Sunday, July 26, 2009

Alison Wiediger Rocks Campsie Place! The July 20 09 report

Awesome Alison -- That's how I think of her, now that I have been a lucky part of her engagement with a room full of interested farmers, potential farmers, and their urban allies. Alison drove more than two hours to share her expertise in year-round vegetable farming in Kentucky.

In the earl 1990s, Alison and her husband Paul received one of the first Kentucky organic certifications for their Au Naturel Farm near Mammoth Cave. They then piloted the use of high tunnels -- unheated hoop-style greenhouses -- for winter salad vegetable production.

Alison said a University of Kentucky professor, Dr. Emery Emmert, developed the technique in the 1940s and 1950s, and then Kentucky growers pretty much forgot about Dr. Emmert's discoveries. Alison also credited Eliot Coleman of Maine's Four Season Farm, who has written several books on winter vegetable production and organic farming, some of them with his wife, Barbara Damrosch, who writes a weekly column, A Cook's Garden, for the Washington Post. Eliot Coleman's most recent book is The Winter Harvest Handbook.

The Wiedigers, whose first high tunnel came from the garden section at Wal-Mart, now are national experts on high tunnels. They have written Walking to Spring, a book about using high tunnels to grow food year round, and lead workshops on the topic around the country.

In 2009, central Kentucky has no high tunnel winter greens producer. Alison pointed out to the potential farmers present that although farming never makes one right -- people farm, she says, "because they can't NOT farm" -- the winter vegetable production and local sales are the most profitable part of Au Naturel's business.

I doubt Alison got to eat anything during the Cornbread Supper, although some tomatoes from her farm showed up at the table in a beautiful caprese-style salad. Here's some of what Alison missed eating, according to the dish descriptions left behind:
  • Corn fritters w/honey
  • Pesto walnut salad w/tomatoes, feta & olives
  • Homemade wild blackberry ice cream
  • Beer Bread
  • Organic stir fry
  • White Chicken Chili
  • Brownies
  • Whole Wheat & Oat Choc. Chip & Almonds (also butter & eggs)
  • Weisenberger Cheese Grits with Candy Onions & Kenny's Asiago Cheese
  • Bacon-Corn-Leek-Shallot-Candy Onion-Garlic-Parmesan Cornbread

Monday, July 20, 2009

News, and July 13 reports

Quick news: Alison Wiediger of Au Naturel Farm will be at the July 20 Cornbread Supper to talk about high tunnels, or hoop houses, from 5 - 6 PM. Supper starts at 6 PM as usual.

Mick Jeffries
will make and offer fresh artisanal cocktails for the July 27 Supper. Blueberries, perhaps...

Susan Miller, goat cheesemaker extraordinaire, Slow Food Bluegrass member, and proprietor of Bleugrass Chevre, will host a special country Cornbread Supper edition on Monday, August 10, on Grimes Mill Road. More details will follow - save this date for an extraordinary evening of Bluegrass/Bleugrass conviviality.

No Cornbread Suppers on August 3, 17, and 24 while your hosts play in Massachusetts. We'll see you promptly at 6 PM on August 31. (and July 20 and July 27, of course.)

And the July 13 Bastille Day edition of Cornbread Suppers? Fantastic. 45 people or so -- with only two short folks under the age of 10, which we hope is NOT a trend -- and a wonderful spread of food and drinks.

Cornbreads included a firecracker spicy Stone Cross Farm chorizo with Blue Moon leeks, garlic, onions, and Kenny's cheeses, and a vegetarian corn-garlic-onions-multicheese vegetarian offering.

Here's how Cornbread Contributors described their offerings (if they did) on little helpful pieces of paper:
  • Fresh, local "organic" -- nothing added (beets, cucumbers, nasturtiums)
  • Vegan olive oil, plain and Bals. vinegar, pinenuts, coconut, thyme, parsley
  • Purchased at the Farmers Market; probably not local, but seasonal (watermelon chunks)
  • Turkey meatballs with feta cheese; sauce is yogurt, cucumber, garlic
  • Zucchini from my garden, onion (Vidalia) from the Farmers Market, garlic, fava beans, sea salt, red pepper, white pepper, curry, Oberholtzer's Sorghum, made in KY
  • Greens w/goat cheese, candied walnuts and shallot vinaigrette
  • Tomato cucumber salad
  • Cole Slaw - Backyard cabbage and peppers
  • Bund Gobhi aur Matar, no meat
  • Tabbooleh, veg.
  • BaBa Ghanoush made with local eggplants
  • Broccoli & Asparagus Casserole; no eggs, no rice, no mayo
  • Beet Salad w/curry vinaigrette
  • Roasted Red Pepper Feta Dip
  • Sauteed Swiss Chard
I appreciate people sharing the details of their dishes with each other, as enticement, useful allergy/sensitivity/preference information -- and because I often find out after the fact about wonderful dishes that people enjoyed during the Supper!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wonderful Guest: Alison Wiediger, July 20, 2009 - 5 PM

Greens grower extraordinaire Alison Wiediger joins us at 5:00 PM Monday, July 20 - one hour before the usual Supper start time - to talk with us about growing vegetables year-round, using unheated high tunnels, also known as hoop houses. Please come!

Alison and her husband Paul own Au Naturel Farm in Smiths Grove, Kentucky. The Wiedigers are national experts on high tunnels. They have written Walking to Spring, a book about using high tunnels to grow food year round. They do workshops around the country, and share generously with others about ways to launch and sustain a successful, profitable farm-based business like theirs.

Of great interest to both growers and eaters: the opportunity for growers to create real profits and for eaters to enjoy fresh local salads in deep winter, thanks to greens grown in high tunnels.

Come at 5:00 on Monday, July 20, 2009, to talk with Alison, and stay for the usual Cornbread Supper, starting at 6 PM. See the sidebar for location and other details about Cornbread Suppers.

All are welcome.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

July 6, 2009: The day we all came to Cornbread Supper

Watermelon JuiceAh, the watermelon juice! As unexpected, refreshing, and utterly cool as the 54 people (at least) who came to Cornbread Supper this week. At least 13 people were first-timers. At least 10 wiggly ones were under the age of 8 or so. Food poured in, "supervalue" sparkling J. Roget poured out (and we liked the Extra Dry better than the Brut) - and then the hula hoopers showed up!

Lovely hoopstress and neighbor Ms. SB brought a clutch of hoops of different sizes, and a hoopathon set in after the meal, working circles around the short end of Campsie. So many energy circles got set in motion and rippled out into space, we're still eating round-cornered food days later.

Mexican and Blue Moon/Music/Full Moon cornbreads, nearly readyMexican Cornbread, adapted from a family recipe and filled with Kentucky ingredients, disappeared quickly. So did the Blue Moon/Full Moon/Music vegetarian cornbread, made with Blue Moon Farm's leeks and Music garlic.

So many treats, one a cool green pea soup with mint, with its seductive, surprising, slow cayenne burn - beautiful and delicious. And vegetarian, says its descriptive slip of paper. We enjoyed so many more beautiful, tasty foods, described by their producers in these ways:Chilled Pea Soup with Mint
  • Intense hummus, not too mild!
  • Zucchini, onions, lemon, olive oil, celery seed, garlic powder, pepper, salt
  • Fruit salad, yogurt dressing
  • Very garlic pasta & peas
  • Hummus
  • Asiago over Angel Hair with tomatoes, parsley, etc.
  • Beans, rice, tomato, onion, corn, cilantro (veggie)
  • Pencil Pod Beans - local (garden)
  • Pap's homegrown green beans (w/butter & salt)
  • Martin Luther King homegrown organic cucumber! Yoghurt, local honey, seasalt; also organic from my yard & garden: Swiss chard, dill, basil, mint
>Lots of Green!
Next? Porch sitting, porch standing, porch conversations. Hoops, hooping, hoop dreams revived and renewed and perhaps set in motion for the first time, perhaps (for the one-year-olds involved.) So fine in the perfect warm-cool-dry summer city evening.

Nancy's (Excellent) Cheddar Snaps

Blue Moon - Full Moon - Music Corngread

Cool Fruit Salad

Sunday, July 5, 2009

June 29: What food!!!

Amazing Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi
It was a foodie extravaganza, unpreplanned, as always. Wines came in abundance, too, as seems to be the case each week.

Pictures of some of the foods follow after the listing.

It's too bad we have no audio record of the oohs, ahhhhs, and outright squeals that greeted the deviled eggs, and the yummmms all around for all the other delights, including these (from the paper slips describing the dishes):
  • Homemade gnocchi, with homemade ricotta as a prime ingredient
  • Pistachio nuts and sunflower seeds
  • Vegan blueberry pie (Blueberries, Ginger, Sugar, Wheat & White Flour, Cornstarch & Salt)
  • Green Beans Vinaigrette
  • Black-eyed Peas (meat-free)
  • Mediterranean Coucous w/Lentil Salad (w/vinaigrette, tomatoes, arugula, mint) - and Feta
  • Cucumbers & Dill w/garlic and lemon & a bit of Feta
  • Last Spring 09 greens from Campsie garden w/lemon mustard vinaigrette
  • Blueberry (barely) cornmeal poundcake from Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life
  • Buttermilk Vanilla ice cream - local pasteurized cream and milk, Elmwood eggs
  • Blue-Black Sauce for cake or ice cream
  • Polenta with sundried tomato/onion/bacon/cream sauce
  • Polenta with garlicky greens and pecans (ovo-lacto-vegetarian)
  • Reed Valley Orchard Black Raspberries and Blueberries - Picked Today. Finger Food for Tasting

Knock your socks off old-fashioned double/triple orange daylilies

Homemade deviled eggs

Cucumber Dill Salad
First ever real homemade Blueberry Pie - Vegan and Fabulous
Final Spring Salad from Campsie, lemon Dijon vinaigrette
The amazing dessert table, with homemade buttermilk ice cream

Blueberry Poundcake