Saturday, October 29, 2011

I'm baaaaack.

Chicitos--long-lost friends--groupies of the blogosphere, have you been awaitng more delectable recipes?

I’m speaking to you, readers out there. 
It’s been a skip-hop-and-a-sprint type of trip since last we spoke. But, what better a time to revisit this blogging hobby than a couple days past the Food Day? As the first holiday of its kind, this day called partakers to encourage an affordable, healthy, fresh new makeover of our food system. The question is, “Did you take some moments to recognize this special holiday?"
Moving forward. Please, might you want to pull up a chair, smell the flowers and hear of my adventure last year? Here it comes; hang-on tight.

D.C. was just the beginning. A spring board, of sorts. There, I ate from a full plate of opportunities (all voluntary, of course).  I started by meeting with many "number ones” or head-honchos of the professional world, Christine Jahnke being one of them. She's a speaking coach from “Positive Communications” who was featured as one of the most influential female professionals in the NY Times.  Just wrapped-up, polished and printed is her first book (Find it on the cheap here).

"Freetime," I devoted toward two places that snuggled dear to my heart: (1)Livehealthier and (2) DC Central kitchen. The people who exert some elbow grease to run these places are fabuloso. EHEM...dietetic interns, both of these organizations house dietitians on staff. Check ‘em out for the pick-your-own-career rotation! REALLY!

At GW, I attended the big (gigantic in my world...) unveiling of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, heralding a year of political nutrition support and a world that recognizes the food movement.  Also, I took part in the National Food Policy Conference.  More to come on all the developments in my future posts!
(Dismiss the bald-head blocking my view at 12 o’clock....) 

Oh my, and how might I forget the kids from the "Rooting DC” Conference and the Washington Youth Garden! While conferencing, I succored urbanites in mastering their mud-playing skills. Quite a quotidian matter for us country folk turned into the challenge of their kiddie-lifetime.
But it was nothin’ that some good-ol’-fashioned education couldn’t handle.
This city-slickers learned to roll a dirt ball perfectly. Amen little brother (pronounced “Aaaaammmeennn lil brotha!” And, for effect, a fling of the hip, lean, and elbow up resting on my side).
(My photography is also posted on the Washington Youth Garden Blog site)
To honor my birthday, I caroused in NYC with ferly surprises from two of my best buds (pictured below).  Unquestionably one of my 2011 highlights.
Together, we ventured through Chelsea, an uppity section of NYC. We fit in? Sure....well, at first we pretended.  Instinct and a drive to jump begged to differ.  My friend and I posed on the garden furniture as onlookers’ eyes rounded with incredulousness.  They tried to decipher the situation. However, their stares never unnerved this party of three (Actually, it was quite adrenalin-pinching.).  It was my birthday, and we celebrated how I wanted to: goofing and leapfrogging from benches. Mmmkay?

We stole away to the novel restaurant Bell. Book. &. Candle. What a sight! Skyward, the roof kept a small hydroponic garden. Forward, we scored our fixes of this heavenly produce. And, sideward, my friends and I stuffed our faces while sharing full smiles of half-eaten delights.
To follow was a market-run for fresh dinner ingredients and a Central Park-run to breath in the flawlessness of the spring evening. By sunset, we finished both our ambrosia and jogging.
That night, the lights of Broadway beckoned us into the city.  Mary Poppins welcomed us with open umbrella.
What next??

Gardening! Beehaven Acre’s (AKA my family’s farm) counters were in constant overflow--mounding with blueberries, blackberries, grapes, green beans, onions, tomatoes, peppers (enough to make Peter Piper red-in-the-face), beets (enough to dye Peter red-in-the-fingers), cucumbers; and during this time of year, a friend and I took on ample amounts of sweet potatoes.
One of the last croppings brought horseradish root, parsnips, red beans (for soup and chili), pumpkins (for roasting and a Halloween showing), winter squash, celery, celriac and candy-bites of golden tomato.
Too, carrots of the red dragon variety....
I cherish the influx of produce. Each fruit marking up a different part of the growing season.
For early spring: strawberries, sugar snap peas, asparagus and spring onions.
summer squash, beets and cucumbers come the heat of mid-summer....
Tomatoes, hot peppers, peppers, tomatillos, onions, follow
He’s a year-round crop.
The beginnings of a late summer-early fall harvests includes chestnuts, winter squash, apples, more pumpkins and sunflowers.
I plucked and salted these good-eats-sunflower-seeds for baking. They received the “baseball player” approval from my dad. With his life-long baseball obsession, his expert opinion means the seeds must have tasted smashing!  

My next foraging crop up for experiment? Black walnuts.

I also entertained some turkeys. Who knew these birds were such people lovers?!
However, expect these guys to teach you not to outfit yourself in shiney garb. 
Do. Not. Get. In. This. Lady-Bird's. Way. Of. Things. That. Glisten. Hide your watches, bracelets, cameras, earrings and the like.

I taught the beginning of a college course to some amazing gals.
Charming, aren’t they??

I met with some amazing people too.
Some of them new and delightful. I proudly admit that Marion Nestle (pictured beneath) is my nutrition idol.
Some old but cherished...
An Arabic-speaking eskimo too (She would agree to me addressing her like so.)!
I’ve kept my feet under me but moving fast. Two races down, the More and Hershey Half Marathons. Come 2012--BOOM--the NYC Marathon. I cannot wait to watch the flutter of colors characteristic to each city borough.  But, for now, I weave down, around, and in-between my back-country-roads.
Sometimes, I run so early in the morning that the stars ponder down on me.  They’re my watchdogs, protecting me from the darkness until day-break. I feel safe. And, just recently, the northern lights gave us a peep show.

I’ve paid zero attention to you, dear blog. Dismissing you altogether, I sadly left little time for leisure writing.  It’s my new job, you see. As a registered dietitian at the Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Network, I jot a fair share of my thoughts for Pennsylvania health and wellness professionals.
My organization hosted a nutrition workshop with Lynn Fredericks of Family Cook Productions. She spoke to nutrition educators through cooking demonstrations and puppet-play. Lynn researches teaching styles.  She shared; the audience listened. Families around the globe could benefit from her nutrition tactics. After the workshop, I breaked for dinner with my Mama in Bethlehem, PA. 1741 on the Terrace was quite the find!

Along the side, curious friends and family investigate nutrition truths and myths. Questions anyone?

One of my girl friends, Shannon, moved back into town! She attained her dream job, and we’ve been celebratin’ with slumber parties. Wahoo!  Just call me her rah-rah supporter.
Earlier this summer, I played at the beach, baby! My step-sis came along.  Attached to her was her cutie-boy Tyler ("T-bone" for short).  She just moved on from one of the hardest jobs in the world, being a stay-at-home mama, that is, to another career mentoring boys at a youth development center.  She’ll keep busy; I’m sure.  Her last week of freedom was spent tanning beneath UV rays of the North Carolina shore. She basked to a coffee-complexion while celebrating T-bone’s first steps on the beach...first cry as a wave nicked his feet....first screech in salty water.  Lollygagging in the ocean is just not his forte, until his new girlfriend shimmied into the picture (photographed below on the bottom left frame).
My friend Carolyn brought her monster-of-a-hubby from “Where the Wild Things Are” to my farm.
After such a scare, I ran non-stop up to Canada...Wolf Lake.
The traveling-crew started early...
My passenger slept...
And snoozed....

awoke for some bakery goods! Mmmm....
He napped here...
..there too.

My bucket lists is deemed complete (until tomorrow). Check, check and check! This summer closed full as a pig after a day of hogging all the grass on pasture. Speaking of piglets, today, we picked-up some lovely Kune-Kunes to round-out our farm family!

WHAT A TRIP, I tell you. <Breath>, I think you’re all caught up in the dazzling, madcap affair I call life. But, my goodness, how could I leave out the essentials: FOOD!?

Ground Cherry Jam
Post Food Day just seems like the time to get back down to business, doesn’t it? So lets get to it as I've busied myself in the kitchen.

Ground Cherries. They’ve been on my “to-grow” list for a while.  Have you heard of these buggers? They cavalcade a mix of tomato and kiwi into your mouth. Their silhouettes imitate tomatillos, except they shine with their orangie hue and miniature stature.
Peal away the husk; and you’ve discovered, plump, tender, ripe-full of juice, interior fruit.
These babies simmer down sweet and jell perfectly into a jam. We also popped them for seeds in next years garden! You can too!
 The nutty-sweet flavor was begging to be paired with citrus and sugar, so I obliged.
While eating this heaven-like jelly, I found myself heavily dependent on bread...but let’s look outside the bread box to pair it with savory meats, with oatmeal, to top thumb print cookies, combine with mashed butternut squash or sweet potato, blend into a fruit-n-yogurt smoothies, coat your ice cream sundaes or spruce-up your green bean saute. Oh yum...can you add onto my list?

Check out the recipe!

Ground Cherry Jam
Servings: Two, 6 oz jars of jam
Recommended Serving Size: 1-2 tablespoons

3 cups ground cherries, (de-papered)
1/4 cup water, maybe a little more
1 orange, segmented orange and juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup sugar
¾ of 1.75 oz packet pectin

Remove husks from the ground cherries, then measure the first time.
Put cherries in large stew pot and crush so that they are all at least broken. (Remember to save some cherries to de-seed and grow in your garden the following year.)
Heat to a boil along with enough water to get them to cook without burning, about 1/4 cup.
Boil 2 minutes.
Return ground cherries to the pot.
Add the chopped orange with any juice that is oozing away.
Add ground cinnamon, sugar, if using, and the pectin.
Bring mixture to full boil, boil 1 minute.
Bring to full boil for 5 minutes.