Sunday, April 20, 2008

Foraging, 4/19/2008

This week's foraging trek began at the Fairfield Winter Market, greeted by Amber.

We scored:
- Patchouli soap from Goat Boy Soaps. Yes, the Patchouli is back in stock and I got an entire block of it! I'll be squeaky clean for a very long time. We also got some hand and body lotion and Lisa treated us to some of her absolutely divine fudge. The most delightful surprise of the day was their new arrival: a three-day-old baby goat. Here's a shot of Lisa with the Goat Boy's "kid" brother:

- French Country Bread from Wave Hill Bread, Wilton, CT.

- Soft herb cheese (without the herbs), a sheep cheese (much like pecorino romano), and a prepared lamb curry from Sankow's Beaver Brook Farm. Here's Patricia.

- Pork chops and steaks and a smoked ham from Ox Hollow Farm.
- A potted herb garden from Moorefield Herb Farm in Trumbull. Absolutely beautiful, Mary!

Then it was on to Holbrook's in Bethel. This was our first visit of the season. After a happy reunion, we left with greens, snap peas, several varieties of seed potatoes, eating potatoes, and Cat Mint and Astilbe for the garden.

Onward north by northwest to Blue Stone Farm and the Community of the Holy Spirit where we got some seedlings and seeds for our garden. Today we got cabbage, two kinds of brocolli, brussels sprouts, two kinds of kale, and cauliflower. The exciting thing about these seeds is that they are the Sister's own, so they're both organic and acclimated to our zone. Seeings how they're also Goat Boy afficionados, we shared our fudge with them. They agreed it was divine (and I tend to trust the Sisters' opinions when it comes to recognizing divinity).

Special Note: Ferris Acres Creamery in Newtown opens for the season on April 21.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Blight Resistant Chestnut

Back at the turn of the century (the previous one, not the recent one), up to four billion American Chestnut tree were killed in a blight. The linked article is a good read, after which, you might wonder, well how far have we progressed in developing a blight-resistant American Chestnut? According to this article at

Now, Guilford's Conservation Commission, along with the Connecticut Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation, is working to establish a blight-resistant chestnut tree in a 1 1/2-acre orchard in the town's Nut Plains Park.
Their test orchard (last year) worked out and now they're planting in earnest this year!

I have gotten local chestnuts from Cherry Grove Farm in Newtown. These may have been Chinese chestnuts, which are blight-resistant.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Farmer's Pledge

I often see signs at farmer's markets that say something like, We took the Farmer's Pledge. If you're curious about what it is and how it compares to certified organic, check out the Farmer's Pledge (PDF file) .

In a very small nutshell, some farmers take the pledge in addition to being certified organic, looking to drive home the social justice and land stewardship aspects of their farming practices. Other farmers have opted out of the certification process because of the record keeping and cost, the fact that industrial CAFOs can be certified, so the meaning is diluted, and the consumer is deluded and go strictly with the pledge. The bottom line for farmers in either category is that "organic" doesn't go far enough.

Another interesting read: How the Farmer's Pledge began.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Patchouli is in!

Apparently, there was a run on patchouli Goatboy soap and they were out of it a few weeks ago. Goatboy's patchouli is an excellent implementation of this earthy fragrance. Not all patchoulis are good like this. I've been using the Lavender Oat soap in the meanwhile, which I've been calling "methadone for patchouli lovers" and it's pleasant enough, but it's not patchouli.

Lisa Agee, the goat boy's mom, said she'd let me know when it's in. Well, it's in! Patchouli is now available and you can get it at the Goatboy booth at the Fairfield Winter Market.

Lisa, if you're reading this, PLEASE save some for me!

Chewing on Guar Gum

I've been wondering about guar gum for while--is it evil or benign. I thought it might be evil based on the tone of voice Michael Pollan used when he said the words but I got some yogurt at a farmer's market that listed guar gum as one of the ingredients. Here's a recap of the comments from the folks over at The Ethicurian (answering my query under a completely different topic):

Ali said: Re, guar gum - I did some research on it a while back. I don’t think it’s anything to fear. Goopy stuff, made from a seed, nothing to suggest it’s harmful.

Migraineur said: use guar in my own kitchen occasionally. My problem with guar in commercial food products is that it is one of those shortcuts that is used to make up for poor quality. For example, you can whip 42% cream practically with a fork, but lower butterfat cream needs some help. With yogurt, I’d guess it’s because Americans are so conditioned to artificially thickened yogurt that your farmer feels he needs a little help to make the texture a bit more like what his customers expect.

Anna said: In addition to thickening, the added gums help products like yogurt stay emulsified, instead of naturally “weeping” a bit of liquid whey.

So, guar gum is not evil, could even be organic, but is probably not local. Thanks Ethicurian commenters, for helping me sort this out.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Now that's what I'm talking about!

In this article in The Newtown Bee (or simply The Bee), Local Farms Improve The Menu In Newtown Restaurants, Kendra Bobowick reports that at least two Newtown restaurants (Sal e Pepe and The Inn at Newtown) are using local ingredients on their menus. The farms providing these menu items are Cherry Grove Farm and Ferris Acres Creamery.

Interestingly, Connecticut has a Farm to Chef program, but these chefs just did it on their own! They are delighted to offer local food because, among other reasons, the produce is "harvested at the peak of ripeness" and they're able to use items that ordinarily wouldn't ship well. Additionally, Angelo Marini of Sal e Pepe, a neighbor of Cherry Grove Farm, picked out the seeds he wanted them to plant. Try doing that with Archer Daniels Midland!

Now, can we add McLaughlin wine to the menu?