poor scientist. will blog 4 food.

the culinary adventures of a self-described foodie


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Strawberry Day @ Eatwell Farm

One perk of a Eatwell CSA membership is that they hold special events at the farm throughout the year. Last Saturday, TC and I joined a few friends for Strawberry Days at Eatwell Farm in Dixon, CA. The deal was that we could eat as many strawberries as we wanted for free on-site, and for the berries that we took home, we’d be charged a mere $1 per pound. It actually ended up costing less than that, since they were rounding down. Not only was it really fun to pick our own berries, but we got to meet some of the workers and got a tour of the farm too.

I learned a lot on Saturday. For example, we learned that the strawberries were grown without pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizer. Nigel Walker, the owner of Eatwell, spent some time talking to us about the chicken rotation they have on the farm. Essentially, the chickens get moved from field to field throughout the year. In the process, they eat all of the bugs as well as fertilizing the soil. Win-win. I also got to see where some of the vegetables were grown, and was impressed by the diversity of produce. No monoculture here! And unlike most farm fields, there were plenty of weeds growing among the produce, but they didn’t seem to be hurting them too much. Finally, it always amazes me when I see a vegetable in its natural form (i.e. not isolated in the grocery store) and realize that I have never ever seen (or ever thought about) the vegetable as a plant. Example: Saturday was the first time I’ve ever seen an entire potato plant. Then I thought about how easy it is to think of veggies in isolation without thinking about the whole plant. I think it speaks to the disconnect in our relationship with the food we consume.

Mostly, I felt extremely grateful to be a tiny part of this farm that is doing the right thing. With food production, that’s hard to come by these days.

Enjoy the photos! (Unfortunately, I forgot my “real” camera, so you’ll have to settle for iPhone pictures.)

Walking out to the strawberry field with TC, MC, and LTH.

Strawberry pickers for a day. There was a plastic sheet laid down under the plants, which made the strawberries easier to pick and cleaner as well.

I’m hard at work, while TC is just standing around. Typical.

Strawberry fight! Or maybe I’m trying to throw it into TC’s mouth.

TC and I picked this flat of strawberries, setting us back a whopping $9. We shared 4 pints with friends, ate 2, and froze the rest for smoothies. Our friends MC, LTH, and IP made delicious jam with their berries.

Farm tour! Name those veggies…

This is what a potato plant looks like.

Jose, the farm foreman, digging up potatoes. Ah, those roots look familiar!

Admiring the pretty cabbage plants.

Onions that bolted overnight, rendering them unedible. But they sure are interesting looking, huh?

 


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Inaugural CSA box from Eatwell Farm

As I mentioned previously, TC and I “resolved” to get CSA boxes this year from Eatwell Farm. Here is what we got yesterday, in our inaugural box:

Mandarin Oranges
Arugula
Spinach
Broccoli
Romanesco*
Bok Choy
Turnips
Collard Greens*
Daikon Radishes
Leeks
Savoy Cabbage
Pink Lady Apples
1/2 dozen pasture-raised eggs

*denotes items I have never cooked previously

And here is how it all looked:

So exciting! TC and I cooked some of it tonight. One dish was a recipe that we got in our box for cabbage, leeks, and white beans. It sounded promising, but it only turned out so-so, even though we added bacon(!). Still, at least it was healthy? (Minus the bacon.) The other dish we made was a derivative of my mushrooms and bok choy stir fry that is always reliably good, if I do say so myself. I think my favorite thing so far, though, are the oranges. They are exactly what an orange should taste like, if that makes any sense. And we have loads of them. Hooray!

Here’s a completely random photo of the Spicy Peanut Eggplant and Shallot Stew that we made on Saturday. It was super delicious. I’m think I’m developing a huge crush on The Post Punk Kitchen blog.


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Quick Post: What do you insist on buying organic?

Hey there! A quick Thursday morning post in the midst of Moving Madness 2011.

Some of you might remember a list that was published earlier this year about which fruits and veggies take in more pesticides. The take home message is that these fruits and vegetables should be bought organic/pesticide-free whenever possible.

My view has always been: buy what tastes good. I’ve found that organic produce, while being more expensive, often tastes a lot better. Also, it’s not just free of pesticides, but organic produce is often grown in nutrient-rich soil, and so the result is more nutritious and better tasting fruits and vegetables.

Last month, my sister JS and I had a discussion about this as she was getting ready to put sweet potatoes in the oven. She insists on buying sweet potatoes organic, as they taste a lot better than conventionally grown ones. For me, I’ve noticed a tremendous difference in carrots and apples. I’ve also found that organic green onions last a lot longer than their conventional cousins (surprisingly), and that organic garlic is much more robust and easier to peel. Of course, based on what I’ve read in the news, I always buy organic berries since they are most susceptible to taking up pesticides, and very toxic ones at that.

Anyway, so my question is: what do you insist on buying organic? Please sound off in the comments!