Monday, May 12, 2008

Upcycling and Recycling

"Upcycling is the practice of taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value." The term upcycling was coined by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, authors of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things .

Until I spoke with some women from San Francisco that were in the recycling business I had no idea that a word had been coined to explain this age old practice. Isn't that what quilts were traditionally made from, "post-consumer" clothing?

I have stepped into the special world of upcycling by creating shopping bags from our chicken feed bags! I have envisioned using these for close to a year and finally just said, oh what the heck, and made the darn thing.

I hate to say it, but I am so tickled with myself and so JAZZED over the final result, the bag, that now I am trying to figure out how many of these sacks I have stashed by the chicken coop! I think we have saved something like 30 of these bags. I will need to wash the ones that have been out in the rain and elements, oh...and find the time to sew them!

In the meantime I am trying to figure out where I can get hold of cheap black webbing for the straps. I would like to use 1 inch or 1 1/2 inch thin nylon webbing. I just bought the sample webbing at my local fabric store, but I would like to find it for cheaper than $1 a yard.

I need to time myself in making the bags to figure out what to charge for them. They are really basic: no pockets/buttons/cell phone holders. In other words, a bag! Thoughts?

I am still making my sustainable sacks. Currently they are for sale at The Cheese Shop in Healdsburg. Once the Farmer's Market on Thursday night in Windsor begins, I will be selling them there, too! I think there is a market for the both of them. Besides, I have way too much fabric that needs to be used!

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Monday, December 31, 2007

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye...

The year 2007 is almost over. What a GREAT year this has been!

Farmer Chef Jeff was honored by the James Beard Foundation when he cooked a dinner in New York in February, the TV show filmed at Zin Restaurant, Giada's Weekend Getaways, aired in March, I had nasal surgery and we got to go to Italy in April and eat pizza in Naples (wow!!!).

We gave a cooking demo at the Windsor Farmer's Market in May and started enjoying the bounty of our garden while June found us, "Zin Restaurant at Eastside Farm" starting our farm stand at the Thursday night Farmer's Market AND cooking the gala dinner for the Pinot Day's in San Francisco for 150 people (in a make-shift kitchen...OYE!).

In July, at a the taste of Sonoma/Showcase, Farmer Chef Jeff won the "Steel Chef" competition AND we started canning (the first item to be canned was the Santa Rosa Plum Jam (the color of a summer sunset!). August found us entertaining a lot in the back yard and working the farm (never underestimate how much one little plant can produce...or 500!!!) AND Farmer Jeff was in his first movie, Bottle Shock. According to the Internet Movie Data Base, the film is due out in 2008 but WILL be premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

We welcomed September and fall with more catering. We are, after all, in Wine Country, and "Crush" is our busiest time of the year. The restaurant was crazy busy and so were we. Farmer Chef Jeff also won 3 ribbons for his tomatoes AND participated in the world's BIGGEST BLT by donating 125 pounds of house cured bacon. In October we took off for the South and loved it! We ate like little pigs and are now paying the price for those distant taste memories.

November blew past in typical whirlwind fashion with caterings and all of the other things we do every day that keep us busy. December...well...here we are. Another large catering in the middle of the month, a fast trip to San Diego, the holidays in the Central Valley and now home.

Now that I have given a calendar like summary, I feel the need to really focus on the important things. The time I get to spend in the garden with my honey, the moments sleeping in the couch with a cat curled under one arm and a dog sleeping on my legs, knitting with my girlfriends on Saturday mornings, the new internet friends I write to, the connections I am making in the farm and poultry field. Connections.

I am now producing my "sustainable sacks" and am selling them at the Cheese Shop in Healdsburg. The owner, Doralice Handel, has been kind enough to carry them for me. They are made from "hand-me-down" fabric from my late mother and from Jeff's Aunt K. I am so tickled to finally have them in the store. Jeff's mom, Barbara, was kind enough to help me get the first batch of them out the door.

We also got our Gnarly Old Vine Zinfandel Grape Jelly placed at the Cheese Shop AND at Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves. It has been really fun for us to see our products sell.

I am grateful for my husband, our family, our friends, our home, our animals. I welcome the new chickens and I bid a very sad goodbye to our newly departed cat, Tommy. Tommy, we loved you even though we never got to snuggle with you. I will miss you terribly. Tell the next lost and hungry kitten to come to our house. There is always space at the food bowl.

I leave you with a photo of my latest addition. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Eastside Farm goes to Market!

Farmer Jeff and Chicken Mama took the show on the road and went to Windsor Farmer's Market to sell produce and eggs! We are proud to say we have been certified by the county of Sonoma to sell produce, and can actually sell it anywhere in the state.

Above you can see a picture of Farmer Jeff, along with our newly picked squash (6 varieties), kirby pickling cucumbers, and our farm fresh eggs.

Working at the Farmer's Market was a totally new experience for me. I felt so proud of our little squashes, explaining the different varieties. It is really something to see them go from seeds, to little babies in the basement, to seedlings going into the ground and then, heavens, producing an abundance of SQUASH!!!

We handed out a recipe that used both eggs and squash, Summer Squash Casserole. Give it a try. It is really easy to make and SO GOOD!

Summer Squash C
asserole – A favorite family recipe

1 ¾# ZIN Garden summer squash, whole = 5 c. finely shredded
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (about 3.5oz)
freshly ground pepper
¼ c. chopped onion
1 clove garlic
¼ c. freshly chopped parsley
½ c. bisquick
4 Eastside Farm eggs – well beaten
1 T. salted butter, melted in microwave in 8x 8 glass baking dish

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Sprinkle shredded zucchini with salt and set aside for 1 hour. Turn into colander and press out liquid.
  • Combine squash, cheese, pepper, onion, garlic, parsley, and bisquick.
  • Stir in well beaten eggs until thoroughly blended.
  • Melt butter in baking pan, distribute all over pan.
  • Pour zucchini mixture into skillet. Bake in preheated oven 350 degrees 35-40 min (or until mix is firm and edges are browning.)


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Monday, May 28, 2007

Back in the Saddle Again!


I am thrilled to be blogging again! We are busy with all kinds of things, one of which is the garden! Farmer Jeff and his garden elves planted over 250 tomato plants (36 varieties), 200 peppers and chiles (5 varieties), green beans (3 - 60 ft rows!), a 60 foot row of yellow beans, a 60 foot row of rainbow chard (silver beet) , a 60 foot row of collard greens and then squash!
(The picture above is of the squash rows covered with green plastic)


There are 70 foot rows of squash ...4 rows. We have 8 varieties of summer squash including some named "8 ball", "1 ball", "flying saucer", "star ship", Romesco, and yellow patty pans. (This is a picture of flying saucer squash)

We have also planted basil "Genovese", opal basil and lots of sunflowers! Just this year we also started raised beds in aluminum horse troughs! We have 8 troughs with arugula, raddichio, red romaine and red leaf lettuce. It is such a treat to pick greens and eat them just minutes later. My favorite salad these days is red leaf lettuce, arugula, thinly sliced fennel, tossed with lemon juice and olive oil, then topped with shaved parmesan. YUM!!! It tastes like summer ...and Italy!



Some of our other pursuits, all in our spare time, of course, included giving a cooking demonstration at the Windsor Farmer's Market on Sunday, May 13th (Mother's day).

Farmer Jeff showed how to make a swiss chard, bacon and goat cheese frittata, in honor of our trip to Italy.

I made Migas which is a breakfast dish made with sauteed corn tortillas, onions and peppers with eggs scrambled into it.

We topped it all off by making strawberry mint agua fresca.(A Mexican beverage) It is so easy to make! You can really make it with any fruit. We especially like Watermelon Agua Fresca.

Strawberry Agua Fresca – makes about 8 servings
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Water
3 sprigs Mint
6 cups Strawberries, washed and hulled (or any other fruit, such as melon or pineapple)
Juice of 1 ½ to 2 Limes, or to taste
Ice water – about 4 cups
Ice

Method:
Heat sugar and water together to create simple syrup. Drop in the mint sprigs once the sugar has melted. Cool.
Put strawberries in blender and pour 1 cup of simple syrup over the strawberries. Blend.
Add the lime juice. TASTE!
Add ice water and/or simple syrup until desired consistency and sweetness is reached and it tastes balanced.
*There is no exact measure as it all depends on the sweetness and water content of the fruit.

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