Posted by: Holly & Denise | October 20, 2010

First Steps: Lard/Suet

The first mention of leaf-lard pastry I can recall coincided with our earliest purchase of half a pig. While that pig didn’t come with leaf lard (and sadly, neither did the second), we have been able to get fat with our other meat, such as lamb and beef. I wanted all the fat I could get from all our animals. I figured backfat and other fats would go into sausage, and I would render down the leaf lard or suet to use for baking.

Which is why there are packages of beef suet that have been taking up significant space in the freezer since last year. To be fair, I have used the pork fat in sausages, and I did buy and render a small package of leaf lard that was quickly used up in pies. A tiny amount of suet was used to make a traditional British Christmas pudding, but the result didn’t thrill any of us. And so the bulk of the suet has been sitting there looking sort of daunting. And then the freezer crashed for a while, and now I’m afraid to use that batch of suet for cooking.

I wanted to use it. I just haven’t been organized, or motivated, enough to translate desire into action. However, reading Nourishing Traditions has given me a big nudge in that direction. I need something for occasional frying/high temp cooking, and I could use suet for biscuits, dumplings, etc. So last week when I was chatting with our farmer and he mentioned some lamb suet in the freezer, I jumped at the opportunity.

I brought it home, chopped it up in the food processor, and rendered according to the directions I found online for rendering lard. It worked beautifully, and I now have 8 pints of lamb suet in the freezer. I even used some to fry potatoes, and they were nice. Not bad for a first step.

Tomorrow our beef is being slaughtered, and I plan to be at the farm bright and early, to collect the suet, the few organs I hope to be brave enough to eat, the feet for stock, and maybe even the tail. Most of these bits get discarded in the rush of slaughtering large animals, so if I want them, I need to be there to lend a hand. I just have to shake my head and laugh, that the woman who used to buy frozen, boneless, skinless chicken breasts is now willing to be up to her elbows in animal innards. I know it’s not for everyone, but I am glad I have had so many opportunities to learn and grow.

Posted by: Denise | October 16, 2010

New Perspective

I know we haven’t posted much lately, but we’re still here, eating locally, supporting local farmers, canning, baking and more. We started this blog when we were starting on our local food journey. There was so much change in our kitchen, and we found it helpful to connect with other bloggers and join challenges to keep us motivated. Eventually, eating locally became part of our everyday lives, and what we had to say about it slowed down. We didn’t post about our local meal of the week, because we were eating local meals one, or more, meals every day.

That is not to say we haven’t been thinking about food. We do. A lot.

I think about food all the time. Of course, I have so many reasons for eating the way I do.

– An obvious reason is eating locally. I love getting produce fresh from the farm. I love making friends with our farmers. I like knowing that we are eating seasonally. I even love helping process chickens, and being a link in how food moves from farm to table. There is really a lot wrapped up in this reason.
– I’m also a “foodie”. I love everything about good food: making it, eating it, thinking about it, serving it to people I love. If you tell me duck fat fries the best potatoes, or leaf lard makes the best pie crust, I am absolutely going to want to try it. Some amazing meals have come out of our kitchen because of our search for the best ingredients and recipes.
– I also love old things: antiques, vintage linens, old books, historic costuming, and yes, old food. I love quince for its history and obscurity as much as for its flavor. Vintage cocktails thrill me, even if they don’t become my favorite drink. When a hand-written note from Holly’s grandmother tells me that bacon grease is essential to her red cabbage recipe, you better believe I am reaching for the bacon grease can – exactly like the one my grandmother kept in her kitchen- without any apologies.
– I’m also trying to be thoughtful and aware of how we interact with food. The more we move through this new life, the more respect I feel for the hard work and sacrifices that make it possible for us to eat the way we do. I save veggie scraps, bones, chicken feet, and anything else that will make good stock. Unfinished wine gets turned into vinegar. We’ve had many conversations about eating organ meat from the animals we buy, and even tried a steak and kidney pie as a step in that direction. It was good! I don’t want to be thoughtless or wasteful. We still slip up, but we are so much better than we used to be.

There is one more reason, of course: eating fresh, local veggies, raw milk, grass-fed beef, and local honey is good for us. However, it’s always been more of a side-effect than an actual reason. We have been operating on the premise that if you put good things in, and even a few not-so-good things in moderation, that you will get good things back out. I think for the most part, this has been true.

Recently, I went to a new doctor to talk about PCOS, a diagnosis I’ve had for years. Unfortunately, I spent most of a decade ignoring the diagnosis because doctors never told me how the disease works, or the impact on my overall health, and pretty much glossed over it. I was offered an assortment of bandaids for various symptoms, and told that the biggest impact would be on my reproductive system, and even that was easily fixed with modern medicine. In recent years I’ve done a lot more reading, and know so much more, and found some doctors who are willing to treat me as a whole person who wants to be healthy. It’s been a struggle to get this far, and I am thrilled that my new doctor is knowledgeable and proactive about getting me as healthy as possible.

Her prescription? The book Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon. A book that tells me to fry food in animal fat, and drink raw milk, and eat butter, and many other things that we have already been doing. I’m thrilled! However, it also means some big changes, mostly in how we cook grains and legumes, as well as paying attention to living foods like fermented pickles or sprouted grains. Honestly, some of that stuff has me rolling my eyes at how hippy-dippy it sounds, even as part of my brain is nodding along because it makes sense.

So from here on out, I am going to be incorporating more Traditional Foods (ah, yes, it always seems to be capitalized) in my cooking. This time, not because it tickles my fancy to be doing something so old-fashioned, but because it is healthier for us. It is a big shift in perspective and I’m struggling a little to figure out where to start. Thankfully, there is a lot of information out there, and we really just need to take one step at a time.

Posted by: Holly & Denise | June 27, 2010

2009 Canning & Preserving Journal

Time to move last year’s info into a post, so we can record 2010’s bounty. We’re not blogging much, but we are canning!

2009 Food Preservation Journal

Recipes from:
Ball Blue Book (BBB)
Chez Panisse Fruits, Alice Waters (CPF)
Creative Pickling at Home (CPH)
Farm Journal Freezing & Canning Cookbook (FJ)
Food Lovers’ Guide To Canning (FLG)
Joy of Pickling, Linda Ziedrich (JOP)
Mes Confitures, Christine Ferber (MC)
Small-Batch Preserving, Ellie Topp & Margaret Howard (SBP)
Blue Ribbon Preserves (BRP)

*Amount given as gifts

Mushrooms – Oyster, 4 pounds sauteed & frozen

Blueberries, 2 pounds frozen
Broccoli, 6 cups frozen
Cherries – Bing, 2 pounds frozen
Raspberries, 1 pint frozen
Strawberries, 12 pints frozen

Green beans, 2 pounds frozen
Peas, frozen
Raspberries, 1 pint frozen

Best Bread and Butter slices (FJ), 8 pints, 3 quarts
Cauliflower, frozen, 2 heads
Curry slices (SBP/FJ), 10 pints
Dilly beans (BBB), 3 pints wax beans
Garlicky kosher dills, (SBP + extra garlic), 2 pints
Giardiniera (BBB hot pickles, – peppers + dill), 4 pints and 8 half-pints (Perfect!) *1
Lemon Pickles (SBP + dill), 7 pints
Rhubarb, frozen, 18 pounds
Romano beans, frozen, 1 pound

Applesauce, pink, 4 quarts, 8 pints
Cauliflower, pickled (Giardiniera – other veggies), 1 quart
Giardiniera (BBB hot pickles, – peppers + dill), 10 quarts
Pear Butter (BBB),
Caramel Pear Butter with Rum (, 8 pints (mixed jars)
Pear Mincemeat (BBB), 5 pints
Pear Sauce, 1 quart, 7 pints

Posted by: Denise | October 9, 2009

Pay it Forward

It’s been a long summer, heck, year, and this blog has been sadly neglected. When my friend Joy, at Mother Willing, posted a Pay it Forward, my first thought was “How fun.. but I don’t have a blog to continue the chain.” Shows you how long it’s been since I was in the habit of checking in, and it reminded me that I’ve been meaning to jump back in to blogging. So here I am.

If you’re still reading along, feel free to play. If you haven’t done this yet, here are the rules:

1. Be one of the first three people to leave a comment on this post, which entitles you to something handmade by me (something crafty or yummy).

2. Winners must post this challenge on their own blog, meaning that you will Pay It Forward, and send handmade goodies to three more folks, the first three who leave a comment on your blog.

3. The gift that you send your first three commenters can be from any price range, and you have 365 days to make & ship your item. (This means that you should be planning to keep your blog at least until you’ve received your gift and sent your gifts.) And remember, it’s the spirit and the thought that count!

4. When you receive your gift, feel free to blog about it, and share the Linky Love. If you’re not one of the first three commenters on this post, you can still play. Just create a Pay It Forward post on your own blog, and start your own chain. And encourage your blogging friends to play along.

I’m happy to make something crafty or yummy. You can let me know in your comment if you have a preference. Yummy gifts are likely to come straight from the canning cupboard and crafty ones from the sewing studio, if that makes any difference.

The offer is open until there are three commenters, no matter how long that takes. (Or until 365 days are up, but hopefully that won’t be the case!). In the meantime, I’m going to do my best to check in more often.

Posted by: Holly | July 3, 2009

From the Market Manager

In order for me to have a safe and sane holiday, I’m slashing this issue in half!! I’m even going to shorten my commentary. ☺

However, I’d like to give a shout-out to the many volunteers who have stepped up to help out the Farmers Market this season. I’ve mentioned their names a couple times in the newsletter already, but, I haven’t mentioned how much time they’ve given to the Farmers Market… it’s a lot!

Between set-up, break down, substitute managers, customer counting, produce inventorying, and website updating, we have 15 volunteers who have contributed more than 80 hours of time to the Farmers Market since the season opened on May 31, 2009, just six weeks ago. Amazing!!

The market wouldn’t be here for everyone to enjoy without the dedication and support of our volunteers: Barb, Claude, Gemma, Gordon, Greg & Maureen (and their niece), Irene, Judy, Kathy, Mary, Ramona, Susan, Tara, and Tom!

It’s a great gig and we’d love to share the fun and glory with more people. So, feel free to drop me an email, or stop by the Manager’s Booth, if you’re interested in helping, too.

Posted by: Holly | June 26, 2009

From the Market Manager

It seems like I’ve been doing a lot of writing this week; I’ve sent three letters to House Representative Norm Dicks and Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray – two agriculture letters and one personal.

The first was in opposition to H.R. 2749, the new Food Safety bill I mentioned in last week’s newsletter.  Check out page three of this edition for even more information and action you can take in response to the proposed legislation.

The second letter was in favor of H.R. 778, which would repeal the ban on interstate raw milk sales.  For more info on this one, see page four of this newsletter.

See, I did this crazy thing Wednesday morning; I created a Twitter account; not to blast myself into the ethers, but to gather tidbits from around the country on food policy, farming, and other subjects of interest to myself, and, by extension, you.

It’s an amazing world out there, for sure.  Did you know you could actually choose to be stalked by irritating advertisers?  It only took me a few hours to “block” my account from unapproved “followers.”

On the plus side, my account gets messages on food recalls from the FDA, information from the local Health Department, quirky pitches from the Farmers Almanac (i.e. June 28th is the best day to cut firewood, dig holes, and go hunting, but don’t plant or try to kill plant pests), links to media buzz from Michael Pollan about his own projects, regional farm news from Capital Press, and more.  Oh dear, what have I done?

Probably my favorite morsel this week came from the USDA regarding Tom Vilsack’s statement that Michelle Obama’s White House Garden surpassed the USDA garden in productivity.  While both organic gardens aim to educate children about where their food comes from, so far the White House Garden has produced 90 pounds of lettuce and inspired Queen Elizabeth to plant an organic garden of edible ornamentals and vegetables at Buckingham Palace for the first time since WWII!

Posted by: Holly | June 25, 2009

HR 2749

Neither Denise nor I usually use this blog for political issues, but, there is a bill running through the legislature right now that your House and Senate Representatives deserve to hear from you regarding – for the viability of small, local farmers.

HR 2749 is the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, and it seeks to make our US food supply safer – YAY!  But, there are some seriously unhelpful requirements within the bill in its current form that would impose fees upon all farms and artisan producers – the same fees no matter the farm size (that is $500 to “participate” is fine for a large-scale agriculture business, but not for small local farmers).

For more information about what’s wrong with the bill, what you can do to stop the bill in its current form, and who to contact in Congress, visit the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund website.

Posted by: Holly & Denise | June 23, 2009

2008 Canning & Preserving Journal

As we head into the 2009 harvesting and preserving season, I thought it was time to retire the 2008 list for posterity and begin anew.

Unfortunately, due to a variety of unrelated events, our efforts to preserve this year aren’t going to be quite so continuous.  I imagine most of our jam production will happen in the fall from fruit we cut and freeze throughout the summer.  Thankfully, we’re getting a new freezer this summer (happy birthday to us, from Holly’s parents), so, we’ll have plenty of room to keep our stash frozen until we’re able and ready to make yummy concoctions.

2008 Food Preservation Journal

Recipes from:
Ball Blue Book (BBB)
Chez Panisse Fruits, Alice Waters (CPF)
Creative Pickling at Home (CPH)
Farm Journal Freezing & Canning Cookbook (FJ)
Food Lovers’ Guide To Canning (FLG)
Joy of Pickling, Linda Ziedrich (JOP)
Mes Confitures, Christine Ferber (MC)
Small-Batch Preserving, Ellie Topp & Margaret Howard (SBP)
Blue Ribbon Preserves (BRP)

Pineapple, spiced & pickled (SBP): 7 pints (really good – made 2nd batch) *1
Pineapple, plain, in very light syrup: 3 quarts, 3 pints
Pineapple preserves with Rosemary and Vanilla (MC): 5 jelly jars (amazing!) *2

Rhubarb, diced and frozen: 2 lbs
Rhubarb Preserves: 1 jar (eaten right away)

Black Currant jelly (MC): 3 jelly jars, 3 mini jelly jars (textured, more like jam ) *1 mini
Black Currants, dried: 3 pints
Blueberries, frozen: 6 cups
Cherries, Bing, pitted and frozen: 5 lbs
Cherries in brandy(CPF): 1 quart (added a splash of maraschino liqueur)
Cherries, Pie, frozen with sugar (FJ): 6 cups (2 pies)
Cherries, Pie, as Maraschino Cherries (mixed recipes): 5 half-pint jars
Green Beans, steamed and frozen: 4 cups
Loganberries, frozen: 4 cups
Raspberry-Framboise preserves, seedless (SBP): 4 half-pints
Raspberry-Framboise preserves (SBP): 7 half-pints *2
Raspberry Syrup, from seeds and pulp (CPF): 1.5 pints
Strawberry Jam, plain: 6 half-pints (recipe from pectin packet – has sugar crystals) *1
Strawberry Jam, with alpine strawberries: 2 mini jelly jars
Strawberry Jam, with creme de cassis liqueur: 3 mini jelly jars *1
Strawberry Jam, with elderflower liqueur: 1 jelly jar, 2 mini jelly jars
Strawberry Jam, with Grand Marnier: 3 mini jelly jars
Strawberry Jam, with sherry: 2 mini jelly jars
Zucchini, diced, steamed and frozen: 7 lbs
Zucchini, Barbecue relish (no celery, part brown sugar) (SBP): 5 half-pints

Apricots, dried: about a dozen (too tart, but maybe good in recipes)
Apricots, brandied (BRP): 10 pints
Apricots, glacé: about 30 halves
Apricot Jelly: 7 jelly jars *2
Apricot Nectar: 7 pints (yummy!!)
Beans, Yellow Wax, dilly (BBB): 2 pints
Beans, Yellow and Green, for 3 Bean Salad (BBB): 3 pints (beans were tough; recipe tastes right)
Blueberries, frozen: 8 cups
Fig Jam with Ruby Port (BBB): 4 jelly jars *3, 4 mini jelly jars *1
Onions, Ciponllini, in Balsamic Vinegar (CPH): 5 half-pints, 1 pint *1
Peaches, sliced and Frozen: about 12 cups
Peaches, sliced in purée, frozen (FJ): about 10 cups
Peaches, canned in sugar and juice: 2 quarts
Peaches, brandied (BBB): 4 pints
Peaches, in Grand Marnier: 2 pints
Peaches, in Ruby Port: 2 pints
Peach conserve (BRP): 5 half-pints *1
Pickles, Cucumber chips (BBB): 6 pints (3 with mustard seeds in jar)
Pickles, Old-Fashioned Bread & Butter (JOP): 4 pints
Pickles, Best-Ever B&B (FJ): 4 pints
Pickles, Curry slices (SBP/FJ): 5 pints *1
Pickles, Dill, spears (Urban Hennery): 4 quarts
Pickles, Quick Dills (BBB): 3 pints, 1 quart canned; 3 liters fresh/fridge (a favorite!; use less salt) *1
Pickles, Sweet Garlic Dills (SBP): 5 pints
Rhubarb Jam (MC): 4 half-pint jars, 1 BM jar *1
Rhubarb, diced and frozen: 6 one-pound bags
Tomatillos: 2 quarts

Apple Cider: 6 quarts
Applesauce: 5 quarts (pink)
Blackberry Jelly: (juice frozen for later – too busy!!)
Blackberry syrup: 5 pints (made from pulp from jelly)
Carrots, pickled (BRP) – 2 hot (1/2L tulip jar), 3 plain, 2 dill (large jelly jars)
Corn, blanched and frozen: 6 packages of 3 servings
Crabapple-rosehip jelly: 4 half-pints
Eggplant, frozen: 4 quart bags sliced, 1 pint diced
Fig Jam with Ruby Port (BBB): (batch 2) 5 large jelly jars, 2 small deco jars
Goat cheese tarts, pre-baked and frozen: 1 fig, 2 plum, 1 mixed cherry tomato
Green beans, flat Italian, chopped and frozen: 4 bags, about 3/4 cup each
Ground Cherry jam: 4 half-pints *4, 2 Weck jelly jars
Huckleberries, frozen:
Nectarine Plum Jam (BBB): 9 half-pints *3
Peaches, in sugar (no syrup) (BBB): 2 quarts, 1 pint
Pears, medium syrup: 4 quarts
Pear-sauce: 9 pints
Pear Butter (BBB): 8 half-pints *2
Peppers, banana, pickled: 3 mini jelly jars
Peppers, chiles, roasted, peeled & frozen: 10 bags green, 3 bags red
Peppers, poblano, roasted, peeled & frozen: 3 bags whole, 3 bags for dicing
Pesto, frozen: 2 cups
Plums, Italian, halved and frozen: 5 quarts
Plum Sauce (SBP): 5 pints (really yummy; this was 4 batches, sieved, and canned together) *1
Reines Claudes (Greengage Plums), whole, frozen: 1 gallon
Reines Claudes, halves, frozen in port syrup: 2 quarts
Reines Claudes , whole in port syrup (BBB): 3 wire-bail French half-liter jars
Reine Claude Jam: 5 half-pints *1, 1 mini jelly jar *1
Reine Claude Jam with Vanilla & Mead: 2 large tulip jars, 2 small tulip, 1 half-pint *1
Tomatoes, cherry, dried: 4 pounds (1.25 quarts dry)
Tomatoes, cherry, roasted: 2 pounds (WOW!  Do them all this way next year)
Tomatoes, yellow cherry, confit, frozen: about 8 cups
Tomatoes, diced: 4 pints (a little skimpy)
Tomato Ketchup (BBB): 4 half-pints (a little heavy on the spices, not tomato-y enough)
Tomato Sauce: 10 pints (9 from our own tomatoes!), 3 pints yellow-green, 1 quart, 1 pint black


Apple Butter, crockpot: 4 half-pints
Applesauce: 5 quarts (pink)
Cabbage, steamed & frozen: 6 cups
Chantrelle Mushrooms, sautéed and frozen: 4 1/2 pounds
Glace de Viande: 32 2″x2″ squares
Green Tomato & Lemon Marmalade: 7 half-pints
Green Tomato pickles, sweet: 6 pints
Green Tomatoes, sliced, frozen: 6 bags
Strawberry Topping (BRP): 14 half-pint jars *1
Tomatillos, roasted: 2 quarts
Tropical Topping (BRP – modified): 14 half-pint jars *1


Quince Butter: 6 jelly jars
Quince Cordial: 2 large jelly jars (12-oz)
Quince Jelly: 8 jelly jars *2, 5 Weck jelly jars
Quince Paste, cut and rolled in sugar: about 4 cups
Quince, poached and sliced: 4 pints
Quince Spoon Sweets: 2 large Weck jars *1, 2 Weck Jelly Jars, 2 half-pint jars *1


Citrus Marmalade:  3 half-pints
Grenadine: 4 cups
Lemons, Preserved in salt: about 7
Lemon Curd:

*Amount given as gifts

Posted by: Holly & Denise | June 23, 2009

2008 Harvest

Here’s what we harvested in 2008:

Baby Bok Choy: 28 heads
Beans. fresh green & yellow: 3.1 lbs
Beans, dry red: 1/2 cup
Beans, dry black: 3 cups
Broccoli Raab: 2 medium bunches
Carrots: 20 baby carrots
Corn, fresh: 21 ears
Corn, dent: 14 ears
Corn, popcorn: about 175 ears
Cucumber: 1 medium
Eggplant: 8 pounds
Green Onions: 3 bunches (tops only)
Ground Cherries: 3 lbs
Head Lettuce: 20 heads
Melon: 6 baby melons (a little overripe)
Morels: About 20, medium to large
Onions, Cipollini: about 50
Peppers, poblanos: 4
Peppers, anaheim:  6
Potatoes, red: 1 lb, 10 oz
Potatoes, Yukon Gold: 3 lb, 4 oz
Radishes: 30, plus some greens
Rhubarb: 1 lb
Salad Greens: 11 cups
Snow Peas: a small handful
Spinach: 1 large bunch
Strawberries, alpine: 1/4 pint
Tomatillos: 7.75 lbs
Tomatoes, cherry: 8 pounds
Tomatoes: 7.5 lbs
Turnips: 24 baby turnips, plus greens
Zucchini: 13 pounds

Posted by: Holly | June 19, 2009

From the Market Manager…

A year ago this weekend the KPFM Board and I were scurrying around like mice getting everything done for our inaugural opening day.

I didn’t start the newsletters until four weeks into our season, therefore I don’t have a clear recollection of how I felt that night before.  I do remember the butterflies in my stomach, hoping that people actually came to the market and –gasp- bought things!

During set-up that first market morning, Barb told me she’d burned the midnight oil working on the sand bags we use on the Key Peninsula Community Council booth (the demo booth), because everything always takes longer than we expect!

Back then we marked vendor positions with little yellow balloons filled with sand; more than a couple burst that morning, leading Barb to figure out a better way to mark off booth space, which we started a few weeks later, and still use today.

2008 Opening Day Layout

2008 Opening Day Layout

Last year, on opening day, we had seven farmers, four crafters, and one baker in the Farmers Market.

The farmers earned $2300, the baker sold out all the goodies he brought in an hour, and the crafters generated $430 in sales.

2009 Opening Day Layout

2009 Opening Day Layout

This year, we also had seven farmers (two of whom are vending in double booth spaces), including four from last year’s opening day, two food vendors, and four crafters.

Farmers earned $2800, the food vendors brought in $430 (and didn’t sell out), and the crafters generated $640 in sales. (Editor’s Note: The Manager’s booth and Demo booth are gray, Farmers are green, food vendors are orange, and crafters are pink.)

As you can see, the layout has evolved a bit, to accommodate more vendors – which we seem to add every week!

June 7, 2009 - Key Peninsula Farmers Market

June 7, 2009 - Key Peninsula Farmers Market

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