Memorial Day Weekend at the Warrenton Farmer’s Market

Hello Everyone!

I know everyone has lots of plans for this Memorial Day weekend, but I hope you will make time to join us at the Warrenton Farmer’s Market.

I will have small batches of Lucky Like All Natural Chicken Jerky, Bacon Cheddar Biscuits and Organic Peanut Butter Biscuits. Each bag will contain a Lucky Buck, good for $1 off a future Lucky Like purchase at Farmers Market and I will be honoring Lucky Bucks you have already collected for this Saturday’s purchases.

I will also have many CherryGal ORGANIC HEIRLOOM Garden Seedlings including:

Herbs — Basils, Bay Laurel Trees, Chives, Cowslip, Dill, Evening Primrose, Lemon Balm, Mints, Monarda, Nasturtium, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary,
​Soapwort, and Blood Sorrel.

Vegetables — Diva Cucumber, Ancho Poblano Pepper, Tomatoes (Black Krim, Brandywine, Costoluto, Buore Di Boeuf, Hillbilly, San Marzano, Laotian Phantom, Martian Giant and Scotland Yellow)

Decoratives & Houseplants — Black Peredovik Sunflowers, Pastel Day Lilies (last call, as these are ready to bloom and should be planted), Canna Lily, Ajuga, Morning Glory, Night Blooming Cereus and Pothos.

Several of these plants will be discounted so I hope you will stop by my booth this Saturday, 8 am to Noon, for a look see!

Deborah

Why Heirloom & Why Organics

I don’t often get the time at the Farmers Market to talk with customers in depth about the benefits of heirloom varieties and organics. So I thought it would be helpful to commit those thoughts to my blog.

So what makes heirlooms and organics so great anyway?

First, and this may surprise you, many heirlooms ARE hybrids, in the sense that they were often the attempt to capture the positive attributes of two or more varieties, but unlike today’s hybrids, they have been grown out for so many successive generations that the genetics became standardized and the new variety was “open pollinated,” i.e., you can save the seed and that seed will grow true to the parent. These are the varieties venerated and saved by our grandparents and great grandparents, often brought with them when they emigrated from Europe, Asia, Africa and South America, and grown as family heirlooms.

But in modern times, seed companies have developed new strains specifically for commercial growers that often sacrifice the very qualities we seek as home growers for those qualities valued by the commercial growers and their end customers – the grocery stores. That is: higher yields, ease of transport and longer shelf life. A tomato that can be harvested green, gassed to color and brought to the store red and without bruising is, in their business plan, more desirable than a red, luscious, extremely flavorful heirloom tomato that could never make the transit from farm to grocery to table when hundreds or thousands of miles are involved.

Unfortunately, these same hybrid seeds are also marketed to home gardeners, who like the ease of growing such hybrids (high disease resistance and germination) and are unaware of the sacrifice of flavor and other qualities they are making with such choices.

Now, what is the advantage of growing heirlooms in an organic fashion? EVERYTHING!

First, there is the health advantage. Good organic gardens are built on compost rich organic soil populated by earthworms and a healthy beneficial microbiome. It may take years to create that if you are starting with poor or compromised soil, but it is worth it. Non-organic soils depend on chemical fertilizers, which take a heavy toll on the environment, and also deplete the nutrients in your produce. Study after study has shown that produce grown organically has a far richer nutrient composition than its non-organic competitors. Add to that the advantage of the freshness of home-grown, or locally-produced, which reaches your table faster with less loss ofnutrients, and there is no question that organically produced home grown or locally grown produce is far superior in every aspect.

An additional, and perhaps more important, advantage of organic produce is the lack of pesticides. Pesticides are toxins. Whether sprayed on your lawn or your broccoli, or imported via the produce seedlings you buy at your local nursery, they can wreak havoc with your and your family’s health. Just to give one example, if you use pesticides when pregnant or nursing, your children will have a 3x to 9x increase in the possibility of leukemia. There are countless other health implications.

Finally, organic gardening supports the environment. Everything from the richness and health of the soil, to the health of pollinators, including honey bees, to birds and animals. Chemical fertilizers not only pollute the water, they do nothing to enrich the soil — the very heart of our agricultural system. Worse case, pesticides such as neonicotinoids — widely used by US-based growers and nurseries — not only pollute the plant they “treat,” but migrate into the soil of your garden and toxify all your plants for pollinators such as honey bees. That is why they are banned in Europe!

So, to sum up, organic heirloom plants and produce are LESS EXPENSIVE, MORE SUSTAINABLE, AND HEALTHIER! What’s not to love? I grow and eat organic, and I sleep better as a result!

 

 

 

Wonderful New Organic Farmers Market Offerings this Saturday in Warrenton NC!

I will not have time for any Lucky Like treat making this week because my Savannah family are visiting. But I will have some wonderful CherryGal ORGANIC seedlings at the Warren County Farmers Market on Saturday (8-Noon) including:
Heirloom Tomatoes:
  • Brandywine, which dates to late 19th C and considered by many to be the best tasting beefsteak ever. Large pinks up to 2#.
  • Cuore Di Boef (Heart of Beef) a large 1-2# Italian heirloom oxheart
  • Hillbilly, a large bi-color (red and yellow) slicer
  • Costoluto Genovese, (only one left) a personal favorite Italian heirloom grown by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello
  • Black Krim, a popular Russian heirloom that produces early and continuously till Fall. Rich, sweet flavor on pounder fruits.
  • San Marzano, (only one left) an Italian heirloom that is considered the gold standard for paste & sauce

Peppers:

  • Sweet Italian Pimento (only one left) a great all-purpose salad/fryer/roaster/pickler
  • California Wonder (only one left) with thick-walled sweet flesh very productive
  • Ancho/Poblano, classic spicy Mexican heirloom pepper most associated with Chille Rellenos and Mole sauce

Cucumber, Diva – my favorite, and the plants are getting bigger by the day

Costato Romanesco Squash – a wonderful Italian heirloom squash with great flavor.  These need to go in the garden now, so they will be discounted on Saturday.

Herbs:
  • Bay Laurel trees
  • Chives (regular, not garlic)
  • Parsley Gigante (flat leaf Italian)
  • Rosemary
  • Nasturtium (edible climber)
  • Basils (various, depending on what’s ready)
  • Mints (various)
  • Blood Sorrel
Also several decorative & house plants including more Pastel Daylilies which are ready to start blooming!
Please note that I have many other varieties of tomatoes, herbs and decoratives growing out right now. It will be a week or longer for them to be ready for market, but I do hope you will be thrilled with my unique growing choices. I only ever start a few of each variety, so don’t wait too long or your favorite may be gone. ALL ORGANIC, of course. I so enjoy talking with you about them and about organics.
See you Saturday!

Fabulous Offerings next Saturday!

I want to thank everyone who turned out on Saturday May 13 at the Warren County Farmers Market. Despite inhospitable weather all day, we had our SECOND BEST DAY EVER in terms of sales, so thank you so much!

This coming Saturday I think I can confidently predict more new offerings that may interest you. Keep in mind, these are heirloom ORGANICALLY GROWN so I’m sorry if the prices are somewhat higher than others but they do require more attention then hybrids. But they are without a doubt HEALTHIER for you and your family and if gardened properly will be just as productive and satisfying (more so).

TOMATOES: In addition to a few Costoluto Genovese and Hillybilly tomatoes, I will have some Black Krim, Brandywine and Coeur Di Boeuf (oxheart). My favorite “spicy” pepper is Ancho Poblano, and I will have a few ready by Saturday. I will continue to offer Diva Cucumber, and they are getting bigger and stronger by the day. This is a stellar performer in the garden, with disease resistance. I will also have some Rosemary, regular Chives and Parsley Gigante (Italian flat leaf) for your pleasure. I will also have some beautiful Nasturtiums, which are so lovely in the garden, but can also be put to culinary use in salads and as toppers for soups.

I will send out another email before Saturday’s market, so you know exactly what to expect. As with all my offerings, early bird gets the worm!

Special Italian Heirlooms on Saturday at Warrenton Farmer’s Market

It’s been a quiet morning  listening to the gentle rain and the birds while I potted up various herbs that have outgrown their tiny hydroponic start pods. I have some special offerings this Saturday, and I thought I would give you a heads up since, as is my habit, I only have a few of each.
I am pleased to offer three of my favorite Italian heirlooms — organically grown of course. The first is a delicious slicing tomato called Costoluto Genovese. An indeterminate, it can require more attention from you to get to full fruiting (I recommend caging and pruning), but when it does produce it does so abundantly! This old Italian heirloom from Genoa features deep red pleated fruits that have the most extraordinary “slickery” texture and delicious flavor. It was grown by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, who had very discerning tastes. You can use for cooking, but I particularly like it chopped fresh and combined with homemade mozzarella and basil.
Another Italian heirloom that is the quintessential paste & sauce tomato San Marzano — an Italian heirloom gifted to the Kingdom of Naples in 1770 from the Kingdom of Peru! Since that time, it has become renowned as the best paste/sauce tomato bar none. Recent research by cancer specialist Dr William Li indicates that the cooked San Marzano tomato is the best cancer fighter (prostate and breast) of all tomato varieties! Grows just 4′ high, so very manageable.
I will also be bringing a my special Sweet Italian Pimento Pepper that is a single-lobed, thick walled heart-shaped sweet pepper with excellent flavor and perfect for roasting and adding to any dish or pickling.
Finally, a gourmet summer squash grown for use in traditional Italian cuisine. Costato Romanesco has a rich, nutty flavor and firmer texture than others so it stands up well to various recipes. The green flecked fine ribbed fruits are best picked when no larger than 4″-6″ and for a special treat, pick them even smaller when the large flowers are still attached, which you will gently batter and saute. This bush plant produces an abundance of male flowers if you want to cook just the flowers without sacrificing potential fruit, stuffing with soft cheese and gently baking till runny, then sprinkling with chopped basil. Or add the sliced fruit to soups or shred raw into salads. This variety is just too fine to use for zucchini bread.
If you buy one of these great Italian heirlooms, you will get a special recipe from “Vegetables from an Italian Garden” by Phaidon. Be sure to ask, as I will have them printed out and ready, but if I am distracted I might forget to give you.
I will also have a few heirloom gorgeous bi-color Hillbilly slicing tomatoes and the newer California Wonder Bell Pepper plants and more herbs, including basils — all organically grown of course.
And some Lucky Like treats — reduced because they are from last week that did not sell. I won’t have time this week to do a fresh batch. Since they last a month or longer in the fridge, this is your chance to pick up a bargain. The Lucky Bucks you have collected will be honored.
See you on Saturday!

Warrenton NC Farmer’s Market Season Opens April 15

Lucky Like Premium Dog Treats will be back weekly at the Warrenton NC Farmer’s Market opening 8 am to Noon on April 15. We will be offering our Best Selling Crunchy Peanut Butter Biscuits and NEW Bacon Cheddar Barley Bones.

In addition, we will be offering a NEW Heavenly Herbal Elixir for your dogs, cats and chickens. Just add a tablespoon or two to your pet’s food or water to get the benefits, which are many, from keeping bugs at bay to putting a spring in your elder pet’s step, addressing skin issues, and building strong teeth and bones, anti-depressant and pain reducer and anti-inflammatory. All this achieved with an Organic brew of apple cider vinegar and organic herbs that are safe for your pets! Comes in a beautiful corked bottle which can be returned for a discounted refill.

Finally, get your gardens going with CherryGal Heirloom Herbs offering a wide range of ORGANIC culinary and medicinal herb seedlings, and a few decorative seedlings, during the opening weeks. It is so important to grow organic for anything that you will be utilizing for food or medicine. Most varieties will be in very limited supply, so please come early on the 15th. I can’t bring them all, so there will be more in following weeks until gone, but again it will be first come first served (and no pre-sales). A partial listing:

Allheal (Prunella vulgaris), Apple Mint (Mentha suaveolens), Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis), Blood Sorrel (Rumex sanguineus var. sanguineus), Catnip (Nepeta cataria), Cinnamon Basil (O. basilicum), Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis), Bronze Fennel  (Foeniculum vulgare), Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea), Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum), Golden Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’), Gooseneck Lysimachia (Lysimachia clethroides), Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis), Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon citratus), Lemon Mint (Monarda citriodoro), Thyme, Lemon (Thymus citriodorus), Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis), Macartney Rose (Rosa Bracteata), Oswego Tea (Mondarda didyma), Painted Sage (Salvia horminium), Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Syrian Oregano (Oreganum maru), Tri-color Sage (Salvia officinalis v. tri-color), Variegated English Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Virginia Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum), Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosum), to name just a few!

There will be so many returning vendors this year and some new ones so I hope to see you there!

Baking with Wild Caught Sourdough is …

  • MAGICAL because you are capturing these invisible creatures, feeding and caring for them, and then asking them to work for you to make something delicious
  • INSPIRING because it allows your imagination to take flight, creating new and different breads, muffins, biscuits, cookies, pizzas, tamales, noodles, hush puppies, cakes, crackers, pancakes and pie crust
  • HEALTHY because Wild Caught Sourdough Starter is made from natural yeast which requires a long fermentation to rise and this is what creates the immune enhancing, macro-biome promoting, and nutrient rich properties
  • ECONOMICAL because of its long shelf life … it has natural preservative qualities so you don’t waste and don’t need to refrigerate
  • MUCH MORE FLAVORFUL — compared to commercial yeast breads which taste like kleenex tissue, natural sourdough is tangy, rich, deeply delicious and actually becomes more so the longer it sits out
  • MOOD ALTERING — not only because of the different kind of candida that it produces, but also just the slow, rhythmic kneading, the waiting, anticipation and reward that baking with sourdough provides. It can enrich your life!

Each time I bake with my wonderful Sourdough Starter which I named Audrey II (after the insatiable plant in Little Shop of Horrors) it is an adventure. There are so many things I can do with it. This past week I made a delicious pizza. This weekend I will be baking Challah for my Church’s Fellowship Hour. I’ll be baking two loaves — just as is done for Shabbat, representing the double portion of mannah given to the Israelites in the wilderness so they would not have to forage on Shabbat. The braided form which we now associate with Challah, was not used until Medievil Times. Challah made with Wild Caught Sourdough Starter seems to me somehow more traditional, as it is natural yeast, as opposed to commercial yeast, which wasn’t available until the 20th Century. The recipes and form vary, but always incorporate eggs, giving the bread full flavor, fine grain and a golden hue.

New Year’s Challah with 6 Braids

Why Organic Seeds? It really IS so important!

Is it really important to buy organic seeds, rather than non-organic? Are non-GMO seeds also organic? And what about organic hybrid varieties? And can an organic seed be treated? Is that so bad? These questions confound even experienced gardeners these days.

Conventional commercial seed propagation methods utilize chemicals and other treatments that can leech into the soil, migrate to other plants, drain off into the ground water and eventually water supply, affect pollinators in a very profound way and, affect your health as well.

Using conventional non-organic seed, even if it is non-GMO or untreated, is a poor start to an organic garden and can have lasting effects. This is why organic certification takes so long and is so expensive — the soil has to be redeemed from conventional assaults, and that typically takes 3-5 years, depending on the history of the growing area, surrounding areas, and type of soil and rainfall.

More and more, people are recognizing that organic produce not only tastes better … it is better — healthier, with more vitamins, nutrients and protein than conventional produce. But it is also important to grow your herbs and flowers organically, and for that you also need organic seed.

Hybrids, by the way, are not genetically modified. They are simply produced using natural methods. Many heirloom varieties began as hybrids that have been “stabilized” so that they are now “open-pollinated” — in other words seed gathered from them will grow true to the parent as long as no cross-pollination has occurred. So hybrids are not wrong, they just are not yet of the stability that you can save the seed. Also, most modern hybrid varieties are created for the convenience of growers and grocers, not for superior flavor or other characteristics that home gardeners value.

Certified organic seed cannot be genetically modified, so anytime you purchase certified organic seed you are also purchasing non-GMO seed. But that seed might be treated to ward off fungal diseases when sown in cold wet soils. The “fungicides” most commonly used by such commercial growers are Thiram, which has been around for decades, and Apron and Maxim, newer brands. You should know a seed has been treated if it is brightly and unnaturally colored — hot pink, for example. You should not handle such seed with bare hands. These chemical coatings can cause kidney and liver damage when used over time, and they are acutely toxic to fish, so runoff can be poisonous to the environment. And since their purpose is to protect vast growing fields, a home gardener does not need them, and an organic gardener should never use them.

But more recently, systemic pesticides have become common among commercial growers. Known by their scientific name as Neonicotinoids, they are pushed by Bayer, Sygenta and Monsanto and have now unquestionably been linked to bee death. You see, this type of systemic poison not only affects the plant it produces, it leaches and migrates in the soil to surrounding plants. So importing just one beautiful flower from your local nursery can create a toxic zone in your otherwise organic garden. Some commercial nurseries have pledged to, or stopped altogether, offering plants that are grown with neonicotinoids. We encourage you to ask your local nurseries what their practice is.

So, that brings us full circle as to why Organics matter. They are healthier and safer for you and the planet and all God’s creatures. This is why CherryGal Heirloom Seeds has gone ALL ORGANIC for the 2017 season, and we never offer treated seeds. In fact, we are signatories of The Safe Seed Pledge. Happy Gardening!

 

Nature’s Pharmacy … Turmeric

turmeric

I recently went face down on some wet leaves chasing my dogs. Not fun for a 67 year old. I was actually very lucky – nothing broken. But I was in tremendous pain in my face, shoulders, knees, ankles — basically everywhere. I was concerned about inflammation so my friend and neighbor who is a nurse gave me an aspirin (haven’t had any in the house for over ten years). Turns out I don’t tolerate aspirin – it gave me tremendous gerd all night long (oh yeah, that’s why I stopped having it in the house). So I turned to my spice cabinet.

Turmeric, which is the leading spice in curry (which I love and eat lots of) is a pain and inflammation reducer. So, in addition to my beloved curries, I am now including turmeric in everything I can, even if only an insignificant dash that doesn’t add to the flavor. In so doing, I am building up the curcumin (the active component) in my system.

Just a few delicious ways you can easily incorporate turmeric in your diet (aside from yummy curries):

  • Toasted/grilled cheese on bread with turmeric sprinkled on top
  • Squash or carrot soup with a healthy (literally) dose of turmeric
  • Scrambled eggs with turmeric
  • Dips for vegetable crudites
  • Smoothies and lattes (recipes abound on the Internet)
  • Yogurt based sauces for vegetables, fish, chicken, beef and pork
  • Cooked rice of any type is improved with turmeric added
  • Marinades or rubs for meats
  • Salad dressings
  • Add to cooked/roasted vegetables such as cauliflower, carrots, potatoes
  • Add to the spice brine for homemade pickles

I encourage you to start incorporating this incredible spice in your diet on a daily basis. Also research for yourself the many peer-reviewed studies of its effects on cancer, diabetes, depression and many other illnesses and be amazed. And if you have a special way to use turmeric, let me know!

Just Treats … No High Fructose Corn Syrup

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Chocolate Peanut Butter & Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Ever since an isolated incident back in the early 70’s gave us all a fright, the commercial candy industry has been aggressively persuading us not to give out apples, popcorn balls or other home made treats on Halloween. So for years, especially when I had a young son, I dutifully purchased commercial candies in miniature form each year (and ate a fair share of them myself). However, I have long questioned this practice.

I live in a small community with a very high incidence of diabetes and obesity … even among children. So for the past few years I have resisted giving out candy, choosing instead to buy expensive organic cheese crackers in little boxes from Annie’s, which the kids have loved. But since I get 100 or more Trick Or Treaters each year, this adds up! Then there came this report from the Cornucopia Institute … detailing the problem with most treats passed out this time of year and suggesting solutions. As a professional baker (at least for dogs) I decided to go the cookie route instead. It is an economical way to put a little love in each colorful treat bag (bought on ebay for just a few dollars).

I started out with some vintage cookie cutters of a bat and a scaredy cat (tail straight up). This quickly became unworkable with the tender cookie dough. So I switched forms to Acorns and Pumpkins. I added easy decorations of chocolate sprinkles on the acorn caps and chocolate covered dots to make jack-o-lanterns of the pumpkins. Each bag gets two large cookies, one of each kind, and is tied with a string of raffia (also from ebay, also very inexpensive). The cookies are delicious! Here are the recipes, in case anyone wants to try them.

Triple Threat Chocolate Peanut Butter Cut Out Cookies (makes 2-4 dozen cookies, depending on size)

Preheat oven to 400F

  • 1 Cup Unsalted Butter (softened to room temp)
  • 1 Cup Light Brown Sugar (packed)
  • 1/2 Cup Peanut Butter (smooth)
  • 1/4 Cup Melted and Cooled Chocolate (I used chocolate chips with 60% Cocoa)
  • 2 T Dark Cocoa Powder
  • 1 Egg
  • 3 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 1 t Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 t Baking Powder (Double Acting)
  • 1 t Salt
  1. Cream the butter & sugar together until light and fluffy.
  2. Add Peanut Butter and Chocolate
  3. Add Egg and Vanilla
  4. Add Flour, Baking Powder and Salt
  5. Keep dough cold while not working, but no need to pre-chill before rolling
  6. Roll out between parchment to 1/4″ thickness and cut shapes.
  7. Decorate
  8. Bake on parchment, keeping 1″ or more between cookies, about 12 minutes.
  9. Remove to wire racks to cook completely. You can store in zip locks until packaging in treat bags.

Pumpkin Spice Cut Out Cookies

Preheat oven to 350F

  • 3/4 Cups Unsalted Butter (softened to room temp)
  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar (packed)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 Cup Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 T Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 t Double Acting Baking Powder
  • 1 t Salt
  • 1-1/2 t Cinnamon
  • 3/4 t Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 t Ground or Grated Nutmeg
  • 1/4 t Ground Allspice
  • 1/8 t Ground Cloves
  1. Cream Butter and Sugars together until light and fluffy
  2. Add Pumpkin, Vanilla and Egg
  3. Add dry ingredients
  4. Chill dough for 15 – 20 minutes before rolling
  5. Roll out between parchment to 1/4″ thick and cut shapes
  6. Decorate and put on parchment to bake
  7. Bake 12 minutes
  8. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely before packing in treat bags
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Cut shapes close together & then remove xtra before lifting shapes with spatula

Enjoy! And have a safe and Happy Halloween!

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