LIVING OFF THE URBAN LAND

One of the most fun experiences I’ve had this winter was a Monday evening spent making sourdough bread at Ground Floor Farm.

Here’s how much fun it was: I don’t like to muck around with sticky dough and I had a great time.


I marvel at this ‘farm’ building on SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in the city of Stuart, FL. It wasn’t always such an urban dreamscape. I try to picture the street-savvy religious mission it used to be. Red-hot and righteous, the Salvation Army occupied this space off Colorado Avenue not that long ago.


Across the country, the Salvation Army plunges headlong into the emerging commercial culture of city life. Across town, so does the Ground Floor Farm.

I can tell a lot about a place by its chickens.


I heard about the farm but it wasn’t really on my radar until a chef at a local sandwich shop sang its praises. I realize now what all the fuss was about. Nothing else has measured up since.


I judge a farm or market to be a keeper if it adds something new and healthy to my diet. Food is medicine, after all.  And I just love the sense of discovery, don’t you?

 

Take a walk with me around the farm. Not a single thing or inch of space goes to waste.

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In the kitchen, Jackie and her staff bake bread, make cheese, and ferment almost anything from veggies to beverages to vinegars and more.


There are honeybees, flowers, and a cafe. Tours, educational programs, and a year-round farmer’s market.
Oh, and Joy.
There’s Lots and Lots of Joy.

Jackie (my bread guru), Micah, and Mike are dedicated to growing and producing food using sustainable methods. Ground Floor Farm is part urban farm, part kitchen/workshop, part market, part art/events venue, part community space…. and totally magical.

If you ate today, thank a farmer.

So, about that bread.


I’m not sure the evening convinced me to switch permanently from my bread machine.


The process of creating this loaf takes time, love, and plenty of muscle. But it has undoubtedly added to my quality of life. This hand-crafted loaf – the crisp crust, the internal crumb, the yeasty aroma, the complex flavor — is a work of art. And its life-affirming force promotes friendship and conversation. That alone is worth the price of the workshop. (Do I sound like an ad? Enthusiasm in the face of such joy is unavoidable.)


I’m aching for some sourdough bread right this minute.
That’s the beauty of this disarmingly lovely loaf ~ I can eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Plus, with the discards from the starter, I can make cheeky chews like these.

Popovers!

Ground Floor Farm’s next endeavor? To build a pizza oven.
I have no choice but to return.

Toni 3/10/17

The Pastas of Piemonte: Fantastico (fuel) for the rigors of hiking

I am Italian. I eat pasta and drink wine. Allora, I’ll never be a size 0 but it’s a small price to pay for such a joyous life.

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There are over 600 artful shapes of pasta. Spaghetti, vermicelli, rotini, fusili, tortellini, linguini, fettuccine, penne, and capellini are common on every American menu and store shelf.

 

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But I’m in Piemonte and in love with the local pasta. In this region, tajarin (tie-yah-REEN) reigns as the most popular pasta ever. It’s a thin, bright-yellow pasta topped with an earthy porcini mushroom sauce.

The allure of this pasta made with forty eggs is undeniable.

And, yes, emotion is unquestionably a part of my enchantment.  As it is with anyone who has a pulse.

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World Pasta Day is the brainchild of the World Pasta Congress. Experts from all over the world come together to discuss the glories of the noodle.

I’m celebrating this momentous occasion with a day and night (ok, let’s be honest here, days and nights) of carbohydrate overload.  Should you wonder, naps are mandatory.

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There is no doubt that it takes a village to feed me.  These warm and wonderful Italians are supportive folks.

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Mi amici, waste no time. Gather the villagers. Make plans.

Tomorrow is World Pasta Day!

How will you celebrate?

Toni 10/24/16

YOU CAN PUT THAT SALT GRINDER DOWN

Here we are, all the way into the August of another year.  The garden is exploding.

I think that a vegetable garden shouldn’t just be functional…it should be pretty to look at. So come see how my garden grows…and shows.

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And, yes, I’m here to suggest you put that salt grinder down.

 

Herbs.   I love.

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Here’s my case for the herbal sense of taste:  Herbs add just the right tang of green to food. They may be sublime ingredients, but they’re not shy or retiring. They’re free-spirited and supernal, divinely edible and summer-sweet healthy.

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It’s August 29, so let’s all celebrate MoreHerbs, Less Salt Day.   Call it a passion-raising plug for a finer solution.
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Just a little rosemary, thyme, or oregano will enrich a dish as much as a heavy dose of salt.

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My favorite herb is basil. It’s besiegingly lovely. Beyond utterance. This year, I’ve got a bull-moose bumper crop of Biblical measure.

Gardening with herbs, which is becoming increasingly popular, is indulged in by those who like subtlety in their plants in preference to brilliance.
– Helen Morgenthau Fox

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When you make dinner tonight, instead of adding salt, use a few herbs.  Get the skinny here on Twitter.

Whatever you eat, it’s best when herbs are involved.

Summa cum yummy.  I guarantee it.

 

 

Toni 8/29/16   ps Zucchini still coming? Be an expert.  Herbs make it better with a little feta. Try this.