ReLocavore: Redefining "local"

Back to Wisconsin, my cheesehead friends

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Eggs at the Norwich Farmer’s Market

Bowl of EggsAt the Norwich Farmer’s Market there are a handful of stands that sell eggs, along with other produce and meats. I talked to all of the egg vendors on May 31 and here’s the info they gave me about their eggs. This year, the average market price is $4.50. Compared to last year, the Norwich farmer’s market has more egg producers (3 in 2013, 7 in 2014) and the average price per dozen increased from $4.17 in 2013 to $4.50 in 2014. I’m going to visit the groceries the area to get a sense of the price per dozen for conventional and high-end eggs.

Farm Price per
Laying Hens Free Range Feed
Highfields Farm $5 100 Yes Pasture
Organic Grain
Ephraim Mountain Farm $4 200 Yes Organic Grain
Thymeless Herbs $4 100 Yes Scraps from the COOP
Minimal Grain
Hogwash Farm $5 Yes Organic Grain
Rabbit Patch Farm $2.25 sm
$3.50 large
$4 jumbo
200 yes Pull pellet
Fat Rooster Farm $4.50 30-50 Yes Mixed grains
Luna Bleu Farm $5 120 Yes Organic Grain

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The new garden

Sam and I have been dreaming about having a garden again. Finally, we dug up some sod, had a pile of topsoil delivered, and built some raised beds.

Sam took 1 by 12s to build the sides of the raised beds, and reinforced the sides with 2x4s. Each bed is 6’x6′, giving us 72 square feet of garden, or a measly 0.002 acres. We also found leftover flagstones on our property left by the former owners. We used them to line the path between the beds. It’s a start.

The left bed is partially planted. You can see the different seed beds and the pea trellis we put up. The right bed is taking longer to shape up because it’s mostly going to be full of transplanted tomatoes.

2014-05-21 15.11.59



Here’s the current garden plan. We’ve planted the greens and peas, and one of the squashes. Since I’m not setup to start seeds indoors, I’ll be buying transplants for my tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. More pictures when everything goes in and the big deer fence goes up.


I got caught stealing apples

The Implement

The Implement

My neighbor Cindy and I walk our dogs past this Orthodontist office that has an tree just hanging full of wonderful, ripe, flawless apples. Tasty apples, too – I’ve eaten a few that I could reach from the ground – Juicy and not too tart, with firm flesh. Just wonderful apples going to waste on the tree.

I vowed to steal them.

I figured there’s no orthodontist that sees patients on Saturdays – so I drove over in my car, parked under the tree and climbed onto the roof. Wouldn’t you know it, I could only reach a handful of apples. The fruit hung from the branch, just out of my reach. Many people would give up in defeat, but something about these apples lit a fire under my butt. I needed help and a way to reach the apples.

Pidi and I went to West Lebanon Feed and Supply to buy an Apple Picker. It’s a wire basket on the end of a pole with some rake-like fingers to pluck fruits from high up in the tree. I splurged the extra dollars to get the full 15′ model. I was going to get those damn apples come hell or high water. I called up Cindy and recruited her to my cause. Petty Crime and Free Apples. I mean, who doesn’t want that?

Evidence of the crime.

Evidence of the crime.

Now armed with implements and a co-conspirator, I load up the car and drive back to the Orthodontists office. I’m standing on the roof of my car and Cindy’s down on the ground unloading the apples from my picking basket into a bushel box. We have about half a bushel when up drives a guy in a black Porsche 911 from the 1970s. Instead of dropping the pole and running, I hopped off the roof of my car, walked up with a big smile and an armload of apples. I asked if he wants an apple. I ask if these are his apples. My heart is pounding in my chest.

The Porsche 911. The Orthodontist. Yes, I'm still standing on the roof of my car.

The Porsche 911. The Orthodontist. Yes, I’m still standing on the roof of my car. Aren’t those great boots?

Turns out, this is the orthodontist who owns the apples we’re stealing. He also happens to be a very nice guy and willing to trade pie for calling the police. He needs to wash his Porsche, so decided to come over to his office where, I guess, all orthodontists keep power washers. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I suspect somebody tipped him off that there were hooligans stealing his apples. He seemed surprised to find reasonably nice people willing to pick his apples for him for free. What’s an orthodontist going to do with a bushel of apples? Kids in braces aren’t supposed to eat them…

Free apples. I mean, who wouldn't want that?

Petty crime and free apples. I mean, who doesn’t want that?

We picked a bushel of apples off his tree over the course of an hour. The orthodontist power-washed his Porsche and we all went home happy.

The apples were beautiful. I had to throw out 3 of the whole bushel. I made applesauce and got about 12 pints. I felt guilty keeping all of these free apples for myself, so I left a pile on the stoop of the orthodontist’s office, gave a bunch to my neighbors, and sent Cindy home with a weeks’ worth of fruit. She was my co-conspirator…

I think I may recruit Sam to go with me to steal a few more… I’m craving an apple pie.

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This week in Veg: the last delivery of the Summer CSA.

This is the last week of vegetables from Cedar Circle. In the fall, Cedar Circle transitions to a pick up CSA model, where we would have to drive up to their farm every other week to pick up our vegetables. We decided the extra driving lessons so worth it, so we signed up with a different CSA for the fall/winter share.

I’m surprised to see we continue to get corn from the farm. There’s also a tiny little head of butter crisp lettuce, which I love to make into Thai style lettuce wraps.



What can I do with 4 cups of tomato liquid?

I need some ideas, quick, about what to do with 4 cups of tomato liquid. It’s not tomato purée, it’s the liquid that I got after straining the jelly and the seeds from middle of a bunch of tomatoes. It’s much thinner than tomato purée, and doesn’t have any fiber in it. What should I do with this?



This Week in Veg… A lot of veg!

Over the past few weeks, my kitchen has exploded with Veg. I thought it would be funny to do an inventory, instead of taking a picture of the CSA…


Top shelf: Grapes. Local eggs.
Middle shelf: Growler of beer from Harpoon. Kale, Bok Choi, 6 ears of sweet corn. 3 red heads of cabbage. 1 green head of cabbage. 1 quart homemade Sauerkraut.
Bottom Shelf: Radishes. 3/4 head of red cabbage. Pesto. 5 lbs carrots. 1 lb green beans. Celery. Cheese.
Left Drawer: Romaine lettuce. 3 cucumbers. 2 zucchini. 10 jalapinos.
Right drawer: 3 heads of lettuce. Arugula. Swiss Chard.


On the Counter:
Peck of local apples. 5 Carmen peppers to be pickled. 4 peaches. 2 sweet potatoes. a seedless watermelon.


Out on the kitchen table:
Cherry tomatoes. Garlic and onions. An avocado. Bosc Pears. Gala apples.


Foraging Fail- These are not the currants you are looking for…

Mink Brook

Mink Brook

Pidi and I took in the beautiful Summer weather by hiking into Hanover along Mink Brook Trail to have coffee at Umplebys. It takes us about an hour to walk there and the walk is very pleasant along the bubbling Mink Brook.


Berries of an unknown origin

On the way out of town, I noticed some berries and stopped on our way back home to pick what I thought were red currants. If we were in Wisconsin, they likely would be currants, but, TotoPidi, I’m afraid we’re not in Kansas anymore. I took a taste of a few berries and they had the sourness of currants, but also a little bit of bitterness. I picked about two cups into Pidi’s hiking water dish and finished the walk home.

The Foraginging Goddess (God?) must have been smiling on me, because I walked past a bush of ripe blackberries too! I was able to pick a big cup of blackberries, or blackcaps. Beautifully black and sweet. I strode home with a big F of my chest for Forager!

Getting home, the niggling doubt started to eek away at my confidence. Believing myself to be a saavy forager, I turned to the Interwebs for guidance… what were these little berries I had picked? They came from a short (6′) shrub with almond-shaped leaves. The berries grew in pairs along the base of the leaves. They were abundant and ripe in mid-June in New Hampshire.

Winterberries. They were stupid winterberries. Completely inedible due to theobromines, chemicals related to caffeine, found concentrated in the seeds. I had picked compost fodder. Bah. And they were making my stomach upset.

But, unwilling to admit defeat, I did turn the blackberries into some damn good Blackberry Financiers. They’re “rich.” Get it? Look for a recipe tomorrow.


Locavore Survival Guide: Storing Greens in the Fridge

This is the first post of a new series – the Locavore Survival Guide. I hope to provide some advice for novice locavores who are trying out the Farmer’s market, maybe purchasing a CSA (Community sponsored agriculture), or just choosing from the “locally grown” section of the supermarket. After 10 years of eating locally, I hope to have learned a thing or two, and I can share some of my experiences making this same transition. Look for Locavore Survival Guide posts on Tuesday mornings…

Storing Greens in the Fridge

In the early Spring,  my winter stores are low, my kuhlschrank is empty and turned off, and I have more empty canning jars than full. Spring vegetables don’t take well to preserving – they’re leafy and tender. So, in the Spring we scramble to eat all of the veg before it goes mushy.

Some examples of Spring vegetables that we ate in Wisconsin and hope to eat in New Hampshire include: Spinach, radishes, lettuce, asparagus, cooking greens (frisee, endive), Chinese vegetables (bok choi, tatsoi), tiny beets, and sweet salad turnips. Most of these are leaves, a few stems and swollen roots, and no fruits yet…

Most of these leafy greens will wilt and dry out if just put in the refrigerator. Compared to store-bought greens, locally-bought greens will stay crisp and moist much longer in the fridge. The local veg that I get in our CSA is often only 1 or 2 days out of the ground, while some veg in the grocery store may have been picked weeks before. For locally picked veg, by my accounts, you have about 2 days in the fridge with unprotected greens before they’re wilted and inedible. However, if you put a little effort up front, these vegetables will stay very crisp and moist in the fridge, without getting soggy and mildewy. You can plan to pick up your CSA on Friday and still have crisp veg to cook with on the following Thursday. It’s all about moisture control.

First, all leafy greens need to be in a bag to keep in the moisture, but if there’s too much moisture, then the greens with get soggy. To absorb extra moisture, I wrap greens in paper towels, then put them in the bag, and twist the bag shut. This gives an environment where the moisture will stay constant, and any extra will be absorbed by the towels. Store the bagged veg in the bottom of the fridge, in a “crisper” drawer, if you’ve got room. However, bagged like this, the greens should stay crispy for 5 days, longer if they’re really recently picked.

Lay the veg out on a clean, dry paper towel. If the greens are visibly dirty, spray off the dirt, but don't leave too much water clinging to the veg.

Lay the veg out on a clean, dry paper towel. If the greens are visibly dirty, rinse away the dirt, but don’t leave too much water clinging to the veg.

Just like a tiny infant, bring all of the leaves together and tightly wrap in the paper towel.

Bring all of the leaves together and tightly wrap in the paper towel.

Put the paper towel-wrapped veg into a plastic bag. Twist the top closed.

Put the paper towel-wrapped veg into a plastic bag. Twist the top closed.