Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Green Post

Last week was Birthday Week here at Wildwood. Chris turned 28 and I hit 27 and we celebrated with lots of good food, including an amazing dinner at Flying Fig, and food related presents. My mom got me a food scale that I am really excited to bake with and I got Chris the Soda Stream. He drinks multiple cans of flavored carbonated water each day, but now he can make his own! It doesn’t even need electricity, just a CO2 cartridge and a splash of flavoring into one of the reusable bottles filled with water. It is more economical and very green. It is also great if we are entertaining cuz we don’t typically have pop in the house, but now we can make our own sprite or coke or ginger ale or tonic or whatever in like 5 seconds. I highly recommend it!

Chris also got a jar of maple syrup from his boss who taps on his family’s property in Chardon. We went to his sugar house to pick it up and it was so fresh that it was actually sap in the tree earlier that morning. Nothing smells better than a sugar house and if you don’t know someone with one, I recommend you visit Chardon Square. The Sugar House is open at noon every Sunday in March and the Maple Festival is April 22 – 25. And while you are in Chardon you can pick up any maple product you can think of at Richards Maple.

So speaking of green products and food (go figure) I have to share some things with you and apologize if I get long winded, but I am kind of obsessed. (Warning: I do get long winded, but you should read it anyways)

I am no stranger to the concepts of the local or Slow Food movement, but I have really been immersing myself in it the last few weeks. It was all brought on by this lovely spring weather and the book I’ve been reading: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. She is the author of the Poisonwood Bible and this book is about her family’s pledge to eat locally for a year. They live on a farm in Virginia and raise their own poultry, have a huge garden, and barter with other local farmers to supply their entire food supply for one year. It has really sparked my craving to become a farmer and now I can’t stop thinking or talking about gardens, backyard chickens and bees, mushroom hunting, raw milk, cheese making, preserving, and urban farming in general.

I kid you not, yesterday I had two separate 45 minute discussions with relative strangers about milk.

The first: I was at Whole Foods comparing the Hartlzer Dairy milk and the Snowville Creamery whole milk (both local dairies). A man came up next to me to buy two cartons of Snowville and sparked up a conversation by showing me the pictures of his trip to the dairy last spring on his iphone. And then we both started gushing about our love for real milk and how good it is for you and how wonderful Snowville’s is because it is pasteurized at the lowest temperature allowed and it isn’t homogenized and it is fresh from grass-fed cows and on and on. He said the first time he tasted it he actually had an auditory hallucination back to his childhood and heard the clinking bottles of the milkman’s delivery. And he had others tell him they heard the same thing. That is a serious taste difference. The conversation took a few turns: to butter (I bought the Irish pasture butter he recommended), kosher meat, maple syrup, and a study about the effects of light on brain chemistry (turns out he was a psychiatrist) and it ended with him giving me his e-mail address and a pamphlet on sleeping like a baby. All because of a carton of really good milk.

The second: I live in a very diverse and interesting neighborhood. We have a list serve that keeps the block informed of various things, and last week we got an e-mail from a neighbor offering kefir grains to anyone who was interested. Well I have been wanting to try out cheese and yogurt making, so I couldn’t pass on free kefir. I was a little late arriving at her house after my long milk conversation at Whole Foods, and little did I know I was walking into the house of another kindred soul and a second 45 minute milk discussion. She gave me the kefir and showed me how to use it. Basically, you place the grains (it looks kinda like cauliflower) in a clean jar and pour in about 8oz. of milk. You let this sit uncovered on the counter until it has fermented to your desired level. She lets it ferment overnight, then strains it and combines it in her morning smoothie. The grains go back in a clean jar and begin fermenting the next batch of milk. Well now I have a batch going on my counter, so if you want some kefir grains, let me know. I am eagerly awaiting another book from the library, Wild fermentation: the flavor, nutrition, and craft of live-culture foods by Sandor Ellix Katz and hoping cheese and yogurt making are in my future. And maybe some canning, pickles, and sauerkraut, we shall see.

On Saturday I convinced Chris to go mushroom hunting with me. We asked the mushroom man at the farmer’s market to recommend some field guides and then we went straight to the library to pick up The Audubon Society field guide to North American mushrooms by Gary Loncoff and A field guide to mushrooms, North America by Kent McKnight. We are still a bit early in the season here in northeast Ohio, but we found two types of (unfortunately) non-edible mushrooms. We are planning some additional trips this spring, I hope we find some morels!

I just got notification from the library that two other books I have been eagerly awaiting are in, Farm city: the education of an urban farmer by Novella Carpenter and The backyard beekeeper: an absolute beginner's guide to keeping bees in your yard and garden by Kim Flutton. The second is recommended by the Greater Cleveland Beekeepers Association. Ever since I closed on the house I have been plotting my backyard chickens and now I have added a desire for beehives. I live within the City of Cleveland and based on my research thus far I am allowed 6 chickens (no roosters) and two beehives as long as they aren’t within 500 feet of my neighbor’s house. This topic has been getting a lot of discussion lately and according to the NY Times Sunday Magazine this is quite the trend with stay at home moms. So I’m not on to anything new. If anything, I just want to get back to eating the way humans have been eating for thousands of years.

When I was reading this wonderful blog and she mentioned the book Real food: what to eat and why by Nina Planck I couldn’t resist yet another perspective. I highly recommend it if you are at all interested in getting back to your roots when it comes to food. She provides excellent research on the benefits, but still makes the book very readable. She has really been inspiring me to eat as seasonally, locally, and real as possible.

If you are actually still reading, maybe you too are interested in this topic and have read one of Michael Pollan’s books (Omnivore’s Dilemna, In Defense of Food, etc). I haven’t actually read either, but they are both on hold for me at the library. And after watching Food, Inc., in which Michael has a big part, I know he will be preaching to the converted for me. If you haven’t seen Food, Inc. I highly recommend you watch it and get as many other people as you can to watch it. Here is a link to 10 ways you can get involved with their movement.

I’ve never listed so many books in one post, so I am going to save the gardening ones for another post.

Some Cleveland notes:

The Cleveland International Film Festival is screening a film called Ingredients about the Local Food movement on March 19-21. Great Lakes Brewing is also offering a free private screening on March 23 that I will be attending, all you have to do is call and make a reservation and added bonus you get a free voucher to see another film at the festival.

This Sunday I will be attending the Greenhouse Tavern’s Chef School Series class called Butcher. We will be butchering a 300 LB farm raised pig from Aaron Miller’s Livestock. The Class will include chef’s tasting of dishes made utilizing the whole animal. You should totally join me cuz I’m a little nervous…

Saturday night is my birthday party at Happy Dog in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. Good (and cheap) food and beer, come celebrate! It isn’t a snuggie pub crawl, but it will still be a good time.

9 comments:

Mel said...

I'll be at Ingredients on March 23 too. If you recognize me, say hello! :)

mcm.hannah said...

Great post, Molly! I am inspired. I tried to read In Defense of Food but I got bored. I think I will try Food Inc. instead.

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