The five little things that made my week…
1. My mug on an “About the Author” page. This makes me smile because my parents never understood what a blog was, why anyone would read a blog, and what it means when I say I’m a blogger. (Plus, they just think it’s a funny word to begin with.) But I think they’ll take author!
Yesterday, the very first copy of my book arrived in the mail. Tears of joy, everywhere. (Better than pee everywhere, which is what I nearly did in my pants!)
It is just so surreal to finally see a project I’ve worked on for an entire year take tangible form. After feeling reluctant to open the package, then overwhelmed with the first sight of the cover, then nervous as I thumbed through each page, hoping there wasn’t a spelling mistake we missed, I grew more and more excited as I made my way through all 224 pages of The CSA Cookbook.
I can’t even put into words how proud I am of the finished product and how grateful I am for the incredible team involved in its creation, from my editor and designer to my photographer husband and recipe testers.
There’s often an unsettling fear of inadequacy with a project of this scope (Will the food turn out well? Will my readers enjoy it? Will the critics hate it?), but I can confidently say that I believe (I hope!) you will love this book as much as I do. At the very least, I think you’ll find it an interesting and useful reference to keep in your kitchen when you’re looking at a pile of produce and wondering how you’ll ever go through it all.
If you’ve been on the fence about preordering the book, I hope this post will nudge you toward getting a copy of your own. While The CSA Cookbook can be called a farm-to-table book, it’s not just any farm-to-table book. It takes a nose-to-tail approach to cooking with vegetables so you have as little waste as possible in the kitchen. If you grow your own at home, it’ll help you look at vegetables in a whole new way, with recipes for using the edible but unconventional parts of your plants like pepper leaves, bean leaves, squash shoots, radish pods, and watermelon rind.
When other gardeners ask how I amend my soil, the answer is almost always with compost tea. It’s a safe and natural fertilizer that revives and replenishes the soil food web, a highly complex ecosystem comprising a community of good and bad bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, earthworms, and arthropods. To put it simply, the soil food web forms the foundation of your plants, and subsequently your food.
Above ground, compost tea envelops your plants in a protective “web” (or biofilm) of living microorganisms that helps reduce foliar diseases and increase the intake of nutrients.
For several seasons, I was brewing my own tea using the compost from my garden (like the castings from my worm bin or the black gold from my compost heap) and any number of add-ins: kelp meal, fish emulsion, fish hydrolysate, blackstrap molasses. A single brewing session almost looked like a science experiment!
And if you turn to the many sources online touting the “right” way to make compost tea, you would find more opinions and suggestions than you could ever try in a growing season.
In all honesty, brewing a batch of compost tea isn’t that tricky. I found that as long as I followed a few basic principles, like proper aeration and dilution, it was hard to mess up… but there could always be a better way.
“Can you eat them?” is the question I’m inevitably asked when we find dense mats of mushrooms growing up from our wood mulch after a good rain.
And while these ones look quite showy and fleshy, you’d easily walk by them without a second glance. Each mushroom is no more than the size of a pinky nail, just a few millimeters wide and tall. In their immature state, the mushrooms are inconspicuous nubs with spiky sides, fully enclosed to protect the “eggs” inside. As they age, the caps break away to reveal a nest of eggs denotive of the mushrooms’ common name: bird’s nest fungi.
I can hardly believe that in just a little over a month, The CSA Cookbook will come to fruition!
Retailers are currently listing the publication date as February 16, which means those of you who have preordered the book will start to receive your copy shortly after. Which means you still have a few weeks left to place a preorder if you haven’t already!
To sweeten the deal, literally, I’m offering a bonus collection of recipes for every person who preorders The CSA Cookbook from any bookseller!
The five little things that made my week…
1. This errant fig. Even after all its fig siblings have long been harvested since summer and all the leaves have fallen off the tree, somehow this one fig has managed to grow and continued to ripen in winter!
I love to grow my own food. And what I love most about planting, harvesting, and cooking all that food is knowing every vegetable that lands on my plate has a story behind it. The lettuce that started from a speck of seed and turned into a season of salads. The squash that survived a bout of powdery mildew and grew into an armful of beautiful butternuts. The artichoke that stood alone in the first year and eventually divided into a dozen more plants.
But beyond those stories that started in my garden are the ones that go back a hundred or even a thousand years when you hold a packet of heirloom seeds in your hands.
What is an heirloom? The word denotes something of value, whether monetary or sentimental, handed down from generation to generation. If your house caught on fire, what would you pack up? Perhaps family albums, works of art, or antique jewelry. Your ancestors, on the other hand, probably would have saved their seeds. And that’s one of the most intriguing things about heirloom seeds.