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Thursday June 21, 2012

Marando Farms

marando farms

Marando Farms is an intimate little farmer’s market and garden in Ft. Lauderdale with an extra hardcore homesteading edge. I was first told about it a few months ago when I was on the hunt for raw milk (for home cheesemaking, more later on that), and sure enough, they’ve got it, both in cow and goat varieties, along with homemade yogurt and other milk products. But there’s a lot more — Marando is equal parts grocery store, farm, community center, food activism project, and attraction. And there are farm animals.

See the whole article and 13 photos

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Tuesday January 29, 2008

Black Sapote

Black sapote

Got some Black Sapote with my CSA share last week. They’re green when they arrive, and took about a week to ripen. Ripe in this case means looking really rough. When they get all black and ultra-soft — in other words, like they’re ready to be thrown out — that’s when they’re good to eat. You slice it open and eat it with a spoon.

The taste and flavor is indeed uncannily like chocolate pudding, but make no mistake, this is fruit, and there are way too many unhealthy things in actual pudding that give it an unfair edge. Sapote tastes like fruit that tastes like chocolate pudding, delicious and just a little strange.

Not sure what I’m going to do with the second one. The webernets recommend using it in baking, but that’s a non-starter with me. It would be improved basically by adding sugar and some sort of fat to it, maybe mixed with cream in a blender, but that sort of recommends getting some sort of alcohol involved in the mix, right? Some sort of Black Sapote rum drink? Suggestions?

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Wednesday December 12, 2007

CSA Week 3

I didn’t post anything about CSA last week because I was too busy. The haul was similar to the first week, with a few variations and one very nice surprise: a small jar of wildflower honey! Who knew they have bee farms down here?

This week brought more surprises — oranges! And: the first tomatoes of the season. Oversized organic cherry tomatoes. Also a big avocado, more green beans, scarlet turnips, parsley, and an overabundance of greens, (collards!), including Mizuna. Everything has been crazy delicious, but it has required a few adjustments. Most importantly, I had to set aside my kitchen-contraption aversion and buy a salad spinner. It’s not so much for the spinning itself, but you just need a easy way to very seriously rinse vegetables, because they sometimes come from the farm with more dirt then you’re used to seeing on vegetables. (Grit in your food = no fun.) A good colander in a big pot would have worked, but my colander is too big, and actually the spinner option is useful when stir-frying.

Here’s the gist of the cooking strategy: I cook up a great big pot of brown rice at the beginning of the week. It sits in the fridge. When I want to whip something up, I’ll dump the following into my cast-iron skillet over a little olive oil: some of the rice (sometimes I’ll substitute a hash-browns*), whatever rinsed and chopped vegetables seem like a good idea, and one or more of a) garbanzo beans, b) tofu, c) egg. The only trick here is the order that things go in. Some greens are delicate and ready-to-eat, and those go in at the very end, while others need a bit of cooking. Tofu benefits from a little browning, so if it goes it goes in first, while the garbanzo beans pretty much just need to warm through. So on.

One decent variation: throw some of the hash browns (see below) and green beans into the pan (wok works good, too) with a bit of chopped onion (note CSA: some delicious local onions would be nice, as would potatoes). Stir around until the potatoes brown a little and the onion turns clear. Chop some dill while this happens. When it’s looking good, add some garbanzo beans (oh sorry: “chick peas”). Now!: pour some white wine into the pan. This will sizzle and steam dramatically and make you feel like you’re doing some serious cooking. When the wine starts to boil a bit, sprinkle in some flour (this works nicely) and stir. That’ll thicken the wine into a sauce. Add the dill, some salt and pepper, and cook for 30 or 60 seconds more and BAM! Ready to go.

My mission for this week: catch up on eating as much of this stuff as possible, and get that fridge empty for Saturday. Meanwhile, two other bloggers doing much more interesting things with their CSA shares: Tinkering With Dinner and Miami Dish. And while I’m dropping links, everyone should go read Michael Poland’s article on how to eat, which I’m pretty sure I’ve linked before.

* Works like this: You take a potato, skin and all, wash it a bit, and coarse-grate it. Grab a handful, squeeze it over the sink to drain out as much water as possible, and fling it in a pan. Let brown. Sprinkle with salt and flip. Amazing hash browns.

Update: For those confused about what’s going on here, see the Redland Organics CSA page.

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Tuesday November 27, 2007

Community supported agriculture part 1

Well, I did it: I signed up for the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program run by Redland Organics. My first batch of food came the weekend before Thanksgiving, and it was an impressive haul — two squashes, two turbocharged avocados, some crazy Komatsuna greens (seen at left in photo), green beans, turnips watermelon beets (the incredible flavor of which I can never convey, but the eye-poping color the inside of which I will reveal in a later photo) with greens on, plus fresh dill, garlic chives, and basil. Wow… and they start light in the early season?

I wasn’t really ready for this, and so a lot of it got consumed in a big stir-fry, with sauces probably overpowering the freshness which is the point of the whole thing. By next time (this Saturday!), I am will to have a salad spinner (as advertised, these veggies come with soil very well attached, straight from the farm style, and washing is necessary), an empty fridge, and a mind ready to eat whatever vegetables are put to my usage. Prepare for more reports of where this came.

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Wednesday January 17, 2007

Eating locally

If you’ve read The Omnivore’s Dilemma (and you should; it’s a great book), you know that eating locally grown food is one of the best things you can do for yourself, your community, and your environment (see also 100 Mile Diet). The bummer is that Miami is not an easy city to eat locally in. One of the less-then-perfect options is the Redland Organics CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) food subscription.

Rebecca at Greener Miami and Tere at the mom blog have gone in together on a one-month trial, and have posts up on their initial reactions. The pros: you get super-delicious food, and you’re very legitimately eating locally. The cons: not for the faint of heart —

  1. You have no idea what you’re getting from one week to the next.
  2. You get lots of food. Better suited to big families with flexible pallets and hippie communes.
  3. You sign up before the growing season, then you get food for about 20 weeks; November to April. The rest of the year you’re back on your own.
  4. You need to pick up your stuff from one of the “convenient locations” every Saturday morning.
  5. Pretty expensive: a “half-share” for the year is $350. That’s $18 per week. (The full share works out to about $30 per week, the trial about $38 per week.)
  6. Rebecca reports that the vegetables need serious washing: dirt, plus “a spider, a little worm, and a snail.”
  7. The shared-risk aspect: you’re paying for the farming, not the food. If there’s a drought, you agree that you’ll get less stuff (or nothin’).

Wow, that’s a lot of downside. Everybody should still do this, though. Send ‘em an e-mail and get on their waiting list for the 07/08 season. The thing about it is that each of those downsides makes a lot of sense. The stuff is dirty because it comes out of the ground. It’s expensive because it’s grown by (relatively) well paid Americans. You get whatever they’ve grown because, well . . . you get the picture. Local food is good food. Can’t wait to see how the rest of the month goes for Rebecca and Tere.

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