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But now, in summer dusk, a man
Whose hair and beard curl like spring ferns
Sits under the yard trees, at rest,
His smallest daughter on his lap.
This is because he rose at dawn,
Cared for his own, helped his neighbors,
Worked much, spent little, kept his peace
Wendell Berry, A Timbered Choir: the Sabbath poems 1979-1997
I’m a lazy food blogger – I don’t make dinner at ten in the morning to get that perfect morning light. I only occasionally make my family wait so I can snap a picture of whatever we’re eating to blog the recipe later. I made these fish tacos several weeks ago, but we were having friends over for dinner so they look a little sad when they were so delicious. I say all this just to remind you not to judge a book by its cover – and make these fish tacos soon!
A Sara original – these are not complicated, but they do require several steps, so I’m trying to break them down accordingly
2 pounds white fish (Earth Fare was having a great sale on Dover Sole a few weeks ago, which was delicious and what led to this meal from the beginning. Tilipia or Mahi Mahi would be other obvious choices)
I sauteed the fish in a little bit of olive oil and butter in a hot cast iron pan. I had planned to grill them, but it was raining that night. Sauteed was delicious, but I’m sure grilled would have been as good or better.
For the cabbage slaw:
1/2 head red cabbage, sliced
1/2 red onion, diced
A few “cubes” worth (3 tablespoons) of cilantro pesto
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of one lime
After slicing the cabbage, I like to salt it and then put it in a colander for at least an hour. This helps to release some of the water that cabbage typically holds. Then assemble the cilantro pesto, olive oil, and lime and thoroughly mix your ingredients (I usually just put them in a small jar with a lid and shake vigorously). Pour the dressing over the cabbage and red onion and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes so the flavors meld together.
For the chipotle dressing:
1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 chipotle pepper from chipotle in adobo, minced
1 tbsp sauce from chipotle in adobo
Mix all of the ingredients thoroughly and set out as a condiment to be added to the tacos.
For the guacamole:
2 ripe avocados, peeled 1/4 cup small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of one lime
1 jalapeno (adjust depending on how spicy you like it)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Mash the avocado and then add the remaining ingredients.
To serve, I just put out each separate “item,” and let people add for themselves. I served it with a black bean salad and green salad on the side. Once summer hits, I’ll add some homemade pico de gallo and sweet corn. These are, of course, so easy to modify based on what you have on hand (although I think the guac and chipotle dressing are staples for these at our house!).
I also have a secret to share: I used to make my own tortillas, which were delicious, but I happened upon the uncooked ones (you just cook/grill them at home for a few minutes on a side) at Costco with a simple and decent ingredient list once. I really can’t tell the difference in taste, mine weren’t really any healthier, and the Costco ones are much prettier, so until further notice, I’m throwing in the towel on homemade tortillas.
“When a community loses its memory, its members no longer know each other. How can they know each other if they have forgotten or have never learned each other’s stories? If they do not know each other’s stories, how can they know whether or not to trust each other? People who do not trust each other do not help each other, and moreover they fear each other.” Wendell Berry
As promised (albeit a bit late), I have some gardening resources for you today. Whether you only have the time and space for a small pot in your windowsill, or you want to go all out and turn your entire yard into a food-producing oasis, gardening is one of the best ways to go green.
Don’t just take my word for it; listen to Michael Pollan (you’ll need to sign-in to read the whole thing):
The idea is to find one thing to do in your life that doesn’t involve spending or voting, that may or may not virally rock the world but is real and particular (as well as symbolic) and that, come what may, will offer its own rewards. Maybe you decide to give up meat, an act that would reduce your carbon footprint by as much as a quarter. Or you could try this: determine to observe the Sabbath. For one day a week, abstain completely from economic activity: no shopping, no driving, no electronics.
But the act I want to talk about is growing some — even just a little — of your own food. Rip out your lawn, if you have one, and if you don’t — if you live in a high-rise, or have a yard shrouded in shade — look into getting a plot in a community garden. Measured against the Problem We Face, planting a garden sounds pretty benign, I know, but in fact it’s one of the most powerful things an individual can do — to reduce your carbon footprint, sure, but more important, to reduce your sense of dependence and dividedness: to change the cheap-energy mind.
A great many things happen when you plant a vegetable garden, some of them directly related to climate change, others indirect but related nevertheless. Growing food, we forget, comprises the original solar technology: calories produced by means of photosynthesis. Years ago the cheap-energy mind discovered that more food could be produced with less effort by replacing sunlight with fossil-fuel fertilizers and pesticides, with a result that the typical calorie of food energy in your diet now requires about 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce. It’s estimated that the way we feed ourselves (or rather, allow ourselves to be fed) accounts for about a fifth of the greenhouse gas for which each of us is responsible.
So here are some fun gardening tricks and tips that I’ve come across lately:
- We’re making some new tomato cages this year. Check out this link for the directions we’re using (I’ll report back with how we do it). Or check out this video for other staking options (watch out with the video – you’ll get sucked into all of his great videos!).
- We have a VERY local seed company! I can’t believe I just now discovered them, but be sure to check them out soon – they have tons of heirloom seeds varieties + starts grown from their own seeds.
- Urban Farm Seeds also had an amazing website full of tons of step-by-step directions and tips.
- Some great organic gardening tips for beginners. And some easy-to-grow varieties to start off with.
- Five major mistakes that beginner gardeners make
- Some beginner composting tips that I found really helpful. If you’re just starting, I recommend a very easy bin along these lines.
- Some great container gardening ideas for stuff you have already laying around the house.
- And I just had to share these – what a neat idea, especially for small spaces!
From a letter in support of the Catholic Worker Movement’s campaign against frac sand mining in Minnesota:
I will say, first, that there is never, for any reason, a justification for doing long-term or permanent damage to the ecosphere. We did not create the world, we do not own it, and we have no right to destroy any part of it.
Second, most of our politicians and their corporate employers are measuring their work by the standards of profitability and mechanical efficiency. Those standards are wrong. There is one standard that is right: the health of living creatures and the living earth.
Third, we must give our need to eat, drink, and breathe and absolute precedence over our need for mined fuels.
Thanks for all of you that were able to make it to last week’s informational meeting with the folks from Victory Acres. I thought I would post some information for those of you who weren’t able to make it. We need TEN full shares signed up in order to make it worthwhile for Victory Acres to add a drop-off at Grace + for Victory Acres to donate a full share to the Grace Choice Food Pantry. Check out their website for all of the information about the farm: http://www.victoryacres.org.
Here are the specifics for the Grace drop-off:
- $600 for a full share of 20-22 weeks (end of May through the end of October) of organic, local produce (averages out to about $1.50-$2 a pound)
- Pickup on Tuesday evenings at Grace
- A full share feeds approximately 4-5 adults
*You can split a share with another family. If you have another family that might be interested, you can sign up together and split the shares each week (a half share feeds about 2-3 adults). Or you could take alternating weeks with the other family. If you don’t have another family in mind, email the farm (firstname.lastname@example.org), and they will match you with another family interested in splitting a share.
CSA members also have access to other farm benefits, such as:
- farm visits
- farm special events
- you-pick berries
- you-pick herbs
- you-pick flowers
- first-choice on pastured beef, pork, and eggs at the farm
Some questions I’ve heard lately below…add any additional questions in the comments. We’ve been in CSAs for the past 5+ years, so we might be able to answer some questions.
What is community-supported agriculture? Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a mutually beneficial relationship between a farmer and her community. CSA members purchase farm shares. These shares ensure that the farmer will have a stable income and also allow her to develop an appropriate crop plan. In return, the farmer provides the CSA members with fresh, nutritious produce each week throughout the growing season–usually the end of May through October. Together, the farmer and CSA members share the risk and the reward of the harvest. When the crops are bountiful, members receive extra produce. When uncontrollable circumstances, such as drought or plant disease, deplete the harvest, then everyone shares the loss. Fortunately, with over 35 varieties of organically-grown fruits and vegetables, the harvest is usually plentiful.
What does a share include? Members receive 20-22 weeks of fresh, seasonal produce, including lettuce, spinach, turnips, radishes, scallions, onions, cabbage, broccoli, peas, swiss chard, kale, collards, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, okra, green beans, carrots, cucumbers, summer and winter squash, eggplant, pumpkins, beets, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, celery, garlic, and raspberries. In addition, the farm provides seasonal pick-your-own opportunities with our most abundant crops, such as green beans and tomatoes. Members also have access to the farm’s herb and flower gardens, special events, workshops, and regular farm updates and recipes through email, Facebook, and Twitter.
Who is in charge? Leslie Gottschalk is the farm’s CSA manager. She brings with her multiple years of hands-on CSA experience and an extensive knowledge of the field, including a B.S. in biology/education and a pending master’s degree in environmental science.
What do I do with the food? Check back here! I do a weekly post on what we do with our CSA, as well as post tons of recipes. Victory Acres also sends along recipes every week with your share. We are participating, so there will be plenty more recipes here throughout the summer. We grow our own in our garden and participate in the CSA. That way, we have plenty of garden-fresh, local produce all summer and winter long. I’ll share my preserving methods/tricks as we go too.
What if we don’t get ten shares for the Grace drop-off? All you have to do now is sign and email the membership agreement form to the farm. Write GRACE at the top, as well as who (if applicable) you’re splitting your share with. If you want to split a share but don’t have anyone in mind, just write on the top of your application that you’re looking for someone to split with. If we don’t get to ten full shares, there won’t be a Grace drop-off, and you won’t be committed to anything. You won’t need to pay until June, and you can also pay in two installments if necessary. (the drop-off sites offered on the membership application are less expensive due to the decreased transportation costs)
SOOO what next?
If you’re interested in participating, send in your membership application right this minute, so that the farm can plan accordingly, and we can find out as soon as possible if we hit our ten shares.
If you’ve been reading here for long or if you’re familiar with the growing local food movement, you’ve heard of Michael Pollan. He is coming out with a new book last week, and in a recent interview, he reveals that Wendell Berry is responsible for his illustrious career in food. I thought Pollan could take over “Wendell for Wednesday” for this week:
It was in reading Berry that I came across a particular line that formed a template for much of my work: “eating is an agricultural act.” It’s a line that urges you to connect the dots between two realms—the farm, and the plate—that can seem very far apart. We must link our eating, in other words, to the way our food is grown. In a way, all my writing about food has been about connecting dots in the way Berry asks of us. It’s why, when I write about something like the meat industry, I try to trace the whole long chain: from your plate to the feedlot, and from there to the corn field, and from there to the oil fields in the Middle East. Berry reminds us that we’re part of a food system, and we need to think about our eating with this fact—and its implications—in mind.
Michael Pollan (read the whole interview)