Tag Archives: local produce

Giant Rudbeckias and Plum Moonshine

loving my rudbeckiasI didn’t get much planted this year but I managed to establish three Rudbeckia plants and they just started blooming last week and now they’re busting out the biggest flowers I’ve ever seen a Rudbeckia produce.  Huge!  I can see them out my office window which is a real pleasure.  I’m looking at them right now while you look at the picture of them.

black krimThe tomatoes aren’t doing fantastic but they are finally fruiting and gaining size. They need to be staked better but this Black Krim is just starting to color up.  Black Krims are my favorite tomatoes.

box of good stuffMy friend Chelsea shared the bounty from her (ex)father in law’s garden with me.  I sauteed the yellow crookneck squash for dinner last night with some mushrooms, pureed garlic, salt, and pepper.  Simple – and so good!  The yellow plums weren’t super aromatic but they were sweet with a tart skin so I made plum dipping sauce out of them.  Or, that’s what I had planned.  Then I burnt them so bad I also destroyed the pot I cooked them in.  Luckily it was a pot that was already cracked at the top because it was a piece of crap to begin with.  So I’m mad I wasted all those free plums.

plum moonshineThe red plums are Elephant Heart plums – the best in the whole world in my opinion!  I was worried about not having time to make and can jam with them (they make exquisite jam) so I decided to make plum liqueur.  Then I had trouble finding affordable 100 proof vodka.  It is my opinion that 80 proof makes terrible liqueur unless you really lower the sugar in the recipes, but even then, the 100 proof has the balls to cut through everything and warm your throat and stomach without being the tiniest bit insipid.

I settled on getting everclear because it was cheaper than the 100 proof.  This stuff is 153 proof.  YOWZA!  So I may be needing to dilute it some down the road.  So instead of liqueur I am really making plum moonshine.

I need to find a new source for cheap 100 proof.  Let me know if you know of one.

Well, I’m off to run errands.  For any of you wondering – I will be resuming the pyjama pant project soon.  I know it’s been forever and I’m sure everyone has given up – but I will see it through.  I’m cleaning my office this week to get ready.

Hope you all have a great Friday.  And please tell me what preserving, garden, or craft projects you’re up to right now!

Imwalle Gardens: the best produce market in Santa Rosa

So the farmer’s markets here in Santa Rosa are filled with produce I can’t afford to buy which is a huge disappointment.  $5 per/lb for green beans is not in my budget.  Neither is eggplant for $5 per/lb or even eggplant for $3 per/lb.  $5 for a tiny head of lettuce?  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!  Tomatoes can’t be had for less than $2 per/lb but most of them are upwards of $3 per/lb.  Cucumbers are $2 per/lb here – I expect cucumber to be no more than 50 cents each!  Corn is between 75 cents to $1 for one ear.  ONE EAR OF CORN.  Only some of this is organic.  The green beans weren’t (I saw organic ones for $4 per/lb).

So I’ve been shopping the regular grocery store.  The good news is that it’s not difficult to get mostly produce grown in California.  In Oregon it’s much more difficult to get mostly Oregon produce at the big grocery stores – but who cares when they have such great farmer’s markets with produce being sold for really reasonable prices?  The bad news is that even at big grocery store prices when produce is on special it isn’t affordable enough to can such produce in large quantities.  While I’ve been hearing about all my friends’ food preserving escapades I’ve become increasingly jealous.  I don’t feel right not preserving food at the end of summer.  I was getting pretty bummed when a friend suggested I check prices at Imwalle Gardens.  I’d been to Imwalle’s years ago when I lived here before but at that time I didn’t shop there much because farmer’s market produce was still reasonably priced.

So I went to Imwalle’s expecting to be disappointed.

I was so far from being disappointed – I hit the jackpot of affordable produce and the best thing of all is that this week they had 4 for $1 corn and they sell 20# of tomatoes for $12!  Both of which are grown right outside their market.  They’re a regular market in that they buy a lot of produce from other growers – mostly California growers (but not small farms necessarily) but they have their own farm and grow a few different kinds of peppers, corn, summer squash, Japanese eggplants, apples, and pickling cucumbers.

Imwalle Gardens is the BEST produce market in Santa Rosa.  Here are some of their current prices: $1.49 per/lb for green beans, 99 cents per/lb for regular tomatoes, $1.99 per/lb for heirloom toms, 99 cents (or less) for a head of lettuce, 99 cents per/lb for hot peppers (that they grow – compared to $8 per/lb I saw at the farmer’s market), $1.19 per/lb for organic potatoes, 99 cents per/lb for summer squash (compared to $2 or more at farmer’s market), 49 cents each for regular cucumbers, and $1.19 per/lb for pickling cucumbers.

For $56 I came home with 60 lbs of really gorgeous tomatoes and 80 ears of super tasty corn.  That was my first visit.

Yesterday we went back and got another 60 lbs of toms, 2 big bags of organic potatoes, some Hungarian wax peppers and some jalapenos, big bag of green beans, 6.5 lbs of pickling cucumbers, 2 heads of lettuce, big bag of zucchinis, big bag of onions, and a big bag of heirloom tomatoes for $67.50.

Here is their corn growing right outside the market.

So if you live in Santa Rosa I highly recommend that you shop at Imwalle Gardens for your produce.  Some great super local produce, lots of California produce, reasonable prices, and all the staff is super nice.  Imwalle’s is my new favorite place in Santa Rosa.

Imwalle Gardens

685 West 3rd Street

Santa Rosa, CA 95401

(707) 546-0279

Fill Your Pantry Event: making local grains available

A few weeks ago my friend Nicole and I went to an event called “Fill Your Pantry” in Shedd, Oregon, hosted by  Greenwillow Grains and Willamette Seed and Grain.  The event brings local farmers together directly with buyers to strengthen our region’s foodshed.   The event especially highlights the availability of grains grown in Oregon which it’s difficult for consumers to buy directly from farmers.  In fact, the majority of grain grown in Oregon is soft wheat which is exported.  People who want local sources for soft wheat, hard wheat, rye, barley, and oats don’t often have access to such products in retail outlets.  Like most events in Oregon it was earthy, funky (held in an old restored church), full of vibrant people, and fiddle music filled the air.  I couldn’t have been more at home.  A building full of bulk grains, legumes in brown bags, garlic, pressed cider, and a truck full of winter squash for 19¢ a pound?  Count me in!  I was in food heaven.  The event was well attended and the energy was great.  Nicole bought a bucket of wheat berries from Lonesome Whistle Farm and I bought a small bag of milled dark rye from them.

Open Oak Farm‘s table of goods.

I bought 20 lbs of milled (organic!) hard wheat from Greenwillow Grains for $15 which is an amazing price.  I bought several winter squash (I’m sorry to say I didn’t note the farm that was selling those), a small package of fresh milled corn flour, and some apple cider.

Nicole browsing the goods at the Lonesome Whistle Farm table.

I couldn’t afford to buy any of the beans as they were much too expensive per pound for my budget but I was happy to read in an article by Spencer Masterson that there were some people there making connections between local food and low income families.  Linn County Gleaners volunteered at the event in exchange for donations from some of the venders.

I’m painfully aware of how many people have yet to understand how important it is to support your local food producers to create a sustainable and solid food system.  People in our country have become so used to the convenience and luxury of buying whatever food they need whenever they want from all over the world.  It’s been a long time since this country has had a war on its own shore.  It’s been a long time since you had to depend on your local growers to supply your most basic pantry needs.  I know that many people can’t imagine anything preventing them from continuing on exactly as they are.

All over the world people understand the importance of maintaining a strong connection with their local growers and producers because they have longer memories than we do and because they have had more wars and natural disasters to teach them this lesson.  I read about the shortage of produce in the areas of Japan directly affected by the earthquake of 2011 and it reminded me of the Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco.  The San San francisco earthquake was obviously minor in comparison with the Tohoku quake of earlier this year but I was reminded of the most surreal and profound experience during that disaster: grocery shopping.  My apartment was a wreckage of broken cabinet glass, broken everything, no water for at least a day, spotty phone line access, and two freaked out kittens.  I lived on 27th and Geary right across the street from a Cala Foods grocery store.  I didn’t have much food in my pantry so I ventured to the grocery store the day after the quake and discovered shelves stripped nearly bare of canned foods and bottled water.  I knew I wasn’t in grave danger of starving but it struck me, for the first time in my young adult life, that even in cosmopolitan cities absolutely full of giant grocery stores things other than poverty can happen to disconnect people from sources of food and water.  I remember all the news stories about the fires, the power outages, the destroyed roads with trapped people, the downtown looting, and the fears that food supplies might be cut off from the city for several days and what that would mean.

The farther your food has to travel to get to you and the fewer resources you have in your own back yard the more vulnerable your community is to starvation during natural disasters and human disasters like war.

Nicole, who started the Yamhill County Slow Food Chapter, is as passionate as I am about supporting as many local food growers and producers as we can.  This event was fun and it was productive.  If your own community doesn’t have anything like this, consider starting your own Fill Your Pantry event.