Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Be well and have a great holiday! 

Thanks so much for reading BaltimoreDIY, and I can't wait to come back to see all of you on the internet.

(I'll be at Chicken-Man's family cabin for the holiday and am planning on unplugging from the internet, reading, knitting, and hopefully sewing a cozy for my cell phone out of some sweet leather scraps I got at the Renaissance Festival this year.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

BaltimoreDIY Gets Venison

I thought I would put a photo of the steaks frying in the pan to avoid terrifying any of you squeamish folk with photos of the butchering. If seeing where meat comes from disturbs you, I would recommend skipping this post. 

And now: An Epic Saga of Venison!

There has to be some kind of urban homesteading badge for this adventure.

Chicken Man has been talking about hunting for some time. On a typical Saturday we usually have sourdough toast and coffee while watching the hunting shows on Versus (I never knew there was a hunting channel before now.) Last weekend we took a walk around an area of the Prettyboy Reservoir with a friend to scope out hunting locations. But schedules have been packed lately, and he still hasn't gone hunting yet.

So how is his freezer is full of venison steaks, stew meat, ribs, stock bones, and even the hide and head of a small deer?

Yesterday something ridiculous happened.

Chicken Man (I'll call him CM for short) was walking around a somewhat wooded area of the city around lunchtime yesterday. The location won't be named in case any of this is illegal in some way.

As he was walking, a young deer tried to sprint past him and some other people walking nearby. The deer jumped over a parked car, accidentally clipped the car, then fell down into a ravine. It didn't get back up.

So CM immediately ran to find our friend from Montana who is well versed in dressing wild game.  I won't go into details, but they spent the next six hours butchering and wrapping the venison meat.

As far as ethical meat-eating goes, I feel like this venison has got it going on. The deer would definitely have suffered badly from it's injuries if it hadn't been humanely slaughtered by a knowledgeable hunter.

And now we've all got plenty of meat.

I got home in time just to catch the end of the sectioning of the deer into stew meat, stock bones, steaks, organs, and miscellaneous sausage meat.

After we fried the steaks I poured some wine into the pan with garlic and rosemary (grown in a tree well outside the front door) to make a nice sauce:

One of the most ridiculous deer "hunting" stories ever.
I still cannot believe this happened.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cabbage Salad With Sesame and Pomegranate + A New Use for a Knit Hat

So I may not even get around to making kimchi. Cabbage keeps ending up in everything I make these days!

Here's a salad I tossed together for dinner the other night:

Julienned fresh cabbage
Sesame Oil
Rice Vinegar
Pomegranate Seeds
Black and Tan Sesame Seeds
Pinch of Salt

There are different levels of crunchiness going on in this salad, from the slighty sweet and vegetable taste of the cabbage, the nutty taste of the sesame, and the sweet and sour of the pomegranate seeds.

The salad has kept really well in the fridge for several days, and is great along chicken and roasted sweet potatoes.

The raw cabbage is good, but sauteed cabbage has also been ending up on the menu. Last night I cooked thin slices in sesame oil and a sweet-and-spicy Korean chili paste and served it on top of chewy cellophane noodles with a fried egg. (It was sort of a bootleg japchae.) My friend Katie Red took a few photos with her gorgeous new camera, so hopefully I can post a photo!

Cabbage is super-cheap, stores well, and is great raw or cooked. Last year cauliflower was my surprise winter veggie favorite, but I think cabbage has pulled ahead!

In other cold weather news, I've been knitting again! BaltimoreDIY goes back to it's crafting roots, I guess.

I'm a pretty lazy knitter with about two projects in my repertoire. I make a really simple knit hat, and a really simple cowl (which is basically a scarf knit into a circle to keep your neck cozy.)

I thought you folks might enjoy this extra use of one of my knit hats: it's now my knitting bag!

My current project is a black cowl to hold back Chicken-Man's steadily dreading explosion of hair, and I'm hoping to get it done as quickly as possible. I started throwing the yarn into my purse so I could work on the cowl on my lunch breaks and when I'm hanging out with friends. But everything always gets tangled and dirty, and I end up with yarn wrapped around my keys, the spirals of my notebook, etc.

So I rummaged through my things to find a quick way to hold the yarn all in one place in my bag. The knit cap works beautifully!

In fact, I like it so much I'm thinking of felting the hat to make it more sturdy, and using it as a permanent knitting project bag.

Next up, a white cowl for myself made with some deliciously cuddly yarn that hasn't been dyed... snuggling with it is like curling up with a baby alpaca!

My plan is to pretty much knit and bake bread all through Thanksgiving weekend.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Baltimore Food Ecology Documentary

Last night, MICA hosted the debut screening of the Baltimore Food Ecology Documentary.

(City Paper printed an article about the documentary in yesterday's weekly paper if you're interested in reading more.)

I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to attend, since I also wanted to go to Hmart for kimchi-making supplies and was having dinner with friends and the Chicken-Man at 8:30, but happily I managed to squeeze it all in!

The documentary was created by a group of MICA students and Hugh Pocock, a MICA professor who you've probably heard of if you are involved in urban agriculture in Baltimore. The blog Baltimore Urban Farming displays some of his past class projects, such as attending the Sowing Seeds Conference at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and volunteering at basically every major urban farm in Baltimore.

Hugh Pocock is the dude in the orange shirt, and Roy Skeen (Remington neighbor, friend and now farmer at The Samartian Women) is the guy in the green shirt. Americorps and art student volunteers also shown.

The documentary consisted mainly of footage of Baltimore's abandoned row houses, the rows of ramen and soda at local corner stores, the produce and seafood distribution centers in Jessup, burgeoning city gardens like Participation Park and Duncan St., and tanks of fish being raised for sustainable aquaculture. Over the footage, a narrator described the history of how Baltimore's food system is broken, and ways people are trying to fix it.

The filmmakers even touched upon the very Baltimore-specific theme of our harbor as a former network of food distribution and the decline of fresh seafood coming from the Chesapeake Bay.

There are some video clips on the documentary website:

I can't say that the themes were anything new- anyone who has ever read an article about local food has read about how our food system is broken. How in the late 1960s grocery stores began leaving the increasingly impoverished cities, how processed food is cheap and bad for you, and how local farming and aquaculture are better for our health, economy, and energy use are pretty much common knowledge at this point.

But it was definitely nice to see a mix of urban agriculture programs, from community gardens of all different styles to university-funded aquaculture and urban food research. The theater was packed, I got to chat with some friendly fellow urban growers, and it was great to see that there is still a buzz around urban agriculture.

My main hope is that all of this talk turns into solid environmental action and economic growth for Baltimore.

While I get frustrated sometimes that there is a lot of buzz and a limited amount of real change in the way our city eats its food, I have to keep reminding myself that this is just the beginning of a movement, and building  excitement is necessary if we want to really affect how people make their food purchases.

If you are interested in getting involved with another urban food system project linked to Hugh Pocock, stay tuned to the MICA Food Summit website.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Butternut Squash Butter + Fall Greens Kimchi


Next week is the last week for our CSA vegetable pick-up. Phew! I love foodmaking, but keeping up with the flood of squash and greens was really a part-time job.

There are seven squashes on those baking sheets, I roasted just as many two weeks ago, and had a new pickup with two more squash on Saturday!

(The veggies on the foil in front are fennel. I was going to roast them and make a fennel-parmesan dip, but they tasted so good roasted in plain olive oil + salt + pepper I ate the fennel straight.)

What did I make with all that squash?

The answer lies with Food52, a food blog hosted by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs (Amanda is a food writer for the New York Times.) The recipes and photos on their site are phenomenal!

The recipes are all submitted by readers, and the creativity is really inspiring. Let's just say I first got hooked on the site by stumbling across a recipe for "Tipsy Maple Corn": popcorn coated with Jack Daniels + maple syrup + butter + peanuts + pancetta. Yeah.

"Feta Frozen Yogurt with Blood Orange and Mint Granita," anyone? Methinks I could make this a local and seasonal recipe by buying local feta cheese and using my canned fig syrup from the neighbors figs. Reading these recipes really inspired me to make new food combinations and use different techniques.

But I digress. Here is the recipe I actually used from the site this past weekend: "Butternut Squash Butter"

Usually I'm not such a fan of fruit butters, but this spread tastes like you're eating a slice of pumpkin pie. And there is no fat in it! And it was relatively simple to make, although canning the spread in a pressure canner did add a few extra steps for me.

You can click the link above for the full recipe. I will say that it was very handy that Chicken Man had a batch of pumpkin spice flavored stout brewed up. One bottle of beer + brown sugar + honey + maple syrup + a lot of butternut squash = happy mornings and snack time.

Great, so the squash was taken care of. Now what to do with the four heads of cabbage, radishes, and various other greens?

Quick and Easy Korean Cooking has also been a recent inspiration as I search for foods to make during late fall. So, it's kimchi time!

The greens all got chopped and mixed with brine. The mix is sitting in a glass jar on the back porch, slowly fermenting in the cool weather.

Tonight I'm stepping slightly outside the local food arena to get kimchi chili paste + ginger + fish sauce.

Chopped cabbage:

(Chicken Man bought the pomegranates in the background as a nice treat!)

Chopped radishes, cabbage, and I think mustard greens:

The "Quick and Easy Korean Cooking" book has a recipe for kimchi pancakes, a creamy rice porridge called jook, a light and easy broth made from dried anchovies and sprouts... sounds like great winter food.

Can't wait for all this cold weather comfort cooking!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

November Garden Update

The temperature may be getting close to freezing overnight and the sun is setting before dinnertime, but that doesn't mean the growing season is over yet.

Crops like fennel, radish, carrots, beets, peas, and greens all thrive in the cool fall weather. I didn't even mean to plant the peas and fennel shown above!

I mulched my tomatoes with dried pea shoots over the summertime, and I guess there were a few dried peas still on the stalks. I was surprised this fall to find pea shoots growing and a few pods on the vine. I also intentionally planted some peas in September and they are just flowering now.

The fennel also grew as a "volunteer" plant, I'm guessing from one of the seeds of the fennel that was planted in spring.

There is a recipe for Warm Fennel and Parmesan Dip in the most recent issue of Martha Stewart's Living magazine that I'm hoping to try. The website Willie's Greens posted a copy of the recipe if you're interested.

What else is growing right now?

Many of the Tat Soi shoots got destroyed by a nibbling something, but there are still some kale and carrot seedlings that I'm hoping turn into real plants within the next 30 days before the frost comes.

And there are a ton of green tomatoes to collect asap. Chicken Man has a lot of Hungarian Wax and other spicy peppers growing on his porch, so I'm planning to do a repeat of the Green Tomato Relish I made over my stay-cation.

We just ate some of the relish with grilled chicken and it was phenomenal. It made me feel o.k. about the fact that I barely grew any red tomatoes at all this year!

Also,there are a lot of green shoots growing in this one area of my garden bed. I thought that I had planted Daikon Radish there, but the shoots look and smell a lot like coriander...

Otherwise the main thing going on in the garden right now is fertilizing to replace all of the nutrients taken out by the plants.

I just sprinkled both of my beds with rabbit poop from our heirloom American Chinchilla bunnies- they're not breeding right now, but at least they are providing good fertilizer. 

I could plant a cover crop to hold the nutrients in all winter and retain better soil health, so maybe I will do that once the carrots and tomato plants come out of the ground in the next few weeks.

Maybe I will grow some rye? The University of Vermont has a great explanation for why rye makes a great cover crop over the winter.

Other plans for late fall gardening: snip a few lengths of fig tree branches to try to propagate new trees, plant garlic to germinate next spring, and perhaps start a small pop-up market.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween

Happy November! And I hope everyone had a nice Halloween.

I was kicking myself this morning for not taking any pictures of Hauntingdon, the Halloween block party that happens on Huntingdon Avenue in Remington. Luckily many of the decorations were still up this morning, so I managed to snag a photo of this porch, and the neighbors happily offered to jump in the photo.

Many of the front porches were decorated and had some kind of interactive activity going on. There was Heads Will Roll with doll-head bowling, a puppet show, a Zombification Station where you could get zombie face paint, goo, an exploding pumpkin by Science Camp's John Rowley, hula hoops, stilt-walkers, a theremin, and more!

The kids really seemed to be loving it, and there were a ton of people from the neighborhood there hanging out. It was definitely one of the best city festivals I've been to since Artscape. Major props to the organizing committee for such a fantastic event.

I was pretty beat however after a long food making weekend, so I didn't take many photos and ended up sitting next to a friend's bonfire.

What else happened this weekend?

STEW was Friday night.

The food was amazing as always, and you can visit the STEW website to hear video of the community groups who spoke.

Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle was formed by a group of students who came up through the Baltimore City public school system and are currently protesting Baltimore's decision to spend $104 million on a youth detention center.

Hit and Stay is a documentary recording the history of the famous Catonsville Nine and Baltimore Four Vietnam War peace activists.

The Change4Real Project is a movement at Sojourner-Douglass College focused on bottom-up city growth and creating strong neighborhood networks from within; they work specifically with the community of Oldtown, which is located near the college.

Plus, the STEW kitchen crew were interested in putting out jars of local preserves, and they called me to ask if I knew anyone with lots of preserves lying around. The definitely came to the right place!

I decided I could spare some gingered watermelon pickles, saurkraut, and pickled beets from my steadily growing pantry. The plum jam, canned tomatoes, salsa, and spicy relishes I've got to hold on to for winter. All I've got left to can is some applesauce this week and maybe a little more hot sauce, and then that's it!

We also had a fundraiser for The Beet bulk food buyers club at the Lantern Parade. I sort of never want to see a chickpeas again. We sold a good amount, but I still had a TON left over and ran around all Hauntingdon giving away containers of chickpeas.

On the plus side, I now have some really yummy Old-Bay and lemon flavored hummus for lunch today. I'm going to eat it with some steamed broccoli and sourdough.

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