Leni and Oyster Loaves.

My friend Leni has been cooking her way through the classic Mary Randolph cookbook The Virginia Housewife“.  As part of that project, she hosted a dinner at her home recently featuring recipes from it. She asked if I would come lend a hand serving and ensuring everything went smoothly. I absolutely said yes because not only did it involve quality time cooking with my dear friend, it also meant quality time talking old cookbooks and food history with someone who shares my enthusiasm on the subject while also being incredibly knowledgeable on the subject.

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Currently in the canning pot.

The canning program I had taken the reins of for Market Central has morphed into what I’m now calling the “Small Business Program”.  To recap, I spent the end of last summer and all of last fall teaching a regular weekly canning class with the idea of recruiting and attracting individuals who were interested in learning to can as well as those who might be interested in starting their own canning business.  I knew going into it the latter goal was a lofty one, as I know first hand what hard, hot work canning is.  It requires a certain passion that’s hard to instill.  In addition this passion, one needs cooking skills, knowledge about food (and gardening to some extent, at least the knowledge of the effects of weather can be on a particular crop) as well as the ability to navigate the seemingly confusing food rules and relations, line up suppliers, market to buyers AND be able to keep up with the money flowing in and out.  There is quite a bit involved in starting a canning business and I wanted this program to address as much of it as I could. It’s one thing to learn to can, quite another to start your own business based on it. Continue reading

Garden thoughts in January.

I like to plant tomatillos in my garden every summer for a variety of reasons.  For starters, I love salsa verde, which is made of tomatillos.  They are also a wickedly cool looking plant to have in the garden, because of their dramatically hanging fruit which look like little lanterns.

IMG_0632I just spent a few hours over several days looking for a good shot of a tomatillo plant, combing through the last four years of summer garden shots and that is the best shot I had.  And it’s not even mine, it’s Leni’s (from summer 2012).  Continue reading