To start on a low note, dried basil has to be about the saddest ingredient you can add to a dish. I can fill a room with the scent of basil from just one or two stems, while I can fully inhale a nose-full from a jar of dried basil and wonder what it even is.
I recently read (and highly recommend )The Body by Bill Bryson. He talks about a million interesting things, one of which is the important distinction between flavor and taste. Pardon, he’s British, so flavour with an extra vowel for embellishment. Anyhoo, he eloquently shares:
“What we appreciate when we eat is flavour, which is taste plus smell.
Smell is said to account for at least 70 per cent of flavour and maybe even as much as 90 per cent. “
I mention all this to emphasize how important fresh herbs are to the joy of eating; you just can’t beat the flavor of fresh herbs! So grow your own and if you can’t do that, make sure you have a farmer nearby to serve the herbs up fresh once a week, at the very least.
And once you have those fresh herbs around being all aromatic, you may as well store them in their ideal style. Here’s a short list of the top herbs we have growing at Enka:ri Farm, and the best way to keep them fresh.
The Top Two Methods:
Jar method: Store in a jar with about an inch of water on the counter.
Refrigerator: Wrap in a damp paper towel, store in plastic (wrap or container) in the refrigerator
The Herbs & How to Store Them
Refresh water as needed. Leave it long enough and it will likely sprout roots!
Chives: Wrap in plastic wrap or place in a resealable bag, refrigerate (no damp paper towel).
Cilantro: Refrigerator is best; Jar also works
Dill: Refrigerator is best; Jar also works
Mint: Jar or Refrigerator
Parsley: Refrigerator is best; Jar also works
Thyme: Jar works; preferably Refrigerator
While the refrigerator method is considered best for many of these, I find that keeping some fresh herbs in a countertop jar encourages me to use them more quickly and frequently; they’re also beautiful to see.
So let’s say it’s a Monday in Rochester, New York and you open your fridge and there before your eyes are the beers that your friend brought over on Friday and for some reason they were not consumed, all weekend long. That some reason is that they unpalatable fermented river water and nobody wants to drink them, and your friend is not a good friend for passing them off on you.
You could shuffle them around the leftovers and condiments for the next several months; I know you’re trying to be more “green” so you don’t want to throw them out. And while you could save them for next Friday and bring them along to re-gift and burden another friend’s fridge, I’m here to tell you that you have some better options that don’t leave others questioning the quality of your friendship . While these awful lagers may never find themselves in a fancy flight tasting lineup at the brewery, we can find a spot for them to shine gloriously in your kitchen.
Let’s get to it:
Beer Soup, & More
1. Beer caramelized onions
Picture this: Homemade pizza topped with beer caramelized onions and some Gouda! Make that happen. Start with 1 tbsp Butter melted in a pan on medium low, add in a large yellow onion, sliced thinly, and pour in 2-3 oz of beer. When the liquid is nearly absorbed add 2-3 oz more, and so on.
Also great on a burger, by which I mean veggie burger.
2. Beer Soup
Picture this: Venison stew tips, seared and added to a hearty crockpot of chopped vegetables, diced tomatoes, a chug of broth, and a heaping lump of ground ginger, simmered for an hour or two and then finished with…beer!
3. Beer batter pretzel
Picture this: Tearing off pieces of warm salty dough with a crisp lager bite. Dip that in some spicy mustard and enjoy. My favorite personal recorded batch of the beer pretzel used Yuengling Black & Tan, but I recall that the recipe called for a lager, so grab a can of the cheap stuff and make some dough.
In conclusion and with all finality, take note that nowhere herein have I advised to drink the beer.
Today we salute you, Rain. You are indespensible to our operation and we’d be lost without your dedication to the work we do.
Our April Employee of the Month
Ya know, I chuckle to remember back over the years. When I first interviewed you for the position here at Enka:ri Farm, I asked you, “What’s your biggest weakness?”
And do you remember what you said? ” I’m a workaholic. I’ll dive in, get so engrossed in my work, and just won’t let up.” I laughed, such a typical, canned response. Well I shrugged it off and hired you on and as far as I could tell, you kept that workaholic thing pretty well in check. That is, until last year right around this time.
My goodness, you were hell-bent on doing your job last spring and like you said, you just wouldn’t let up. At my wit’s end, I called you in for a conversation, and tried to explain myself.
You see, there’s nothing quite like Rain. Is there anyone else who can say without words, “Take the morning off, I’ll cloud cover for you.” “No need to water the orchard saplings, boss. I’ll take care of it.” You’ve done so much for me and now I needed, desperately needed you to take a rest as well. And at last, with all your grace, you did.
Rain, your presence here reminds me of these words from the Tao Te Ching:
The sage never tries to store things up.
The more he does for others, the more he has.
The more he gives to others, the greater his abundance.
We thank you for all you do, Rain.
Join us after work for a Happy Hour to celebrate our dear Rain. The first Mudslide is on the house!
Since I started farming, I’ve nearly always had some side hustles to fund the dream, and I’ve really come to love the noncommittal ‘gig life.’ When I hear about an opportunity, my first question is, ‘what are the hours?’ and if it fits in with the other gigs du jour, I’ll more than likely at least give it a shot. The side jobs help keep the farm in a place where I can make more sustainably-minded decisions, lending some leverage to my bottom line as long as I can give some Uber rides on the weekend.
Enter Pandemic. Exit income.
To be sure, I’m happy to be essentially working out on the farm this spring. Without rushing back and forth to the city to teach classes, I’ve had more time to work on some landscaping and organizing that would normally reside on page 2 of To Do, never to be done. And like a lot of folks, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen, and high-fiving myself for already having a jar of dry yeast in the fridge before bread baking became so cool and yeast became so scarce. So, as the thrifty gal I like to think I am, I’d like to share a few ways I’ve saved some pennies this spring.
4 ways I’m saving money right now
1. Kombucha Factory
We’ve ramped up the kombucha production here! This jar is about 2 liters and I’ve been brewing constantly. The stuff in the store is so delicious and convenient, but the expense can start to add up. Also, I’ve noticed that some brands are adding seltzer, which I can do on my own, for less.
I started this SCOBY from a little bit of leftover store-bought kombucha about 8 months ago. It took awhile to grow her out, but now this mama is… I want to say a strong independent woman, but indeed with the same gusto I proclaim that she is a strong symbiotic community!
I flavor the kombucha only after I’ve poured it off into a separate container to chill. It’s great to mix 50/50 with a flavored seltzer (like ginger!) or a chilled tea (Apple Pie Chai was a recent hit). A big favorite is mixing in a bit of Tart Cherry Concentrate.
2. Granola Diary
Rolled oats must be one of the cheapest calorie sources around, but add some nuts and sweet and I’m searching granola packaging looking for its master’s degree behind the markup. Making your own granola is a great way to save some dollars.
But try comparing recipes out there: oven temps range from 250F to 375F and times range from 15 minutes to an hour. Do I need parchment paper? So I’ve started a Granola Diary to try a bunch of recipes, tweak them of course, and see what I like. I’m using up all kinds of little tidbits in the pantry. We’re past hot cocoa season (or are we, Rochester? I see snow in the May forecast) but cocoa powder can flavor a nice chocolate granola. Chia seeds, slivered almonds, shredded coconut, the kitchen sink, you see? Have fun, but no crunchy granola hippie jokes, ok? I’ve heard them all.
Stay tuned for my very personal Granola Diary release party.
3. Yard Wraps
I’m eating the yard. Whatever. Official spring green harvesting for the CSA members is a couple weeks out yet but here’s my new favorite lunch wrap:
Neither pictured nor found in the yard but awesome to add:
EVOO, honey mustard, balsamic, any old sauce you like!
Roll it up and chomp chomp it down like the rabbit that you are.
*Be safe eating from the yard. Don’t do it if you or your neighbors spray chemicals. Don’t eat anything you can’t absolutely identify as edible. Wash it all before you eat it. You know, basics.
4. Dry Beans
With more time at home, soaking and cooking dry beans has become quite easy to fit into my schedule. We are blessed here in Rochester with Lori’s Natural Foods’ amazing bulk section for a wide variety of dry bean options, many organic, at an excellent price. I find that dry beans often have more flavor and better texture, and are definitely cheaper than their canned alternative. I can cook up a batch of white beans and have them at hand for soup at a moment’s notice, or just tossed with butter and salt for a snack, or thrown in with some chopped veggies and vinegar for a side dish. I’ve mentioned that french lentils are a great salad topping , and any of these legumes can match that purpose. Now the only concern is where to find cool classic jars like this with thrift stores closed. Will garage sales happen this year?!
Gotta spend a little, too.
While I’m trying to save money here, I really want to support my local businesses, too. We’ve had some amazing takeout from The Saucey Chef and Le Petit Poutine, and Salena’s recently reopened thus, being one of my dad’s favorites, is up next for sure, probably when he and I can safely picnic outside.
So you want to be a butterfly?
Lean in little caterpillar, listen closely. I’ll share the secret my grandmother whispered to me through the wind.
You must find a place that is not disturbed by man’s rush for more more more.
More control, more money, more stuff.
Find a place where the natural rhythms still prevail. Where you can listen to your thoughts and hear your own mouth chomping on a frond of dill. Where you can hear a bird singing, if only for the warning that Mama Wren may be swooping in to gobble you up.
There may be humans there, but in a good space the humans are mindful enough to be on the lookout for a little bugger like you or me, and may gently relocate you to another delicious dill if they’ve gone and cut the frond you were nibbling on. Good luck little one. Eat up, chomp chomp, see you in the sky!