Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Guest Blogger Gig -- Farmers Market "Locals buying from Locals"

October 11, 2011

Peach Pop, Peach Sparkler
Small towns make for small communities. It is October and I am my coffee place in Northampton Coffee place. It is so hot out!

Just saw anti-sugar guy, Craig Fear. What a name! Thin guy, used to be vegan, now not vegan, used to live in Long Island, now lives here. He is a food coach. Parents with overly chubby children come to him for advice. He tells the whole family to stop drinking soda first, then pizza goes, then pasta, then everything that is processed and before you know it, a family of five has lost a collective 100 lbs. Exercise is also involved.

Because in almost all processed food there is corn syrup because everything is a little bit sweet. This is of course not local and nothing gets on the nerves and puts on the pounds like white sugar. Ask anybody, not just Craig blames obesity on this stuff. Sugar isn't hard to stop eating. You just have to kick it to the curb.

But how, locavore, you say, is it possible to do no sugar in New England? Honey is a good source of sugar. It is indigenous, it is as local as the flowers around it, and as a special bonus, honey in the pure or honey comb state can stop you from sneezing.

Due to the fact that the bees in your community are interacting quite intimately with the flowers in your community, the pollen that flies around contains stuff from the local bees that prevents allergies from setting in. The bees and the people are intertwined. Eat the honey of the bee that pollinates the flower. That way the pollen won't be a stranger to your body. You will not be allergic. And you won't be fat. Nothing to fear.

Simple honey is easy to make. Buy local honey that is in a raw a state as possible. That means honey comb or at least honey that is raw in a jar. Follow the recipe below and keep around in a jar and use where sweetness is required. I put it with local peaches, picked over the weekend at Clarkdale, a fourth generation orchard up in Deerfield where the river runs through it.....Ben Clark is the go-to guy and his fruits, apples, peaches, grapes and cherries, can be had for canning, for eating and for infusing all things good and liquid. 

SIMPLE HONEY
1 C Honey
3 C Water
Dissolve honey in hot water and allow to cool. Put into jar and place liquid in fridge. Keep on hand for use where sweetness is needed such as in the following recipes.

PEACH SPARKLER
5 C fresh peach flesh or canned peaches
1/4 C honey water
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Club Soda or Champagne

Bring peaches, rosemary and 1 C water to a slow boil. Add 1 T honey water, as desired.
Set over low heat and bring to just below boiling point. Simmer for 20 minutes, then leave to cool at room temperature for 15 minutes. Remove rosemary and puree the contents of the pan in a blender for about 2 minutes. Strain and keep in a cool place.
To serve, club soda or Champagne into glass. Add a teaspoon of Pureed Peach and serve with sprig of rosemary.

HONEY
Warm Colors Apiary
Bonita & Dan Conlon
2 South Mill River Road South
Deerfield, MA 01373
413.665.4513
http://www.warmcolorsapiary.com/Honey.asp

PEACHES
Clarkdale Fruit Farms
303 Upper Road
Deerfield, MA 01342
413.772.6797
http://www.clarkdalefruitfarms.com/

CRAIG FEAR
Pioneer Valley Nutritional Therapy
Northampton, MA
413.559.7770
http://www.pvnutritionaltherapy.com/ 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Wendell Berry, environmental activist and poet to receive award next week in Cambridge.....

painting by Robert Shetterly, 2003

How To Be a Poet
by Wendell Berry
(to remind myself)


i
Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.

ii
Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

iii
Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Preservation Nation: Peaches

Well, due to time constraints and fruit flies, my man didn't get to help with the peaches. In the end, I processed only six jars worth of and froze the rest. For two reasons: a) processing is a hot, sweaty, labor of love and slime. If you don't jump on it when the peaches are on the counter, right in from the orchard, you get a house full of guests in the shape of small winged insects. b) freezing is fast. My man, although interested in canning, is like most. He is attracted to canning the way people are attracted to arcane old ways such as caning chairs or whittling an apple into a figure of the last supper. Interesting in theory.

We didn't have time for 'processing' five bushels of rotting peaches together but I did and now the two of us will enjoy the bounty of summer and fall in the form of fifty gleaming jars of tomatoes and peaches  lined up on the top of our cabinets in the kitchen. Many of the peaches had to be frozen rather than canned. Canning is more beautiful and takes less space in the freezer but as Tim Wilcox recommended on his blog you really can get away with halving them and throwing them in a zip lock for a deep freeze. To can peaches, meaning skin, core, cut out nasty bits, shove in clean jar and 'process' in a massive canner, take a certain amount of focus and man power. Also peaches are so fragile they wither before your very eyes. In the nation of preservation, time is of the essence. Nature and peaches as well as tomatoes and cukes wait for no one. If you don't act fast, it is humans zero, fruit flies one.

Two years ago I canned maybe 12 jars of tomatoes which lasted me until Christmas. Last year I did 24 which lasted me until February. This year I have 42 which is ten less than on can per week which is about what you need if you figure tomatoes won't be in season again till August and then you have only about eight weeks. Obsessive? Well, see what you have to eat in January when a winter share produces bunches of kale, potatoes, maybe a leek or two and enough cabbage to feed all the Russians in West Springfield. Cost? About $2 per jar not including the jar. Time? I won't lie to you. It takes lots of time. Maybe a couple or four full days?

This year we have captured and put up the following for winter: 10 bags of frozen oven roasted tomatoes, good for making ketchup, 15 bags frozen blueberries, good for any winter repast requiring fruit, pickles in a crock fermenting away, a gallon of cider that will get hard as the fall progresses, good for getting drunk, and, thinking about all this conjures the picture of a housewife on the cover of Life Magazine from around 1962 where she is sitting on her front lawn with all of her possessions strewn around her. That is what it is like putting up food for winter. All of your food is just there, in front of you, lined up and ready for the coming of winter and whatever else nature might have in store this year.

Photo by William Eggleston