Friday, May 29, 2009

Cakes for Cause: StrawberryPalooza!

So Many Strawberries
Strawberry shortcake, strawberries with goat cheese, strawberries with mixed greens and balsamic vinagrette served with a big steak... are any of you hungry yet? There's still time to plan your entire week's menu around the West Frederick Farmers Market,, (Saturdays, 10:00-1:00 on Baughman's Lane). This Saturday, the 30th, is the official kickoff for the season and while some of you have been coming for the past few weeks, the produce tipping point might just be this weekend. Vendors will be highlighting the season's best and yes, that means... STRAWBERRIES. But there's also going to be live music and a special "Passport" to your chance of winning a fabulous market basket (awarded the following week). So, if you've put off your market trip until now, you don't want to miss this weekend. Cakes for Cause will have strawberry shortcake biscuits and other vendors will have the other critical ingredients. We hope to see you there.

Help Us Help the Community!
In addition to making a difference for the Cakes for Cause program, on the 30th you will also make a difference for the United Way of Frederick County. As part of our ongoing effort to support other local non-profits, Cakes for Cause will donate 5% of their Farmers Market proceeds to our own local United Way. So your butter croissant, your lemon ginger scone, and your focaccia purchase goes twice as far. Thank you for coming out and showing your support.

The local United Way provides support for non-profit agencies that benefit & strengthen our community in so many ways. Founded in 1938, it raises more than $1,000,000 annually to address the core issues of education, income, and health for Frederick's most vulnerable residents. Allied Resource Management, LLC (ARM) will be matching any amount that is raised by Cakes for Cause. REMEMBER: there are no calories when it comes to supporting charity!

Swag, Swag, Swag
While we know that many of you are anxiously awaiting the opening of our cafĂ© (so are the way), you can show your Cakes for Cause spirit by getting one of our limited edition baseball shirts. As you know, we only print t-shirts in series of 100 so when they're gone...they're definitely gone. Our most recent shirt is a ¾ sleeve baseball jersey with our new street number on the back. They're hot and they're moving fast. Remember, if you've purchased one from us in the past, we throw a $2 discount your way and buying that first one is the way to guarantee that discount for yourself in the future. We have ladies and men's sizes.

How You Can Help
The Cakes for Cause Farmer's Market stand is staffed by volunteers. If you are interested in helping out, you won't be disappointed. It is a great way to meet new people in Frederick and it's a perfect opportunity for a school group, youth organization, or service group to get involved in helping our community. If you are interested in helping us, please click here.

Cakes for Cause


Farmar posters are finito!

Yeon and Dan stopped by this evening to help me make posters and I had fallen asleep! Good thing they came by- they helped me get the posters started and made a few with me before they headed out. I spent the rest of the evening making them and they turned out AWESOMELY. I did some in "diamond dust" which is technically glitter but don't tell anyone.

I am pooped! And my house is covered with prints and glitter. But I am happy. Stop by the market on Saturday and check the posters out- and of course, come for the Strawberry Festival!



Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Spring Harvest: May 24, 09

Spinach was getting ready to bloom so I harvested most of them. Same with the daikon- I never had a good luck growing a big daikon root. I should try sowing in last summer and growing in the fall. My mesclun is growing wild and you see big leaves of red mustard, kale, etc. Lettuce is finally ready for picking and munching. They are so tender and delicate. Dill and cilantro are growing crazy too (not shown in the photo). I harvested big bunches and gave some to my neighbors. I should find some good recipes that call for a large quantity of dill and cilantro. If you know one, please let me know!

Strawberries are in full swing. I am harvesting about a pint a day. Nothing is as sweet as the ripe strawberry you just picked seconds ago in the garden. I like them warm from the sun. Just like warm tomatoes off the vine, they carry extra quality in them.
My neighbor Ricardo told me that Glade-Link farm is now open for pick-your-own strawberries. Give them a call before you head out. Sometimes they have to skip a day so that berries can ripen for picking. Also, don't forget this Saturday (May 30) we have a strawberry festival at the West Frederick Farmer's Market! With music and raffle and strawberries everywhere, it is going to be a fun time at the market.



Flowers for the market: May 23, 09

What can I say. Peonies were in full bloom. All the white peonies (with very pale pink undertone) are from my garden. Anything pink is from Shelton's back yard.

Ricardo also brought a beautiful flower arrangement which included iris, roses and peonies.

In my garden, my volunteer cosmos started to bloom this week. Spider wort, yarrow, and clematis are blooming now.



Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Strawberry Festival this Weekend

Hey don't miss the strawberry festival this weekend at the Farmer's Market. Here is the poster. Click on it to see it bigger:


Monday, May 25, 2009

Muskrat Meats and the Miracle Fruit Tasting Party

Hey friends! I am back from a crazy weekend of festivities over in Delaware. What did I do worth reporting here? First off, I saw the most amazing display in someone's yard promoting local food. They had a canoe with a mannequin, and the mannequin was holding a wooden box trap. Next to this creepy display was a sign advertising muskrat meats. I actually had a waterman tell me once that he was very fond of muskrat meat. If I remember correctly it requires special preparation, but I can't recall if that is because it's stringy, gamy, or fatty, or some combination of all three. Anyway I am ALMOST sorry I did not buy some and take it to camp with me because then I would have a better story. Lucky, for you, I got a picture:

The second thing worth reporting is that I went to a tasting party for miracle fruit. I keep reading about these parties, where people eat the fruit that temporarily nulls their sour taste buds, and I was starting to feel rather jealous. For this party, people were asked to bring things to try. I brought over some stuff for the buffet like limes, blueberry yogurt, sour patch kids, and celery. Lemons and limes taste like lemon and lime candy. Celery tastes like celery. Mustard tastes like candy. I did not eat the bittersweet chocolate because somebody told me it tasted wretched. My friend Oscar plied me with goat cheese. I will say the goat cheese was my favorite because the flavor was a great surprise and because it was fed to me.



Friday, May 22, 2009

Chocolate Truffles: What I look forward to at the Farmer's Market

Photo provided by Tim Miller
One of the many great things about the West Frederick Farmer's Market is that there are artisan food and craft vendors. I am excited to hear that Tim Miller of Imperial Chocolate Company will be returning to the farmer's market tomorrow. Dan and I love his truffles. We pick one flavor and buy one truffle a week and then split the truffle after a dinner. One time, I had one truffle (I think it was Dark Raspberry truffle) and we happened to have dinner guests, so I split the truffle into quarters and we ate the truffle as a dessert. I know - I should start buying more than one a week. But you know what? When you have a tiny amount of really great stuff, you appreciate it even more. Below is the message from Tim:

May's flavors will be dark (58.5% cacao) and milk/strawberry (41% cacao). I'll be trying new flavors this summer such as dark/chipotle chili, white chocolate, and a new combo I call triple treat which is a half/half white and milk chocolate ganache enrobed in dark chocolate.

Give his truffles a try if you haven't done so. You might be joining me in a weekly tasting club.



Flowers for the market: May 16, 09

Globe master blooms are giant, purple, perfect spheres. I don't think they need other supporting flowers to look pretty. However, I had over-wintered Russian Kale growing and flowering right next to them, matching up the globe masters in height while contrasting nicely with its yellow flowers. So I put them together in a vase. I also had a few peony stems from my garden and Shelton's garden and added them to the arrangement. Lovely.

At the farmer's market, I happened to hang out at the back of Cakes for Cause booth with Audrey and Marvin when Diane stopped by and bought the flowers. I was excited! She wanted to buy fresh cut flowers at the farmer's market but last week we didn't have any vendors carrying cut flowers. She saw the arrangement at the Cakes for Cause booth, asked if she could buy it, and Elin sold the flowers. The money from the flowers went to Cakes for Cause as a donation. I felt proud (yay, they are flowers from my garden!), worried (those kale flowers are not really meant for a flower arrangement, they shed petals a lot), and overall very happy. I hope to hear back from Diane how her friend liked the flowers locally grown from neighbor's back yard. Hope her friend didn't get too annoyed with the kale flowers.

This week peony, iris, rose and clematis are blooming everywhere. I envy my neighbors who have gorgeous rose bush and/or big iris bed blooming profusely. I want to start a rose garden and a decent iris bed soon! My peony plant is doing excellent this year though filling up the void from the lack of rose bushes. I plan to make a huge bouquet of peony flowers tomorrow for the market with peony flowers from my garden and friends' gardens.

Last year Jubilee organic farm brought cut stems of peony flowers in buckets. If you are looking for fresh cut flowers at the market, your wish might be granted tomorrow.



Cakes for Cause: Hold on to your hats...

West Frederick's Farmers Market Kick-Off Event
The West Frederick' Farmers Market, (Saturdays, 10:00-1:00 on Baughman's Lane), is putting a spin on things on May 30th by hosting a special event and highlighting seasonal produce. The main focus: fresh strawberries! As peak season for strawberries approaches, vendors will be highlighting special products, from strawberry shortcake to strawberry pie...everything strawberry! Entertainment includes live music...feel free to cut-loose and show us your moves!

Guilt-Free Satisfaction!
As part of our ongoing effort to support local non-profit organizations during challenging fundraising times, Cakes for Cause will donate 5% of their Farmers Market proceeds to "United Way of Frederick County", on Saturday May 30th, 2009. So come hungry!

The local United Way provides support for non-profit agencies that benefit & strengthen our community in so many ways. Founded in 1938, it raises more than $1,000,000 annually to address the core issues of education, income, and health for Frederick's most vulnerable residents. Allied Resource Management, LLC (ARM) will be matching any amount that is raised by Cakes for Cause. REMEMBER: there are no calories when it comes to supporting charity!

Stock Up On Good Karma.
The Cakes for Cause Farmer's Market stand is staffed entirely by volunteers. If you are interested in helping out, you won't be disappointed. Not only will you get to sample some of our delicious goodies, you can also work on that tan...and earn some good karma points! It is also a great way to meet new people and get involved in helping our community. If you are interested in helping us, please click here.

Tastes like summer!
Hot, sunny weather is showing on the radar! It is finally going to start feeling like summer! You know what that means...LEMONADE! Our lemonade professionals will be fully prepared to serve you a refreshing glass to cool you off!

We just need to share...
Our pastry chef has been invited to that great civic institution of Jury Duty the week of June 18th! We can't begin to tell you how excited she is about that. She's been waiting for almost all of her life to be invited to serve. We don't expect this to impact the level of quality and selection at the farmers market, however be prepared for almost anything!

Cakes for Cause


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Seeds, Ammo, Wabbits, and Wannabe Farmers

My friend Vicky Carmona was in the paper the other day because she showed up at Southern States at the right time; she told the reporter she is a "wannabe farmer" and that she expanded her garden this year just because she loves it. I have mentioned Vicky's garden here before and am planning to post pictures of it in the next few weeks.

Vicky said the reporter, Ike Wilson, told her that a number of places are running out of seeds this year. I had also heard this from a farmer, that some of the seeds he wanted to get this year had sold out. Supposedly 9 million or so more people are gardening this year than in previous years, and many people have expanded their vegetable gardens. Some of the popularity of gardening is the economy, I am sure. The FNP article also suggests that more people are vegetable gardening because of the First Lady's Victory Garden, and I believe this too.

I have also heard from various people and news stories that many people are hoarding seeds, much like I have heard that people are hoarding ammo. I also think that people are freaked out in general these days because the world is topsy-turvy and are instinctively turning to self-sufficiency and self-protection, which is a good instinct that can certainly go overboard.

I learned from the FNP article that "fifty dollars in seeds can yield $1,200 in produce, according to the USDA." Personally, I hoard seeds by accident because of good intentions. If the apocalypse comes, people, come to me for kale and daikon radish seeds I bought in bulk from Southern States. They are valuable- worth perhaps hundreds in produce according to the USDA, and I promise not to shoot. Just let me share the harvest and a few good stories.

Vicky and I have garden discussions; exchange seeds, plants and ideas; lend tools; and fight the rabbits in solidarity. As for rabbits- a friend told me, "I had a woman working on my farm and I told her I wanted to shoot the rabbits. And she thought that was terrible because rabbits are so cute. But then she planted a field of cabbage and the rabbits grazed it to the ground over the weekend. And I took her back there on the tractor and after that she wanted to kill the rabbits."

"Shhhh! Be vewy, vewy qwiet. I'm hunting wabbits!" Perhaps that is the hidden reason for all of the ammo people are buying.

Photo is by Skip Lawrence, FNP, and is not my friend Vicky. She's out hunting wabbits.


Farmer's Market Pizza

My friend Jen Willoughby made this awesome pizza with items from the farmer's market and shared the picture with me, along with this text: "yum! Danny Rohrer's sausage, Caprikorn Farms Italian goat cheese, bell pepper from an undisclosed location, spaghetti sauce from the fridge, and sourdough from Jen's own stash!" I think I got the bum end of the deal.

She also sent me this article about a woman in Germany who was hit by a customer at a farmer's market over the price of white asparagus. Jen wrote: "Check this out! Hope no one here does this!" No, here in America we only fight over stuff in stores at Christmastime. And maybe over Farmer's Market Pizza.

I'm going camping this weekend so I won't be posting much!



Monday, May 18, 2009

Frost warning tonight!

Protect your cold-sensitive plants like tomatoes and peppers tonight. You can create a cloche by cutting the bottom off a milk jug or 2-gallon container and putting it over your plants for the evening, or you can bring them in. I knew there was a reason I decided to plant tomatoes today...

Issued by The National Weather Service
Baltimore/Washington, MD
8 pm EDT, Mon., May. 18, 2009







Right to Farm

In Frederick County, we have a Right to Farm ordinance. Why would farmers need to be guaranteed a right to farm, when farming is the backbone of Frederick County's industry (and about 2/3 of its land mass)? Here is a summary of the ordinance:

When non-agricultural land uses extend into agricultural areas, agricultural operations can become the subject of lawsuits. As a result, agricultural operators are sometimes forced to cease or curtail their operations. Others are discouraged from making investments in agricultural improvements to the detriment of the economic viability of the County's agricultural industry as a whole. It is the purpose of this Ordinance to reduce the loss to the County of its agricultural resources by limiting the circumstances under which agricultural operations may be deemed to constitute a nuisance, trespass, or other interference with the reasonable use and enjoyment of land, including, but not limited to smoke, odors, flies, dust, noise, chemicals, or vibration; provided that nothing in this Ordinance shall in any way restrict or impede the authority of the State and of the County to protect the public health, safety and welfare, nor shall it restrict or impede private covenants.
Let's face it: farms are smelly, farm tractors slow traffic down, and farm fields can be dusty. Farms and homes don't make the best neighbors. But no farms, no food. This issue is becoming more and more of a problem as we carve new suburbs out of old farms and put them next to existing farm operations. And that is why an ordinance was passed in Frederick County back in 1997 to protect farms.

But more than just neighbor issues, our culture is less and less supportive of farms. My job-job is to protect and restore streams threatened by the impacts from urban stormwater. Being in this field, I hear a lot about agriculture too. I hear about this issue from many sides: the farmers, the government agencies that work with farmers, environmental groups, and citizens. The article, "Farmers: Regulations, complaints making life difficult on the farm" in FNP by Ike Wilson and a followup editorial made me pause. The conflict between farms and environmental interests from a farmer's perspective can be summed up in this quote by Gareth Harshman, a former President of the Frederick County Farm Bureau:
"They feel that the farmer is the number one polluter of the Chesapeake Bay and streams. It only takes one person to make a mistake or human error and there are people who will make life miserable for everybody.
Here are some of my observations from working in the field:
  • Everybody pollutes. The person pointing the finger at the farm may live in an exurban suburb that caused tremendous damage to the nearby stream during the development conversion process, and may continue to damage the stream through overfertilization or inappropriate use of pesticides and herbicides too close to waterways. Wastewater plants pollute. Septics pollute. Farms pollute. We can all point fingers at someone else but what is within the locus of our control is our own actions.
  • As Rick Hood said to me recently, if you have a farm, you have pollution. You may have more pollution or less pollution. But pollution to some degree is inevitable with farming. Should we ban all farms?
  • On the other hand, there are good actors and bad actors. There are farms with pretty amazing "best management practices" (BMPs) like cover crops, fencing, manure management, streamside buffers, you name it. There are farms that have cattle trampling bare stream corridors and pooping directly in the streams. Contrary to what you may think, this is not illegal. There is a whole spectrum of behavior.
  • Sometimes a BMP would take profitable land out of production, and the farmer needs the margin to stay profitable. Other farms are not especially profitable, and these farms typically can't afford best management practices. A lot of programs also don't want to support these farms because there is a good likelihood they won't be in operation in another few years, so there is a Catch-22.
  • Some farms don't have BMPs because they don't want to deal with the government. I can appreciate this, as I have heard lots of stories. Such as: the government made farmers plant multiflora rose as a fence and now we can't get rid of it. But there are many good best management practices out there that can help keep cattle from getting disease, can provide nutrients to revitalize soil, and can prevent the loss of valuable topsoil. There are also places other than the government to get these resources
  • Some farmers have philosophical issues with subsidies. This may hamper a farm from being able to afford BMPs.
  • A lot of farmers are in their 50s and 60s and don't have kids who want to farm. This makes an expensive BMP investment seem unwise.
  • A lot of farmers are also naturalists, because they depend on the land for their livelihoods, and can read it so closely. Most farmers are actively concerned about improving their operations to reduce pollution.
  • A lot of best management practices have improved and the programs have changed to become more desirable. Farmers who have not talked to the Soil Conservation Districts in a few years might want to talk to them again.
  • Voluntary pollution reduction is a "tragedy of the commons" type issue but regulation is not much better. Farm pollution is regulated through plans, somewhat through the execution of the plans, but not the results of the execution in the water quality. Urban runoff is regulated through the creation and execution of plans, but not the results. This is changing due to interest from environmental groups. This sounds like a good idea until you see it in practice and learn that there are no best management practices that are good enough to reduce the 90 or 95 percent of pollution needed to meet water quality standards (except for converting to forest- otherwise they are 12-60 percent effective on average), and that many of the standards in the regulation designed to support fishable and swimmable waters are not even met in nature because of pollution from things like birds and deer. Or because they are for lakes that would naturally not be lakes. Add to that the impossibility of monitoring individual sources of environmental improvement or degradation on a daily basis, and you have a quandary. We are going to see a lot of battles fought in the next few years in the form of lawsuits, and they may backfire for people who are truly interested in seeing water quality improve.
  • The implementation of some BMPs is limited by how ratty they can look. Farmers often balk at planting trees in stream corridors because, ironically, their neighbors complain about the weediness, or because their parents or grandparents would have looked in horror at something unkempt in appearance. Inversely, I have seen some really gorgeous plantings.
  • Sometimes the programs want farmers to install BMPs in places they won't work. Like trees in a floodplain area that will drown, that the farmer will be responsible to replace over and over.
  • Some BMPs have more demand than there is money for, like cover crops. The rules for cover crops make it difficult for farmers in the highlands with shorter growing seasons.
  • Lots of farms now are "gentleman" operations that aren't eligible for BMP funds. A big issue is horse operations on small properties.
  • Farmers are the most independent people I know and yet their industry has so many middlemen and regulations it's a wonder that any of them stay in business.
  • It's really valuable to build relationships with farmers, visit their operations if possible, and support them if you believe in what they are doing. In our area, you can have a real relationship with a farmer and product that I believe will enrich your family's life. This also will allow a farmer to make profit that would otherwise go to multiple third parties (Randy Sower from Catoctin Mountain Creamery estimates "four different groups" in most circumstances.)
  • Don't buy a house in an "exurban" development next to farms if you want a bucolic, pastoral scene. You'll get flies. You'll plant screen trees to protect yourself from dust, but they won't keep out the loud noises or the smells. You can try to get help from the government through a reconciliation committee as detailed in the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement you signed when buying property, but you may discover that your discomfort can't be mitigated. In Frederick, we have a right to farm.



Sunday, May 17, 2009

Misadventures in backyard gardening

Today as I was planting okra, a bird pooped on my head. I tried to ignore it for a while and keep working but eventually I gave up and took a shower. Now I am clean and don't want to go back out again.

I planted the okra in the flowerbed, like I threatened to do. I figure the flowers will look like hibiscus and I might just fool some people. So far my neighbors have been very patient with all of the things that grow through the fence. This might be pushing it. We'll see.

I fought with bindweed today, one patch of dirt at a time. It's pointless to pull the weed up without digging up the whole area, and then it grows back anyway, but it's worth a fight.

My false indigo is blooming. I had a real indigo too last year but the rabbits ate it before it had a chance to bloom. That's what set me off on the path of discovering the world's most foul-smelling substance, marketed to repel rabbits: a concentrate made out of putrescent egg solids. I bought a second false indigo at the Dutch Plant Farm yesterday; it has purplish blooms tinged with yellow and is a cross created at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Call me a nerd. Go ahead.

I also put composted organic horse manure in my tomato bed this afternoon (don't use fresh, it's too "hot" and will burn your plants with all of the excess nitrogen). I'll plant the tomatoes later this evening when I feel like going out again. It will involve getting tomato cages out of the shed to make sure I space the tomatoes properly, but the actual planting will only take a few minutes.

I have picked the last of the radishes, so there will be no more radish pesto or radishes with salt for my dad. They were fun while they lasted. I could plant more radishes now but I plan to use the space for beans.

A couple of years ago, I bought a stirrup hoe because I read in a magazine that it was someone's favorite tool that they could not live without. I finally figured out how to use it the other day while weeding between rows in the garden. Until then I though it was a pretty useless tool. Now I can't live without it. This is also the first year I actually spaced my vegetables properly as suggested on the seed packets, and am discovering a whole world of difference in the size of my plants and ease of weeding. My friends could tell you this, but I am headstrong and I have to learn oftentimes from my own mistakes, rather than listen to people who obviously know better, like the makers of seeds.

My neighbor around the corner told me I could snag some of his cilantro volunteers that are popping up all over the place next to his sidewalk. I am excited about that and need to remember to take a trowel and a pot when I walk the dog this evening.



Friday, May 15, 2009

Strawberries are ripening.

And birds are eating my strawberries already! Time to put a cage around the strawberry plants.

I just ate my first, fresh strawberry from my garden this season. It is foggy outside and the garden looks lush and green. So peaceful and beautiful.

At the farmer's market last week, Rich alluded the possibility of strawberries at the market this week. If we are lucky, we might get to taste the first strawberries of the season at the market tomorrow. 



The Beginning of Redbud to the end of Dogwood

This is another post about morels. I figure you are not sick of them because they are hard to find and you probably have not found any yet. According to the Morel Progression Sighting Map, they are still out there in the wild, taunting you because you have, as your mother says, "doll's eyes" and couldn't find a mushroom in the woods if it hit you. With a stick. Nevertheless, I, I mean "you," are determined to keep trying and any tips will help.

Read this very cool article in the Wall Street Journal about how to find morels. Photo by Ed Baker, WSJ.

I find this quote interesting: "Garrett Todd, a mushroom forager in Michigan, argues that the periphery of human vision can’t distinguish morels. Instead, foragers have to use their Fovea, the tiny area of the eye responsible for the sharpest vision." Maybe this is why you can't find mushrooms. Maybe you lack a Fovea. Maybe you misplaced your Fovea but you can't go looking for it because it takes a Fovea to find a Fovea. Kind of like never finding that contact lens that you dropped in the carpet. It had your Fovea in it.

Here are some other tips that will likely to prove useless to those of you lacking in Fovea:

  • Tom Rosenbauer, Marketing Director of Orvis Rod and Tackle...says fast and furious is the key to his success. “I can go for a mile before finding them,” he says. Morels tend to grow in bunches with large barrens between them. Rosenbauer also walks uphill, usually uncovering them between 900-1300 feet in elevation.

  • Flowers are the great indicator for morel season. In the Mid-Atlantic and southern states, foragers suggest hunting from when the redbud appears until the dogwood drops its blossoms. In New England, Lepage begins his season for black morels when the trout lilies appear and for the yellow morels when the columbine blooms. These floral cues roughly translate to a season that stretches from early April and mid-May. [I find this very poetic.]

  • Despite the difficulties in locating morels, once a forager has found an area he can return to it year after year. “When they have a root they come back in the exact same space,” Rosenbauer says. [Then how come I can't find any mushrooms where the old man found one for me next to my parents' driveway?]

  • Morels usually grow near the base of trees and gatherers hold fierce allegiance to which trees they think morels prefer. Elm, ash, poplar, wild holly and hawthorn are all top producers [I have also heard that they are rife in old apple orchards].

Maybe the best advice is to take a mushroom hunter with you. That way, you won't get poisoned by picking the wrong thing- and you might actually find something."Finding them requires not only physical stamina, but nearly superhero eyesight as well. “I took a friend foraging for three hours. I found 150 and he found two,” Lepage says." Yeah, ok, rub it in that you have nerves of steel and the stamina of Superman and a Fovea. The rest of us normal people are just going to crawl around on the ground, blindly sniffing like a truffle pig.

A Haiku:

After the redbud,
Before falling dogwood blooms
grow the shy morels.

Where are the morels?
Hiding somewhere under trees
With my Fovea.

Once I went to the beach near Calvert Cliffs where supposedly there were tons of fossil shark's teeth. I wanted to find one very much. But I did not. Finally I spotted a park ranger and asked him the best place to find them. He looked down at his feet and found five. All at once. He gave them to me and said, "they are everywhere." And then I despised him. The end.



Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hie on up to Mountaindale for some BBQ

Today's Frederick News-Post covers the barbecue at Mountaindale General Store. According to the article by Karen LaRocca: the new owner of the General Store, Marie Kuhn, purchased the barbecue recipe from the original owners and uses fresh (never frozen) local meats from Shuff's Meat Market in Thurmont. Might I also add that the sweet potato fries are hand-cut, and that the mashed potatoes are homemade? Here's my favorite clip from the article:

Kuhn, who has lived in Frederick County all her life, spent some time in Arizona studying to be a chef.

She buys local produce from area farmer's markets to use at Mountaindale General Store, which she wants to transition into more of a deli than a store.

"I want local people in here," she said. "I want community."
The whole community is supported, if you think about it. The farmer buys products from local stores for the farm, then is supported by the local meat market that buys their meat; the meat market is supported by the restaurant that buys the meat; the restaurants are supported by the customers that buy the barbecue sandwich, and the customer is supported by having a great place to hang out and eat outstanding local food. It's also exciting to see chefs with local origins that understand the importance of supporting local agriculture (and of course the taste of farm fresh food). You can read our interviews with Executive Chef James Johns of Isabella's and Chef/Owner Bryan Voltaggio of Volt to see this in practice.

I personally can not wait to try this place out.

Photo by Travis Pratt, FNP. I read about this first on Frederick Maryland Online.



Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Welcome Spring Dinner

Dan got a rib rack on Friday and decided to smoke/grill ribs. He has some beautiful shots of the ribs before and after cooking and hopefully will post them soon. Here I present you with the photos of side dishes that we prepared for the dinner with our friends on Saturday.

Photo by Dan
Deviled Eggs: stuffed with smoked salmon, chives and chervil. I picked up a chervil plant from Nancy in the morning and used some in the afternoon! I used Rainbow eggs from Nancy and Dave.

Photo by Dan
Mixed green and arugula from Rieko and Erland. Radishes from Rick in pickling juice (not quite ready that night but were delicious the next day). Strawberry dressing is made from strawberries that we picked from Glade-Link farm last year. The small blue bowl is from Shuck Pottery.

Photo by Dan
Grilled spring onions from Jim (Tomatoes et al), and three different asparagus from Chris, Rich, and Rick.

Photo by Dan
Strawberry and rhubarb cobbler. Rhubarb is from my garden. The original recipe was for rhubarb only and I modified it to work with half strawberries and half rhubarbs. The original recipe is from the Herbal Kitchen by Jerry Traunfeld. I made deviled eggs above following his recipe from the same book.

  • 1 pound of rhubarb stalks, cut into 1/2 pieces
  • 1 pound of strawberries (frozen ones from last year, thawed and dried to remove access water)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup spearmint, chopped
  • 2 TBS of unsalted butter, cut into small pieces)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flower
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt
  • 5 TBS sugar
  • 4 TBS unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup minus 1 TBS heavy cream
I introduced the strawberries since my green rhubarb doesn't stay pretty when cooked , and because strawberries and rhubarb go so well together. I cut down the content of sugar and spearmint.
  1. Preheat the oven at 400F.
  2. Mix rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, and mint in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Dot with butter. Bake for 20 minutes and the mixture is bubbly.
  3. While rhubarb and strawberries are baking, make the biscuit dough. Mix flower, baking power, salt and sugar (only 4 TBS), and then cut into butter using your finger tips or pastry blender until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Pour the cream and briefly mix so that they come together. Roughly divide the dough into 8 discs.
  4. When you take out the baking dish following the step 2, arrange the discs you made from the step 3 on top of the hot rhubarb/strawberry mix. Sprinkle the remaining 1 TBS sugar on top of the biscuit disks. Bake for another 20 minutes, or until the biscuit is dark golden brown.
This cobbler is sweet and tart at the same time. Our neighbor Mike asked if there was mint in the cobbler, while Jackie didn't know till he mentioned it. It is a fun and easy recipe and I would like to try with fresh strawberries again. If I can get a hold of red rhubarb stalks, I might try the original recipe too.



Three bunches of asparagus

Photo by Dan
Here is a photo of asparagus that I picked up from the farmer's market on Saturday (May 9). From left to right: thin tall asparagus from Rick (Summer Creek Farm), medium sized asparagus from Chris (Jubilee Organic Farm), and short and stout asparagus from Rich (Scenic View orchards). We grilled these three different asparagus for dinner that night. More photos to follow.



Nettle Pants

Today I was walking along Ballenger Creek below Ballenger Creek Elementary School with my colleagues. We were looking at potential stream restoration projects. While we were in the stream corridor (for several hours), I swallowed gnats, and stinging nettles were attacking me through my pants and in that little line of bare skin between my socks and my pants. The nettles were everywhere and horrible and completely unavoidable, so I just dealt with them by gritting my teeth and exercising mental control. As I write you at this moment, my knees are still stinging.

While I was out along the stream, I could not help noting to my friends that they could come back and harvest a bunch of nettles to make soup.

Of course they thought I was insane, as they trudged with their arms in the air to avoid even the most feathery touch from these hellish plants. "Soup," they asked, "are you kidding?" Mwah hahahahaha. No.

Stinging nettles are a native plant of Maryland. For wild food connoisseurs, cooked nettles make a great substitute for spinach in many dishes. The taste is reportedly similar to watercress, radish greens, spinach, seaweed, and a number of other strange greens. Heat kills the sting (do NOT eat them raw). Obviously you should wear thick gloves when picking the nettles. As far as recipes, here's one, but recipes are literally everywhere. Kind of like how nettles are literally everywhere.

Picture is from here. Advice on how to pick nettles is here. A cool WSJ article about unusual greens including stinging nettles is here (the source of the table below).



Cakes for Cause: Go West to the Farmer's Market

Shout Out to Our Customers!
Lots of our Cakes for Cause "regulars" came out to the Farmer's Market last week and it was great to see you. We hope we kept some of your favorites and you also got to try some new products. For those of you who don't know us as well, our retail focus is on small-batch, hand-crafted baked goods. We use whole ingredients (local, when possible) and like to play a little with our food (who doesn't really?). You'll often see us experiment with fresh herbs from our garden and we like to shake things up a little bit in the cookie department. If you've tried something and don't see it every week, take a moment to let us know what you're craving...we'll do our best to accommodate. Don't forget, we also take special orders that we can deliver at the market or anytime during the week.

The West Frederick Farmer's Market will be holding its kick-off event on Saturday May 30th. Come out and join us at Baughman's Lane from 10:00-1:00 for special events, music, and the freshest that the season has to offer. Cakes for Cause will be selling special biscuits that will be perfect for your strawberry shortcakes (and we should start to see strawberries by then). But don't wait until the 30th! Every Saturday, we have our freshly baked cinnamon rolls, hand-rolled butter croissants and danish, and delicious scones and cookies. Our lemonade experts are also available with classic and strawberry to quench your thirst on hot days.

Volunteer with Cakes for Cause
Our farmer's market booth is staffed by volunteers. It's a great way to meet people if you're new in town. It's a fun way for your civic, church, or school group to get involved in the community. If you'd like to volunteer with us at the West Frederick Farmer's Market, link to our volunteer calendar here and sign up with us on a Saturday. You'll get to nosh on pastry, talk about pastry, and let others know about Cakes for Cause (and how our pastry helps youth who have aged out of foster care to gain real job skills).

Cakes for Cause is honored to have been nominated for a CALM PeaceCrafters Award ( this year. If you'd like to join us on Monday May 18th, visit CALM's website for ticket information.

Cakes for Cause in the Community
As part of our ongoing effort to support local non-profit organizations during challenging fundraising times, Cakes for Cause will donate 5% of our farmer's market proceeds to Frederick's United Way on Saturday Mary 30th. The local United Way provides support for non-profit agencies that benefit and strengthen our community in so many ways. It was founded in 1938 and raises more than $1,000,000 annually to address the core issues of education, income, and health for Frederick's most vulnerable residents.

Take Us Out To the Ballgame
Cakes for Cause baseball t-shirts are here and they're moving fast. The hottest accessory in town is available in ladies and men's sizes. Perfect to start up conversations about Cakes for Cause, these shirts are a comfortable and hip alternative to your normal weekend wear. Remember, if you've bought one of our shirts before, they're only $18. We've also heard that sometimes people give special deals to customers if they see them wearing one of our shirts...we're just saying, you never know! Join our team!

Cakes for Cause


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Radish Leaf Pesto

Update: I made radish leaf pesto today and it was surprisingly amazing. I made it with walnuts, lemon olive oil, radish tops (of course) and CapriKorn Farms cow-goat cheddar. I ate it on top of egg noodles.

I am excited to try this recipe for radish leaf pesto from the blog, Chocolate and Zucchini. No hard feelings to Yeon- and grilled radish greens. Some notes from Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini:

Radish leaves have a flavor that I would situate somewhere between watercress and nettles, but a few notches milder. The texture of the larger leaves can be a bit rough so they're not ideal for salads, but they make fine soups and gratins (I add them to my Swiss chard gratin), and they work beautifully in pesto, which is what I make with them most often.

When I get back from the market, I separate the leaves from the bulbs. I refrigerate the latter -- radishes should be washed moments before eating -- while I rinse and dry the leaves like I do herbs, discarding any that are limp or discolored. I then store them in a container in the fridge until I'm ready to use them -- but no longer than a day.

I prefer to remove the stems, so I simply tear them off, and keep only the leaves, which I put in my mini-chopper (this kit is the handiest appliance I've ever bought) and mix with garlic, pistachios, shavings of pecorino, and olive oil.

I think I will try this tonight!



Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day to My Poor Sick Mom

My mother was sick in bed today, so we cancelled the dinner plans for Mother's Day. Instead, I went to visit my parents at their place in the mountains. On the way to visit my parents, Yeon gave me a huge bucket of strawberry plants for them.

Dad put the strawberry plants in planters right away. His soil is rocky and he hasn't graduated to raised beds yet. Mom told me to make sure to thank Yeon for the plants; she was very touched.

For my mom, I planted 15 peonies that she had just gotten in the mail, and I made her a pretty bouquet with azaleas and white bleeding hearts. Poor mom. I hope she starts to feel better soon.

My father has been eating TV dinners for the past week while my mom has been sick. I picked up a sirloin at the market yesterday to bring to my parents. The last time we had one of Danny Rohrer's sirloins, Dad was so happy. I boiled some eggs at my house and brought them along for devilled eggs. I also brought some asparagus from Summer Creek farm, and a bunch of radishes I picked from the garden this afternoon. Dad also talked me into making potato salad.

While I was cooking, I gave dad the radishes to eat with some salt. That's how he likes them. They were really impressive this time; I had some pearlescent purple ones that had gotten quite big.

Dad grilled the steak, asparagus, and radish greens. I asked him to grill the radish greens because Yeon did it, and I am a follower. Though they tasted very healthy, I was not a huge fan. The greens were strong and I think I would parboil them next time before doing anything with them. But the texture was fine- kind of like a stringy kale. You should have seen dad's plate. I don't know why he heaped it so full, since he and I were at the table alone and he could have as many helpings as he wanted. But I guess he wanted to see all of it on his plate at once. All four devilled eggs, for example. Dad said, "it's a good thing I worked outside all day," I guess so he could eat so much. Anyway it was a heck of a lot better than TV dinners I am sure. Dad did say, "there isn't enough cholesterol on this plate." And I answered, "thank goodness you put butter on the asparagus".

Mom couldn't eat anything. I woke her up every once in a while to make her drink water and take medicine. Life isn't fair.



Garlic scapes coming in

Garlic scapes are the tops of wild garlic- The same wild garlic that grows everywhere, that makes your (my) lawn mowing experience smell like onions because you (I) mow the clumps of garlic instead of pulling them out. And the same wild garlic that colonizes farm fields. Farmers have gotten wise to this weed. They have discovered that the tops are a delicacy, and they have started to sell them at farmer's markets. When I see the garlic tops in the forgotten spaces in my yard, I know they are only a week or two behind at the market.

You want to harvest garlic tops when they look like the ones in the picture (there's a rain barrel behind them, in case you were curious). If you wait until the little balls form inside of the thin spade, the tops will be tough. You can eat the entire stem including the very top; they come in the markets in curled bunches. Last summer, I marinated the tops in teriyaki and threw them on the grill with a bunch of other vegetables at my Fourth of July picnic. A friend told me yesterday that she can not wait for them to come back in season so that she can do the same thing.



Farmer's Market Notes, or: A Goat is Never Too Old

Here is Rick Hood's asparagus, picture taken by my friend Neil Dundee. Three vendors at the farmer's market had asparagus this week. All of the asparagus looked different. Yeon bought all three so I am sure she will share them with you.

At the farmer's market today, Yeon and I learned from Alice of CapriKorn Farms that her goat's milk cheeses were featured at the opening of the Annapolis Whole Foods. Whole Foods in the Mid-Atlantic is selling her cheeses to their stores. Each Whole Foods store decides which cheeses to buy from which suppliers. Alice said that she had been in a Safeway recently, and they had a cheese like hers imported from the Netherlands at a similar price point to hers, and it made her think that they ought to carry local cheeses. A different large grocery chain has contacted her about selling her cheese and she is very excited.

Alice also told us that her husband put an old buck in with the female goats this winter thinking he was too old to cause trouble, but now 34 out of 36 of her she-goats are pregnant; she is rushing to make room for all of the babies that are coming, because her pens are not big enough.

Yeon and I talked to a lot of vendors to put together ideas for the Farmer's Market Festival, which we are planning for May 30. More details forthcoming.

I got some great stuff at the market today; a sirloin, mocha milk, new garlic, baby spinach, espresso-chocolate cookie, swiss chard, goat-cow cheddar...

Yeon gave me a gorgeous book today about heirloom tomatoes. I read half of it this evening, consuming the information about new-to-me heirloom tomato varieties like an aphid going to town on your vegetable seedlings. There were also some amazing recipes; I can't wait to make the tomato jam with red wine and saba vinegar (to quote the book, "a sweet syrup made from the must of Trebbiano grapes") or the tomato-avocado salad with garlic toasts and chevre cream. Drool.



Friday, May 8, 2009

Gazette Morel Article

I ran into Jeremy Hauck from the Gazette the other day, and he said he was writing an article about morel hunting; here is a link to the article.


Grown in Frederick Wordle

A graphical representation of commonly used words on the Grown In Frederick blog. Enjoy.
Wordle: growninfrederick


Spring Harvest

I am so glad that the rain finally stopped and I got to go out in the garden. The mild temperature coupled with lots of rain made spring plants go crazy. You are looking at one of my starter beds where I sowed seeds in mid March, with the exceptions of garlic plants in the back, and non-flowering daffodils poking here and there. My mesclun, spinach, lettuce, bak choi were ready for snipping. I also noticed that radishes were growing out of control, and I had to pull one row right next to fennel seedlings so that they have some room to breathe.

From the top right to clockwise you see: spinach, bak choi, spring onion, radish (3 different kinds from radish seeds mix), dill and mesclun (which includes red mustard, yum). I brought most of the harvest to Jen and Jayson's and ended up staying there for dinner eating their yummy food. Jen thinly sliced the radishes and served them with goat blue cheese she picked up from South Mountain Creamery. Jayson had the fire going and Dan grilled the spring onion from my garden and purple bunching onions that Jen got from Tomatoes et al. Jen asked Dan to grill the radish tops and we ate those too! With delicious steaks, greens, onions, radishes, cheese and butter from our garden and farmer's market, we had a wonderful dinner. I love it so much when spring is finally here and we can eat all the local fresh food, Jen said. I wholeheartedly agree.



Thursday, May 7, 2009

Random garden thoughts from a seedling hoarder

Today I thinned the carrots and beets. They are way behind the radishes, though I planted them all at the same time. I hate thinning plants. It's the hoarder in me. I hate it that some must die so that others may live. Actually this little tidbit explains a lot about me. I struggle to get rid of stuff because I feel guilt for things that serve no practical purpose. I'm not really a hoarder (am I?) but I will be when I get old if I am not careful.

I wandered into the backyard of some pals this afternoon; my neighbors Richard and Jerica, and their little boy. Their garden is looking lovely. Jerica was making a pea trellis while I was there. Richard and I sat around and talked about our jobs at the County, and watched their boy make mudpies in his garden patch. Or should I say digging patch. Richard was telling me that a lot of the guys he works with try to farm in the evening hours; this is true of a lot of people around here, and I admire people who have that kind of energy. Thinning 8 feet of root vegetables does not count. Sorry, but I am not that cool.

Walking through alleys in the neighborhood, I noticed a lot of really nice garden plots. I am going to take a bunch of pictures here soon so you can see what other people are up to. I also talked to my neighbor Vicky, who was out working on her garden. She went from being a stay-at-home mom to an elementary school teacher this year, and her classroom doesn't have a window. She loves the garden because she gets to have some time outside. We discussed different ways to trellis tomatoes; this is always a good topic of conversation because there are LOTS of ways to trellis tomatoes. We talked about the more conventional methods: tepees, florida weave, cages, etc. She is going with the tepees this year- she and her husband cut some renegade bamboo down and made their tepees out of it. I will probably use the cages that John Switzer and I made (out of fencing). These are heavy duty cages that are totally rusted now but strong enough not to blow over or be pulled over by strong plants with heavy tomatoes. Tell me what method you use to support your tomatoes. Has anyone tried pleaching?

It's time to plant the frost-sensitive stuff. I have a bunch of tomato and pepper plants, some okra, and a big bag of seed packets. I may take over a few spaces in the flower beds for some vegetables. Okra has a hibiscus-like flower until it grows pods. I also figure that if the neighbors haven't complained yet about the Christmas tree that I still have sitting in a corner of the front porch then they won't mind seeing vegetables in my flowerbed.

I know, it's inexcusable. I keep forgetting the tree is there because I come and go through the back yard. I'll get rid of it this weekend. It's just that I feel...sorry for it.



Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cakes for Cause: Week #2 and Counting

Thank you...
To all of you who braved what looked like icky weather but actually turned out pretty nice, we thank you. We completely sold out of product in our first week, raised money to support Heartly House (we'll be sending a check later this week) and had a lot of fun on opening day. Remember, if you absolutely must have something from us, your best bet is to give us a call or shoot us an email a couple of days before the market to make sure we don't sell out by the time you roll out of bed. There's a lot of diehard market folks out there and I promise you, they get to our booth before 11:00 most days because that's when some of our jars start to look a little empty.

This week...
We'll have more chocolate croissants, at least one vegan scone and a couple of vegan cookie options, more toffee cakes, definitely lemon blossom tarts (we called them off last week for rain), we're still working out the kinks in the pretzels, and we'll have a full selection of butter and cream scones. Please feel free to make requests and if we can meet them we will...and who knows? They could be our next "must have" product.

Get involved...
We're trying a new volunteer calendar out for the season. Volunteering at our farmer's market booth is a great way to meet us and figure out what we're all about. Our booth is staffed by volunteers like you and it's a lot of fun in a short period of time. Every volunteer gets a free product and beverage, has time to check out the produce at the market, and meet new people. If you'd like to volunteer with us, hit this link and sign up for a date.

Cakes for Cause is honored to have been nominated for a CALM PeaceCrafters Award this year. This award is given to individuals or organizations in the Frederick Community who strive through their actions, leadership, service and/or work to promote peaceful conflict resolution. CALM's 8th annual award presentation will be held on Monday May 18th at 7:00 pm. Check out their website for ticket information. We'd like to thank the individuals who nominated us this're the best!-)

Building Update...
Well, we're looking at awnings so windows can't be far behind but you know how construction rolls. Our current estimate is that we might be in our retail space in August sometime and we're hopeful. We've been working hard on developing the curriculum, the intake process, and the overall vocational program and while it's hard to really say we're ready...we really think we're ready. Thank you to all of you for your support, your kind words, and your loyalty as we work through this process. We're looking forward to serving you.

Swag Alert!
Wow, these t-shirts are hot! And as usual, we've screened a limited quantity just so you don't look like everyone else walking down the street. We've got baseball shirts with red sleeves, our team number and our newest slogan, "Go North". $20 if it's your first time and $18 if you've purchased any one of our other t-shirts. We'll have them at the market.


The Mystery of Morels from FNP

The Frederick News-Post has put up an article about local morel hunters with a few tips on how and where to find your own. Photo by Skip Lawrence of FNP.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

From the Farmer's Market on May 2

I was so excited for the entire time at the market that I got exhausted and hungry by the time I was done. As soon as I started taking photos at the market, I realized that I didn't charge the battery for my camera. I am glad that Shannon took lots of pictures at the market to share with you. Instead of a market scene, let me post some photos of goodies that I got from the market.

Photo by Dan
Pretty rosette of red lettuce in the blue bowl and the stout asparagus bunch are from Rich (Scenic View Orchards). Thin, long asparagus bunch is from Rick (Summer Creek Farm). Pretty purple spring onions are from Jim (Tomatoes et al.), and the yummy greens in the clear bag are from Rieko and Erland (New Hope Farm).

Photo by Dan
I got two packages of bacon and sage sausage from Danny (Rohrer's meats etc.), rainbow eggs from Nancy and Dave (Chesapeake's Choice), and a bottle of mocha milk from Karen (South Mountain Creamery).

Photo by Dan
Winter savory is from Wendy (Persimmon Pond Plants), and french lavender and lemon verbena are from Mellisa (So Very Special). I also bought a bag of organic premium potting soil and McGeary's organic fertilizer from Rick (Summer Creek Farm).

All right. What did I miss at the market? Beth sold out her brownies very quickly - I urged her to bring more of her baked goods next week. I didn't even see the rhubarb but the rumor has that Rich had rhubarb at his stand for a very brief time. The plants at Thistle Rock Nursery disappeared at the speed of light. Sarah (M & W Nursery) didn't have much either by the time I made it to her booth. Talking about sell-outs, Cakes for Cause sold out pretty much everything except a few crackers. Wow. What a start for the market.

My forecast for the market was pretty good except a few. Jubilee Organic Farm and CapriKorn Farms stands were not there - I hope to see them very soon at the market. BB's bagels and bread was not there either. They tend to skip the market if it is wet outside. I was told that rain/moisture ruins the bagels. Rich didn't have any cold storage apples.

The variety of plants that offered at the market was much greater than I remembered! Do you know how many kinds of herb plants that Nancy and Dave brought? My count is 40. They had 9 different varieties of basil plants. I grew 10 different basils once. If you want to challenge my record, stop by Dave and Nancy's stand. Jim had a wide variety of culinary herb and vegetable plants. I love the fact that he gives you cooking tips on herbs and vegetables. Wendy always has something unusual and attractive. Melissa had 4 or 5 different varieties of lavender. Thistle Rock Nursery and M &W Nursery stands were just gorgeous. This Saturday, I am going shop first, talk later. I love the farmer's market.



Radishes and Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I thinned the radish bed and was surprised to see how big the radish babies had gotten.

Then I noticed that the rhubarb in my garden had produced enough stems to make something.

Then I picked up a delicious bounty from the farmer's market that included fresh asparagus and smoked bacon.

So I called my parents and offered to make dinner for them.
First, the radishes. Because they were so young, they were only a little hot. They were crisp and lovely with a pinch of salt. Dad ate most of them.

Then, the quiche. Mom loves quiche but dad is usually kind of *eh* about it. They both enjoyed it; how can you go wrong with fresh eggs, bacon, asparagus, and Jarlsberg cheese? I used a premade pie crust because it was easy. Making quiche is EASY.

Asparagus, Swiss and Bacon Quiche

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

  • 1 and 1/4 c half and half
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 c shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1 c steamed asparagus (I usually use fresh but I was cooking for my parents and they like things a little more cooked
  • 6 slices of bacon, fried and broken into small pieces. (You don't need salt because of the bacon)
  • premade pie shell
Separate one egg and whisk the white until frothy. Set aside. Whisk yolk, the other eggs, and half-and-half in a separate medium bowl. Put half of cheese in bottom of pie shell, then asparagus, then bacon, then the rest of the cheese. Fold egg white into egg mixture and then pour over quiche. Bake 10 minutes at 400 and then reduce temperature to 350. Bake an additional 35 minutes or so- depends on your pie pan. When your quiche is done, it will puff up in the middle. It will deflate as soon as you take it out of the oven.

The strawberry rhubarb pie was also easy to make. But I am not going to give the recipe because I think I can do better. This time, I mixed strawberries and chopped rhubarb with sugar, cornstarch and salt, let them sit about half an hour, and then turned into a pie shell. I baked the pie with no top crust at 375 for about 50 minutes. But the pie was too juicy because of the strawberries. I have heard of people cooking down half of the strawberries before mixing all of the ingredients; not sure if they drain the syrup or just cook it down, but I am going to figure this one out. I think I should also use tapioca starch instead of cornstarch. But can someone tell me why?

Oh, and my parents loved the pie. They hadn't eaten rhubarb since they visited dad's cousin Porrid in Ireland a few years ago. I don't understand why I didn't grow up eating rhubarb. My mom's from Massachussetts, for crying out loud. It's easy to grow here in Maryland. Seriously, try to grow one in your yard. It likes part sun. It will grow huge and you will curse me, but not really, because you will make rhubarb pies and cobblers and compotes.

When I posted on facebook that I had made a strawberry-rhubarb pie, my friend Chris Hilliard challenged me to a throwdown.

So friends, I need an awesome, prize-winning strawberry rhubarb pie recipe for the throwdown. Got any favorite recipes? Leave a comment!



Tomato Varieties at House in the Woods Sale

I posted about this sale in April BUT now Ilene has all of the tomato varieties listed; for me, reading about tomato varieties is like reading a cooking magazine. It's food porn. Here are some pictures from the presale.

REDS AND PINKS------------------------------------

  • Black Krim--Dark red beefsteak with rich sweet taste from Black Sea of Russia
  • Arkansas Traveler--One hundred year old heirloom from the south, Arkansas to North Carolina. A lovely round tomato, resistant to cracking and disease. A favorite of ours.
  • Brandywine [Shannon's favorite] --Pinkish red, most popular heirloom originated in 1889. One pounders!
  • Cherokee Purple [Shannon's favorite] --Deep red beefsteak with dark shoulders, originated in Tennessee by the Cherokee tribe. Rich flavor.
  • Prudens Purple--Beautiful deep pink-red and rich taste like Brandywine. A mainstay slicer on our farm.
  • Giant Belgium--The name may warn you—this tomato averages 2 pounds but can reach 5 pounds! Great for cooking, canning, or showing off.
UNIQUE COLORS-------------------------------------
  • Persimmon—Rose-orange like a persimmon, big, sweet. Fruit up to 2 pounds! Vigorous and prolific plants.
  • Striped German—A fruity sweet treat! This tomato will show you what heirlooms have to offer—a big sweet tomato with red-yellow stripes with streaked red and yellow juicy flesh.
  • Pineapple [Shannon's favorite] —Just like a Striped German. Pineapple fruity sweet, streaky red-yellow, yummy tomato.
  • Green Zebra [Shannon's favorite] —A magic tomato, green with dark green stripes, skin blushes yellow when ripe. Green salsa or even green sauce! A hit for contrast on a potluck platter.
  • Long Tom—Especially long red paste tomatoes with few seeds and thick walls. Great sauces, good in salads.
  • Speckled Roma [Shannon's favorite] —Paste tomato, Red with a hint of orange and wavy yellow streaks, a beauty!
  • Amish Gold—Paste cross between Amish Paste and the beloved Sungold, a sweet idea. and wavy yellow streaks, a beauty!
  • Black Plum—Russian plum variety, Two-inch elongated plum-shaped dark red fruit. Close to a paste but thinner walls. Sweet and tangy.
  • Matt’s Wild Cherry--Mini red wild cherry tomatoes, prolific. Cute little stems with six bite-size tomatoes on each. Kids love ‘em!
  • Sungold Cherry--Orange, super sweet mini tomato. A rare exception to our heirloom rule in our tomato collection, this hybrid is worth it. Our CSA members eat them all up on the car-ride home.

this weekend at House in the Woods Farm

Friday May 8--10am-5pm
Saturday May 9--10am-5pm

LOCATION--2104 Mt Ephraim Rd, Adamstown, MD 21710. Email for directions, or check mapquest. (Note: we're not really in the town of Adamstown so don't go there!)Stop by during the sale or call for appointment at other times. 301-607-4048.

PRICE--Organic Heirloom Tomato plants are $4. Limited other plants are available, prices vary, including peppers (five varieties!), basil, perennial chamomile, thyme..

BRING WITH YOU--Please bring a box for your plants, and payment in cash or personal check.Come early for best selection! Check out our BLOG-- for some sale photos and an updated list of available plants. I will update the list each evening. There are also photos of tomato varieties on our website at Email me if you would like to be on our seedling customer list to receive earlier emails about our seedling sale and pre-sale dates for next year.

Ilene Freedman


Monday, May 4, 2009

A map of organic farms

Our friend Amy S. emailed me and Shannon and let us know about the map that the New York Times has recently published, and the Ethicurean's post discussing the map. The NY Times took 2007 agriculture census data and created a map showing the distribution of organic farms. It is obvious that the denser clusters of organic farms are found along the west coast, northeast coast and around great lakes area. However we need to remember those areas also have bigger populations. It makes sense if you consider that many organic farms serve local populations with the notable exceptions of big organic farms in California. A small graph next to the map is quite impressive - the sales of organic produce from 1997 to 2007 more than quadrupled.

The NY Times map is static and thus I couldn't zoom in to see the details. I hope USDA will publish an interactive map as they did with 2002 agriculture census data. While I couldn't exactly locate the original data that used to create the map, I found a county level data summarized for the state of Maryland. Here is a link to organic agriculture (pdf) in Maryland. I am very happy to note that Frederick County has the most number of organic farms in Maryland (30 out of 161 organic farms) and the second largest area used for organic production (1636 acres), closely following Kent County (1650 acres) and making up 25% of the statewide total area (6678 acres).

USDA is doing a follow-up survey on organic production. It will be interesting to see "how the growth of organic farming is changing the face of U.S. agriculture."


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Flowers for the market: May 2, 09

Photo by Dan
I am bringing flowers for the Cakes for Cause booth at the West Frederick Farmer's market this year again. I had beautiful spring bulb flowers throughout April, and just in time for the farmer's market opening, all those flowers faded away. What was I to do?
Shannon came on a rescue. She brought me a beautiful flowering branch of pink dogwood, big satiny tulip blossoms, and a stem of huge columbine flower and a stem of bleeding heart. I had some Tiarella and Jacob's ladder blooming. I also added flower/fruit branches of my strawberry and some native clematis vines.
Rick of Summer Creek Farm had two bucket full of lilac branches. I didn't make it to his booth in time to buy some. I also noticed that some of the bearded irises in my neighborhood started to bloom this week. Something to note for the next year.


Tomato plants from House in the Woods

Today, Hilda Staples and I planned to meet up at House in the Woods Farm to buy certified organic tomato plants from my friends Ilene and Phil Freedman. Ilene was having a presale of tomato plants for old customers, and I COULD NOT WAIT to pick mine out. I have bought tomato plants from Ilene for years now; the only exception was last year when I decided to grow them from seed. The first picture is of two of Ilene and Phil's CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) customers browsing the tomato plants.

The next picture is Ilene, holding a perpetual spinach plant. Ilene told me this is actually a kind of chard that does not bolt* in the summer; of course I had to try it (*bolting is when a plant develops its flower parts and neglects its leaves; this can happen very quickly if the weather gets hot. It's not desirable for plants like spinach because not only do you get less leaves, they taste bitter).
This year I wanted to grow tomatoes from seed again; I carefully picked the seeds I wanted from the catalogs and ordered them with Yeon, but I never got my act together to plant them. Luckily, Ilene had everything I wanted, including the Speckled Roma tomato plant that I bought a fruit of from Rick Hood at the Farmer's Market last summer; the most gorgeous and delicious Roma tomato I have ever beheld.

My other favorite tomato varieties are pineapple and green zebra. Most people love the sungold cherry, a prolific, sweet producer of tiny round fruits. Today I also picked up a Valencia, black krim, and a Belgian tomato that promises to have fruits up to five pounds. Ilene told me that at retail prices of $4 per pound tomatoes, one of those tomatoes would go for $20. I don't know if anyone would pay that but maybe they would. But a five pound tomato? How could I resist the temptation to buy a plant and try to grow one?
The hoop house with all of the tomato plants also held lots of other seedlings for the farm. I also picked up five pepper plants, one of each kind that they had. Ilene advised me to grow the jalapeno away from everything else, so it will go in the raised bed with the runaway asparagus fern, strawberry plants, and various herbs.

Ilene and Phil also sell heirloom tomatoes to the Common Market. Ilene said that with their 15%, the Common Market would be selling all local tomatoes this summer. The Common Market is one of the places I would love to interview about their commitment to local produce. I could go on about them but I will save that for a later post.

I was happy when Hilda and John showed up; John hung out in the barn with Phil and a bunch of happy kids. The silhouette is of Phil in the barn with the new hoop house behind him.
Hilda talked shop with Ilene about the various plants she was growing and the pros and cons of the different tomato varieties.
There was plenty to discuss. I was excited to introduce a friend in the restaurant business to a friend in the farm business, and was pleased to see them chatting with each other. I have the soul of a matchmaker.

For more information about the tomato sale at House in the Woods Farm, visit here. I also discovered Ilene's blog this morning and posted it in our blog links, but it is also here. The image of the tomatoes on the table is Ilene's from her Tomato Festival, which she is thinking about doing again this year.