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Welcome to Gardens to Tables
Exploring the Farm Towns of Turkey Print E-mail
Written by Scott Archer   

Turkey FarmA little more than 50 percent of Turkey's population is rural, where agriculture is the focus of life and the typical farm town is surrounded with land for agriculture. Usually in these towns, there is a coffeehouse, guest rooms, schools and small shops and the houses are built around a central place and include courtyards. If you are interested in visiting some of the farm towns in Turkey, here are a few that deserve to be explored:

Alacati: This Aegean farm town in Turkey's Izmir province is famous for its architecture and vineyards. The town's hilltop mound is covered in windmills, while it's entrance is guarded by a Selchuk barrel-house that dates back 800 years. As a result of the consistent, steady wind and crystal clear water there, Alacati has also become a popular destination for kite surfing and windsurfing. The town is also acclaimed for its hospitality and nightlife.

Assos: This small historically rich farm town is located in Turkey's Canakkale province in the Ayvacik district. A trachyte crag in the town has the ancient Temple of Athena built on top o it from where most of the surrounding area can be seen. There was a harbor in Assos that made it a key shipping station. The town features a mixture of ancient ruins and rural life, with travelers welcomed by the quay-front hotels and small stretch of sand at the fishing port below.

Ayvalik: This town is filled with the scent of apricots because the flat-topped houses have roofs that are blanketed with the harvest. The sound of drums can be heard in the distance at sunset and the sight of women baking bread in age-old rock ovens for the evening meal is particularly memorable.

Kalekoy: Simena is another name for this seaside farm town, which unlike its sunken neighbors is located right next to a rock. The town is so small that there is not even a street. The 300 inhabitants live somewhat on top of each other with a hazhazard series of paths weaving around them.

Sirince: Back when the Greek city of Ephesus was nearing its demise, this farm town was a Greek sanctuary. Today, a landscape of grape orchids encloses the town's dense hillside, where the ancient Greek houses are surprisingly well preserved, making it an ideal destination for archaeology enthusiasts. Travelers can also enjoy a bottle of wine at the old Artemis School House.

The farm towns are a must-see for those who want to explore Turkey's natural beauty, get a taste of its rural life and meet the farms and farmers who make up the backbone of the country.

Scott Archer is a passionate blogger who works on behalf of Turkish Visa. He is an avid reader and has been writing content on the web professionally on topics such as travel, education, technology and parenting since 2006.

 
Beyond the Farmers Market in Whitefish, Montana Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Whitefish Farmers Market

A great way to get to know a community is to visit its Farmers Market. The Farmers Market in Whitefish, Montana, located in Northwest Montana, is no exception. Held every Tuesday evening from May through September, there are booths with fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, baked goods, arts and crafts -- even soap made from buffalo tallow. Music is playing and it often appears everyone in the town has come out.

But Whitefish has taken the farm-to-table concept one step further and also provides a map to the farms and fresh food (including community and school gardens) found throughout the Flathead Valley, produced by an organization called FarmHands, which has as its mission "connecting people with working lands." (Note: they also offer a groovy "Who's Your Farmer?" bumper sticker.)

The map identifies 65 farms, plus seasonal farmers markets in Kalispell, Whitefish, Bigfork, West Glacier and Columbia Falls, a harvest calendar AND the names of local businesses -- restaurants, hotels and markets -- that buy from local farms. The map and the groovy bumper sticker are available at the farmers market and in businesses throughout town and at the FarmHands website.

The town of Whitefish is ideal for those who love outdoor adventure -- with summer offerings that include hiking, biking, kayaking, rafting and horseback riding, plus easy access to Glacier National Park, which celebrated its centennial in 2010 -- and for those who enjoy returning from those adventures to a great meal in a number of wonderful restaurants (that use local produce!). For more information, visit www.explorewhitefish.com

 
Connecting Gardens to Tables at the Hermosa Inn Print E-mail
Written by Executive Chef Jeremy Pacheco   

Garden to table is more than a trend; it's something that we do on a daily basis here at LON's at the Hermosa. While we do purchase from local farmers (and, for many restaurants, that's all they need to say they are "farm to table"), we also have a one-acre on-site garden behind the kitchen and durum wheat from my own family's farm here in Arizona is used to make our house-made gnocchi and other pastas. So, while it may be a passing phase for others, it's something we take great pride in here at LON's.

We grow more than 20 ingredients in the garden -- from lettuce, arugula, English lavender and Bloomsdale spinach to onions, strawberries, heirloom tomatoes and various types of squash. Lemon, orange and grapefruit trees are also scattered throughout the grounds and used in many of the dishes at LON's, along with our signature cocktails at Last Drop at the Hermosa.

While it's a labor of love and takes hard work, it's also great training ground for my culinary team and instills a deeper connection and a sense of pride in the food we serve when we have to personally plant, water, weed and harvest. It's how I was raised and something I like to share with others. It's what brought me to this business and continues to drive me and our team, and is what inspires our recipes.

One such recipe is our Local Gem Lettuce Wedge with goat cheese vinaigrette -- all made from locally sourced ingredients. (Click "read more" for recipe.)

Read more...
 
Seasons 52's Cliff Pleau Talks Beets Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Seasons 52 beetsAs many of you may know, Seasons 52 is part of a unique chain of restaurants found throughout the continental U.S. that focus on healthy food using fresh seasonal ingredients (nothing on the menu is over 475 calories). As part of that focus, the Century City location features an indoor herb garden, a chef's garden and a spectacular outdoor living wall. At the preview, we were treated to a series of dishes created by Cliff Pleau, the Seasons 52 Culinary Director. The highlight, for me, was his beet carpaccio (pictured here) so I asked him for some tips on working with beets at home for those of us who are growing them or looking at them at the farmers markets and he was kind enough to send his thoughts (below). Enjoy!

Beets are awesome if you think of them as a natural root that has all the nutrients to push a plant through the soil and allow its leaves to reach sunlight. Their earthy quality allows for lots of flavor combinations. I like using gold beets and chiogga beets, but whatever is in the market is fun and tasty. Beets do need to be washed well. The tops can be de-stemmed and steamed. I like to eat them with sea salt, olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Roast beets by putting them in a roasting dish with a little bit of water (just a little in the bottom), some olive oil and sea salt to cover. Roast until almost tender in a 425 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 45 minutes. Then let them rest covered for 15 minutes. They can be chunked or peeled, and used for various creative applications. To peel, just rub off the skins with your hands and a paper towel.

For a beet carpaccio, slice peeled beets thin on a mandolin and plate with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt and add an herb salad mixture. A couple of flavors and ingredients that work well with beets include: goat cheese, wasabi (mix with sour cream), herbs, grains, citrus, ginger and black pepper.

 
Sangrita Opens on Maui Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Sangrita GrillMaui is probably not the first place one thinks of for Cinco de Mayo celebrations, but this year the holiday was celebrated in style as part of the grand opening for the Sangrita Grill & Cantina in Ka'anapali. The new restaurant is from Chef Paris Nabavi, who has been a long-time proponent of sourcing food from local farms on Maui and was featured in our story on "Celebrating the Agricultural Abundance of Maui" in 2010 and also in a story I wrote on "Maui Restaurants" for FarewellTravels.com

While we were not able to attending the grand opening, which served as a benefit for the Lahainaluna High School Agricultural Program, we did get a taste of the menu the day before. Highlights included the guacamole three ways (pictured), which included traditional, pomegranate and chipotle-pineapple (yum!); the camarones ceviche, which featured shrimp, watermelon, jicama and avocado; and the chorizo taco, with pickled onion and jicama.

We also got to try the special margarita created for the celebration: the Devil on Thyme (also pictured). As its name suggests, the drink includes a sprig of fresh thyme along with fresh orange juice, lime juice, serrano peppers and strawberry puree. For those who'd like to try it at home, they were happy to share the recipe. Enjoy!

The Devil on Thyme
2 oz. Sauza or Diva Mezcal
3/4 oz. strawberry puree
1/2 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup

Muddle together:
2 sprigs thyme
4 slices serrano peppers

Serve over ice. Garnish with as sprig of thyme, lime wheel and serrano slice.

 
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