Raising Jane Journal

Thursday, June 28, 2012


It has been awhile since I've had the time to hit the local thrift stores, and so in a much needed moment of thrifting, I headed out the door last week in search of good find. The funny thing about me is that I tend to thrift for similar items. My collection of ice cream makers, yogurt makers, and pasta makers could make a person laugh. Okay, it's not that bad but it's pretty close. My latest craze is pots and pans. I actually was in need of a set last fall and found a great copper bottom set for $12 at a yard sale. But I was struggling with sizing issues. When I found these beauties I couldn't resist. All told $22 for the set. I little higher that I usually spend. Taking one look at them and I knew I had hit the jackpot. The sizing is perfect for my needs, and with handles like those I can go from stove top to oven. Yeah! (My ceramic stove top was not fairing to well with my cast iron pans). When I brought them home, my first thought was that they just don't make them like they used to. But I have a question to pose. I don't really have a good background in what things were made from. These look almost tarnished on the inside like silverware. Can anyone tell me what these might have been made from and how to care for them?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Just had to share last night's dinner. Sauteed red & golden beets with greens and canned salmon. Absolutely delicious!

Friday, June 22, 2012

In the Box and On the Farm

This week began the summer share of my CSA. For me this mean double the produce. In this weeks share:
Bagged mixed lettuce
Red lettuce
Collard greens (Yum!)
Red Onions

I have to admit that each week, when I open my box, I get so excited. The anticipation of what I will be eating this week is part of the fun of the CSA. I notice each week that there is always a favorite to choose from. This weeks favorite..Collard greens! They are so versatile. They can go from steamed greens as a side, to a wrap of the main course. They can be added to just about any dish. I also have to admit that the strawberries were a nice treat. When I looked at the strawberries several desert ideas ran through my head, but I decided the best way to serve them was as themselves, with a little whipped cream on top that is. Perfection in a bowl.

On the farm this week it was more of the same. Lots of weeding. The carrot beds this week. Things took a slightly different twist because while we weeded along we also had to thin out the thickly planted carrots. I have to say that the day was far from boring though. This week I got a history lesson. You see, back in the day, this area was covered in farm land. But like so many other areas, the farmland is disappearing at a rapid pace, being bought out by developers who build subdivisions and strip malls. It seems that the originally farmers of this land and put in place some sort of stipulation that this land was to remain farmland and so the Liberty Prairie Foundation was formed. The land is farmed by approximately 8 different farms ranging from 1 acre to 20 acres. Of these, about 5 farms make their main living from the land. What I found the most interesting is that each of these farms will not remain here. The land is used strictly for those as a start-up location , to begin there journey in farming, with the hopes that in a few years, they will have made their name and will be able to move out on their own. There is also an learning farm on the land with hands on activities for little ones through high schoolers. It is actually a pretty amazing system covering all aspects of connection the farm to the consumer. Several local bee keepers will keep their hives on the land and most of the farms keep chickens. So along with the produce, I can pick up my eggs and honey here. As we finished up the day, we headed over to weed out the cauliflower & brussels sprouts. I never knew that as the cauliflower head starts to really get going that it needs to be shaded, and so we snapped the larger leaves over to make a sort of tent of protection as they continue to grow. While the day was fairly humid, it was an overcast day and we watched as a huge storm cloud make it's way in our direction. Unfotunately for this farm land, which was in need of a good rain, the storm headed slightly north. Until next week.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

In the Box and On the Farm Thursday

Well, this week ends the spring share of the CSA. The produce is beginning to change as the weather warms up. In this weeks box:
Red and green lettuce
Baby beets and greens
Napa cabbage
red and green kohlrabi
garlic scapes

I look forward to that rare treat every year when the garlic scapes come in. It's like a Christmas in June. The Napa cabbage made for great salad wraps last night and I am excited for that first small taste of roasted beets. There is nothing better (except for maybe sweet potatoes in the fall). The wonderful thing about local foods is that it is every changing through the seasons and I look forward to something new each week. I have to be honest, I was really stuck on the fennel bulb from last week until I came across this fresh fennel salad recipe. I have not had the opportunity to try it yet, but the simplicity of it is perfect.

On the farm this week it was all about washing and weeding. I began my day in the washing station. In a covered shady area a stood at the big wash tub filled with mixed salad greens. It is amazing how much work is actually done right in the fields as it is being harvested. It comes in pretty clean and only needs a quick wash to pick out the few stray weeds and crisp it up a bit before packaging. An old clothes dryer stands by for a quick spin dry and then straight to weighing and bagging and it's ready for market the next day. Then off to the fields for a day full of weeding. We hit the lettuce and chive beds. The rest of the day was just pulling weeds along the beds to make harvesting easy. Even with the temperatures hitting close to 90, it is amazing that being out in the open, the breeze really takes care of being uncomfortable.

As I worked away at the weeds, I started to realize a few things. The sound of birds and breeze filled my ears and not that of any machinery. The farm I work on is part of a group of farms that covers a decent quantity of land and here we were hand picking weeds. The weeds are left in the fields to be tilled back into the soil. The next thing I noticed was the large quantity of ladybugs, big and small. Organic pest control at it's best.

There are usually just a few of us working away at a time, but it is extremely efficient. You notice rather quickly what is a weed and what is not and then you just fall into a rhythm and move along pretty quickly. I noticed that last week during harvesting. You just know what to do and move along at a steady pace.

When I stop to compare it to my back yard garden, all neat and boxed and weeded, I have to notice that real food production is not about how it looks in the field so much as how it looks and tastes on your plate. There is a lot of work involved, but I think it's more about the system that allows it to all come together.

After about three hours I have a tendency to start to feel the work, but I think after a time I will get used to it. It's my favorite workout of the week.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

In the Box and On the Farm

I love the sight of all those greens! Every week when my CSA box arrives, I plan on posting a picture and a list of the goodies that come inside and yet I have not had the time to stop and post. The unique thing about my CSA this year is the fact that I am receiving it by workshare. So this past Saturday I spent four hours down on the farm working the fields. Again, planning to post my activities, but time got away from me. So here goes. I think it's time to make Thursday's "In the Box and On the Farm" day. I will dedicate one day each week to all the activities involved in my CSA. So this week....
Red and Green Lettuce
Bagged mixed lettuce
Bagged spinach
Rainbow swiss chard
Salad Turnips (I love these!)
Green onions

Saturday morning I woke up to beautiful weather. The sun shining and the temps. in the 70's. I could not have asked for better weather to start my first day working on the farm. I headed off to the farm to start work at 8am. Each week will be filled with different duties as needed, so on this day it was work in the fields. It was interesting to learn that the farmland there is actually split into several different small farms. With spring coming to a close, it was time to harvest the spring greens. We tackled the spinach beds first, Cutting along the ground line allows each individual leaf to be ready for washing and packaging. Then off to harvest the salad greens for bagging. Again, cutting along the ground line allows for a quick wash and bag. The nice thing about the salad beds was that cutting them this way will allow the plant to send up one more batch of lettuce for cutting. And to think all this time I just picked individual leaves. Then off to the radishes. Unfortunately, radishes are pretty touchy, and so most of them had already bolted. No more radishes in my CSA box to fall. I quick break and a shady spot for the harvested crops and then it was off to the hoop houses. There we harvested the full heads of lettuce. With a full truck load of produce we headed back to the farm to the washing station where we dropped everything to be washed. My field work was done and it was time to head on out. While I know that in the middle of summer when the sun is pounding or in the middle of a rainy day this may not prove to be so enjoyable, I did actually relish this time. There is nothing like the sound of birds and breeze. Working in the fresh air, listening to the nearby chickens and great conversation with like minded individuals was just what this momma needed. Learning the aspects of what it takes to run a farm is also rather interesting. Even though I only keep a small backyard garden, I'm sure some of the tips will carry over. It also made opening my CSA box this week all the more meaningful. When I opened my box I saw things that I had worked to harvest.