"good eats"

"To eat good food is to be close to God."

Why do I love farming? Of course, I could give you a deeply philosophical response, peppering it with the sage wisdom of Wendell Berry, Liberty Hyde Bailey, Hippocrates, the go-to Michael Pollan and other agrarian-minded thinkers. However, my honest, extremely primal answer as to why I love my job is, well, the food! (Thus, the rationale behind the post title, from Primo of the food lover's favorite movie, "Big Night." So, in my defense: I'm not using the Lord's name in vain when I react to the flavors of fresh, unbelievably delicious food; rather, it's an expression of a spiritual awakening of sorts...)

After a grueling week, my friend (shout-out - Nicole!) and I prepared ourselves an epic, well-deserved meal, with the latest from the field. The menu?

  • Mixed vegetable frittata with fresh garlic
  • Chopped salad with cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, basil, avocado and mixed lettuces
  • Simple tomato, mozzarella and basil salad

  • Roasted zucchini boats with cherry tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese
  • And, last, but not least..chocolate zucchini cake:

In a word: Unreal. The ingredients pretty much cooked themselves.

If no other reason to eat seasonally, locally grown (preferably grown by farmers using sustainable environmental and social practices), it's this: Consume it for the immense joy and satisfaction that you get from preparing, eating, savoring the bounty and sharing the meal with friends. 

I recognize that I have become quite fortunate/spoiled to work on farms over the past few years and have subsequently grown to expect this type of delicious food. It's a tough lifestyle, but I'm up for the challenge!

Want a recipe? Leave a comment and I'll post the most popular request. 

Friends, family, farmers: Be a part of "The Lexicon of Sustainability"!

Introducing ... The Lexicon of Sustainability from the lexicon of sustainability on Vimeo.

So cool! The project covers important topics like food security, CSAs, farm-to-table initiatives, permaculture and veggie libel laws. Check out the official "The Lexicon of Sustainability" site and also look at Grist's coverage of the project.

Feel inspired? Add your thoughts to the Lexicon site and participate in this exciting movement.

#DIYDecember: Stress-free + fancy (last-minute) food gifts

This is a post that I wrote for my insanely creative and crafty friend Alex as part of her month-long project, #DIYDecember, on her blog and Twitter. The initiative includes tips, suggestions and overall good reads about how to be that much more creative and self-sufficient during this festive month. 

Christmas/Hanukkah/Festivus/Kwanzaa/whatever-holiday-you-celebrate is just around the corner...and, you don't have any gifts ready. No worries - here are a few no-fuss ideas for those special people in your life:
Chocolate bark
  • Chocolate bark: This is my go-to candy for impromtu get-togethers. It's so easy: Melt some chocolate, add some seeds and dried fruit, a pinch of sea salt and/or your favorite spices, let it set, break into pieces and put in a bag, tin or good ol' mason jar. Check out more details from my blog here. Bark doesn't excite you? Try some of these other healthful candy recipes from The Nourishing Gourmet.
  • Tea/tisane blends: There may be a pill for every ill, but the same can be said for tea AND you can make your own blends for a fraction of the cost! Since people seem to be unnecessarily stressed-out during this time of year - often leading to colds - why not try a blend of dried calendula (medicinal marigolds), nettle, spearmint, hibiscus, red clover and lemon balm? Simply mix in your preferred proportions based on your own tastes or those of the recipient, and store in a tin or glass jar. Gift with a tea infuser and make it pretty with some fabric for the lid and a nice label describing the blend. Your local health food store should carry dried herbs and flowers in its bulk section, with descriptions of each, and there's usually an expert on hand if you have any questions.  If you're a little fearful of the herb world, check out Mountain Rose Herbs for some blend ideas before you make your own.
  • Hot cocoa mix: All you need: cocoa powder, sugar and/or a pinch of sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and/or cayenne pepper. The proportions are 2 cups of sugar to 1 cup of cocoa. (Sounds like a lot, but think about all the packaging you save by making it in such a big batch.) If using sea salt and/or spices, add sparingly and to taste. If you want to be fancy, put a vanilla bean directly into the mix to enhance the cocoa flavor. Place in a mason jar - pretty much always the appropriate vessel for any gift. Local milk, homemade almond milk, marshmallows and/or a (thrift store) mug offer the perfect accompaniments!
  • Cookies, cookies, cookies: No slice-and-bake here. Make them from scratch**. My favorites: Teff Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe from the amazing Clean Food cookbook), chocolate crinkles, granola bars/raspberry oat bars and, the standard, sugar cookies. Bust out the family recipes and get baking!
  • Dog biscuits: Can't leave out our better halves. Avoid the creepy processed treats from the store and make these. It's also an excuse to get out the cookie cutters. My friend gave me this recipe a few years ago and I've made them ever since. Here's the recipe:
Homemade dog biscuits
1 c. of whole wheat, all-purpose or spelt flour
1/2 Tbl. baking powder
1/2 c. peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter or sunflower butter
1/2 c. milk (cow or non-dairy) 
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
2. In a medium to large bowl, combine flour and baking powder. In a smaller bowl, mix peanut butter and milk. Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix until combined.
3. Pour the dough onto a floured surface, shape into a ball and roll out until dough is a 1/4"  thick. Cut into shapes using cookie cutters or free-hand.
4. Put cookies onto a lined baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, 6-8 minutes.
**A note on ingredients: Use fair trade, locally grown and/or organic ingredients when possible. Now is not the time to skimp on quality. Feel good about the gifts you give, not only because you made them but also for the ingredients you've used, which were harvested and produced in an ethically and socially responsible manner.**
  • Make your own recipe book! When all else fails, remind yourself of the adage that it's the thought that counts. Make your own recipe book out of an old notebook or a few pieces of blank paper, a cardboard box for the front and back covers and some yarn, twine or hemp to use as the binding. Include a few of your favorite recipes to inspire a friend or loved one to get in the kitchen.
Alright, time's a-wastin'; get cooking and crafting. Happy holidays!

SWYF Finds: The Mysterious Pawpaw

You know when you hear about something for the first time and, suddenly, see or read about it everywhere? Well, for me, it's the pawpaw, a mysterious - and, I guess, delicious - wild fruit.

I just tried one this week (Wednesday) for the first time at my friends' farm, and my opinion about it isn't fully formed yet. It's intriguing, and I can't really describe the flavor to you except that it's oddly tropical. The texture of a ripe pawpaw is custard-like, and you have to spoon around the big, black seeds. In the midst of apple and pear season, it's a nice flavor change-up.

Enough of my banter; see if you can find them near you. I challenge you to form a coherent, decisive description about them yourself (it's not easy). But, before you forage, take a look at this just-released story on the pawpaw by NPR on the Tiny Desk Kitchen series.