Green – Mean – Cuisine
Tag Archives: food
You can’t have a Farmers Market without the land & crops getting an adequate amount of rainfall. However, conducting a market while it rains can prove to be a real challenge. During yesterday’s East Atlanta Village Market a storm hit the east side of town…hard. Heavy rainfall started only seconds after I had received my SNAP & Wholesome Wave tokens. Baby in tow, I rushed underneath Little Tart Bakeshop’s tent, alongside one of the market’s musicians, a violin player wearing her tip jar cleverly strapped as a backpack. What happened next can only be described as an accelerated storm front whipping across us, with continuous heavy rainfall accompanied by strong winds, ripping on all of the vendors tents. Every now and then sunshine peeked in the distance, toying with the hope of all market participants that this could end any second now.
Peek the pictures of the treacherous down-pour:
Istill managed to buy a few items; thankfully & due to the help of various folks, who scrambled to get me a feasible umbrella, kept my baby & I entertained, dry & save for a couple of hours at the market, plus of course the farmers who nourish our lives!
Furthermore, did you know that you can use the same tokens from East Atlanta’s market at Grant Park Farmers Market on Sundays? If you ever forget a few items & have left over tokens to spare, you don’t have to wait a whole week to make use of them.
I thought my experience at the market was yet again a real testament to community and how well people can work together and stand their ground. It is certainly something we need more of in today’s times.
How many of us judge a fast food joint by their fries/sides, religious affiliations a la Chik-Fil-A aside? McDonalds’s reigns over Burger Kings’ & Checkers trumps Wendy’s – facts people! The most memorable meals have all star players, consistent quality across, from the main course to a simple garnish. When the salad dressing gets equal amount of love then the roasted Turkey, life gets infinitely sweeter.
Three unsung kitchen table heroes that could use a lil love & attention are the creamer in your coffee/tea, soup & salad dressing. You don’t have to have a super fancy mixer, such as the Vitamix to make the following recipes but that machine simply has the power to get ‘er done right. To an average person income, there are many ways to afford this item. The company constantly runs promos at major outlet stores (COSCO or Whole Foods), healthy lifestyle expos (I got mine from the Atlanta Alive expo) and on their website. You can even install a payment plan. As with everything, it pays for itself over time depending on how much you use it.
As ode to Hempseed, one of my favorite most versatile ingredients that has amazing nutritional compounds, I’ve located a couple of recipes with the superfood at their center. Furthermore, Blueberries serve as a seasonal food inspiration for the soup. So contemplate and feast on these selected recipes, composed by fellow foodie nerds.
Creamer aka Vanilla Cacao Hemp Seed Milk
- 3 cups water
- 1/3 cup hemp seeds
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean powder or 1 TB. vanilla extract
- Stevia (NuNaturals brand) to taste
- 1 to 2 TB. of raw Cacao or Carob powder
Blend until creamy! Add to beverage of your liking or drink by itself
Next up Soup: Raw Blueberry Apple Soup
- 2 cups fresh blueberries
- Juice of 1-1/2 limes
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp coriander
- 2 tsp agave nectar
- 1/4 cup frozen unsweetened apple juice concentrate
- 1/4 cup nonfat plain Atlanta Fresh Artisan CreameryGreek yogurt
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Mint leaves, for garnish (optional)
and last but not least the dressing: Green Goddess Dressing with Hemp Hearts
- 1 large cucumber, peeled and sliced into large pieces
- 3/4 cup hemp hearts
- 1 cup fresh parsley
- 3/4 cup fresh dill
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp sucanat
- pinch of cayenne
- (makes 3 cups)
Place all ingredients in blender with cucumbers at the bottom and grind until smooth consistency is achieved!
Now, please follow the links for more detailed directions but feel free to tinker and switch out ingredient as you like. Experimenting is part of the fun!
Cheers & to your health!
When a chef tells me, he or she prefers ingredients via a particular farm, I don’t just ask why but also quickly be-line to that farm stand. Chef Angus just purchased a few vegetables from Crack in the Sidewalk Farmlet, when I encountered him at the East Atlanta Farmers Market. Angus, who’s previously incorporated local farm goods from Many Fold Farms at Miller Union, has come up with a deliciously distinct late night menu for Octopus Bar in East Atlanta Village. Who says your taste buds don’t need indulgence at 3am!
While browsing the vegetable selection at Crack in the Sidewalk’s stand, bags of small leaved, dark green salad mixes, topped with wood sorrel flowers catch my eye. My senses tell me this is what I want! The wild edible salad mix includes next to Wood Sorrel, Henbit, Dead-nettle alongside other Georgia native greens. The flavors are so potent and nutrient dense it can be used as a garnish, mixed in with cultivated lettuces or as an added spice to soups, terrains, simply let your creativity run wild – pun intended.
Coincidentally, Chris & Isiah who run the 2 acre Farmlet are offering a Wild Edibles workshop the same weekend. The farm is nestled next to a golf course and an array of sporadically populated and foreclosed homes. The couple moved to the location roughly four years ago. Since then next to cultivating plants via traditional agricultural methods, the lands native plants have become part of their harvest. A quite genius approach to farming utilizes the adaptable strength of wild plants to create an ecologically balanced & diversified approach to winning food from the land.
‘With Foraging’ , as Chris explains, ’there is a significant amount of opportunity, to connect with the areas around you.’ Once you become aware of edible wild greens, berries, pecans etc. you can find them everywhere, even in downtown major cities, parks or the middle of neighborhoods. Miseducation throughout generations, however, has perpetuated the stigma of wild foods being poisonous and/or polluted. In reality the amount of poisonous wild edibles is rather small and wild foods that might even kill you are proportionally speaking even smaller. The advantages of wild foods next to promoting health and self-sufficiency, also include:
- Easier to cultivate due to plants strong sense of adaptability and resistance to bugs (seed saving)
- Incredibly nutrient dense
- Healing properties
- Young leaves are most tender and delicious
- Take little to no work
While nature creates abundance and can in fact include poisonous species, it is important to study plants in order to know how to identify them correctly. Nevertheless, the healing compounds of plantains for instance can aid bee stings or snake bites or consider the super food characteristics of Mulberries, which can literally be found anywhere in Atlanta, making wild foods a worthwhile study for the adventurous urban or suburban dweller.
On the outskirts of the East side of Atlanta lays the popular Hipster landmark the Starlight Drive In; once passed, the eye meets billboards, gas stations and neighborhoods sprawling of a main road. Inconspicuously tugged away in the midst of a sleepy neighborhood are 18 acres of goat country – white Saanen dairy goat ‘country’ to be exact.
It’s a dreary day when I pull up to Decimal Place Farm. I know I am at the right place when I see a line of white goats standing on the higher ground looking towards me. Nestled at the end of a cul da sec Mary Rigdon has appropriately named her farm Decimal Place Farm. She walks swiftly towards the car and directs me to the gate that leads to the goats and milking facility. I notice the acres of land surrounding us as the car slowly follows behind her steps in the mud.
Mary has been a dairy goat farmer for over 20 years and the land in Conley, Georgia for 17 years in her possession. It took patience and perseverance to acquire this land. Once she owned it, a milking facility had to be built and the right dairy equipment needed to be purchased. The process required assessing her resources critically, understanding how power lines were laid out & addressing functionality by getting the goats in and out of the buildings most efficiently. All of which she accomplished by using the means she had. In a time of credit defaults Mary’s sensible approach makes her somewhat of a modern day hero.
Her goats are having babies during the first few months of the year and I get a brief look into just how busy she gets. Mary is feeding the babies and checking on the becoming mothers periodically, meanwhile the rest of the herd still has to be milked. The days have a rhythm. She takes me outside to one of the grasing areas, while telling me how her lifestyle approach may be more of what people are talking about now and farm life is seeping into the mainstream but she has been living this way since the early 80s. She explains that in order to build the herd and utilize the land fencing had to be done. Grazing plots, comprised of clover, rye grass, a nitrogen fixing grass mix were created for limit grazing spans also called mammoth grazing. Mary tiled a few rows of soil for crop mob to come in and finish the sowing for new grazing plots. Crop Mob will also fix one of her fences and help get debris out of the creek.
Crop Mob, an initiative of young farmers and land enthusiasts, come together to help local farmers with a variety of projects around their farm. It builds the type of community interaction less reliant on monetary exchange. Being outside and learning some hands on farming know how, derived from years of experience, are plenty of reward for getting your hands dirty. At the end of each crop mob-tastic work day a dinner is shared between all the volunteers and farmers.
At the end of our excursion through the 18 acres of Decimal Place Farm, she hands me back my seven month old, that’s been carefully observing everything from her arms. She tells me about groups of children coming to the farm to learn about dairy goats, land preservation, gardening and making a living in this manner. When I ask her if she could envision anything for the future of the American food system, what would that look like, she takes time to think before answering. In her point of view we all receive the same amount of hours in the day. What we do with them is up to us & ultimately defines who we are. She questions peoples ingenuity or lack thereof. When a neighbor gives you grits in exchange for some of your goods, you learn how versatile that item can be. Furthermore, she adds she doesn’t like okra or rather the way most people in the south cook it but its an awfully space conducive and high yield type of vegetable. Therefore, she researched how to prepare Okra resulting in a dish sans a slightly gooey texture and utilizes its properties on her farm.
Did I mention just how delicious Decimal Place Farm goat cheese is? Seriously, you can’t go wrong with trying some of the creative flavors (i.e. amaretto orange chevre, pecan craison chevre, and cracked peppercorn chevre) either at a local health food stores such as Rainbow Grocery Market or Pine Street Market. During the summer time, Decimal Place Farm chevre, tuma or cheddar style goat cheeses can be located at the East Atlanta Farmers Market, Peachtree Road Market and Grant Park Farmers Market.
~ Enjoy, live well & be kind to one another
C.H. – Real Time Farms Winter Food Warrior, 2012
Do you ever walk past a vacant building & think about what else it could be? Surely, in the post housing bubble apocalypse we call today, vacant buildings aren’t hard to come by. Why not just tear them down & use the land differently – like growing food? In order for land to be reverted to arable land, the process due to having to expel mercury, sulfates etc., the byproducts of constructing & maintaining a building, requires extensive and expensive solutions. As a matter of fact fertile soils take thousands of years, requiring a combination of climate, geology, biology and a smidgen of luck.
I attributed my vision of a hydroponic farm land in form of vertical inner city farms housed in old Macy’s buildings or Ford plants, more to the heavy duty Science Fiction & Fantasy influence my grandpa and mom put me through as a child. As it turns out, thinking outside of the box couldn’t be more timely, even if it puts the thinker right back into one. The box more specifically a shipping container and the visionaries: the entrepreneurs of PodPonics.
PodPonics came into existence in 2010, Matt Liotta, founder and CEO of the company tells me. The motivation behind the endeavor: to create pesticide free, locally grown lettuce that laughs at the carbon footprint comparison to California grown lettuce not to mention its incredible freshness, texture and taste. Don’t be fooled by labels mentioning fresh. PodPonics will have the first bite of lettuce savoring in your mouth within hours after harvest. The only way to get fresher than that is grassing on an edible wall perhaps?! What originally started out as a couple of shipping containers on Ponce de Leon has now grown into a total of 16 containers, located near Hartsfield International Airport.
Matt’s done his research & knows his main competitor well. Conventionally grown California lettuce produces eleven and a half tons per acre versus 989 tons per acre that PodPonics patent pending systems can bring forth. In a test market Whole Foods priced PodPonics Spring Mix at $3.49 per bag, a lucrative slot between $3 priced California lettuce and the $4 organic brand. It’s hard to imagine our local stores without hydroponically grown goods from here on out. The benefits are too stark to miss. Hydroponics applications can be highly controlled & independent from climate changes. While tied to the grit PodPonics has figured out how to run operations with off-peak energy. Simultaneously, the minimal amount of space it takes to grow a vast amount of crops has attractive implications for highly populated dense urban areas.
There was one realization amongst many standing out from my visit at PodPonics. As beautiful as a traditionally set farm is, as beautiful and serene can a perfectly acclimated shipping container be in its very own zen filled way, housing NFT systems filled with crisp green lettuce with skinny T5 bulbs illuminating a future of farming quite possibly.
A few years ago I received a life changing gift that reacquainted me with man’s earlier ways of travel. The experience has opened me up to an underground urban commuting network of many different people of diverse backgrounds. From those who do it for fun to those who do it for work there is one common interest, arriving to ones desired destination safely. On my journey I discovered the joy of cycling.
The bicycle has been around since the early 1800s, with concepts dating back to the 1400s. I was introduced to the bicycle in 1985. My first bike, equipped with training wheels, was enough to make it to the stop sign. When I received a bicycle as a gift a few years back, I was thinking traffic filled streets & stop lights. Since then I have made cycling my preferred method of travel. Cars, buses, trains & planes are good, but don’t forget the bicycle.
I have met fellow cyclist that have been the most earth conscious & encouraging group of people who fuel my joy of the commute. Other cyclists stick out amongst the cars & usually a common courtesy of acknowledgement occurs. The experience of the ride, even in traffic jams does not irritate the cyclist, so engaging in communication with a fellow two-wheeler comes naturally & usually without irritation. I remember seeing a cyclist stopped to eat from a fig tree at one time. Figs being one of my favorite fruits I had to taste one. A fresh fruit tree that has mostly gone unnoticed in the urban environment put a smile on my face. Local food sources seemed to flower, thrive & flourish in my path. Another aspect of cycling that fueled my joy is the local food experience. Literally!
One of the main things that will keep anyone safe from stumbling is awareness. Being fully aware of the moment & all the occurrences within any given moment is a form of meditation. For me, cycling is meditation in motion. In urban environments you may find potholes or local food fresh on a tree or vine even. Powered by the intent to enjoy the commute, I usually avoid harm & arrive to my destination in the same feeling of joy I acquired from the journey. Maybe you are inspired to join me in the joy of cycling. I highly recommend reintroducing this form of travel to yourself & others. You will be surprised at how “ecoficient” it is. Safe travels.