Tuesday, September 16, 2014

California, Conversation and Carrots

A week ago today I was wandering through the National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa California with my friend Karen.

We had headed to California for a vacation, but part of my motivation was to attend this event when not drinking wine or gazing up at the 1400 year old redwoods.

It was a great vacation and a great break. I needed it. Getting away and clearing your head is such a good thing and maybe more necessary when you work from your home as I do.
The Exposition was disappointing for me, but it sure made me realize the value of the diversity that I have on my humble plot of clay here in Wainfleet. The diversity of veggies just wasn't on display there and sadly it was like so many other events there was an emphasis on the vendors and some were oddly quite unrelated to the event.
I know these vendors help pay for the event because of the fees they pay. I've organized enough events of my own to understand that.  But I get just a bit tired of it.
I did talk to some very enjoyable seed people, and yes, came home with a good number of seeds as I had expected.
Perhaps if I'd taken the time to listen to some of the speakers I would have felt more harmony with the event, but for us time marched on. There was wine to drink, California cuisine to sample, the redwoods and the Pacific to swoon over.

One definite highlight for me was a visit to Luther Burbank's experimental farm. I grow a number of his  cultivars here on my farm, such as the Shasta daisy and the sunberry. It was so incredible to walk through this very quiet area and see the magical things he created and grew.

Everything struggled though. The California drought is so severe that brown was the order of the day. My heart goes out to the farmers in particular. Not sure how they cope.

The next day after I returned from my trip I had the opportunity to be involved in a panel discussion at the Shaw Theatre, topic being local food and the farm to table "movement."
The restauranteur and the winery owner, both of Niagara on the Lake and the Wainfleet farmer. If that made you smile or chuckle, that says it all.
It was a good discussion, but one of course which can't change anything and really could only skim the surface of a topic with many implications. Perhaps for me the most important thing to relay was the plight of the farmer. Can local feed the world? The question really is or should be can farmers continue to feed the world? When most farmers hold down an off farm job to get by, when farmers are aging, when land prices are unaffordable for new farmers...what then?
Our wine industry is well supported ...but let's face it, wine is a luxury item unless you are drinking homemade "rotgut" as my father would call it.
High end restaurants are a luxury too and supported only by those who can afford them.
Food though is a necessity, good healthful simple food a preventative health care measure. The economic burden for producing this necessity can't fall on the farmers back alone when production costs outweigh income. We need to think about this.
And as a footnote...I am a fan of Bill Redelmeier of Southbrook now. I'll be buying his wine.

When I finally got around to doing a good walk through of my garden, I couldn't believe how everything had grown in my absence. What a difference a good rain makes.
Today's CSA offerings included lots of heirloom tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, edamame, basil, parsley, summer squash, thyme, carrots and kale. The kale in particular needed the rain so badly and has exploded now. I'm happy to see it. (The weeds of course have exploded too!)

I like simple, do you know that? This recipe is simple and takes advantage of the wonderful taste of fresh carrots.

Roasted Carrots (the Food Network)


12 carrots
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill or parsley
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

If the carrots are thick, cut them in half lengthwise; if not, leave whole. Slice the carrots diagonally in 1 1/2-inch-thick slices. (The carrots will shrink while cooking so make the slices big.) Toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a sheet pan in 1 layer and roast in the oven for 20 minutes, until browned and tender.

Toss the carrots with minced dill or parsley, season to taste, and serve.


the other Maria said...

Another enjoyable and thoughtful communication, Linda; welcome back.

Linda said...

Thanks Maria!