Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Adam Danforth: Changing the American Food System, One Experience at a Time

The author of two groundbreaking books on butchering writes about the extraordinary things that happen when professionals share their knowledge and experience with talented colleagues.

Chefs Collaborative is a non-profit organization that believes in changing the American food system for the better by influencing and improving the way restaurants source their ingredients. Every year, chefs and food professionals from around the country come together in a location steeped in agricultural history, undiscovered potential, and forward-thinking mavericks for a summit celebrating farming and food service.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a board member of the Collaborative, and as we descended on Boulder, Colorado, for this year’s summit, I was also a first-time presenter.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Nan K. Chase: Overheard at the Fair

Presenting at a Mother Earth News Fair, like the one in Kansas this weekend, is a learning experience for the teacher, too.

Nan Chase presents to a full house at the Pennsylvania Mother Earth News Fair in September. Photo by Matt LaBombard.
I’m a shameless eavesdropper and it was especially fun to eavesdrop at the Mother Earth News Fair at Seven Springs, Pennsylvania, last month. The phrases I heard most often were, “Amazing,” “Mmmm, delicious,” and “That’s information I can use.”

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Emily Spiegelman: It’s Not Pretty But It’s Yarn

Falling in love with a new skill sometimes means going back to basics.

The tools of the trade: spindle, niddy-noddy, and roving
The day The Spinner’s Book of Fleece by Beth Smith arrived on my desk, I was goner. I’m a knitter and I love yarns and I think sheep are pretty great. But I’d never really contemplated the art of spinning or thought much about how it could be the magical missing link between my love of those other things.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Our Authors, On the Road: October 22–November 4

Whiskey, wine, or homesteading skills: whatever your preference, here’s where you’ll find our authors over the next two weeks.

Lew Bryson and DeNeice C. Guest have got the East Coast covered.

Friday, October 24

  • Philadelphia, PA: Lew Bryson signs copies of Tasting Whiskey at The Trestle Inn, 6–9pm.

Saturday, October 25

  • Atlanta, GA: Melissa Caughey, author of A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens (forthcoming in spring 2015), speaks on the main stage at the Country Living Fair, 11am.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Heather Smith Thomas — Notes from Sky Range Ranch: First Rides on Khamette

Hard work early on pays off for a young horse and her rider.

Khamette as a three-year-old
By late summer of 1961, two-year-old Khamette was doing so well with her training I realized there wasn’t much more I could teach her from the ground. It was time to start riding her. I kept the halter on under the bridle, and tied the halter rope to the saddle horn, giving Khamette enough slack to move her head and neck normally but not enough that she could get her head low enough to buck.

I led her to our old round corral to ride her for the first time. There, she wouldn’t be able to get up much speed if she became frightened. I put weight in the stirrup a few times, which didn’t bother her, so I got on, being careful not to startle her by bumping her. She stood quietly, and it didn’t bother her at all when I shifted my weight in the saddle. I got off and on a few times.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Postcard from the Road: The Wool Festival at Taos

As the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival kicks off tomorrow, I thought I’d share some photos from a recent visit to another fall fleece and fiber celebration far away from the fair grounds in Rhinebeck. 

The Wool Festival at Taos, New Mexico, held annually during the first weekend of October, is considerably smaller in scale than Rhinebeck, but the Southwest has its own rich fiber arts story to tell, and it’s hard to beat stand after stand of Navajo-Churro roving, Colorado yak, Navajo weaving demonstrations, and countless other tantalizing offerings for the spinners, knitters, crocheters, and weavers. 

With a gorgeous backdrop of the mountains (the festival takes place in Kit Carson Park) and free admission, it’s well worth the visit. —Emily Spiegelman, Digital Features Editor
It’s a modest sign at the entry to the park.
There were beautiful wovens everywhere.
Toadlena Trading Post had handspun Navajo wool.
Weaving as a political and cultural statement: I’d love to see her finished product.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Brooke Dojny: Pickled Pumpkin

Let your pumpkins live up to their beyond-pie potential.

Photo © Scott Dorrance
Gorgeous pumpkins and winter squash in their fantastic array of colors, shapes, and sizes are displayed in such profusion this time of year that it’s hard not to buy too many – either for cooking or for decorating. It used to be that edible pumpkins (as opposed to the large field pumpkins that are destined to become jack-o-lanterns) were a specialty crop that was rarely available commercially, but now all manner of smaller pumpkins grown for the table are showing up not just at farmers’ markets but in supermarkets, too. Varieties such as Sugar Pie, Baby Bear, and Cheese pumpkins, all meaty and wonderfully sweet, can be baked, steamed, puréed, stuffed — or even pickled.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bloom Day — October 2014

It’s the last Bloom Day of the 2014 calendar year. 

Though it feels like fall came early, we’re not without a few final bursts of pink, purple, and brilliant yellow among the deeper autumn hues. What’s flowering where you are?

Mary Velgos, North Adams, Massachusetts

Blooms from the coast of Maine, both garden...
...and wild.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Conversation with Edie Eckman and Judith Durant, Part 2

Authors and One-Skein Wonders editors Edie Eckman and Judith Durant weigh in on stash storage strategies, sensory memory, and Stitches.

Photo of Edie Eckman © Charles Eckman; Photo of Judith Durant © Adrien Bisson Photography
(Missed Part 1 of our conversation with Edie and Judith? Read it here.)

Emily Spiegelman: I’m just curious about how you keep your stash organized. 

Edie Eckman: So, as you ask this question, you can’t see my blood pressure shooting up and up and up because as you know, I moved to a new house just two days ago, and I have left all my yarn at the other house.

Judith Durant: Oh my god.

EE: Well, I need to get rid of some of it, but I needed to move the furniture out of the house to be able to spread the yarn out. I had two friends from my fiber arts guild over yesterday helping me sort it. I had originally organized it by color so, big Rubbermaid® bins of, you know, white, or red, or pinks, or whatever. That was my original filing system and then probably ten years ago that fell by the wayside and then it ended up being not really organized, just — as I finished a project it went into a box — and now I’m facing up to that. That’s a long way of saying I don’t even know how I’m going to sort it. I’m going to get rid of a whole lot of it and have a huge yard sale in a couple weeks…

Monday, October 13, 2014

Nan Chase: Mead Season

’Tis the season to give in to honey’s charms.

Nan Chase’s farmer’s market find
It’s time to buy honey for making mead this winter. I didn’t know it was time to buy honey until I stopped at a local farmers’ market yesterday to pick up some muscadine grapes. But the lustrous golden jars of honey caught my attention, and the saleslady said, “Better get it now. The good stuff goes fast.”