Food, Health & Sustainable Agriculture for a Changing World
Pictured above is the sign over the Live Oak Grange garden shed: “Weed It and Reap”. I thought the pun on “read it and weep” appropriate for my blog about writing, organic gardening, and learning how to feed ourselves in this bizarre and changing world.
In my novel I wanted to include recipes and details about what my characters were eating, but I didn’t have enough pages. So instead I’ll share recipes, my experiences and evolving thoughts about food on these “Weed It and Reap” pages.
As Bob Dyan sang it, “We’re idiots babe. It’s a wonder we can even feed ourselves.” (Listen to Dylan’s Idiot Wind.)
In the Garden
What to do with all these plums? About three years ago I asked Mathew Sutton of Orchard Keepers to take out a grumpy old plum tree that hadn’t yielded any fruit for years. We planted three new plum trees, three different varieties. This year, the plums “went off” and there were plums everywhere! We also got a beautiful crop of organic apples, pears, tomatoes and green beans. Our small flock of backyard chickens give us fresh eggs, too. Now, what to do with all this food? My ancestors were farmers going back many centuries, and I’ve spent six years writing a novel about agriculture, but really I know nothing about the art and science of growing food. I’m still just a bourgeois princess, born and raised in the suburbs. However, the more I learn, the more respect I have for the incredibly hard work it takes to grow food, and for the hours and skill needed after the harvest, to insure that none of Mother Earth’s gifts are wasted.
Almond Pear Clafouti
(find more wonderful fruit deserts at The Pioneer Woman)
My good friend LInda who, like me, had a bumper crop of pears this season, made this delicious pear desert. Although I’m trying to reduce my intake of sugar and flour, I found this irresistible!
6 to 8 servings
4 firm-ripe pears, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup sliced blanched almonds
3/4 cup milk
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs, beaten lightly
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (preferably pure)
3/4 cup self-rising cake flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 10 by 2-inch round (1-quart capacity) baking dish. In the dish, toss the pears gently with the lemon juice and spread them out evenly.
In a blender finely grind 1/2 cup of the almonds, add the milk, 6 tablespoons of the butter, the eggs, the vanilla, and the almond extract, and blend the mixture until it is smooth.
In a bowl whisk together the flour, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and a pinch of salt and stir in the milk mixture, stirring until the batter is combined well. Pour the batter over the pears, drizzle it with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and sprinkle it with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and remaining 1/4 cup almonds. Bake the clafouti in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Let it cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Serve the clafouti warm. Yum!
Recipe courtesy of Gourmet magazine and Food Network
Lilly’s Grandma’s Apple Cake
(find more delicious apple recipes at One Green Planet)
. . . and then came the apples! One little old gnarled apple tree – over 40 years old, at least. I waited and watched for years after we bought our cottage, hoping the tree would produce a worthwhile apple, even just one, with no luck. Finally, I asked my orchard keeper, Mathew, to take her out. “No!” He replied. “Let me try grafting. You won’t be disappointed.” Sure enough – three years later I have a tree that produces five different varieties of exquisite heritage apples – varieties that could never be found in a store. Problem is, now what do I do with all these apples? Be careful what you wish for, right?
1 1/2 C sugar (white or brown)
2 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
(1/8 tsp cardamom)
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 C butter
4 C thinly sliced & peeled apples
1 C walnuts
Mix butter & sugar. Add eggs, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and vanilla. Mix in sifted flour. batter will be very thick. Stir in apples and walnuts. Bake in 9″ X 12″ greased dish @ 350 for about 1 hour.
Soften 1 8 ounce package of cream cheese. Mix with about 1/2 C maple syrup, 1 T vanilla and 1/4 C powdered sugar. Adjust maple syrup and powdered sugar to get the desired consistency.
I think “Weed It and Reap” is an appropriate place to make a quick note about some of my favorite authors (this is a random list – maybe more discussion later):