Author Archives: Jason Myers-Benner

Spinach

IMG_6604At Tangly Woods, we sure do love us our spinach!  Ever since childhood, when I used to sometimes order the salad bar at a restaurant and crunch my way through a nice pile of raw spinach leaves, I have had a taste for it.  When we married, Janelle introduced me to her family’s habit of spinach salad with boiled eggs and that magic dressing; we eat that salad as often as we can when spinach is in season…no wonder our first 10 years of gardening together yielded no appreciable cooked spinach and certainly no more than a pittance to freeze:  We ate it all fresh before it ever got that far!  The winter of 2014-2015 was the first winter we had enough spinach in the freezer to use substantially, if a little more sparingly than we might ideally prefer, until the fresh, overwintered spinach started coming ready in late March.  Spinach dip, potato-crusted spinach quiche, spinach with sweet potatoes, chicken, and chick peas in a bone-broth soup…it was a good winter. Continue reading

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Onions

I wonder how many onions I had eaten before I ever really noticed them. Though yellow seed onionsmost kids in the U. S. of A. seem to go through a stage of “hating” onions when they are obvious to see or taste, onions are the flavor backdrop for much of the cooking I grew up with, including most of my childhood favorite dishes. One of the stories my Mom and I like to laugh about as we discuss child-rearing at family gatherings is the day I happened to be around while she was preparing the beef roast. I was aghast at all the weird and strong-smelling denizens of the spice shelf and refrigerator she was heedlessly sprinkling and dousing it with. “MOM!” I protested, “You’re ruining it!” “But, Jay” she rejoined, “I always do it this way.”    An educational moment. I don’t remember all the substances in question, but I do remember some pickle juice, and I am sure there was some minced onion involved. I grew to accept the notion of onions in food, and even learned to cry my way through getting them cut down to size. Continue reading

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My History with Chickens

When I was eight years old, my parents decided to acquire chickens.  As I recall, they purchased or were given a mixed flock of hens…about six or eight of various standard breeds.  I was highly intrigued by the preparations: the smell of the fresh pine shavings, the old wooden ladder cut and positioned for roosting, the plywood nest box (which they still have and use thirty years later), the grain mash that was so fluid yet dry and with its distinct and appealing, but distinctly not enticing, aroma, the water glug-glug-glugging into the shallow circular trough of the galvanized steel water fount…the little prefab shed took on a feeling that was at once homey and foreign.  And then the whole thing was animated, upon their arrival, by chickens! Continue reading

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Biochar: What We Need is in the Sky

blog-manipulating settingJanelle wanted me to generate a post about biochar; she liked the way I described it to a friend and thought my take on it might be helpful to a larger audience…does our blog readership constitute a larger audience?  Oh, well, it’s the largest we’ve got!

So what if I implied to you that the problem with the global climate change conversation is that we’re seeing atmospheric carbon as a troublesome burden, when really it’s a tremendously underutilized resource for solving the most pressing problems of agriculture?  Would that make you sit up and pay attention?  Agricultural activity over the past 10,000 years has acted to drive our precious soil carbon out of the soil and into the sky.  This has been a profound loss…we need to find ways to reverse this process and invite the carbon out of the atmosphere and back into our soils where it belongs; where it is so badly needed. Continue reading

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