Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Little Love for the Baristas out there...

Photo Credit: Dogmilque on Flickr

Hey there rainy day lovers! I bet many of you stopped off for a nice hot beverage this morning on your resented commute into work after the long weekend. What did you order? Americano? Soy vanilla latte? Extra hot skinny cappuccino? Whatever it was, I'm sure it was good and helped you kick-start your day.

It's rainy days like this that make me think back to my brief stint as a barista. Whether it was in the loved and loathed organic chain grocer, or at the charming local cafe, I learned a lot of drinks and grinded a lot of beans. Mostly, though, I learned a lot about people.

Whether it was the extremely particular lady who always ordered what was, essentially, a cup of soy foam; the quiet and dashing double espresso guy or the latte dude who always asked for a spoon; making drinks for these people actually gave me a window to their soul, if only for a moment.

Real connections can be made over a coffee counter. I said it, and I believe it. More so with regulars, of course, but you never know what kind of conversation you'll strike up with Mrs. Matcha Latte or Mr. Macchiato.

Next time you order your coffee, look up and give your barista some love -- in the form of a smile, a bit of small talk, or even (gasp!) a tip. They work hard perfecting that latte art, learning those single origin coffees and burning their fingertips on foaming wands.

I just felt like giving a little virtual hug to all the baristas out there. Getting the perfect crema isn't an easy thing to do, but showing love to the person making your drink sure is.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Remember This Guy?

If he looks familiar, it could be because you saw him in the paper today -- I was lucky enough to have my little photo published by an actual news media company! You gotta give this to me, it's probably the closest I'll ever get to having my name in lights, or whatever the equivalent is for bloggers.

Thank you, Jesse, for allowing me to come visit you that sunny morning a few years ago. Yours was the first story on After the Harvest that I was truly passionate about and excited to share.

You can check out the latest coverage of Vegetable Patch in the newspaper here, and read my original story on Vegetable Patch here.

Happy reading and veggie gardening, everyone! That is, if this cold snap ever breaks!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Patience Makes Perfect

This is what I've been telling myself about my recent attempts to re-design After the Harvest. Bear with me, dear readers and photo viewers! If only I had a faster computer and many more hours to play, it wouldn't take me a week to re-design this thing!

I hope you like the changes so far, and I am sure After the Harvest will continue to morph and evolve until it seems just right to me. Yes, we bloggers take our design very seriously! Thanks to Blogger for their new-ish Template Designer which provides so many more options than it ever did before.

Things have been a little quiet on the ATH front these days because life away from the keyboard has been moving and shaking; however, I still have many more great stories, photos, recipes and wine picks to share, so stay tuned!

Thanks for visiting :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The History of a Farmers' Market

Photo Credit: old-photos.blogspot.com

Think about your local farmers' market. How long has it been there? How many farmers and producers have sold their goods at your market? Are all the products local? I recently started to delve deeper into these questions in my new volunteer role as "Consumer at Large" for my local market, The Parkdale Market.

The Parkdale Market is a public, city-run market that has been in existence for 87 years. It mostly offers fruits and vegetables, but there are also flower vendors, and in the future, other food products might be for sale. Not every vendor provides local food; some are re-sellers. I'm going to go on record in saying that I prefer to shop local, but I still support the Parkdale Market and I look forward to my experience with this volunteer group.

The idea of the group is to assemble a core team of community members, market vendors, business owners and city employees who will "provide a wide-ranging perspective to help address the on-going issues that affect the Parkdale Market and will function as a sounding board as it helps chart the market's future."

After only one meeting, we've already heard about some new and exciting changes that will be taking place this year, and I can't wait for it to warm up outside so we can all experience the market.

It's amazing to me that this same market that is just steps away from my door is the same one that my 92 year-old grandmother used to frequent as a young woman. How powerful it is when food and history unite, and we can share those memories and experiences with our close family and friends. Wow, food truly does connect us all.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Baby Shower Menu: A Gallery

Recently we showered the newest member of our extended family, and of course, there was food. I didn't actually prepare any of this food, but loving hands chopped, cleaned, prepared and arranged some lovely snacks for a hungry, happy crowd. Wine, punch and sparkling water were also on hand, as well as bottles of beer for the hubbys who snuck downstairs to watch the ball game and avoid baby shower games! A great time was had by all, and delicious cookies and cupcakes courtesy of Nat's Yummies ended the party on a sweet note.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Real Food, Real Kitchens

Real Food Real Kitchens - Season 1 Official Trailer from Real Food Real Kitchens on Vimeo.

Have you ever learned a recipe from someone in your family? Cooked up a storm with a friend? Shopped for ingredients at the market and then headed home to whip up a delicious dinner? Explored your cultural heritage through food?

Sometimes I feel like among us home cooks, cooking is a lost art. Even though we're bombarded with Food Network shows and food blogs (my own included), how many of us actually cook from scratch? How many of us follow family recipes or spend an afternoon with Grandma in the kitchen?

Well, I think I've found the antidote. Through my other online home, SuperForest, I was made aware of an amazing new show that showcases real food, cooked by real people in real kitchens! Really? Yes, really!

Real Food Real Kitchens highlights home cooks who have a passion for food and family.

Real Food Real Kitchens tells the intimate story of a person, their family, and their culture, and how food creates an emotional bond that connects them all together. It's not just another cooking show, but a lasting documentation of family traditions that are often lost.

I had a chance to connect with the show’s producer, Craig Chapman, to find out more about Real Food, Real Kitchens:

After the Harvest (ATH): What networks will air Real Food, Real Kitchens?

Craig Chapman (CC): I always imagined the show would probably fit in best on PBS, so I sent it out to many of the bigger PBS Stations around the country and Eight in Phoenix, AZ liked it. They will now be our representing PBS Station. They will also act as the distributor to PBS Stations around the country. I am so excited for it to begin airing. We are still working heavily on the show in post production right now.

ATH: How did you get involved?

CC: I have been living in NYC for the last 14 years working as a Production Coordinator and Manager for networks like MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, People.com, and I also worked on several independent features. I was also an Editor at Seventeen Magazine and InTouch Weekly. I was between freelance jobs and had a couple weeks off before the next one was going to start and decided to use that time to create and develop several different TV show ideas. I had always wanted to produce my own show and make that leap forward. Real Food Real Kitchens was one of those shows I thought about for a long time and of all the shows I created in those two weeks, RFRK seemed to make the most sense. I love shows that tell the stories of different people from around the world and I think a great connection between people is food. I was sick of watching all of the celebrity cooking shows on TV so, about 6 months later, I saved up some money and shot a pilot in Brooklyn, NY.

ATH: What inspires you to do this?

CC: My inspiration for film and TV creation is that I have always been a creative person since I was young. I started publishing my first punk rock zine when I was 15, started a small record label and by the time I was 17 I toured the US with a band on my label. I was always a DIY kind of guy. I love the struggle, the energy and the passion. Working for larger companies was great because it taught me as I got older how and where to invest and spend money in creative projects and how to find the money to get them done. Not to mention everyone is impressed when you say you work for MTV. My inspiration now is when we go out on a shoot and I sit down with a guest on the show and really get to know a person on an intimate level that I would have probably never met in my lifetime. It really is amazing how food and the memories of food can bring up so much emotion inside of a person. It's proven to me that food isn't just something you have to eat to stay alive but something that is a part of life.

ATH: Do you have any signature dishes or family recipes of your own?

CC: This is a funny question! Everyone assumes that because I produce a cooking show that I am a big foodie and I am actually not. I have been a vegetarian for the past 25 years so most of what we shoot for the show is food I can't eat anyway. But the crew insures me that it is some amazing stuff! Imagine having a home cooked meal be a part of your day at work! My parents sort of threw in the towel when I told them as a child I no longer was going to eat meat and I had to teach myself to cook. These days you will find me eating lots of salads, soup, sandwiches, and lots of snacking. I eat probably 6 times a day, anything that is light and easy, I'm always in a rush. If I was to cook for a date, I would make a salad and pasta dish of some sort, simple and easy, and to drink, an Orangina.

For more information on Real Food Real Kitchens, you can check out their website, or visit their Facebook Page and become a fan!

I couldn’t think of a television show about food that fits After the Harvest more, so I really look forward to seeing this show – I hope it makes it to the PBS stations in Canada!

Thanks Craig for your time and energy – you are motivating me to get in the kitchen and make some real food!

*All photos courtesy of Real Food, Real Kitchens