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Preserving Farm-Fresh Flavor at Sacramento's Grange Restaurant Print E-mail
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Written by Ann Shepphird   

Grange RestaurantIf your garden is like mine, you're starting to an abundance of tomatoes from your garden (or local farmers market) so I thought I'd bring back this recipe that Chef Michael Tuohy shared with us in 2009 when he was the executive chef at the Grange Restaurant & Bar in Sacramento. The highly regarded Grange is still in Sacramento, with Chef Oliver Ridgeway now in charge, while Chef Tuohy has a new assignment as the executive chef and general manager for the new arena being built in downtown Sacramento. What hasn't changed is the focus on farm-fresh ingredients, including (yes) summer tomatoes. Enjoy!

Surrounded by the fertile Central Valley of California and with a weekly farmers market just outside its front door, the Grange Restaurant & Bar in Sacramento prides itself on using the freshest seasonal produce. Local farms such as Capay Organics and Del Rio Farm are even credited on the menu, which changes daily based on what’s in season. Even the wine list is focused on the local, featuring small production, boutique wineries from approved viticulture areas in California.

As this is the season of the tomato, we asked Chef Michael Tuohy for some tips on how to get the most out of those lovely heirlooms:

Chef Michael Tuohy“In a perfect world, tomatoes would be ripened by the sun and enjoyed directly off the vine,” said Chef Tuohy. “In order to preserve farm-fresh flavor, I suggest storing heirloom tomatoes on their shoulders and out in the open air. Storing tomatoes refrigerated cuts flavor and brings out acidity.”

Chef Tuohy offers more seasonal tips (and his own ode to summer tomatoes) on his blog at http://michaeltuohy.typepad.com/

But, in the meantime, enjoy his Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho (click "read more" for the recipe). If you’re looking for a wine that will go well with the gazpacho, Chef Tuohy suggests the Albarino, Ca’ del Solo, Soledad, 2007 to accompany it. The wine is from Bonny Doon’s Biodynamic estate vineyard, Ca' del Solo. For more information, visit https://www.bonnydoonvineyard.com/

Read more...
 
Keeping Your Back Strong When Gardening Print E-mail
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Written by Ann Shepphird   

Yoga in the GardenAs the seasons change and we spend more time in our gardens, it's good to remember to take care of our backs. These yoga stretches for gardeners were first posted here in 2009 courtesy of the Ubuntu restaurant and yoga space in Napa. Ubuntu has sadly since closed but I think we can all agree that the tips themselves are timeless. Happy gardening!

If there is one thing that all gardeners share, it's a need to save their backs from all the lifting and bending that goes along with tending their gardens. Here are some tips from Ubuntu Yoga Instructor Courtney Willis on how to create a strong and flexible back through a some Yoga Flow for Gardeners.

  • Standing on your feet, reach the arms out and up bring the palms together way above the head, saluting the sun.
  • Slowly, bend the knees and bring your hands to the Earth, relax the head and breath here, working on extending the hips upward.
  • Lying on your back and bend the legs. Lift the hips and wiggle your shoulders under the back until you can clasp the hands. For a therapeutic variation. you can bring the hands to the hips, fingers facing outward.
  • This pose is an important counter pose for all the forward bending you do in the garden.
  • From here, release the spine to the Earth, create a 'T' with your arms and slowly drop your legs to one side and bring you gaze to the opposite arm.
  • Repeat on the other side.

This gentle sequence is accessible to every BODY and can be done before AND after a day in the garden.

 
Beyond the Farmers Market in Whitefish, Montana Print E-mail
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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

 
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.

 
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