Sunday, April 4, 2010

So, we're starting a farm.


I've always been a little bit of a foodie. My mother is a great cook, as anyone who knows her would tell you, and we were always eating new and interesting things. Add to this ten years of living overseas, from the Middle East to Southeast Asia, and it's really no wonder I'm passionate about good food. While eating breakfast, I'm planning lunch. Because that's when I get to eat, again! Awesome!!

While living in Los Angeles, I stumbled upon a company that gathers produce from all the local farms, portions it out into mixed bags in a warehouse, and delivers it to your door. That was when my love affair with vegetables and cooking really began. You never knew what would be in your bag, so when confronted with something I'd never eaten before (like a kohlrabi, or a fresh beet - oh, how I love fresh beets), I'd spend hours on and looking at recipes. It was then that I met who would become my darling husband, Allan, so I was transitioning from cooking for one to two and feeling a little responsibility for someone else's health, too. Sure, I could eat noodles and sauce every night, but I can't feed Allan that - I love him! He needs to live forever!! I had also started to notice the ol' mid-twenties metabolism slump, so healthy eating became a priority.

One steamy Texas day last summer, at the peak of summer vegetable deliciousness (I could spend hours just inhaling from each basket at the local farm stand in August), my family and I were chatting and having cocktails on the deck and I mentioned my dream endeavor would be a farm / vineyard / fromagerie / bed and breakfast. I had just watched a Travel Channel show about The French Laundry, Thomas Keller's restaurant in Northern California, and was completely swept off my feet by the idea of walking into my culinary garden to clip a few soft sage leaves and a butternut squash to whip up a little risotto for my guests. My pop mentioned he'd kind of always wanted to have a nursery (the plant kind, not the poopie-diapers kind), and I said well sure, there's room for that too! Why not? If we're dreaming, we might as well dream big. I was advised to narrow my focus a bit... Well, fine. I suppose we should start with vegetables.

I read recently that on average, an item of produce has traveled 1,500 miles before getting to your local Megamart. All that fuel, isn't it amazing? (Or should I say, appalling?...) Why on earth are we buying mealy apples from New Zealand when we can grow apple trees right here??

CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture groups) are not new to the Dallas area - Allan and I actually currently belong to one - but there is far more demand for local produce than there is supply... And that's how Pure Land Organic was born. We've also made some tweaks to the typical CSA share idea - instead of a half-bushel of 10-12 items of varying quantities depending on the harvest, we're committing to supplying families with enough of 7 or 8 vegetables to prepare a healthy dinner every night of the week, and this blog is going to help you figure out what to cook. We're also going to farm year-round, something we haven't found in the area despite it being completely possible with a little special equipment. We're going to grow our produce by square-foot farming in raised beds, using all organic methods. Oh yeah, and we're going to deliver, too.

But first things first - we need to find some land.

My very favorite muffins

Oh, breakfast. My favorite morning meal (don't tell brunch). I took bits from several different recipes to develop these, and they are perfect. You can use all kinds of fruit - I've used blueberries, raspberries, apples and cinnamon, even pineapple and shredded carrots (I need to revisit those actually and try to work in some cream cheese), but I'm a real sucker for the combination of bananas and chocolate. I make a batch on Sundays for a quick, relatively healthy breakfast to scarf in the car on the way to work.

2 overripe bananas
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1/4-1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel and mash the bananas in a large bowl. Add all of the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add the egg and enough of the milk to make a thick batter (you'll know when it "feels" right), then fold in the chocolate chips. Ladle into a lightly greased cupcake pan and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. It makes 10 regular-sized muffins.


  1. Absolutely lovely! To new are phenomenal in the kitchen and now, we will share that passion with so many. For all those reading, I can attest that the muffins are amazing. Love you too my darling.

  2. This sounds absolutely amazing! How has everything turned out for you so far? Now that it's close to 2 years down the road how is your organic farm doing?

  3. Farm life is about to blow up! We found our land last summer, and my dad has spent just about every day of the last few months out there shaping it. It had a significant hill that needed terracing and also lacked a pond (which has turned out more like a lake - but too much water is never a bad thing in Texas!). Then we sowed cover crops to turn into the soil in the spring. Check out our Facebook page for some progress shots. I'm heading out there tomorrow and have been meaning to do a farm update post.

    We've just about selected the varieties we want to plant and will be placing an order for all our seeds this week. We need to pick and build our greenhouse very soon, too, so we can get seeds started for transplanting. We're also probably going to buy and fix up a trailer to make a mobile farm stand so we can park around town (like a food truck) selling produce! It's so exciting!! Life is about to undergo Major Changes.