Alexis ZK

Alexis ZK

Alexis Zimba-Kirby studies French and Food at New York University, and secretly longs to return home to Iowa City or run away to Paris. With past experience as a line-cook, cupcake counter girl, and food justice advocate, she is currently re-routing herself through sustainable agriculture. She loves travel, dinner parties, ballroom dancing, and foodie adventures and creates tasting menus in the shower.

Most Worthwhile Class: In Search of Lost Time (reading all of Proust in onesemester)

Culinary Pet Peeve: Bad knife skills.You are going to chop your finger off.

Tastiest Travel Experience: Living with a host family in the South of France.

Best Breakfast: Helplessly addicted to crunchy, grain-based cereal.

Late-Night Indulgence: Peanut Butter anything, preferably with chocolate.

Preserving the Harvest: Spicy (Plum) Chutney

Checking for Done-ness

I recently moved back to New York City to finish my last semester of college (insert anxiety attack here). In order to maintain my farm-to-table eating habits as much as possible, I joined a fall CSA. At the first pickup, I was lucky enough to grab a big bag of plums. The farm was practically giving them away!

For a week I couldn’t decide how to use them. A plum crumble or cake? Perhaps a tart? Do I simply roast them in the oven and eat with some (dairy-free) yogurt? Or sit down and gorge myself on fresh …

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Preserving the Harvest: 48-Hour Pickled Cucumbers

Pickled Cucumbers

Late August is the time every locavore dreams of. A visit to the farmers’ market is practically like a visit to the grocery store – almost everything you want is available. Fruits like peaches, plums, melons, summer apples and berries; veggies a plenty like carrots, corn, beets, onions, potatoes, leafy greens, tomatoes, squash and, of course, the cucumber. In the middle of summer, eating a strictly farm-to-table diet is not so challenging.

But let’s remember two things:

Number 1: While everything is available at the farmers market, on a farm it’s a bit of a different …

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In Season: Okra

Farm Market

I swear, it’s not what you think it is. When most people think of okra, one of two images comes to mind: a bucket of overly greasy, lukewarm flavorless deep-fried “chips” or a hard-to-swallow slimy skillet of succotash. But please, let’s try to move past these memories.

***All About Okra***

In Season: Okra

When to Buy: Okra is a late summer vegetable, grown mostly in southern, hotter climates. It is available mid-June through late August, even into September, depending on where you live.

What to Buy: Okra tends to get tougher as it gets bigger, so choose bright green pods …

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Preserving the Harvest: 30 Minute Pickled Jalapenos

Jalapeno Harvest

This week, I bring you the easiest pickling project I have ever done: pickled jalapeños.

It has been a very hectic week on the farm. Pig escapes and windstorms have added excitement to the harvesting routine, which is currently in full swing. We are short a few helping hands due to mid-summer vacations and family emergencies. The to-do list continues to grow by the hour…

But, while busy, mid-summer remains one of the most rewarding parts of the season. Harvesting occurs daily, and the kitchen is filling up fast. We are eating as many green beans, beets, carrots, ears …

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Preserving the Harvest: Onion Jam

DSCF1487

It is the end of my second week on Buckland Farm in Clearville, Pennsylvania. I have returned here to spend the rest of my summer in the countryside, reading peacefully while reclining in a hammock under the shade….

Reality check: This is a working farm and I am garden manager. With more than 200 tomato plants, peppers, lettuce, beats, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cabbage, radishes, kale, beans, Swiss chard, onions, carrots, garlic, and an herb garden to tend to, I keep pretty busy, as do the rest of the work crew and, of course, the owners. Planned tasks …

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Allergy-Friendly Baking

Gluten Free Banana Lemon Muffins

Many students return from college looking for home-cooked meals. They look forward to being served their childhood favorites by mom or dad.

I am not one of these students.

When I get home, my family clears out of the kitchen, leaving me a full pantry and all the kitchen tools necessary to carry out my culinary projects.

These “projects” always involve foreign cuisines and new-to-me techniques. Usually I will experiment with a new form of food preservation or value-added product. Baking is always a must. But this year I had a new challenge imposed upon me – food allergies. …

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Hog Roast with a Healthy Twist

Basting

Early last week, I returned to the United States for the first time in a year. After a year of adapting to other cultures, I was ready to unleash my inner American. And what better time to do so than the Fourth of July?

For the Fourth, I was craving something over-the-top American. Yet I was also concerned about poor American eating habits, which are extremely evident to me after spending a year abroad. Upon re-entry to Iowa, I was struck by the commonness of obesity in my home state. Where as before it seemed normal, now …

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Life on a Vineyard: The Food

Lunch Time

As you saw in my last post, life on the vineyard is hard work. Six days a week, morning to night tending grapevines; pruning them, training them to supports and cultivating the fields with tractors and horses.

If there is one rule any farmer knows best, it’s this: hard work necessitates revitalizing breaks. Most breaks are built around meals. Breakfast must be filling, lunch must be light and fuss-free, dinner must be hearty and rejuvenating. Meals were a time to kick off your shoes, lean back in your chair, eat your fill, socialize, and generally recharge.

And …

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Polish Smoked Whitefish Salad

Whitefish Salad

As someone who travels for food, I was less than ecstatic about visiting Poland. Even though I am of Polish ancestry, in my mind the food was synonymous with potatoes, cabbage, and a whole lot of butter – not exactly the light summer meals I was accustomed to in the south of France. I prepared for the worst…

After an exhausting day of travel I arrived in Gdansk. Not five minutes later, I was shoveling sweet strawberries with homemade whipped cream into my mouth while my mother enjoyed fresh chocolate pudding. Later that night, our host family served …

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Life on a Vineyard: The Wine

The Vines

After spending two weeks working on a biodynamic vineyard, I have a newfound respect for wine and wine producers. Caring for grapevines, harvesting grapes, and turning the juice into a delicious but complicated product is hard labor, and takes more knowledge, time, and dedication that I ever imagined.

Mas de Libian winery in Saint Marcel d’Ardèche, France is owned and operated by the Thibon-Macagno family – and has been since 1670. Twenty-five hectares are currently farmed by Jean-Pierre (lovingly called Papounet), his wife Jacqueline (whom we call Ou-i), their daughter Hélène and her husband Alain, and their second …

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