East Coast Spring

Spring has arrived in a bright riot of blossoms, bursting out of branches in splashes of pink and yellow and white, delighting the bees. Yesterday the wind picked up petals and tossed them in celebration all across bare yards and roadways. I’ve had lines of this poem running through my head.

A Color of the Sky (excerpt)

by Tony Hoagland

Outside the youth center, between the liquor store   

and the police station,

a little dogwood tree is losing its mind;


overflowing with blossomfoam,   

like a sudsy mug of beer;

like a bride ripping off her clothes,


dropping snow white petals to the ground in clouds,


so Nature’s wastefulness seems quietly obscene.   

It’s been doing that all week:

making beauty,

and throwing it away,

and making more.

(Read the full poem here)

Food & Farmers: Polyface Farms

A peek inside my freezer right now will reveal hints of delicious meals to come. Stacked next to my flour and cornmeal are packages of ground beef, cube steak and lots of pork. Last week, Patrick and I visited Polyface farm in the rolling hillsides near Staunton, Virginia, and met our meat.

Polyface Farm, organic pork, Joel Salatin

If you read Omnivore’s Dilemma or saw Food Inc. you’ll remember Joel Salatin’s Polyface farm as one of the most innovative beyond-organic farms in the country. Though the farm sells beef, pork, chicken and eggs, Salatin really considers himself a grass farmer, concerned with the health and biodiversity of his land.

Polyface Farm, Joel Salatin

Cows rotate through small sections of pasture, munching on a “salad bar” of diverse grasses and clovers and leaving behind natural fertilizer in the form of manure. A few days later, chickens roll through in mobile coops. They break apart the manure, gorging on grubs and picking at grasses and seeds. Pigs pitch in aerating the soil and turning straw bedding into fertile compost. The result? Rich, healthy soil and diverse pasture with no chemical inputs, PLUS pasture-fed beef PLUS eggs PLUS pork. That’s a lot of productivity from one piece of land. It’s the exact opposite of mono-crops or feedlots where cows stand around in barren, muddy fields.

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Totally Flexible Farro Salad

Nutty, toothsome farro is one of my all-time favorite grains, and I love farro salads because they’re so versatile. I’ve been making a lot of these in the Minnie because they come together quickly and allow me to use whatever veggies I have on hand.

Following are some basic proportions to create a dish packed with flavor and texture. Tailor these ingredient suggestions to your personal taste. To create a heartier one-dish meal, I add a shredded chicken or a link of quality sausage.

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How to Make a Frozen Pizza

  1. Arrive in camp around 6pm. Agree to make a frozen pizza because it is hot and you are feeling lazy and vaguely cranky and just want to read.
  2. Guiltily think about all the fresh vegetables you’ve acquired over the past few days, and consider how long they’ll last.
  3. Decide to add a big salad to the dinner menu.
  4. Heat a pot of water to boil tiny red potatoes unearthed from your parent’s garden.
  5. When searching for herbs in the fridge, grumble a little when the mozzarella falls off the shelf. Set it on the counter and forget about it. Continue reading