Mysteries Buried in the Kitchen...

Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness by Sasha Maratin

It's been awhile! But though I haven't been posting, I have been busy. I'll update my paintings soon, but in the meantime, here's a book review I did for a wonderful site: KnowWhereYourFoodComesFrom. I recently helped the publisher clean up expired links and was amazed at the depth and breadth of local food coverage. Looking for a CSA near you (even if you live in Bozeman, MT)? Check. Traveling and want to find a good farm-to-table restaurant or farmers market? Check. So I was thrilled when asked to contribute a book review. 

Reviewing Sasha Martin's memoir, Life from Scratch, was a joy -- starting with the very first page. She's an engaging writer with a passion for food. She writes a successful blog, globaltableadventure.com, which started when she decided to expand her horizons in middle America and cook a meal a week from every country in the world. But though the memoir that grew out of the blog, it is much deeper and more meaningful. It became an intensely personal exploration of childhood trauma, confusion, and loss. You can read my review HERE.

Showtime!

So happy that my paintings are on display at the Hive Gallery at 321 Main Street in Schoharie, NY. My produce "portraits" are a tribute to the Upstate New York farms and farmers who work so hard to supply our family with beautiful, fresh produce throughout the growing season.

farmsharepaintings.jpg

The show features oil paintings, giclee prints and cards and will go through the end of July. Please stop by for the opening party on Saturday, June 27 from 1 - 4 p.m. 

10% of artist proceeds will be donated to the American Farmland Trust "No Farms No Food" campaign.

Superabundance

These days it seems we have a superabundance of everything. Too much cold in winter. Spring days that are too beautiful, because too dry. And now too much rain. In the rolling glacial plain where I live, the old farm families are leaving their land. Too many rocks. Too much work and too many worries. Fields where cattle and sheep used to graze are now covered with too many small trees and weedy shrubs in dense thickets. 

Yellow willows. ©Laura Shore 2015

Yellow willows. ©Laura Shore 2015

This painting is from a photograph I took in New Salem in January 2011. My mother always looked to the bright yellow willows and red saplings as a sign that winter would turn to spring. I made this painting this winter in her memory. 

Five Questions for Gade Farm

These are the greenhouses in mid summer, full of bedding plants and hanging baskets grown on the farm.

These are the greenhouses in mid summer, full of bedding plants and hanging baskets grown on the farm.

Last year I asked my CSA farmer for advice on starting seeds indoors. He looked a bit sheepish and replied that he bought his seedlings from Gade Farm. That’s good, I thought, so do I! Gade is located near the junction of Route146 and Route 20. Situated on a busy road in the center of Guilderland they’re well positioned for retail but still grow most of what they sell on 100 acres and in their extensive greenhouses. My garden is stocked with Gade perennials and I usually pick up annuals and lettuce plants in the spring as well.

The photo was taken March 1. Can't wait for retail operations to start on March 20!

The photo was taken March 1. Can't wait for retail operations to start on March 20!

Produce is labeled by origin, which helps me support local farms.                                                     

Produce is labeled by origin, which helps me support local farms.                                                     

Started in the 1990s, the farm stand carries Gade-grown fruits and vegetables along with other locally grown food – all labeled as to origin. Prices are typically better than supermarkets and the food is always peak freshness. You can also find Meadowbrook Dairy milk, bacon from Oscar’s Smokehouse, local eggs, meat, cheese, and sausages. My neighbor swears by their raspberry pie. And because they also carry foods they don’t grow (you can get lemons and avocados) I’m often able to skip the grocery store altogether!

Gade Farm is a NYS Century Farm, which means that the Gade family has been farming here since 1878.  They support local food vendors and carry on a lively schedule of classes and other activities. You can find out more on their website: gadefarm.com. I caught up with a busy Jim Gade, who’s managing the farm now with his two brothers and getting ready for opening day on March 20.

1. How/when did you become a farmer? 

I grew up on our farm, and have been farming all of my life. I became a partner in the business in 1987.

2. What kind of farming do you do? 

We grow vegetables out in our fields, and in our greenhouses/fields we grow all sorts of bedding plants, vegetable starters, herbs, hanging baskets, perennials, and we have a large selection of roses, trees, & shrubs in our nursery.  We have about 1 acre in greenhouses (from cold frames to fully heated), where we grow all of our bedding plants, vegetables, hanging baskets, pots, perennials. Many start there and move outside, where there are about 3 acres for growing perennials and mums outdoors.   

3. What gets you up in the morning? 

Depending on the day, either the sunshine or my internal clock. Though some days when I’m really tired it’s my external alarm clock!! On market days (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) I get up at 4:30 a.m. to get to the Menands wholesale market to sell our product.

4. What keeps you up at night? 

The weather!  Especially when I hear that it is supposed to get really cold, I worry about the greenhouses staying up to temperature.  Also, when there is supposed to be a hail storm, too much rain, (or not enough), too cold, too hot... And it’s worse because these are things I have NO control over!

5. Do you have a favorite recipe to share? 

Some of my favorite foods are eaten best fresh out of the field -- watermelon on a hot summer day, corn on the cob, a fresh sliced tomato. Delicious!

Asparagus grown at Gade. © Laura Shore 2014.

Asparagus grown at Gade. © Laura Shore 2014.

Disconnecting from the industrial food system has been a fairly gradual process in our house. Our grandson still prefers Little Debbie brownies to Nancy’s homemade… and we still crave citrus in winter. But for the most part our food now has fewer frequent flier miles than we do and we couldn’t have done it without our farm CSA, the Schenectady Greenmarket, the Gade Farm, and the Honest Weight Food Co-op.