Local Foods, Local Gardens, Local Books on all of them!

I was thrilled last Friday evening after closing the store to actually remember and then to not have other obligations that required scurrying off somewhere – I  got to shop our new Friday Farmer’s Market!  Still small, but wonderful all the same. I am glad it is on Friday’s now!  I bought beautiful beets from Bishop Creek Farms and spinach from Banner Springs.  Their arugula looked great too, but that is flourishing in my garden.   I also tasted salad offerings from TheSecretSandwichSociety, yummy.  If that society is still secret to you, you need to check out their website and order some lunches to be delivered in Bishop via bicycle.  Their menu has vegan choices and is all healthy and conscientious, as well as delicious. Make sure to use The in the web address or you will be ordering from New Hampshire or someplace, which defeats the whole local concept!

We had such a late spring that my own garden is slow and looking a little stunted.  Just last night though, we ate our first little squash in a quiche also made with our own ham and eggs. We also had a nice arugula salad, which my kids were not crazy about, but I liked.  I get tired and frustrated with my gardening efforts sometimes, but when most of the meal was produced by me or people I know, it really does make me feel happy and a little virtuous.  I am also happy, ecstatic actually, to see more and more local food options popping up around the Owens Valley.  Check out the UCCE Master Gardener’s of Inyo Mono handbook for a nice list if you’ve missed them.  Bishop Creek Farms mentioned a Facebook page as well to check out.  Of course you can come by the Farmer’s Market tomorrow night and talk to Master Gardeners in person (you can get started on a fall garden you know) and the other producers as well as craftspeople.  Mammoth’s Farmer’s Market is on Wednesday nights if you live to the north.

Do I have a book tie-in?  Of course I do!  If you have not yet read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Vegetable Miracle, come pick up the one copy we still have on the shelf.  She is just a wonderful writer, and even vegans I know loved her chapter on butchering turkeys!  While her current location in rural Virginia makes eating locally (food produced within 100 miles) a little easier than in the Owens Valley, she makes the effort seem worthwhile, or more like essential, and very doable.  Plus she includes recipes! Another writer who beautifully inspires us to treasure those heirlooms and regional specialties is David Mas Masumoto, a peach grower in the Fresno area (Fresno is within 100 miles as the crow flies…..).  He wrote the classic An Epitaph for a Peach, as well as Letters to the Valley (signed copy on the shelf now) and Harvest Son.  Well worth reading.  Also pulled from the shelf, Fading Feast by Raymond Sokolov looks fascinating as well.  It is “a compendium of disappearing American regional foods”,  things like Smithfield Ham, Minnesota Wild rice and abalone from La Jolla.  It has recipes and pictures, and is part travel memoir to boot!  The Omnivore’s Dilemma  by Michael Pollan has been making news for quite some time on the scary science behind the other end of the food spectrum, we also have High Tech Harvest by Paul Lurquin and similar titles if you need more convincing.  More fun reading looks like Blithe Tomato by Mike Madison, “an insider’s wry look at farmers’ market society”.  I don’t think our Bishop Farmer’s Market has quite reached society status yet, but it is fun and shopping feels like joining a burgeoning movement.

Don’t forget all of the excellent gardening books on our shelves as well, from Sunset Western Gardening to classics on pruning and JI Rodale’s Earthworm’s are Our Friends.  I am sorely tempted to take that one home every time I see it, so please come rescue it !

Not sure what to do with some of those beautiful beets?  Here is a favorite recipe from Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer cookbook.  Her cookbooks are a pure joy to read, and laugh-out-loud funny at times.  (We have her memoir on the shelf too, did I mention that?)  She says this recipe is vaguely Scandinavian, to be served with Hasselback Potatoes and salmon, which I of course do.

Raw Beet, Dill and Mustard Seed Salad
big bunch fresh dill (apx 6 T when chopped)
18 oz raw beets ( I have no idea how much  is 18 oz of beets, I use about 4-5 med to large beets per recipe)
juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 TS mustard seeds
a spoonful or so of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley for garnish
Blitz dill in food processor to chop.  Use julienne or grating disc in food processor to grate peeled, raw beets.  (Nigella’s quote here on peeling beets – “I use rubber gloves for this, so I’m not like Lady Macbeth with my incarnadined hands forever.”  Personally I never have rubber gloves handy, so live with red hands, it does not last forever!)
Turn beets into bowl with dill and toss.  Squeeze the lemon juice over, drizzle in the olive oil and toss again.  Use a nonstick or heavy frying pan (cast iron works great) to toast the mustard seeds for a couple of minutes.  Add to beet and dill salad and toss again.  Sprinkle with some reserved dill and/or parsley for a “final uplifting hit of more vibrant green”.  (Gotta love Nigella’s use of language!:)
She says you can use parsley or any herby combination you are in the mood for if you can’t find fresh dill, but I would not give up the dill.

Garden fresh, it is one of the best parts of summer.  Along with reading a great book, or reading a great book about gardening.    And do you have any ideas for arugula?  Come see us.

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