or at the bottom of the liquid.  If you don’t have a live mother, you can use a splash of live vinegar, such as Bragg’s Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar 

As you can see on a bottle of, say, white vinegar from the store, finished vinegar is watered down to about 4 – 5% acetic acid. Commercial operations make their acetic acid solution extremely strong – it would peel your skin off! – and dilute it for sale. I imagine this saves a lot of room in their vinegar-making rooms! 

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Fruit Scrap Vinegar from the Food Lab

Download the recipe to your computer

1. Coarsely chop organic strawberries and leaves, or use tops from hulling. Or use any fruit scraps, peels and bits. 

2. Place in a glass container and cover with approximately twice the volume of sugar water, using a ratio of 1/4 cup organic white sugar to 1 quart lukewarm water.

3. Cover with a tight cloth (fruit flies love this more than anything), and stir daily to avoid mold growth.

4. Keep at room temperature – about 70F/21C. In a week or two (up to a month if it is very cold out), the scraps will have a heady, boozy aroma. This is the product of yeast and sugar fermentation, combined with the addition of oxygen.

5. Strain the boozy strawberry scraps out and discard. Transfer the liquid into clean glass container and add some Bragg’s Raw Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother – about 1/4 to 1/2 cup is more than sufficient, even a few tablespoons will suffice. This introduces live acetobacter to the strawberry alcohol.

6. Cover the container with a cloth and let it rest for a few more weeks – two weeks or up to a month. After one month, the acidity of my vinegar had reached 3.3pH.  Store-bought vinegars usually have an acidity of 2.4 – 3.4.

7. Strain the finished vinegar and remove to a clean bottle, and use the thin, filmy skin or “mother” (and you may have multiple layers depending on how long you left it), to start the next batch without the use of Braggs!  If you leave your vinegar on the counter, it will produce another filmy skin (this is just fine!).  I store mine at room temperature.

Variations: You can use any fruit scrap to follow this process – bruised fruit, pineapple skin, apple cores, peach peels, coconut flesh or coconut water – just don’t use moldy fruit.

Notes from the Food Lab: You can also make the boozy fruit in a closed container.  I tried that for about four weeks in winter and it worked quite well; the ambient temperature in the room was about 40 – 55F.

Download the recipe to your computer

What else should we try to make into vinegar?  I am always eager to try something weird. What have you tried making into vinegar, or what is something you have an abundance that you want to try?  Has anybody done a banana vinegar? 

Pucker up! 

Mrs H 
I’ll get the goods to you first on Facebook, as always
I post some seriously cute pictures here you’d better believe it

Cooking from the Farm: My Top 10 Cookbooks

This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.
That’s how I earn my blogging income, so thanks for clicking through!  

Dear gentle readers and those not so gentle as well,

We like to eat well, and we also like to save money. We like to eat local food, and we love fresh and seasonal food. Logically, then, much of what we eat every day comes from the farm. We also don’t like eating the same recipe twenty-hundred times in a season, so I am constantly scouting new cookbooks. I’ve whittled down a list of books that work very well for farmer’s market shoppers, CSA members, seasonal eaters, farmers and gardeners. I’ve stuck with this short list because every time I go to these books, I can find everything I need for a given recipe in one trip out to the farm, and the odds and ends (olive oil, balsamic vinegar), I tend to have in my pantry. These books stay in my kitchen for frequent, daily use while other interesting, but possibly less useful books, go elsewhere to be referenced occasionally.

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This list is not comprehensive, and in fact I am hoping you’ll send me your favorite titles as well; I am always looking to bolster my creative closet of books!  The following  books are in no particular order (other than smallest to biggest!).

My Favorite Cookbooks for Cooking from the Farm

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1. The French Market Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes from My Parisian Kitchen

Clotilde Dusoulier is the totally adorable and well-loved blogger at chocolateandzucchini, and she is not a vegetarian. She is not gluten or dairy free, either, but as it happens, most of the recipes in this vegetarian book are also gluten and dairy free. I’m not vegetarian either, but I don’t eat loads and loads of meat because it’s expensive and it just isn’t sustainable (which you learn when you are growing your own food), to eat turkey and steak every week (more often than not we’re eating bones, feet and organs!).  Truth to be told, I was prepared to not like this book because so many “market” books don’t live up to their name, but truly every ingredient in her recipe will be found growing together, or harvested the same weekend. In fact, the book is divided into seasons, not categories, to make it even easier to plan your next trip to the farmer’s market. And the book is really cute, and precious, and pretty, and has lots of juicy pictures. I gave it a five star review when I reviewed it for the San Francisco Book Review.

2. Recipes from the Root Cellar: 270 Fresh Ways to Enjoy Winter Vegetables

And oh, how I love this book. It was recommended to me by copy editor and reviewer and vegetarian foodie Holly Scudero, who had an early galley copy that I loved to drool over. Mr H bought it for me when Borders Books went out of business – we pretty much cleared out the cookbook shelves, and this gem was one of the best things that happened that day. Andrea Chesman grows her own food, so her recipes have such a natural way of being seasonal that it feels a little ridiculous to even point it out. The first time I made sauerkraut was from this book; the long, lonely winter in California was filled with comforting, steaming bowls of Italian meatball soup, and pans of maple-roasted vegetables that I wrapped myself around like a mother cat with her kittens. This is one of the best books in my kitchen.

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3. Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods

And speaking of sauerkraut, behold the fermentation king!  For those of us who truly eat seasonally from our gardens, fermentation is one of the many food preservation techniques we rely on to get nutrient-dense, home-grown produce all year long.  This book will take you from novice to advanced fermentation artist (especially if you follow it with The Art of Fermentation, a veritable treatise on the subject!).  Since he grows much of his own food, and since fermentation is an art developed solely for the purpose of preserving food in it’s season, it’s very easy to find everything you need for a given recipe growing at one time. Can’t find Chinese cabbage?  Maybe it doesn’t grow in your area (so you’ll have to ferment pineapple and coconuts instead!), or maybe it’s the wrong season for it (and you should try turnips and carrots while you wait!). I fell in love with this book when I borrowed it from a friend, and then I had to buy my own copy and now it’s splattered and marked in and the pages are wobbly at the bottom from when a gallon of kimchi leaked out onto it.

4. The Real Food Cookbook: Traditional Dishes for Modern Cooks

Nina Planck, who writes at ninaplanck.com, grew up with farmer parents, eating farmer food. She is accustomed to and familiar with the rhythms of the garden and the bounty and not-so-bounty of some foods.  Her book has a certain respect towards the way a farm grows – look, we can’t put ground beef in every recipe or we’ll run out of cows and have a freezer full of feet – and she strongly encourages readers to vary the recipes, saying she will never make it the same way twice herself and we should adapt to our areas. I love that philosophy since I never follow recipes but, as she suggests, use them as inspiration (even though I often start out with good intentions of following the recipe very strictly, it never happens!).  Her book makes me so happy, and so hungry, and so eager to run out and harvest a basketful of dinner!

5. Better Homes and Gardens Fresh: Recipes for Enjoying Ingredients at Their Peak (Better Homes & Gardens)

I guess I was a little surprised how much I liked this book, since it seemed so commercial when I first picked it up.  But it actually delivers some delicious surprise!  The meat section focuses on very American cuts of meat like flank steak and meat-centric dishes, but that is only a very small portion of the overall book (and that is not to say we don’t need the occasional recipe for a flank steak! It’s just pretty darn rare… bad pun?). The fritters, salads, pizzas and desserts – oh, the desserts – overcompensate the cook with plenty to work with. In fact, as I am flipping through it I am wondering if the roasted vegetables and chickpeas might make an appropriate dinner … or shoestring sweet potatoes and beets?

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6. Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets

Let me just start by saying anything from Deborah Madison has my automatic seal of approval. She’s on this list twice, if that tells you anything! She has a dessert book, too, that would be on this list I am sure if I were so lucky as to own it and have some experience with the recipes (I browsed through it at at the library once, but I was visiting another city at the time so I couldn’t check it out!). Her book has an astonishing ability to have recipes that use literally every single item I dug up or trimmed off the plant that day. When I first joined a CSA, I felt like every box was custom-built for one of her recipes. I fell in love with her work and have been a groupie ever since. When you need vegetable-centric dishes from somebody who knows vegetables, and knows plants and really, really knows food – Madison delivers the goods.

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7. Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom,

with over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes

This is one of the newest books in my collection. I saw it at TJ Maxx and it was in my cart before you could shake a pasture-raised organically-fed lamb’s tail. Rich, nourishing, hearty, and most fascinating of all, divided by plant families. I could read this book all day long, but the shimmering pictures on the page would send me to the kitchen before long!  Prepare to get an education on the plant kingdom, flavor profiles and recipe history when you crack open this tome of wonder. Like all her books, the recipes are full of seasonal items that grow at the same time, and, as far as I can tell, in the same place.

8. The Silver Spoon

You’d be surprised how much international cookbooks stick to seasonal cooking – not because it’s a ‘thing’ or a ‘movement’ but because they don’t all shop and eat out of the supermarket!  This Italian cookbook has an easy fluidity to the recipes – they just feel so natural, so easily fresh and seasonal. It’s a pleasure to cook out of it, and easy. When I have a bumper crop of cucumbers, I go to the cucumber section and pick a few unique recipes. It’s definitely better than eating cucumber salad three times a day!

9. Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round

(Not pictured above) Of course, I have to add a canning book. Marisa McClellan, with her gorgeous and tasty blog, has been a favorite of mine for years now, and she never fails to deliver!  She shops her local farmer’s markets or is gifted produce from friends, so her recipes also come seasonally quite naturally. With small batches for canning – you can do this while you make lunch, instead of setting aside the whole weekend for it – her recipes are attainable and enjoyable. I’ve loved every single recipe of hers I’ve ever made – they’ve all turned into family favorites, requested gifts, popular dishes at the house. When the gas repairman sampled the pickled beets, he said, “I’ve never eaten a beet in my life! I can’t stop eating these!” He took the whole jar home.

10. I need you to fill in this blank!

I need another market-worthy book!  Are there any good raw books out there, or international cookbooks? I love Mediterranean and Indian and Persian food – I’ve been curious to try The New Persian Kitchen, and of course anything by Ottolenghi but especially his new Jerusalem: A Cookbook. I love all-American, old fashioned or contemporary. What are your suggested titles? Thanks for reading along!!

Anxiously awaiting your reply,

Mrs H
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Welcome to the Farm! (Or, Signs of Life Persist)

Dear Reader,

Come on in!  How did you find us?  If you are a faithful follower that tracked me down from the old blog site, I am so thrilled to see you, you early-bird you!

We’re having a lot of fun (and a few headaches!) moving to our new blog home here, and we haven’t finished unpacking yet!  Watch out for all those boxes and papers, spilling code and drafts and edits everywhere …. That sawing sound?  That’s my SEO guy, trying to hack into the mainframe.

I’ve always been known for my stellar content and astral copy, but my CSS skills (or was it HTML? Or SOL?), are in the Sorely Lacking category.  That’s why it takes me longer.  Trust me, I’ll stick to what I’m good at and find People for the rest.

If you’re peeved at me for not writing on the old blog for the past year, and curious as to why I moved to a new platform and am suddenly barraging you with posts and letters (does one really, really fabulous post count as a barrage?), read on, Fascinated One.

samiroyphotography.com

During my husband’s deployment through 13-’14, I spent less time on the computer and more time filling my hours with our baby, volunteering on New Earth Farm in Eastern Virginia. An organic, biodiverse, sustainable, water-conserving farm led by Farmer John and his business partner Kevin and their team, this is a farm that is shaking things up. We troweled in the dirt, washed eggs, worked the farmer’s market stand, dug potatoes, chased sheep and watched lambing, picked kale with red-numb fingers in December and harvested tomatoes in sweat-sticky August. I started working at the farm as a fermentation and food preservation expert, and following the vision of our farm manager Kevin, we developed an entirely new facet of the farm called the Food Lab.  Here, in an airy, high-ceilinged building designed by interned architects and built entirely by donations, we experiment with food, create, invent, fail and laugh, and I teach classes in our new Food Lab – kombucha, advanced kombucha, sauerkraut, charcuterie, pasta, canning, lacto-fermentation … and I take the classes mobile, too, teaching at Williams-Sonoma, Whole Foods, Norfolk Botanical Gardens, local garden clubs, private classes, area shops and markets.

samiroyphotography.com

samiroyphotography.com

samiroyphotography.com

samiroyphotography.com

samiroyphotography.com

I finished my 200-hour yoga teacher training, took a prenatal yoga teacher training to add to my Simkin Center doula training and then immersed myself in a few other teacher trainings both in Virginia and in Seattle, meeting Manju Jois, Troy Lucero, Suzanne Hite and other yoga legends (I am heading off to the Baron Baptiste Level One training in August 2014! Very excited). I’m still writing for the San Francisco Book Review and their Alphabet Soup and Critical Eye blogs, and I began writing for a magazine after they came to the farm for a photo shoot and a four-page spread on the Food Lab.  Journalists and magazine writers from around the world started calling for media visits every week; schools drove buses of children out for tours. All – and I mean all – the top chefs in our area, keen on the best tasting, freshest produce and the unusual weeds, bugs and herbs we could provide, started descending on the farm and hammering us with questions, the most passionate of them digging in the dirt themselves and foraging with us for wild plants. They started inviting me in to their kitchens for private, pre-hours sessions with them, working to create the most delicious, unusual, ancient foods together. Farm Table events, where brilliant chefs designed a menu based on whatever we had to harvest that day and fourteen paying participants attend to cook and eat with the chef, started selling out back to back.

samiroyphotography.com

samiroyphotography.com

samiroyphotography.com

samiroyphotography.com

Whole Foods, Williams-Sonoma, local goat farms, butchers and pork farms, Bonfire Magazine, and other wonderful area providers and organic farms joined the charge as class sponsors, providing ingredients, tools, publicity, whole-hearted support. A photographer volunteered her time to come shoot events, edit the photos and get them back to us – she shot all the pictures in this post!  An appliance store donated a dishwasher. Area chefs donated used tools. Farm visitors donated cash, kitchen gear, time to paint and sweep and mop, just plain shook our hands and encouraged us to keep doing what we were doing.  Contractors gave tools and materials for our building, time, skill. With a massive group effort, the building was put together, the classes fell into place, and the people started coming.

samiroyphotography.com

samiroyphotography.com

samiroyphotography.com

samiroyphotography.com

samiroyphotography.com

With the scope of the blog ever evolving and my audience constantly growing, the name of the blog itself evolved and I found I had to move to a different platform – quite a daunting prospect in the blog world, but I was ready to take it on with your faithful reading support! All the good information on the old blog will stay there, safely housed and accessible for us to search, read and bookmark, and the best posts will also be imported over to the new blog platform to find a fresh, new look.  Things like how to eliminate some of the trash that flows from the home starting in the kitchen, or one of our hottest posts of all time – my booklist top picks and recommendations!  Even how to make yourself a back-alley cheese press with these cheap items you already have in your kitchen, and if you’re in the mood for food, whip up a deviled meat spread (we have a vegetarian option, too!).

If you need something fresh to read and you’re bored, check out fantastically well-written articles by yours truly on topics such as my favorite home-made deodorant, a sneaky trick for frothing milk without a frother, a cold overnight salad that will make your family fall in love, and a list of 66 awesome things to do with your Vitamix.  Did I make those sound pretty good or do I need to tempt you with a recipe for laundry detergent, too?  I know, who could resist that!

samiroyphotography.com

samiroyphotography.com

samiroyphotography.com

Watch in shock and awe as farm-tested recipes straight from the field roll out, photos and news clips and tutorial videos, hilarious and piquing interviews, even horror stories roll out on the new blog! You’ll even start seeing things for sale. Is a cookbook in the works?  I can’t say anything officially. But If I said two new cookbooks, would you believe me …?  Yes, I knew you would. If I said one was a raw food cookbook, and the other was a seasonal farm cookbook … I know, you’re already pulling out your wallet to buy copies for you and all your friends.  Don’t make me blush!! Events will be posted on the blog so you can find when a class is coming to a city near you, and class tours will start to open up nationwide as I do a West Coast series in August in Seattle, Washington and travel to Williamsburg in September to teach in my favorite town! And you can always visit us on the farm for a tour, a class, or just lunch with the farmhands – every day but Sunday, at about noon. We’d love to have you.

Mrs H
I’ll keep you up to date on Facebook (we’re already friends though, totes obv)
instagram.com/foodlab_newearthfarm super rad pictures from my cellphone 

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