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What's in your own backyard?
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Sarape



Joined: 15 Dec 2004
Posts: 583
Location: Anniston Alabama USA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 11:34 pm    Post subject: Re: What's in your own backyard? Reply with quote

wasabi wrote:
I
sweet corn, barely steamed and eaten in what i've come to know as the midwestern style -- a thick slab of good white loaf bread (potato bread is fantastic, too) slathered with sweet butter and a small dish of coarse sea salt. take the hot ear and roll it across the bread to get it nicely buttered and sprinkle some salt and devour in one go while it's still hot. the bread is just as delicious devoured afterward with more salt and a slice of cherokee purple tomato Smile


Interesting. Never thought to combine sweet corn with buttered bread (or any bread, for that matter). I like the idea and will give it a try this summer.
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2005 1:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sarape wrote:
Actually, "Sarape" is a boy -- me. Guess we have that cleared up.


Oops! Embarassed Apologies!
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2005 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

These days I seem to have snow growing in my backyard, two feet to be exact.

We inherited a peach tree upon moving in, that produces the most discusting tiny little peaches you can imagine. The old residents used to spray, but according to our neighbor it never worked. Now we spend most of the summer and fall raking them and wrestling them away from our dog.
I have found the produce here somewhat lacking. Although there are two farm stands that do well in both quality and price. As far as veggies the island is noted for Seinfeld claims the "Hampton tomatoes" are the best. I wouldn't know, I grow my own and they rock.
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2005 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We used to have a fairly extensive veggie patch for many years. But alas between Idaho potato beetles, a nasty corn fungus (aka smut) and an ice storm that brought all the trees around the garden down into it we gave up "big" gardening. Besides I work 6 days a week and now summer Sundays are devoted to badly played golf. BUT I insist on having a large patch tomatoes so from late August until frost time I can go out and have fresh tomatoes 2 or 3 times a day!

Hey Sarape, welcome to the small but vibrant male subset here!
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wasabi



Joined: 29 Nov 2004
Posts: 32
Location: Salt Lake City, UT

PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 12:32 am    Post subject: Re: What's in your own backyard? Reply with quote

Sarape wrote:
Interesting. Never thought to combine sweet corn with buttered bread (or any bread, for that matter). I like the idea and will give it a try this summer.


It does sound a bit odd, doesn't it? But it's acutally one of the best ways to butter your ear of corn. Plus you get that great bonus of corn juice infused piece of buttered bread to savor, too.

Enjoy, Sarape! Let me know how you like it this summer...
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Dairy_Queen



Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Chicago and other places

PostPosted: Sat Jan 29, 2005 5:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
So...what ingredients are native to your region?? And what do you do with them??


Although I admire the West and South U.S, I have to admit to NO jealousy for the year-round climates because of the singular peace and quiet that waist-deep snow in January provides me. I'm a Landscape Architect, so the months from April through December are manic in the Northern States, where there is a lemming-like obsession to get the MOST out of each day before Winter. I couldn't imagine 365 days of having to plant, weed, prune and spray...ugh! But, then I do this for a living.

Winter for me, is the time to dig into all the wonderful things that I canned all year long....Tri-Apple applesauce, succulent peaches still smelling of summer and wild elderberries, frozen, that are tucked under the crust of a rustic apple pie.

In the Growing months, though, I feel that I live in one of the most blessed of areas in the Northern States....South Western Michigan. In a 10 mile radius of my kitchen window, there are 18 producing vineyards and the wineries that bottle their own wines; there are acres and acres of Concord grapes that almost color the September air with the taste of purple grapes; apple, peach, cherry orchards beyond counting and then the incredible wild harvest of wild blueberries, raspberries, elderberry's and morels. Do you know how amazing it is each Spring, to walk out to your hosta garden and push aside the parasol-shaped leaves, to collect your own field of morels?! Last year, my back yard yielded over 4 pounds of them, and I live on only a half an acre.

Botanically, there has to be a resident magic in the soil of where I live. I am only 1 hours drive from Chicago, where my main business is located, but here, on the "other side of the Lake", we see the Northern Lights, have Fire Fly Festivals in our back yards and if you spit a seed out of your window at Dawn, you'll have a garden by Noon.

This area, called the Sunset Coast, is from the state line of Michigan and follows up 40 miles to Benton Harbor. I would swear, in court, that this little triangle of the state feeds 90% of Chicago and it's millions. Each morning, at 3:00 am, the Freeway is loaded up with pick-up trucks heading West to Chicago, to the Farmer's Markets. Every variety of apple, antique or mainstream, peaches, nectarines, grapes, berries, tomatoes and other produce are plucked, carted and carried from one state to another.

But there is also a "hidden" harvest, the type that only the Old Timers or natural foragers like myself know about. In my back yard there are mulberry's galore and elderberries line the hedgerow. Shadblow burst out in clusters along streams and wild crabapple trees sprout along fields, yielding the most delicate of jellies. For those of us who love the treasure hunt of wild food, it is literally outside each one of our doors, if we only care to find it.

Ever eat Queen Anne's Lace Jelly? How about Elderberry fritters? A short walk out of my back door leads me to this amazing pantry of "food".

It's hard to accurately describe where I live. It's basically Million dollar plus summer homes and farms. That's it. And the small cottages, that I happen to live in, that the UberRich pass by on their stampede to the Michigan Shoreline. Commercial orchards and tomato growers sell bushels of their produce for $5.00 apiece at the end of the season, guaranteeing your family an astonishing feast if you have a root cellar or cool breezeway. This past weekend, when this area was shut down with a Blizzard, I processed two bushels of apples for chunky applesauce, all for the cost of $10.00. It hardly pays to grow your own.

Personally, I have a very small garden, because cost-wise, it's cheaper for me to buy in bulk from the Farmer's Markets. But, it is nice to walk out the door to grab a handful of parsley or cilantro, snip some fresh thyme or pluck a Roma tomato. Mints are my favorite herb, and in pots, I grow over 12 varieties. Then there are basils, fennel and other savories, including...the Summer and Winter Savories. I use flavours in my food that I'm told are very European, which comes as no surprise to me, having been brought up by Scandinavian Grandparents. So, 10 varieties of scented geraniums decorate my porch, the leaves used for Rose-flavoured rice pudding, Orange-Rose custard, etc.

So, if you're in my e-neighborhood, stop by for a warm cup of cocoa and some homemade applesauce cake with brown sugar frosting. There's always something loving in my oven!
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cmschma



Joined: 18 Jan 2005
Posts: 13
Location: Culver City, CA & Atlanta, GA

PostPosted: Sat Jan 29, 2005 8:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dairy_Queen,

I went to college in Ann Arbor and then lived in the area for fours after I graduated. Having many friends from all over the state, I am well acquainted with the fruits of the Michigan soil!

I must say that I truly miss the fall ritual of visiting the apple orchards and partaking of apple cider with the perfect complement of a fresh cake donut. Yep, bring home a bushel for that pie that seasons the air with the smell of home....
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swan



Joined: 23 Nov 2004
Posts: 450
Location: a Dutchie in HongKong

PostPosted: Sat Jan 29, 2005 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dear Dairy Queen, you write so colourfull I'm almost on a plane!!! Sounds wonderfull and you write beautifully and full of fondness, I like that. Never knew that the Chicago-area is so rich. But then again, I don't know that much about the US, apart from Disneyworld and a little more touristy stuff.
Thank you!
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Sat Jan 29, 2005 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow! Next time we are in Chicago I'll insist we rent a car for the day and take a trip up your way. Sounds wonderfully rich and vibrant (much like Chicago herself!)

Oh, and one little native treat we have here are fiddleheads, the tips of just sprouted bracken fern available very early in the spring and served steamed with lots of butter. Wild "garlic"is also a popular spring treat usually incorporated into a salad.
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Dairy_Queen



Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Chicago and other places

PostPosted: Sat Jan 29, 2005 4:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
dear Dairy Queen, you write so colorful I'm almost on a plane!!! Sounds wonderful and you write beautifully and full of fondness, I like that. Never knew that the Chicago-area is so rich. But then again, I don't know that much about the US, apart from Disneyworld and a little more touristy stuff.
Thank you!


Thanks for the very nice Welcome here, swan and cmschma! I am an avid fan of Reality TV but am passionate about food and writing about it so I have started several food columns on that site. A member of that web site visits here (don't know if she posts) and she gave me the link; I felt like I had finally arrived "Home" when I read the posts here.

swan: Regarding the "Chicago-are" being so rich, horticulturally....they wish! The richness of the land doesn't begin until around Chesterton, and then follows all the way into Michigan. The Chicago area only raised root vegetables, primarily, in the old days: onions and celery. It was all marsh and clay, leaving behind some pretty sour soil. The Michigan area has a rich, deep alluvial soil from the last glaciers and a more temperate climate, courtesy of being on the 'other' side of Lake Michigan. It will be 90 degrees in Chicago and with a good wind, it will be 68 in S.W. Michigan!

My background is pretty strange: I've got three Master's in Geology/Botany/Landscape Design, so I have the 'book smarts', but I was raised on a dairy farm by my 60 year old Scandinavian/Chippewa grandparents, on the Canadian/Minnesota border for most of my young years. By choice, we had NO electricity or phone, very Amish. Because we were so insular and isolated, outside influences were few.

So, while the rest of the Baby Boomer's were exposed to Howdy Doody and TV dinners, with "mod" parents zipping here and there, I was given an authentic 1800's upbringing. I would follow my Grandfather around the farm, and he would teach me how to make whistles from elderberries, saying that for his people (Native American) that the elderberry "took them from the cradle to the grave." Kids suck up any knowledge given them, so it was so easy to learn to 'read the landscape' with his help. Walking from one farm to another was not a chore, it was a Fantastic Voyage into the past, as he'd show me cattail roots and how to dig them up and prepare them; swells in the land left by giant glaciers long past, which berries to eat and which to leave for the birds (his way of telling me they were poisonous). Where most people today will walk along a country road and see "weeds" or wildflowers, I could teach a 12 week course and not move more than 1 foot per week.

Quote:
I must say that I truly miss the fall ritual of visiting the apple orchards and partaking of apple cider with the perfect complement of a fresh cake donut. Yep, bring home a bushel for that pie that seasons the air with the smell of home.


You nailed it on the head, cms! Apple cider, applesauce donuts, apple pie....if Apple was a Goddess, I'd be worshiping at her feet! We have so many micro-orchards here: escapees from Chicago who are burnt out and want a simpler life. So, they sell their Trophy Houses in the suburbs, cash out, hire the best, and create organic farms or heritage apple orchards here. At any point, I can hop into my truck in autumn and head to the biggest commercial orchard or the smallest heritage orchard. And if you get to know these people, (and you know this is something any good foodie MUST do!), they will take you to their private stock and many times share it with you!

As I said earlier, the commercial sellers, will cut their losses financially, at the end of harvest season and sell bushels of tomatoes, acorn squash, and apples for $2 to $5 a bushel, probably the 'cost' of the actual container. There is a wonderful tomato farm located on a glacial drift plain, about 20 miles from me, and it's all run by women: I think it's called "Pellago and DAUGHTERS". They have 500 acres in tomatoes and although they do a million dollar business, they still have the daughters and kids run a fruit and vegetable stand outside of the processing plant. It's nice to know that some people do NOT walk away from their roots.

I'm looking forward to getting to know all of you. Thanks for making me feel so welcome!
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2005 1:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cmschma wrote:
Dairy_Queen,

I went to college in Ann Arbor and then lived in the area for fours after I graduated. Having many friends from all over the state, I am well acquainted with the fruits of the Michigan soil!

I must say that I truly miss the fall ritual of visiting the apple orchards and partaking of apple cider with the perfect complement of a fresh cake donut. Yep, bring home a bushel for that pie that seasons the air with the smell of home....


You and me, kiddo! I grew up in the Hudson Valley area of NYS. We had great apple cider and I knew the orchards to go to that pressed their own. There simply IS NOT anything more delicious!

And, alas, and as you well know, there's nothing like it out here in SoCal!!! So you guys who don't have eternal Spring/Summer thank your lucky stars when you have some fresh cider warmed with some mulling spices and stirred with a cinnamon stick. Wink
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Sarape



Joined: 15 Dec 2004
Posts: 583
Location: Anniston Alabama USA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2005 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dairy Queen: That's basically how it was where I grew up in northern Ohio -- west side of Cleveland off of Lake Erie. The difference between Alabama and Ohio lies in the duration of the harvest. In Ohio, the seasons and the harvest are defined and short; in Alabama, things change slowly (the leaves on the trees begin falling in October but don't stop dropping until December); peaches ripen in August, apples in September, pears in October through November, parsley, leaks, rosemarry, and onions just about year round, dandelions from March through June.

After spending 36 years in Ohio, I don't miss the snow nor the winters.

Anyway, welcome Dairy Queen, you seem to have a good noddle and I'm looking forward to reading more from you.
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Dairy_Queen



Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Chicago and other places

PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2005 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sarape: Thanks for the neighborly welcome! So far, it's been an interesting bunch of writers here and I love how far flung that we all are, representing a literal World of foodies.

The way that you describe Alabama is strangely like Chicago/S.W. Michigan's growing season, which is hard to believe considering the distance between the two states. Because I make my living paying attention to the outdoors, I can say that I pretty much get my facts right. Our Autumns begin in earnest around mid October and don't seem to end until December, at some time. There's a bunch of Bradford Pear trees and Silver Maples that seem completely resistent to the idea of losing their leaves and put up quite a 'fuss' over the entire matter....dropping them in dribs and drabs. I had blooming dandelions in MY garden this past 18th of December, which really shocked me! The only difference I read in your post and our area is the herbs being 'year-round'. It's our January sub-zero weather that does everything "in", other than that, we'd be in fine sailing. I know that it's the concrete of Chicago and the moderating effect of Lake Michigan that provides the milder climate and a Micro-Zone; the suburbs can be 20 degrees colder in Spring and Fall.

I'll try to keep up with the rest of you experts in the posting department. Razz
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swan



Joined: 23 Nov 2004
Posts: 450
Location: a Dutchie in HongKong

PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2005 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
WOW! Boerenkool sounds like something I need to try my hand at! My brief web search reveals that it is a form of kale.


Actually I do think boerenkool is a type of kale. I've just bought a foodbook in dutch, which I have read in English as well, and 'kale'was indeed translated as 'boerenkool'.
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