Tuesday, November 13, 2012

North Georgia Candy Roaster: "What do I do with it?" AKA 8 Ways in 3 Days

In my last blog, I resolved the question, "what is a North Georgia Candy Roaster?"  Today, I will go one step further and attempt to answer, "what do I do with it?"

In most winter squash recipes, the winter squash is normally cooked before it goes into other recipes, as was the case with the fine 8.25 pound specimen of North Georgia Candy Roaster seen in my last blog.  The simplest and oft-cited way to do this is to cut the squash in half, put it in a roasting pan with cut-side down, fill with 1/2 inch of water, cover with foil, and cook in the oven at 400 F until the flesh is able to be poked with a fork (typically 30-50 minutes).

After the flesh is cooked, it still needs scooped from the skin and mashed.  I also like to use a colander to remove excess water.  The 8.25 pounder resulted in 5.25 pounds of pumpkin meat, which is a 64% efficiency rate.  From there, you can cook all sorts of stuff with it, as you will see in the 8 Ways in 3 Days Pictorial found below. Days 1 and 2 were consecutive, but Day 3 happened two weeks later.

After partaking in this absurdist exercise, I learned pumpkin is frequently paired with two holy trinities of flavor melanges.  These include the cinnamon-ginger-allspice/nutmeg trinity, and the sage-butter-parmesan trinity.  The cin-gin-all/nut is demonstrated in the creme brulee, flapjacks, donut, and loaf; whereas, the sage-butt-parm is found in both pasta dishes:  the ravioli and gnocchi.  There seems to be quite a few curry/chili recipes out there as well.

Recipes came from a variety of sources, including my mom, who's been making those raviolis for over 15 years now, the Compleat Squash book, Heirloom Gardener magazine, and this ka-razy interweb tool, called Google.  However, the Vegan Pumpkin Donut with Ginger Glaze came from the recesses of my own donut-damaged mind.

It should be noted that the single 8.25 pound North Georgia Candy Roaster provided all the flesh for these eight meals perfectly to the point of being serendipitous.  Enjoy the pictorial.
North Georgia Candy Roaster Post Steam-Roasted

Ravioli Innards

Ravioli with Sage Butter, Fresh Parm, Pepitas

Creme Brulee 25% Torched
Flapjacks stacked

Flapjacks in Action with Ohio Maple and Hickory Syrup

Vegan Donuts with Ginger Glaze
Pumpkin Loaf with Lemon Icing

Sarah Gnocchi-ing the Gnocchi

Gnocchi with Walnut Sage Parsley Pesto

Curried Pumpkin Soup with Pepitas

Monday, October 29, 2012

North Georgia Candy Roaster: "What is that?"

First off, it's been a while since my last post, and for that, I apologize. After publishing the Urban Farm Manifesto, I was burnt out from writing. Then after the burnout faded away, I had an unheard of new level of extremely high cynicism (mostly bureaucratic in its nature) that would have embittered my prose.  So after a much needed lapse, I'm back.

Over the last three years, much of my farming career has been based on heirloom vegetable production, focusing on what I call wild-style vegetables.  Wild-style generally means veggies that look really cool in addition to tasting amazing.  Initially, this manifested itself with heirloom maters, and then was followed by quirky vegetables like Mexican Sour Gherkins and Chioggia beets.  But alas, this year I ventured into new territory:  winter squash.

With their almost endless variation of form, their mega-sprawling vines, and their hard shells that remind me of my own hard head, I fell in love this year with growing winter squash.  That being said, selling the winter weirdos is a whole 'nother beast in its entirety; which as a farmer, the sale is the bottom line just as it is in any business.  If I thought Green Zebras and Costoluto Genoveses inspired questions, then that thing pictured in the above photos was like a military interrogation complete with a single light bulb swaying from the ceiling and me strapped to a wooden chair, being beat with the words, "what is that?"

The conversation normally went something like this.

Customer:  "What is that?"
Me:  "A winter squash."
Blank stare.
Me:  "You know, like a cooking pumpkin with awesome flesh."
Blank stare.
Customer:  "What do I do with it?"
Me:  "Anything that you would do normally with a cooking pumpkin:  pie, creme brulee, pancakes, stew, soup, curry."
Customer while blank staring and nodding:  "Ooooh," typically followed by no sale.

Letting folks know that it's called a North Georgia Candy Roaster didn't help the situation and actually often seemed to make it worse. Sometimes, I would get the retort, "I'm from North Georgia, and I've never seen anything like that."  To which, I would have no verbal response, but would think to myself, "maybe, you need to get out more often."

The rest of this blog will be a more formal attempt to answer the question, "what is that?"  It will be very plant-nerd at times, but hopefully readable to the general public.

At this point, I hope we all understand that it's called a North Georgia Candy Roaster.  Around the house, we were calling them, Mastodon Tusks.  One of my more colorful customers gave them a flattering name, likening it to the world's largest male mammal's sex organ, which alliteration-ly, then consonance-ly, and lastly perfectly rhymes with wall clock.

The North Georgia Candy Roaster belongs to the giant plant family called the Cucurbitaceae.  The Cucurbitaceae is an economic powerhouse of warm weather lovers that includes melons, cucumbers, squashes, pumpkins, and gourds.

The North Georgia Candy Roaster is further classified as a Cucurbita maxima, along with other freaks like the Blue Hubbard, Turk's Cap, and the Sea Squash of Italy.  This entire group originated in South America.  From there, the Maximas get sub-grouped into one of eight horticultural groups.  Of which, the North Georgia Candy Roaster belongs to the Banana group.  Like a banana, the Banana group is known for their elongated body types with tapered ends, awesome edibility, and light seed production.  The Bananas are typically colored light blue and/or a fleshy, salmony pink.

My cultivar of North Georgia Candy Roaster came from Baker Creek Seeds and is apparently a smaller type.  That being said, most of my crop still weighed in at a hardy 8-11 pounds.  I was able to make eight separate meals from just one of my Candy Roasters.  In my next blog, I will highlight those eight separate meals in order to answer the question,"what do I do with it?"

Major kudos goes out to the encyclopedic and gorgeous book, The Compleat Squash, A Passionate Grower's Guide to Pumpkins, Squashes, and Gourds by Amy Goldman for helping to fill my personal informational knowledge voids, and to John McGovern for helping with the heavy harvest.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


The West Side Melt will be carrying both Urban Farm Manifestos and "A Farm in Cleveland?!" t-shirts throughout the month of March. I'm looking forward to the chicken fried steak melt on Saturday night!

The perpetual givers at Root Cafe are stocked with 20 copies as of today.

One of my favorite record stores in the entire world, My Mind's Eye, has a few.

Visible Voice Books in Tremont At this point, distribution is obviously slanted towards Cleveland and its West Side. However, I'm looking to get the Manifesto into other cities, the East Side, and some Internet distribution. If anybody has any leads on cool independent bookshops or food co-ops, please be in touch. I'm particularly seeking help in Columbus, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Louisville, and all points in between. Thanks.

Monday, February 27, 2012


You know you've gone to a Manifesto opening party when you see this sign. Visible Voice Books Merch Table Pre-party. Pre-party Urban Farm Manifesto Manuscript 1. Pre-party Urban Farm Manifesto Manuscript 2. This is my favorite photo of the evening. This is my favorite non-people based photo of the evening. Courtesy of Anna Wallace Birchler, as are most of the rest of the others in this blog. This is my favorite crowd photo. First, we got Urban Farm Manifesto artiste extraordinaire, Gabriel Bond completely shunning the camera. Somebody told me that he was grumbling something about, "no pictures, no pictures." Second, immediately to the right of Gabe's right shoulder is Chuck.

Chuck told me a funny little story that went something like this (completely paraphrased). I never heard of ya, til about 10 this morning when somebody sent me the video. Then like five minutes later you walked into the Root Cafe. You were getting cups or something. And I recognized ya cause of the shorts. YESSS!!!

To the right of Chuck, is Farmer Dan in the Pennsylvania River Woman Mustard-colored hat. He is definitely enjoying that sweet potato donut with Ohio Maple Syrup glaze! In the foreground directly south, we got Ms. Perkins, who is standing pretty in pink, and her crew, Maria and Paul. The little poof of a white cloud chef's hat is Adam Hughes.

The redneck-lookin' dude in the camo hat is Root Cafe's owner, Bobbie. He rode his bike in the only snowstorm of 2012 for this thing! And last but not least at the end of the right of the page is Manifesto Brewmaster and Sofa King Killer Micro-coffee bean Roaster, Aaron Pearl, representing his own bad self and Origins Beanery.

So going back to Gabriel Bond as our focal point. Immediately to his left is LEAF Queenpin, Annie with a more German last name than thou. To Annie's left, methinks is Rob Burgoyne, who happens to be the LEAF Kingpin. Just below the LEAF folk is Ron Kretsch, who I just appreciated for showing up, but then he also bought a Manifesto. Thank you, Ronk! In the bottom left corner is Rob Resch; he'll fix your amp.

Urban Farm Manifesto Artist, Gabriel Bond getting all snarky. I like this photo because there's two dudes eating donuts. I like this photo because I don't know most of the people in it. Vegan Sweet Potato Donuts in Action! We made sure no kids got anywhere near the fryer. A good friend, farmhand, rocker, and masseuse, I call this one, "Jessica and Justin." I had no idea Tunnel Vision Hoop Founder, Todd Alexander is this tall. My marketing department should have never allowed me to take this photo. Birch on the beer. Aaron looking elsewhere. Maria and Chef Hughes on the sweet potato, one and twos. At the end of the evening beyond all the people folk who literally published the Urban Farm Manifesto. Mucho thanks goes out to these peeps: Ed Sotelo for hooking up the event. Visible Voice for hosting. Zappitelli's for all the delicious pizza. Adam Hughes for always coming through. Rockethub for the infrastructure. Origins Beanery for the Manifesto Strong Ale. And power fueler, Sarah Buck, who contributed majorly to the wine tab. Now for distribution!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fuel Fillup Pickup Party Prep

Just because the Manifesto has been to the presses and back, doesn't mean I've been sitting around unmanifesto-ing. In fact, the contrary is true. I always thought I'd be handnumbering a seven inch or LP at this point in my life, but instead, my first jaunt at handnumbering comes with this Urban Farm Manifesto. I'm glad I got it over with when the adrenalin from the Jakprints pickup was still flooding my emotions because the physical act of handnumbering 500 copies isn't as cool as it sounds. And I'm sorry if it got a little sloppy.

Numbers 1-100 are the black 180 gram vinyl edition and come in black sharpie. Numbers 101-200 are the Sarah edition in turquoise sharpie. 201-300 are the Monsatan edition and come in red sharpie. 301-400 are the green edition in green sharpie. 401-500 are the Old as Dirt edition in brown sharpie.

Besides handnumbering, I've been ripping five-count stacks of Corporate Food Still Sucks sticker packs. I've sweated over (but not into) boiling vats of Pennsylvania River Woman Mustard, the Manifesto Edition. I've bought a gallon of Ohio Maple Syrup for the Ohio Maple Syrup Glaze for the vegan sweet potato donuts. And the Manifesto Strong Ale has been bottled and is currently in the process of the bottle fermentation thing.

Still on the "Prep To Do" list are sweet potato material acquisition and figuring out what we're pouring the beer into; though methinks, we're using half pint canning jars. If anybody knows where to get Cleveland sweet potatoes or even Ohio sweet potatoes right now, please let me know. Then Tomorrow or Wednesday, I think I'm doing an Urban Farm Manifesto podcast (whatever that is) with this fella named Doctor Fermento.

Only three days left on the Rockethub pre-sale. Don't be shy.


Thursday, February 2, 2012


In eight furious days of crowdfunding, the Urban Farm Manifesto was able to achieve its stated goal of $900! That's pretty amazing, and I thank the diverse group of friends, strangers, and family, who've contributed to the success of the Rockethub campaign.

That being said, the price tag on this entire project including artists' fees, marketing, printing, and Ohio Maple Syrup is $2,100. I absolutely have no problem footing the rest of the $1,200. I believe in this project 101% and would have paid for the entire thing, if necessary.

What I do mind is holding inventory. So far, I still have 478 units of Manifesto unaccounted for, 97 limited edition posters awaiting walls, and nine jars of Pennsylvania River Woman Mustard looking to be slathered on sandwiches. Therefore, pre-sale is still on!

From Where I Could Use Help

Though, I'll take a rocket fueling where I can get it. There are a couple of generalized groups whose support I'd like to see. These are my Coastal Peeps and Cleveland's Policy People.

Coastal Peeps

I know out of sight is out of mind, but I'd like to see some more fuelings from my folks all up and down the West Coast and Brooklyn. Though land is much more affordable in the Midwest, the zoning/sales/bureaucracy issues are the same whether it's Cleveland or Berkley. Thanks again to Scot Pansing for being the first coastal fueler.

Cleveland's Policy People

This is a huge group of traditionally tight-moneyed people in the governmental sector and private non-profit sector, whose general jobs are to promote all things green like urban farms and sustainability. Personally, I think every one of them should pre-order a SUPER COMBO, consisting of "A Farm In Cleveland?!" t-shirt and an Urban Farm Manifesto.

So far, though emails have been sent to the Office of Sustainability, Neighborhood Progress Inc, and the Cuyahoga County branch of the OSU Extension Office about the Manifesto, no individuals within these groups (or the groups themselves) have contributed. Tomorrow's payday and maybe I'm being hasty. I would really love to eat my words on this one and owe all of Cleveland's Policy People an apology. I wish I could conclude with a name-dropping "thank you" right now, but I literally can't.

Therefore and to re-iterate, pre-sale is still on! Thank you. http://rockethub.com/projects/5451-old-husher-s-urban-farm-manifesto

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


It definitely appears that some of you have already taken notice, but for good measure, please checkout the video. I'm well on my way to my financial goal of $900. However, I am a far cry from my per unit sales goal of 100 units (so far 18 Manifestos are accounted for).

Please note, this is not a charity case.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Thank you Beta Testers and First Taste Takers!

Last week, I fairly quietly released a Rockethub campaign for my Urban Farm Manifesto, due out on February 25th. A handful of folks stepped right up to the plate, and I'd like to recognize them right now.

Chris Cowen took the first plunge, pledging $30 before the campaign "officially" started, having heard about it from the Visible Voice website.

In slight anger because Chris beat her to the punch, Sarah was next. However at that point, the campaign had "officially" started. If my readership doesn't know by now, Sarah is my wife. Numbered copies 101-200 are dubbed the "Sarah" edition after her and are numbered with a turquoise Sharpie.

Then a whole 'nother Sarah, Sarah Perkins hit the ball out of the park with a Produce Prepaid purchase. For the record, Ms. Perkins has been my best customer for two years now.

From there, it was a one-two-three punch from major players in the Cleveland cultural scene. First, it was bicycling/neighborhood sage, John McGovern, who as a result has helped start Old Husher's Heirloom Seeds. Two, LEAF's head-honcho, Rob Burgoyne, put in an order for summer plants. And three, Lakewood's Root Cafe has given me my first paying gig on the coveted lecture circuit.

The dude behind the best micro-roasted coffee in Cleveland (Aaron Pearl's Origins Beanery) followed Perkins into the land of Produce Prepaids.

Then something different happened. A stranger named Camille George bought a Manifesto copy. It appears we have mutual FB friends, but not even that extensively. Thank you Ms. George for taking a leap of faith. And if we have met, and I just don't remember, I'm sorry.

My cuz, Jamie Bowers, showed her foodie-ness with the first purchase of the very limited edition Mustard and Manifesto combo.

One of my oldest school friends, whose former bass guitar I steel shred to this day, Scot Pansing, took the Manifesto coastal. He even thanked me for posting the video on Youtube.

Representing Toledo, Brian Clarke double-bonus-ed with the Heirloom Plant Pack and the somewhat risque 70's-styled poster from the Manifesto. Brian, I'll be glad to personally work with you (if need be) on a pickup date since you'll be coming in from out of town for pickup.

Today, both, Laura Mintz and Chris Lancaster joined the Manifesto campaign.

Last, but not least is the truest of all beta testers. This person is Sonia DiFiore, who is so beta test that she couldn't even log into Rockethub and opted to send a check instead.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Book Review #5: The Small-Mart Revolution by Michael H Shuman

In this fifth installment of my book review series is a little of what I was referring to in my last blog about expanding the horizons of this blog overall. Back in the fall, I had a chance to hear author, Michael H Shuman, speak at the Sustainable Cleveland Conference. With its witty name, I had heard of his "Small-Mart Revolution" for a few years, but had no conceptual idea of its breadth and scope (or even that Shuman was the author) until his speech where he interwove "far-out" ideas like local stock exchanges with a sense of reason and we-can-do-it enthusiasm.

The Small-Mart Revolution covers a lot of territory. There's a tale of irony that helps to make the book a pleasant read. However, at its soul is a somewhat fierce "Local First" mandate that manifests itself through the book in an epic battle called TINA vs. LOIS (though Shuman specifically states that the Small-Mart Revolution is not about us vs. them mentalities).

Throughout the book there are examples of how to integrate "Local First" into every day life and how to hopefully integrate it more into our future lives. There's some numbers in there, but nothing too daunting. A major take-home are multiplier effects to be discussed later. At about 75% in, Shuman uses an economic tool called "leakages" to determine to where money "leaks" out of a community. And then makes suggestions from the data to slow/stop such "leakages." Ultimately to me, this book is about the decentralization of power through the use and not-use of money.

Battle of TINA vs. LOIS

Right from the start, Shuman sets the stage for an ongoing battle between TINA and LOIS. These ladies are in reference to business, that for me can best be described as mindsets. TINA stands for "there is no alternative." TINA is desperation; whereas, LOIS means "locally owned, import substitution," and represents vision and hope. TINA is characterized as multi-national corporations who use false promises for abatements. TINA's new jobs are often highly visible to the public and often there's alot of them (like 400 new factory workers with benefits), which means politicians love TINA with all her ribbon-cutting ceremonies and such.

This means that TINA essentially steals abatement and investment dollars from LOIS, which doubly sucks because LOIS accounts for more jobs in the USA than TINA; and TINA could really care less about your clean lake or school system in a bottom line society.

Plus imagine all of the hassle going to a EZ Clean Green Drycleaning ribbon cutting, then to a new vertically-integrated, beet sugar rum, micro-distillery opening, then to the artesanal goat cheese place, then the small theater that does nothing but black and white films, and then to the vinyl record store that actually has local bands on new Cleveland-pressed vinyl. A politician's hand would hurt after all that ribbon cutting.

Buying Local First

This is the simplest of The Small-Mart Revolution's tenets. Lucky for farmer-me that buying and eating local foods is one of the easiest money changing aspects that people can embrace. Then there are other simple things like banking with a small bank or credit union or installing solar/wind power (in this regards you're in essence buying power from yourself, and thus decentralizing power). Walking or biking also count because the transportation industry is the most non-localized industry in the USA.

Then there's some medium-difficult paradigm-shifter suggestions like local rewards cards (see Supportland card above) or business-to-business lending. And then there's some truly wild style, future-forward, yet to be embraced, but it seems awesome ideas like local currencies and stock exchanges.

Multipliers and Leakages

So when you buy locally, there's this thing that's called the multiplier effect that happens afterwards. Basically, your money circulates around your community again and again in both dollar amounts and affected parties when you buy locally (stats in book). So it's totally worth waiting at Melt that extra 20 minutes with an extra beer in hand, than go to that lecherous Panera/Jimmy John's across the street; or go to Root Cafe, instead of Caribou.

From there, Shuman uses his economic tool of leakages in order to identify how and where-to money leaves a community. This is to identify and create future localized industries in areas that would ultimately have the most impact on the community/region. This is like a one, two punch for localness. One, you create new regional economic outputs. Then, two (and this is the proverbial pinball jackpot), you get those multiplier effects double-bonusing because of the subsequent dollar inputs. Thus creating a new, more self-sufficient community/region.


Throughout the book, there a ton of ideas, stats, and stories. In all honesty, I've been wanting to read this book for all of my adult life (though it hasn't existed for most of that time frame). I want to buy multiple copies and start a book club, go to Slow Money Cleveland meetings, and celebrate Cleveland's Slow Money already been accomplished-ments.

Therefore, I recommend it for any body who considers themselves a forward thinker, is looking for entrepreneurial business ideas, cares about their community, is in economic development/urban planning, likes economics, or is seeking an ideology in a hectic world.

Friday, January 6, 2012

INTO THE 2012 (pronounced twenty, twelve)

As I write my first blog post of 2012, I sit in shorts; I'm wearing my chacos. It's 52 degrees in Cleveland in JANUARY! And I feel giddy. I just ordered 1,000 crowns of asparagus and just received my Baker Creek Heirloom seed order (see jpeg). Furthermore, I just got done sulfuring Old Husher's Perennial Expansion Farm, which I didn't expect to get to til about March/April. So as I move into my third year of Cleveland farming, I oddly feel a little relaxed for the first time since starting this endeavor despite my fire hydrant having disappeared over two months ago.

That being said, in 2012, I will be expanding my horizons of both my business and blog. Subsequently, I am no longer an urban farmer. Rather now, I am an urban farm entrepreneur. What this symbolizes is a specific departure from thinking that the growing and selling of vegetables would be my only/main product; instead, that notion has been replaced with one that states the growing and selling of vegetables will be a major product line with future product lines to be added.

This new found business clarity can be directly attributed to the insane success of my small batch, 2011 Gray Market Edition of my Pennsylvania River Woman Mustard. This has caused me to jump on the commercial-canning-is-needed-in-Cleveland-pronto bandwagon despite my stronger and preferred belief system in food sovereignty laws. I envision a vertically integrated boutique mustard in about two years.

In terms of blog expansion, this will focus on two new areas of blog subject material, roughly described as my influences and schtuff that I think is cool locally/regionally/Ohioally as it pertains to small and regional business. I may even do profiles on other Cleveland farmers (but probably not).

In conclusion of my first blog post of 2012, I would like to give a shout out to Cool Cleveland Dot Com for using Sarah and I as models under the "Shop Local Cleveland Clothing" section of their fine website. See here: http://www.coolcleveland.com/blog/2011/11/shoplocal-gift-guide/.

Now if anybody has seen me lately and was wondering. Yes, I am growing out my beard as if I were writing a manifesto.