Friday, December 7, 2012


I keep picking up books about local eating. Don't think I've gone all farmer's-market-&-organic or anything. I still love me some food straight out of plastic-y wrappings, and the sweeter the better.

But I also must have a soft spot for dipping into the world of people who get all misty over pastoral scenery, who love to dig in the deep black dirt and make tasty dinners from the carrots and kohlrabi that they grew themselves. Yep, kids who grew up in the suburbs are spending their summers out on the farm, and loving it. As for me, I'm sitting safely in the suburbs, reading about it, via Jonah Raskin's Field Days: A Year of Farming, Eating, and Drinking Wine in California.

Raskin's memoir covers a year in Sonoma County, California, where he hunts down the top organic farmers and visits the San Francisco restaurants that buy the farmers' boutique produce.

And you understand, don't you, that we aren't talking about the sunburnt sort of farm folks who are missing fingers from a long-ago accident with the combine? No, Raskin's farmers wear scruffy beards. Or long skirts, as the case may be. They discuss literature and wine. They smoke pot. And they occupy one of the most beautiful valleys on this planet.

Also one of the most expensive. Yeah, Raskin glossed very lightly over that part. I know somebody who considered moving to Santa Rosa, California, not too far from Sonoma. When she mentioned house prices, all of us in the room gasped in sympathy. And these were ladies accustomed to Chicago prices.

Raskin's farm world sounds so utopian. Does it really work as perfectly as Raskin tells it? Are the market days on the community square truly the bliss-fests that he describes? Do these anti-private-property, green-pepper-growers really have all the answers? Is this life within the grasp of the Wal-Mart set?

If these questions tire out your brain, maybe you need to eat something tastier than an organic tomato and far less naughty than Sonoma-grown pot. So let's talk about EASY FUDGE This is for people too lazy to make real fudge. I say, own your laziness and mix in a large bowl:

1 7-oz. Hershey bar, broken up
18 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 14-oz. Jar marshmallow creme
1 TB. vanilla
Set aside.

Mix in a sauce pan:
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
four and a half cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup margarine

Bring to a boil; cook 6-8 minutes. Add to ingredients in bowl. Mix until blended. Pour into buttered 15x10-in. jelly roll pan.

Try not to eat too much of it yourself.(This will be hard.)

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