Monday, September 23, 2013

Urban Farm & Food Fair III

Click the photos to enlarge
Thank you to everyone who braved the drizzle and came out to support Baltimore's small local food producers at the third annual Urban Farm & Food Fair

It was great getting to see the Real Food Farm food truck, the mini aquaponics display, a beekeeping display, veggie flavored ice cream from Dominion (we had the sweet potato flavor which was amazing!), a steel drum band, and so much more. 

We were happy enough to make $50, which will fund several hours of labor from local employees or buy tools and equipment for next year. Thanks everyone!

We made a "Lemon - Pepper Pasta Salad" with our Sungold Cherry Tomatoes, and also had a cold tea drink made with the Holy Basil grown on the farm. 

Here the recipe we used, inspired by the blog coolcookstyle

For the dressing:
7 tablespoons of good extra-virgin olive oil
The juice of two lemons
The zest of two lemons
1 fat clove of garlic, grated
1 to 1 1/2 heaping tablespoons of coarse-grain Dijon mustard
For the rest:
1 pound of penne
1 pint of Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, quartered (or halved if they are small)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup of crumbled French feta (I sometimes find Greek feta too salty)
1 bunch of chives, finely chopped
How to prepare:
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the penne and cook it until it is al dente.
2. Meanwhile, whisk the ingredients for the dressing together in a large mixing bowl. AMicroplane grater is terrific for both the lemon zest, and for grating the garlic.
3. When the pasta is done, drain it and rinse it with cold water to cool it down quickly. Drain the pasta again and add it to the dressing, along with the tomatoes and the bell pepper. Toss all of the ingredients together, making sure that the pasta is well-coated. Add the crumbled cheese and the chives. Toss again. The cheese, the chives, and the vegetables should be evenly distributed throughout the salad. Adjust the seasoning if needed (depending on how salty the mustard and the feta are, you might not have to).
Pack it up for the party, or eat it immediately.
Note: We did not use feta in our salad to cut down on costs and to make the salad more available to people who might be dairy sensitive. But I bet it would be great with feta!

Edit: Cheryl informed me later in the day that the yellow peppers are actually "Lemon Drop" not "Lipstick"

Everyone loved looking at the bright yellow hot peppers, but sales were slow. I recommend chopping up the peppers and putting them in vinegar for use year round. 

Our colorful table display!

I was pretty excited to have leftovers of the pasta salad for lunch this week. Yum!

Monday, September 16, 2013

September Workshop: Food Preservation Techniques

Costoluto Genovese tomatoes, sweet Anaheim green peppers, zebra striped tomatoes. Cheryl is harvesting pounds and pounds of lovely tomatoes each week at Boone Street Farm. 

Dishing Up Maryland is one of Aliza's favorite go to guides. It has wonderful recipes outlined in a seasonal format. The recipe for tomatoes stuffed with breadcrumbs, parmesan, and basil would be perfect for these tomatoes from Boone Street. 

This is a photo of a full weekly share for $20 with tomatoes, peppers, okra, garlic, and bundles of sage, mint, and holy basil (four sets of herbs not pictured). You can also purchase Boone Street produce at the Farm Alliance of Baltimore stand at the Waverly Farmer's Market. We will also have our produce available at the 3rd Annual Urban Farm & Food Fair this Saturday the 21st from 2 pm to 5 pm.

With so many tomatoes, it's time to talk about how to preserve the harvest. 

Food Preservation Techniques

Canning 101, fridge pickles, herb preservation, and more. Thanks to everyone who came to the workshop. Your donations were also much appreciated, and will go to support farm activities.

Green tomato - hot pepper salsa!

We enjoyed samples of last year's green tomato & pepper salsa with chips from Tortilleria Sinaloa. Yummm. Here is the recipe for the salsa: Pickled Green Tomato - Hot Pepper Mix

How to make crisp fridge pickles
 Aliza demonstrated her favorite technique for crisp fridge pickles: 

Soak cucumbers in a salt brine overnight to take out excess water. Use 1 or 1.5 tsp of sea salt per quart of water. Then drain the brine and put the pickles into the vinegar pickling liquid. 

Brines can be made with vinegar, salt, sugar or honey, and spices of your preference. Aliza's favorite mix is black and yellow mustard seed, cracked black peppercorns, and garlic or ginger. Bragg's Apple Cider vinegar is more expensive, but tastes great and is pro-biotic so it's worth the upgrade. 

Heat the brine gently to dissolve the salt and release the flavor of the spices. Then add the drained vegetables to the pickling liquid - cucumbers, radishes, cabbage, or whatever you are pickling. 

Pack into a jar and refrigerate. 

Pickles will keep several weeks. 

We read the definition of botulism from the Ball Jar Canning Guide. 

Canning safety: Always check the seal when opening a jar of home canned food. Use acids to create an inhospitable environment for botulism. 

Visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation website for more canning recipes and how to guides. 

Also, check out this spider we found on the zinnias in the community garden! Wow. 

See you at the farmer's market. We will also have our produce available at the 3rd Annual Urban Farm & Food Fair this Saturday the 21st from 2 pm to 5 pm. 

Cheryl will  have plenty of sungold yellow cherry tomatoes, San Marzano plum tomatoes for canning and sauces, okra, and ground cherries. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

September Events

"Cossack Pineapple" ground cherries are one of the most interesting fruits we have grown so far. 

Happy September!

We hope everyone is having a wonderful harvest season. The garden is bursting with okra, peppers, basil, and pounds and pounds of yellow Sungold cherry tomatoes and San Marzano plum tomatoes.  And this year's most unusual crop pictured above- ground cherries! This article from the L.A. Times gives more information about ground cherries and how to grow and prepare them.  They are available now at the Farm Alliance of Baltimore stand at the Waverly Market on Saturdays.

The community garden is doing well, and our YouthWorks student employees are still helping to harvest and maintain the garden. Rosa is a community gardener who lives in the neighborhood who will be helping out at the garden in exchange for an education stipend from Americorps. Cheryl is getting ready to do the after school garden club with Cecil Elementary students for the second year. 

Stay tuned for these upcoming September events: 

Food Preservation Workshop
Saturday, September 14th
10 am - 12 pm 
Boone Street Farm: 2100 Boone St. 21218
Learn the basics of drying, pickling, and canning produce for storage over the winter. 

3rd Annual Urban Farm and Food Fair
Saturday, September 21st
2 - 5 pm 
The event will feature our city’s urban farms, local food vendors, and fun family activities. 
More information can be found on the Farm Alliance of Baltimore website here:

Starting a Small Market Garden
Sunday, September 29th
3 - 5 pm 
Liam Flynn's Ale House
22 W. North Ave
Baltimore Green Space, The Farm Alliance and the Community Law Center will present a workshop at Liam Flynn's Ale House, discussing small Market Gardens. RSVP to Katie Lautar at 443-996-3811 or