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Posts Tagged ‘DC’

Seasons change, as they say.  But in this past few months when the leaves were turning colors and frost was putting an end to the gardening season, I was going through a lot of changes of my own.  The political consulting firm I worked for shut its doors and I found myself not just looking for work, but also looking for answers to some questions brewing in my mind.  Do I want to keep working in politics?  Or maybe do something a little different?  Do I want to stay in DC?  Try out some new city?  Or maybe go back to my native Pacific Northwest?

True to my want-it-all generation, I found myself answering “yes” to all of those seemingly mutually exclusive questions.  And then I received a terrific opportunity that let me have it all.  I’m moving to Portland, Oregon, for eight months to work on post-Census redistricting, which will keep me connected to politics but let me develop a lot of new skills in statistics and demography (and form my own consulting LLC in the process).  But I’ll be back in DC on a regular basis, and will return to my lovely (now subletted) Dupont Circle apartment after this is all over.  Relevant to this blog, I’m going to keep my garden plot (but make it really minimalist this year), and will remain actively involved in planning the next DC State Fair.

So as with the past few months, 2011 will be a bit of a hibernation for this blog.  I’ll post a few garden updates in the spring and summer, do a a tiny bit of posting about Portland, and help advertise DC State Fair events and deadlines.  And if I take this round-the-world tour of the world’s street food capitals next Oct/Nov that I’ve been dreaming about, I’ll post my culinary adventures here as well.  Expect a return to full DC gardening glory in 2012.

But for now, let me show you the last thing I made with my garden’s 2010 bounty.  Just before I left DC on December 21, I went out one last time to my garden plot, which was blanketed by an inch of snow.  But under the icy crust there were carrots, leeks, and the sweetest kale you can imagine.  I combined these ingredients with rich stock, cannellini beans,  sweet Italian sausage, and bacon to make a Tuscan soup that fed me for three solid meals.  It was the perfect way to close out my garden, and a satisfying way to leave DC for my 2011 adventure.  Happy New Year!

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DC Food Cart Fans: Go Take This Survey

I love food trucks.  I work near the great food cart corridor between Farragut North and Franklin Park, so with some regularity  I patronize Carlos’s burrito cart, the competing Korean carts of Vermont Avenue, the Sauca Truck, Curbside Cupcakes, the SweetFlow Mobile, and so on.  DC’s got a pretty good scene, although I long for the day when District Taco actually makes it into the district, or when Kogi decides to open up an East Coast operation.  And I still don’t understand why nobody has started an Ethiopian food truck.  DC is the capital of Ethiopian food in the United States, but they’re all sit-down restaurants; the mobile version needs to happen.

The DC government has an online survey right now gauging public opinion on the variety, quality, and usage of DC’s food carts (and other street vendors).  As Matt Yglesias and others have pointed out, the success of food trucks in DC has as much to do with rules and regulations as with consumer demand.   Whether you’re already a fan, or think the scene needs improvement, go take the survey now.

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Well then.  After a few weeks of heat and  drought, now the flood.  Water is literally leaking into my bedroom right now through the crack in the fire escape door.  The storm is also bad news for those of us who wanted to go see the outdoor screening of Buena Vista Social Club tonight.  But it’s very good news for my garden.  Having multiple days of soaking rain is going to fatten up my carrots and beets and onions, make my basil succulent and green, and probably bring on a good second crop of beans.  And while it’ll cause a lot of splitting in my tomatoes now, it’ll mean more fat tomatoes later.  So on balance I’m pro-rain.  And I do love a big, bright, loud thunderstorm!

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Took this video last night on a high rooftop at 16th and Euclid…

Even more fun than watching the fireworks on the Mall, though, was having a 360° view of the city and seeing the constant eruption of fireworks from all parts of the city and on into the suburbs.  Foreground, background, horizon, there were literally dozens of pretty good-sized fireworks going off every second.  For two hours.  Man, people here love their fireworks!  Unfortunately that didn’t translate well into a video, but it was really special.  DC, I love you.

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It’s Wineberry Time

Herban Lifestyle’s recent post reminded me that this is the time of year when you can forage for wild wineberries in our area.  Wineberries, I learned last year, are of the genus Rubus, the same group as raspberries and blackberries and all manner of delicious little cross-breeds.  If I can’t go home to Washington State and pick rubus ursinus this year, then I may as well go foraging for our local equivalent.  Wineberries are tart and floral (yay) and rather seedy (boo).  I’m also guessing they’re high in natural pectin, as wild blackberries are, because they’re downright sticky to the touch.

I saw some ripe berries last Friday when I was walking through Cleveland Park the other day, and in the spring I saw plenty of wineberry vines all over Rock Creek Park and Glover Park.  It’s an invasive species, though it doesn’t seem to make the dense brambles that those awful Himalayan blackberries make.  Still, I think a nice hike sometime this holiday weekend should produce enough berries to make some jam or syrup or pie.  Yum.

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Save Keswick Creamery!

I subscribe to the DC Food For All email list, and recently Michele Levy sent out a call to lend a hand a family-owned dairy farm that many of us know and love.  Keswick Creamery, which makes the most wonderful cheeses (and yogurt and pudding), is in a bit of a sticky situation right now – see below.  So they’re starting a CSA-style program to raise funds and add a bit of stability to their business.  If you’ve never had their cheeses, you really must.  These days I’m a particular fan of the Italian Herb Feta, which I used on a home-made pizza just this week.  CSAs aren’t for everyone, I know, but if you think it might fit into your lifestyle and you like awesome cheese, check it out.  I’m reprinting Michele’s email with the link and details:

Dear Friends,

Many of you in the DC and Central PA areas know of Keswick Creamery– if not by name, then by their yogurt, their infamous Dragons Breath pepperjack, or by their seemingly endless buffet of samples at their stands at the Dupont Circle, Takoma Park, Bloomingdale, FreshFarm White House, H St. NE, and Carlisle farmers markets. Like so many small family farmers and dairy farmers across the country, Mel and Mark Dietrich Cochran are on the verge of losing their farm. But it’s not that business has been slow– they’re actually growing and getting lots of great press– but Mel’s parents are divorcing, and her father is looking to quickly cash out his half of the farm. If Mel and Mark don’t raise $300,000 by September 1st to buy out their share, the cows, machinery, and land will be put up for auction, meaning that not only would Mel and Mark lose their livelihood, but that the family would be forced off the land that’s been their home for 40 years.
I’ve had the joy of working for Mel and Mark at farmers markets in the DC area for the past two years, in which time they’ve become both close friends and mentors as I’ve pursued my own career in food access and sustainable ag. Not only do they run an inspiring business model and make the best chocolate pudding around, but Mark and Mel are also passionate activists working literally around the clock to up the quotient of sustainable deliciousness throughout the Mid-Atlantic area. For years, they’ve been active members and board members of the Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) and the Takoma Park Farmers Market, and recently founded a thriving cooperative called Natural Newburg to help bring goods from six neighboring sustainable family farms to the Philadelphia area.
So many of us work to promote sustainable agriculture, effectively working to increase numbers of thriving small family farms. This is an opportunity to come together to save one particular family farm that has given so much to our communities. Mel and Mark have decided to fundraise through the principles of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). By participating in this program, you wouldn’t just be helping them out, but you’d also be guaranteed years of incredible cheese for yourself or as gifts. Pretty win-win.

Please check out their website for details, and forward widely!

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Goodbye, Spring!

It’s not rare in DC for there to be very little spring.  It just goes straight from winter to summer, like that.  We had a few nice weeks here and there, but now it’s definitely the hot and sticky season.  No high under 84 on the 10-day forecast, and no low under 67.

So, a fond farewell to Spring.  I have some photos from the blossom season that I’ve been saving up.  Soon there’ll be luscious tomatoes and gleaming scrubbed root vegetables to decorate this blog, but first, a look back.

Daffodils - such a lovely start to the season!

This is a Dryad's Saddle mushroom I found on a mycological foray. It's about the size of a dinner plate, and smells like a watermelon rind. Edible, but not very good.

My honeysuckle is blossoming. The blooms are really elegant!

Alpine strawberries are a very special little candy-like strawberry. They don't keep well, so I just grow them in order to eat them while gardening.

Wisteria adorning columns at Dumbarton Oaks.

Fabulous tulips, also at Dumbarton Oaks.

My Tuscan kale (aka dinosaur kale) is doing extremely well. I've been enjoying it steamed and sauteed.

Lilacs. Ephemeral and lovely, just like spring in DC.

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