The last two weeks have been ones of motion and development, and lots of cooking. A long weekend at the beach, structuring a Patreon account, starting a podcast long talked about, weeding, and recipe development have been the things that make it feel as if it was only yesterday that I sat down to write here.
As with most large dinners, The Farmers Dinner provided some of my favorite leftovers: bones and greens. Chicken and lamb bones for stocks, pea shoots as beds for eggs and dinners, and chive flowers for pops of flavor at any time of the day, with some that now stand in pickle brine.
Some of the chicken stock became the base for a rice dinner: Lundberg Organic Long Grain Rice with carrots & Primordia Farm Maitake with heavy cream on Epic Acre pea shoots with lemon, coarse salt & Eckerton Hill chive flowers.
Still working on a basic bread dough. It is not bad, it is just not where I want it to be.
Thursday last we trekked down to Wildwood for The Race of Gentlemen. If you have not heard of this, it is a weekend of pre-WW II motorcycles and cars racing on the beach at low tide. The town, filled with vintage machines. The streets, filled with functional sculpture. It is remarkable.
Jim brought down his 1960 Chevrolet Impala, Mitch his 1959 GMC. I brought down the whisky...and the scones and biscuits and bread and lamb roast. The days started with Irish coffees and walks on the beach that moved into the streets where we marveled over the machines, and had conversations with strangers on the details of motors and restoration projects. That is one of my most favorite things about TROG weekends, random conversations with strangers. You are no longer strangers after that first conversation. A conversation is all it takes to expand community.
Starting a conversation is the impetus behind Free Range podcast, a collaboration between me and Kevin Mahoney of Raging Chicken Press. We begin with stated topics of conversation, and then give tangents free range. Each episode is created to offer resources and topics to further conversation about community, about what that is, what a healthy one looks like, and how to create an alternative to the narratives of tribalism and division.
Our first episode is focused on community as a space to be vulnerable, a space to be creative. The act of creativity requires the actor to be vulnerable, because of uncertainty in the process of creativity. Vulnerability also requires an expansive definition for the term 'success.' If individual components work that did not previously, if you can pinpoint an error in the system, then that is a success, even if the primary objective is not met. Every small success is a small step to build another. Every creative act is a small step that moves the actor out of the role of passive consumer into the role of active creator. Every creative act strengthens individual agency. In our current consumer culture, here, in the US, creativity itself is an act of dissent. You see all this embodied in the people that bring their ancient machines to The Race of Gentlemen. Each and every machine there is built out of small successes. Each and every machine there is built out of people sharing information and knowledge from within a diverse community.
Private property is a big deal in the US, but modernization and the desire to cut emissions from machines (among other things) gave corporations the right to legally limit an owners ability to repair their own electronic devices and automobiles. The turn of the 21st Century saw "Right to Repair" bills popping up at the federal and state level. These bills work to guarantee product information available at dealerships was shared with small independent repair shops. This is not limited to automobiles and motorcycles. This applies to computers, phones, various electronic equipment, and farm equipment. In 2017, farmers in 8 states came together to defend an owners right to repair. John Deere, Apple and AT&T were among the big agriculture and big technology corporations lobbying against the very idea of individual ownership of private property, and the right to repair and/or modify private property.
Even if you are not a car enthusiast, The Race of Gentlemen will blow you away. It is spectacle. It is art on public display. It is machining, and adrenaline. It is creativity, and love. It is awesome. Race requirements are pre-WW II, and these things motor. Sand flies, motors and transmissions are pushed to the limits of the dedication and love that went into building them, and a good time is absolutely had by all. By all kinds of different people, of different ages, of different backgrounds, all in Wildwood because we love and respect the dedication and love the builders and drivers have in restoring and running these ancient vehicles. So. Much. Pretty.
Corporations will never stop working to limit the creativity of the masses, but they will always fail. We are smarter and stronger then they are, and there are more of us then them. Together we can limit their power, even if it does not seem possible today.
Community as a space to be vulnerable, as a space that nurtures creative dissent. From there, Kevin and I chatted about The Farm Bill, SNAP, the Annual Appropriations Process, Discretionary Spending, and Supplemental Appropriations, multinational chemical companies & factory farming, and regenerative agriculture. We also gave shout outs to some of my favorite resources on agriculture practices and policy: Civil Eats, Modern Farmer, and Slow Food. When you start to fall into the depths of outrage fatigue, look up what farmers are doing. It will revive your head and heart. It does for me, well, that and a good snack. %^) You can find Free Range on Podbean, and on our FaceBook page.
One of the remarkable things about bananas is that freezing them makes them even better than fresh for baking. Remember this when you see organic bananas on sale. Even if they are black, pop them into the freezer when you get home, and you will have them for cookies, muffins, bread, and even cake.
I worked out my banana cake recipe, but I am still working on icing. I am not a big fan of icing, so I am trying to develop an all purpose butter cream that I actually like. I'll give it a few more tries, but I might just commit to boiled frostings. Here is my recipe for Banana Cake. I filled it with a banana cream, and topped it with a buttercream frosting, but I am not happy with either of them. Although they are not bad, they are not where I want them to be.
This cake would be excellent with a dusting of confectioner's sugar, a chocolate glaze, and a simple banana filling. The recipe is easy. The cake, rich and moist, with the full flavor of banana in each bite.
Fresh Banana Cake
4oz Butter, room temperature
160g Blonde Sugar
155g Bananas, mashed
8oz All-Purpose Flour
6g Baking Soda
Useful Items: Kitchen Scale, Stand Mixer, Springform pan (with removable bottom)
Oven to 350F
Mise en place. Mix Flour, Baking Soda, and Salt together.
Butter and lightly flour cake pan, then line with parchment paper.
Cream Butter, slowly add Sugar, then beat until light in color.
Add Banana, Eggs, and Vanilla. Beat well. Add dry ingredients and blend. Slowly add Buttermilk, and beat until well blended.
Spread in pan and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the cake is well browned and a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool in pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a rack. Remove parchment paper.
Split the cake to fill.
I served this for dessert after a slow cooked Beef Shin & Pinto Bean stew. It was very yummy.