Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Summer Squash Caprese Salad



As summer winds down in this part of the World, here's a salad to savor the flavors of summer with grilled squash, fresh tomatoes in a caprese salad, simple and so good. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

York, England



York, England is a special city and one to put on your radar. Its rich in thousands of years of history and old world charm with its farmers markets and agricultural areas surrounding the city, the ancient cobbled shambles that look exactly how they would have hundreds of years ago. You can sip tea in one of the tearooms and try the famous Yorkshire pudding. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

An Ode to Bees




This blog post is dedicated to bees - all of them,  native species and the famous honey bee. 

They work hard and without them we wouldn't have food to eat. They are fascinating to watch and very intelligent using special dances to communicate with one another. I often take pictures and videos of them pausing to marvel at these special and vital pollinators. 

I even take pictures of them on holiday and eagerly wait for them to start their activity each spring. 

The last few years I haven't sprayed any weed control on my grass at home. Each time I see a bee enjoying clover, I just can't do it. I don't spray at all at the farm and plant flowers just for the bees. 

I love the new initiative in Winston Salem, where I live Bee our Future on Instagram. The local bee keeper Josh is inspiring. 


I also love following Debbie Roos on twitter an Extension agent in Chatham County NC with a passion for native pollinators she offers tours of the pollinator garden and is a wealth of knowledge follow here on twitter.


Collecting pollen at the farm.


When volunteering with the school garden we plant for bees, and chat about their brilliance and importance. 

We all know bees are important and have read about their decline in the news. A local bee keeper of 50 years recently visited me at The Farm, he plans to add a hive in the spring he says he has steadily seen a decline as agriculture has changed and used more chemical inputs.

While we do maybe need some herbicides and insecticides I truly believe we have become chemical dependent. I recently noticed a group of social media influencer dietitians attending a sponsored trip in Copenhagen, Michelin star meals, and speakers on bees. Also the need for GMO to feed the world.  On this point reducing food waste globally and gardening more would also play a vital role in feeding folks.
 Its organized by Porter Novelli an advertising agency with food industry sponsors often Monsanto and Bayer Crop Science. I have no issue with GMO crops many of my neighbors in Yadkin County NC grow them and we live in Harmony. 
My issue is that recent science shows potential harm from neonicotinoids, maybe not directly but studies show they affect bees behavior and the amount of eggs laid

I have read many articles on this topic from trusted news sources. Then theres Bayer's PR side with websites and sponsored events and a bee care center in Raleigh NC they even sponsor the flowers along the road side in NC. While these are all good endeavors and I appreciate them surely taking the science seriously and finding alternatives to chemicals for weed control is vital. 

One farmer I follow in North Dakota uses cultivation to control weeds in his soybean fields and I even saw mention on the tweets of another farmer laser controlled weed control.


Here's a flavor of the conference I mentioned.




 It's messaging is in line with good PR but I ask you to look big picture. Read the science, chat to bee keepers and farmers, and do your part we all play a role, often companies are profit driven. Avoid spraying your yard, hand pull weeds, plant for bees and make friends with them they need YOU.




Bees on a Thistle in Scotland. 
Admiring a bee in Germany



References:

1. http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/08/14/542895824/popular-pesticides-keep-bumblebees-from-laying-eggs
2. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/neonicotinoid-pesticides-slowly-killing-bees/





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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Beech Hill Farm, Maine




On our recent trip to Maine we stayed in Bar Harbor and visited the amazing Acadia National Park, stay tuned for future posts. We loved driving across to the other Quiet side of the Island and through Southwest Harbor. A delightful little town with an amazing bakery and cute shops. On the drive down we took a side road and saw a sign for Beech Hill Farm. As a farmer and food lover I always love visiting local farms and farm stands, seeing whats in season and local to the area and chatting to the growers. This is well worth a visit if you visit Mount Dessert Island. Its a diverse organic farm associated with College of the Atlantic and they train farmers. 

It has a wonderful farm stand with a great variety of freshly harvested vegetables, eggs, local cheese, bread and more. The young farmers are friendly and enthusiastic and happy to answer questions.

There wasn't an official tour but they are fine allowing you to wander around and look and visit the little pigs. Maine is a cold and Northern state with a fairly small growing season so greenhouse and high tunnels are used lots. 

So when you visit Maine as well as Lobster, great seafood and the famous wild blueberries enjoy fresh vegetables from its many farms.







They have 6 full time staff and such wonderfully weeded beds. 




This was such a wonderful idea. 

 oink!



Hope you enjoyed the wee virtual tour.

Hugs

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How to Make Elderflower Syrup



Growing up in the U.K. there are many elderflower cordials and soda's with elderflower. Its a drink I often buy when visiting. Funny when I was getting the raised beds built at the farm one of the guys sold me an elderflower bush. It grew so quickly and I happily harvested some. I then walked down the end of the field and noticed the exact same bush growing and in fact they are all over the place. So maybe you will notice them in your area too. 

A simple syrup is easy to make and its great added to soda water for a fun summer drink and to cakes.  I think it would also be great in cocktails.




Freshly Harvested Elderflower, I even had a super cute little helper. 


Ingredients:


  • 3 large bunches of elderflower 
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 cups of sugar 
  • the juice of a lemon and the slices
Method:

  1. Add the water to a pan and bring to a light simmer
  2. add the sugar and lemon and stir for about 5 minutes until its all dissolved.
  3. let the syrup sit and cool then add the elderflowers to the top.
  4. cover and place in the fridge overnight.
  5. the next day sieve through a cheese cloth and add to jars. It can stay in the fridge for a couple of weeks. 


How will you use your syrup? 



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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Strawberry Lemonade



Here's a simple drink recipe for summer I made with my eight year old. We generally don't buy soda and homemade lemonade is so easy as a refreshing treat.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Tarpon Springs, Florida



Next time you visit the gulf coast of Florida make a little trip to Tarpon Springs its about 30 min north of Clearwater and its fascinating. In the late 1800's folks from Greece settled here to dive for sponges and you can still buy them today it also has one of the largest Greek populations in America. 

Its a tiny place and as you drive into the downtown area you wonder if you have come to the right place as its so sleepy and almost run down. But once you get to the main street you will find Greek restaurants, gift shops and have a feel of being in Greece listening to Greek being spoken and the fishing boats. Almost like stepping back in time.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sweet potato and Chickpea Soup.




This is a really easy and seasonal soup the base is the chick peas and sweet potato but you can add any vegetables along with it, I also added edible flowers for garnish. I have been growing these at the farm and selling to local chefs, tea rooms and bakeries. This made my Day when Camino an amazing local bakery featured me as a farmer. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Kayaking with Manatees



We recently went to the gulf coast of Florida for a few days and a highlight for me was a visit to Fort De Soto Park, a lovely state park south of Saint Petersburg. It featured bike rentals and trails great beaches and Kayak rentals, in the warmer months you will have the treat of seeing manatees in the mangroves. I was thrilled its something I had always wanted to do.

Here's a little clip to introduce you to these fascinating creatures.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Arizona Inspired Bean Soup



We visited Arizona this last December on the way back from seeing family in California. I had always wanted to visit Tuscon and love that its not hot in the winter months, however it was actually quite cold and wet when we were there, I suspect spring is the best time to visit.  When we landed in Phoenix our entry point to hire a car, we visited the Heard museum cafe to sample some Native American cuisine on the advice of my sweet twitter buddy and fellow dietitian Monika of Hip Veggies. I had a Tepary bean salsa with Indian fry bread. These beans are native to the South east and have a long history they are nutritious and grow well in dry conditions. On my return I couldn't find these beans locally in North Carolina so used Northern beans. 

But often you may find old bean varieties in your area that are often overlooked here we have cow peas, october beans and pinto beans. 

Ingredients:

  • one cup of Northern beans, or any small white bean. 
  • 1/2 a red onion, thinly chopped
  • 1 celery stalk thinly chopped
  • 2 small sweet peppers diced
  • one small tomato diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves of garlic sliced
  • a pinch of cumin powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a little chopped parsley 
  • 1/2 cup of corn
Method:

  1. saute the onions and garlic in a little olive oil for 4-5 min.
  2. add the cumin, celery and peppers
  3. meanwhile pressure cook the beans for one whistle after an overnight soak.
  4. add the tomato and let it reduce down, then add 2 cups of water, cumin powder, sweetcorn and the beans, season with salt and pepper and simmer for 15-20 min. Garnish with parsley or cilantro.



Tuscon was beautiful and I liked the feeling that folks there were more at peace with living in the desert than Phoenix I saw less green lawns and non native trees. There was more desert landscaping and buildings that seemed to suit the surroundings. 


We stayed at Hacienda del Sol, a wonderful historic property with great staff an amazing garden complete with citrus trees and a stables. Our girl really wanted to go horse riding on the trip and this was a big factor in choosing this hotel. It was a great experience and we even got to sample some barrel cactus along the way and see a bobcat cave.




Another great tip from Monika was the Arizona Sonora Desert museum this was a beautiful drive outside of Tuscon in the middle of the desert the museum featured trails, animals and wonderful facts about life in the desert a must visit. 





I highly recommend a visit to Tuscon, we hope to return and have more time a weekend was not enough but we got a good taste for more.



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Friday, February 24, 2017

Honeybell Cupcakes



For the last few years we have bought citrus from Florida over the winter either From The Orange Shop online or Citrus Unlimited. I found out about the later from my mail man. Citrus unlimited is a family citrus farm in Florida who during the season drive a big truck to different cities in North Carolina and Virginia. The Winston salem location is very close to my house, these big boxes are great for juicing and the family is knowledgable and lovely. 
In January you can get honeybells so sweet and juicy. This cake is an ode to them.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Dietitians and Agriculture experts are Strong Together.


I recently arranged a meeting for Dietitians in my city. I invited some of my favorite farmers from Five and Two Farms, a small farm extension agent and a market gardener and Horticulturist. I also invited a large scale community farmer but they declined, another said yes but couldn't make it. 
The reason I wanted this meeting was to provide an opportunity for local dietitians and agriculture experts to connect, learn, share ideas and work together. As a new farmer myself and registered dietitian I see the connections. The event was well attended and folks had a great discussion. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

First Eggs and Lessons.


It was a big day on our farm recently our hens started to lay eggs, you may recall that we got them as chicks from my daughters class and cared for them they are now 7 months old so it takes a while. It was always a standing joke to whether or not they would ever lay. The day we got our first egg we walked up to our neighbors house to share the news they are retired farmers, they smiled and looked for some white pebbles for us to put in their nesting boxes to encourage them to lay there. Our other neighbor also added some wooden eggs to them. 

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