Friday, March 23, 2012

Still leaking after all these years

This week marked Ollie's and my 3-year anniversary! Yes, it's true: my longest, most stable relationship thus far has been with a bicycle. C'est la vie.

I marked the occasion -- I thought quite fittingly -- by visiting a local farm with my friend Jon, who invited me to tag along on his visit to High View Farm out in Berryville, VA for a White House Meats pickup. I myself picked up a beautiful, 7-lb bird (already processed, thank you) and a dozen eggs from Farmer Craig. Well, after we cavorted with his hens and Scottish Highland calf out in the pasture.

Ollie was not with me, and apparently decided that she had her own way to mark the occasion: a string of 3 flat tires this week. Just like old times....

Still Leaking After All These Years 

I heard that old air hissing
On my ride today –
It seemed nearly impossible
so soon!
But I checked and, sure enough,
There was a pinch in Ollie’s rear –
She's still leaking after all these years.
Oh, still leaking after all these years.

I’m not the kind of girl
Who tends to curse too much,
but my tires seem to deflate
quite a lot.
Yes, I always have a patch kit
So that we can persevere
When she’s leaking after all these years.
Oh, still leaking after all these years.

Three flats since Tuesday
(It’s hardly news today) –
I’m covered in grease again.
I pumped the tires
To the max
(It’s probably in vain….)

Now I sit by my Ollie
And I flip her right side up
I fear my pump will break
One day soon.
But to heck with it, it’s time for
Me to have a couple beers
With my Ollie, leaking all these years.
Oh, still leaking…
Still leaking…
Still leaking after all these years.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Call the Mayor today: a quick way to support healthy food in DC!

During yesterday's monthly meeting of farmers' market managers from around the city, I learned that Mayor Gray is finalizing the budget for the 2013 fiscal year and is considering designating a small amount to farmers' market incentive programs for the very first time in our city. But he needs to hear from DC farmers' market supporters about making nutrition incentives a priority. Currently, the budget does not include any funding for farmers' market incentive programs. (I know! Embarrassing. Boston's Mayor Menino realized the need for city-supported Bonus Bucks way back in 2009....)

On behalf of the D.C. Farmers Market Collaborative, I have a call to action for you:

Please call Mayor Gray TODAY!

I know it's a beautiful day, so maybe you can use this call from your cell phone as an excuse to step outside for a few minutes....

Please call the Mayor's Office at 202-727-6263 -- okay, or you can stay at your computer and email -- and relay the following message:

"My name is ____ and I am a supporter of D.C. farmers' markets, especially [name of market(s) you support]. It is critical that you designate $150,000 into the fiscal year 2013 budget for farmers' market incentive programs. These include SNAP (formerly the Food Stamp Program), WIC, and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) recipients. This District support would help leverage additional investments from foundations and other donors. It would help low-income consumers double the amount of fruits and vegetables they can purchase at participating farmers markets and generate local economic activity."


By providing an incentive for SNAP, WIC, and FMNP shoppers, farmers market incentive programs benefit low-income consumers, bolster the local economy, and promote consumption of fruits and vegetables. For example, a SNAP recipient who redeems $5 of these federal benefits at a D.C. farmers market that operates a "Bonus Bucks" program would then receive $5 worth of those Bonus Bucks (matching incentives) to spend on healthful, locally grown food. This means that the SNAP recipient ended up with $10 to spend on produce that day. In DC, such grant-funded pilot programs are working effectively at eight markets (in fact, the Columbia Heights and Ward 8 markets did so well they had to apply for additional funding!) and are expanding to even more DC markets (including a few some of you all helped to raise funds for back in December -- remember?) in the 2012 season.  These incentive programs benefit low-income consumers, but they also bolster the local economy and promote consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Please forward this message far and wide! We need your help!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

What a day to have my hands in the dirt

One of the things I love about my job(s) is the flexibility to work somewhat on my own schedule. So when days like this past Friday happen, I'm out there with my hands in the dirt.

It was truly one of the most gloriously beautiful days on record. I didn't even need a jacket at the crack of 8:30am when I started puttering around in the garden plot out back. (Today wasn't too shabby, either, though taking into account the time change, I didn't emerge from bed til after 11am. I partly blame Kevin's bourbon and barbecue birthday bash last night for that one....)

What better way to celebrate the onset of spring and its requisite sun and warmth than by spending quality time in the garden? I also couldn't think of a better way to celebrate my new job as the outreach specialist for my local farmers' market. Yep, it's official, as of Thursday morning. (Okay, admittedly, the celebrating began with a couple of drinks at Wonderland on Thursday night.) Starting this week I'll be helping to organize outreach efforts and cooking demonstrations and even a bit of media around the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace.

[Don't worry, I still have my other... six jobs... and volunteer stuff... and writing... and I'm more than half way through the DC Master Gardening program. I'm still managing the garden at Drew Freeman, and will be helping the brand new Wangari Gardens get started in coming weeks, so in theory playing in my garden plot could be considered research...of the kind I love: involving my hands, dirt, plants, and lots of warm sunshine.]

See those carrots? Those are the ones that self-seeded last year after I let a couple of intentional-but-underwhelming carrots go to flower, and though small they are pretty tasty. I removed them to make space for some parsnips and spring onions and snap peas. (If you're wondering about their ultimate fate, most ended up in a variation of my favorite lentil soup, a pot of which I cooked up tonight and will be devouring in coming days. Want some? Stop by for dinner tomorrow.) Beets and chard will be in the next little planting section over. Radishes, too -- see how far I've come? -- to help break up the soil. Garlic's still looking good, and I'm looking forward to some garlic scapes in the next month or so. The strawberries and parsley and cutting celery seem to be doing well in the coldframe. And once I get my soil test results back for the other small plot of dirt out back, I have grand plans for tomatoes and herbs. Yes, a girl could used to this weather. And you'd better believe I can find other things to do in the garden with more of it. So bring on the sunshine!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I have a new favorite ingredient: spent grain.

You know, the stuff left over after making beer? Yep, that's the stuff.

I'd first heard of using spent grain for cooking about 3 weeks ago when I was helping my buddy Bobby start a 5-gallon batch of whiskey porter at his apartment. While the wort simmered, we did a little looking around online and I discovered my new favorite webpage: The Mash: Spent Grain Recipes from the Brooklyn Brew Shop. We made some pseudo granola (a dense, energy-laden snack that I enjoyed but would not feed to others), a stack of veggie burgers (which I only tried a bite of as I was on my way to dinner), and dough for 2 loaves of bread (the loaf I baked the next morning was delicious, kind of like a dense, almost earthy pumpernickel). Recycling brewing grains into tasty and unusual dishes? I'm so there.

This past Saturday night, Ryan and I made our way up to Silver Spring to help my pal Joey make a little beer. I'd never made a 1-gallon batch before, and to be honest I wasn't all that involved in the brewing process this time around -- I will admit that I spent most of the time sipping wine and nibbling on appetizers and chatting with Joey's wife Katie while the menfolk sterilized equipment and set timers and took temperatures -- but I was right there waiting when the spent grains had cooled enough to be tossed into a gallon-sized ziploc bag and then into my purse. Katie also handed me the beer-simmered pecans we'd used for our gallon of pecan nut brown ale. "Oh, goody," I cackled to myself as Joey gave us a ride home, "A whole big bag of goodies to continue experimenting with...."

Sure enough, date night rolled around last night and since I was in charge of dinner I started pulling together ingredients for spent grain veggie burgers, version 2. Only I realized that I didn't have all of the ingredients for the burgers. I was not about to tramp back out into the pouring rain to go to the store to buy barbecue sauce, which appeared to be the only missing ingredient. So I made my own (and, objectively speaking, it's damn good). Well, so now I had all of the required ingredients to start making burgers. Then I started thinking that the burgers needed a little more protein. So I cooked up some french lentils to mix in. And I had some flax seed in the fridge that I thought might add some vitamins, so I pulsed up a couple of spoonfuls in my coffee grinder. A couple of pastured eggs, some panko breadcrumbs.... Ryan showed up just in time to form the mix into little mini patties, so as he took over burger patrol I checked on the sweet potato fries and whipped up a few dipping sauces. (After my first trip to the stellar Good Stuff Eatery downtown a couple of weeks ago, I've decided that fries need at least 3 dipping sauces for any meal: in this case barbecue sauce, a creamy lemon and edamame concoction, and a greek yoghurt and habanero sauce. Don't give me that look. I didn't have any mayonnaise around, either, but I wasn't about to make a batch of that, too. Besides, by this point I'd gotten distracted making oatmeal cookie batter using some applesauce and coconut flakes and some of the beer-infused pecans....)

As we devoured our mini grain burgers on little slabs of sourdough I'd made a few days earlier and sipped on our beers, I couldn't help but smile. Wooh, what a night of cooking (and eating)! I think that I, like my grains, am spent. Time to catch up on a little more sleep tonight.