Taproot Magazine at Renegade Craft Fair, Boston MA
Saturday and Sunday 11 - 6
It's time for our next Taproot Makealong, GROW! It's easy, all you need to do to join is make something from the Hands section of GROW, and share it with us for a chance at the crafty grand prize (pictured above).
~ Make anything from the Hands section of GROW, Issue 22 of Taproot. Knit, bake, create, color, whatever your passion is, go for it!
~ Post your progress and finished creations on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #taprootmakealong
We'll draw a winner from the posted photos by September 1st, and send the grand prize off to the lucky winner! The grand prize includes: a 12 Issue Subscription to Taproot Magazine, enough Quince & Co. yarn to complete the farmer's market bag featured in GROW, A GROW Project Kit (more details below), a Twig & Horn gauge reader, Taproot Ceramic Mug, Fiery Ferments and The Wildcrafted Cocktail!
We hope you'll join us!
GROW Project Kit ~ Summer Rain Shawl by Leah B. Thibault
The intermediate pattern for this lightweight shawl is in GROW. Our limited edition project kit has all the yarn you need to create one shawl (available in two color choices). It comes bundled inside our new screenprinted Taproot project bags (made by our Vermont neighbors, Evan Webster Ink, featuring the artwork of Phoebe Wahl).
Taproot Magazine at Mother Earth News Fair, Burlington VT
Saturday 9 - 6 and Sunday 9 - 5
Kirsten K. Shockey has been a frequent contributor to Taproot - both in our pages and at our events across the country! A mother, homesteader, gardener, and fermintista extraordinaire, she is releasing a new book today created with her husband Christopher. In Fiery Ferments (available in our shop among other places!), you'll find accessible and inspiring recipes for all home fermenters, this time with a bit of zing! Today, courtesy of Storey Publishing, we share with you an excerpt from the new book.
~Amanda Blake Soule
(Excerpted from Fiery Ferments, © by Kirsten Shockey and Christopher Shockey, photography by © Lara Ferroni, used with permission from Storey Publishing. Top Photography by © Lara Ferroni. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.)
Thai-Inspired Green Bean Relish
Yield: About 1 quart
Technique: Kimchis, Relishes, and Salads
Heat Index: 3
This green bean relish is hot and crunchy. Its heat comes on slowly, after you have tasted the other flavors, which makes it unique. Then it lingers with a full-body warming effect. If you want more burn, simply add more Thai peppers.
1 pound green beans
1 teaspoon salt
13 fresh or dried Thai dragon chiles (or Thai bird’s eye chiles), chopped with seeds
1 medium shallot, diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Thai basil
2 stalks lemongrass, cut into 1-inch segment
2. Add the chiles, shallot, and Thai basil, and massage the whole mixture together. This ferment will not look very juicy.
3. Line the bottom of a quart jar with the stalks of lemongrass, then pack the green bean mixture in tightly, pressing out any air pockets as you go.
4. Press a ziplock bag against the surface of the relish, fill the bag with water, and zip it closed.
5. Place the jar in a corner of the kitchen to cure. If you see air pockets, remove the bag, press the ferment back down with a clean utensil, rinse the bag, and replace.
6. Allow to ferment for 10 to 21 days. The relish is ready when you see the color of the green beans mute; you may also see a cloudiness develop in the brine. The ferment will have a pleasing acidic smell and taste pickle-y, and it may also have a bit of an effervescent zing. You can let it ferment longer for more sour and punch.
7. Screw on the lid and store in the fridge, where the relish will keep for up to 12 months.
A Step-by-Step Visual Guide
Kimchis, Relishes, and Salads
This “dry brine” method is the basis for some of the juicier ferments in this book that have more texture because their vegetables are cubed, grated, or sliced. Some of the kimchi-type ferments use this technique, though the traditional kimchi method requires a two-step process.
This very simple, bare-bones fermentation strategy uses any jar (no matter the size or shape) and a ziplock freezer bag. However, you can use the general technique with any of the myriad fermentation setups out there.
1. Use a knife, mandoline, or food processor to prepare the ingredients as indicated in the recipe. Add the salt, massaging it in to develop a moist ferment. Some ferments will have a scant brine, while others will be downright juicy.
2. Pack the vegetables carefully into a jar, pressing out any air pockets as you go. Leave the top quarter of the jar free.
3. Press a ziplock bag against the surface of the ferment, fill the bag with water, and zip it closed.
4. Set the jar in a corner of the kitchen, in a spot that is between 55 and 75°F (13 and 24°C). Let it ferment for the time indicated in the recipe.
5. During the fermentation period, watch for air pockets forming in the ferment. If you see any, adjust the ziplock, pressing it gently on the ferment until the pockets disappear. Or remove the bag, press the ferment down with a clean utensil, rinse the bag, and replace.
6. Following fermentation, screw on the lid and store the jar in the refrigerator.
Kimchi’s Extra Step
For some people, kimchi is synonymous with fiery ferment. Though kimchi is often hot and spicy, that is not what defines it. Kimchi is simply the Korean word for pickled or fermented vegetables. There are hundreds of varieties of traditional kimchis and even more individual takes on the theme. Many of them are made with a two-step process.
We like to explain this process as a hybrid of brine pickling and dry brining. The napa cabbage, or whatever vegetable you’re using, is left to soak in a brine solution for 6 to 8 hours. During this time (as with brine pickling), the vegetable soaks up brine; salt penetrates it by osmosis and dehydrates it. The soaked vegetable is now set up for fermentation from the inside out.
At this point, the soaked veggie is removed from the brine and mixed with plenty of pungent flavors — gochugaru, garlic, and ginger — as well as other vegetables that have not been soaking. These ingredients begin to break down and release their own juices, rather like dry brining. The mixture is then packed into a jar, submerged in its own brine (no soaking brine is added), and left to ferment for the appointed time.
The extra time and planning that go into making traditional kimchi are worth it for the flavor. We use this two-step method for greens- and cabbage-based kimchis but have also included a few kimchi recipes that are made like a simple relish, with no extra step.
Be sure to watch for air pockets. The thicker ferments may or may not show a lot of “heave” as the CO2 tries to escape. The thicker the ferment, the harder it can be for the CO2 to wiggle its way up and out. Sometimes, when air pockets have been developing in the ferment for a few days, a bitter flavor develops. If this happens, press out the air pockets and allow the mixture to ferment for another week or more, keeping an eye out for more air pockets. Often the flavor will right itself.
Conversely, these ferments, especially if they have a lot of fresh peppers in them, can be exceedingly dynamic, heaving and surging and hard to control the first few days. Even with an airlock system this can happen (the swelling ferment can fill your airlock and keep spreading right on out if it is that active). This is nothing to worry about; it is normal. You can plan for energetic fermentation by leaving extra headspace at the top of your vessel to accommodate the movement. If it is too late and you are staring at a mess all over your counter, don’t worry — everything inside the vessel is just fine. Open the vessel, press everything down, replace any weights, wipe off the inside walls with a clean cloth or paper towel, and put everything back to ferment. These initial over-the-top “explosions” may happen once or twice, but usually the ferment will then calm down enough to stay contained.
We're thrilled to be back in Asheville, North Carolina this weekend for the Mother Earth News Fair. We've got exciting things happening in our tent all weekend LONG. If you're able, do stop by to say hello! We'd love to see you there!
MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR
May 6-7, 2017
Western North Carolina Agricultural Center
1301 Fanning Bridge Rd.
Fletcher, N.C. 28732
Ashley English has been a frequent contributor and friend to Taproot since our very first issue, SOIL. A mother, gardener, and writer, Ashely has written many books on the topics of food and homesteading. Today, courtesy of Sterling Publishing, we share with you an excerpt of one of her new books, The Essential Book of Homesteading.
~Amanda Blake Soule
(Excerpted from The Essential Book of Homesteading by Ashley English. Adapted with permission from The Essential Book of Homesteading © 2017 by Ashley English, Lark, an imprint of Sterling Publishing © 2017 by Ashley English. Photographs by Sterling Publishing)
You’ve chosen your breeds, checked to see if you need a permit to keep chickens in your area, and considered the space available. Now you’re ready to start assembling your motley crew! Consider whether you want chicks or more mature chickens, what you should be looking for when selecting birds, where to source your chickens, and what time of year might be best for chicken purchasing.
HERE, CHICK, CHICK!
If your local pet store is anything like most, you won’t be finding White Leghorns or Japanese Bantams there any time soon. While most big box pet retailers will sell you salamanders, turtles, finches, and dog sweaters, it’s pretty unlikely you’ll score any Belgian Bearded d’Uccles there, either. Your local feed store is a much more likely place to begin feathering your nest.
Selection there may be limited, however, especially if you are after a specific exotic or endangered breed. Feed stores can offer a wealth of chicken advice, though. Ask a staff member who supplies them with their poultry and whether their suppliers are nationally recognized as engaging in sound and healthy breeding practices. Participants of such organizations often insure their flocks to be free of once-common diseases such as pullorum and typhoid, nasty bugs your chickens can literally live without.
If you don’t have a feed store where you live (in, say, midtown Manhattan), or you have your heart set on a Lakenvelder that can’t be had at John & Jane Doe’s Feed & Seed, then move your search to the Internet. It is possible today to source chickens and chicks online from a number of highly reputable hatcheries. Some offer free catalogs, should you want to take your time ogling and contemplating chicken varieties over your morning cup of joe. These mail-order hatcheries also often sell housing, feed, and reading materials for those desiring a onestop chicken shop.
Finally, don’t underestimate the county fair as a means of procuring a desired breed. Owners of prizewinning birds, or any of the birds on display, might be in the business of selling offspring or could be talked into doing so. Take a gander, see who the chickens belong to, and try to track them down, either by the names listed on the bird’s cages or through the fair’s livestock coordinators. Score some chickens and ride the Ferris wheel—now that’s my idea of a good time!
When you begin assembling your flock, you will have to decide how old your chickens will be when you bring them home. It is possible to purchase freshly hatched chicks, pullets (usually between 16 and 20 weeks old), or mature hens. If you are considering including a rooster in the mix, they may also be purchased as chicks, cockerels (male chickens less than one year old), or mature roosters. Although it’s hard to resist the ridiculously cute, fuzzy balls of feathers that are chicks, this decision should not be made lightly, as there are pros and cons to each scenario.
If you want the most birds for your money, chicks are the way to go. Depending on the quantity you purchase, chicks usually only cost a few dollars apiece
Chicks bought from a reputable source, either your local feed store or an online commercial hatchery, will generally be in good health when you get them.
Before you rush to your nearest feed store and gather up the fluffiest chicks you can find, remember that, at least in the beginning, chicks do require more care than older birds. During their first few weeks of life, chicks are at their most vulnerable. Like any young animal, chicks can be rather unruly. Left to their own devices, things could get pretty messy, and potentially hazardous, fairly quickly. They frequently stomp around in their food and water, spreading fecal matter throughout. Savagely enough, they can peck each other to death. Be certain before you purchase your chicks that you will always have someone available for “chick patrol.” Furthermore, they are susceptible to a host of illnesses and health conditions.
Another thing to consider is that, unless you purchase sexed chicks, where the sex is determined for you by a poultry sexing expert, the precious chicks you brought home might leave you with several roosters too many, which you don’t want. If chicks are your choice, be certain to request sexed chicks and develop an appropriate rooster-to-hen ratio. (Unsexed chicks are also listed as “straight run” and “as-hatched.”) If you live in an urban or suburban area, remember that roosters are most likely prohibited, so choose your chicks accordingly.
Although they will cost more than chicks, usually by several dollars apiece, pullets and cockerels require a good bit less care than newly hatched chicks. If your goal is to have a regular supply of fresh eggs to eat, pullets will be that much closer to point of lay—by six months they may already be laying. Accordingly, they will cost you less in feed as they mature. Birds purchased as starts will offer more eggs over their lifetime than those purchased as hens. Also, started birds require less in the way of specific housing and care than do chicks. Pullets can immediately be placed in their run, needing no regulated heat or special chick feed.
On the other hand, started birds are often not as readily available at feed stores as are chicks. If you plan to raise chickens for table, started birds are too old, as table birds are generally slaughtered around eight to 12 weeks. If you want to ensure yourself stewardship of affable, sociable, guest-and-family-appropriate chickens, then selecting chicks from a breed known for their friendly personalities may be your best bet.
When electing to purchase a mature bird, as either a hen or a rooster, the clear advantage is that you generally are able to see precisely what you are getting. Older birds are clearly sexually mature and have their plumage in. Like pullets, they require less in terms of housing, critical care, and constant observation than do chicks.
Mature hens, although they will continue to lay, will never produce as many eggs after their first laying season. Older birds are also more susceptible to diseases as they age. Finally, purchasing mature birds will cost considerably more than purchasing chicks, as their entire lifetime up to that point will have been maintained on someone else’s dime.
SHINY EYES AND SLICK FEATHERS
When purchasing chickens, be on the lookout for visible cues to the birds’ health. If you are purchasing chicks by mail, be certain to open the box in front of a delivery person to make sure your flock all survived the journey. If purchasing chicks in person, look for alert, energetic birds. Pick them up and examine their rear ends for pasty butt, which is exactly what it sounds like, a backside with excrement dried around it, preventing elimination. Be certain to choose chicks with straight beaks and toes.
Older chickens should have clear, bright eyes, waxy combs and wattles, shiny feathers, and smooth legs. There should be no visible parasites, which an examination under the wings and around the vent should easily disclose. Internal parasites will cause diarrhea, which a quick check at the vent should indicate. Pick up any bird you are thinking of buying. The breastbone should be flexible and covered with flesh. Listen for any coughing or wheezing, as this could be an indication of a sick bird. Examine the entire flock, looking for any listless or isolated birds. One sick bird could affect the entire crew, so pay close attention. Lastly, if you can, try to have a look at the bird’s droppings. Healthy birds will have firm, well-rounded feces, brown in color and tipped in white (this is the urine).
Ashley English has been a frequent contributor and friend to Taproot since our very first issue, SOIL. A mother, gardener, and writer, Ashely has written many books on the topics of food and homesteading. This week, she released not one - but two - books into the world (not to mention a baby! Congratulations English Family!). Today, courtesy of Roost Books, we share with you an excerpt of one of her new books, A Year of Picnics.
May it inspire you to pack up a blanket, a bird book, a journal and the ones you love for a springtime picnic to the sound of bird song! Enjoy!
~Amanda Blake Soule
(Excerpted from A Year of Picnics by Ashley English © 2017 by Ashley English. Photographs © 2017 by Jen Altman. Reprinted in arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO.)
When I was a teenager, likely around age fifteen or sixteen, I started designing the type of woman I hoped to one day become. Informed by female characters found in film and literature, as well as iconic artists, writers, and other creative types, I began mentally crafting a checklist of whom I hoped to grow into. On that list, along with a woman who enjoyed listening to chamber music, baked a fine cake, and enjoyed a daily cocktail, I knew I wanted to become a naturalist.
My mother, though possessed of a number of skills, could never be called much of a “natural woman.” The same can be said of my father and of most members of my close family. Perhaps in part motivated to know things they didn’t, I decided early on to learn plant and animal identification, as well as other types of botanical and biological information. I’ve been on a quest ever since.
While I can now distinguish an oak from a maple, and yarrow from Queen Anne’s lace, I still have a good deal to learn about birds. I’m not an avid birder, but the idea of languidly sitting in a portable chair, warm drink to the left, identification guide to the right, and a pair of binoculars fixed squarely on a tufted titmouse or yellow warbler calls to me in the most profound way. Tuning in to birdsong also appeals to me, especially having recently learned that the calls of birds give a good overview of what is happening in the area.
This picnic celebrates birds and their awe-inspiring contributions to ecosystems. Incorporating foods made by birds as well as those meant to honor them, a picnic with a birding focus is fun, visually arresting, and, at least for me, humbling. Birds can do astounding feats with their bodies, and, in the process, aid the rest of the habitat they reside in. For example, bird calls alert other creatures to predators or threats. Their lofty position and literal “bird’s-eye view” give them keen insight into their entire environment. We humans would do well to learn from their example and help others as we help ourselves.
Make & Do
select a site
Choose a location known to house a great number of migratory birds. This could be your porch or backyard or a bird sanctuary, botanical garden, or arboretum. Anywhere that’s a known thoroughfare or habitat for birds would work wonderfully.
Whether you’re a third-generation birding enthusiast like my talented friend R. Brooke Priddy Conrad, featured in these photos, or simply a budding naturalist, bring along some paints and pens and a sketchbook, and do your best to render images of the birds you see. Then you’ll have a keepsake of the occasion long after the day has passed.
Alongside images of the birds, jot down notes relevant to their physical and auditory characteristics. Making note of colors, plumage patterns, calls, and other distinguishing traits will aid you in being able to properly identify specific species in the future.
There’s a reason multitudes of people the world over enjoy watching birds. It’s entertaining, educational, and calming, and it’s all free. Do consider investing in a decent pair of binoculars, either new or used. Turn your gaze to the trees and behold the splendor of the many winged beauties above.
The appearance of different bird species in an area is informed by climate, environment, and topography. A birding guide specific to your given location will prove indispensable in identification. There are also auditory guides available, either to purchase in CD form or to download online. Sometimes it’s the uniqueness of a bird’s call that is the deciding factor in deciphering who’s who.
Early every December, I host a cookie exchange at my home. Several years ago, my friend Rachel’s contribution was what she called Birdseed Cookies. This is my homage both to Rachel’s cookies and to the mix of nuts and seeds in birdseed blends. Though it may be “for the birds,” it’s amazingly tasty for the human set, too. MAKES 2 DOZEN COOKIES
you will need
3⁄4 cup rolled oats
1⁄2 cup millet
11⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3⁄4 cup (11⁄2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup roasted and salted peanuts
1⁄2 cup raisins
1⁄3 cup roasted and salted sunflower seeds
1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Spread the rolled oats and millet over a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until fragrant and slightly browned. Set aside to cool. Turn off the oven.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and eggs until pale and creamy, around 3 to 4 minutes.
4. With the mixer on low, beat in the flour mixture just until fully combined. Stir in the toasted oats and millet and the peanuts, raisins, and sunflower seeds. Transfer the dough to a lidded container. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
5. Heat the oven to 350°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper. Spoon 1 tablespoon of batter for each cookie onto the baking sheets, spacing cookies 1 inch apart.
6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned, rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time. Let the cookies cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.
Is Taproot's latest issue WEAVE in your hands yet? Has it got you itching to make something? Let's get to it! We hope you'll join us for our first ever Taproot Makealong! It's easy, all you need to do to join is make something from the Hands section of WEAVE, and share it with us for a chance at the crafty grand prize (pictured above).
~ Make anything from the Hands section of WEAVE, Issue 21 of Taproot. Knit, bake, crochet, weave, whatever your passion is, go for it!
~ Post your progress and finished creations on Instagram or on Facebook with the hashtag #taprootmakealong
And that's it! We'll draw a winner from the posted photos by May 1st, and send the grand prize off to the lucky winner! The grand prize, which includes: A one-year Subscription to Taproot Magazine, A Taproot Tote Bag, Taproot Ceramic Mug, 5 skeins of Quince & Co's Tern (for making the Rosemond Scarf in WEAVE), 1 skein of Stone Wool (for making the Quill Hat in WEAVE), plus four books by some of our WEAVE contributors! This bundle is sure to keep your hands busy...until the next issue of Taproot finds its way to you!
We hope you'll join us!
PS. We wish it weren't true, but mistakes DO happen! Be sure to visit our WEAVE issue page to see if there are any errata from the patterns or recipes in this issue.
Erin Benzakein has been a frequent contributor and constant friend to Taproot since our beginning, sharing her ideas, inspiration and tips for growing beautiful flowers whether for your kitchen table or for market. She has just released her first book Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden: Grow, Harvest, and Arrange Stunning Seasonal Blooms. We are thrilled to carry her new title, as well as to have her in the pages of WEAVE, sharing her tips on growing Cosmos.
Here today, she shares with us an excerpt of her new book (courtesy of Chronicle Books), timed perfectly for the upcoming spring season of May Day baskets and Maypole dances! Enjoy!
~ Amanda Blake Soule
Spring Flower Crown
(Excerpted from Floret Farm's Cut Flower Garden: Grow, Harvest, and Arrange Stunning Seasonal Blooms by Erin Benzakein. Chronicle Books, March 2017.)
There’s nothing quite like a crown of fresh blooms to put you in a celebratory mood. These floral accessories are no longer seen only at weddings—a flower crown can be worn to just about any special occasion.
All you need to create one of these pretty halos is a few handfuls of flowers and greens and some basic floral supplies. Once you learn how easy they are to make, you’ll likely be making crowns for you and all your friends.
You will need:
2 feet (60 cm) of paper-covered wire
Ten 6-inch (15-cm) pieces of floral or paddle wire
A roll of floral tape
6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 m) of decorative ribbon
2 stems of viburnum, with 8 to 10 blossoms removed
12 stems of muscari
9 or 10 stems of ranunculus
1 stem of Canterbury bells (Campanula medium), 8 blossoms removed
8 to 10 small stems of larkspur
1. Determine the crown’s diameter by wrapping the paper-covered wire around your head where you want it to sit. Leave a few extra inches/centimeters on either end for fastening together later. Make a loop on one end and leave the other straight. (After fitting the crown to your head, straighten it out before adding materials.)
2. For large, heavy blooms like ranunculus that need extra support, wire the stems individually for added stability before securing them to the bundles. Make a hairpin with floral wire and slip it gently down through the center of the flower head. Then tape the wire and stem together.
3. Put together mini bouquets of roughly 4 to 6 stems each, using a mixture of the listed greens and blooms. I generally use 8 to 10 mini bouquets for an average-sized crown. For a delicate crown, make the bundles petite; for a fuller finished piece, make the bundles bigger. Cut the stem ends so that 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) of stem are remaining.
4. Wrap each mini bouquet’s stems together with floral tape, starting at the base and going around each mini bouquet until the stems are fully covered. Floral tape gets sticky when gently stretched, so be sure to pull on it slightly as you work, and it will adhere to itself.
5. To build the crown, take one of the mini bouquets and lay it along the paper-covered wire. Wrap floral tape around the mini bouquet and the wire a few times until it’s thoroughly attached.
6. Add the remaining mini bouquets, facing them in the same direction as the first and placing them so that each hides the previous mini bouquet’s stem ends, until the paper-covered wire base is covered.
7. After all of the flowers are attached, tie a few pieces of ribbon on either side of the clasp in the back.
8. Place the crown on your head and secure the two ends together by looping the straight end of the wire through the loop on the other side and twisting to secure it.
9. If you won’t be wearing the crown right away, store it in the produce area of your refrigerator for up to 2 days to keep it fresh.