Sunday, October 24, 2010

Handmade and Local at Artisanal LA

As I suspected it would be, Artisanal LA was great. Lots of interesting and, often tasty vendors. Dan and I spent more time there than we thought we would and spent more money than we should have. But, it was great to see so many people interested in and producing local and handcrafted foods. There is more of a sustainable food movement in Los Angeles than I thought there was and that is very exciting. 

I decided to showcase some of, but certainly not all of, the vendors that we encountered at our time at this event. Above is jar of Hell Fire Pepper Jelly from Jenkins Jellies. I've tried a lot of pepper jellies before but this is by far the best one that I have ever tasted. They know how to balance the sweetness and heat. And, yes, we bought a jar. I can't wait to pair this with a nice goat cheese for an appetizer or try it with pork. 

Tried some out-of-this-world jams at the Lemon Bird Design booth. Even bought a jar of their tomato with vanilla bean jam. The acidic tomato with the lovely warmth of the vanilla beans is heavenly. This made Dan and I feel that we need to step up the creativity with our jams and preserves. Also, I have to say, that I love their logo and label design. Their booth looked great as well. Sadly, too many people to get a great shot.

Tools of the butchering trade at the Lindy & Grundy booth. This is a new butcher shop that will be opening this December over in the Fairfax area of West Hollywood. The owners and operators are two women. The shop will feature local, pastured and organic meats (beef, lamb, pork and chicken). And, they are going to offer workshops on butchering techniques. I can't wait for the shop to open even if it will be a bit of drive to get there. I have a feeling that it will be well worth it.

Super cute display of 'breakfast' ornaments at the Common Thread booth. Yes, that's a chicken, a piece of toast and a slice of bacon. Not sure why the chicken and not an egg, since there is a breakfast theme but I'm guessing it was because the chicken was cuter (yet strangely blue). This sewing studio from South Pasadena was offering a bit of crafting at the show. For a small price, you could make either ornaments or egg cozies.  

So, Dan and I could not resist the 'breakfast' ornaments. Besides, who uses egg cozies. So, for $10.00, we got to make our own set. We had a lot of fun doing this. It was a nice, relaxing break from walking around the show. Plus, we made something to bring home. Can I put that bacon ornament on a Hanukkah bush? 

Since it is time to start planting our late fall and winter garden, we stopped by the Winnetka Farms booth and picked up some heirloom Italian seeds. They also have classes and workshops on gardening with edibles and are located in the San Fernando Valley. We can't wait to see how the veggies will grow from the seeds we purchased. 

We fell in love with this group, Backwards Beekeepers. They are a Los Angeles-based collective of small-scale, chemical-free beekeepers. They also rescue feral bees and teach beekeeping skills. Bees are responsible for pollinating a third of our  produce crops as well as providing delicious and nutritious honey, so it's so important to take care of them in a sustainable and humane way. We were glad to find people teaching these skills and keeping this craft alive.

I love this flour sack towel that we got from the Miss Fruitfly booth. The towel is unbleached cotton and made in the U.S. Then Fina from Miss Fruitfly silk-screens designs and quotes onto them. I love what this towel has to say and thought it was the perfect way to end this post.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

This Weekend: Artisanal LA

This is what I'm looking forward to this weekend. A trip to the Artisanal LA event in downtown. And, it is right up my alley, an event dedicated to celebrating local handmade foods. There are over 75 local vendors participating. I can't wait to go.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Beef Daube Provençal

With a nice low pressure system over the West, Los Angeles has been experiencing actual fall weather for the past several days. We have had cool temperatures and even rain. So, with the fall season finally in full swing, it's time to enjoy some stews. So, yesterday, after the trip to the fall harvest festival, I came home and made Beef Daube Provençal for dinner. I found the recipe in an old Cooking Light magazine from last October. It sounded perfect for a chilly and drizzly Sunday evening dinner. And, for once, I did not mess with the recipe. I actually prepared it as stated. This is unusual since I almost always change things. And, I discovered, much to my delight, that I didn't need to change anything. This recipe is great as it is. I know I'll be making this a few more times this fall and winter. To give it a try, just click on the link above. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.

Fall Harvest Festival

Yesterday, Dan and I went with our neighbors to the annual fall harvest festival out at Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark. It was antique tractor weekend. This is our third consecutive year attending this event.  We love it. Lots of fun for families and even those of us who do not have children. As you can see from a few of my photos, there are barnyard animals, sunflowers, scarecrows and, of course, pumkins. Lots and lots of pumpkins. I love pumpkins. And, I love that fact that this farm has a lot of different varieties rather than just the standard field pumpkin that people commonly use for their jack-o-lanterns at Halloween.

The other thing that I love, is that Underwood Family Farms is actually a real farm. They are not organic but they do practice sustainable farming methods and they are pretty damn local considering the geography of the Los Angeles area. Also, they sell produce year round at many of the Los Angeles farmer's markets. I buy from them at the one in Pasadena every Saturday. Nice people with wonderful, fresh and delicious produce, I highly recommend them.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

End of the Summer Season

The end of the summer season has been pretty good to us. We did a lot better this year with our tomatoes, radishes, eggplants and peppers. Radishes seem to be the one thing, other than herbs, that we do well with all year round. But, we had some challenges as we learned about growing bush beans, shelling beans and squash. The lessons we learned we will definitely be applying in the spring. We are still waiting to see if our winter squash plants will yield anything or not. Yes, I sowed the seeds late but our cooler-than-average summer weather has been a bigger issue than my lack of appropriate planning. 
We were more vigilant with our figs this year, so we actually were able to harvest some before the squirrels got to them. Sure, six figs isn't exactly a lot, but considering we got zero last year, this is a triumph of sorts. A couple of them even ended up in one of our batches of fig jam.
As we head into fall and winter planting, we have a new foe in the garden... raccoons. Until now, they have ignored the garden. But this year, they have been digging up not only parts of our perennial beds but also our vegetable beds as well. It's the vegetable beds that I'm most concerned about since these little gangsters. The first thing will be to eliminate the grubs and then I need to tackle the raccoons. I am hoping that beneficial nematodes will take care of the grubs and that a healthy dose of a hot pepper spray on the soil and on the plants will deter the raccoons. I don't want to resort to pesticides or poisons. We garden organically and humanely for a reason.