Book tour: segment 13!

Please excuse my quiet as of late. I’m rather behind with my recap posts (and a growing list of other blog posts, too). I still owe you Toronto, the whirlwind of fabulousness that it was, and a post on visiting and eating with my pals Julia and Kaela in their homes on the drive back down to NYC.

The tour rolls on to Troy, Albany & Saratoga Springs NY.

My second visit to the Capital Region of New York (I visited in April for all of 36 hours) began with a near towing of my rental car. I managed to park on the one street where the farmers’ market was to be held a couple hours later. Luckily I had my book cover poster in the back seat and the market coordinators connected the dots, telling the cops, “She’s with us.”

Standing in my parking spot at the Troy Farmers’ Market with my fab host, Liz

I can’t thank enough Christina for being the logistics-maven she is, the organizing and inspiring force behind the fine group of women of From Scratch Club. And, Liz, who welcomed me into her home and her family for the duration of my stay. I read Backyardigans books with Eleanor (1.5yo) and Andrew (3yo) in the mornings and chatted over tea and snacks with Liz and her husband Jason by night.

Thursday morning, the day following the Troy market demo, Liz, Eleanor and I headed out for a tour and lunch date at Kilpatrick Family Farm, and hour or so north of the Capital area. The farm was one of many upstate farms hit badly by Hurricane Irene’s flood surge.

Michael Kilpatrick, a savvy 24-year-old businessman, and his brother started the farm eight years ago when the family garden & chickens produced beyond what they could consume. Do the math there. Michael is a gem of a person, a sentiment that’s blatant even in the little time I’ve known him thus far.

We started the tour at the turkey house, the birds in their awkwardly cute teenage years.

Onward into the greenhouses…

where I saw for the first time ginger growing!

We headed up the hill to see the goats and then the pigs.

I proceed to ogle the kitchen garden’s fruit (young blackberries and rhubarb) en route back to the house.

Lunchtime! The Kilpatricks prepared a wonderful feast, almost all of which was grown or raised right there on the farm (salad greens were lost in the flooding, so another local farm’s greens were on our table). After lunch, my little friend Eleanor played with Michael’s sisters, where they conducted a mini and rather regimented barn tour in the living room.

After lunch we hopped in the car to visit the fields of produce lost after Hurricane Irene’s rains brought on massive flooding.

You can see where the water level peaked, the faint line that cuts across the ‘e’ in Water.

Here’s Michael by the irrigator for scale, which, from where we were standing meant about 5-feet of water, but down the slope where the squash, beets, leeks and potatoes were growing, the water topped about 8-feet.

Michael showed me why the leeks couldn’t even be salvaged for personal consumption (versus market sales). The floodwater and its contaminated goo permeated all layers of the plant.

The beets were heartbreaking.

He lost approximately $20,000 worth of gorgeous beets. Though the consumable portion of the plant was safely underground (and not sitting in flood water), the top inch of the beets were exposed once the flood water subsided, and regulations indicate he can’t sell that produce.

We sloshed through the mud over the berm of trees and a hedgerow into the neighboring field, which the Kilpatricks also lease. The cover crop of sunflowers afforded me my first glimpse at near-ready-to-harvest sunflower seeds. I’d only seen the spittin’ seeds in plastic packages, so far removed from what you think of when you envision a sunflower.

Then you climb the hill for a little perspective. The swath of exuberant flowers goes on for the entire width of the field (the feeling from which is impossible to convey in a single photo).

From Scratch Club is hosting an auction for the Kilpatrick Farm and another local farm to recoup at least a small portion of massive chunk of the year’s revenue lost in a matter of hours to mother nature. Visit this post by Oct. 15 to check out the goodies that are up for auction for folks who make a donation.

Erika wrote up this post with a fun recap of our farm day, as well.

The afternoon’s drive back to Liz’s house included a pit stop at the farm where she keeps her sheep. She had to do a few afternoon chores, including watering and feeding her sheep. The ladies and gents in their cute outfits came running over when the feed bucket appeared.

Look who came galloping over to say hi, and nosh, of course.

I want a protector llama; he could ward off naughty squirrels in my yard and keep the cat company.

I didn’t manage to snap any photos on Thursday evening at Spoon & Whisk, but Becky wrote up a great post with lovely photos about our night. Deanna live Tweeted the event, sharing the pickling and fermentation knowledge with followers who couldn’t be there. These gals sure do know how to make a girl feel welcome.

As I prepared to leave the next morning, Liz whipped up gluten-free pancakes and a fruit syrup.

Luckiest. book-tour’er. ever.

I left her with a full “fermentation station” after a couple days of demos as a small token of appreciation for her fine hospitality.

Spicy green tomatoes and dill pickled cukes, which have likely been consumed or have just reached ultimate deliciousness by now!

I packed up the car and headed to Ithaca for an evening event. The weather smiled upon me that afternoon.

From Ithaca I drove three hours to sleep in Niagara Falls on the US side. Stay tuned for my international debut with Canada events up next on the recap list!