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Monday, August 30, 2010

Farm Stand Round-Up

Usually, I am a die hard supporter of my local Farmers Market, the 2nd Street Market. This summer, I decided to branch out and visit more farm stands and more markets. We've gone U-picking twice this summer, gone to far flung farm stands in West Alexandria and Xenia. Sometimes I feel like I'm cheating on the 2nd Street Market.

It's cute, isn't it? But let's say you are looking for some variety? The Sugarcreek Farmers market is more like a collection of individual farm stands. It happens every Friday afternoon from 3-7. It's a true outdoor market though- it is in the middle of the field, next to a giant Target and a Petsmart. No joke. Only in Dayton. I'm still trying to figure out how locavores coexist in peaceful harmony with mass market consumerism. Or maybe the market is in the shadow of mass market consumerism? Either way, I find it ironic. At the Sugarcreek Farmers Market I have found some incredible deals on stone fruit. $5.99 a peck? You're kidding, right? I bought about 5 pounds of apples for only $1 a pound. Seriously, it is highway robbery. Sugarcreek also has some more niche/interesting vendors, like the Peaceful Acres Lavender Farm and Harry's Gourmet Garlic. I bought a bunch of lovely, fragrant English Lavender from Peaceful Acres, and I'm still enjoying the scent. Harry's has heirloom garlic, with special varietals like music, Italian, and Russian. I've enjoyed them thoroughly.

I've also frequented the Stubbs Family farm stand. It appears, like a mirage, in a parking lot next to the Tim Hortons on Patterson & Wilmington Pike. You can also find the Stubbs family at the Wright-Dunbar market on Friday mornings. High quality, inexpensive produce. It's great when I've run out of ingredients in the middle of the week. Also, they had the best melons this season. Sweet, with a hint of musk- but not too much.

I've mentioned Tuken's and Berry Hill Farm- both with their own farm stands. I've seen LOTS!! of Farm Stands off of State Route 380- so give it a try. Fall is coming up, and 380 is a beautiful drive.

I've found a lot of farms through the internet- especially a site called Local Harvest You can search by crop and location. I highly recommend it. A simple search for Dayton, OH yields 4 pages of results. For those Grand Rapidians reading this blog, the 49301 zip code (Ada/Cascade) has 3 pages of results- for just that zip code! An Ohio based site, Our Ohio, provides a great round-up of what's in season right now!

PS: I've visited some great farmers markets in other states, too. Kudos to the Ithaca Farmers Market for being super cool. Best selection, as always, goes to my original market, The Fulton Street Market in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Image from here

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The funniest thing happened today...

Today, Mr. Radar ran over my foot with the car. Don't worry too much- both my foot and our marriage are still in tact.

We are at the Panera, having lunch with Mr. Radar's parents. Mama Bee has been working over time at the University because it is move in weekend. So, Mr. Radar suggests we treat Mama Bee to coffee near the University. Mr. Radar, Mama Bee, and I depart for the car. I'm riding in the back, but there is a whole bunch of sh** in the way. So I'm finangling with it all, trying to move it. Mr. Radar apparently does not notice and proceeds to drive forward, running over my left foot with the car. There was much screaming and crying on my part, and Mama Bee was a little misty eyed. Mr. Radar immediately drives me to the emergency room, no stopping, no passing go.

Fortunately, the X Ray shows my foot, all bones perfectly fine. The Doctor proclaims my foot officially "squashed." Pain medication in hand, Mr. Radar drives me home. No more foot squashing involved. Nothing is broken, but it still hurts like hell.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Peaches and a Tomato Bake

I'm afraid I've been remiss with the blog. So, here is a whirlwind breakdown of some of my recent projects. These two recipes are simplicity and decadence.

Basil Peaches Poached in White Wine

Recipe courtesy of the RunawaySpoon! I didn't alter this recipe in the slightest, so I'll let you explore the recipe and the wonderful website Food52

Tomato Bake
This recipe is from Deb Pereleman over at Smitten Kitchen The recipe is unaltered- well, because it is simply perfect as is. I served it with a poached egg and a side salad of wild rocket.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Hunt

I'm going to have to break my promise and discuss the "W" word. W as in work- or my search for a new job. Or my hunt, as I am calling it. It feels a bit like I'm I'm a jaguar ready to pounce.

Jaguars are strong, majestic, spotted. I'm feeling a bit more like the scared gazelle, running for its life. I'm so very scared. The whole search process makes me want to cry. Or vomit. Or watch too many episodes of Gilmore Girls in a row. (True, I'd probably do this anyway, but hey any excuse, right?) I don't know what I'm most afraid of- not finding a job or finding a job. See, I think I'm making a major career shift. It feels like eons ago, but my major dream was to become a college professor. Sadly, I hated teaching- and I think hated might be an understatement of the word. Since leaving the hallowed halls of academia, I got a very prestigious internship at the Government Accountability Office and finished my Master of Public Administration. Not too shabby, but not really all that fulfilling for me. Great job, great organization. Entirely wrong for me and my future.

I don't really want to work in Government- and I actually had very serious qualms about taking my internship. I wanted to work in community development, and Government oversight is a far cry for my interest in local affairs. Post London and post GAO, my main goal is to help my community. I've decided to jump into the non-for-profit sector. I've found a few positions and I'm working on the applications, cover letters, and resumes right now. I feel like I'm on a ledge, deciding to jump or not. The ledge is so comfortable, easy. The jumping is the hard part.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Living in Stars Hollow

My neighborhood, South Park, is a lot like Stars Hollow of Gilmore Girls fame. Sometimes it is so eerily similar, I expect Taylor Doose to pop out of the Park drive gazebo. We are sadly missing a town troubadour- though we do have a rocking music scene over at our local Luke's, the South Park Tavern. There was even a neighborhood story, about burnt toast, in which South Park was re-christened Stars Hollow. Really. Everyone in the neighborhood wrote a few lines. I'm pretty sure it was incoherent by the third person. I believe there was even mention of midgets? or garden gnomes? I can't quite remember exactly.

South Park is a pretty close knit community- And I wouldn't have it any other way. It's nice to live in a neighborhood where you can find a new friend, a listening ear, a painting Buddy, babysitter, or even an obsessive jamstress. We even have two big churches and several home plant churches.

Like in Stars Hollow, gossip travels fast, by way of Babette and Miss Patty. That's why I wasn't surprised that the sad news about our London trip spread like wildfire. I was a bit mortified, though, when people started to recount the story back to me-I wasn't aware that I was so woefully misinformed about my own life. Our fast move was a bit unconventional, even for South Park. It would probably make Mrs. Kim banish us from her store forever. Fortunately, we don't have a Mrs. Kim- that I know of.

In South Park, there are lots of characters, excitement. There's always something to do or improve. We even have our own Shakespeare troupe. That's what makes South Park special. We certainly have our share of problems- and I don't want to gloss over them. Fortunately, our problems don't involve a truckload of pickles.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sunday's Supper: Lavender Scented Blueberry Jam

6 pounds of blueberries met a very delicious end in my kitchen on Sunday. I made a double batch of very, very delicious jam. The process if very simple- even for the canning phobic. We had so much fun I almost named this post We Be Jammin. Yeah, I know. The heat makes me delusional. I did see sense, right?

Bubble Bubble...

While we were jammin', there was this guy, getting in our way...

I doubled the recipe, to make 12 half pints of jam.

Lavender Scented Blueberry Jam
Adapted from Caroline

6 lbs or 96 oz of blueberries
2 lbs or 32 oz of sugar
6 tablespoons lavender (I used fresh, dried works too)
Juice and zest of two lemons
1/2 teaspoon of butter

The Day Before...
Weigh out the sugar and add the lavender in a sachet. Let sit overnight. Caroline recommends a 24 hour sit time. I was inpatient, my sugar sat for about 18 hours. The lavender will infuse the sugar with a floral aroma that will make this jam special. Incidentally, lavender sugar is quite delicious! You can make extra for your tea or other baking projects.

Day of Jamming
Wash the blueberries and make sure there are no stems, bugs, or other nasties that might spoil the jam. Place the berries in a big stock pot (just make sure it isn't aluminum). I used a stainless steel soup pot. Mash the blueberries, then add the rest of the ingredients including the lavender sachet. Let sit for about 10-20 minutes. Put a plate in the freezer to test the jam later.

While the blueberries are macerating, set a large pot of water on to boil. This will be used to sanitize the jars and lids. When the water boils, place all of the jars and lids inside. I let them sit until the jam is nearly done, and then take them out. The jars must be warm when you put the jam in them.

To prepare the jam, turn heat to medium/high heat. It took my burner on high heat to make the mixture bubble. It takes about five minutes for the mixture to come to a bubble. If there is foam, skim it off the top. Stir frequently and let bubble for about twenty minutes. Test a drop of the jam on the frozen plate. Let sit on plate for about 30 seconds, then test the consistency. If it is too liquidy, let boil for a little bit longer. I tend to like a runnier jam, so I was careful not to over boil. Next time, I will boil the mixture a little less to make a runnier jam.

Work quickly and pour the jam into the sanitized jars. Screw the lids on tightly. Place the jars back in the boiling water for another 10 minutes to ensure a proper seal.

The jam should keep for about 1 year in a cool, dark place. Opened jars will keep in the fridge for about a month.