Thursday, June 28, 2007

Accidentally local

It's week 1 of Liz's One Local Summer event, and I have been very, very distracted. More to the point, I've spent most of my waking hours doing two things: (1) picking wild blackberries, and (2) processing birds and putting them into the freezer. It was only last night, when I sat down to a plate of tandoori chicken with Indian-spiced vegetables, that it occurred to me: Hey, this is a completely local meal. A really, really local meal. These chickens and vegetables, they are ours.

So here's my Week 1 effort. A wrap-up of all the southern U.S. participants (for indeed, I am the regional OLS wrangler!) will follow on Monday morning. Those of you who are participating, make sure to blog or e-mail or Flickr-post by midday Sunday.


TANDOORI CHICKEN: our own, with a marinade that included our own garlic

INDIAN-SPICED VEGETABLES: our own green beans, onions, and garlic; half the potatoes were ours and half were from a grower in Athens (35 miles away)


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Open letters

Dear Snake,

Please stop hanging out in the henhouse. You are making the hens uncomfortable, and a couple of times you have nearly given me a coronary. I am forever shooing you out of the coop with a shovel. One of these days, I'm going to decide you've had enough warnings.



Dear Tommy Irvin and Zippy Duvall,

Surely, as Ag Commissioner and Farm Bureau President (respectively), you have better things to do than to hold a formal government-sanctioned religious service at which you pray for rain. I know we're all a little desperate, but let's leave that to the ministers, shall we?



Dear Visitors,

Our house is spotless. Gorgeously spotless. The reason we won't let you in has nothing to do with a housekeeping disaster of monstrous proportions. There's a perfectly good explanation, really, which is... um... let us get back to you on that.

Not Hiding Anything


Dear Noncompliant Goose,

Lately I have been having a terrible time convincing you to go indoors for the night. All the other geese line up contentedly and wait their turn to go in the door. You, however, always decide to make a run for it at the last moment. Last night you sprinted away from me and got caught in the electric fence. I actually saw sparks fly off you. I am pretty sure our neighbors think I am torturing an opera singer over here.

It is no wonder that tonight you lined up with the other geese. I hope and trust that this improved behavior will continue.

The Management

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

One Local Summer 2007

Starting this Sunday, Liz is running her One Local Summer event again. I participated last year and really enjoyed it; it's low-key, because it's only one dinner per week, but it's still educational and creates a fun sense of community among the participants. It's so cool to see what everyone comes up with.

This year she's had such an enthusiastic response (more than 100 people!) that she's had to close further registration. Any more people, and there'd just be too much to handle. As it is, she has delegated some of the clerical work to several regional wranglers (I'm in charge of the southern U.S.). The good news is, you can still follow along if you haven't signed up--we just won't be able to include you in the weekly wrap-ups, and you won't be eligible for the incentives.

If you are a participant, hi! and welcome! Liz gives some great advice on her OLS Questions and Answers page, but if you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me. I'll be watching your blog (or waiting for your e-mail) every week, then including you in a weekly summary (either posted here, or on a subpage of Pocket Farm, we're not sure which yet).

I will be sourcing my OLS meals from Georgia only--and where possible, from a 100-mile radius. In the past I would have said it'd be incredibly difficult, but the more you eat locally, the more sources you find. It's funny how it works.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

What's goin' on

• After years of making do with a percolator, we bought a new drip coffeemaker. It is programmable, so it can make coffee all by itself and have it waiting for me when I get up in the morning. Needless to say, this represents a huge jump in Quality of Life.

• The s.o. completed an outdoor chickenwire-and-netting aviary for Chicken House #2--a porch-covered vestibule area that will later lead to a number of separate pens--and today the young chickens and turkeys ventured into the great outdoors for the first time. Bravery is definitely breed-specific: Barred Rocks were the first out the door, followed by Red Star boys (remember them--the padding in the shipment? they are nice guys and we will be rather sorry to eat them, but there's nothing that can be done, because we all know the problems associated with Too Many Roosters), then Speckled Sussexes. Cornish boys were curious, but very flighty and scaredy. Ameraucanas were so docile that they would stay outside if placed there, but they took no initiative. Brahmas, Langshans, and Mille Fleur banties wanted nothing to do with the strangeness, and only ventured out after everyone else had been happily pecking grass for quite a while.

• We are harvesting the first Sungold tomatoes. There is a small Lemon cucumber on the vine, and green beans are starting to roll in in quantity.

• My back is getting better.

• My chores--the ones I can do with a delicate back, at least--have recently been made more interesting by heavy use of podcastable language lessons. I'm taking three languages at once, something my mom did one semester in college. "It won't screw you up," she reassured me. Which is a good thing, because I am enjoying all three. The Mandarin is the best by far, and I have actually plunked down money for a basic yearly subscription so I can download the pdfs. That same company also offers Spanish, but I wasn't crazy about the hosts, so I went with this one instead. It's clear and sensible, and kind of quirkily fun because it's taught by Scots. (I hope I'm not picking up an odd accent.) Lastly, I'm doing French. I already read it pretty well, but I speak it quite badly, so I'm using this for review and reinforcement. I recommend podcast language lessons to anyone; they're great for keeping your mind busy when your body has to do the dishes.

• We have bees again, magically. A while ago our hive swarmed, and half the bees absconded to the top of a 60-foot pine tree, from which we were unable to recover them. We watched the remaining bees closely and were horrified that no brood appeared--they seemed to have been unsuccessful in raising a new queen. The colony began, predictably, to die out. And then...inexplicably...there was a healthy hive again, full of young fuzzy bees that are now busily pollinating the garden. We are extremely puzzled, but have decided not to look a gift bee in the proboscis.

• Lately I am all about this recipe, made with shrimp instead of avocado. I love avocado, but trust me when I say shrimp rocks all over it in this particular instance. I suppose one could use both. Hmm.

Friday, June 15, 2007

This is pretty much how I see it, too

Food for thought. Even our leaders should be able to conceive of the climate change problem in Clint Eastwood terms, no?

Could you move over? I gotta rest.

A couple of days ago I must have slept wrong, because I woke up with my back, as they say, "out." Ever since then the s.o. has had to do a lot of my chores, which is especially unfair considering that he did all my chores while I was away in St. Louis. Poor guy!

I think I did something to one of my lumbar muscles. Probably it started with luggage-carrying. I almost rue the $70 worth of spices I brought home from Penzey's in my carry-on! Almost.

My initial thought was to go for the Midol. You know, muscle relaxant. But then when I looked at the packaging, there was nothing but a pain reliever, a diuretic, and some caffeine. So I went to Target and looked through every single box of, er, female-troubles medication. No muscle relaxant. What the...? Obviously I can't be misremembering this; if there had never been a muscle relaxant in Midol, that wedding scene in Sixteen Candles would never have been written.

Has anyone noticed that they're taking all the medication out of our over-the-counter medication? I understand the pseudoephedrine thing--even if I don't like it--but why have they defanged Midol?

Disappointed, and ever-so-slightly crippled from pain, I ended up trying Aleve for the first time. I actually like it pretty well. Millions of older Americans with arthritis can't be wrong, it turns out.

Every day my back is getting a little better. Which is a good thing, because the garden really needs to be weeded now that we have started getting a little rain.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I'm back

I had a great time, but it's taking me longer to recover from the late nights than it has in the past.

I came back to find a zucchini in the garden as big as a cantaloupe. We ate half of it, and the other half went into a doggie dinner.

There's fresh basil, and the first of the wild blackberries are ready!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I think this means summer's here

That's about a 14-inch colander, by the way, if it helps you get the scale. The Tondo Chiaro di Nizza zucchini got rather large overnight!

Tonight I'll cook one of my favorite recipes: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's pasta with creamy zucchini sauce. For those who don't own the River Cottage Cookbook, all you do is slice a couple of pounds of zucchini very thinly and cook them quite slowly with a couple of good glugs of olive oil and some minced garlic, without browning, until it all completely breaks down. This removes the wateriness from the squash and turns it into a sauce. Then you season it, add a few tablespoons of cream, and grate in some Parmesan cheese. Serve it over any kind of pasta you like.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Flying the, er, friendly skies

From Thursday to Sunday of this week, I'm traveling to St. Louis to attend a music festival that, over the course of a decade or so, has become quite dear to my heart. I'll see a lot of my best friends from far-flung locales. And in a gorgeous harmonic convergence, some of my other best friends from Athens are attending this year for the first time. Can you feel the love?

Instead of driving, which would be excruciatingly expensive at current gas prices, I'm flying. That means putting a lid on my usual Stevie Nicks-like luggage tendencies (i.e., lots of costume changes) and, even worse, coping with draconian air travel regulations. So I've been scouring the drugstores, looking for travel-sized containers for my toiletries.

I find it interesting that, while the regs specify that your shampoo, etc., must not be in a container larger than 3 ounces, the vast majority of travel bottles on the market are... wait for it... 4 ounces.

Who did this?! They deserve to be bitchslapped.

Well, never mind. I still feel the love.


Briefly noted:

My mother took me at my word when I said that everyone ought to have geese. In my honor, she purchased a Flock of Hope from Heifer International. Someone out there will have birds of their very own--and a leg up in this uncertain world--because of her generosity.

Heifer is one of my very favorite charities. I'd love it if this post inspired a few of my readers to give the gift of sustainability. Give a goat! Choose a chicken! Transfer a tree!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A long time coming

The Cleveland Cavaliers have finally won the Eastern Conference--and against the loathsome Detroit Pistons, to boot.

I'm not a sports maniac, but I think it's fair to say that I've waited for this day my whole life. The Cavs were born in northeastern Ohio the same year I was, and this is the first time they've managed to win the East. This victory is all the sweeter for the fact that star LeBron James is a local hero, a high school prodigy from Akron.

Anyone with really good sense would avoid Ohio pro sports altogether, because it's been a story of injury, disappointment, last-minute choking, bad coaching, stupid trades, generally lackluster play, etc., from time immemorial. But I have a soft spot for my hometown basketball team because my ex-stepmother worked in the Cavs' marketing department in the late 1980s and early 1990s. As a result, we had really great seats at the old Richfield Coliseum--right behind the players' wives--during a time when the Cavaliers actually showed promise and might have even won something if it hadn't been for a fellow named Michael Jordan on an opposing team. It's enough to make anyone enjoy sports. To this day, we have a Cavs ornament on our Christmas tree every year.

The Cavaliers are up against the San Antonio Spurs in the finals, a team that the s.o. finds as repellent as I do the Pistons. So you can bet we'll be glued to the TV.

In other sports news, I trust you've all seen this video? I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard. Amazing.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


Goose #1: Say, this is extraordinary. It appears that water is actually falling out of the sky!

Goose #2: I know! This has never happened before in our entire lives!

Goose #1: HONK!

Goose #2: HONK, indeed!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Rain, please!

They're saying we may get some rain in the next several days. If we do, it'll be the first real rain in weeks--maybe months, I've lost count. We're experiencing a major, historic drought.

On Wednesday I was talking with my friend L, and she told me that an acquaintance who lives down the road from us was forced to send his cattle to slaughter because he couldn't afford to feed them anymore. Pastures are brown and crackly, and the price of hay has gotten up to $70 per large round bale. As we stood in the park talking, we saw a cattle trailer turn the corner, as if on cue, bearing another farmer's cattle toward the sale barn.

Yesterday we had one of our smoky days. It was a full moon, and the moon shone eerily orange through the haze.

I heard from a fellow vegetable vendor that he has nothing to sell because of the dryness. We have that problem to some extent, too: You can water all you want (or all you can afford), but all it seems to do is keep the plants alive. They don't really grow the way they ought to.

WE NEED WATER! Please cross your fingers.