Tuesday, 12 November 2013 | 16 comments
i am back from Ghana and, as usual when I return from traveling, have all these ambitious ideas kicking around about essays to write about American food culture and privilege and whatnot (I know, what else is new?). But there is a lot to catch up on, so until and if I actually end up writing these things, I’ll leave you with a couple links from when I was out.
I did another “Small Batch” feature for Food52, this time about all the ways you can make “pumpkin butter” out of any winter squash. This stuff is really good, and just sweet enough that it goes really well with a tangy fresh cheese on crackers, or also just on your morning toast. You can read it here.
Amina Elahi of the blog PAPER/PLATES interviewed me for her “At the Table With…” feature. They’re fun questions if you’re into books and writing as well as food.
Last but not least, a quick shout-out to the lovely Rachel, who is an anthropologist doing her doctorate field work in Ghana. She reached out to me and we met up and walked around crazy Makola Market one day. It meant a lot, and reminded me that if I’m ever in your neck of the woods and you want to get coffee: let’s do it. Real life is way better than the Internet.
Friday, 25 October 2013 | 25 comments
Early this year, we inoculated some logs with shiitake spawn. Around September, we got our first one or two ‘shrooms. But just this week was the first time we had enough coming in to really harvest in earnest. » Click to read more
Monday, 14 October 2013 | 8 comments
Last week, the sunsets beggared description. The daylight always dwindles just as Ben’s workdays become long. They picked, sorted, crushed, and pitched 16 tons of grapes last week, which is a lot for a 5,000-cases-per-year operation, but a pittance for someone more Napa-ish. The difference, of course, is that Ben, the winemaker, and the small crew put their hands on all of it.
I see the sunsets from the car, when I’ll head over and jump in at the sorting table. The Oaxacan crew puts up with me because my Spanish is decent. There’s no shortage of romantic commentary about the wine harvest, but being surrounded by the Mexican crew—whose faces are not usually associated with winemaking—reminds you that it’s real work, long hours of manual labor, on your feet with your hands stuck in chilly, sticky crushed grapes. For me, it’s a change of pace, but they’re going on two weeks with no day off yet.
But still, there’s something about the team effort of harvest–showing up at dawn, staying until late, a round of beers after clean-up—that just feels really good. I guess you’d call it esprit de corps. Ben and I have such very different day jobs that it’s impossible not to compare: this is what’s missing for those of us in an office. An orienting point; the cycle of a year all geared toward the same big push before a quiet winter. I get something similar to this from the garden and from cooking, but it’s not the same.
The creases of Ben’s palms are stained red-violet. I have three plane tickets in my name before the year ends and the holidays are looming. But for now, all I need to do is pick up his hand for a reminder of how grounded we can be in what we reap today.
P.S. Tell me you didn’t read the title of this post and think of this song. It’s been in my head the entire time I’ve been writing it. HELP. 1998, you must have had something good about you, but that song was not it.
Thursday, 29 August 2013 | 58 comments
Age is a funny thing. Women, especially, spend a lot of time benchmarking themselves against age: you’re a failure if you’re 16 and you’ve never been kissed; your “biological clock” has been ticking for awhile by the time you’re 30; and you’re considered pretty damaged goods by the time you turn 50 (or so L’oreal would have me believe). On Monday I had an annual performance review at work. I was presented with anonymous comments solicited from colleagues: “shows depth of understanding beyond her position”, “far-sighted and pragmatic for her age”, “excellent judgment—beyond her years”. It’s meant to be flattering, but I left disconcerted.
People tell me I am an old soul, but if that’s true, I’m not a particularly wise one. Kind of like the next-door neighbor curmudgeon who is a little bitter and has very particular opinions about things that don’t really matter.
Tuesday, 6 August 2013 | 52 comments
Things seem pretty good for seasonal, local food, if you take a look at my dining room table. I don’t have a ton of disposable income, but I chose to spend a lot of it on tomatoes last week. And from the numbers, you might believe this reflects national consensus. Back in 2011, the USDA projected that local food would bring in $7 billion in sales.
A lot of you who read this site would probably consider yourself “locavores”. It’s a group with which I also identify, but uneasily. The movement is one under which people with very different priorities gather, united by a single objective: buy food grown or produced nearby.
Locavorism alternately emphasizes that local food takes fewer fossil fuels to produce and transport, supports the local economy, promotes biodiversity, preserves rurality, mitigates environmental damage, is grown more naturally and seasonally, and is generally healthier. It seems so simple, really. How can buying local agricultural products be panacea for so many of society’s ills?
The short answer is that it cannot.