Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rain, Butternut Squash Soup & Caramel

It's rainy out there this morning!

The daily a.m. egg count has risen to two eggs though, rain or no rain. Chicken Man poaches them and puts them on top of english muffins. Although lately we've been having oatmeal with craisins in it, so the eggs are starting to pile up. I'm hoping to maybe incorporate the eggs into some kind of bread recipe soon. Maybe challah? French toast challah to use even more eggs?

Of course the chickens don't just provide us with eggs. Even though they aren't meat birds, you can still eat them if you cook them right. Which mainly means stew!

This is lunch today. It's butternut squash soup. Here's the story:

A few months ago we had to kill the roosters. Sorry, animal lovers. But they were starting to get loud and get aggressive towards each other, and they were going to start mating with the ladies. And even if you want to be kind to animals, they sometimes aren't to each other. I don't think chicken sex is exactly the most gentle thing in the world.

This past weekend we defrosted two of the roosters and made soup. Instead of going the traditional chicken soup route, I thought of the beef pho that Wandering Chopsticks inspired me to make last January and decided to make chicken pho broth.

I typed up the recipe but it's making this post really long. Plus there are a variety of recipes online already from much better sources than myself (such as this one by Momofuku for Two.)

The soup was delicious on its own. But we also have a ton of squash from our CSA. Like, there are seriously at least eight squash in the house right now. And I really wanted butternut squash soup.

I'm pretty proud that I managed to make it without a blender!

Many of my DIY skills come from experimentation and not having the proper tools. To make the soup, I just simmered chunks of squash in the chicken stock. After about 15 minutes of simmering, I mashed the squash chunks with a potato masher. For the next 15 minutes I let the soup simmer and whisked it really hard every so often. No blender needed.

Here's another photo but the soup was still cold, so the chicken stock is gelled:

I added the chunks of chicken back in at the end.

We made one other rainy fall food last night: caramel.

I blame it on watching Top Chefs Just Desserts! Usually I don't have such a sweet tooth. Also, Chicken Man's roommate had a craving for caramel and apples. And I thought well, I have brown sugar + butter + salt + vanilla..... I've never made it before but figured it couldn't be too hard. Just don't let the pot get too hot, and keep stirring.

Hah, it's awesome seeing someone's face when you casually say you're going to whip up a pot of caramel.

Can I also add here that this is why having a well stocked pantry is awesome. Although it means cooking more, having all the pantry staples also means you can make a variety of food, instead of just that specific food you bought at the store that week. It was fun being able to show the roommate what caramel is actually made of, and that it's not just a thing that comes from the store.

I modified a recipe from the King Arthur baking book for a caramel frosting. Just melt equal parts butter and brown sugar (I used a cup of each. Whoa!) plus a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then stir constantly for two minutes on low. Add 1/4 cup of milk and bring back to a boil. Then turn off the heat and add a teaspoon of vanilla.

The sauce was really runny when it was warm. It kept pouring off our apple slices. After sitting over night in the fridge it got nice and chewy.

This morning I dropped a few teaspoons onto a plate and stuck it back in the fridge to make separate little caramel candies.

I'm kind of wishing I had remembered to bring one to work. At least I have my soup for lunch!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Build a Better Block

Special thanks to Sarah Goodyear who wrote about the Better Block project on Grist.

The Oak Cliff community in Dallas had the typical city problem: abandonment. Store fronts were empty, cars sped through, and no one gathered on the streets.

Rather than petitioning the city (or ignoring the problem), the residents decided to make change themselves. They got organized, got $1000, and created a two day festival to transform their community.

Some of the highlights:

- Pop-up stores and art installments in front of vacant store fronts
- Bike lanes and a pedestrian plaza in conjunction with car access
- Neighborhood gathering space with games, tables, music, etc.

So was this just a big street party, or did some real change come out of the event?

The how-to section of the blog happily lets us know that "...immediately following our original better block, these vacant spaces were leased."

Sarah Goodyear also reported that the City of Dallas has given Go Oak Cliff permission to shut down part of a local street and create a pedestrian plaza that will stay up for three months -- and possibly become permanent.

Last Wednesday the Washington Post reported that the city of Mt. Rainier in Maryland has taken notice and is jumping on the bandwagon too (Project aims to offer a preview of permanent makeover for Mount Rainier area).

Go Oak Cliff has some really insightful directions on how to build your own better block. A few pointers:

- Identify a location with a block of buildings that has a good pedestrian form, but lacks a complete street. Typically pre-war built areas, or former streetcar intersections.

- Remember that people want a reason to stay and be apart of the environment. Be sure to provide plenty of seating, things to read (maps, build simple kiosks to use as community boards, food/drink). Chess boards, et cetera.

- Invite your Mayor, council members, city staff, so they can see the possibilities for themselves.

- We specifically asked to allow one lane of vehicle traffic so that residents could see that a “complete street” that allowed all modes of transit was a viable solution.

Yesterday I read a really interesting article by Malcolm Gladwell about social interaction and activism. His claim: that face-to-face connections are essential for creating real social change. All these Facebook groups to Save Darfur and the like are good for low level involvement, but when it comes to really making waves, nothing will ever trump doing good IRL.

Of course, the internet is still an amazing communication method for getting the word out for these real life events...

Like the Facebook page for 350 Baltimore, part of the global work day campaign on 10/10/10. See you at Druid Hill Park?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

First Egg!

Found yesterday morning right in the nesting box. Yay!

There was only one egg- I wonder which chicken it was? You can't really tell from the photo but it's a small 'training' size egg. I've been learning that it's normal for many chickens to initially lay small eggs.

The egg is still in the fridge. I kind of want to poach it to preserve its fresh, eggy flavor.

Perhaps in a miso broth with some chopped bok choy and ginger?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Remington Science Camp: Steamboats & Hot Air Balloons

If you've been on Huntingdon Ave. on a Tuesday night, you may have come across Beth Barbush surrounded by kids and a table full of art supplies.

(The Baltimore Sun wrote an article about her Porch Art project in July)

One month, Beth was out of town. John Rowley, another neighbor and member of the Greater Remington Improvement Association (GRIA) substituted with a spin-off class called Porch Science.

One small grant and a little planning later, a new project was born: Remington Science Camp.

Tonight is class #2, and the kids will be making hot air balloons!

Check out the above video to see an example. Step-by-step instructions can be found here.

The classes are part of a month long series designed to teach 11-16 year olds about energy and how we encounter it in our everyday lives.

Several methods of energy production will be addressed: heat engines, electric motors/generators, and combustion.

I feel like I'm going to learn as much as the students! Mostly I've been sticking to what I know- my role so far has been to help out making dinner and dessert for everyone.

(By the way, did you know that popcorn is a sort of basic model for steam energy?!)

Tuesday night I brought some oatmeal raisin and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and the students made putt-putt boats to learn about steam power and combustion.

Such an awesome DIY project.

Special thanks to John Rowley for designing this series and sending out the links. Here he is with a basic diagram explaining how boiling water sends out steam and creates energy:

A blurry photo of lighting the candle on his demo steam boat:

Everyone working on their boats:

I can't make tonight's hot air balloon class because I have a DIY Fest meeting to attend.

I've been thinking about my plan for dinner next week for the kids. I've been trying to come up with some exciting meat-free meals that all kids will enjoy. So far the plan is to make a cheesy potato casserole with a side of Moosewood's sweet soy-sesame greens as a side dish.

Other quick casserole ideas to feed a group of about 10 young teens would be much appreciated.

Making things bubble, combust, float, and spin? Science is fun!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Chickens are Nesting!

The ladies are about five months old now, and I'm starting to get excited for some eggs.

To prepare, last weekend the Chicken Man and I cleaned out the bottom of the coop and got quite a haul of pre-compost from all the poop and straw. Mixed with the rabbit poop, it's now hanging out in our neighbor's bin until next spring.

In addition to cleaning the coop, Chicken Man also set up the nesting boxes. I learned that you can put golf balls in them to get the hens ready for egg laying.

(I'm not quite sure what the role of the golf balls is.. I'll have to ask again!)

But so far I've been getting a quick rush of excitement in the morning when I see a white orb, only to realize with disappointment that I'm looking at a golf ball. The hens seem more interested in eating the straw than laying eggs.

But this morning Chicken Man told me to look in the back corner of the coop- the chickens have decided to build their own nest!

The egg count down begins. Oooh!

And in case any other chicken owners or fans are interested, we also have Araucanas in addition to the White Orpingtons and Rhode Island Reds pictured above.

The only photo I could get of the Araucanas looks like this:

So I stole a better one from the Internet so you can see how crazy and Muppet-y they look.


Monday, September 20, 2010

September 2010 Potluck

The September potluck went down this past Sunday in Dewees Park, just north of the city. Here's my plate, right before that little doggie sniffed in and stole my chunk of venison!

This potluck was a quiet one. I'm guessing a lot of people are busy with starting school again and other fall time activities. Although the crowd was small, it was still delicious and the weather was absolutely perfect. Since I tend to be a homebody, I always appreciate the potlucks for getting me outside and exploring parts of Maryland I've never been to.

I think the casual theme was supposed to be preserving the late summer bounty, but there ended up being another accidental theme instead-


There was watermelon juice, watermelon-mint-feta salad, pickled watermelon rind, and just straight up watermelon. The bees were pretty happy!

Plus there was apple butter on homemade bread that put mine to shame, a yogurt-dill soup, mushroom pate, salad, and homemade kimchee.

And Ian brought some kegs left over from his sister's wedding. Sitting outside on a late summer afternoon drinking homebrew champagne? Yes please.

Don't forget you'll be able to taste some of Ian's homebrewing goodness and obsession with fiery food at ChiliBrew Too on October 8th.

I took it pretty easy and just bought some Baugher's apples to slice and serve.

Of course, in the hour before I left my new King Arthur baking book started calling my name and I snuck in a quick flatbread recipe.

The recipe called for just flour, oil, salt, and water. Just knead into a dough + let rest for at least 30 minutes + divide into balls + roll out + dry fry in a frying pan.

Simple, and no yeast needed.

They turned out a little stiff for my taste, and I think it's because I was rushing it and didn't let the dough rest long enough.

So far the main thing baking has been teaching me is to have patience and not cut corners!

As we stood around getting to know each other (there is always a fun rotating cast of new and familiar faces for every potluck) we discussed plans for the October potluck.

Rumor has it we'll be replicating last November's adventures and pressing our own cider....

Friday, September 17, 2010

Itty-Bitty Tomatoes and How to Save Seeds

A volunteer is the term for a plant that grows in your garden from some renegade seed that you never intentionally planted.

This year a miniature tomato plant came up in a corner of my garden, and, like some stray puppy, I decided to keep it. It was just too cute!

The tomatoes it is producing are even cuter. Just look at them compared to the cherry tomato in the above photo. Although they require more picking labor per calorie, I think they could be really interesting in a fancy salad or antipasto platter. Couldn't you picture them as a "tomato berry" on a plate at Woodberry kitchen?

I am saving some seeds to see if I can grow similar plants next year. Saving seeds is another one of the DIY project that sounds impressive but is relatively simple.

Squeeze the seeds and surrounding goop into a glass, cover with a paper towel, and place in a warm location (60-70 degrees) for about three days. Stir once a day.

A layer of fungus will form on top of the liquid in the jar. This is good! The fungus breaks down the gel surrounding each seed, and also helps fight against seed-borne diseases.

After three days, fill the container with warm water. The fruit flesh and immature seeds will float. Mature seeds will sink. Pour off the flesh and immature seeds. Repeat the process until the water being poured out is almost clear and the seeds at the bottom are clean.

Pour the water through a strainer, then dump the seeds out onto a paper towel. Let dry for a day or two. When the seeds are dry, bag and label them. Store in a cool, dark, dry area.

Special thanks to the International Seed Saving Institute for their instructions.

Actually, I went through the seed saving steps from memory and accidentally added water during the first step when I wasn't supposed to. Oops. I wonder if the fungus will form on top?

Luckily there are more tomatoes on the vine and I can try again.

Also, I don't know if these tomatoes will "come true," or turn out like the parent plant. The tiny tomato plant was growing right next to some Rutgers tomato plants and an anonymous plant I received from a friend, so it's possible that the genes got mixed through pollination.

It will be an exciting mystery next year as I wait for these seeds to sprout!

Baltimore Book Festival

Remember right around this time last year when it was all about zines, comics, and books here on BaltimoreDIY?

Book fair time is here again!

Although book fairs aren't exactly a DIY activity, I am all about cities hosting free cultural events. The Baltimore Book Festival is a perfect example, and people of all stripes can find a genre they love.

Here's the announcement from the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts:

The 15th annual Book Fest takes place at Mount Vernon Place (600 BLOCK NORTH CHARLES STREET, BALTIMORE, MD 21201) and is free to the public. It features over 200 celebrity and local authors, the biggest name in attendance this year being Nigel Barker, famous fashion photographer most known for his regular appearances on America’s Next Top Model. There will be plenty of food and drinks, children’s activities and more. You can find out more about the festival at

One of my favorite activities (and a good way to pick up a ton of really unique books on the cheap!) is to visit the zine bazaar at Red Emma's radical book pavilion.

You may have heard me mention one of my favorite local zines Eight-Stone Press before. Editor William P. Tandy sent out this email announcement:

Eight-Stone Press and the CityLit project are putting the "Baltimore" in the Baltimore Book Festival with an evening of literary mayhem, music and more beginning at 6:00 p.m., Friday, September 24, 2010, at the CityLit tent, on the circle in Mount Vernon.

Just checked the weather and Friday and Saturday are going to be in the upper 70s - mid 80s so it's perfect festival weather! There's a 60% chance of rain on Sunday, but maybe I'll cuddle up in my wellies and umbrella... nothing cozier than standing under a tent perusing some books.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Kill This Bug

The brown marmorated stink bug is the latest invasive species on Maryland's ecological Most Wanted list.

I first saw this little beastie's mug shot in an email newletter from the Grow it, Eat it network from the University of Maryland College of Agricultural & Natural Resources. I recommend clicking on the link for a lot of useful information and additional photos.

According to a press release from the Maryland Department of Agriculture:

Native to Asia, the brown marmorated stink bug was first identified in Allentown, PA in 2001, though sightings may date back to 1996.

The press release goes on to note that this is the first year these pests have caused extensive crop damage. Apparently the warm weather this year has led to an explosion in numbers.

Another problem is that, like many invasive species, the stinkbugs have no natural predators. They feed by inserting their slender mouthparts into a plant and sucking its sap. This leaves toxins behind and ends up spreading fungi and bacteria from plant to plant. Not good at all.

As the cold weather comes, the stinks bugs are going to start coming indoors. Since first receiving the news about a week ago, I already found one at home (the very night I got the email!), two on the glass doors at the Rotunda in Hampden, and one at work (moments before writing this blog post!).

I know these pest are going to need a lot more control than just lil ol' me, but still it felt good to do my part and kill, kill, kill.

The Grow it, Eat it article talks a lot about how stinky these bugs are, but don't be afraid to squash them- I really didn't notice a strong smell at all when I killed them. Let me know if you do.

You can notice the bugs by their shield shape, speckled brown and white coloring, and little white bands on the antennae if you look really close.

Happy squashing!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Upcoming Fall 2010 Events!

It's been quiet here lately, but not because there hasn't been a lot of BaltimoreDIY action!

I've got my fall garden started and the first tiny carrot shoots are emerging. On Sunday the CSA tomatoes got canned as a chunky homemade ketchup. Plus my new King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion Cookbook just arrived in the mail, and I've been experimenting with dinner rolls and banana bread. So far I've learned that you can't just dump all the ingredients in a bowl and stir, it helps to actually follow the recipe steps.

(The banana bread turned out like a brick, but it's still edible! The dinner rolls turned out great though, and made a really yummy cheddar cheese and apple sandwich last night.) Looks like I'm going to have to order at least ten more pounds of flour from The Beet.

In addition to the daily foodmaking and gardening projects, there has also been a lot of planning going on for some awesome fall events.

It's time to break out the calendar- hope to see you there!

DIY Fest 2010

Want to learn how to brew beer, forage for wild fruit inside city limits, establish an alternative business model, or make your own cord out of plant fiber?

I know I do! If you'd like to read more about DIY Fest and what it is, I recommend reading last year's City Paper article, "Generation Skill."

October 24th
12-6 p.m.
2640 St. Paul.

A full list of workshops and tablers can be found on*

*There may be some technical difficulties with the website at this time. We are working on it! Please stay tuned.

Creative Alliance Food Network

The Beet buyer's club and food co-op to be is participating in an art show and mobile market highlighting access to local, healthy food. We will have some information available at the gallery and will be bringing our organic, collectively owned, prepared healthy food to market on October 30th.

From the Creative Alliance site:

Opens Sat Sep 18 5:30-7:30pm
Closes Sat Oct 30
Click on the link above for more details

This fall, BDC gathers a caucus of artists, educators, activists, urban planners, gardeners, and chefs to convert the Creative Alliance’s Main Gallery at The Patterson into the headquarters for a celebratory, mobile farmers market – selling food, sharing ideas, and shedding light on the limited availability of fresh, healthy food to most city residents. Alongside a borrowed Arabbers’ cart and one designed and built by BDC are video, photographs, and art activities. The carts and trailers leave the building periodically – sometimes with marching bands in tow – to visit neighborhoods and festivals, with fresh produce and a revolving assortment of activities and information.

I should mention here that Hannah Brancato, one of the show's organizers, has a few other art/activism projects going on about awareness of violence against women. One project associated with House of Ruth and Advocate Through Art is an ongoing exhibit at Pratt Library through October 31st. An exhibition and play about the culture of rape is opening at the Annex, Oct. 1st frm 6-9 p.m.


Remember last May when I posted about a great 2640 event where you get to drink all kinds of home-brewed beer and eat chili? If you missed it in spring, now is your second chance!

From the Red Emma's event posting:

This event is not just a homebrew and chili competition is is also an event aimed to bring together the DIY types that lurk amongst us. Showcase your DIY project or join us to learn about what is going on behind the scenes.

Charitably Charmin' ChiliBrew, Too! donates all proceeds to Velocipede Bike Project and Baltimore Free School. We appreciate your donation of $10-$20 at the door.

Submit an entry form at or email

Remington Science Camp

Remington folks just don't stop when it comes to making their own fun. The latest is a series of science projects for neighborhood kids, hosted by some very experienced people. Here is the event posting from esteemed Remington blog The Alligator:

As you may have heard, there will be an after school Science-Camp in Remington this fall. The camp will be held Tuesday and Thursday evenings in Kromer hall (Remington and 27th St).

The first session of Science Camp will be on September 21st and the last session will be October 21st. The project sessions start at 6pm and finish at 8pm.

I am in desperate need of volunteers to help during the project sessions. I anticipate 10 youth between the ages of 11 – 16 signing up for the camp, the science experiments are complex and help would be greatly appreciated.

Volunteers are not expected to help with every session, if you are interested email me and I will sign you up on the volunteer schedule for the evening that works best for you.

For more information refer to the article on Science-Camp in this month’s newsletter or email the Science Camp Organization Team at:



Plus, THIS WEEKEND is Barn Aid, a benefit concert for a family owned farm in Sparks, MD. Many bands including the incredible Wye Oak will be playing. The event takes place from 11 am to 5 pm on Sunday.

Apologies for the very long post, but there are just too many wonderful events going on... and I'm sure I didn't even touch on them all!

Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fall Garden

photo from Baker's Creek Heirloom Seeds

School's back in session, the mornings seem cooler, and most people's gardens are dead or dying. Apples and pumpkins are steadily getting fatter for fall treats. But it's not time to throw in the gardening towel yet.. there is still one more growing season this year! If you couldn't find a spot in a community garden last May, now is your second chance.

Fall is the time to plant cool weather crops (like the baby bok choy pictured above.)

It seems like after July hits, many people go on vacation and the garden gets attached by drought and bugs. I'd say about half of the plots in our community garden are no longer being used. Since my tomatoes are still getting ready to fruit, I decided to take over a bed that no one was using for a fall garden. As I wait for the tomatoes to turn green, harvest more basil, and prepare to dig up some potatoes, I am also waiting for new little seedlings to sprout in the new fall bed.

What did I plant?

Baby Bok Choy
Daikon Radish

A side benefit of planting root vegetables like radish and carrot are that they will naturally aerate the soil. After being pounded by spring rain and summer heat, the soil of my new garden bed is really packed tight. I'll let you know if the plan works!

I also hope to get some onions and garlic in the ground soon.

Although I'm nervous about growing garlic again since my attempts last year to grow garlic in a bucket failed. After looking at the date of that blog post I realized that the garlic was sprouting in September, which means I planted it way too early! This year I'm not even going to put the bulbs in the ground until October.

If you are still interested in gardening, you might want to ask some gardening friends if they have any leftover seeds from spring that you can have. You also might be able to use someone's garden plot since many people's enthusiasm has waned since spring. Fall is a great time to garden on the cheap! Just compost the bed and add your cold weather seeds.

Stay tuned for more posts about fall gardening, from plant propagation to seed collection.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Is Local Really Better?

Every day it seems like I'm finding another article analyzing the latest obsession with local food.

First there was the urban gardening is only for hipsters backlash after I came across the "My Intentional Life" comic on Grist. If you missed it, feel free to click on the link to see a pretty intense and interesting discussion of community activism and race-class relations.

Then came the City Jam Scam article on CHOW, which commented on New York City canning classes made with fruit from Hudson Valley: Once you've paid for the ingredients at the store and taken the time to make the jam, it's seeming less like a thrifty, homey back-to-the-land project and more like a dilettantish exercise in fake rusticity.

In Praise of Fast Food appeared in the September-October 2010 issue of the Utne Reader; in it Rachel Laudan explains all of the reasons why human beings switched to industrialized food in the first place. Turns out that long hours in the kitchen, quickly rotting food, and limited diet didn't quite have the romantic sheen that artisinal foodmaking now does.

And now Stephan Budiansky adds to the fray with Math Lessons for Locavores in the New York Times. Here are a few clips:

Arbitrary rules, without any real scientific basis, are repeated as gospel by “locavores,” celebrity chefs and mainstream environmental organizations. Words like “sustainability” and “food-miles” are thrown around without any clear understanding of the larger picture of energy and land use.

The result has been all kinds of absurdities. For instance, it is sinful in New York City to buy a tomato grown in a California field because of the energy spent to truck it across the country; it is virtuous to buy one grown in a lavishly heated greenhouse in, say, the Hudson Valley.

The real energy hog, it turns out, is not industrial agriculture at all, but you and me. Home preparation and storage account for 32 percent of all energy use in our food system, the largest component by far.

A single 10-mile round trip by car to the grocery store or the farmers’ market will easily eat up about 14,000 calories of fossil fuel energy. Just running your refrigerator for a week consumes 9,000 calories of energy. [...] Indeed, households make up for 22 percent of all the energy expenditures in the United States.

Agriculture, on the other hand, accounts for just 2 percent of our nation’s energy usage; that energy is mainly devoted to running farm machinery and manufacturing fertilizer. In return for that quite modest energy investment, we have fed hundreds of millions of people, liberated tens of millions from backbreaking manual labor and spared hundreds of millions of acres for nature preserves, forests and parks that otherwise would have come under the plow.

One of the Baltimore Foodmakers (Dave) posted a link to the article on our discussion board. I have yet to read the many responses posted on Grist, but I hope to read them soon. I liked the response he included in his post by John Hendel from the Atlantic:

If there is any single takeaway, it is that the dimensions of our food system transcend any one lens of analysis. Stephen Budiansky [NYT op-ed author] has blown open a truly thoughtful debate on what "local" means, and that dialogue is never a bad thing.


It seems that those leading the backlash against Locavore-ism are not so much arguing that our old food system was good, but that eating locally is not the end to our planet's sustainability solutions.

I believe it's actually a good thing that all of these articles are coming out. Rather than getting wrapped up in illusions that canning hundreds of jars of jam is going to save the planet, we are being reminded to ask ourselves why we are so obsessed with local food in the first place.

There are lots of reasons why I love local food: enjoying the natural change of seasons, learning about cultures, science experiments, survival skills, budgeting, natural foodmaking, and more. Grist has also published a list of responses to Budiansky's article, and I'm sure there are many other thoughts there about why eating SOLE (sustainable, organic, local, and ethical) food is important to us.

Can't wait to read some of those responses soon. In my opinion, it's always helpful to pause and have some dialogue about what is really effective within the sustainability movement.

Watermelon Rind Pickles: Sept. 1st Class

After a whirlwind San Francisco weekend, I'm back in Baltimore!

Here are a few quick photos of the Eat Real Food Festival:

The red truck was the incredibly popular Chairman Bao street cart. I wish I could have tried one of their steamed buns but the line was really long. But there were plenty of other delicious foods to try, from taco trucks to rabbit meat sandwiches to popsicles.

One of the most delicious and interesting foods I had was Curry Up Now's tikka masala burrito, which came highly recommended.

Super yum. I am so jealous of the Bay Area's street food scene! I am seriously thinking about looking into the zoning rules for Baltimore to figure out why it is so difficult for food carts to exist here. They seem like such great ways to start small businesses, and could also increase access to affordable healthy foods.

There was also an Urban Homesteading area with chickens, eggs, goats, and homemade preserves on display. I didn't attend any of the workshops since I kind of already know how to brew kombucha and what Permaculture is, but I'm really glad they were spreading the word to more people.

I got back Monday night, and took Tuesday off work so I could get errands done. The garden needed watering and weeding, I needed a haircut, and both of these watermelons needed chopping!

The fruit is getting eaten, the rind is getting pickled, and the green rind is getting fed to the worms.

I realized too late that I didn't do a very good job advertising: when I was at ACE Hardware in Waverly buying canning jars, the guy behind the counter told me he was interested in learning canning too.

It occurred to me that I should have put up flyers where canning jars are sold, at Mill Valley, and at the Farmer's Market. Oh well. I'll have better marketing next time.

Thank you so much to the people who did come to the workshop!

There was an all-you-can eat watermelon buffet, we discussed the basics of canning, and learned why some foods need to be soaking in a brine before pickling.

I still need to figure out how people can take their jars of food home after canning.

Usually you need to let the jars sit for 24 to 48 hours to ensure a proper seal. A few people biked to class and had no way of taking their food home. Have to figure out that aspect of the class. Any ideas?

There's still a lot of watermelon left over so I think I'm going to try making watermelon sorbet tonight. Epicurious has a really easy recipe that just contains watermelon, sugar, and lime juice.

8 cups cubed (1 inch) watermelon, seeds and rind discarded
1 cup Simple Sugar Syrup
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Puree the watermelon cubes in a food processor. Measure 4 cups of the puree and place in a bowl. Add the Simple Sugar Syrup and lemon juice and stir well. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Instead of using an ice cream maker, you can also freeze the sorbet in ice cube trays, then toss them into a food processor.

Or for an even more lo-fi approach, freeze the sorbet in a baking dish. Every half hour or so you can scrape the sorbet with a fork into flakes. It's more labor intensive, but if you don't have any fancy kitchen equipment it's the way to go.

A lovely vacation, delicious street food, new haircut, canning class, watermelon sorbet.. a pretty good way to get ready for Fall.

Stay tuned to hear about starting a Fall garden. Now is the perfect time to put in seeds!
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