the three years before i began farming i was working on the floor of the new york stock exchange. through the collapse of lehman brothers, the recession, the bail out—you know the story—i was working in the belly of the beast. with my tie pulled tight i’d dodge reporters and protesters on my way past the security that surrounded the historic building. cnbc filmed fifteen feet away from where i was working, all day every day. on the closing bell, each day at four, the intrusive shine of a spotlight would hit me from the side as a camera man walked by, cruising for stock footage of monkeys slamming keys.
after all this hooplah, i had to move to rural georgia and work on a farm to be interviewed by cnn. amusing, no?
today we were visited on the farm by cnn editor/producer wes. coincidentally, as completely random, not at all pre-meditated, totally innocent luck will have it, i just happened to be wearing a freshly pressed imhighoncooking t-shirt for the shoot.
wes is doing a piece on farm burger, farm255’s sister restaurant in decatur (atl), and he came to film us out on fowler farm, doing what we do best. contrary to what you may expect, he’s no company hack, sent out to film whatever the big wigs tell him to. he was clearly genuine in his interest, and this piece was an idea he developed and pitched himself. his questions intelligent and his curiosity keen.
his interest in farm burger is two fold—well, maybe multi-fold. it’s not just a farm to table restaurant he wanted to shoot, for that task is becoming easier by the month. as with most good ideas, however, swarms of posers, half-assers, and quick-buckers sink their claws into the backs of innovators and visionaries and come along for the ride.
the difference between farm burger and farm255 vs. other similarly described restaurants is that as opposed to merely sourcing quality ingredients (which is probably still more than many so called farm-to-plate menus can say) we actually grow them ourselves. it’s not farm to table—it’s farm AND table. (booyah!)
taking it next level, wes was keen to the fact that farm burger is serving this food at economical prices—giving access of farm fresh food to the people. not just some people. all the people.
coming from brooklyn, eating farm fresh food at a hip restaurant is no tall order to fill. the bill, however, is a horse of a different color. even a niche industry such as ours, which prides itself on treating farmers fairly, can be criticized for mainly catering to deep pocketed soccer moms and big city socialites.
preaching about food access is one thing—delivering is quite another. developing farm to table concepts that holds access as a priority needs to be a focus going forward.
the cnn piece is slotted to air on the twenty seventh, and i will put a link up as soon as it does.
this week we were graced with a special house guest: her mom. for those of you who know us, it will be no surprise that this means we got our puerto rican on all week long. today she left, but the supply of sofrito she left us in the freezer will keep the sweet smells of pr fresh in the air.
on her last night we made some delicious ribs from pork chop hill. i simmered them in fresh pork and chicken stock, herbs from the patio, and various vegetables for about three hours (falling off the bone) before rubbing them down in sofrito, grain mustard, garlic, paprika, local raw honey, crushed red pepper, and sea salt. the rubbed down ribs chilled in the fridge until dinner time, and they were warmed on the grill.
sofrito puerto riqueño: the essence of the island
this is the recipe her mamita made this week, and it’s enough to last a couple weeks (some fresh, most frozen for later). adjust quantities as you see fit. you should all go make some.
two heads garlic
one green pepper
one red pepper
a couple banana peppers
one red onion
about half a bunch cilantro
one bunch scallions
-sea salt and olive oil to taste
we used a food processor, which takes this to a supremely easy level, but clearly a knife and two hands will work just fine. dice and combine everything (save salt and oil). once combined salt to taste and add a bit of oil (to prevent it from oxidizing).
how to use: sofrito goes in and on anything and everything. the most common use is to add it to hot oil before adding whatever else you are planning to cook. the sofrito sizzles for only a minute—you just want to release the flavors, not cook it.
this week alone i added it to eggs, a sandwhich, a salad dressing, and a grilled lobster tail forher—not to mention las costillas de cerdo pictured above.
billy madison: hey carl, what’s up?
carl: nothing much billy. i see you got a little [mud] today
billy madison: you think so? i fell asleep by the [wallow] for a few hours.
carl: d’you fall asleep, or did you pass out?
billy madison: [aaaHARHARHAR] SHUT UP [<-press play]
read this post below before watching video. thanks, and enjoy.
over at the vegetable farm everything is still trying to adjust to the history making hot spell we are first breaking out of (praise jah). don’t get me wrong—we’re in georgia, it’s supposed to be hot—but, to use the parlance of our times, this shit is crazy. even the older folks can’t recall a summer that has been this hot for this many days without respite.
the unrelenting heat has caused many problems for many farmers around ga, and all things considered, we’ve made out well. the summer crops were a little lackluster, but based on my own energy levels and performance i can’t really blame them. the grubs, insects, worms, moths, caterpillars, ants, spiders etc. that normally peak near the end of summer, and disappear with the fall cool off, never really maxed out, or peaked. this lack of a final push has allowed them to semi-peak for a second round of attacks that is usually a complete non-issue come this time of year.
due to the summer crops dying a bit early, and the fall crops off to a slow start, there will be a larger than normal gap in food productivity in between seasons. also, the cost of the plant starts, as well as mine (and others) labor in tending to them, will be a bit fruitless as they will most likely be redone in the cooler weeks to come.
when i sought advice from my mentor farmer j, who is nearing the end of his family vacation, his advice on how to cope with my struggling crops was: “…and pray, always pray.”
so, there it is kind readers: start prayin’ for us.