Saturday, May 28, 2011

Rain and a Rhubarb recipe (and alliteration)

There's a lot of rain happening here. Across the country, in fact. It feels semi-apocalyptic: way more apocalyptic than the recent rapture-that-wasn't. In the past week and a half, I have been caught in three separate downpours, where I am completely drenched in a matter of minutes. Quite weird.

At any rate, I am continuing along, apocalypse or not. The garden is almost all planted- potato plants are doing nicely, tomato plants as well. My onions are being totally strange and aren't seeming to grow at all, which is worrisome. I keep planting carrots, and they don't seem to be seeding to well, but I have some beginning to think about growing.

I have several fun learning experiences to share with you from the past week and a half-

I attended an awesome Cheese Making class -
Our local co-op hosted a Cheese Making class recently, and I couldn't pass it up! It only cost $5 and for $5 more, I was able to purchase all the necessary bacteria/ingredients to make several future cheese endeavors! We made Queso Fresco and it was delish. I haven't yet tried to make a batch at home but I think I might soon- of course those endeavors will be documented for ya'll to see. Check me out on the right! I didn't mean to look highly-skeptical, and in fact, that is actually my "This is so cool" look.

If you're local, check out Preserving Traditions for their class schedule. Great group, very affordable to attend, and fun!

Trip to Greenfield Village!
Today Mike and I, along with some friends, visited Greenfield Village, local historical attraction and part of The Henry Ford family of things like Henry Ford Museum and Henry Ford Imax Theatre etc. etc. It was pretty cool to see- Greenfield Village is basically modeled after a village of sorts, and it contains all sorts of old, awesome buildings, including the homes of Noah Webster (of dictionary fame), Robert Frost, a Circuit Court building where Lincoln presided as judge, the Wright Brothers' house, etc. I am a big fan of old homes and just being able to tour them and look around was entertaining to me. It was also Civil War Memorial weekend, and there were a bunch of tents sent up and folks in re-enactment outfits, marching around and staging fake battles. Cool old houses and marching- doing well on my list of exciting things so far!

One thing I thought was kind of strange is the fact that all of the houses in Greenfield Village have been uprooted and brought to this Utopian society of Greenfield Village. All were clearly labeled on signs in front of the houses, as far as where they came from originally.
But doesn't Dayton, Ohio want the Wright Brothers house?
Because I kind of want Dayton to have the Wright Brothers house.
Robert Frost's house was from Ann Arbor, not too far of a move. The Lincoln county court-house thing was from Illinois or something. While I do realize that moving all of these awesome attractions means that maybe more people can experience them, I bet there are some upset cities out there. There were several cases where the city supposedly couldn't afford to maintain the house, and so Ford swooped in and bought it (this was back in the 20's and 30's.) I can handle that, I suppose. But I like the idea of place- when I can walk from the Wright Brothers Dayton home to a newly-freed black family's Savannah, Georgia home, doesn't that lose some of the character, some of the story of the house? Maybe it's the annoying, local person in me. But I like to appreciate things where they are meant to be appreciated.

They had a cool farm though, so props for that. The re-enactors were chopping up rhubarb to make a pie inside the farm house and one of them mentioned that they had to take advantage of it now because it's only in season for a short time. Of course, this was met by several, "Oh, really" and " When does it grow, exactly?" comments. I felt kind of good to know I have farmers' market fresh rhubarb at my house ready to be appreciateted.

Peach-Rhubarb crumble recipe!
Enough with the politics. Onto a delicious recipe for you canners out there! I have been trying to finish off the harvest that I put up this year, in order to make room for new things this year. I seem to have a lot of peaches left over that I keep forgetting to break out and enjoy. I also got inspired by the folks while at Greenfield, and wanted to make use of the rhubarb I've been paralyzed by for the past several days. I whipped up this Peach-Rhubarb Crumble, and it was a hit! Serve it warm for delicious oozyness, or cooler for a more congealed treat. If that doesn't inspire you to make it now, I don't know what will.

Peach-Rhubarb Crumble
3 pints of canned peaches in simple syrup (or another un-fussy version of canned peaches)
4 stalks of rhubarb
1 stick of butter
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1/2 cup of brown sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Empty the pints of peaches (including syrup from 1 of the jars) into an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish. Chop up rhubarb into pieces sized to your choosing, and add rhubarb into the dish as well.

In a separate bowl, melt butter, then add sugar and flour and mix gently. Once mixed (doesn't not need to be mixed super-thoroughly), sprinkle mixture on top of the fruit in the baking dish.

Pop dish in oven for 40-45 minutes or until crumble topping is crispy & delicious. Enjoy!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

An urban farm update

When I first started growing food for myself and my family, I had some lofty expectations. In some ways, I still do- I think its good to set your sights high! When I envision what I'd like my yard to look like in 3, 5 or even 10 years, and my sustainability goals associated with that, I get so excited! This month I was able to accompish a major goal off of the long term list, which is getting some fruit trees! I LOVE fruit and am out there at local orchards picking apples every season. I was holding back on purchasing fruit trees based on serveral perceived barriers: price and space.

Our new sour cherry tree!

I purchased an Early Richmond Dwarf Cherry and a Dwarf Honeycrisp Apple from Blocks Nursery in Romulus, MI. They had a good selection of fruit trees and I could have easily stayed there for 8 hours and spent a million dollars. I selected an apple tree because I love them, and a cherry tree because most cherry-picking farms I see are Up North so I think it will be nice to have some cherries in our yard! I kept my eyes on the prize and got out of there with the two fruit trees, 3 hostas, a flat of white alyssum, and 3 purple lupines for about $70! The fruit trees were on sale for $20 each which is wayyy more affordable than I thought they would be! Also, I looked up space requirements and decided that I do have enough space for 2-3 dwarf trees on my west side yard. Mike and I hopped out there and planted the trees, spaced about 12-13 ft apart.

The only thing I'm not sure of is pollination. The cherry is self-fruitful, but the apple needs another apple to bear fruit. I have crab-apple trees in my yard, but I'm not sure if those count. If not, I might be buying another dwarf Honeycrisp!

So folks, your dream of a little, urban orchard to call your own could be very possible! Maybe I'll see you at Blocks in the very near future :)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

First planting day of 2011!

and what a day it was! Although clouds threatened overhead all day and there was some rain, I managed to get outside on Thursday and get my potatoes planted, finally! I've been so nervous to plant things because the weather here in lovely MI has been cold, rainy, and cold. and rainy. I don't want to shock all the little guys I spent so long tending to indoors by putting them outside too early!

Things that are growing well:
Tomato cultivars are growing well- they are about 5-6 in tall now and I'm going to pot them up today so they have more space to grow!

Lettuces are finally growing bigger- they seemed off to a slow start but are now seeming healthy

Things that are not doing so well:
Onion starts from seed seem to be hard for me to do. Most of my onions are alive but they seem to be really short. It's possible that I'm killing them with light- they're taller than most other of my plant so sometimes the lights might be too close to them?

I'm off to the Washtenaw Community College Earth Fair today- will be representing for work and looking forward to interacting with other earth-passionate folks!