Friday, September 9, 2022

How to Make Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage in it's simplest form.  However that can be a bit bland and not terribly enjoyable to a lot of people, myself included.  This take on sauerkraut is what I enjoy.  The caraway seed is not for everybody but if you're eating sauerkraut by itself then you've got other problems.

Throw this kraut on sausage, wienerschnitzel or any other form of meat and that is exactly where this recipe shines.  The licorice taste of the caraway seed combined with meat is a truly savory combination that deserves a seat at the finest meat houses.  If the caraway seed isn't your thing then simply don't add it or add some other spice that you think you will like.  What fun would the world be if we all did everything the exact same way and enjoyed the exact same things???  Try something new to you and perhaps you'll find yourself in a whole new world!

Friday, September 2, 2022

MidSummers Nightly Update

"What is right in one case is not what is right in another; What is wrong in one case is not what is wrong in another." - Huainanzi

Smiling Garlic
There's always goodness to see in the world, it's just a matter of if you choose to see it; such as this smiling garlic.

This has been quite an interesting year so I figured I'd write a quick midsummer update on what is going on in the urban farm.  So far the weather has been fairly mild this year compared to others.  There was snow in the last week of May but no other notable storms, there was a fair amount of rain early on in the summer then as things dried and heated up, no major storms to speak of (so far, knock on wood).  Longs Peak mountain (14,259 ft / 4,346 m) to the direct west continues to do a top notch job of splitting storms to go north and south of town, generally sparing Longmont of any major storms that are moving the typical west to east direction.

Friday, August 26, 2022

10 Things to Know About Gardening - 2022 Vibes

"Any fool can know. The point is to understand." - Albert Einstein

Pink Dahlia
Pink dahlia doing its thing and looking gorgeous.

Each year contains a wealth of knowledge with countless new tidbits learned, most of which without even realizing it.  Since I wrote the last Top 10 Things I've Learned (2 years ago, GASP) a crap ton more has most certainly been learned.  Without further ado, here is a more recent list of Top 10 Things I've Learned - 2022 Style:

1. You don't know anything.  Even when you think you do... you don't.  As soon as you forget this, the urban farm will be sure to remind you.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Here & Now - What Do You Actually Control?

"If you miss the present moment, you miss your appointment with life."
- Thich Nhat Hanh

It's hard to not live in the present moment when you somehow find yourself in some of the most beautiful places on earth.  Peruvian Andes - 2013

As we go through this world there's really no point in worrying about the future or dwelling on the past.  The past cannot be changed nor can you control what happens in the future.  You only have control over what happens in this exact second... right now... nope, this second... actually this second.  To narrow in further, you can't even control what happens to you in this world, only how you react to what happens to you and how you go through the world from moment to moment.

The future holds only about a billion possible storylines for yourself with a billion different outcomes.  It's best not to worry about any of them, whatever happens... happens.  There is a difference between planning for the future and worrying about the future.  If you realize that your land is consistently experiencing more droughts year after year then taking steps now to ensure you have water secured in the future is prudent planning (such as rain barrels).  If you just dwell on the fact that there's likely a lot more droughts coming in the future and nothing positive is coming from that thinking then... what's the point?

Friday, August 12, 2022

Look to the Garden for a Remedy

"Nature itself is the best physician." - Hippocrates

Sun Rising
Sun rising on a recent hike in the mountains.

It was a crisp, cool summer Saturday morning at the beginning of August.  The gentle morning rays of sun were just peaking their heads over the horizon and streaming through the tree leaves.  Each breeze brought a pleasant puff of the summer flower fragrance.  The urban farm was buzzing to life with goldfinches sitting on top of sunflowers, garter snakes slowly slithering on the ground and countless amounts of bees collecting pollen as quickly as they could.

I was quickly moving from task to task trying to hurriedly check items off my endless to-do list while also fully enjoying and appreciating the bountiful beauty that only the early morning on a mid-summers day brings.  I briefly stopped to appreciate the amazing diversity of all of the different types of bees that were present on the newly flowered mountain mint plants.  The vast majority of bees I had never laid my eyes upon before as I puzzled over what types of bees they all were.

Friday, July 22, 2022

One Person

Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal, the vision of one person, was put together piece by piece over the course of 12 years and is still standing to this day as an inspiration to others, over 300 years later.

It’s easy to get lost in despair and hopelessness in the current state of our world.

Wars rage on.

Innocent people are gunned down every month, week and day with no end in sight.

Rights once guaranteed are taken away… just … like … that.

We sit in our homes from the comfort of our couches, watching the news unfold day after day after day and think, “There’s nothing I can do, I am only one person.”

However, it was only one person whom refused to sit at the back of the bus… Rosa Parks.

Only one person who led the salt march… Mahatma Gandhi.

Only one person who was the first to set foot on the moon… Neil Armstrong.

Only one person whose poems inspired millions… Maya Angelou.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Pesto

"Just as with everything in life, you can certainly stick to tradition or you can break free from the chains of normalcy and see what else the wide world has to offer." - Me

Garlic Scape Pesto
20 Jars of Freshly Made Garlic Scape Pesto, Ready for the Deep Freezer!

Pesto, a magical sauce that is revered by most yet rarely used due to the high cost.  When desire wins over your wallet, a small bottle is purchased and your taste buds are rewarded with a light, flavorful taste explosion.  What if you could easily make a ton of pesto yourself at a fraction of the cost?

Then you have found yourself in the right spot.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Cooking Quinoa

"Once you understand the foundations of cooking - whatever kind you like, whether it's French or Italian or Japanese - you really don't need a cookbook anymore." - Thomas Keller

Quinoa
Quinoa waiting to be rinsed

Quinoa is an underrated tasty grain with a rich history and is an affordable, delicious base for our dishes today.  You can even grow it in your garden if you feel so inclined which will likely turn into more of a novelty plant if and when you forget to try and harvest it.

Add your vegetables to the recipe below, in the actual pot, for a meal that will be done in 15 minutes.  If you find yourself with more time you can pile on the steamed or sautéed vegetables after the fact.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Cooking Rice

"Rice is the best, the most nutritive and unquestionably the most widespread staple in the world." - Auguste Escoffier

Fresh Rice
Freshly cooked rice

As you start on your very own cooking adventure, rice is one of the cheapest and easiest bases to make which you can then pile your vegetables on top of and spice any way you'd like with actual spices or various sauces.

Rice can be cooked in a small pot on the stove top or in an instant pot.  There are varying types of rice and they all cook at different rates.  We're going to go over how to cook White Jasmine Rice simply because it cooks the fastest.  You're busy, I'm busy, we're all busy in this crazy world we live in and none of us have time to stand around and watch rice cook for an hour.  White Jasmine Rice cooks in 12 minutes so you can have a meal ready in no-time at all.  Shall we get rocking?!

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Friday, May 27, 2022

How to Have the Best Grass

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." - Mark Twain

Grass
Grass that I can't get rid of to save my life (and I've tried really hard).

Let's be real, very few people in our society will even entertain the thought of getting rid of grass at their home.  There are even some really good reasons out there to have grass such as kids, pets, taking care of grass just brings you pure joy, etc.  All of which are excellent reasons to have grass at your home.  Plus it's your home, your property, it's yours to do what you want with.  Despite what you might think, I really don't care what anyone does with their own home or property as long as it doesn't adversely affect me or anyone else.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Vegas Banned the Grass

"The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. What the younger generation didn’t understand was that the grass was greenest where it’s watered." - Nicholas Sparks

Grass
Grass being grass

Las Vegas...the city of sin...you are free to drink in public, own tigers, see amazing shows, gamble your life savings away...after all... what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.  Except for the green grass, that crap has gotta go!

Friday, April 29, 2022

Cookies in 10 Minutes Flat!

"C is for cookie, that's good enough for me." - Cookie Monster

Fresh Cookies
Freshly made cookies, ready to be devoured!

You deserve some cookies... strike that... we all deserve some cookies!!!  Perhaps it's a Friday night, you just got home after a tough week of work.  Or maybe you just finished a strenuous workout.  Or maybe you just got back from an extreme mountain climbing trip.  Or perhaps you have no reason at all, you just really want some delicious cookies.  You don't need a reason but you do need a way of making cookies... FAST!

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Never-ending Remembrance

 "Can you still hear raging guns, ending dreams of precious ones?"

- Lyrics from the song
by Jonathan and Stephen Cohen

Columbine Flower
Columbine flower bringing joy to the world.

23 years later, that is still a very valid question to ask as I listen to the song that was written 23 years ago by two students of Columbine High School whom survived the massacre.  A realization fell upon me recently that it is by no means "normal" for people to know what happens in communities following a tragic event, such as the shooting at Columbine, which occurred on April 20th, 1999.  For myself and many others across the country, this has been our reality from a very early age, it's all we've ever known.  We're amongst the first generation for these tragic events to become normalized and integrated with our everyday life.  It didn't even occur to me until this year that there are quite a lot of people in the world whom have no idea what it's like to watch these events unfold at places you have been to or to watch normal people in your direct community go through an extremely sudden and public loss.  There's a lot more to these events than what the media shows for a few days before the cameras disappear and they move on to the next story.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Sprout it Up! Cheap, Easy and Delicious Food

Sprouts Sprouting
Sprouts be sprouting - 4 different jars at various stages!

A funny thing happened at the end of the summer, I was scrolling through Instagram and I came across a video by Mike Posner showing everybody who will listen, how to grow sprouts themselves.  This led me to looking at some other videos by Doug Evans as well as looking up some general sprouting information and scientific research.

For the past eight years or so I've been thinking about two specific aspects of growing food myself:  Microgreens and Sprouts.  I very much enjoy both of these but they're fairly expensive at the store so I generally stay away from them unless I'm able to buy them directly from a local farm since then I know they'll be as fresh and as tasty as possible.  I've always had it in the back of my mind that I want to try growing them myself.  With microgreens having always been at the front of my mind for this since that's what I've always been the most familiar with and I quite simply never realized the utter simplicity of growing sprouts.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Eat the Greens Raw

Lettuce Tongue
Eating the delicious lettuce as-is (and having fun)!

Why must we make things so complicated?

We're so used to everything in our world being very, very complicated that we rarely take the time to take a few steps back and ponder, "Is there an easier way?"

Friday, March 18, 2022

Sauté the Veggies

Sautéed Veggies
Thawed out veggies from the deep freezer being sautéed for a delicious meal!  Zucchini, yellow crookneck squash and kale.

Steaming vegetables is great but it can get boring pretty fast plus it's hard to steam the bigger veggies such as zucchini.

Sautéing gives you more options for spicing up your food along with being more versatile.  You can add tomatoes, juiced greens, etc. to your pan of sautéing veggies to boost the overall flavor and deliciousness of the meal.  That's hard to accomplish with steaming.

To do this sauté thing, it's really quite easy:

Friday, March 11, 2022

Looking Back and Looking Forward: 2021 in Review

Radishes
Radish mania at the beginning of June 2021

2021 came and went in the blink of an eye.  I swear time moves faster the older I get.  Hours seem like seconds, days seem like minutes and a year passes as if it's the snap of your fingers.  It was another excellent year on the urban farm.  A crap ton of food was grown.  719.19 lbs (326.22 kilos) of food to be exact, which is on-par with last year.  The row covers worked out famously as there were fresh salad greens right up until the end of December.  Both deep freezers are currently still stocked with frozen veggies.  With how long the salad greens lasted, I didn't even start getting into the frozen veggies until January of this winter, which is insane.  I'm actually still going through frozen veggies that I packed in 2020.  Which is very exciting and a great sign that I'm growing way more food than my house can eat.  Each year I'm working towards utilizing the space more and being even more productive than the last.  On the flip side I'm pretty sure I spent more on food at the grocery store this year than I have in the prior years, which is not what I was expecting but it is what it is.  I haven't fully added up those numbers yet to be sure but from an initial glance it appears that way.  That's okay though, this is all one giant learning experience and I know exactly how I can flip that around, small steps each and every day.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Basic Rules for Cooking

Tacos
Mmmmmm Tacos!  Chorizo base with lots of vegetables and greens straight from the garden mixed in!

I should probably blatantly point out that I have no business teaching anyone how to cook, I have zero credentials and no official training.  Everything I know has been hodgepodged together over the course of my life and is likely very much against the grain of what is seen as "normal".  Cooking is an art form though, everyone has their own way of doing it and the dishes I put together turn out pretty damn good if I do say so myself.  So having said that, we need to lay down some general ground rules for cooking!  You obviously don't have to follow these rules but you'll want to so you get the best results and avoid lots of frustration.  Much like a kid sneakily climbing onto the kitchen counter and putting a hand in the cookie jar, you know the consequences can be dire but is it worth it just for some quick gratification?  Probably not...  But you're probably going to anyways...

Friday, February 18, 2022

How to Cook Food

“Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.” - Anthony Bourdain

Thanksgiving Feast
Thanksgiving feast - 2021.  Simple, exquisite and delicious.  What more could you want?

Cooking is obviously an integral part of growing and using your own food.  If you can't cook it, what are you going to do with it?  Lucky for you, cooking with fresh food really isn't that hard once you know the basics of what you can do with each type of vegetable.  It also isn't hard to make fresh food taste good, it already tastes good and isn't like the cardboard crap you're used to getting from the grocery store.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Keepin' it Easy: Steam the Veggies

"So, if I'm cooking, I'll be steaming vegetables, making some nice salad, that kind of stuff." - Paul McCartney

Steamed Edamame
Freshly picked and steamed edamame, lightly salted, ready to be devoured.

You get home from work, you're tired, you don't really want to cook but you're hungry and you have a lot of fresh vegetables.  What's the easiest and quickest way to prepare your vegetables?  Steaming is the way to go...

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Anatomy of a Dish

“Cooking is like painting or writing a song. Just as there are only so many notes or colors, there are only so many flavors - it’s how you combine them that sets you apart.” - Wolfgang Puck

Prepped Veggies
Prepped vegetables, ready to be cooked!

In order to be able to properly prepare a dish you need to understand what makes up a dish so you can successfully make the complete and final meal.  We already know that we need fresh vegetables, good olive oil, and fresh spices.  Good food at it's core, can and should be simple.  Think of cooking as you're just bringing out the inner taste of the food, what it was meant to be.  You're helping the main ingredient realize all it can be in this world.  So what makes up a dish?

Friday, January 28, 2022

Tools for Cooking

What equipment do you actually need to cook good food?

Stuffed Squash Flowers
Fresh squash flowers stuffed with goat cheese and pepperoni.  They're delicious... I ate half of them before they were fully done.

There is a very large universe you could explore with that question as there are ssssooo many kitchen gadgets and gizmos you can buy that can do anything you've ever thought of and more.  The real answer to that question though is: not much, not much at all is actually needed.

The food you enjoy should be judged by nothing more than the taste of the actual food.  If I walk into someone's house and their kitchen is fully stocked with the latest and greatest kitchen gadgets, that doesn't mean anything and it's not an accurate predicter of the quality of the food you may soon encounter.  It hints at they know how to cook, but it doesn't mean they know how to cook good food.  Especially if all this fancy equipment looks brand new and appears to have never been used.  That's not a great sign unless all of those gadgets are actually brand new and are only new because they used the old gadgets so much that they broke all of them.  However, if I walk into someone's house and they hand me some banging crab cheese wontons that they made from scratch, I do not care what their kitchen looks like or how many fancy or unfancy kitchen gizmos they have.  At that point all I know and care about is that they can cook and that's all that matters, regardless of how they get there.  Taste buds do not lie and how someone achieves great food is up to them.  If they do that with a minimal kitchen setup, great.  If they do that with all the latest and greatest kitchen gadgets, great.  I quite frankly, do...not...care.  I just want to enjoy the good food, that's all I care about.

It's not a matter of what kitchen gadgets you own, it's a matter of do you know how to use them to create great food?

Friday, January 21, 2022

Spice is the Key to Life

Cayenne Pepper
Freshly ground, homemade cayenne pepper on the left and store bought cayenne pepper on the right.

Fresh vegetables? ... Check
Olive oil? ... Check

Next we need to add a little spice.  This is the main way you are going to vary how your dishes taste from meal to meal.  If you take the same basic vegetables, then each time you cook you use a different spice (or different amounts) then you will end up with a completely different tasting dish.  Hooray!  Spice does not necessarily mean heat though.

Friday, January 14, 2022

The Secret Sauce of Cooking: Olive Oil

Olive Oil
Fresh bottle of olive oil, ready to rock!

Olive oil is the key ingredient to good cooking, aside from the actual fresh vegetables themselves of course.  Fancy, five-star restaurants will use butter (and cream) instead of olive oil, which admittedly does give the dishes a very unique umami flavor that can't really be re-created any other way.  However butter is expensive and it raises the question of is constantly eating large amounts of a dairy product good for you?  Olive oil is a key part of the Mediterranean diet, which is often touted as the world's healthiest diet.  The Mediterranean diet can really be summed up by saying, "Eat mostly fresh vegetables, some fish and some meat, cook with olive oil."  If you want to cook good food, cook your fresh vegetables in olive oil.  Where do you get this olive oil from though?

Friday, January 7, 2022

Get Volunteering!


Free CSA Share
Free Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share?!  How could this be?!

Now that we're in the new year, keep an eye out for volunteer opportunities such as this one from back in August that popped up on Instagram.  I've mentioned volunteering at farms before in the post "Got Land?"  The general response I've gotten from that is people don't believe me that volunteer opportunities exist on farms where the farm will trade you a few hours of your time for food.  Well lookey here, a real life example of this exact opportunity popping up right here in Longmont at McCauley Family Farm.  These opportunities most certainly exist and happen quite a lot more than you would reasonably expect.  What you have to keep in mind is running a full production farm is hard, really hard and it is also hard for these farms to find good, reliable people to help out on the farm.  If it snows 6 feet of snow, the goats still need to be fed, etc.  These same farms literally grow food and that is what they have the most of and is exactly what the rest of us need.  Offering you food for a few hours of your time is a match made in heaven.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

What Are We Actually Doing Here?

"Being Indian is an attitude, a state of mind, a way of being in harmony with all things and all beings. It is allowing the heart to be the distributor of energy on this planet; to allow feelings and sensitivities to determine where energy goes; bringing aliveness up from the Earth and from the Sky, putting it in and giving it out from the heart." - Brooke Medicine Eagle

Unexplored Ruins
James exploring Incan ruins discovered only recently and have never been excavated. Peru, 2013.

Regenerative agriculture, permaculture, biodynamic, organic, holistic agriculture, beyond organic, etc. are all labels assigned to different yet similar types of agricultural practices. What are these labels? Where do they come from? What do they actually accomplish?

Whenever I meet someone who is in or familiar with the farming world, the very first thing they do is ask me what my growing practices are. Which makes sense, you need to know who you're talking to and what they stand for before you say anything. It's exactly what I do too. The problem with this is labels are just labels, we never explore what lies beyond the label. Where do these labels actually come from? How did they get their start?