July 4th Feast Ideas

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The most patriotic of days is coming up next week. Just wanted to share this little round-up of recipe ideas to help make your holiday delicious!


MEAT





SAUCES FOR GRILLED YUMS







SALADS & SLAWS

















BREADS & BISCUITS





Cheddar-Dill Beer Bread


DESSERTS









DRINKS





Want even more recipes, photos, giveaways, and food-related inspiration? "Like" the Garden of Eating on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter or Pinterest.

Garlic Scape Pesto

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Have you ever seen a field of garlic scapes blowing in the breeze? It's an awesome sight. I could barely believe they were real the first time I saw them growing -- the crazily curling shoots seemed like some wonderfully whimsical cosmic joke.

Pasta with garlic scape pesto by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

For those of you who are not yet familiar with this charming-looking treat, the garlic scape is the flower shoot of the hard-necked garlic plant (there are two basic varieties of garlic - hard-necked and soft-necked but the soft-necked kind does not produce scapes).

A tangled nest of garlic scapes by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

As it shoots up, it begins to loop around and form these wonderful curlicues before the flower at the end opens. They can also double as avant-garde jewelry -- Medusa would've loved these babies...

Garlic scapes as bracelet by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

If you're growing hard-necked garlic (it's so easy to grow your own garlic - you should try it!), you want to cut the scapes off before the flowers open as that will preserve more energy for the plant to make the bulb (a.k.a. the head of garlic you'll harvest in a month or two) bigger.

Garlic scapes, pine nuts and parmesan by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

But don't throw them away once you've snipped them 'cause garlic scapes are also good to eat. They have a nice flavor that is garlicky (shocker, huh?) but mellower than mature garlic. You can stir-fry them, steam them and eat with butter, pickle them (post coming soon!), sautee them and MAKE PESTO OUT OF THEM!

Container of garlic scape pesto for tonight's dinner by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

We had a rather large bunch of these after our first CSA pick up of the year because I had lost my head at the Kingston Farmers Market over the weekend before the pick up and bought a big bunch of them (not realizing they'd be included in our share.) This seemed like the perfect time to make pesto since we had enough scapes to freeze some, too.

Freezer beaba tray of garlic scape pesto by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

Although you can make pesto with just the scapes, I chose to add a lot of herbs as I like the added flavor and also tend to find the scapes by themselves rather intensely garlicky.

Basil plant by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

As with any pesto, amounts and ingredients are delightfully flexible (I always feel a little silly posting a "recipe" for something as basic as pesto...) I had recently made chimichurri (another magical green sauce...) so I used some of the leftover mint, basil, parsley, and oregano I had on hand. And of course lots of pinenuts (almonds or walnuts would be good, too), Parmesan cheese, olive oil and salt.

Garlic scape pesto by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

The resulting pesto is herby with a decidedly allium-induced kick to it! Toss with pasta or roasted veggies, drizzle over grilled chicken, smear on some crusty bread and eat with fresh mozzarella or goat cheese, and more. Don't be shy!
Pasta with garlic scape pesto by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

Garlic Scape Pesto
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients (these are all approximate!)

* 1/2-1 cup fresh, washed basil leaves
* 1/2-1 cup fresh, washed parsley leaves (you can also add or sub in oregano, cilantro, mint, etc.)
* 1-2 cups garlic scapes, both ends removed (you want to cut the flower end off as well as the lower part of the stem since it will have gotten rather hard since picking), and chopped into lengths
* 2-3 Tbsps pine nuts (or toasted almonds or walnuts)
* 2 tsps salt (or more to taste)
* Freshly ground black pepper to taste
* At least 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions

1. Put the scapes, herbs, pine nuts, salt, pepper and cheese in the bowl of a food processor.

2. Process, adding the oil a bit at a time, until desired consistency. Taste and adjust the salt and cheese accordingly.

3. Use right away or store in an airtight container in the fridge - it should keep for about two weeks. You can also freeze any extra pesto in an ice cube tray and then transfer to a freezer bag for much longer-term storage.

You might also like:

Want even more recipes, photos, giveaways, and food-related inspiration? "Like" the Garden of Eating on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter or Pinterest.

Cherry Fruit Leather

Monday, June 25, 2012

Black cherries by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

I hadn't even realized that there is a cherry season here in the Hudson Valley but, thanks to a fortuitous Facebook post by a friend, we spent a few hours picking the most gorgeous sweet cherries at Fix Brother's Fruit Farm in Hudson last weekend. It was a glorious morning - clear and sunny with a nice breeze that kept us from getting too hot. The cherries hung like jewels from the trees against a backdrop of bright blue skies as I waddled about, letting my almost-7-months pregnant belly lead the way.

Feeding Will a Cherry by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

Our small son basically ate his weight in cherries by using his mouth as his bucket - it's highly efficient and probably saved us a few dollars since they did not ask us to plunk him on the scale when it came time to pay... By the end of the outing, he looked like he'd committed some sort of grisly murder. It took a lot of wipes to get rid of the "evidence".

Pitted sweet black cherries by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

Then we spent the rest of the day making things with those cherries -- namely, cherry pie, pickled cherries from the new Food in Jars cookbook and this here cherry fruit leather.

My husband and I had thumbed through a variety of cookbooks for inspiration before we headed out to the farm since we wanted to get a sense of how much we'd need to pick and what kind for various projects.

Reducing the cherry puree by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

We were drawn to the fruit leather recipe in Sherri Brooks Vinton's excellent book, Put 'em Up! in part because it was so simple and in part because our son LOVES fruit leathers and we were intrigued by the idea of making our own.


We don't have a food dehydrator (yet) but this recipe just calls for you to bake the leather on a cookie sheet at very low heat in the oven for a few hours.

Tray of cherry puree heading into the oven by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

The resulting fruit leathers are beautiful and very delicious - sweet and intensely flavorful. Roll the sheet up and slice it to whatever width you'd like.

Cherry fruit leather out of the oven by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

I think I would use a little less sugar than the 1/2 cup Sherri's recipe called for next time, depending on the sweetness of the fruit I was using.

Rolled up cherry  fruit leather awaiting slicing by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

They're a definite hit with our son. We'll see how long the jar on our countertop lasts...

Unrolling the cherry fruit leather by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

-- print recipe --
Cherry Fruit Leather
Adapted from Put 'em Up!

Ingredients

* 4 cups sweet dark cherries, stemmed and pitted (a cherry pitter will definitely come in handy)
* A large splash (roughly 1/5 cup) of water
* 1/4 -1/2 cup sugar (original recipe calls for 1/2 cup but these would have been plenty sweet with less)
* You will also need either unbleached parchment paper or a Silpat

Directions
1. Put the cherries and water in a medium-sized pot (taller sides are better since you'll be blending in the pot) and bring them to a boil. Simmer until the cherries begin to break down, about 10 minutes. Puree the fruit, using an immersion blender or by pouring it into a blender and then back into the pot again (an immersion blender is sooooo much easier for this type of thing - if you don't already have one, I highly recommend that you get one!)

2. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Line a jelly-roll pan or rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper or a Silpat and set aside (next time, I would use a Silpat as the paper did stick in a few spots when it came time to peel the leather off of it.)

3. Add the sugar and continue to simmer the cherry puree over low heat, stirring frequently, until it thickens to the consistency of baby food - this may take 10-15 minutes.

4. Spread the sweetened, thickened puree onto the baking sheet, tilting to create an even layer about 1/8 inch thick (note, it is challenging to get the mixture truly evenly spread - ours ended up slightly thicker in the middle so part of the leather ended up a tiny bit sticky). Bake in the oven until just tacky to the touch, about 2 hours (this took us significantly longer as our oven kept turning off - it doesn't seem to handle low temps well :()

5. Cool to room temperature. Slide the parchment paper or Silpat onto a cutting board and peel the leather off. Then cut the sheet of leather in half across the middle (the short way), roll each half up and slice the roll into two to three inch-wide pieces. Store, rolled up in an airtight container on the counter for up to a month.

You might also like:

Review: The Urban Farm Handbook

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I find it a little ironic that I did not read this until AFTER I’d moved to the country... But you need not live in an urban area for the Urban Farm Handbook to be useful to you. I admit that I did find myself briefly missing Berkeley’s lovely year-round growing season and generous sunshine as I read about the author's endeavors in the Pacific Northwest, but then I remembered the price of real estate in the Bay Area and how I never could fully adjust to the reality of earthquakes and the feeling (mostly) passed.

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed anything other than a cookbook but this eased the transition since it includes lots of yummy recipes to accompany its excellent hands-on, detailed instructions for how to do things like grind your own grains, raise chickens and goats, make your own cheese, yogurt, kefir and more, start or join a buying club with friends and neighbors to buy in bulk directly from local farmers, start and maintain your own bee colony, establish a year-round garden, slaughter your own animals, make your own soap, salves and lotion, and build a community of like-minded people doing the same stuff to support you in it.

Here’s what I especially liked about the book:
Annette and Joshua, the two Seattle-area friends who wrote the book together, weave their own stories about their journeys from “normal” consumers to urban farmers throughout the book.In 2008, Annette developed a “mid-life food crisis” (kicked off by her son’s severe acid reflux and allergies) that led her to stop buying traditionally produced foods and start growing her own.

Annette in her garden by Harley Soltes, copyright 2011.
Through this journey, she met Joshua, who also had a young family and was interested in a lot of the same things and they both began to move further towards self-sufficiency and away from grocery stores. The fact that the book was written by two people who did not grow up farming makes the information much more accessible to those of us who are new to this.

Joshua and chicken by Harley Soltes, copyright 2011.
Their down-to-earth tone does not gloss over the challenges and failures they’ve faced along the way. They cover things like how to pacify angry neighbors when your chickens start the day at an ungodly hour, how to soothe a spouse who ends up eating half a caterpillar in his spring greens soup, and how to tempt notoriously picky eaters to try new things.

Throughout the book, they offer several “levels of crazy” that give you good options for how far you’d like to take each particular project/area/change.

For example, the opportunities for change in the Seeds section are:
1. Buy seeds only from seed companies that have taken the Safe Seed Pledge.
2. Buy only organic or biodynamically grown seeds.
3. Buy only open-pollinated heirloom seeds.
4. Save your own seeds.

I personally found the sections on bees, chickens, grains and grinding, espaliering fruit trees, and goats, particularly interesting. And I appreciated overall attention to detail and usability of the information and advice - for example, the book provides a good overview of the types of grain mills available to home millers and several considerations for each.
Goat happily munching while being milked by Harley Soltes, copyright 2011.
The chapters are also sprinkled with great recipes. From rhubarb custard pie (see the recipe below) to horseradish crusted salmon with cucumber dill sauce, caramelized onion jam, apple breakfast sausage, and more, I found myself practically drooling as I read. My copy is now dog-eared in numerous places as I will be making many of these things!

Fresh eggs from the backyard flock by Harley Soltes, copyright 2011.
Bottom line: this is a great book if you’re interested in even a few of these types of things. You can pick your own “level of crazy” throughout (and maybe even kick things up a notch as you start to feel more comfortable.) You can find the book's web site (filled with resources!) at: http://urbanfarmhandbook.com/ and you can also find Annette at her blog, Sustainable Eats.

Rhubarb Custard Pie
Makes one pie

Ingredients

* 1 double pie crust
* 2-3 cups finely chopped rhubarb (you want however much you need to fill your pie crust and the fresher it is, the better)
* 3 beaten eggs
* 2 cups sugar (adjust up or down to your liking next time)
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 3 tablespoons flour
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon mace (not necessary but adds to the flavor)
* 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 425 F. Roll out roughly half of your pie dough to be 1½” wider than the pie dish and fit it into the pie dish, folding the edges under and fluting them.

2. Mix together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, flour, salt, nutmeg, mace and cream.

3. Line a deep dish pie plate with one crust, then line the inside of the crust with aluminum foil and fill with beans (or use pie weights if you’ve got ‘em) and blind bake the crust for 15 minutes and remove from oven.

4. Fill the crust with the chopped rhubarb and pour the custard over the top. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes from the remaining crust and arrange them on top of the pie. Sprinkle the cutouts with sugar or a cinnamon sugar mixture.

5. If you have any extra crust or filling (which is likely), fit them into ramekins and bake until the edges are done and the middle is still wiggly like gelatin.

6. Bake for 10 minutes then reduce the oven to 325 F and continue baking for 1 hour. If the edges of the crust start to get too dark, you can cover them with aluminum foil.

You might also like:
Thanks to the good folks over at Civil Eats for sending me a review copy of this fine book.

Want even more recipes, photos, giveaways, and food-related inspiration? "Like" the Garden of Eating on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter or Pinterest.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Garlic Scape Pesto

Have you ever seen a field of garlic scapes blowing in the breeze? It's an awesome sight. I could barely believe they were real the first time I saw them growing -- the crazily curling shoots seemed like some wonderfully whimsical cosmic joke.

Pasta with garlic scape pesto by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

For those of you who are not yet familiar with this charming-looking treat, the garlic scape is the flower shoot of the hard-necked garlic plant (there are two basic varieties of garlic - hard-necked and soft-necked but the soft-necked kind does not produce scapes).

A tangled nest of garlic scapes by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

As it shoots up, it begins to loop around and form these wonderful curlicues before the flower at the end opens. They can also double as avant-garde jewelry -- Medusa would've loved these babies...

Garlic scapes as bracelet by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

If you're growing hard-necked garlic (it's so easy to grow your own garlic - you should try it!), you want to cut the scapes off before the flowers open as that will preserve more energy for the plant to make the bulb (a.k.a. the head of garlic you'll harvest in a month or two) bigger.

Garlic scapes, pine nuts and parmesan by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

But don't throw them away once you've snipped them 'cause garlic scapes are also good to eat. They have a nice flavor that is garlicky (shocker, huh?) but mellower than mature garlic. You can stir-fry them, steam them and eat with butter, pickle them (post coming soon!), sautee them and MAKE PESTO OUT OF THEM!

Container of garlic scape pesto for tonight's dinner by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

We had a rather large bunch of these after our first CSA pick up of the year because I had lost my head at the Kingston Farmers Market over the weekend before the pick up and bought a big bunch of them (not realizing they'd be included in our share.) This seemed like the perfect time to make pesto since we had enough scapes to freeze some, too.

Freezer beaba tray of garlic scape pesto by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

Although you can make pesto with just the scapes, I chose to add a lot of herbs as I like the added flavor and also tend to find the scapes by themselves rather intensely garlicky.

Basil plant by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

As with any pesto, amounts and ingredients are delightfully flexible (I always feel a little silly posting a "recipe" for something as basic as pesto...) I had recently made chimichurri (another magical green sauce...) so I used some of the leftover mint, basil, parsley, and oregano I had on hand. And of course lots of pinenuts (almonds or walnuts would be good, too), Parmesan cheese, olive oil and salt.

Garlic scape pesto by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

The resulting pesto is herby with a decidedly allium-induced kick to it! Toss with pasta or roasted veggies, drizzle over grilled chicken, smear on some crusty bread and eat with fresh mozzarella or goat cheese, and more. Don't be shy!
Pasta with garlic scape pesto by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

Garlic Scape Pesto
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients (these are all approximate!)

* 1/2-1 cup fresh, washed basil leaves
* 1/2-1 cup fresh, washed parsley leaves (you can also add or sub in oregano, cilantro, mint, etc.)
* 1-2 cups garlic scapes, both ends removed (you want to cut the flower end off as well as the lower part of the stem since it will have gotten rather hard since picking), and chopped into lengths
* 2-3 Tbsps pine nuts (or toasted almonds or walnuts)
* 2 tsps salt (or more to taste)
* Freshly ground black pepper to taste
* At least 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions

1. Put the scapes, herbs, pine nuts, salt, pepper and cheese in the bowl of a food processor.

2. Process, adding the oil a bit at a time, until desired consistency. Taste and adjust the salt and cheese accordingly.

3. Use right away or store in an airtight container in the fridge - it should keep for about two weeks. You can also freeze any extra pesto in an ice cube tray and then transfer to a freezer bag for much longer-term storage.

You might also like:

Want even more recipes, photos, giveaways, and food-related inspiration? "Like" the Garden of Eating on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter or Pinterest.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Cherry Fruit Leather

Black cherries by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

I hadn't even realized that there is a cherry season here in the Hudson Valley but, thanks to a fortuitous Facebook post by a friend, we spent a few hours picking the most gorgeous sweet cherries at Fix Brother's Fruit Farm in Hudson last weekend. It was a glorious morning - clear and sunny with a nice breeze that kept us from getting too hot. The cherries hung like jewels from the trees against a backdrop of bright blue skies as I waddled about, letting my almost-7-months pregnant belly lead the way.

Feeding Will a Cherry by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

Our small son basically ate his weight in cherries by using his mouth as his bucket - it's highly efficient and probably saved us a few dollars since they did not ask us to plunk him on the scale when it came time to pay... By the end of the outing, he looked like he'd committed some sort of grisly murder. It took a lot of wipes to get rid of the "evidence".

Pitted sweet black cherries by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

Then we spent the rest of the day making things with those cherries -- namely, cherry pie, pickled cherries from the new Food in Jars cookbook and this here cherry fruit leather.

My husband and I had thumbed through a variety of cookbooks for inspiration before we headed out to the farm since we wanted to get a sense of how much we'd need to pick and what kind for various projects.

Reducing the cherry puree by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

We were drawn to the fruit leather recipe in Sherri Brooks Vinton's excellent book, Put 'em Up! in part because it was so simple and in part because our son LOVES fruit leathers and we were intrigued by the idea of making our own.


We don't have a food dehydrator (yet) but this recipe just calls for you to bake the leather on a cookie sheet at very low heat in the oven for a few hours.

Tray of cherry puree heading into the oven by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

The resulting fruit leathers are beautiful and very delicious - sweet and intensely flavorful. Roll the sheet up and slice it to whatever width you'd like.

Cherry fruit leather out of the oven by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

I think I would use a little less sugar than the 1/2 cup Sherri's recipe called for next time, depending on the sweetness of the fruit I was using.

Rolled up cherry  fruit leather awaiting slicing by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

They're a definite hit with our son. We'll see how long the jar on our countertop lasts...

Unrolling the cherry fruit leather by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

-- print recipe --
Cherry Fruit Leather
Adapted from Put 'em Up!

Ingredients

* 4 cups sweet dark cherries, stemmed and pitted (a cherry pitter will definitely come in handy)
* A large splash (roughly 1/5 cup) of water
* 1/4 -1/2 cup sugar (original recipe calls for 1/2 cup but these would have been plenty sweet with less)
* You will also need either unbleached parchment paper or a Silpat

Directions
1. Put the cherries and water in a medium-sized pot (taller sides are better since you'll be blending in the pot) and bring them to a boil. Simmer until the cherries begin to break down, about 10 minutes. Puree the fruit, using an immersion blender or by pouring it into a blender and then back into the pot again (an immersion blender is sooooo much easier for this type of thing - if you don't already have one, I highly recommend that you get one!)

2. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Line a jelly-roll pan or rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper or a Silpat and set aside (next time, I would use a Silpat as the paper did stick in a few spots when it came time to peel the leather off of it.)

3. Add the sugar and continue to simmer the cherry puree over low heat, stirring frequently, until it thickens to the consistency of baby food - this may take 10-15 minutes.

4. Spread the sweetened, thickened puree onto the baking sheet, tilting to create an even layer about 1/8 inch thick (note, it is challenging to get the mixture truly evenly spread - ours ended up slightly thicker in the middle so part of the leather ended up a tiny bit sticky). Bake in the oven until just tacky to the touch, about 2 hours (this took us significantly longer as our oven kept turning off - it doesn't seem to handle low temps well :()

5. Cool to room temperature. Slide the parchment paper or Silpat onto a cutting board and peel the leather off. Then cut the sheet of leather in half across the middle (the short way), roll each half up and slice the roll into two to three inch-wide pieces. Store, rolled up in an airtight container on the counter for up to a month.

You might also like:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Review: The Urban Farm Handbook

I find it a little ironic that I did not read this until AFTER I’d moved to the country... But you need not live in an urban area for the Urban Farm Handbook to be useful to you. I admit that I did find myself briefly missing Berkeley’s lovely year-round growing season and generous sunshine as I read about the author's endeavors in the Pacific Northwest, but then I remembered the price of real estate in the Bay Area and how I never could fully adjust to the reality of earthquakes and the feeling (mostly) passed.

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed anything other than a cookbook but this eased the transition since it includes lots of yummy recipes to accompany its excellent hands-on, detailed instructions for how to do things like grind your own grains, raise chickens and goats, make your own cheese, yogurt, kefir and more, start or join a buying club with friends and neighbors to buy in bulk directly from local farmers, start and maintain your own bee colony, establish a year-round garden, slaughter your own animals, make your own soap, salves and lotion, and build a community of like-minded people doing the same stuff to support you in it.

Here’s what I especially liked about the book:
Annette and Joshua, the two Seattle-area friends who wrote the book together, weave their own stories about their journeys from “normal” consumers to urban farmers throughout the book.In 2008, Annette developed a “mid-life food crisis” (kicked off by her son’s severe acid reflux and allergies) that led her to stop buying traditionally produced foods and start growing her own.

Annette in her garden by Harley Soltes, copyright 2011.
Through this journey, she met Joshua, who also had a young family and was interested in a lot of the same things and they both began to move further towards self-sufficiency and away from grocery stores. The fact that the book was written by two people who did not grow up farming makes the information much more accessible to those of us who are new to this.

Joshua and chicken by Harley Soltes, copyright 2011.
Their down-to-earth tone does not gloss over the challenges and failures they’ve faced along the way. They cover things like how to pacify angry neighbors when your chickens start the day at an ungodly hour, how to soothe a spouse who ends up eating half a caterpillar in his spring greens soup, and how to tempt notoriously picky eaters to try new things.

Throughout the book, they offer several “levels of crazy” that give you good options for how far you’d like to take each particular project/area/change.

For example, the opportunities for change in the Seeds section are:
1. Buy seeds only from seed companies that have taken the Safe Seed Pledge.
2. Buy only organic or biodynamically grown seeds.
3. Buy only open-pollinated heirloom seeds.
4. Save your own seeds.

I personally found the sections on bees, chickens, grains and grinding, espaliering fruit trees, and goats, particularly interesting. And I appreciated overall attention to detail and usability of the information and advice - for example, the book provides a good overview of the types of grain mills available to home millers and several considerations for each.
Goat happily munching while being milked by Harley Soltes, copyright 2011.
The chapters are also sprinkled with great recipes. From rhubarb custard pie (see the recipe below) to horseradish crusted salmon with cucumber dill sauce, caramelized onion jam, apple breakfast sausage, and more, I found myself practically drooling as I read. My copy is now dog-eared in numerous places as I will be making many of these things!

Fresh eggs from the backyard flock by Harley Soltes, copyright 2011.
Bottom line: this is a great book if you’re interested in even a few of these types of things. You can pick your own “level of crazy” throughout (and maybe even kick things up a notch as you start to feel more comfortable.) You can find the book's web site (filled with resources!) at: http://urbanfarmhandbook.com/ and you can also find Annette at her blog, Sustainable Eats.

Rhubarb Custard Pie
Makes one pie

Ingredients

* 1 double pie crust
* 2-3 cups finely chopped rhubarb (you want however much you need to fill your pie crust and the fresher it is, the better)
* 3 beaten eggs
* 2 cups sugar (adjust up or down to your liking next time)
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 3 tablespoons flour
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon mace (not necessary but adds to the flavor)
* 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 425 F. Roll out roughly half of your pie dough to be 1½” wider than the pie dish and fit it into the pie dish, folding the edges under and fluting them.

2. Mix together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, flour, salt, nutmeg, mace and cream.

3. Line a deep dish pie plate with one crust, then line the inside of the crust with aluminum foil and fill with beans (or use pie weights if you’ve got ‘em) and blind bake the crust for 15 minutes and remove from oven.

4. Fill the crust with the chopped rhubarb and pour the custard over the top. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes from the remaining crust and arrange them on top of the pie. Sprinkle the cutouts with sugar or a cinnamon sugar mixture.

5. If you have any extra crust or filling (which is likely), fit them into ramekins and bake until the edges are done and the middle is still wiggly like gelatin.

6. Bake for 10 minutes then reduce the oven to 325 F and continue baking for 1 hour. If the edges of the crust start to get too dark, you can cover them with aluminum foil.

You might also like:
Thanks to the good folks over at Civil Eats for sending me a review copy of this fine book.

Want even more recipes, photos, giveaways, and food-related inspiration? "Like" the Garden of Eating on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter or Pinterest.