Monthly Archives: July 2011

Traverse City Farmers Market

The weather is a great up here in Traverse City Michigan.

I will be here for the week as a tourist. The Traverse City Film Festival ends tomorrow and I will be trying to get to a few films. The plan is to go to the whole thing next year.

I also checked of the Farmers Market up here.

There was a guy selling shittake mushrooms and he displayed fruiting logs.
 I am jealous because I have been trying to get logs all summer to grow shittake.

The idea would be to bring the fruiting logs to the market and cut them off to order.

Fresh Sweet Corn is in season and I manage to get almost the last six ears.

Other things at the market: Cherries, blueberries, Fudge, chanterelles, first of the season peaches, all sorts of baked goods.

We are staying at the Camp ground on the cheap, so the plan was to cook most of our food on a small butane camp stove with dinners consisting of mostly pasta, but as fortune would have it, we have access to a full kitchen with a frig and an outdoor gas grill.

Dinner tonight was cheese burgers with excellent meat from the market and corn.
 Food events about town: Paella in the park, which is a food and wine fest with music


Potato Gardening: Horizontal Growing Method

I have been thinking about a possibly new (new to me) potato growing method I call horizontal potato growing.
I noticed that my Potato plants are growing very tall, which is good, but I ran out of straw to mound them up. My eleven bails did not come close to providing the mound height I wanted for my 25 x 25 feet of potato plants in my community garden plot.
I could not help but feel that all of that extra exposed potato plant height could have been mounded up to promote more off shoots and thus a larger potato harvest per plant.
Then I noticed that my tall plants much like non-staked/caged tomato plants flopped over and vined out on the ground.

Flatten vine potato plant

Looking at this, I got the idea of Horizontal Potatoes.
The idea is to train a potato plant (see above picture) which naturally vines out to grow on the ground flat.
With my Horizontal Potato Method, the vines are trained so that as the plant grows outward a ring stake holds the vine flat on the ground in place (see graphic on top). The exposed vines are then mounded up with 6-12 inches of straw/compost.
The process is continued as the vines grow outward.
With Horizontal growing, instead of having to mound up several feet of straw/soil per plant, all you would need is a few inches of straw to cover the flat plant vine that is lying on the ground.
These vines can be snaked along plant bed in thin straight rows to allow for maximum intensive gardening.
While the tall mounded potato plant has the advantage of small space for high yield, the disadvantage is the cost of straw/compost per plant and a container if using.
The containers below, although nice and easy to use, cost $10 bag, plus a compost, straw and seed potatoes. I plan to reuse them of course including the soil. The issue is the up front cost, which should pay for itself in a second season. (Keep posted for yield results…this is my first year trying them).
I figure that I would need to use about 3/4-1 bale of straw per plant to mound them up to achieve maximum mound height and yield per plant in my current garden.
Then there is all of that time spent mounding some odd 50-100 bails of straw. Of course I can mound the plants up with soil, but we are talking about heavy/hard work shoveling a heck of a lot of soil.
In theory the flat ground potato plant will continue to throw off underground/covered shoots. Potatoes are basically an upside down tomato plant with the fruit growing undergroud/cover.
My 2-3 feet tall vertical plants could have been spread out on the ground and be covered with a minimum of straw.
One plant may grow 3-6 vines that will each growing 2-5 feet horizontally (or more) which would be fully covered to provide a maximum yield potatoes. (In Theory)
Less plants, less seed potatoes, less straw/mound cover, less work mounding potatoes, easier harvest and more potatoes…that is the idea.
All of this is a theory. I will try it out next year.

Ann Arbor Bagels

Ann Arbor Food

I have been looking for a great bagel ever since I moved from New Jersey. It has been a kind of obsession for me, which peaked when I moved in Portland Oregon and I could not find a good bagel.

For a few years, I  wondered in a bagel dessert that was Portland until Kettlemans opened up. They bagels were good, and boiled they way they should.

During my wonderings, I attempted to make bagels at home. I am still working on recreating the bagels of my homeland.

Now living in Ann Arbor there are a few bagels to choose from.

There is Barry’s bagels. They are right near my house and next to the library, so they are my go to. I like their vanilla cinnamon. I am not a raisin fan but like cinnamon on a bagel.

I give Barry props for cinnamon vanilla.

No Ann Arbor Bagel conversation is complete without talking about Zingermans. People love their bagels and they have their own appeal as “traditional” style bagels, but for myself who grew up on the New Jersey (and NYC for that matter) super puffy bagels Zings are not my thing.

The best bagel in town, the one closest to my favorite, Hot Bagels of Fairfield, in Fairfield NJ is Elaine’s out of Detroit.

The are sold at Kerrytown, Produce Station and Morgan and York.

With that said, I am still working towards making bagels myself.

Here is my latest attempt.

I used the bagel recipe from Best Recipes. They were good, but I still think they need some work. I might add a little sour dough starter for a little kick and use sugar in the boiling water.

Best Recipes technique (and other sources) requires rolling out the bagel and placing them on a sprayed baking sheet covered with plastic for 13-18 hours in the frig to create a slow, flavor creating rise.

The problem is that my frig is only so big and if I wanted to make more than 6 bagels (one sheet pan) I would kind of be out of luck.

So I took the dough and put it in a plastic tub to rise over night then I rolled them out the next day to rise.

This solved for the space issue, but the dough was cold and hard to form and it would take hours to poof up again, but I went with it anyway.

I let the dough poof up at room temp for two hours and boiled and baked them. I think they could have benefited from a little more proofing. Maybe next time I will proof them in the oven with a pilot light on, or let them rise longer.

The idea here is to make bagels to offer for sale at the Westside Farmers Market and for special orders in town.

Ann Arbor Food

Rolled Bagel Dough

Ann Arbor Food

Proofing after 2 hours

Ann Arbor Food

boiling bagels 30 seconds

Ann Arbor Food

draining bagels

Ann Arbor Food

baked bagels