Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 201-209 LocalrootZ Project (July 23, 2010- July 31, 2010)

Uggggh ! So Im not sure what is going on... but the last 30 pictures from this weeks meals are not loading from camera to computer....maybe my ancient 10 year old digital camera has finally tired out.  Regardless this gives me a chance to spend a moment to write a bit about the pleasure of this growing season as well as the LocalrootZ Project as it stands right now and how the future is looking...

Ill start by saying that this has been the best season in my short existence as a gardener.  As most of you may already know, Cassi and I have two food growing projects that include a 10' x 10' plot down on Valley st. as well as a container garden on our rooftop deck in the west end of Portland, Maine.  On the rooftop we are growing about 10 different varieties of tomatoes (ida gold, burbank, black cherry, cherokee purple, san marzano, nepal, rutgers, red german, totem, silver fir) as well as about 8 or so pepper plants (marconi red, mohawk yellow, poblano, cayenne, habenero, amish fish), bright lights chard, broccoli, eggplant as well as a large variety of herbs...sage, basil, cilantro, anise hyssop, peppermint, parsley, etc.  We have munched down the lettuce and salad mix and what was left has bolted due to all these warm summer days, but we plan on reseeding the salad container when we get back from vacation...more on the vacation in a moment... As for the community plot, we have a half dozen sungolds and a half dozen brandywines ripening up nicely on their 6ft + vines.  I have been eating a couple handfuls of sungolds during my frequent early morning waterings that occur at least every other day on my early morning bicycle commute to work.  On a side note this weather has been great for biking however the frequency of flat tires that has plagued me this past week has left me with a blistered foot (after my 8 mile bicycle commute turned into an extended hike home from work) and a pile of tubes that need to be patched up... Back to the garden plot, we also have been harvesting large amounts of marketmore cukes and green zucchini as well as their blossoms.  I recently reseeded the kale bed with 2 varieties of beets as well as a few new rows of carrots for fall harvest.  I plan on replanting some peas in the coming weeks but need to construct a better support as the chain link fence proved to be a bit of a hassle due to the encroachment of the surrounding weeds and debris.  Im also planning on planting a new round of kale in containers with the intention of seeing how long I can keep them going into the winter months utilizing the coldframe that I constructed this past spring... freshharvested kale in January ? Maybe....

Another aspect of the LocalrootZ Project that has been occupying my time and keeping me away from my daily routine of this blog has been my art.  The creative juices have really been flowing as of late and I have stepped up my marketing skills with the hopes of pursuing a self employed lifestyle in the years to come.  I have recently started pedaling my prints at the Saturday farmes market in Deering Oaks Park and am very encouraged by the support and dialogue it has opened with farmers as well as the public in general.  I have had somewhat steady sales and the interest in my work and this project has been very encouraging and inspiring.  For example I worked out a trade with Daniel and Ginger of Freedom Farm, where I am going to make my way up to the farm at some point this summer/fall and paint a piece in which I am receiving a CSA share in return. WICKED!  I also am currently designing some work with the intentions of printing a series of t-shirts, tote bags and stickers and feel the added diversity will increase my sales.  I also have recently expanded my ability to sell work via the internet by setting up an Etsy store.  If your not familar with Etsy it is very similar to ebay, only the goods that are sold are strictly handmade and vintage items, "the world's most vibrant handmade marketplace" I think they describe themselves as...anyway if your at all interested you can check out my store by clicking the "Buy My Art..." tab above or simply follow this link !  Other art related news includes a collaboration with Cultivating Community on a small mural with a dinosaur artist named Danny.  Ill post some pics soon come....

As for the local you may have noticed the summer is proving to be very rewarding with garden delights however the steady flow of out of towner visits from old friends as well as a very hectic schedule has lead to some compromises along the way.  However that being said we are still dedicated to our project and have always kept our pledge to find 100% local sources for all our ingredients.  Our big cheating has come in beverages as well as an occasional luna bread or some Star East Middle Eastern bread that just goes so good with our "Curried Maine Veggies" which keeps getting better as things like fennel and eggplant become available to add to the mix!  I really wanna start baking some different breads myself but am procrastinating more and more and feel this fall will be the right time.  Im gonna need to start making pizza dough because Patriots season is a very guilty pleasure of mine and it is always accompanied by a pizza.  Plus with that being said our kitchen on the third floor of a 1800's house is HOT... I have a hard enough time turning on the burners never mind the oven !  As for this past weeks meals... we had our first stuffed peppers of the season.  Nice big green peppers from New Leaf Farm that I stuffed with a mix of browned and sauteed garlic, onions, poblano peppers, tomatoes, Lalibela Tempeh and some raw Colby I believe. Very yummy... I promise I will have pictures this week, once I get the camera situation figured out.  We have also got into the routine of making mint ice cream that is to die for on a warm night.  My process is simple I add a couple cups of mint/peppermint from the garden with a cup or so of raw milk and blend it for a minute or so in a food processor, from there I usually jar it for a couple hours and let it steep, the just before the ice cream maker gets ging I strain it through a wire mesh to get the plants mush out... add the mint infused milk to a cup of heavy cream, churn and EAT !  One other highlight I am recalling as I type this and dream of last weeks tastes was apples... yup thats right mid July and who got their hands on the first bushels of Organic Vista Bell apples, picked from the orchards of Ricker Hill in Turner.  We did, thanks Vicki for thinking of us !  Looking forward to another season of cider and apple crisp, not to mention my all time favorite breakfast when I arrive at work on my bike is a shiny apple cut into wedges. The snap the tartness the juices....mmmm I think Im gonna go grab one right now !

Thanks for dropping by... I will be updating this daily for the next eleven days.  Then Cassi and I will be going away to the other side of the country for 10 days...making stops in Seattle, Skagway & Juneau Alaska as well as Victoria, British Columbia !  Cant wait to eat SALMON !

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 197-200 LocalrootZ Project (July 19-22, 2010)

And what a week so far... a bit of cheating but only for some special Birthday dinners for Cassi...

Another typical early morning breakfast to start my day...

A wonderful combination of fresh corn from Merriweather Farm (saw it on my spin home from work, going through the monday farmers market) sungolds, chard & zucchini from our garden
and a little raw cheddar to top it off... Yum

 the garden in its second stage... Huge tomatoes... they were overtaking the neighbors plot so I had to lasso them and tie them back into my "space".  Tons of tomatoes to come....
 Carrots and cukes are doing quite well...
I had to pull up most of the onions because the cukes were choking them out !

 Here is todays take... lots of baby onions, as well as some baby carrots because I needed to thin them out a bi...t as well as good batch of chard, cukes and zucchini !
After alot of weeding I made some tasty cherry ice cream with leftover cherries from Old Ocean Farm
the rooftop peppers are doing very well...

 as well as our grilled salad bowl...
 our first cayenne of the season....
another view...
lots of different tomatoes are greening up with fruit
eggplant is coming in too !
We are having an early birthday celebration with Cassi's Mom and her other half Rick.  Here is the ingredients I started with minus the roasting cauliflower and potatoes... our first eggplant and alot of other things from our garden !
 My first homemade rieta... a combination of fennel, cukes some creme fraiche and salt
 we took it outside and they brought some extra fixings to fill out the meal... samosas and naan as well as a bowl of basmati rice !
 It was very very good....

on Wednesday I took Cassi out for dinner @ Caiola's in the west end to celebrate her big day... a day early, because she had to work on her birthday.... I would highly recommend Caiola's to anyone looking for a well balanced, high end dinner with alot of great selections !

We had Polenta fries with red peppers sauce and whipped cheddar
A house salad with cider vinaigrette dressing
A mussel and saffron cream sauce pasta dish
A whole fennel crusted sea bass with broccoli raab on the side
We also indulged in many of their specialty drinks at the bar !

And then her birthday lunch...
Alot of leftovers from the week with a few added surprises for the special day !

Ok back on track... lets try this again what do ya say !  Gotta start taking it one day at a time...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day 192-196 LocalrootZ Project (July 13-18, 2010)

Ok so here I am again behind a bit and trying to come up with excuses... anyhow, Im gonna give myself a break and keep with the compiled posts as the busy summer continues to roll along !

A typical 5 am weekday breakfast... Pesto Homefries w/ Sunny Up Egg

Irie always like to be involved in the cooking process....

Our quick easy hot evening dinner...
Early Summer Stir Fry
(Broccoli, Snow Peas, Zucchini, Maine Shrimp tossed in sunflower oil and seaweed flakes)
A heaping plateful fills me up for a couple hours....
A spinach omelet before my work commute...
baked Lebanese Squash stuffed with Curried Garden Veggies
Always topped with fresh cilantro....
Pan Fried Cusk with side of Broccoli Rapini and the last of our kale...
I love this meal !
Blueberry Raspberry Pancakes
Cucumber and spinach salad with Garlic scape Pesto Dressing
One of our favorites as of late... especially because Ive been harvesting 10 pounds of cukes a week out of our garden !

As I said this week was a very busy one... with it ending as busy as it started.  The good news is I had alot of "firsts" on Saturday.  My first time selling prints at the Deering Oaks Farmers Market, my first meal at Local Sprouts, and it was great !  Also on Saturday evening I had the pleasure of supplying Portlands newest hotspot... Bayside Bowling, with reggae music from 9-1 !  It was a very busy day but very exciting also.  I will be dropping more post soon but first I need to get through another crazy week that will be highlighted by Cassi's birthday !

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 191 LocalrootZ Project (July 12, 2010)

Pesto Potato Homefries
w/ Sunny Up Egg

Snap Peas
Diced Tomato w/ Sea Salt

A Cognizant Dinner
Cold Summer Salad
Baked Cusk Parm
over fresh Spinach

So the cold summer salad was a fresh raw combination of coarsely chopped fennel, gold & marketmore cukes, gold carrots, celery, kholrabi a bit of cider vinegar follow by some shredded asiago.

Another wonderful dinner with Geofferson & Hannah... on the eve before they made the ardous journey back to the land of cheesesteaks and landlocked city stickiness, we got them over for another cognizant dinner.  After learning they were occasional fish eaters I got the go ahead for this trusty dish that always pleases. At least Im 2 for 2 with it thus far... The dish is easy and only requires boiling down a quick tomato sauce...then while waiting simply cornmeal dust and pan fry some fish as the sauce reduces. In this case I chose cusk @ 3.99/# and nobody noticed till I told them 1/2 way through dinner... In this dish the fish serves mainly as a texture and the browner you can get the cornmeal the better chance you have of getting a better texture to your final dish... a little hint for you cooks out there.  Im slowly learning new tricks and techniques but the best advice is if you keep it simple and use top notch ingredients  ehhhem ehhem FARMERS MARKET... you really cant go wrong !  Ok anyhow I digress, it was a wonderful dinner with great company and we will await the return of Geoff & Hannah to Portland in a couple weeks.  But before we let them go we twisted their arm and convinced them to stay for dessert...

Raspberry & BlackBerries
over blueberry cornbread
topped with
Blueberry Ice Cream

DAMN we be spoiled !

Transportation Today
Work Commute : 22 miles bicycle

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day 176-190 LocalrootZ Project (June 26-July 11, 2010)

Oh Boy...what a couple weeks its been.  Sorry I got derailed from my task at hand. I will try not to let the blog slide between the cracks in the final couple months of summer.  I think Im going to lump the last couple weeks in one long post.... are you ready? Ok hear is what Ive been eating and doing while I was away....

A nice farmers market breakfast....
some local grown flowers for Cassi....
Maple Ice Cream w/ Saskatoon Cherry Crisp
Broccoli, Snap Pea, Tofu and Spicy Bean Dip Stir Fry
sooo hot outside and our 3rd floor attic apartment is a scorcher... hence a quick stir fry night after night... So good to have local New Leaf Farm Broccoli and Heiwa Tofu mmmmm !
Maine Shrimp, Green Spark Farm Cauliflower and snap peas soooo good!
and did I mention our good friends Geofferson and Hannah are in town for a bit from Philly.  Geofferson is also the other half of Cognizant Sound.  If you haven't been paying attention, Cognizant Sound is a reggae soundsystem that started in Portland back around 2003...?  Anyway, I always enjoy getting a chance to feed friends and with them staying just blocks away we have plans to eat dinner together frequently while they are still around !  On this night we enjoyed a Garden Plot salad with a  tasty honey garlicscape pesto dressing followed by yet another broccoli, snap pea and tofu stir fry, and  since it was a special occasion I also whipped up some pan fried goat cheese stuffed Zucchini blossoms that I had scooped out of the garden plot that morning ! Yum
 Cheers !

An excellent Indian inspired stir fry that incorporated our curry powder from the cupboard !  The inclusion of curried cauliflower and roasted potatoes as well as some fennel created a complex dish the blew me away... NEED MORE CAULIFLOWER !  Thanks to Green Spark Farm.
then it was off to Pierce Pond for a long weekend at my friend Brian's camp.

 Cassi and I needed a break from the city...
 I was hard to get away from the fire pit and the rocker swing for most of the weekend!
Our fabulous 4th of July Host Brian !
As the sun goes down the fire awakes....
as well as the loons and alcoholic beverages....
a wonderfully relaxing weekend where the camera was always packed away and i was in no rush to do much of anything but chill.... I don't really stop much these days and was glad to have the opportunity to do so.  We also had great company from with Brian having his fiancee Melissa as well as her brother Brian and his buddy Matt.  Good Company and good times.  We ate very locally but did cheat with a few items to make life a little easier...
I also took some time to paint a couple afternoons away while the rest of the crew went on kayak excursion and afternoon siestas.
none of which are done but I wanted to show you that the whole weekend wasn't completely unproductive !
and then we returned to the fine city rejuvenated and off to Geno's to sell some goods.... didn't go so well but Im sure Ill start moving some prints when i finally set up shop at the Deering Oaks Farmers Market !
Another thing waiting for our return was the garden plot... First Snow Pea and Zucchini harvest !
The garden is looking wicked... I also grabbed some young onions because the cukes are choking them out !
Now we had leftover pasta from the camping trip as well as my own homemade tomato sauce made with Olivias Tomatoe's so we decided with the heat and our newly acquired zucchini that we should go ahead and use what we had ... 100% local with the addition of a bag of bio-nature organic rotini... we will make our own pasta again soon but we were not about to make our own pasta in a tent.  Anyway enough explaining it was sooooo good, with the combination of garlic scape pesto and zucchini, some fresh Olivia's cherry tomatoes.
the next night we had the leftovers with the addition of some yellow zucchini from New Leaf Farm as well as some baby swiss chard from our rooftop deck!

July 10th Farmers Market
Blackberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, New Potatoes, Lebanese Squash, Patty Pan, Cauliflower, Eggs, Cherokee Purple Tomatoes, Fava beans, Cabbage, Green Garlic, Carrots, Broccolini Rapini , Golden Cuke, Green Onions and Cherry Tomatoes
Thanks so much to Green Spark, Freedom, Fishbowl, South Paw, Good Start and Ocean House Farm
for all the wonderful produce !

Tomato & Zuke Omelet
w/ Pesto Potatoes
& Aroostook Wheat Toast
Still working on the beer consumption... hot days and many visitors make it very hard !
A bit salty and smug Ive been told....
and what have Merrimac & Irie been up to... well they've been real real busy.
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