* Alchemy Farmhouse *


Eating Wild
July 31, 2008, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Alchemy Farmhouse
wild Gardiner blackberries

wild Gardiner blackberries

So, there has been a little hiatus on the action around here as I have spent the past 2 days intensely weeding the garden in preparation for Tomato Time. I figure everything needs to be in tip-top shape in order to even attempt to keep up with the mayhem of preservation and harvest they will bring. And I must say,  it looks fantastic, and is functioning better than ever. But after all my sprucing up this afternoon, I wandered around the rest of the yard to see how the wild blackberries were doing. They are usually smaller and more tart than the berries growing in the garden, but it’s always a nice surprise to get to them before the birds do. So I waded through some serious poison ivy and delved deeper and deeper into the briers to collect just about a quarter-pound of berries. It may not sound like much, but they are beautiful and juicy and make me happy. So, hurrah for wild foods!

Naturalist Steve ‘Wildman’ Brill has a great website on foraging. Check out what he has to say about blackberries–which apparently can be found all over, even in urban parks, and tons of other wild edibles also. But do be careful–I am not encouraging you to eat anything suspicious or questionable. Always do research before eating!



5 lb. squash quiche(s)
July 29, 2008, 9:50 am
Filed under: Alchemy Farmhouse
18 inches of Romanesco monster--it made all 4 quiches and is still leftover in the fridge!

18 inches of Romanesco monster--it made all 4 quiches and is still leftover in the fridge!

Does ‘quiche’ get an ‘s’ on the end when it is plural, or is it like ‘deer’? I think these quiche might need an ‘s’ for seriously squashy, because I made all four of them with the same mammoth Romanesco zucchini! So as promised yesterday, this morning I am talking quiche, which was my all-day project. After picking the giant, I thought I ought to find a new way to get rid of all these things. I love making quiche and usually do pretty often in the colder months, with broccoli. However, I figured what better way to get rid of the squash than by making quiche now, and then just have to reheat in a few months when the hustle-and-bustle of the high school keep me crazy? Perfect. So thanks to Christine, who provided me with her mom’s recipe last year that I have doctored and come to love. And also to Andrea, because her mom’s zucchini quiche was the first I ever liked.  Yay for quiche, one of the strangest ‘Q’ words out there, but a lovely creation in a pie plate!

Christine’s Mom’s Quiche

3 cups chopped veggies (I usually put more depending on how large I cut them–use your judgment to make up for ‘lost space’ the air takes up in the measuring cup. Broccoli & Zukes are my favorites.

half-cup veggie oil (if anyone makes a substitution here, I’d love to know!)

half an onion, chopped (don’t skimp! much of your flavor comes in here!)

1 cup flour

sprinkle baking soda, maybe 2-3 teaspoons

lots of garlic– use fresh chopped or powdered. i think a good powder like Simply Organic lends a more consistent flavor throughout

salt & pepper

parsley

4 eggs

half -cup of cheese (I usually use shredded cheddar)

a good dose of grated Parmesan

Mix all ingredients, put into buttered pie plate and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. It looks wet and ugly going in, but so perfect and golden coming out.

this beauty is now in the freezer waiting for a busy night

this beauty is now in the freezer waiting for a busy night

If anyone tries this out, don’t be shy–let us know! Happy quiching:)



Second-Wave Corn
July 28, 2008, 6:35 pm
Filed under: Alchemy Farmhouse
getting down @ Coney Island- photo L. Hall

getting down @ Coney Island, 2007- photo L. Hall

Corn is pretty much one of the best parts of summer. Between the happiness of its color, the slippery, buttery goodness, and the fun of picking it out of your teeth later (not to mention the thrill of tamales, or for that matter, popcorn), it’s pretty much tops. So, in celebration of that, today I planted another set of corn, this time a quick short-season variety to pick by the end of September. Last night after the rain I went out and weeded a large bed that I had let go after my giant pumpkins never sprouted, and this morning I put in the little canary jewels.

Hopefully they will soon look like our other varieties, who should be ready for roasting any day now. Come on over and shuck some with us…

Stowell's Sweet & Rainbow Inca Corn

Stowell's Sweet & Rainbow Inca Corn

Tomorrow I will be talking quiche, my new favorite way to utilize prolific zucchini, and have a *fantastic* frozen dinner for some time down the road to boot…it’s super easy, and I’ll be sharing the recipe. See you then!



Sunday Farmer’s Market
July 27, 2008, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Alchemy Farmhouse
* * * New Paltz Farmer’s Market * * *
fresh-pulled red onions from Meadow View Farm

fresh-pulled red onions from Meadow View Farm

Another wonderful Sunday in New Paltz which means another exciting trip to the weekly farmer’s market! Another reason to celebrate: August 3-9, 2008 is National Farmers Market Week! Check out the USDA’s web page to to find links about events. I love going to the market each week and look forward to a weekly project or two with all the good stuff I get there. Although we grow so many different crops here @ Alchemy farmhouse, there are far too many exciting offerings at the market to only eat our own foods. Whether it’s an intoxicating lavender bouquet to hang and enjoy all season from Liberty Orchards or gorgeous red onions to braid into a hanging wreath from Meadow View Farm, there is always something fresh and wonderful each week as the growing season progresses. we are also lucky enough here in the Hudson Valley to enjoy several different markets throughout the week. New Paltz holds its market on Sundays, Woodstock holds its weekly farm festival–truly a grand experience-with food vendors and live music each Wednesday night. On Saturdays Kingston opens up its historic stockade district to its market, as well as Taliaferro Farms in New Paltz’s Saturday market. Taliaferro is also open on Thursdays. These links are a great place to start if you are looking for a new market or just to peek at some great community culture. Also check out localharvest.org to find all types of markets, events, and local food eateries in your neck of the woods! Keep shopping local and spread the word on Farmer’s Market Week!

As a side note, anyone with lots of lettuce experience–send a note! I am curious about whether to cut mine from the root or take leaves only. Will it keep producing once it ‘stalks’ ? Here’s AFH’s own Jacqui with tonight’s pull…

the compost queen J with a lettuce prize-- Sunday dinner

the compost queen J with a lettuce prize-- Sunday dinner



Seed Saving Workshop
July 26, 2008, 3:34 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
* * * Hudson Valley Seed Library’s Seed Saving Workshop * * *
Ken Greene of HVSL with a fowl friend at Phillies Bridge Farm, New Paltz

Ken Greene of HVSL with a fowl friend at Phillies Bridge Farm, New Paltz

Today I had the pleasure and good luck to attend a seed saving workshop at the Phillies Bridge Farm in New Paltz, taught by Ken Greene of Hudson Valley Seed Library.  The HVSL is an amazing project rooted in the ideals of locally grown food, and thus, locally-saved seeds.  As with a printed-material library, seeds can be ‘taken out’ , grown for the season and then returned as seeds once again. Seeds can also be purchased. The seeds of locally-grown plants are better-able to adapt to the weather and soil conditions of this area and this also prevents unnecessary carbon usage by shipping ‘foreign’ [not native] plant seedlings, seeds, or  the fertilizers/chemicals needed to sustain plants not suitable to our environment in the Hudson Valley. The project is so much more than that though, and much more than I can sum up in a blog post. So thank you Ken and everyone else at HVSL for doing what you do for our community, and do check out their site and consider becoming a member or attending a fun workshop!

I have perused some books and websites on the topic, and had even tried it myself a few times through trial and error, but I was really ready to get a better grasp on the topic and put it to practical use. Ken is really the go-to guy for this stuff in our area, so I was fortunate to attend today. He taught us that one of the first basic concepts to understand with seed saving is the individual plant’s life cycle, and how to pay attention to the stage it is in and determine when to collect seeds. There were many different pollination techniques discussed, a hands-on investigation to discover male and female plant parts, and demonstrations of seed preservation methods. Overall, the experience was eye-opening to the endless sea of information that exists to this topic. I guess that shouldn’t be much of a surprise to me, considering  all the bits and pieces of massive plant data that have filtered in and out of my life in the past several years as I have read and researched these topics.  If I could only remember them all exactly when I needed them…Now a whole new topic to get geeky about!

checking lemon cucumber plants for male and female flowers--a necessity for seed saving

checking lemon cucumber plants for male and female flowers--a necessity for seed saving

At HVSL, flower and herb seeds are saved, as well as vegetable seeds

At HVSL, flower and herb seeds are saved, as well as vegetable seeds

The other fantastic aspect of today’s workshop was that Carrie Schapker, a certified health counselor with Inner Compass prepared a 30-mile lunch for us! Most of the ingredients were locally grown and organic from within 30 miles of our site. The food was beautiful and tasted outrageously good, as well as being super-nutritious. Carrie does consultations with individuals and groups about nutrition programs and how what you eat affects your whole being. Thanks Carrie!

beautiful local lunch!

beautiful local lunch!

For more information on seed saving, check out Hudson Valley Seed Library

Seed Savers Exchange

Organic Gardening Forum



Hummingbirds & 9 lbs. of squash…
July 25, 2008, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Alchemy Farmhouse
a quick snap of the fast little dude

a quick snap of the fast little dude

So I have always wanted a hummingbird feeder for our yard, ever since my sister had a hummingbird visitor she nicknamed ‘Charley’ at her California home. So I got one a few weeks ago, and was really surprised that they started coming so quickly and abundantly. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t see one, if not 2 or 3. Feeders are easy to find in the store and making the nectar is a cinch. Boil one part sugar to 4 parts water, and store any unused portions in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Also, keep your feeder clean and wash it with hot, NOT SOAPY water each time you refill. Here is a great resource for all types of hummingbird info, including species migration maps, areas they populate, feeder tips and a photo gallery. I also learned here that food coloring is a possible carcinogen for birds, (as well as humans, I guess I already knew), so I apologize, and will not be using it any longer in my mixture. But the picture was exciting, as I finally captured it, so I thought I’d share. Enjoy your own birds!

Black eel zucchini

After all this crazy rain the past few days, the zucchini were out of control–even more so than usual! So I went out & picked this morning and decided to shred it all and freeze it for later use. This is a great way to preserve it without compromising taste or health benefits–no pickling or cooking needed and it tastes great as a fiber addition to spaghetti sauce or cookies! It also gets it off the counter, as these ‘baseball bats’ tend to congregate quickly during July & August. It’s worth the work now for great *local* zucchini in the wintertime!

9 lbs. just from today! I was overzealous at planting time...

9 lbs. just from today! I was overzealous at planting time...



Morning[glory] and jamming till the jam is through…
July 25, 2008, 9:58 am
Filed under: Alchemy Farmhouse
morning sun through Grandpa Ott's morning glories

morning sun through Grandpa Ott's morning glories

Good morning friends! What a great day that’s beginning here-temperatures only in the 60’s and the sky so clear and blue. What a treat to wake up to a cooler day with no humidity! It’s the perfect day for doing some mid-summer planting of short season crops. Today I will weed some fresh areas of the garden and put in some chioggia beets and maybe more corn so we can have a second harvest. Last night I made a corn and bean salsa and kept the husks to make tamales today! My friend Liz & I had the most wonderful tamales from Block Factory Tamales of Germantown, NY @ the Woodstock Farm Festival a few weeks ago. Now it’s my goal to create some of my own. I’ll keep you posted on that, and share some planting pictures later on.

Now, here are finally some jamming pictures (thanks Jacqui!). These are from the cherry preserves I made about 3 weeks ago–so beautiful and red! I will be making a fresh batch of blueberry jam some time in the next week or so and will do a more in-depth instructional then so that you can try to make your own. Until then, whet your taste buds for some mountain jam with these!

Hand-pitting beautiful Bing cherries

Hand-pitting beautiful Bing cherries

everything goes in the pot!

everything goes in the pot!

I always want to stick my face in it, or dye some clothes or something--what a color! (I already know, I'm a wacko)

I always want to stick my face in it, or dye some clothes or something--what a color! (I already know, I'm a wacko)

I still don't understand all the screts, but about 30 minutes later--it worked! Alchemy at its best!

I still don't understand all the screts, but about 30 minutes later--it worked! Alchemy at its best!

And finally, a sad little shout-out to my favorite Alchemy Farm-Dog Utah, who cut his leg the other night and had to have stitches. He is doing fine and running all over like his usual maniac self, but he looks so goofy! Welcome home Mr. U!

space dog ready for take-off

space dog ready for take-off