Monday, May 31, 2010

I'm Plum Surprised




I wish you'd just look at that.





See? Plums. Real plums on our plum tree. We've lived here ten years and as far as I know, it's the first time we've ever had fruit on that thing.






I'm waiting it out. Maybe they'll get bigger and ripen. Because right now, even the squirrels aren't interested. They taste foul. I swear I saw one of them take a bite and spit it out and go "plegh!"


But I suspect I won't have a plethora of plums to make something out of. With. Ending in a preposition. Whatever. Anyway, I'm sure by the time they're edible, the squirrels will beat me to the punch.




I don't really care, though. I kind of encourage that sort of behavior.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It's Hot! Whatcha Got? Ginger Syrup for Ginger Ale!

I am not a fan of cokes. OK, stop. Right there. They're "cokes". They're ALL "cokes". They're not "sodas", they're not "pops" they're not "soft drinks". They're cokes. At least while I'm in charge of this post, and since I'm looking around at the room and I appear to be alone here with two comatose dogs, I win. (They don't care what it's called. If it doesn't smell like rotten hell on a cracker, they're not interested.)

So anyway, I'm not a fan of cokes. Mostly I drink seltzer. With the notable exception of ginger ale, about which I'm really picky. It has to be dry and really fizzy, and I prefer it hot - ginger hot. Where it kind of tickles your nose and makes you go "phoo!"

When I ran across this recipe for ginger syrup and ginger ale in Imbibe magazine a year or so ago, I knew I'd hit the ginger ale jackpot. Oooo, yes, I did! And since summer is more or less here, I'm sharing the loot. Here's a .pdf copy of the recipe for printing.

Now, technically, this is cheating ginger ale. It's not brewed and bottled. It's just a concentrated ginger syrup that you mix with seltzer. But MAN, it's refreshing! And easy easy easy!

Put 2 cups of sugar in a large saucepan.





Add 6 cups of water.



Roughly chop 2 cups of ginger.



No, not THAT Ginger.

THIS Ginger.


Don't fool with peeling it.





Then dump it in the food processor.


Chop it fine.


Add the ginger to the water and sugar.



Put that on the stove and bring it to a boil, then turn it down to simmer. Simmer it for an hour, then strain it to remove the ginger goop.




You'll want to mash down on it to get all the syrup out.


Put it in a bottle, take a terrible picture of it, and stick it in the fridge.


My photography is a complete and utter disgrace.


Then, when it's cool, and whenever you're thirsting for something spicy and fizzy and excellent, pull it out of the fridge. Get a glass of ice, and fill it about 2/3 full of seltzer or club soda, then top the remaining third with ginger syrup. You can add a squirt of lime juice if you like. Then stir it and drink up! Warning: Little people don't think this is "all that". It tends to be a little hot for most of them.

Now in case it hasn't occurred to you, there are other ways you can use this ginger syrup. It's a perfect partner for rum, of course, which makes it excellent in Dark 'N Stormies. It's also great on ice cream with chopped pineapple and a little toasted coconut. Use your imagination and you can use up the bottle in no time.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cafe 305 Field Trip! A Day With A Real Live Chef! (or two)

It’s not much of a secret that Marc Copenhaver is my favorite local chef. It’s not just the delicious food he prepares at Marc’s on Market, either. It’s also personal. A few years ago, his wife and co-chef Sara and I struck up an internet friendship and became lunch buddies before I’d even eaten at their restaurant. Then P. and I ate at Marc’s on Market and fell in love with the food. Then I lost my mind and invited them over here for dinner. You know, so they could slum it a little. (Hey. It was free.) They brought their monkey, Clay along. I bribed him with the use of the special Curious George spoon and knife (which Sara informed me recently he was too old for now - AUGH!), he gave us his seal of approval, and the rest is history. I’ll take the liberty of saying we became fast friends. At least they do still come over for dinner, and they agreed to let me pester them all afternoon, so that’s something.

Having chefs as bffs (OK, now I’m probably pushing it) has its perks. In this case, it gave me easy access to a blog topic I’ve wanted to explore. What is a day like for the chef/owners of a small restaurant? So I called up Sara and said “Hey, home girl, how about it?” and she said “Who IS this??” and I said “It’s your BFF Andie” and she said “Andie who? Seriously, who IS this?” and we got that sorted out. Then we got a visit planned, then Marc said “Well, if she wants to see a day in the life of a chef, tell her to meet me at Costco at noon.” So I did.

“COSTCO???”, you’re shrieking, “a chef shops at COSTCO??” Obviously not exclusively, but it did lead me to my first question, which was to get a rough breakdown of his food sources. Marc said of course it varies by season, but around 10 – 15% comes from local sources like local growers and meat purveyors, then 40 – 60% comes from wholesale markets and the rest comes from purveyors, like his Fish Purveyor Inland Seafood in Atlanta.

Now, before you get all up in arms with the local-sustainable, local-sustainable stuff, let me, well, let Marc explain why that’s difficult to do 100%. There are several realities. First is availability of local purveyors. There are some, but they are not abundant, and they don’t always want to sell Marc the quantities that he needs, which are smallish, at a price he can afford. Second is the menu. He simply has to take into account what his customers WANT to eat. And American customers are used to being able to have whatever they want, whenever they want it, whether it’s in season or not, and whether it came from here or not.






He does keep his menu seasonal, but he did point out that not many people would be thrilled about coming into the restaurant and having the only fish offered be flounder and drum (or great white shark or pufferfish, or whatever we have around here besides shrimp and flounder - can you tell I don’t know anything about our local fishing?). And his customers want salmon, occasionally. Which I DO know isn’t local. Third, in order for him to keep a good relationship with his larger purveyors, get high quality product from them, and keep his costs somewhere that allow him to remain in business, there is a certain volume he needs to maintain with them. And that being said, that food purveyor in Atlanta? Well, guess where their flounder and whatever other stuff local to our area comes from? Yep. Southport. 30 minutes away. Then it’s distributed out through the warehouse right here in Wilmington. Which is about as local as it gets. (I’ll also point out that while I was in the kitchen watching them bustle about, there were two local farmers who came by to drop off their greens deliveries. More about that later.)

Back to Costco. Marc picked up whole, unprocessed packs of ribeyes, plus some other meats (no fish), along with some standard pantry ingredients like canned tomatoes, sugar, powdered sugar, trash bags, etc. The ribeyes surprised me and I asked him about that. I said that the street wisdom is that the chefs in the restaurants pretty much get the best cuts of meat from suppliers before they even got to the consumer level, leaving us to pick over what was left. Marc said to a large degree, that’s true. The best meat gets sold through purveyors and usually chefs get the bulk of that. But a very large part of the dish is what you DO to the meat before you serve it, and THAT, my dear, is what separates the men from the boys. Or the chefs from me. Whatever.

From Costco to the kitchen we went. Sara was there, and guess what she’d just made?!




Oh, my head! That’s my butter cake! That I just blogged about! She made one and put it on the menu for the night! Don’t worry. My ego got beaten back down in no time when I watched her ALSO make a coconut layer cake AND chocolate pies.









Sara is a pastry chef and makes most of the desserts at Marc’s. Marc says you can always tell when he’s been messing around in the kitchen with desserts because a chef brings to bear their normal cooking techniques to desserts, so they’re “weirder” and have strange ingredients. Nothing “weird” about what Sara was making. Just delicious butter, eggs and sugar.






Here’s Sara’s recipe for her cake layers. I told her she COULD enter that in a computer and print out a new copy. She just stared at me like I had eels coming out my ears.









See? Look at that. A little kitchen heaven right there.


She was in the process of making three desserts: Chocolate pies, My butter cake (already done – I hope I got a byline on the menu) and a coconut layer cake. There’s a lot of multi-tasking that goes on in a professional kitchen. She had the layer cakes in the oven, had the ingredients set up for the pies, and was talking to me and making the icing for the cake.



video


See? Multitasking.


While Sara and I were bonding over butter and sugar, Marc was making us a quick lunch.





Ravioli with salmon and some veggies. The man is unstoppable. I’m going to start heading out there every day at lunchtime and tell them I’m still working on this blog and need more information. Maybe he’ll keep feeding me. Please don't mention it's already posted.


While we ate lunch, I talked to Sara about what it’s like to be a restaurant owner and chef and mother to a monkey. “Hard.”, she said. She talked about the fact that Clay is in school now, which makes it easier for her to do the baking and business management without having to juggle activities for him. But she says he could probably get you anywhere in town because he grew up strapped in the back seat running all the errands that go into owning any small business, the bank, the accountant, the office supply place, etc. Then throw in the markets for the food part of their business, and you have even more scurrying around town. Now that their schedule is a little more predictable, Sara has more rhythm to her day.

She gets Clay to school, talks to Marc about what they need to do for the day, then bakes, manages, takes deliveries, and deals with whatever has come up at work. Unless it’s an errand day, then she’s driving all over town (see above). Then at 2:40, she’s out the door to meet Clay’s bus and spend some after-school time with him. 5:00 she hands Clay off to the sitter. He now goes to bed at a reasonable hour so he can go to school and learn how to be an electrician or a plumber or an A/C guy so Marc and Sara can have someone on free on staff to fix all the stuff that breaks in a building. That’s Marc’s plan for him, anyway. Sara scoots back to the restaurant to get there by 5:15 SHARP so she can eat dinner (she's not exempt from being on time), put finishing touches on any desserts she’s made and set up the bar. Then it’s time to serve customers. Sara is always in the front of house, tending bar, waiting tables, greeting their long-time loyal customers and making an effort to meet the new faces she doesn’t recognize. They believe strongly in good customer service, and they know a lot of their patrons personally.



We finished lunch and the description of Sara’s typical day, and it was back into the kitchen, where Marc started doing prep on the ribeyes. It was highly educational. And a lot of work. Marc made it look like a party, but I’ve trimmed beef before, with a sharp knife, even, and I know it’s not that easy.

I got a good lesson on taking the meat out of the cryo-vac packaging when I buy it in larger amounts. (That's Pootie's voice you hear talking to Marc occasionally. My voice is a little higher. Not much.)




video



Then Marc tells us about what makes their steaks special




video




and what the best fat to meat ratio is and why.







video



Because I like Brown Food, I often order the steak when I go to Marc’s on Market. And he’s right. It’s a REALLY good steak. Without big gunks of gelatinous fat blobbing around in the middle. (Nice image, isn’t it?)

Sara had to leave to go pick up Clay at the school bus, leaving us to play in the kitchen.






video





After Marc finished with the meat trimming (or “protein fabrication”, as he called it), a couple of deliveries arrived. Ernie, a really nice guy who grows hydroponic greens, brought some gorgeous little micro greens.






Aren’t they pretty?


Then Marc turned his attention toward planning the specials for the evening. Watching him think it through was fascinating. He started the way a lot of people do for dinner – “what have I got in the fridge and pantry?” And then the magic started. He had Corvina and decided to use that for the special. Then he started thinking about colors and presentation. Since Corvina is a white fish, he decided to make it “pop” visually on the plate, he’d give it a marinade in a soy dressing, which would give it a pretty dark ring around the edges. From there he started thinking out loud about what textures and flavors to use along with that, mulling over whether to go toward Asian flavors because of the soy sauce, or go with a completely different flavor profile. Marc loves to plan specials with his sous-chef, Tyson. They work well together, playing off each other’s strengths and coming up with some seriously hittin’ food combinations.

Simultaneously, he was trying to think of what to prepare for the Staff Meal. They all eat together at 5:15 SHARP. Marc said there’s not a lot of time to fool around at that point, so they’re either there at 5:15, or there’s nothing left of Staff Meal by the time they arrive. He laughed and said that’s his hardest meal of the day to plan – he wakes up in the night being haunted by the STAFF MEAL. It’s because he LIKES his staff – a lot – and wants them all to be happy with dinner. And there are varying tastes, obviously. What’s interesting is that the most popular meals are often the simplest. Grilled chicken sandwiches and a big Caesar salad with chicken are always hits.

The staff at Marc and Sara’s is hugely important to them. Most of them are a little older, are married, have kids – in other words, they’re grownups – no offense to the young kids. Marc said “There isn’t anyone here hooking up except Sara and me.” (He means with each other. Behave.) They’re mature and professional, friendly, relaxed, and act like they feel vested in the place. Marc said a lot of that is due to the layout of the kitchen, which was very deliberately planned. He explained that in a lot of restaurants, the front of house staff is kept separated from the kitchen staff, sometimes not nicely, and some animosity naturally evolves over time. In Marc and Sara’s kitchen, it’s an organized family hubbub of servers grabbing bread and plates and whatever they need for their stations, dancing around the making of salads, the sautéing of filets, and the serving of food. There isn’t a pass-through for dinners that keeps them in the front and the cooks in the back. They go back in the kitchen, where there’s a big wooden block table right next to the cooking stations. He applies the same democracy to cooking in the kitchen as well. He explained that it’s vey non-European, where cooking stations are strictly divided and that’s all you do. In Marc’s kitchen, everyone cooking does everything.






Where the magic happens.



To keep things fresh and interesting, as much for themselves as the customers, Marc and Sara recently revamped their menu. It took a lot of planning, but they’re pleased with the results. They’ve designed the menu to go from lighter fare to heavier fare, top to bottom. And on the flip side of the menu, they have lighter wines to heavier wines, thoughtfully matched to the dinners on the other side. Clever, no?

We left Marc after he’d decided on the special, raised my estimation of him even further, and reduced my own cooking self-esteem to smoldering ruins. He’s just that good. And he and Sara run a great operation. It’s hard work, but they find it rewarding, and we’re lucky they do.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bunnies Love Carrot Soup

Regular bunnies. I'm sure they'd like it. Playboy bunnies too, probably, although I'm not going to ask them. This is easy, healthy, and good hot or cold. I like to make a big batch of it and keep it in the fridge for the week. It makes a good lunch along with a sandwich.

Here's a .pdf copy.
Start with 2 lbs. of carrots.



Chop a couple of shallots, or a medium onion, Whichever turns you on. You're going for about 3/4 cup.



Sauté the shallots in about 1 Tbs. of olive oil and a generous pinch of kosher salt. Emphasis on "generous". Add 3/4 tsp. of ground thyme.



Peel the carrots.


Chop them a little - large chunks are fine. Add the carrots and 1 1/2 qts. of chicken stock to the pot. Cover and reduce the heat to about medium-low and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the carrots are tender.




When the carrots are done, puree the soup with an immersion blender or put in a regular blender. If you put it in a regular blender, BE CAREFUL!! Take the removable middle part out of the lid so steam can escape. I've blown the top off the blender more than once (I'm a slow learner) trying to puree hot soup. It burns, and it makes a godawful Lucille Ball-worthy mess in the kitchen.
Serve hot or cold.


Yaaaaaaaay! NOM nom nom nom!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Butter Cake! Butter Cake! Butter Cake!


This is one of my favorite desserts from my favorite cookbook.

The fact that this is my favorite cookbook speaks volumes about my butt, doesn't it?

I got this book years and years ago, and the recipe is called "Desert Island Butter Cake". (There is a printable .pdf version at the bottom of the post.) It's one of the simplest things ever to cook, calls for stuff you probably already have in the kitchen, takes no time at all, and is perfect for company. It's just a plain, moist, buttery cake that can be served with fresh fruit and whipped cream, chocolate sauce, ice cream, or completely nekkid! (The cake, not you. What you wear when you eat this is entirely up to you.) 

All you need is butter (of course), sugar, salt, eggs and flour. The recipe actually doesn't call for salt, but I have this thing with sweet - it absolutely has to be balanced with some salt or I won't give it the time of day.


Start by preheating the oven to 350F

Truly, I have the crappiest stove in the world. I could at least clean it, though, huh?

Lightly grease an 8-inch springform pan with butter or oil. Or Pam. Which is my preference, because it's easy. Then melt 1 cup of butter - that's two glorious sticks -  in a saucepan over low heat. Now, listen. For a cake like this, the quality of the butter can make a big difference. There's nothing to mask the flavor, so if you have it available, buy some good butter. I happen to love Plugra. When you open a package of Plugra, it reaches up, grabs you by the collar, slams your head into the counter repeatedly and yells "BUTTER! BUTTER! BUTTER!" But in a non-agressive kind of way. Seriously, it's killer and yes you can tell the difference between it and the stuff I buy in multiple packs at Costco to dip the dogs' pills in so they'll take them.

While the butter is melting, beat the 3 large eggs and 1 cup of sugar (and 1/2 tsp. salt) together until it's pale and thick. About four minutes. Keep an eye on the butter. You don't want to burn it.

Look at it go!
These are my grandmother's measuring spoons, by the way.

While you're beating the ever-livin' daylights out of the eggs and sugar, sift 1 cup of flour. All purpose, unbleached, please. I remember when we first got married, my husband called his mom and tattled on me because I didn't sift stuff when I was supposed to. I think she basically said "She'll learn." Which I did. If you want this cake to be all that, sift the flour. Like I did. Do. Whatever.
This sifter is 19 years old. I'm older.

When the butter and egg mixture is done, it will be thick and pale, as I've mentioned. Something like this:

Bad picture, but see, thick and pale. Just like me.

Hope you didn't put the sifter up, because you're going to use it again. Remove the bowl from the mixer. The rest of this you're going to do by hand. (Oh, don't whine - it's easy.) Take the flour you just sifted and RE-sift it over the egg mixture. (Again, stop with the whining. It's light work.)

Just gently sift it right on top.

Now, gently start folding in the flour.

Gently. See? I told you it was light work.

Before the flour is completely incorporated, pour in all that delicious melted butter!
Oh, my love. You make me want to sing.

Now fold the butter into the batter
It will look broken for a while, but just keep folding. It will come together.

Pour it into the prepared pan.

If you don't have a springform pan, just use a cake pan.


Bake it for about 30 minutes. It will spring back when you touch it when it's done. Try not to overcook it, or it will get a little dry.

It will pull away from the sides on its own and come loose pretty easily.

I served mine with fresh strawberries and whipped cream flavored with a little almond extract and sugar.

I'm just going to put it out there that NC strawberries got nothin' on Arkansas strawberries. I do miss those. They're sweeter and more flavorful. But these were pretty good.


Bite removed for demonstration purposes only.










I swear I fed the whole thing to him.

Urp.

Excuse me. I mean, him.




Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cafe 305 Field Trips!

Today I present Episode One of Café 305 Field Trips—a series of photo/video/text reports on visits to cool places where cool people do cool things so we can cook and eat cool food! I’m following my own curiosity here, and talking to my friends and neighbors about what they do to bring us food. I’m kicking things off with Christin and Dave from Federal Point Farms, and I’ve already got a few more up my sleeve. ( Thanks, for the tour, guys! Gee. Hopefully they'll read this...)

Ironically, two of the people who most inspire me to cook also happen to be people who are way too busy to cook themselves, most of the time. Christin Deener and Dave Higgins own Federal Point Farms, and spend almost all their time growing food they don’t have time to prepare and consume. Several local restaurants and countless cooking customers of the downtown Farmers Market in Wilmington are happy to do it for them, though.

Christin and Dave started Federal Point Farm in 2008. They rented land that had long been a blueberry farm and cleared it and got it crop-ready. Here’s a big pile of burned roots and junk they had to yank out of there when they tilled it. Good lord.



This is what my herb bed looks like right now, minus the chicken coop made out of an old pontoon boat.


We met Dave and Christin through a mutual absentee friend. She was all, “Tell Christin and Dave I said hi when you go down to the Farmer’s Market!” and we were all, “OK!” so we did, and damned if they didn’t turn out to be super-nice people. Who are doing something that I’m obviously uber-interested in.



Aren’t they cute? Christin is holding an imaginary pitchfork. Humor her. She spends a lot of time in the sun.


We had them over here to the Cafe and fed them a couple of times, and it worked! (It’s KIND of like paying people to be your friends, but cash doesn’t exchange hands.) Anyway, I think they like us now. At least enough that when I asked if I could come out to the farm and have them drag me around and show me the works and then blog about it, they said “sure.”


They raised chickens for a couple of years, but that didn’t go well. There were apparently some chicken massacres and they went from 25 to 6 over time. I’m not pointing fingers, but I suspect foxes may have been involved. Anyway, they decided against chickens for the time being. I do love chickens, though, so here’s a gratuitous poultry shot. Turkey babies, actually. There’s a guy at the farm who is raising ducks, chickens and turkeys. He opened the door to let me get a picture of something besides wire. GAAAHH! I can’t stand how adorable they are!


AAAAAAHHHHH!!! RUN!!GODZILLA!!

Hands-on farming fascinates me. In that “Oh-my-god-I-can’t-believe-you-work-this-hard” kind of way. I’m mystified by the whole process of how to grow things, what to plant, when to water, when to feed it, what is eating it, and how I killed it. My own garden is kind of a survival-of-the-fittest experiment, and interestingly, that’s kind of Christin and Dave’s method, too. (Except they’re exponentially more successful. They don’t have a farm full of cherry laurels and smilax vine. Maybe I could crochet baskets out of that stuff. Or tanks.) They have judiciously decided to go the non-chemical route, which means that sometimes things don’t make it. They had squash borer take down a second squash crop last year, for example. And they just let it go – not much to do about it besides douse it in pesticide, and they weren’t willing to do that. Christin mostly just smooshes bugs by hand when she comes across them.


Here’s Christin, scouting for insects in her Harris-Teeter hat. She was stoked they had them back in stock. They’re cheap, and they get used hard. (Dave says they get sat upon frequently.)
They do all the work. There’s some equipment, but they do an awful (and I do mean awful) lot by hand. It’s hard, filthy work, and it’s hard on your hands. And as Christin points out, she doesn’t wear gloves. (I think it’s because she really digs smooshing bugs.)

video


They do have some equipment, including this pretty sweet little ride.
Christin said they’ve now moved up to farming with 1940s technology.

It’s spring right now, so what grows best is the cooler-weather stuff including lots of lettuces. Harvesting lettuce is done by hand, and is incredibly time-consuming, then it has to be made ready for consumption. Now, if you are producing Artisan-brand lettuce, you apparently just pick the head out of the ground, roll it around so it’s coated with even MORE sand, and cram it into a plastic box, grit and all. But Dave and Christin are kinder to us than that, and they have a pretty hittin’ process for prepping the lettuce.

video



Now THAT’S a salad-spinner, people. It works, too. I can attest to the fact that when I get their greens, I wash them and there’s no residue in the bottom of my salad spinner. Which doesn’t work nearly as well as that old washer. Of course, once it’s washed and spun dry, it still has to be combined into a nice mix (they don’t just jam a head of romaine in a bin – they have some really cool greens that they make into a thoughtful salad) and put into bags. Yes, bagged. I’m telling you, they work all the time.


Best. Scarecrow. EVER.

I asked Christin to give a rundown of a ‘typical’ day, which was a job in and of itself. She said no days are really “typical”. They all vary widely by day and of course, by the time of year depending on what crops they have. But here’s an example of the two days leading up to the last Farmer’s Market.

Since it’s Spring, and they’re selling a lot of lettuces, they spend mornings all week harvesting lettuce. Like her gorgeous flower arrangements (she really does have quite an eye for that) the lettuces need to be harvested in the morning, pretty early, before it gets too hot. Otherwise, it withers in the heat, kind of like me. I don't think it whines quite as much, though. Dave cleans while she harvests, washing and spinning the lettuce, and cleaning off radishes, daikon, turnips, etc. They start around 7:00 AM or 7:30 and harvest until noonish. Then Christin makes any deliveries they have to restaurants. After her deliveries, it’s back to the farm for forming beds, amending soil, weeding, and watering. They have a drip-feed system for the actual beds, but they grow everything from seed, so there are flats and flats of plants at the farm and over at their greenhouse, a mile away, that need frequent watering. The day I interviewed Christin, we (Pootie and I) arrived at 2:00, annoyed her until 4:00, and they still managed to poke 1100 tomato plants into the ground after we left.


The greenhouse. And lots and lots of baby plants. And Pootie's reflection.

Friday is their busiest day, preparing for the Farmer’s Market Saturday morning. The Friday she was describing to us involved the morning greens harvest and cleaning, then they labeled plants.(If it’s cool enough, they pack the van with the plants. In the later summer months, they have to unload them, then get up that much earlier on Saturday and repack them, so the heat of the truck doesn’t kill them.) They started bagging the greens next – in this case until midnight. (No, they didn’t eat dinner.) Then Christin did flower arrangements and signage, and got to bed about 2:00 or 2:30 AM.

Next morning they were up before 6:00 to finish loading up the van.
The van. Kind of Rock Star Road Trip looking, isn't it?

They have to be in the parking lot of Thalian Hall at 7:00 in their place. They live in Carolina Beach, so they have to allow for at least half an hour of drive time. Then all the farmers for the market parade downtown and get into their places on Water Street. The market opens at 8:00. They sell and sell until 1:00, then Christin counts out, they pack up, and parade out. Then they go out to lunch and stare at each other and are comatose for a while.


Sunday morning, they’re back up at and at it, amending soil, watering things, planting, and weeding. No, they don’t take a day off. Along with all the farm work, there’s the bookkeeping, accounting, and other business they have to take care of.
Little bit of farm filth is good for the soul.

It’s all dirty, hot, sweaty work, but Christin and Dave love it. (Mostly.) I asked Christin what her least favorite part of farming was and she said it was the unpredictability. She spends a lot of time putting out fires (sometimes taking the form of watering wilted seedlings) and handling things that come up and sometimes it feels like she’s spinning her wheels. There are a lot of things she want to get done that she can’t because something else needs to be handled right NOW.

Then I asked her what her favorite part of farming was, while she happened to be watering seedlings in the greenhouse. She said “This. I love taking care of all the baby plants when they’re little and well-behaved.” Judging by the perky, lush green of all those flats, I’d say the babies seem to be responding well to the attention.