Thursday, April 16, 2015

Brooke Dojny: Shaker Chicken Stew with Scallion Dumplings

This simple, satisfying stew embodies the legacy of Shaker cooking.

Shaker Chicken Stew with Scallion Dumplings
Shaker Chicken Stew with Scallion Dumplings
“Nothing seems to bring people closer together than the act of sharing food,” says Sister Frances Carr of Maine’s Sabbathday Lake Shaker community. In her 1985 book, Shaker Your Plate, Sister Carr, now in her late eighties and still vigorous, puts forward the Shaker philosophy that focuses on “plain, wholesome food…simple, but painstakingly prepared.”

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ana Maria Spagna: What the Best Makers Know

Illustration © Brian Cronin, excerpted from 100 Skills You’ll Need for the End of the World (as We Know It)

I have friends who seem to be able to do almost anything. They might, say, build houses and weld machinery by day, care for chickens and horses and bees in the evening, and sit down at night to knit hats or practice the violin. Everybody knows people like this, I think, and there’s a tendency to glorify them as super-human or to sentimentalize them as quaint or old-fashioned — but the truth is they are regular people who took the time to learn skills, a lot of them, and to master a few. 

In the so-called real world, the real things we rely on are almost always made somewhere else, by people we don’t know, in places we’ve never been, who likely speak a language we don’t understand. Our clothes, our food, our tools, our toys, our appliances. Everything.

No wonder we sometimes feel disconnected. We are disconnected.

Amy Jirsa: Together, One at a Time

Echinacea in Basket Herbal Goddess
Photo © Winnie Au, excerpted from Herbal Goddess
I grew up in a household that was open to natural health, but not one in which herbs had a daily presence. Nonetheless, even as a young child, I was fascinated by plants and plant medicine. I had no idea what I was doing at the time, but I would spend hours in the woods behind my house, foraging for dandelions and anything else I could identify, replanting them in little pots, tending to them, and pretending to make lotions and medicines out of them.

Over the years, I kept that fascination, but there was no community for such an interest. At least, I hadn’t found it yet. When my then-boyfriend (now husband) and I moved to Los Angeles in 2001, we both found that community — one in which we felt at home — among the teachers, the guides, the healers, and the wise men and women we had no idea we’d been searching for.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Emily Spiegelman: 5 Stories to Read about the California Drought

President Barack Obama tours a field with farmer Joe Del Bosque, his wife Maria, and California Gov. Jerry Brown in Los Banos, Calif., Feb. 14, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
At the end of last month, I traveled with a few Storey colleagues to Ventura, California, for the Craftcation Conference. This wasn’t my first trip to the conference in the seaside town, nor was it the first time I traveled south from Ventura to Los Angeles — not on freeways but on smaller roads through agricultural towns with encampments of field laborers, rows of citrus trees, and dusty fields sprouting kale, broccoli, and rainbow chard. Farm country.

We were there mere days before Governor Brown imposed the first mandatory statewide water restrictions in California history, but the lack of water was already (obviously) on everyone’s minds. Restaurants did not provide water to patrons unless we asked for it. Watching television one night in the hotel, I’d seen a lengthy news segment about harvesting rainwater using methods similar to those author Laura Allen describes in her book, The Water-Wise Home.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Krystina Castella: A Recipe for Tortuga Rum Cakes

Alcohol-infused cakes are boozy fun for the baker and the food history buff.

Tortuga rum cake; recipe from A World of Cake 
Why is baking with alcohol so much fun? Because it opens up flavor possibilities you can’t get with typical vanilla and chocolate. When I started baking with alcohol, I discovered ingredients and flavor profiles to experiment with, as well as a whole world of recipes with deep historical roots.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Botanical Bug Spray for Chickens

A homemade anti-flea and -tick spray for dogs that works beautifully on chickens, too. 

Photo © Keller + Keller Photography, from A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens
Melissa Caughey, author of A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens, writes:
My dog groomers turned me on to a homemade bug spray for dogs. They swore that if we sprayed our dog right before heading out for hikes in the woods, this spray would repel ticks and fleas. Well, it worked so beautifully, I decided to try it on the chickens! It seems to help them, too.

Spring is Here at Last! Field Notes from Authors Gail Damerow, Heather Smith Thomas, Sue Weaver, Cherry Hill and Richard Klimesh

This winter has left those of us in New England especially hungry for spring, and we’re not alone. Four Storey authors from farms and ranches in the southeastern and western parts of the country revel in a new season (and some new arrivals).

Gail Damerow — Tennessee

Photo courtesy of Gail Damerow
Is winter finally over? I thought it would never end! We rarely have snow in our part of Tennessee, and when we do it typically lasts no more than two or three days. This winter we had several rounds of heavy snow, one of which lingered for more than two weeks. The roads were so hazardous we didn’t see mail delivery for more than a week. As we slogged through a winter that seemed to never end, we pretended spring was just around the corner.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Heather Smith Thomas — Notes from Sky Range Ranch: Recollections of Rishira

Though some would call her a hard luck cow, Rishira was one of the good ones.

Rishira in her prime.
Rishira was originally our daughter Andrea’s cow. Andrea had chosen her as a heifer when she traded one of her steers to us. Andrea always picked the best heifers, and Rishira was a good one. Rishira’s mother was Rhiney (Rhonestone Rhonda), our good three-way mix (mostly Hereford/Angus, but harking back a few generations to Baby Doll, our Holstein milk cow who lived to be twenty-one), and one of our favorite “babysitter cows” that led first-calf heifers into the barn for calving until she was seventeen years old. Her sire was an Angus-Limousin bull. Rishira was a smooth, beautiful cow.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Andrea Chesman: Stretching the Gardening Season with a Seedling CSA

Lingering snows putting a damper on your spring garden dreams? Join a seedling CSA!

Hannah Davidson runs the seedling CSA that Andrea Chesman joined this spring. Photo by John Falk
As I write this at the tail end of March, it is 21°F out but Weather Underground says it feels like 12°F. And it does. It does! I tapped my maple trees two weeks ago and still there’s no sap to boil. I really don’t think spring will ever come.

So what was I to think when a crazy email from my friend Hannah Davidson arrived, inviting me to join a seedling CSA at the Good Earth Farm in Brandon, Vermont? A two-foot-deep blanket of snow still covers my garden. I’m just guessing here, but I can’t imagine being able to sow seeds in mid-April for my usual spring greens and peas.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Recipe: Lemon-Dill Kraut

Happy International Sauerkraut Day!

Don’t knock kraut until you’ve tried lemon-dill.
Last fall, we thought it would be fun to develop a visual introduction to the variety of options that exist in the world of fermented vegetables. After all, while the world celebrates International Sauerkraut Day today, not everyone loves the taste of that traditional cabbage side dish. Authors Kirsten and Christopher Shockey helped us develop a choose-your-own-fermenting-adventure flow chart that anyone can follow with a copy of their book, Fermented Vegetables, in hand.