Wednesday, September 10, 2008
I love to bake. Baking is closer to science then most forms of cooking. Things like baking soda and baking powder can be confused so easily or added too much or not enough and KABLOOIE! Like the particle accelerator. Or just really bad tasting cookies. Anyway there's a weight of responsibility when you're baking that isn't there in the average stir fry or soup. Like Spiderman but with cake.
When I was at Frosty Morning Farms Alison and Karl grew pretty much everything they ate. A lot of people on Commonplace did and it made them think in a kind of luxurious fashion-they can talk about how great it is to eat and live sustainably and how wrong it is to buy food shipped from far away or grown with pesticides etc. On a farm you can pick your food. You can jar it, turn it into jam, store it for winter. What ever's leftover, if something spoils, you can feed it to the pigs or chickens or just the compost heap and it will eventually feed you too. The circle of life! It's a lot harder to find the time and space and animals for all that in the city, stacked up to the sky like we are.
So after being judged as a wasteful city dweller who throws out her egg shells it was kind of a relief to see that the Frosts cheat. They sneak in all sorts of stuff even ::gasp:: bananas. That shit is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. How do they do it? Well, I'd like to point fingers here but even as cheaters they're kind of doing a service-they get buckets of compost from the Syracuse food coop that would just go into a garbage/land fill otherwise. During the summer the buckets often get pretty pungent and melt into something gloppy and good for livestock. Occasionally you get a bucket of out of season tomatoes, a bunch of fresh spinach for soup, avocados for the guac or some overripe bananas. As the weather cools what's inside the buckets stays edible for humans longer and they have some true delights for those cold winter nights. Avocados and bananas don't grow round these here parts and I can't imagine the Frosts buying them under any circumstances...but for free, hey, why not?
Anyway after days of fennel, kohlrabi and other not sugar filled veggies I was about to bite someone's throat out. If there was carbs inside. A load of stuff arrived and I begged Alison to let me bake something with the browning fruits. First we had to empty the oven which works as a kind of rudimentary dryer for her, the pilot light slowly sucking the moisture from a dozen baskets filled with herbs. She uses the herbs to make teas and tinctures or just for cooking. They all had to be sorted and crunched through to remove stems and air them out. When the oven was finally empty I looked up a recipe for banana bread in the Moosewood Cookbook. If you're a vegetarian this book is where it's at. The vegetarian recipes that is.
Since I was using all these foreign ingredients, the bananas and sugar and wheat and baking powder (or was is baking soda?), Alison suggested I go collect berries from around the farm. Late July is an amazing time for berries. Things were blowing up all over the place! Blueberries, black currants, mulberries, gooseberries. They all went in the pot. It's kind of sad how little berry experience I had, what I didn't even know I was missing. The next time you have the chance try a new berry out.
There were also a few soft pears courtesy of the compost buckets and we threw them in too. Plus almonds. I'll just say, GOD IT WAS GOOD! I WISH I WAS EATING IT RIGHT NOW!
All this made me think about the ways the Frosts cheat being good organic farmers who care about the earth, like the buckets and...well, they're pretty good. Caring about the earth is tiring because a lot of fun stuff involves shrugging off thoughts of consequences or responsibility and you barely ever eat cake. But I shrug all the time. So then I started thinking about the ways I could cheat being someone who throws stuff out when it spoils or who buys stuff from another hotter hemisphere.
We compost. Today I made soup from some leftover lima beans. I buy stuff grown locally. Not sure what to do with my big can of compost yet. Any other ideas?
In the mean time I'm going to bake what ever's around into cake. Ingenuity is really what's behind eating good food because you use what's available. It makes you a better cook too if my banana bread is any indication. Of course, if I keep up my own form of 'cheating' I wont be eating bananas for awhile.
Here's a cool site about worm composting which is pretty manageable even in a small apartment, I've seen them, they don't smell and you'll be making great fertilizer:
Coincidentally, I'm listening to Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. It's available free on Hulu.com and it's great. Hurray for Neil Patrick Harris and Joss Whedon, they're like every delicious berry baked into a tart. A saucy tart.