Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Factory Farms Map

Working on a new post. In the mean time, here in an interesting map that shows the density of CAFOs by county that I found on Civil Eats:

An interactive version is available here

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sweet Fall Salad

Hello! I know it's been a while. My access to the internet (and to upload things) was pretty limited at Myrtle Glen Farm, which is a shame, since I was having such an interesting and busy time there! My stay there came to an end a few weeks ago, and since then I have been chilling in Portland with my friend Galen. I thought I would share a particularly tasty salad I made today.

Sweet Fall Salad (all from oregon!)

Red Leaf Lettuce
Spinach (from Myrtle Glen)
Fennel Stalk and Greens
Asian Pear (from Galen's yard)

Stone ground mustard
Lemon Juice
Olive Oil

I'm not usually a big fan of Asian Pears (a lot of hype for something neither as sweet as a pear nor as crisp as an apple), but we had an excess of them on the tree here and so I've been trying to find ways to incorporate them into my foods. My favorite so far has been to chop them up and put them in salads! Their mild flavor goes well with a honey dressing; I think they resemble jicama, but I've been known to be crazy.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


FIRST of all, hi - I haven't forgotten about Peas and Petals, this summer has just been absolutely insane. I have been working for Transportation Alternatives (more on that later), traveling to Wisconsin and Chicago for a month, roller skating (not blading) every day since July (more on that later, too), and I'm finally back for a whole new school year that has already started to be 10x better than last year. I have an easier time in classes (which is funny because the course material is actually harder...), I have my dream internship/field placement (seriously. what I always wished for!), and I am eating every day up in this lovely city by just being out, about, with friends, involved. Including this weekend, which was awesome. And then, today as a close friend and I decided to get brunch on our slow-moving Sunday morning, I realized upon my first bite of my dish that I have officially found my favorite restaurant in Brooklyn.

Yes, the entire borough.
...Eat is the restaurant I wish I was always eating at.

Eat uses local, organic, directly purchased produce (NE region) in all of their food. All of the dishes are seasonal, the restaurant itself is VERY sustainable (i.e. almost no waste - the napkins are all cloth, portions filling but not overkill, etc.), and they even sell hand-made goods like beeswax candles, wood cutting boards, and house-made loaves of bread. Their menu changes very, very often and is filled with amazing dishes at EXTREMELY affordable prices.

I am obsessed with this place and I want to take every single person I know to it! Here is some eye-candy of Eat to hopefully portray the cozy, comfy, delicious, warm, and aromatic feel to this place. It is SO lovely.

cute silver ware/napkins/ceramics holding our water, jam, and tea

broccoli fennel soup with collard greens(?)

whole wheat house made egg noodles with summer vegetables and swiss chard

Eat's interior - we were one of the first people after they opened today. Note the peppers drying out in there!

concord grape sage (cold) tea, salt, and water.

whole wheat blueberry tart with rhubarb jam (not pictured)
(more photos here!)

I really hope Eat is around for years and years and years (okay, forever) to come. This place rules, it is basically the restaurant I wish I opened (if I ever opened a restaurant), and everyone needs to experience what simplicity can taste like. I'll just tell you - it tastes like perfection.

I hope you all are having a nice last few (official) days of summer...get out there while you can, but get ready for fall. Cider and apples and pumpkins and pies await!!!


Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Wow, no way has it been a month already since I posted! Time flies, especially when you're busy. Farm work is definitely an all-day affair. Since Myrtle Glen is a homestead, rather than a production-based operation, there's a lot of other responsibilities that come along with living here: cooking, cleaning, timing the use of the solar and cob ovens just right during the day, taking care of the animals, and of course, putting food up! Taking the excesses of summer and turning them into the staples of winter is a time-consuming and important task. We've been mainly using four methods.

Cool Storage
Some vegetables keep better than others, but need to be provided with the right environment. Winter squash, potatoes, onions, and apples are being tucked away into the newly finished tile-art cave. A stable temperature and dark, dry conditions prevent molding on these vegetables, which if harvested in the fall, will keep well into the winter.

Perhaps the most versatile and fool-proof way of putting things up is to blanch and freeze. Blanching involves dipping the veggies into frozen water for about 1 minute, and then cooling them quickly in cold water before freezing. This halts all the enzymes in the vegetables and prevents them from breaking down, preserving nutrients and color. The disadvantage of freezing of course lies in limited space, and energy needed to keep the freezer running all the time.

I canned my first pickles last night! Canning is a great way to put food up, since they can sit on pretty much any shelf and just wait until you're ready to use them. Pickles are also a safe choice, since the brine can usually prevent bacterial growth even in the absence of a sterile environment. Here we have to use the wood stove to heat up the large canning pots, so we have to do it in either the early morning or late evening to prevent giving ourselves heat stroke in the middle of a summer day. What I like about canning is how once you have all the supplies, they can mostly just be re-used over from year to year. The exception to this is the lids, which must be new to create a solid seal. I'd be interested in finding a way around this somehow...

Dehydrating is another easy way to store things in the pantry. The catch being that you need a dehydrator, which uses electricity. But when you don't have time to can things like beans and carrots after a particularly big harvest, drying is a great alternative to freezing, since it takes up less space and can be reconstituted into soups and such during the cold months.

Of course, certain foods do best with certain methods of preservation. Like diversified farming, using a variety of storage methods also covers your ass if something goes awry with one of them (such as the freezer being left open, tsk tsk!).

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Edible Flowers

Myrtle Glen, in addition to being a farm, also has some very well maintained flower gardens all around the house. Dave, the owner, is a believer in functional beauty, as I learned that the majority of them are either edible or medicinal. One of my favorite is elephant garlic, which grows a beautiful big purple flower head with a silly little clove-shaped paper hat on top.

Do to a bumper crop of lettuce, we eat salad with pretty much every meal. However, I've discovered that a few flower additions can make your lunch look (and taste!) much more exciting.

We made this salad with Begonias (which have a very tart, citrusy flavor), day lilies (which are mild and sweet), and a bunch of fresh-picked strawberries. To put it lightly, it was mind-blowingly delicious. Salads like these hardly even need dressing.

We also picked a few California Poppy plants to make a tincture with, which basically involves steeping the cut up whole plant in everclear for about a month or so. California poppy is a calming medicine, and can also be dried and made into tea. It's been an educational experience to learn all of the different uses for what I would otherwise just have passed up as pretty flowers and not much more. As it turns out, pretty much every plant (and most weeds) have some very cool purposes, and I intend to keep learning them as I go.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Eating in the abscence of animal products

The other day, I received a comment from one of the other people living here at Myrtle Glen that made me stop and think. I had made dinner that night, just a smattering of beans, salsa, and veggies thrown together in something resembling enchiladas. This person is a man attached to the grill. Several times a week, it gets fired up and off it comes chicken, pork, whatever. He makes potato salad with mayo. He doesn't handle spicy things very well.

What he said to me was that he was usually skeptical of vegan/vegetarian food, and that it wasn't very good. But that after a few weeks of my cooking, he had changed his opinion, as he enjoyed every dish that I've made (even some of the spicy ones!). This, to me, was a great compliment, and points to exactly what I want to show people though vegan cooking. It's about making seemingly benign things like legumes and grains into colorful, flavorful, and satisfying dishes and of themselves. Specifically, by not trying to substitute in animal-based dishes, but making things that don't include animal products in the first place. Mixing spices and herbs and using tons of vegetables and experimenting with what's available at any given time rather than sticking only to what you already know.

Of course, this applies to cooking with animal products too (especially in a farm setting where it's more sustainable to use the dairy and eggs you have than buying silly things like vegan cheese). But the fact that I was able to help open someone's mind and show that you don't need a meat main dish for it to be a real meal made my day a little brighter.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Myrtle Glen Farm

Hey, everyone! I promised adventures and I intend to make good on that. I have recently embarked on a journey across the country, as I have decided to move to Oregon. I am working on Myrtle Glen Farm for the summer! I've just finished up my first week here, and it's been quite an experience. Unfortunately I don't have a whole ton of pictures, but I will share what I do have, and I promise to update weekly!

This is the geodesic dome/yurt that I am living in. It's nestled under a couple of large pines and is a great living space. It's been a little chilly at night here, but I came prepared with sleeping bags and blankets, so it's been comfy.

There are banana slugs everywhere.

This is the wall of the cellar. Pretty neat, right? The first work I was given was grouting this tile, which is something I really enjoyed. I like being given the opportunity to learn new and useful things, which is something that arises often on a small homestead like this one.

And of course the food has been great. During the work week, we eat every meal communally. The amount of things that are preserved and canned is quite amazing. Oregon has had quite an odd spring (aka very cold and wet), which has slowed down a lot of the crops that would be coming on right now. Consequently, we're still eating up last year's preserves instead of fresh blackberries. But within the next couple of weeks things will really start to boom, as it has finally kicked into the hot season.

On the fourth of July, we drove out to the coast to Bandon Beach and hunt out there pretty much all day. Aaron loves to rock climb and took full advantage of the rocky coastline.

Marissa enjoyed the sun and the sand.

I nearly stepped in a jellyfish. That would have been very painful.

There's a lot of natural beauty in this area, and there will be more to see in the next two months. In the mean time, I'll ty to document more of the farm while I'm working dawn 'till dusk.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Kraus Family Farm

Hey all,

I know it's been a while! But, with the arrival of summer and the END of college (for me), I find myself with open time for posting that I had only dreamed of for the past 9 months.

About a month ago a couple of friends and I went down to Decorah, IA to visit the farm of our dear compatriot John Kraus, where he is currently working for his family. They own a small organic operation with sheep, chickens, vegetables, berries, and a rich supply of wild morel mushrooms. Here's a couple photos I remembered to snag:

An old bus frame has been converted into a chicken trailer.

John showing us the inside of said chicken bus.

Anne and the cat!

I had my first taste of sorrel here (a spinach-like green with a wonderful acidic bite), and wow, was I missing out. It was a beautiful place and a fun trip. I'm going to miss all of my Carleton farm friends quite a bit as real life rolls in, but I also have some secret fun adventures planned that I will most definitely share with you all in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Eating Animals

I have been vegetarian for 6 years now (and eating vegan for about 6 months), and have always been extremely interested in sustainability, agriculture, and the processes/policies/politics that surround these topics. However...I am usually extremely apprehensive to read large works on the topic of meat and eating it, because almost always the book is backboned by some kind of agenda. While I don't think this is a bad thing at all (writing does need a "point" and if your "point" is to convince someone of something, by all means do it), it usually turns me off to finishing the author's book. In most books that try to convince the reader to become/why not to become a vegetarian, or even in books about sustainable eating/living, there's some kind of "attitude" in which the reader feels belittled (see: my experience in reading The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Polan). However...I saw a book by one of my favorite authors, on one of my favorite topics, and I just had to snatch it up.

I started reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer about three weeks ago when I purchased it in hardcover from a local bookstore (Word in Greenpoint, Brooklyn). I absolutely love Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer - it's easily one of my favorite books I've ever read - but I couldn't really picture him writing a non-fiction book about...well, animals, and eating them. Now, however, I want to give every single person I know a copy of this book.

Jonathan Safran Foer has again summed up everything I wanted to say about being a vegetarian into much more eloquent words, and taught me many new things in the process. There is humor, honesty, opinions on both sides of the fence, hard facts, experience, narratives, and love - of food, of family, of nature - all rolled up into this glorious work of absolute beauty. He leaves it up to the reader to make their own choices, because the purpose of this book is not to convince, but merely to share and educate in an extremely accessible and sensible manner. The book just flows; it reads more like a novel than a research topic, but yet it is chock full of gems of knowledge and questions for the reader to consider and mull around. Even the most versed foodie will feel touched by this book upon turning the last page.

I love this book...and I promise it's not because of the snazzy tubor-esque cover ;-) If you can pick up a copy (I recommend hardcover, because I always do), definitely DEFINITELY get your hands on it and nose in it - carnivores and vegans alike.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010



So, I definitely fell off the face of the earth after summer. My apologies to anyone following us and hoping for updates -- though Leanne's been awesome about keeping it up. I've been back in Minnesota, studying my little brains out as I prepare my senior thesis and prepare to graduate. Things at the Farm House have been delightful this year, and you can check out the haps at its very own blog if you're into that. Winter has been great this year -- only about 2 weeks of -20 degree weather and snow on the ground the whole time! I'm participating in a Ski race across the bay of lake superior to Ashland, WI next weekend and I'll try to get some info on Northland College for y'all.

I basically just wanted to say that I'm not dead, and I have lots of recipes/articles/good things to write about soon. In the meantime, college is college, and I'm enjoying the last throes of it while it lasts.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Vegetable Fussili with fried Sage, Walnuts and Sea Salt

Fussili with Fried Sage, Walnuts, and Sea Salt

This is literally the easiest and tastiest thing ever. LITERALLY.

What you need:
-pasta of choice (this looks the prettiest with different colored noodles, and usually noodles that are funny shaped. Or anything that's not spaghetti.)
-chopped/torn sage
-crushed walnuts
-olive oil
-sea salt

1. Bring your water to a boil, blah blah blah, you know how to make pasta.
2. When pasta is about 4 minutes from being done, tear up all of your sage leaves. You don't have to use a knife if you don't want, but sometimes it makes it easier since the leaves aren't huge.
3. Put about 2-3 Tbsp of olive oil in a non-stick pan and turn the heat on medium. After a minute or two (depending on how hot your stove is) check how ready the oil is for frying by putting in one sage leaf. It should crackle and fry the crap out of it. If not, wait a little longer.
4. When oil is ready, throw all the sage leaves into the oil. As with frying anything, hot oil is dangerous, so watch out. Pretend you're deep-frying bacon and keep the well-being of your skin in mind...and watch the heat.
5. When the leaves are dark and fried, turn the heat down to low and put in all of your crushed up walnuts. Stir the sage and walnuts around in the oil until the walnuts are as warm/cooked as you want them...then cover and turn off the heat.
6. Drain pasta.
7. Take the pan with the fried ingredients and pour the left-over frying oil onto the pasta (as much or little as you'd like - but it's now sage-flavored oil!) and stir to prevent sticking and to maintain amazingness.
8. Plate a bowl of pasta for yourself...then top it with the sage & walnuts! I always add a little coarse / kosher sea salt on top for texture and an added kick.
9. Enjoy it, because you've just learned how to make one of my favorite under-10-minute recipes.