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.