Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fall chills

It is freezing here today, so Stuart and I are stuck inside transplanting flowers to overwinter. The days are quickly getting shorter and our crops are quickly dying off. Stuart is trying to mow down everything in sight, so I've taken to dressing clover and myself in reflective gear to be on the safe side. We're off the the beach for four whole days (hallelujah!) and we can't wait to don swimwear and stare into the void of the ocean. I can't help but think of all the spiritual analogies and metaphors people use when referring to the ocean. Too many Thich Nhat Hanh books I guess. Here are some pictures from Swan Island Dahlias out in Oregon. It was hard to stay sane looking at these sweet flowers and how many there were not being cut. We will always grow dahlias, even if we just break even on them. Ours are just starting to look good and get some stem length on them. We have a wedding this weekend that is going to be really nice as we have echinacea, dahlias, lisianthus, and a few others. I'm going to try and work in some persimmon branches.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Adventures in Portland

Leah Cook (of Wild Hare Farm), my good friend and roommate at the conference, were naughty and skipped a session on antique roses so we could check out the farmers' market. This market was AWESOME. As it was a 10-2pm market, right downtown, there was tons of prepared food. While I was there, I ate a pint of raspberries (half yellow, half red; the yellow was much better, hands down), a pickle, several sample items, a sausage sandwich, and for a drink, a delicious cup of freshly brewed Ethiopian coffee from Stumptown coffee. Can we say heaven?!! Yes we can!! The market was definitely a highlight of the trip. They basically has our whole season present at the market. Onions, lettuce, beets, artichokes (a rare find here at home), tomatoes, peppers, carrots, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, corn, etc. etc. All of a sudden, I felt so at home in the big city.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A day in the kitchen

It is so good to be back home. I had a great time in Portland despite being a little anxious about being in a bigger city than normal. And the flowers!!! I'm still swooning over some of the things we saw out there. Dahlias as big as my head. Roses with scents varying from stale fries to lavender honey. Calla lilies three ft tall that make elegance look so easy. I took about 500 pictures out there, so, as I'm slightly overwhelmed trying to pick out which ones to post, I thought today I would just put up some pictures of my time in the kitchen today. I'm also betting that most people checking out the blog these days are coming from the awesome Bon Appetit article featuring my hometown Durham (and Chapel-Hill) as a great place to live if you care about the deliciousness of what goes in your belly as well as who grows it. So as we're all into food, here are some goodies from the kitchen. The green peppers are called pimientos de padron, a pepper I had never heard of until I went to the Portland farmers' market (I'm sure I'm behind the times here!). In any case, they are the best thing to ever happen to green peppers. They were doing samples at the market with a very simple saute in olive oil with course salt for about 7-8 minutes. I bought some and trekked them home to Hurdle Mills and Stuart was also in shock over how incredible they are---a healthy, incredibly tasty snack that takes the same amount of time to prepare as popcorn (non-microwave popcorn that is). We'll definitely be trying to source some seed for these little guys. The vendors at Portland selling them, Viridian Farms, were probably getting $1o per lb. for them. Another great item I trekked home---chanterelle mushrooms. We went for pasta for dinner, cooking some of our own shitakes mixed with the chanterelles in a light saute with butter and garlic. We also cooked a very quick sauce with loads of elephant garlic, green zebra heirloom tomatoes, and one large red big beef to add a little more acidity. I have recently deemed green zebras my favorite heirloom for the time being, although I'm not quite sure what exactly it is about the tomato that tickles my fancy. Or should I say tickles my taste buds....

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Off to Portland!!

This Sunday I'll be taking to the sunny skies and going cross county to Portland, Oregon for the annual Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers conference (ASCFG). Hip Hip Hooray! Hip Hip Hooray! Stuart will be glad to be rid of me for a week as I've become not much better than a bump on a log around the farm. Even worse, a bump that whines and complains. It's as if some Norse god has cursed me and my spirit now dwells in the log, in the bump, unable to express itself except by utterances of doom and despair. I suppose my spirit is waiting to be freed by the shiny happy flower people of the Willamette valley. Seriously, I'm extremely excited about the conference and I'm taking the camera along with an extra memory card so we'll have loads of pictures to post. I scheduled a whole day and a half for myself to tour Portland and all of it's loveliness....I've been told I need to visit the gorge, the classical chinese garden, the rose garden, Fernando's hideaway, and several other eateries including Voodoo doughnuts. I dreamed of New Zealand last night; that was the last place I went by myself. Trip anxiety kicks in. I have high hopes of returning with a brain spewing flower knowledge and creative juices, with a rekindled love for the blooms, and with a nice totebag for Stuart. Just kidding about the latter; I think I'll dart away from the classrooms on Wed for a tour of the local farmers' market and get him a treat there! It looks like bing cherries are in!!!
We picked the last of the figs from our bush outside the house. No more fig and white chocolate pancakes. A farmer friend told me an easy way to propagate figs is to put a weight on a branch so that it is lying on the ground; it'll send out roots and start it's own tree from there. Just dig it up after it has rooted. We're going to try this because the figs from this bush were like straight ambrosia. Maybe if I offer some to the bump on the log......
Another delicious treat we had of late was some freshly made ginger soda/brew that a friend, Ghassan, gave us. Damn! I've never had a ginger brew this good. I wish we could all have such tasty treats to make us feel special. The world might just be a better place.