Sunday, January 31, 2010

Upcoming Classes

Just in case you missed some of my previous mentions of the great farming & permaculture classes starting this February, here's a reminder post:




See you there!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

January Foodmakers Potluck

This month's theme was "Meat/Fake Meat"

I think it was one of our biggest potlucks yet. Lots of great food of both the vegan and meat-lover's variety, dessert, and even an impromptu beverage tasting at the beginning with both sweet and dry fermented cider, kombucha, and homemade ginger beer.

Michelle with fermented cider (more on this here)

Elaine with ginger beer (in white jug) and kombucha (in growler)

cornbread // homemade buffalo jerky // banh mi both with and without chicken liver pate // flan

a succulent seitan pot pie

brian's homemade charcuterie:
pork belly // pork tenderloin // duck

Elaine's morrocan preserved lamb, beef, and lemon

venison tartare

sourdough // homemade relish // watermelon rind pickle // mustard // local butter

crowd shot

vegan black eyed pea dish // meat black eyed pea dish

seitan & salad // chickpea fritters // white bean salad // home-canned true alaskan salmon spread // tofu 'sloppy jane' in thermos

dessert! flan & vegan chocolate cake

awesome cat & plants room

My plate.
barbeque tofu // cornbread // white bean salad // sourdough with mustard and relish // cured duck // buffalo jerky // home-canned alaskan salmon spread // curried vegetable // seitan pot pie // salad // chickpea fritter


kitchen crew putting out salad

2640 bar crew

too dark photo of John Duda at the podium

crowd shot

beet soup

chicken soup

roasted root vegetable soup

homemade ice cream and ginger molasses cookies for dessert

Wide Angle Youth Media, the Free Use Space at Men's Family Center in East Baltimore, and Open Space gallery in Remington all took home part of the funds raised at the dinner.

See for more photos, video, and full menu.

Homemade Cider Press Video

Can't wait to post the photos from STEW #2 and the "Meat/Fake Meat" January Foodmaker's potluck extravangaza. Hopefully those will be up later on today when I have more time.

But yesterday's potluck reminded me to do a quick post about Michelle Gienow's article in the Baltimore City Paper last Wednesday. Her article was about pressing and fermenting apple cider.

She describes the origins of the November foodmaker adventures here:

For the past several years, I've been tracking apple trees in and around Baltimore City: you'd be amazed--apples are everywhere once you start looking, including a dozen-plus well-bearing trees along the median of Perring Parkway near Morgan State.

Many stayed behind as too twisted and wormy for eating, but I always sighed regretfully at the waste--once upon a time these culls, or waste apples, would have been used for making cider.

My problem was, of course, that lacking a cider press, I had no way to render them into cider.

Fortunately, during a monthly gathering of other local-food obsessives (Baltimore Food Makers, it out), I happened to mention my unfulfilled desire to my friend Brian Murphy.

Brian, a mechanical engineer, enjoys building random contraptions; having never seen a cider press before, he watched a couple of YouTube videos and then basically threw one together from wood scraps in his basement over the course of a weekend.

Squeezing your own cider is an insane amount of work.

I also finally managed to post the insanely jumpy video on YouTube.

I held my camera vertically to take this, and now I can't figure out how to rotate the video! Any advice would be appreciated.

Also hoping to post about the spring crop seeds I recently received from Baker's Creek Heirloom Seeds.

So much to write about! This past weekend's events to be posted soon.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

2010 MD Dept of Ag Buyer-Grower Event

Today was an exciting day for BaltimoreDIY!

Due to some interesting plans in the works, I managed to rearrange my insane work schedule and attend the 2010 Maryland Buyer-Growing Meeting.

There was an incredible range of Maryland growers represented, from hydroponic lettuce farms to heirloom tomato growers, sustainable seafood purveyors, free-range meat and dairy, beekeepers, and wine distilleries.

What a variety of great local food that can arrive right on our plates without using gallons of oil! And that's just to name a few examples.

For a full list of Maryland's agricultural resources & more information about the event, check out

A mix of organic and traditional farms, large providers and individual operations were represented. I mainly checked out farms close to Baltimore City, since it doesn't make a lot of sense to buy food that needs to be shipped across the state. And I talked mainly to integrated pest management farms that avoid spraying chemicals.

It was wonderful meeting so many great folks who are motivated to change the way we treat our soil, water, air, and bodies through the simple act of changing how we eat.

I gave out some of the new BaltimoreDIY business cards, shook hands with Tony Geraci and the Civic Works gentleman in charge of these awesome hoop houses at the Lake Clifton schools, and even met a new Baltimore Foodmaker and writer who can be found at

I also finally met Cathy Tipper in person, which was great since she is the woman in charge of the New Farmer Trainee program I posted about a little while back.

Cathy let me know that the farmer trainee classes are open to the public. Which is great, because I'm unfortunately not able to go through the program because of time constraints and the desire to have my own garden plot this year.

You do have to pay for the classes, but $40 for learning with such knowledgeable folks & a great networking opportunity is definitely worth it to me.

Classes start February 7th, so sign up now! I set up a Google Doc with a list of the course descriptions here:

(Which reminds me, if you are interested more in the philosophy of sustainability, making daily changes, and smaller-scale gardening instead of farming, there is also the permaculture workshop series beginning February 13th.)

Here's a brief photo gallery of today's events:

Firefly Farms was the first farm I saw when I walked in. I had previously read about them online when searching for places that distill their own vinegar. I must look more into that again! They had lots of great samples.

Mmm, more samples. This gorgeous trio of frozen strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries served over vanilla ice cream was from a farm right near Columbia.

I've unfortunately left the business card in my car, but hopefully I will have the name up tomorrow. The farmer was the sweetest elderly gentleman ever!

Canned goods for sale.

A friend of mine with an heirloom tomato farm "Arrowhead Farms" in Edgewater.

And a pretty photo of a lighthouse decoration I took because it's been a really long time since I've been in Annapolis or anywhere near the Eastern Shore and I thought it was scenic.

Plus it was overtop the "PA Dutch Farmer's Market" so I thought the theme was somewhat fitting, although I think the store was just a regular market. I'm not sure, I didn't go inside.

And I'm sure that only a small section of Maryland's growers were represented at the event, but it was still a great sampling and a wonderful networking opportunity for everyone interested in changing the cycle of growing, buying, eating, and disposing of food in a healthy way.

I kind of wish I had taken better photos, but that's o.k.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Weekend Update: Cooking with Leftovers

My work schedule has heavily increased around this time of year, which means its been difficult for me to cook.

The fridge is full of various jars and leftovers from recent projects, and I haven't been quite sure what to make. Add this to my continued attempts to eat local, sustainably grown food during mid-winter, and cooking can be a bit confusing these days.

So what have I been making?

On Sunday I peeked into the fridge and found the remains of a jar of canned tomatoes left over from the CSA this summer. Plus basil left over from the recent Pho project and a few local eggs from Mill Valley.

So I decided to poach the eggs with the tomatoes, basil, and some onions that have stored really well in the fridge since the CSA last summer. Served up with some slices of homemade sourdough bread.. yum!

During the week my breakfast have been much simpler. This apple bread has been a delicious way to use up apples from the November Foodmakers cider making adventure. I'll include the recipe below. It's also a great food to grab when I'm in a rush in the morning, and I can eat it for breakfast almost the whole week.

The rest of the sourdough was getting a little stale. So I sliced it, tossed it with olive oil, salt, and cracked black pepper, and turned the stale bread into a delicious snack.

The apple quick bread is pictured next to the croutons:

The last leftover item that I used up was the cilantro left over from the pho. Although this item isn't exactly a sustainable, it was a treat.

And to make sure the cilantro didn't go to waste, I ground up the leaves and mixed them with rice vinegar and onion so that they don't decompose as quickly.



I guess the answer to how I've been eating winter food that's grown without pesticides & using a lot of energy: lots of baking with King Arthur Flour, home-canned apples and pickles, local dairy and eggs, and the occasional treating myself with grocery store food.

I eat dry and canned beans too, but those aren't as local as I would like. I do have some black-eyed peas from the Remington Garden, so I should probably cook those soon.

Plus if I need a hit of greens, I've been buying green juice from OK Natural, and just tonight I bought a huge bag of kale.

I almost bought organic salad greens until I realized that they come from Mexico, so I wandered around the produce section until I realized that kale is grown as close as South Carolina.

How are you eating sustainably this winter?

Applesauce Cake

1/4 local butter (oil to make it vegan)
1/2 c honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 c applesauce
2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp spices (cinnamon, cloves, ginger)
raisins or nuts if you like

Beat oil, honey, vanilla. Stir in applesauce, fruit nuts. Stir into dry ingredients. Bake 30 minutes on 350 degrees.

Stew #2

Rather than re-type what STEW is about, I'll just provide you with a link to the previous post about STEW #1.

This Friday the 23rd! I'm already drooling. Tickets can be bought at Red Emma's.. they only have a few left (I just called) but you might be able to get some at the door.

Here is a link to the menu and more details.

Beets, dumpling soup, and salty oat cookies! Yum. Lots of seasonal root vegetables bought from Baltimore's very own Great Kids Farm.

A list of the presenters is also on the STEW website.

Perhaps I will see you all there!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Upcoming Permaculture Classes

(click on the image to see details or see info below)

Right around this time last year, I started attending a few different permaculture classes by the Healthcote Collective and Scott Kellogg of the Rhizome Collective.

This mid-winter time is perfect for learning about the philosophy of permaculture.

Now is the time to start going through seed catalogs, thinking about what you're going to start in the ground in early spring or in the greenhouse for early summer.

Planning a garden or food forest requires a bit of upfront labor and planning, but once the growing season kicks in, you will hopefully be on easy street.

By learning about responsible water use, companion planting, etc. you can spend less time weeding and watering, and more time enjoying your plants and harvesting.

To learn more about what permaculture is (or hang out with like-minded folks and talk more about sustainable living), there are a few great workshops coming up.

Here are some clips from the email I received from Karen Stupski at Heathcote:

Sunday, January 24

Introduction to Permaculture Design
with Karen Stupski & Patty Ceglia

Baltimore Green Forum
4:30 – 6:30 pm
Maryland Presbyterian Church
1105 Providence Road, Towson, MD 21286

FREE to attend, but donations to Maryland Presbyterian Church are greatly appreciated
For updated program info, contact, 301-345-2234

Learn about Permaculture Design, a system of designing ecologically inspired landscapes that integrate food production, energy, shelter and water. This discussion will introduce the principles of Permaculture and give examples of how families, communities and Transition Town initiatives can build environmental resilience and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Sunday, February 7th

Gardening Like the Forest
with Dave Jacke, author of Edible Forest Gardens

3:00 – 5:00 pm
Ruscombe Mansion
4801 & 4803 Yellowwood Avenue, Baltimore, MD

Hosted by the Greater Baltimore Permaculture Guild, Suggested Donation - $10
Seating capacity 45 – please RSVP at or 410-357-9523

Healthy forests maintain, fertilize, and renew themselves, naturally.
Wouldn’t you like to grow an abundant food-producing ecosystem like this in your back yard? You can! Edible forest gardens mimic the structure and function of natural forests through all their stages of development and grow food, fuel, fiber, fodder, fertilizers, farmaceuticals, and fun. We can meet our own needs and regenerate healthy ecosystems at the same time! This talk introduces the vision of forest gardening with some scientific background, a few living examples, and a sampling of some useful perennial edibles you can use in your own garden.

These talks introduce the upcoming HOME-SCALE PERMACULTURE COURSE starting February 13th, 2010 at the Heathcote Community in Freeland, MD.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Native Plants at Enoch Pratt tonight

Well, there may be snow on the ground still, but that doesn't mean it's not time to start planning your garden.

Tonight 6p.m. at the Southeast Anchor library on 3601 Eastern Ave:

Planning Your Spring Garden with Native Plants

Work with fellow gardeners and local experts -- including Anne Fleshman from Baltimore Contained & Ashley Traut from Herring Run Watershed -- to start planning your garden for the spring. We'll have catalogs available for you to use and new ideas for incorporating native plants into your garden, too!

This workshop is being presented in conjunction with the Southeast Community Development Corporation and the Herring Run Watershed.

The photos posted show a few of the native plants I picked up at last year's FlowerMart in May.

Pictured at top:
Black Cohosh & Goldenseal

Me re-potting Mountain Mint

Mountain Mint in background, native carnivorous plants in foreground

Everything is pretty much dead in my backyard bucket garden right now, but I'm hoping that these plants will grow back on their own in the spring.

The carnivorous plants are delicate and were kind of a failure, but the herbs practically grew themselves. You can see the growth rate of the mountain mint in the middle photo. Much bigger than it is in the bottom photo!

The mountain mint in particular has an absolutely amazing scent, and I was able to harvest several cups of leaves for one of the most delicious and pungent mint teas you will ever drink. It's supposed to make a gentle mouthwash & have other healing properties as well.

Attract local pollinators and restore local habitat!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Yay for Twitter foodie friends!

I never would have imagined making pho if it hadn't been for this great post by Wandering Chopsticks:

I won't post a recipe here, since WC really covered it all and has gorgeous photos to boot. (Check out the clove-studded onion roasted over flame!)

This dish was a special treat as it was a bit of a departure from local food. That's the nice thing about modern-day "homesteading" I guess. We can live mainly sustainably, but are free to engage in luxuries like Netflix and buying exotic foods from far away. Having an appreciation for resource use makes even little things like hot showers a special treat.

At least the meat was purchased at Mill Valley from a local small farm. Since I was boiling marrow bones for quite some time, I wanted to make sure the bones came from high quality animals.

The best part about foodmaking projects is learning the intricacies of why food tastes the way it does. You can learn a lot about what plants and animals are common in each country or during each season just by making a single dish.

I always knew that pho broth had a special flavor, but had no idea of the unique blend of spices: star anise, cinnamon, coriander seeds, garlic, ginger, and cloves. Wow.

Special tip: heating the spices in a hot pan for a few minutes releases the essential oils and enhances their taste. Take care not to burn the spice. You'll know they're ready when they start to pop!

A big part of making broth is skimming off the foam and fat that skim to the surface. If you've ever read Thomas Keller, you'll know how important this is for a good stock texture.

You can see the stock bones better in this photo too. When I tasted the broth, I got a little panicked because it tasted really bland.

I definitely learned how magical salt can be! I added about two teaspoons of salt, plus about a quarter cup of fish sauce. Much better.

Although this meal was a definite production, it was a very special meal worth sharing with friends.

After one meal with E & P, I have enough for lunch today and another meal for friends who I also promised homemade pho. Definitely a great social food.

I even bought an additional top round to add to the pho, but there was so much meat on the stock bones, I didn't even need it. Maybe I'll just save it, since I have a pheeling I'll be making more Vietnamese soon. is another Twitter foodie friend. DM me if you want to be included in this list!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Move Your Money

"Nearly a week ago, Arianna Huffington and Rob Johnson launched the Move Your Money campaign urging Americans to send a message to big, bailed-out national banks by joining smaller, more stable community banks. Huffington Post readers responded almost immediately."

I plan on moving my $$$ soon from an unnamed corporate bank to MECU (Maryland Employee's Credit Union.)

I don't want to write too much about the recent financial crisis here, since that is something way more than I can handle after a full day at work.

But I do want to go beyond the recent slew of local-foodie posts to talk about another way that a change in your daily life can affect politics.

Here at BaltimoreDIY, I no longer believe that writing letters to our congresspeople is the solution to any political problem. I don't want to complain to my neighbors and friends about bank bailouts while doing nothing.

I'd rather just support my local bank.

Salamander Books

I've spent several happy hours perusing the used books at Salamander in Hampden.

One of my favorite gifts to give is a book with a personal inscription written on the inside. From cookbooks to biographies to classics, there is a book out there for everyone. Book gifts are useful, beautiful, meaningful, and are a nice step away from mindless consumerism.

The best part about a small used bookstore is the browsing. Although larger stores are of course helpful when you want the latest and greatest, smaller bookstores are wonderful when you don't quite know what you are looking for. Much easier to peruse the shelves and stumble across the unexpected.

Just recently I was looking for a nice bedtime read and had no idea what I wanted. A lovely Saturday morning in Salamander, and I came away withe a fabulous book, "The Shipping News" by E. Annie Proulx.

Although I do know I could also browse at the library, I'm happy I spent the $5 or so on a book that I can re-read or lend out to a friend. I'm looking for a good book about bread baking next!

And now the reason for this post: Salamander has moved on to a new location in Mt. Vernon. Make sure to visit them there!

Here's the announcement they sent out over gmail:

519 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

** New phone number:

Business Hours:
Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat 11-6
Thurs 11-7
Sun 12-4

Thank you for you continued patronage!


Salamander Used Books
"interesting used books bought, sold and traded"
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