Monday, March 30, 2009

Buy Local: Find the farmer

Stone-Buhr is a company I never heard of until a segment played on the radio the other day about them; they are marking their flours so that you can go online and see the farmers that produced yours. The original story is in the New York Times. If you go to you can see for yourself how it works. Type in the code, and see pushpins on a map. Click on a pushpin, and see a profile of a farm. See pictures, watch videos, and get a sense, filtered as it is, of the people who made your food. The site even tells you how many generations have been farming. The concept is called traceability.

Traceablity is the next great thing for foodies. The NYT article states that people are hungry for connections with their food producers. But why? Is it because modern life is riddled with anonymity? Or because we are saturated with quantity but starve for quality? Perhaps we want to brag to people about how we are doing the right thing that is also the cool thing right now. My favorite answer is from the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma: "Michael Pollan, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said FindtheFarmer was one part of a bigger effort to reintroduce trust into the food system."

Traceability is long overdue when you think about the outbreaks of foodborne illness caused by jalapenos and peanuts in recent memory. The reason that the outbreaks were so difficult to stop is because the produce could not be traced. The New York Times asserts that "if food producers know they’re being watched, they’ll be more careful." And "if the peanut processing company that was the source of the recent salmonella outbreak had live webcams in the production facility, “would it have allowed things to get so filthy?” Mr. Pollan asked. “The more transparent a food chain is, the more accountable it is.”" Even if the producers don't keep their acts clean, an outbreak could be caught sooner.

Traceability for now is a marketing tool, designed to get customers to buy a product that has added value over other products in the same markets. But it has added benefits:

“We never knew where our wheat went to. The story always ended at the grain bin and the big commodity operations,” said Fred Fleming, 59, who operates Lazy YJ Farms in Reardan, Wash., which is part of FindtheFarmer.

“Now we can actually have a conversation with our city customers. We can get back to the old days,” he said.

Here in Frederick, you can still benefit from "the old days" by developing relationships with your local producers. We are in an era where we are losing our family farms to factory farms. In Frederick, we are well into the slide. But a lot of exciting cultural shifts are happening in the local food universe; traceability is just one of them. In the near future I plan to cover the following topics (but may get sidetracked or add more subtopics before I am done.)
  • Why the best restaurants buy local foods
  • How the buy local movement intersects with protectionism, and why this could be a bad thing.
  • As always, what foods are in season at your local farm markets in Frederick
  • The carbon emissions of food production and transport (hint- the low carbon option is not always what you think)
  • The fun experiences that I have visiting farms with Yeon
  • Delicious recipes, as always
My next planned entry is an interview with chef/owner Bryan Voltaggio of Volt Restaurant in Frederick. I can't wait.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Flowers for the market: July 19, 08

Week of July 20: my mums started to bloom. I didn't trim the top of the mums in the spring so it just went ahead and bloomed. Since I have two mum plants (mums are really easy to split and multiply), I think I will cut the top of only one plant this spring, so that it becomes bushier and bloom more close to the fall, and leave the other as is so that I can have an early bloom.
To go with my mum branch (only one stem for the many burgundy flowers you see in the middle), I picked orange to yellow tone of zinnias and dahlias. The obedient flowers (white) and the fennel flowers added interesting spikes and spread to it. 


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring vegetable planting

I planted one of my two raised beds last week. That's unusual for me because I normally just start later with the tomatoes and peppers. But this winter, Yeon and I met at her house and went through the seed catalogs and I got inspired. Between our orders from Pinetree and Seed Savers, and the seeds I had not planted from the previous two years, I must have had enough for five gardens. When we got the nice weather last week, I dug up a garden bed and got to work. The result: I planted radishes, beets, carrots and peas. There's also onions already in the bed.

The problem with these beds, which are about 5'x10' each, is that there is not enough space for me to grow EVERYTHING I want. But I know myself- I am not energetic enough for a huge garden, and this will be plenty to weed later in the summer.

I also planted a few blueberry bushes, which are literally twigs at this point. I have very high hopes for them, after picking at Glade-Link Farm last year.

My rhubarb is also starting to come up. Rhubarb is easy and faithful. Considering how much better and cheaper it is than the dried out stalks of it you see in the grocery store, I highly recommend growing a plant. But just one plant. Rhubarb will grow to be quite big, and it will provide more rhubarb than you will ever need. I never tried rhubarb until a few years ago. It has a fairly un-nuanced sour flavor on its own, which explains why you see it so often with other fruits. It stretches their flavors and provides a succulent substance. It is okay on its own, though, in a cobbler, or made into a compote that can be put on ice cream.

If, like me, you have problems with critters (in my case. rabbits) eating all of your plants then I highly recommend the foul rotten egg-smelling stuff in the white container. I will also have to figure out some kind of chicken wire setup (Yeon has one that works very well) for when the plants get older. But for now, as the plants are beginning to germinate, and as they newly pop out of the ground, I will buy them some time.

What are you growing in Frederick right now?


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Last minute sowing

I am going out of town tomorrow for a conference. I packed,  drank some wine with Dan, talked to Shannon on the phone, took a shower, changed into PJ, and everything seemed to be good. Then I remembered that I didn't sow my tomatoes and peppers yet! Convinced that I couldn't afford to delay another week, I filled up my peat pots with seedstarting mix, filled up the container with water, then placed some tomato and pepper seeds in each cell. I should go to bed soon because tomorrow is going to be a long day. It will be nice if they are sprouted by the time I come back home. 


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Flowers for the market: July 12, 08

The new growing season is approaching fast and I would like to wrap up soon posting the photos of flowers from last year. The week of July 13 was one of my favorite weeks for flower picking. All the oriental lilies in my back yard opened up. I love their cherry deep pink colors with dots along the petal. Lisianthus bloomed too. Their crepe paper like petals look like bell flowers when they are still opening, and then they look like roses when fully open. They come in a shade of cream- pink -lavender - purple - blue. 

In this arrangement, I also had liatris (blazing star), dahlina, and zinnia. The color tone of the flowers was more or less consistent while there were many different shapes. Oriental lilies are fragrant, so this bouquet smelled really nice. I love when the flowers look pretty, and smell pretty too.


Plants, classes, etc. at Summer Creek Farm

Hi All -

Plants are getting taller in the greenhouse, seeds, supplies and fertilizers are being delivered, the farm is slowly coming out of a cold winter. We are seeing a lot of people interested in gardening this year as all our gardening classes have had much larger participation. We will be at the Common Market this Thursday evening for a basic gardening class and Saturday for our annual rain barrel making class. We will have tomato and pepper plants available in May. We will have hanging pots this year with mini Cherry Tomato plants in them. Great for hanging on your deck or for gifts in the spring. A great Mothers Day gift for Mom or your Grand Mom, one she can snack at all season. For all those not signed up for our CSA yet we still have some slots open. I have just added a chart to show you what time crops will generally be in, it is on the web site :

We will also be displaying at the Go Green America Expo in Gaithersburg, Maryland on March 28-29 at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds. You can find out more about the expo at . Admission to the expo is $12.00 (children under 12 free) but I have eight free tickets to the first persons that contact me. We hope to see you there!

Finally there is much talk everywhere about the economy, we are working hard this spring to bring you an excellent food value through the coming season. We have hired a full staff that will be starting soon and have secured most of our supplies. In April we will be working to expand the irrigation system. As I do each year we evaluate ways to make the farm more productive and this year is no different as we work to make our farm more sustainable for us and you.

Farmer Rick


Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy Monday from Cakes for Cause

Welcome to Cakes for Cause...

This is a special email welcome to all those people we have met recently who have asked to be included in our updates. For our "veterans", keep reading because there's some information on upcoming events and specials that you may want as well.

Thank you for your interest in Cakes for Cause. If we had the chance to talk with you at any of our recent events, you know that we are about community, vocational development, and providing meaningful opportunities for youth in our neighborhoods. We are a bakery (with space under construction, at the moment)...we are a partnership with the Housing Authority and HOPE VI project on North Market Street...we are an opportunity for people to become involved in the Frederick community...and we are a mission to provide real employment, primarily to youth who have aged out of the foster care system or who live in public housing.

How can you get involved?
We are a very flexible organization. We have people involved at every level and you can get involved too. Link here to a general information sheet about becoming a volunteer.

Eat our treats...if your time is limited, there's lots of other ways you can make a difference to our program...we are a BAKERY and we sell delicious treats! Soon, our bakery/café will be open on North Market Street and you can visit us EVERY DAY for a cup of coffee or tea and a hand-rolled croissant (remember, it's for charity so there's fewer calories!) but you can also order from us now with a little notice and have sweets and savories delivered to you in Frederick. Our goal is to get you addicted...that's just the service we provide in the community.

Bakery specials coming soon...we'll be offering our popular frozen sugar cookie dough cut out as Easter eggs for you to bake and decorate in just a couple of weeks. Hot Cross Buns will also be available for the springtime holidays. Do you need scones for Sunday morning? They're available in our ever-popular Lemon Ginger variation and several others. We use whole ingredients (real butter, sugar, and eggs) and sometimes even grind our own flour! Starting in May, the Frederick Farmer's Market on Baughman's Lane will open up again and we'll have a booth there every Saturday. We send out this email every week to let you know what's coming up at the market. Every dollar you spend on baked goods makes a difference in the lives of the youth we serve.

Make a donation...Finally, we are a registered 501(c)3 non-profit corporation and we accept tax-deductible contributions. Our program pays every youth apprentice a living wage while they participate in our 6-month program, we provide them with uniforms, tools and equipment, and we have developed a comprehensive curriculum that teaches them the food service industry in an environment that focuses on detail, high quality, and excellent customer service. Individual and corporate donations make a difference for our organization and it is the support of people like you, every day, that help us stay focused on the philosophy that, "Everyone Deserves Dessert". You may make a donation online through our website, or you may mail donations to us at our administrative offices (Cakes for Cause/22 South Market Street, Suite 3/Federated Charities Building/Frederick, MD 21701)

However you choose to get involved, please know that we are grateful for your support and love being a part of the Frederick Community. Thank you.

Ok, enough of that...
We have some events coming up and we want to make sure you're aware of them. We'll be out and about in the community and we love to meet new people and say hello to old friends too so here they are:

Saturday March 21st 1:00-7:00 pm~InBloom Jewelry Trunk Show
Local jewelry designer Stacy Krantz is hosting a trunk show of beautiful designs in Middletown. We'll be there with treats and our new café logo, trying hard not to spend our paychecks on every pair of earrings that she has (we like it that much!). A portion of the proceeds from the sale go to Cakes for Cause to support our youth vocational program. Link to the invitation for more information.

Friday and Saturday March 27th and 28th~Frederick Film Festival
Do you like movies? We like movies and we're one of the supporting sponsors of the Frederick Film Festival. It's an extravaganza of feature length and short films and its taking place not in Hollywood but in our own hometown of Frederick. Link to their site for more information.

Saturday March 28th 9:00 am-5:00 pm~Waste Not Expo
The Expo is a public outreach event to educate citizens about the economic, social and environmental issues posed by our waste. Cakes for Cause will be participating with a booth that highlights our curriculum modules that teach our apprentices the importance of participating in a local economy, minimizing waste, and becoming involved in their communities. We'll also be selling vegan and vegetarian baked goods. for more information.

Sunday May 3rd 2:00-5:00 pm~Cake Off for Cause
Heineman Myers Art Gallery in Bethesda is holding a cake contest for young bakers. Does your child have dreams about fondant and buttercream? This is their opportunity to show off an original creation, meet celebrity judges, and start down their own road to food celebrity. Contest is open to youth between 6 and 18 years old and entry forms are due by April 30th. Adults get to cheer loudly, eat cake, and mingle with the next generation of pastry chefs before they REALLY get famous. Visit Facebook or email for more information.

First Saturday in Downtown Frederick~Cakes for Cause Open House
6:30-8:30 pm
On First Saturdays, we throw open our doors and give away treats as a not-so-transparent ploy to talk to people about our programs. If you're a first-timer or hit us every month, we're glad to talk with you and nosh on some goodies. Join us at our office in the Federated Charities Building at 22 South Market Street.

And, make sure you pencil in these very specific dates...

Some Saturday in May 10:00-1:00 pm~Frederick Farmer's Market Opens!!!!!

Sometime in June~Cakes for Cause Opens Moxie Café and Bakery!!!!!!

Cakes for Cause


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Crispy Apple Galette

Do you remember my pink apple sauce? We have been eating many apples since fall, and this apple galette has been one of the favorites. The crust is crispy and delicate, and slightly caramelized apple pieces are soft and sweet. The original recipe for this galette came from Cooks Illustrated. I have simplified the recipe for making the crust, and also introduced another layer between the crust and apple - the pink apple sauce. 

Once the dough for crust -using your favorite recipe- is made, it needs to rest in the refrigerator for at least half an hour. If using small apples, I need 5 - 6 apples for this recipe, and it takes a while just to peel and cut them into thin slices (1/8" thick). I roll out the dough (1/8" thick) and pinch the edges, let it rest again and preheat the oven at 400 F while I am peeling and cutting the apples.
When all the apple slices are ready, take the rolled out dough and lightly smear the pink apple sauce. I took this idea from Dorie Greenspan's apple tart. Her apple tart recipe asked for quite amount of apple sauce, and the tart lacked crispiness. Applying thin coat of pink sauce  in this galette, however, added much more apple flavor to this galette without sacrificing the texture.
Lay out thin slices of apples and then sprinkle sugar on top of the apple to help them caramelize. Dot with tiny butter pieces and bake in the 400F oven for ~ 50 minutes or the crust is golden brown and edges of apples are nicely caramelized and brown. 
When the galette is in the oven, you can make a glaze, which gives the galette nice shine. While the recipe asks for watered-down apricot preserve, my pureed peach jam worked out beautifully.

I wonder if this recipe would work with peach too. I shall try once summer arrives with ripe peaches.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sign of Victory from Garlic

Speaking of bulbs, garlics didn't miss the warm weather either and they grew an inch or two over the weekend. It is amazing how fast they can push themselves out. The first two leaves of garlic plant stretch at an angle, and together they look like a victory sign.

I planted two different garlics we had in the pantry last fall. Looking forward to yummy garlic scapes followed by freshly dug and cured garlic bulbs. I planted each garlic clove, not the entire bulb in one spot in case you are wondering. 
Last year I had garlic volunteers in my "compost file" - I didn't have a compost bin back then so I just made a pile of stuff that I stacked with trimmings from the yard and the kitchen scraps. To tell you the truth, I like this free-from pile compost better than what I have now. Just care-free and so natural. I ended up creating another compost pile next to the current compost bin anyway. I need a better strategy for composting. While searching, I found this article about composting (a pdf file). I am glad that composting doesn't have to be so complicated.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Flower and Garden Show

This weekend we have a flower and garden show in Haegerstown. I have never been to this show, but they advertise the show as “The Tri-state Area’s Premier Event”!

Hagerstown Community College Alumni Association Flower and Garden Show

March 14, Saturday 9 am - 5 pm
March 15, Sunday  10am - 4 pm

Hagerstown Community College
Athletic, Recreation and Community Center
Hagerstown, Maryland

Floral & Garden Exhibitors & Vendors
Gardening Seminars & Demonstrations
Area Garden Club Floral Design Classes
“Day in the Garden” & “Quilt” Raffles
Children’s Gardening Activities
Beautiful Show Gardens     
Live Radio Remotes
Free Parking
Delightful Garden Café

$4.00, Children under 12 Free

From I-70 Take exit 32-B onto Route 40 West.  At 1st light, turn right onto Edgewood Drive (Edgewood Drive becomes Robinwood Drive).  Turn left at the 3rd light onto the HCC Campus.  Turn at the first left onto Scholar Drive.  The HCC ARCC is on your left.

Link to Map

301-790-2800, ext. 346 or

I have got the information from Maryland Office of Tourism,  Monocacy & Catoctin Watershed Alliance and an email I received. I will be busy getting our backyard garden ready for the new growing season and sowing seeds this weekend, but I intend to go and check it out! 


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Spring is here?

The warm weather over the weekend got me thinking the spring was here! Among spring bulbs that I planted last fall, I am surprised to see Globe master bulbs are coming out before my mid-late season tulips and daffodils. I like to crowd them a little bit so that I can see the grouping of magnificent ball-shaped flowers when they bloom. Aren't the purple tips of leaves are lovely? 


Friday, March 6, 2009

On Organic Gardening

It is a beautiful Friday evening.  Everyone seems happy with the prospect of weekend in 70 degree weather.  We are talking about golfing, hiking, tennis, biking, running, or any activity that will keep us outside for the weekend, and I can't wait to spend all day in our backyard, get my hands into soil, clean the garden, and sow some early spring vegetables.

When I came home after playing tennis with Tara, my neighbors Mike and Jackie were sitting at their porch with Mike's brother and his wife.  After saying hello back and forth, we were talking about the weather and garden.  Mike's sister-in-law said that she used a weed-killer to a patch of grass because she wants to grow flowers there, and that she didn't look forward to digging the dead patch.  Without thinking much, I replied that's a wrong way to do it. And I regretted the moment I said it.  Who am I to say a certain way is right and other ways are wrong?  I tried to weaken my assertion with a long explanation of what Dan and I did to our grass patch to prepare for a perennial bed, and that we should avoid digging whenever possible because digging is no fun, but I think the damage was already done.  I have spoken my most direct reaction to her "weed killer" by telling that is "wrong".

I understand why many people don't care much about being organic. Organic produce is relatively expensive and many of us can't afford it. Organic gardening sounds like a practice that requires either more money, more work, or both. Really, how much harm would I do by using  chemical pesticide, herbicide, and fertilizer in my tiny lot?  What's wrong with my desire to have a picture perfect lawn or nicely ordered flower bed?  Too bad the pesticide will kill bees, ladybugs or other bugs other than the targeted pest.  Too bad the residue of herbicide or chemical fertilizer will wash out and flow down to Chesapeake bay.  Really, how much harm would I do?

When everyone thinks that way and continues the chemical way of gardening and farming, we generate a huge impact on our surrounding and ecosystem in which we live in!  I think the Earth will be far much better without humans living on it.  But then again, who is to judge which is a "better" Earth?  This better version of Earth is also projected from a human perspective.  For our own sake, we need to keep nature the way it works best and minimize the disruption and depletion we bring on it.  The organic way of gardening and farming takes advantage of the nature and lets her work.  Yes, we might need to invest more time and money to get our organic garden started, but once it is established, it is far much easier and cheaper to maintain. 

On this beautiful evening, I am sitting at my desk pondering what I should have said.  I wish I had replied "There is an easier way," and then offered an alternative method if I was asked.   What I would really like is a shared understanding, a shared passion, and a shared action.  I will listen - would you listen to me?


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Update from Rohrer's Meats

Greetings from the farm. The cold will be retreating and we are in for a taste of spring the next few days. While on your travels Saturday, don't forget to stop by the Dutch Plant Farm between 10 AM and 12:30 PM to get your meat supply for the next two weeks.

Beef will include porterhouse, T-bone, strip, ribeye, sirloin, flank, and skirt steaks; eye round, boneless chuck, and sirloin tip roasts; stew cubes, and ground beef. Pork will include tenderloin, pork chops; spare, country style, and baby back ribs; boneless pork butt, and bacon. Sage, maple, and hot Italian sausage will be fresh while country, mild Italian, applewurst, and bratwurst will be frozen. All three flavors of pulled pork barbecue will be available as well as baked ham salad. Lamb will include butterflied leg, kabob cubes, boneless shoulders, racks, loin chops, arm chops, shanks, and ground lamb. I will also have eggs, cheese, and jellies.

Enjoy the change of weather and I will see you at the market.

Rohrer's Meats


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Countdown to Anniversary!

Our anniversary party is just a few short days away and if you haven't cleared your calendar yet...well, let's just say that you'll miss a great evening and leave it at that. We're celebrating a year of yummy scones, fun promotions, hitting lots of milestones, and bringing together the community to build something amazing on the North End of Frederick. We wouldn't have been able to do it without your help and our gratitude is profound. Please consider joining us at Café Nola on Thursday, March 5th at 7:30 pm to celebrate what we've built and what we still have to accomplish. Click here to view the invite, link to Facebook to RSVP email us back to let us know whether you can make it, or just show up at the door (but don't aggravate the bouncers!-).

Flowers for Mother's Day...or her birthday...or Christmas (ok, so it's early but we're a bunch of procrastinators!)...
Does your mother tell you not to get her flowers "because they just die anyway?" Well, Cakes for Cause can hook you up with flowers that sparkle forever. InBloom Jewelry is hosting a trunk show of beautiful designs in Middletown on Saturday March 21st at 1:00 pm. Every time we wear our pieces from designer Stacey Krantz, the compliments just keep coming. Even better, a portion of the proceeds from the sale go to Cakes for Cause to support our youth vocational program and even better for you, we'll be there with treats and unveiling our new postcard with our Moxie logo on it. Link to the invitation for more information.

Are you jonesing for the Farmer's Market?
It's still at least two months away before you can feed your weekly croissant habit...but wait, with a couple days notice you can still get fresh hot croissants, pain au chocolate, cheddar scones, and freshly baked cookies for the weekend. We'll even let you bring your farmer's market bag so you can feel like you're at the market. Yes, we're still baking your favorites and while some of you have not been able to resist the temptation, we suspect that others aren't aware that our products are available while our retail space is under construction...well, they are and you can order them anytime. Contact us at to place an order today.

Cakes for Cause