ReLocavore: Redefining "local"

A locavore moves from Wisconsin to New Hampshire and rediscovers what "local" means.


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Blueberry haul 2016

I headed to Noda Farm to pick blueberries. The bushes were laden with fruit and picking was easy. Noda Farm is a lovely place to pick berries because their bushes are large and well kept. Picking is easy because you don’t have to crouch down and the large bushes provide shade.  I was able to pick 8.5 lbs of berries in about 45 minutes. I would love to share pictures with you, but my phone was dead. 

Back home, the blueberries went into some blueberry jam (9 half-pints), and into a recipe for Blueberry Boy Bait from Cooks Illustrated. I also froze a bunch for pancakes and smoothies this winter. 

Blueberries and maple syrup are two New England food trends that I can really get behind. 

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Protecting my (fruit) investment 

I planted 3-year blueberry bushes in my garden. The third year is when the bush starts to produce fruit. The plants cost more (about triple the cost of a 2-year plant) but you get blueberries right away. My lovely bushes are two varieties: “bluecrop,” and “northland.” 

They set fruit, which now means I am in a never ending battle against the birds and other critters that want to eat my fruits. 

My first line of defense was to put the garden fence around the bushes. That will keep the deer out. Next was to build bird netting cages to keep the birds at bay. I finished them this evening to good success. I recycled leftover garden fence into two cyllinders. Then I covered them with bird netting. Here is hoping I get a few cups of berries from my bushes. 


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My Fermenting Adventures

Even given my kvetching, Sandor Katz fermenting workshop had a strong influence on me. I guess I may be developing my skills as an amature fermento. I have now fermented:

The Kimchi is clearly my biggest fermentation success. Yummy yum. I think I got the balance of spice and saltiness, and since we had the space to let the stink dissipate, I was able to let it ferment for a month and get very sour. Next time – more ginger, for sure. I have enjoyed eating my kimchi on pizza. The flavors of kimchi are very similar to the flavors of pepperoni and pepperoncini: hot, tangy, and salty. In fact, some pepperoni are actually fermented by being inoculated with flavor-enhancing molds!

Mixed vegetable kraut we made at the Katz workshop. It’s shredded carrots, radishes, white turnips and onions. I have let it sit for a few weeks and flavors have mellowed and gotten more sour. The onion smell was initially very strong – I was slightly worried I would get a charge on my hotel bill for cleaning out the stank. But over a few weeks the onion smell has become milder and richer with more umami. We have been eating it all along the fermenting time and I think it gets better every time I eat some.

Blueberry Soda was demoed at the workshop, so after picking blueberries, I used some to make my own soda. I used about 1/2 cup of sugar, a pint of blueberries and about a quart of water. I mixed it together without crushing the berries and kept stirring over 4 days. The final product went into a growler and has been hanging in the fridge. It’s a light pink color with a mild effervescence, kind of like kombucha. It’s OK, but I wouldn’t want to drink a lot. I’m not a big fan of sweet drinks, but it would be a good mixer.

I found an accidental glut of cucumbers in the garden last week and decided to try to make half-sour pickles. The cukes were too big for whole pickles, so I cut them into spears. Whole cucumbers will ferment for weeks or months and still stay slightly crisp, but fermenting cucumber spears will inevitably lead to mushy pickles after a week or so. I decided to make half-sour pickles, which are in a stronger brine and fermented for a short period. Into big quart jars I added two crushed garlic cloves, a big sprig of fresh dill, and a 3% salt brine – about two tablespoons of salt for a quart of water. They hung out on the kitchen counter for 4 days. They came out crisp, yet salty and a little tangy. Sam seems to be a big fan of them.


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Blueberry fennel salad

Blueberry and fennel salad with Parmesan20140728-192120-69680579.jpg

3 cups Mixed greens
1/2 cup Blueberries
Small Fennel bulb
Parmesan, shaved with a veggie peeler

Vinaigrette:
1 tbsp blueberry jam
2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp mustard
Salt
4 tbsp olive oil

Wash greens. Slice fennel and if it’s dirty, wash it too. Rinse the blueberries.

Whisk jam, vinegar and mustard. Add salt to taste. Drizzle in oil while whisking vigorously.

Mix greens and fennel. Toss with 1 tbsp vinaigrette. Plate. Top with berries, Parmesan, and remaining dressing.


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Blueberry Picking

I traveled to Super Acres Blueberry Farm in Lyme, NH with my colleagues from work to pick blueberries. This was my first you-pick blueberry experience. Blueberries are easy to pick because they grow on 5 to 8 foot tall bushes, meaning you get to spend a lot of time in the shade and pick berries standing up. No bending and straining your back for blueberries.

With our berries, I made blueberry jam (3 lbs, 10 half-pints), blueberry buckle (1.5 lbs) and ate the rest with breakfast. I think we may go back again and pick more for the freezer.

Super Acres farm is also dog-friendly, so I can take the pooch with too!