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.

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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.

 

To Buy or Not to Buy

When Nancy and I met, we were in our 40s and had two households full of stuff. We decided against exchanging gifts for birthdays and Christmas, opting instead for trips together. One of our most memorable travel meals was in a small Moroccan restaurant in Paris on New Year’s eve. We had neglected to plan for the event and the streets were mostly deserted – shops and restaurants closed. We wandered about the misty streets, wondering if we would have to eat our stash of chocolate and goat cheese for dinner.  I can’t remember the restaurant name or the street but I can still taste the salty sweet lamb tagine that we shared.

Though I love the symmetrical sloping shape of the tagine, I’ve never managed to own one. This year we talked about getting a tagine as a family gift and Nancy found a cast iron beauty at Williams Sonoma. But before she hit the buy button, she remembered reading that a dutch oven is an acceptable substitute. We have several dutch ovens on our overburdened shelves. Did we really need a $286 cooking pot weighing nearly 10 pounds, that has traveled from France to California and back to upstate New York? We decided to find out.

We chose this recipe for beef  tagine from Jamie Oliver that tasted just fine in the Dutch oven. Remarkably, we had all the ingredients. The stew beef came from Bella Terra Farm and the ras el hanout spice mix and butternut squash were purchased at the Schenectady Greenmarket. I substituted homemade beef stock for vegetable and used heirloom roma tomatoes from our friend Ev Rau, which I roasted and froze this fall.

The meat's been marinating for hours. The tomatoes have thawed and we're ready to go. BTW the long squiggly things in the squash box are fingerling sweet potatoes. Not one of nature's better ideas.

The meat's been marinating for hours. The tomatoes have thawed and we're ready to go. BTW the long squiggly things in the squash box are fingerling sweet potatoes. Not one of nature's better ideas.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds stewing beef
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • a small bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 1 x 14 ounce can of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 x 14 ounce can of chopped tomatoes
  • 3 ½ cups vegetable stock, preferably organic
  • 1 small squash (approximately 1 ½ pounds), deseeded and cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 3 ½ ounces prunes, pitted and roughly torn
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
This is a very satisfying winter dish. The squash held it's shape but also helped thicken the sauce. The ras el hanout spice mix gives the dish a complex, smokey flavor. If you don't have a Moroccan grocery nearby, here's a recipe for the spice mix.

This is a very satisfying winter dish. The squash held it's shape but also helped thicken the sauce. The ras el hanout spice mix gives the dish a complex, smokey flavor. If you don't have a Moroccan grocery nearby, here's a recipe for the spice mix.

 Spice Rub

  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ras el hanout spice mix
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika

 

Massage the beef in the spice rub and refrigerate overnight. When ready, saute in olive oil. Add onions and cilantro stems. Once the onions are soft and fragrant add chickpeas, tomatoes, and half the stock. Cover and cook for 1.5 hours. Then add squash and prunes. Cover and cook for another 1.5 hours, adding more stock if needed. If the mixture is too soupy at the end, uncover and cook until it's right for you. Garnish with toasted almonds and cilantro leaves. Serve with couscous. Yum!

Cows at Gordon Farms

Cows at Gordon Farms

We decided instead to invest in a farm share for local pasture-raised beef. Gordon Farms is up the hill, about 8 miles from Altamont. Each month we’ll receive 6-7 lb of grass feed beef in various cuts delivered to the house. Instead of churning through fossil fuels and filling our shelves with one more seldom-used implement, we’ll be supporting a hardworking local farmer and forging stronger connections in our community.  Plus the meat tastes so much better than supermarket beef and we can sleep better knowing that we’ve taken one more step away from consumerism and the industrial food economy.