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farmer’s markets

Egg-sactly What We Were Looking For

Well, this had to happen too, though we did not expect it for at least another couple of weeks. We’ve got hens now – pullets to be sure (the technical term for what might pass as a chicken in the 8th grade, hanging around the lockers in the hallways, flirting with the boys), but definitely coming into her own. She can lay eggs, but they are really quite small. And if you read Joel Salatin’s book on raising pastured poultry, Pastured Poultry
you don’t want to hatch those eggs or buy chicks that have been hatched from them – any chick hatched out from a pullet egg is going to be, by definition, much smaller than an egg laid by a mature hen and prone to physical problems, weakness and disease.

Small? On the scale of “Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large, Jumbo and OOOOO, That Hurts”, this particular egg did not even register as a Pee Wee. Pee Wee Eggs need to be 1.25 ounces. This one weighed 1 ounce. Flat. (more…)

Oh, Snap!! (Peas, that is)

Although I’m really someone who likes to have food put by, I’m not into just freezing or canning just to freeze or can. The point really is to produce something that you and your family are going to want to eat later on. For the longest time, I made the big mistake with freezing veggies of blanching them far too long and then when we reheated them from the frozen state, they turned to mush. Made it hard to get the Little Siberians to eat their home grown veggies in January. (more…)

Loose Ends and Housekeeping

If you are (ahem) old enough to recall the Ed Sullivan Show, then if I mention the words “Italian acrobats with spinning plates”, you will know exactly what I’m talking about. For the less ‘elderly’ among Aunt Toby’s readers, suffice it to say that this family group had a hilarious act whereby they set up poles with plates spinning at the tops and they ran about the stage, back and forth, making sure the plates were spinning and not falling to smash on the floor. The big finale was their all picking up the poles and catching the plates. Voila!!

Well, sometimes, Aunt Toby feels that way about KCE. I have to make sure to keep some of the ongoing things up in the air and revisiting them from time to time before they..well, they won’t go smash on the floor, but the story may not be fresh or interesting any longer and all of my little buggers might lose interest.

So, this post is a bit of a catch up. (more…)

Radio STRW: It’s an All-Strawberries Weekend!!

So much to tell you, my greedy little buggers and so little time.

Local strawberry season is upon us (well, local to Chez Siberia – depending on where y’all are located, it may already be past – or in the future) and we must attack it like Lance Armstrong on a hill at the Tour de France. Time IS of the essence.

I received a communique (it must be an all-French weekend too) after yesterday’s strawberry post asking, “Aunt Toby – I only know how to go to the grocery store, pick up a box of strawberries and pay for them. No one ever took me strawberry picking; I was deprived as a child.”

So, I apologize; (more…)

Cheap and Good: Buying Local in Season – Strawberries!

Strawberries. Until Clarence Birdseye popularized frozen foods, strawberries meant ‘fresh in the spring and early summer or on your toast and waffles as jam and preserves the rest of the year. Now, you can get frozen strawberries anytime, and at Chez Siberia, we do our part to pick and freeze a whole lot. But we also take the opportunity to eat them as soon as we can get them home, rinsed and into a bowl.

Good, fresh, sweet-all-by-themselves strawberries are not only a treat, but nutritionally fantastic (more…)

Getting the Best Out of Grass Fed Meats

Well, I lied. Or, I think I did. I think I said, or at least intimated that I’d delved into farmers markets and wouldn’t darken that door again.

Well, Aunt Toby realized that she missed out on an entire section of stuff that gets sold at farmers markets (and increasingly gets sold, I might add), which is meat.

Honest to gosh, shrink wrapped (though usually not on a slab of Styrofoam, in my experience), frozen, labeled with weights on ‘em, meat. And many times, they are labeled with words such as ‘free range’, ‘pasture raised’, ‘grass fed’ and so on. This is to differentiate them from what’s in your butcher or supermarché, which generally is ‘conventionally raised meat’ which means “grain raised”.

And when you see ‘grain raised’, the little voice of reason in your head should be saying, “and that means, ‘corn fed’.” (more…)

Walk on the Wild Side at the Farmers’ Market

And…we’re BACK!! And we are circling around again, on the subject of farmers’ markets because – I say so. A reader of the last piece told me that she does not go to ‘her’ farmers market because they only had two vendors and all the vendors had were greens and green onions.

OK…we’ve got two issues here. First is probably the fact that north of some predetermined spot, it’s really too early to find a whole lot more than green onions and greens. It’s just not warm enough yet and the farmers, even with row covers, etc. will not have had enough time to actually grow a whole lot. And second, Aunt Toby realizes that some farmers’ markets are NOT very special – the one closest to you might not be – the one in the next town over might be. (more…)

Is cheap, confinement raised meat lighting the fuse on the next flu pandemic?

Lest we start to play ‘Healthy Days are Here Again”, Aunt Toby would like to remind readers that the so-called Swine Flu (H1N1) is still with us.
“Just as many New Yorkers were beginning to forget the threat of swine flu, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said at a hastily called news conference Thursday evening that swine flu had been confirmed in the sick man, whom colleagues identified as Mitchell Wiener, the assistant principal of Intermediate School 238 in Hollis. He was being treated at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, where he was on a ventilator.” Latest on Swine Flu in NYC Schools

Update: Mr. Weiner, the gentleman mentioned above, succumbed to H1N1 and died Sunday evening.first swine flu death in New York City

For current updates on H1N1, see US CDC: Swine Flu Update

What Aunt Toby wants to talk about is this: Where the hell did this thing come from? (more…)

Friends of Farmers Markets are Friends of Mine

This blogging thing does get out of hand. The first thing you know, you get an idea and then it sprouts other ideas, which breed and make other ideas and pretty soon the whole post gets out of hand and you are looking for a book deal. So, I am going to go with one idea and tell you what the next one is and hold myself to it.

Today’s topic is farmers markets and Aunt Toby is hearing the eye-rolling and groans from here, deep in the computer dungeon at Chez Siberia.(and by the way, the rolling of eyeballs, as any parent of teenagers can tell you, sounds like nails on a chalkboard and is usually accompanied by the word, “Moooooom!!!” which is at the frequency of dog whistles). “Oh, come on, Aunt T – EVERYONE knows about farmers markets. Can’t you come up with something more interesting that THAT?

Well, 30 minutes ago, I would have agreed with you and turned in my blogger’s license right there except for an IM I got from a friend who lives in the more suburban part of a large metro area. We were talking about pasture raised meat (which is another topic for another time) and she was saying, “Oh, I’m sure “large national supposedly organic grocery store chain that is only found in large metro areas” will have that” and I replied, “Mmmm, I’d rather deal nose to nose with the person who actually raised it so that I can ask what they did and how they did it – how the animals were ‘finished’ and so on.” And then she dropped the bomb on my little idea that ‘everyone knows about farmers markets’:

“You know, I’m going to go down to the xxx farmers market right now (which is, like a 15 min. bike ride from her house) – we’ve lived here 25 years and I’ve never been.” (more…)

Urban Gardening, or, How to Survive When You Aren’t a Homeowner and Don’t Have a Lawn to Rip Up

lightbulblokywoky in a thread asked: What I would like to know is what all of us lowly apartment and other rental unit dwellers who don’t have yards for gardens and no control over the kind of heating/cooling equipment etc are supposed to do. Info is all over the place for stuff for home OWNERS but there doesn’t seem to be much for those of us who don’t own a home.

First, as is said in The Hitchhikers Guide: Don’t Panic. Don’t feel that there is nothing you can do because you have a landlord or are occupying a unit that is 60 feet up over the asphalt. The trick in your situation is to think: not permanent — movable. Let’s look at people’s costs of living one at a time in terms of what we can do to lower those costs. (more…)

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