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Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Haul

Picked all this goodness from the garden yesterday. Patty pan, crookneck and zucchini summer squashes, lemon and pickling cukes, and loads of tomatoes, in assorted and sundry varietals and sizes. About to put in my fall garden, too.


Looks like we’ll be eating fine for some time to come!

*That’s echinacea flowering in the background. I plan to dig up the roots this coming autumn and turn them into a tincture for English winter wellness.

A Free Pass

Want to come to The Creative Connection event in St. Paul this September? Want to come for free? With a friend? And get complimentary accommodations while you’re at it? Yes, yes you do!


Then pop on over to TCC’s blog for the skinny on how you can try your hand at winning. The event promises to be a good one, with an incredible line-up of talent on hand. I’ll be there, teaching a class on water bath canning.

Good luck on winning! Hope to see some of you there!

Stem to Root


There’s a fantastic article by Julia Moskin in the NY Times on what’s being called “stem-to-root” cooking. Much like nose-to-tail meat-eating, wherein all of the parts of an animal are consumed (and not just the meatier pieces in the middle), stem-to-root “honors,” if you will, every component of a fruit or vegetable, from its flowers and shoots to its rind and peel. It also respects the labor involved in growing the item, as well as the “life force” present in it (that last part is my own addition; I’m a big believer in the inherent vitality of all living things).


It’s the sort of cooking that’s completely in line with my small measure ethos. Vegetable scraps take up an awful lot of space in landfills (it compromises about 28% of the overall debris-crazytown!). If you’re not composting, stem-to-root cooking is a fantastic means of utilizing completely edible, but often overlooked, parts of produce.

The article concludes with mention of John Shields, head chef at Townhouse restaurant in Chilhowie, Virginia. Some of you long-time small measure readers might remember the wedding I worked up there several summers ago, when I had the amazing good fortune of meeting John and his then-fiance, now wife, Karen Urie.

That auspicious meeting later turned into a profile of the couple in my Keeping Bees book. Although they don’t keep bees themselves, John and Karen are strong advocates of the honeybee, hosting benefit dinners and sponsoring hives on culinary farms (as chefs, they are acutely aware of just intimately the plight of the honeybee is tethered to the raw materials they work with on a daily basis).

After working the floral design on that wedding, Hubs and I returned the following week for one of Townhouse’s honeybee benefit dinners. There are not enough superlatives in existence to covey just how memorable, exquisite, delicious and phenomenal of a meal that experience proved to be. If you’re in the area (Chilhowie is in the mountains of southern Virginia, and about two hours from Asheville), you really must go. Hell, even if you’re not in the area, it’s totally worth the pilgrimage.

In the mean time, I’ve got some carrot greens to add to a salad and some watermelon rind to pickle.

*Image from Tony Cenicola/The New York Times.

Sips & Reads

I picked up a bottle of this Lenoir, NC-made apple brandy the other day. It’s created using N.C. apples in a 110 year-old carriage house in downtown Lenoir, and aged in white oaks barrels. I haven’t cracked it open yet, but I’m pretty excited to do so. Any of you have a preferred means of imbibing apple brandy? On the rocks? Mixed with sparkling cider? Chilled?


Meanwhile, after wrapping up this series last week, I’ve begun reading Kurt Timmermeister’s Growing A Farmer: How I Learned To Live Off the Land. The book tells the candid tale of the author’s transition from owner of a small 4-top cafe in Seattle to proprietor of a 13-acre dairy farm (Kurtwood Farms) and creamery. I’m totally smitten with the book so far and look forward every night to when the monkey pictured above finally turns in (he’s not going down until 10:30-ish lately-sheesh!) to jump back into its inspired pages.

Plus, I just checked the 10-day forecast for Vashon Island and, well, it’s pretty much my idea of heaven. Maybe someday we’ll make the transition to the west coast. The humidity alone around here lately is enough to make me point my compass due west.


Guest Post: A Little Fire

I’ve got a great guest post for you today! It’s from Aiden FitzGerald, a freelance writer and the voice behind A Little Fire. Aiden, her husband Charlie Barmonde (a ceramicist and an old friend of Hubs’ from his days of hijinks and shenanigans in Sarasota, Florida) and their adorable young son Felix live in the tiny coastal Rhode Island town of Little Compton. She recently wrote a guide to the area, an absolutely dreamy region referred to as the “Farm Coast,” in Design Sponge. Next time I’m up that way, I’m definitely getting my Farm Coast tour on, no doubt.

Aiden recently enjoyed the fruits of her labors, after ravaging her raspberry bushes and rendering the ruby orbs into raspberry jam. I know a number of you are firing up your canners and turning out all manner of jams these days, so her post is especially timely. Here, she shares her experience with us.

Raspberries
By Aiden FitzGerald

“Aside from being jabbed in my eye by a branch as I reached for a raspberry, dark and plump and begging to be plucked, my first canning experience was delightful and delicious – and eye opening.

With my fourteen-month-old son slung on my hip, I picked berries from the bushes in our backyard. Just like Sal in McCloskey’s Blueberries for Sal, he grabbed them from the bowl, gobbling them faster than I could pick. Eventually I moved him to my back and fed him at a slower place.

With a bowl (and bellies) full of raspberries and our fingers stained fuchsia, we headed inside to have a go at uncovering the mystery of canning jam. While most readers of Ashley’s small measure are probably avid food preservers, canning isn’t part of my culinary background. I had never wielded a jar lifter and hadn’t a clue what a water bath had to do with the process. But the idea of enjoying on a cold winter day something fresh from our summer garden appeals to me, and I’d like my son to grow up with such experiences.

So I sanitized jars and scrutinized the recipe, resisting my tendency to stray from its directions. I measured carefully—2 cups of berries, 2 cups of sugar. It took everything in me not to reduce the amount of sugar and add a little zest, maybe some mint, or ginger.

As the heavenly scent of sweet boiling berries filled my kitchen, I wondered why I hadn’t done this sooner. Sometimes, I was reminded, we just have to leap. And soon enough we’re rewarded – in this case, by the satisfaction of smearing my own homemade jam (tasty, but too sweet) on toast.

Next time I’ll embrace my urge to experiment. (Add some rum? Ashley’s recipe for blueberry raspberry jam with allspice and rum sounds delicious.) First, though, I think I’ll try something savory. Our cucumbers are calling and I’m craving some pickles.”

Thank you so much, Aiden, for your guest post. That jam looks phenomenal!

What about you? Got a hot topic you think will appeal to small measure readers? Shoot me an e-mail at: ashleyadamsenglish(at)gmail(dot)com and let’s see what we can work out.