Archive | March, 2012

We’re official!!

30 Mar

On the Grind…

30 Mar

Just wanted to give you dolls a heads up that I will be away from my blog ALL weekend…

Doo-dee Duty Calls.

Farm To Table 2012: Recap 2

28 Mar



Web/Phone Unknown
Sold in Pgh area

Sold in local grocery stores


It may just be my opinion, but I like to save the best for last.  A small non-profit farm was at the conference called Quiet Creek farm.  It reminds me a lot of the Robert A. Macosky Center at SRU, an educational farm where you can go to learn how to be more self-reliant in ways you perhaps couldn’t do by reading.

Here are some of the wares they were peddling to raise money for the farm:


I, as someone who has never purchased dehydrated mushrooms, was interested to know that all you have to do is simply soak them in warm liquid for 10-15 minutes.  They reconstitute well AND you can use the liquid in your cooking.

The nice young lad from Quiet Creek Farms did a Shiitake demonstration on FTT Day 2.  It was super cool!

Basically, he showed us how they innoculate substrate (aka hardwood) with a healthy bark.  The bark should be healthy so that invasive fungi and bacteria can’t ruin your mushroom crop.  Before the demonstration, we had a chance to check out the logs they had innoculated and were selling.  The ones on the left were one year old and hadn’t flushed yet.  The one on the left is a 2-year old log which has obviously flushed.

Basically, you want to find a log approximately 3-4 feet in length and about 4-6 inches in diameter.  Its best to innoculate within 2 weeks of cutting to reduce the chances of bad fungi ruining your creation.

During the demonstration, he mentioned that a healthy log can sprout shiitakes twice a year!  These logs can be used year after year.  At the farm, there are 7-8 year old logs which are extremely lightweight.  The mushrooms feed on the nutrients deep inside the log.  Pretty cool stuff…

Here’s the DIY:

First, you have to drill holes into your log, which can be done using 1 of 2 drills:

Or, for the more experienced toolmonger, an angle grinder, which goes about 400 rpms and is really scary.

He told us to drill holes in an off-set diamond pattern 4″ over and 2″ offset.  He said the holes do not need to be any deeper than 1.5 inches.  (Think maxing out your cookie sheet while you are baking cookies, people).

Once the holes are cut, mycelium (white blotchy stuff that looks like sawdust) or mushroom plugs can be inserted.  You just cover the holes and any holes in the bark/areas where branches were cut/top/bottom with beeswax.  Lock that baby down like Fort Knox, cuz you don’t want some wandering fungus to steal your Shiitake gold!

You can put your log in the basement, shed, garage, wherever you have that is 60% in the shade.  Just protect the log from wind and sun and spray it lightly with water to mimic being in the forest.

Even though they take 8-10 months to fruit initially, we bought one anyway 🙂

And for those of you Dahn-towners, it was fun to carry this 20-30 pound baby from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center to the Federal Courthouse, where we were able to park for free because the MIL has super special powers.  (I assume you know that its medium far to carry a piece of forest.)

Here is our log sitting on the side of Grant St. while people stared at me and yelled: “Nice log!”

If they had gone to the conference, they would have been yelling “Nice mycelium!”


Bottom Line of the last 2 posts:  Farm to Table is an amazing experience and I learned a ton of cool stuff.  I think we were also able to chose a CSA finally, got some great swag, networked our little butts off, GOT A SHIITAKE LOG, and overall had a great time.  Next year (schedule permitting, of course), we will try to make it to the food tasting.

Did anyone make it to the tasting and want to brag a little?

Farm To Table Conference 2012: Recap Part 1

25 Mar

Farm to Table was one of the best experiences I’ve had since I began my journey into sustainability.  Events like this are so amazing because it allows people to connect with growers and find out about the REAL FOOD CHAIN, learn about how to be more self-reliant, network with other community members, and to LEARN LEARN LEARN.

Most of this recap will be told in pictures (which are worth 1000 words, right?) because much of my time was spent in the Exhibit Hall talking to awesome greenies like me!!  I will try to link most of the pictures to the company’s website, so don’t be shy 😉

Allison Park




(814) 303-9663



I think that’s about all you kids can handle for right now.  If I overwhelm you, you might get loosey-goosey…

Smallman Street Deli: Big Taste

24 Mar

While I am working on my recap of Farm To Table, I thought I would leave you with a little gem from earlier in the week.  She♥ had been given a gift certificate to the Smallman Street Deli.  We of course chose the one located on Murray Ave. in Squirrel Hill because it is closer, although I have been to the one on Smallman Street as well.

The first thing that I have always loved about this place is the patio seating.  Those things in the front that look like windows?  When the weather is nice, those are open and you can eat your breakfast/lunch/dinner in fresh air.  Love.

When you walk in the front door, it seems like a traditional deli:

There are cases of prepared cold foods, meats, beers, etc.  I also love how the menu is written on a chalkboard that wraps the entire length of the deli.  As you walk to the counter to order, you can see what they offer for breakfast and then lunch and then dinner.

I couldn’t help but notice the gluten-free beer selection:

And the meat case, which we were informed contained meat that was made and cured on site (kosher of course):

So finally we made our way up to the counter after I’m sure I completely alientated the deli clerk.

I, of course, already knew what I was going to get.

The Reuben.  My favorite.  $8.99 of pure heaven.

We headed for the outdoor patio, but of course walked through the crazy big indoor dining area:

They give you a number and bring the food right out to your table.

Here is what my little lovely looked like…

As served:

Oh.  Em.  Gee.

The perfect rye:


And like a little oyster (Paula Deen, style perhaps, but full of something beautiful):



The best damn corned beef in the city.  And the best damn Reuben at that.

I wanted to run back to my car and inform the general public that they are ignorant of the amazing corned beef they are missing out on.  (Although most residents of Squirrel Hill probably already know.

I think I need to stop back for breakfast some morning. I mean, you can’t go wrong with a “Meshugena Omelet,” right?

Moral of the story:  foodgasm.

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