Day 24 --
A group of friends and I made this mandala as part of a birthday celebration several years ago as our impermanent gift. We used lentils, rice, seeds, petals, cranberries, limes, things I've forgotten and things we found in the yard, with everything in individual bowls or bags. Throughout the evening everyone contributed to the mandala while we cooked and ate, laughed and visited.
The birthday lady thought we were talented from the beginning with only the center built to begin. And at every phase along the way there was a camera flashing, a conversation happening or someone silently placing grains of rice in a row.
Everyone's personality came through in how they placed rice on the mandala. One person practically slung it, another put it down, picked it up, put it down again. Another found a pair of tweezers to use for more precision. Someone else requested a different colored rice we didn't have. And it was all perfect.
The other beauty of the mandala was its impermanence. At the end of the evening, with everyone in tow, we lifted the board it was on, carried it outside (fortunately we were in the country) and broadcast everything back to nature with one united cheer.
The creatures in the night were happy.
Day 21 --
Rent a Prius
We're traveling after the holiday to the cute guy's youngest son's wedding. (Hey, Canyon!) A friend suggested we rent a Prius. She's brilliant and as soon as I can find our flight information I'm going to go on line to reserve one.
Day 22 --
The cute guy and I are close enough to town to walk. In fact the town is right out our front door. A little too close. We're happy when people finally go home and leave us a bit of peace and quiet.
But we still believe in shopping local. Here's ten reasons why.
Day 23 --
Share Your Green Ideas
I started this blog after years of having dinner with a girlfriend, the muse, once a month. As part of our visits we share one environmentally friendly action we've taken since our last visit. They are small things; I stopped eating bananas because they are imported, she sends her daughter to school with cloth napkins instead of paper.
Overtime I realized that I was using cloth napkins at work and recently she told me she rarely buys bananas.
And now I have conversations with everybody about the environment, about food, stuff, about how we can better use our resources. Except sometimes I get excited and light my hair on fire and the conversation turns into an annoying monologue right before the room empties and I'm alone. Smoldering.
But I'm learning. Asking questions and listening generally leads to dialogue and if not, it's a good idea for me to let the topic go.
Which is so much easier on my hair.
Day 20 --
Reduce, Reuse and Recyle
The other day, yes, I was at work, I needed some green inspiration and ventured out on the web to find some.
There is a ton of green information on the web. There are green businesses, green gifts, services, ideas, parties. There is a town in Ohio, named Green. I wanted something green I could do right away though.
The inspiration I found that stuck, and it may be because I saw it repeatedly were the three words above; Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
Succinct. Manageable and immediate. Beautiful.
This holiday is a good time for me to take action and start practicing.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Day 19, 2007
The Story of Stuff or The Story of Food or Santa's Little Workshop
A co-worker sent me a link today to a video (I'm dating myself) called The Story of Stuff by Free Range Studios. After reading an accompanying synopsis I replied, "It could be called The Story of Food." And after watching the movie, that statement is truer than I knew. It's the same stuff.
The title of The Story of Stuff sums up what this movie is about. It's narrated by a young woman, Anne Leonard. Behind her are elementary black line illustrations that are charming in their simplicity. Nothing else about the movie is elementary however. It moves fast and is packed with information.
At the beginning of the movie I felt like taking to my bed because of all my stuff and everybody else's stuff but then I realized, No. Damn it. I'm excited. Excited that this young woman is passionate and knowledgeable about the consequences of materialism. Excited that people are watching this. Excited that the conversation of where we get our stuff, produce it, buy it and throw it away is being talked about. Excited that I'm becoming more aware.
Excited that we care.
And when the movie was over I got up and turned off three lights I wasn't using and the heater. And the radio. And I unplugged the cell phone charger that wasn't being used too. She's good.
The entire movie is 20 minutes and if you're in a hurry you can watch a four minute segment by clicking onto any one of the major points of stuff. Or you can skip right to the happy ending called Another Way.
Day 18 --
I realize I'm protecting the environment by not adding greeting cards I receive to the landfill. I hoard them instead.
I have every card and handwritten note I've received from the last fourteen years. There's a three shoe box size shopping bag full in the princess room closet. There are 100's hidden in a plant pot I've converted to a night stand. And more in the cute guys storage unit downstairs.
And that's after throwing away the envelopes that they came in. Ummmm... I'm adding to the landfill after all. Damn it!
After taking that into consideration, I'm sending postcards this year.
But don't get excited, you're more likely to get a squash than a card.
Day 17 --
Holiday Hostess Gifts
My favorite game as a six year old was Birthday. My best friend and I would take turns wrapping up our toys in blankets while the birthday girl closed her eyes and then we would yell, SURPRISE! We never got bored of being excited.
I still play that game when I bring a hostess gift to a friend's home for dinner. I scramble through my house looking for something perfect while the cute guy is in the garage. With the car running. Inspiration under pressure is my grown up element of excitement.
This month I'm set though. I have glass cylinder jars of artisan honey from Sonoma County. The honey is collected by a woman I call the Good Witch of the West. I have pickles and peach jam from Canvas Ranch. Persimmons that aren't really food but art and an extra square jar of Stonehouse Olive Oil. I have hyacinth bulbs waiting to be gifted so they can drop their roots and do their fragrant thing. And I have winter squash.
Yesterday with a little forethought I showed up at a friends house with a bunch of rainbow chard. I had to dissuade her from putting them in a vase.
I'm just playing. And it's good green fun.
Day 15 --
Don't be blue.
This was my green tip for myself after finishing up the Christmas list for the kids in our life; be forgiving of the choices that aren't green.
Day 16 --
This year the President of our company was the first to walk into the room at our holiday lunch.
"Whooooa, look at that," he said.
We'd skipped the bubble bowls in the center of the tables. No candles. No imported red tulips. No twigs with three red berries on them. No big check for flowers to look at for two and one half hours.
He kept standing at the opening of the room smiling. Looking from table to table.
There was a long red truck, it's cab jackknived to miss a water glass; a turkey platter size backhoe with it's scoop lifted off the tablecloth. There was a tall yellow crane. Not a piece of evergreen anywhere.
"They're for the Toy's For Tots program. We'll deliver them after the lunch."
"Good idea," he responded. "They'll love 'em."
The best part of eating local the last week was pulling food from the freezer.
First there was the pork butt roast from a farm in Tomales that the cute guy and I made into chili verde with Canvas Ranch tomatillos. I'd cooked them with Brother Bill's backyard jalapenos. I could still taste the sunshine in them.
Twice this week I made corn muffins with Full Belly Farm cornmeal, the chicken hat lady's eggs, Stauss milk and blueberries bought last summer from the seasonal farmers' market in Fairfax. The berries seem bigger now that it's winter and bake up juicy and sweet. The muffins disappear so fast the cute guy claims the neighbors help themselves while we are out.
I also experimented for the first time with Rancho Gordo pozole. I read recipes online, waved the advice aside and used what I had, which was celery, onions, garlic, serrano peppers, carrots, a couple chicken legs with thighs and oregano. And I served it to guests. My brother and I had seconds and still the leftovers lasted two nights. And it got better. Especially when the leftover chile verde was added.
Faced with no more pozole I made a pan of potato and leeks with rainbow chard tossed in at the last minute and served it in a bowl with eggs over easy. It wasn't picturesque but it was hearty, fragrant and perfect for a ridiculous cold night.
It goes without saying we are still eating squash. Baked squash. And it's good. But I'm not ready to admit that I may have bought a couple too many or a few more than we are excited to eat.
I am determined they will not go to waste though. I know way too many people for that!
If you find one on your doorstep you can bet it's from me.
Day 14 --
Choose something other than shrimp on the menu.
I know. I love them too. But read this.
Fortunately we have so many good foods to choose from that not eating shrimp can simply be an excuse to eat more of something else.
And I'm always looking for an excuse to eat more.
Day 13 --
I read these ideas in the Chronicle a couple of weeks ago and can't get them out my mind.
First, using strings of burnt out Christmas lights as ribbon substitutes. This is genius. At least it would be in my family.
And this one - buying an old couch pillow at the local thrift store, opening it up and using the stuffing as snow on the mantle. That is, if you need snow on the mantle. I don't, but if I did I would wash the pillow first. It's clever.
Don't let the 25 Green Days of Christmas be misleading - this is still a careening blog about eating local foods as a way to reduce my carbon bite.
My initial picture of eating local was somehow being able to stomach gruel and mushy potatoes that grew wild Einstein like eyebrows that would have to be composted before cooking. It was a scary prospect that I tentatively entered.
Pollan showed me the door, Kingsolver opened it and the Eat Local Challenge blog was there when I stepped in. Nearly every day for those first weeks I would visit the ELC website and take heart that I wasn't crazy and people weren't starving or ugly because they had chosen to eat foods grown where they lived. The people on the website seemed to not only lead regular and varied lives but they were eating really good food. And they could cook. There was no gruel. They cared about the environment and how their food was grown and labeled. And that gave me hope and still does.
So it's no surprise that the Eat Local Challenge blog has been nominated as the 2007 Food Blog of the Year. WooooWhooooo! I want them to win.
They're doing great work and they include everyone. If you have ever compared a piece of fruit from say, another country, to the same fruit grown closer to your home and put the fruit grown nearby in your mouth, you have met the challenge. It's not always easy but it does generally taste better.
If you want to join the fan club and maybe get this work more press you can vote here. It only takes a second.
I also have to mention the Food on the Food blog, which was nominated for Best Food Blog of the Year for Humor. Sometimes I spit the way the laughter rises up so fast reading it. It's embarrassing. The author, Tammy, makes eating local food worthy of stand up comedy. But even better. And she can cook - with kids. The cute guy has a crush on her.
The humor category ballot is here. The blog is Food on the Food.
Day 11 --
I salivate over new books. Shiny, untouched covers. Pages that have never been folded. The scent of printing still fresh. I create altars of new books next to the bed with milagros and reading glasses, scrapbook worthy page markers, a holy glass of filtered water. My adoration knows no ends.
And one of the best gifts I received this year was a used cookbook from Thrift Books. It was like someone opened the window and a rush of fresh air entered the room.
The cover isn't shiny, there is a permanent crease in the corner and the edges are worn soft. The pages don't crack but are soft like old jeans. And I love it.
I carry it into the kitchen and set it on the counter. It doesn't stay out of the fray, relegated to the kitchen table, but gets in the action with flour and eggs. It's not afraid of the splattering that happens every time I turn on the food processor. It's like an old friend that visits when the laundry is on the living room floor. And then helps fold it.
Aside from Thrift Books being less expensive and the fact that reusing anything when possible is a terrific -- Thirftbooks uses a minimal amount of packaging for mailing.
Ideally buying used books at a local independent book store would be the green of all greens. Great choirs would rejoice. But Thrift Books is a great second choice.
Day 8 ---
Give fruit trees. Plant fruit trees. A kumquat is on my Christmas list.
Day 9 --
Farmers' Market Artisans
For the last six weeks I've been looking for the woman that makes ceramic butter dishes with tops the shape of farm animals, painted in mottled shades of kindergarden paint. They are individual works of art and I should have bought them for gifts immediately upon seeing them. But I didn't.
And every week that the doll maker is there I stand in the center of her display and pick a doll for every little girl I can think of. But I've yet to buy one. The time will come. I can guarantee it. I only hope she will still be there.
The wooden bowls at the market always draw me in too. I run my hand over the smooth rims, test the weight, inquire about the wood and dream. It's so fun.
Then there are the Sunday morning jewelry makers. My favorite is Gary Khler and Blue Flame. I'd like to give one of everything they have.
I don't know that it's more green to shop at the farmers' market for Xmas gifts but it feels good to be outside. It feels good supporting independent artisans, buying locally produced goods. It feels good not being bombarded by ever more merchandise and add on items at check out stands and so many choices the simplest one becomes a compromise to get out the door.
Day 10 --
Keep It Simple
One year the cute guy and I were traveling on Christmas in a country where we didn't speak the language. We were on the move, traveling light and came up with this idea.
On the afternoon of Christmas Eve we set a gift budget of $5 each and set out to get gifts.
The cute guy bought a paint brush and red paint, found a piece of cardboard and painted a checkerboard that folded in the middle. With the remainder of money he bought a silk drawstring bag that he filled with two types of beer caps he found on the roads to and from town and we spent Christmas day playing checkers in a noisy jungle bungalow. It was one of the best gifts I've ever received.
And surely one of the simplest.
Give something that you already have.
My Mom does this all the time as my brother clearly pointed out this evening.
She once gave me socks that someone had given her. I love them. Their soft and too big and perfect for the couch. And she gave the cute guy a walking stick that has teeth. He growls each time he takes it out.
I once gave a friend my original four pieces of Fiesta Ware. She thinks of me each time she uses them on the table and I love that. We are creating history, building stories.
The cute guy is almost as good as my Mom at giving stuff away. I'm a beginner. He said he could make gifts of his musical instruments. I flinched which seemed a good test that the gifts would be good.
He suggested I could give away a couple of my little bowls. That flinch was bigger. "No way. I love those bowls."
He suggested some of my vases. I gave him the stare.
For me flinching is good though as it means the gift has meaning; it's not a throw away.
Somewhere in between, between flinching and not flinching, is the right shade of green. And if I'm not sure I can ask my Mom.
Day 5 --
No Gift Cards
I am in Safeway. No, don't even think about it. I am not buying food. I am buying bus tickets.
The woman in front of me is buying six dozen cupcakes that look as plastic as the boxes they're in and a man with a banana and a pear that looks hard enough to hammer nails is in line behind me. The checker starts wrestling a plastic bag onto two of the boxes of cupcakes but it keeps catching around the cupcake wells. The woman is looking for her credit card. I start looking for something to count.
I don't look far. The check out stand is filled with rows of plastic gift cards for every retailer ever incorporated. Thirty six different big names to be exact. "What happened to personal checks?" I ask myself. "What about plain old cash for Christmas? Why more plastic?"
"Yes, I know a recipient might go out and purchase a bottle of absinthe now that it's legal instead of a sweater or a book, but so be it. It's a gift. Let them do what they want. What's going to happen to all that spent plastic?"
My tirade is getting into full steam and the gentleman behind me clears his throat. I watch the woman competently manage her cupcakes without the bags that are now wrangled on the counter and move forward. Plastic bank card in hand.
"Thirty seven," I say silently.
Day Six --
I know I am not the first person to suggest this service as a great green gift but it's new to me and I'm excited about it.
Green Dimes stops junk mail. Seems impossible doesn't it? All those value pack coupons, credit card solicitations with 0% interest. All those catalogs! And Green Dimes makes them stop. Who wouldn't love this?!
Green Dimes also plants trees. The sign up cost is worth just that; stopping the junk mail is nearly an afterthought, a bonus, a dream that might come true.
I signed up a few weeks ago but it's too soon to realize a difference.
My secret guilty pleasure is Green Dimes only stops the catalogs I ask them to which means I can continue receiving Garnet Hill and Crate and Barrel, which makes this gift perfect for everyone, light green and forest green people alike.
We all make a difference.
Day Four --
Save the Ocean
This idea is inspired by the Takeout Queen who carries the Seafood Watch Guide in her purse to refer to at take out counters and restaurants across the county. I'm sure she would use it at the grocery store too if she went to one, although the only fish I ever see her eat is salmon.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a printable version of the guide that can be cut out and folded to half the size of a twenty dollar bill to include in holiday cards or gifts for all the Takeout Queens of any gender on your list.
There are guides for the different coasts, Hawaii, the central US and the southwest (which I find curious). There are even guides in three dialects of Spanish.
Day Three --
I read somewhere about using old business cards as gift tags but I'm taking the idea a different direction.
Using found leaves as gift tags. The cute guy came up with bay leaves, which is brilliant. I thought eucalyptus because they have interesting color patterns. Both types lay flat and are easy to write on.
We also have sycamore trees down the street with leaves bigger than dinner plates that we can't help but scatter about the house each year that would be plain art as a gift tag. They don't lay flat when dry however, but instead assume the shapes of wings in the moment before flight has begun.
I've written before about how the eat local movement has arms and keeps popping up outside of my kitchen. So no surprise that the focus now is to look for ways to reduce our carbon presence for the holidays.
I'm making an ongoing list, 25 Green Days of Christmas, and inviting everyone to post ideas that step outside the traditional red bowed box towards a greener, sustainable holiday filled with more good tidings and less garbage.
Day One --
I bought bad ties at the thrift shop for a dollar each to use instead of ribbon. If they don't get worn for real or costumes, or reused as ribbon they can be returned to the thrift store. Each one is a find.
Day Two --
This is the cute guys idea. Use canvas grocery bags as gift bags. "They'll forget the gift inside but think of us every time they get to the check out line and remember they left their bag in the car."
The cute guy is one happy man today. I cooked. Twice.
First we had an updated version of the goulash I ate as a child. That goulash had hamburger, green beans and potatoes. My updated local version had Prather Ranch Italian sausage, onions, garlic, harbanero, rainbow chard and Petaluma potatoes. We ate it watching the Silence of the Lambs. I won't talk about what was eaten on that film.
Then I made my first ever quiche pie from the Tassajara cookbook with mushrooms, more potatoes, oh what a day!, kale and thai peppers that should have been minced instead of sliced; whoa baby. And we watched Waitress. My pie was good but hers were over the top.
And because it was a day without rules and the oven was on I threw in winter squash for later and made corn muffins with Full Belly Farms cornmeal I've been longing to put to use. We ate them with honey and no napkins nested in blankets on the couch.
And couldn't stop smiling.
"We've become a nation focused on consumption instead of compassion."
Meal preparation has hit a new low this week except for the fact nearly everything is local. Monday night was leftover turkey soup. Not bad.
Thinking ahead I put two delicata squash, a few potatoes and one fat yam on a cookie sheet in the oven. The cute guy turned it on the next night, set the table with candles and fresh off the bus I sat down with him for a romantic one course baked dinner.
Last night it was eggs and rice with backyard serrano peppers before we ran out the door to see Mark Shapiro and tonight we ate grocery store roasted Petaluma chicken at the counter with Acme bread, Clover butter and overcooked broccoli and I ran out the door again. This time to see Eric Schlosser, the author of Fast Food Nation.
I'd read the book some years ago and remember liking it, being a little belligerent about some of the stories, "I mean how could industry get away with such things?", I would say to whoever would listen, but the details are gone. When I bought tickets for tonight's event it was to see Orville Schell who would be doing the interviewing.
Mr. Schell was well spoken and knowledgeable but Eric Schlosser turned out to be the rock star. He has a rare combination of a grounded, relaxed demeanor paired with a hot passion for the topics he chooses to investigate and write about. And he was generous and humble in his pairing with Orville Schell. I declare myself a groupie.
By coincidence Mr. Schlosser wrote an op ed piece in the New York Times today about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers I've previously blogged about and their effort to procure a penny more a pound from Burger King for the Immokalee tomato pickers. He spoke a lot about the system that employs the workers and the audience wilted in their chairs. He spoke of the work of the CIW and the low cost to Burger King to agree to a wage increase. People clapped. I wanted to jump out of my chair and do cartwheels.
Mostly Eric Schlosser was optimistic about the growing movement of food awareness. He's a local food guy, which surprised me. I'm going to keep an eye on him.
If you would like to sign the petition being generated by Oxfam America on behalf of the CIW to present to the CEO of Burger King and didn't previously do so, here it is again.
A month ago a co-worker told me of a benefit event in Berkeley with Michael Pollan and an author I had never heard of. I waved it off.
But today the same co-worker sent me a link to the talk again, which is happening tomorrow night, and I shot her back a thank you with exclamation points. The unknown author with Mr. Pollan is Mark Schapiro who was interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air yesterday about his new book - Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products. Not a come hither title.
What perked my attention to his interview, and I only heard bits and pieces, and the talk tomorrow night, was his explanation of how certain plastics breakdown in our systems.
I recently had a discussion in a fish restaurant about fish eating plastic and we eat the fish and how that can't be good for us. But my no-name friend's point was that the plastic doesn't breakdown, that's why it's out there floating in the ocean. There was a certain logic I wanted to believe and I was hungry; I ordered fish.
The other piece I picked up yesterday from the interview is that the US is accepting products to be sold here that are banned by the European Union. The US does not impose as strict environmental and health restrictions as the EU. In fact the US is referred to as a dumping ground for products that the EU declines.
Bad book title or not, I have last minute tickets and I'm looking forward to hearing what he has to say.
Actually, maybe I'm not.
I won't bore you with details of the chewy organic Dietsel turkey. Suffice it to say there is a picked clean carcass simmering in a soup pot.
The bird did however take much longer to bake than expected. At the appointed dinner hour and without setting the table, we served tasting plates of brussel sprout hash. Which should have been the plan from the beginning since inspite of wrinkled noses and a couple of brussel sprout virgins everyone hungrily agreed to try it.
With a scraped clean plate one of the virgins excused himself for a cigarette
Half an hour later, I set up a buffet of sweet potato galette and extra stuffing straight from the oven and quickly got out of the way. The turkey was taking its perfect slow time.
By the time the beast was finally brown and rested the suggestion of setting the table was as popular as our current administration and we had our third course of mashed potatoes, gravy, more stuffing and turkey on our original tiny plates.
"We should do it this way every year," the cute guy said. There were full mouthed murmurs of agreement.
"Are there more brussel spouts?" the smoker asked.
"On the counter," I replied. I did not raise my fist and shout a sweet yes of success. But I wanted to.
Some weeks ago I went to a talk titled Food, Labor and Justice: Fair Wage Farming and sat by the door just in case. Ten minutes into it I quietly moved to a seat up front, in the middle. And I stayed after the talk was done.
The young man presenting, Lucas Benitez, a farmworker and co-director of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and his translator, a powerhouse in her own right, Melody Gonzales, of the Student/Farmworker Alliance were rock stars except they didn't know it. The key to Lucas's success in securing the first wage increase for tomato pickers in 20 years by taking on Taco Bell, McDonald's and now Burger King is his humbleness . Although his smile and straight talk surely support his efforts.
The much celebrated wage increase that was hard fought and won by the CIW was a penny more per pound to go directly to the farmworkers. The average wage for decades has been .45 cents for a 32 pound bucket of tomatoes or two and a half tons of tomatoes picked in one day to make the current minimum wage. With no benefits or overtime.
I can't remember the last time I had to pick up 32 pounds of anything let alone toss it to somebody on the top of a flat bed truck.
This afternoon I received a link to a Thanksgiving commentary that addresses the Florida farmworker's wages which is worth reading and a link to Oxfam America to support the CIW by signing a petition to be presented to the CEO of Burger King to raise farmworkers wages.
Before heading to the kitchen to continue preparing our holiday meal I considered the men and women that handle our food and I signed the petition for Lucas Benitez, Melody Gonzales, the CIW and all the farmworkers that keep the world fed; one 32 pound bucket at a time.
This is what I notice about preparing to eat a local Thanksgiving meal; it's quieter. The holiday dinner is the food we eat every day. Well, except for the turkey. Okay, and the pumpkin pie.
The food is real food, no sugar added, no labels of nutritious this or that. The food is regular red onions tossed in my purse like loose change at the Tuesday market. It's persimmons and pears to eat when the mashed potatoes are gone and to enjoy as art before then.
The food is potatoes and yams bought with a smile and a few dollar bills. It's a Canvas Ranch pumpkin still sitting on the table, a bunch of celery too beautiful to have ever been removed from it roots. The food is wild leggy parsley, brussel sprouts, walnuts, brown eggs, butter, sage and ranch cured olives in a mason jar.
There is barely any packaging, no advertising, no sale items, specials or add ons. There are no lists of ingredients, no nutrient claims, or warnings. There is only naked food.
And the stories and smiles of all the farmers who grew it.
Tip for Next Year:
Label the winter squash as to which farmer you buy it from.
I ate the sweetest delicata squash of my life today. Plain, baked, no butter, no sugar, nothing added except a touch of sea salt. I even ate the skin and the taste kicked my butt.
The delicatas came from Paradise Valley or the Harry Potter farmers in Pt. Reyes. I can't remember.
The cute guy had some for lunch too. He called me at work. "What did you put on the squash?"
I could hear him considering that. "Wow," he finally said.
(The photos is a palm sized hubbard squash that I also baked and it had no squash to it. It was all skin. Disappointing except that I had loved looking it.)
The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture has done it again. All I do is think of some piece of information I wish I had and presto whammo there it is at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market.
First I wanted to know which vendors were within 100 miles of the market and if they were organic or pesticide free and I wanted to know it without having to take notes I'd have to refer to each week without having to start over. And the CUESA provided identically organized signs at every vendor.
Lately I've been thinking I should make a list of the different market terms and what they mean because it gets confusing but the CUESA beat me to it. They have a glossary of market terms free for the taking at their market table.
It's not like I don't know what organic means or pesticide free or that I think about the difference consistently once I get to a farmers' market. Some days I simply get so excited about a box of pretty apples with a pink cheeked farmer that I forget to ask how the the apples were raised.
And truth be told on those days when I do remember to ask, I still buy from the man or woman that has the nicest smile. The one that handles the produce with a certain respect. I often choose character over certification. My reasoning is if the farmer is happy, likely so are his workers and so is his soil.
Reading the glossary I learned that organic meant no GMO crops and that free-range claims on eggs and beef are not regulated. I didn't know that farmstead cheese meant that the cheese is made by the same people who keep the animals that produce the milk. And I didn't know that the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market prohibits the sale of any products known to contain GMO's.
But now I do. The glossary is good information for shopping anywhere, especially if you don't have the farmer standing right there. If you'd like a copy let me know. I'd be happy to send it to you.
This is what grace was like at our house tonight.
Blessings on you. Blessings on the meal.
Blessing on my favorite Italian farmer with the dry farmed tomatoes who told me how to slow roast them. On the garlic that came from the farmers' market but I can't remember which one but I know is local.
Blessings on Deborah and her beautiful helper at Canvas Ranch for the peppers, on the farmer and his wife at Paradise Valley for the onion that was sprouting on the counter. Blessings on the basil from the backyard and the pesto I made that didn't get freezer burned and the walnuts that were in it from the man in Healdsburg whose wife cracked them in the evening next to the fireplace.
Blessings on the Petaluma Mushroom Farm, on the olive oil woman who refilled my jar and put her label on it perfectly over the other. Blessings on the people at Clover Stornetta for the butter and the bread bakers in Freestone that made the bread.
Blessing on the noodles that were in the pantry from Safeway and blessings on the salt that came from some place faraway and makes everything local taste so, so good.
And blessings on you.
My Dad feeds the wild turkeys. They wait for him at the top of the hill. "Tonight I was late," he told me. "They left." I could see him kicking dirt on the other end of the phone.
Last year on his birthday he was feeding a pair of crows. "They know what time I get to the ranch and when I go home they are already waiting for me to eat the crumbs out of the back of the truck."
Before the crows there was a wild dove.
Dad has a deal with the local bakery. They put their leftover bread in a container by the back door a couple of times a week. He picks it up. "I feed it to the critters," he tells me.
Dad has chickens, geese, a few cows. He used to have a goat and a big old red cat. They all eat bread. Any wild animal within a twenty mile radius has likely ate old bread at Grandma's ranch.
Grandpa did the same thing but the bakery was in town and he'd pick up their old bread on Saturday mornings. Grandma would soak it and feed it to the dogs.
Being the third generation, I buy fresh bread at the farmers' market, cut it into cubes and bake them slowly with olive oil and herbs until they are crunchy like they are old. And then I eat them all before anyone else has a chance.
"How could we live without new books?" I asked the cute guy.
"What about heat."
"Sweaters and socks."
"But it would be cold." I shivered for emphasis.
He just looked at me.
This is how we've spent the last couple of days; playing the how could we live without - fill in the blank game. It's Melinda's fault at Elements In Time. Last Friday she wrote about a group that is reducing ALL of their consumption of resources by 90%. I hate that.
Letting go of bananas and eating seasonally is an easy gig in this little valley of west marin but now, now I'm thinking about each light I turn on, if the computer is unplugged before I go to bed, how many times I flush, if we could make it through the winter without turning on the heater. I didn't expect this save the planet impulse to leave the kitchen but I'm realizing it's got arms. Lots of arms. And they are pointing their fingers at places I don't want to look.
In the kitchen though, there is nothing but thumbs up. Well, except for the kabocha squash, five of them that already began turning bad. I cut off their soft bottoms, baked them and we ate them skin and all. They were ridiculous with nothing but butter and sea salt. I want more.
And there was the Friday night pizza dough that didn't raise. It could have been the new organic yeast but likely I used water that was too hot to start it with. Our local pizza was more like a local big crouton with tomatoes, caramelized onions, peppers and cheese.
Then tonight I pan roasted pumpkin seeds with a new Peruvian pepper called rocoto, from the pepper man with the Hawaiian shirts and three hours later we are still coughing. Those things are weapons. We added six of the pumpkin seeds each to our salad that was made with nearly everything from one of our last Canvas Ranch farm bags; lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, goat cheese, sauteed onions and leeks and wheezed our way through dinner, yelping each time we got a speck of pepper.
We decided a couple of those peppers could help keep us warm all winter, no problem.
Periodically I receive updates from Michael Pollan regarding upcoming events, articles or interviews.
This announcement arrived today:
I've written an op ed piece on the farm bill, "Weed it and Reap,"
which will appear in the New York Times "Week in Review" section
tomorrow (Sunday). We'll post it on the website later, but thought
you'd like a heads up. The bill comes to the Senate floor this week.
There are some important amendments on the floor, as I discuss in the
piece. Please do let your Senators know where you stand.
If you would like to receive announcements from Michael Pollan too, you can subscribe on his website.
And if you live in California and would like to call your senators to speak up on the farm bill, or any issue that lights your hair on fire, their numbers are as follows:
Senator Barbara Boxer's Washington office: 202/224-3553
Senator Dianne Feinstein's Washington office: 202/224-3841
A real person actually answers the phone at the Senators' offices on weekdays and cordially takes a message.
I've discovered the Wednesday food section of the New York Times.
Last week there was a recipe that was brilliant and I came home raving about it until I realized I'd left the paper on the bus. I have no idea what it was for. But it was brilliant!
The week before that there was a review of the movie King Corn, which opens in San Francisco tomorrow; with the directors.
And yesterday there was an article about shrimp with a succinct explanation of why shrimp suck and why some don't suck as much as others. Poor little innocent shrimp.
I can't wait to get next weeks edition.
This is my working-woman, traffic-was-backed-up-because-of-Halloween, it-was-already-dark-out, mid-week, I-stayed-up-too-late-last-night and I-want-to-read-the-new-Ecologist-magazine, dark days eat local challenge meal from our Canvas Ranch farm bag. It was delicious.
On Saturday I bought french heirloom galeux d'eysuves and sucrine de berry winter squash from a trio of Harry Potter's at the Pt. Reyes farmers' market. The sheriff was selling tomatoes but I couldn't figure out what the woman in the leopard print dress and pink sweater was selling. She was all over the place.
The 9:00 a.m. bell ringer that announces the opening of the market was convincingly dressed as a farmer. As he made his way from one end of the L-shaped market to the other I realized it was the last time this year I would be witness to it. Next week is the last of the west Marin market and Saturday mornings at Toby's Feed Barn will be just that; Saturday mornings at Toby's Feed Barn. Until spring returns bringing the market with it.
I remembered the early crowd at the first market of the season, three deep at each vendor. The coffee line had been impossible that day, the picnic tables full of people eating hot cheese and egg sandwiches and small children had run in circles down the middle aisle when they weren't poking at the feral cats at the adoption tent. The only thing missing had been the clowns.
The early novelty seems to have dimmed with the season though. As the market opened the cheese sandwich man hadn't yet lit his grill and the aisles were free of children. The coffee line was manageable and the honey women were set up offering tastes with no waiting. I was first everywhere I went making it a tough decision to pick which end of the season I like better.
Aside from the heirloom squash I found cabbages the size of a Cyclop's one eye, bought three and filled the remainder of my canvas bag with familiar butternut and delicata squash and made the second trip to the car before having coffee and a ginger scone. The scones alone are worth the trip to Pt. Reyes which doesn't take into account the bob cat, deer, hawks, turkeys and vultures I saw on the way there. Or secondary, the saddle shop across the street on the corner that is literally packed to the rafters with good finds or the book store a few doors down from there. One of the best bookstores in the county with old plank wood floors that creak like Halloween all year long.
As much as I'll miss the Saturday market adventures I've stored their stories under flour sack towels in the pantry in the form of four heirloom squash I can't pronounce, five butternut and half a dozen delicata's. I can't wait to serve them but I doubt anyone will believe I bought them from one of three Harry Potter's whose cape constantly blew into the scale as he weighed them on a foggy Saturday morning.
I love people that can make a point, a big point, in seven words or less. Michael Pollan and Marion Nestle can do it. And so can Wallace J. Nichols who the cute guy and I heard speak on Sunday.
WJN is an ocean conservationist, scientist, reasearcher, father of daughters, comedian, photographer, educator, activist and one heck of a public speaker. And even if he weren't so entertaining and interesting we could have sat and simply looked at him.
WJN caught sea turtles when he was a kid in Maine and is still catching them, but now he's doing it to bring attention to the ocean.
First he invoked the seas beauty. And how can you not fall hopelessly in love with a giant sea turtle named Adelita swimming in a bath of shattering blue water at turtle speed from Baja to Japan.
With our hearts the size of Baja he then showed pictures of piles of fish netted and discarded in order to catch a few shrimp and the destruction by shrimp farms to the ocean's shores. He showed us pictures of plastics found in the stomach of a sea turtle. The visuals were startling. We had no idea.
After that he told us how we could help sustain a healthy ocean; in seven short words.
Less in. Less out. Protect the edge.
That sounds doable.
He also gave out bumper stickers. If you see me, honk.
The cute guy and I have a new favorite food - well, it's more my favorite food than his but he does like it - mashed winter squash. Aside from how good this is, it's easy to cook and makes the house smell like the table is going to get set.
Last night I used spaghetti squash and tonight delicata. The spaghetti squash was juicy and the delicata a mashed potato consistency. They were equally lick the plate clean good!
1 winter squash - spaghetti, delicata or butternut
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 sweet colorful fall peppers
2 cloves garlic
3 sprigs garden herbs - thyme, rosemary, sage
1 serrano pepper finely minced
1 tablespoon butter
Cut squash in half and remove seeds with a sturdy spoon. Rub the inside of the squash with olive oil and place face down on cookie sheet.
Cut off the tops of the fall peppers (I don't remove the seeds like the rest of the world), conservatively coat with olive oil and place next to the squash.
Peel garlic and put on cookie sheet. Tuck garden herbs under the belly of the squash.
Bake at 350 for one hour. Test with a fork for tenderness and continue cooking if squash is still tough, checking every ten minutes.
Once cool enough to handle, scoop squash and squeeze garlic from their skins to a bowl with butter and mash with a large fork. Dice roasted peppers and add to bowl (peppers can be peeled if desired).
Add minced serrano peppers, salt and additional butter to taste, mixing with a large spoon.
Roasted herbs can be used as garnish.
Eat anywhere but the kitchen table.
(This recipe is my thinly veiled justification to buy more local squash!)
This morning I nearly bought more squash. My favorite potato and dry farmed tomato farmer had a big display of orange kabocha and another farmer had a celadon ugly Hubbard that I was smitten with. They had my name on them but I couldn't leave them locked in the car all day and carrying them would have been over the edge for even me.
Instead I bought dry goods; cornmeal, popcorn, almonds and poppy seeds from Full Belly Farm. Poppy seeds! Can you believe it? What in the hell am I going to do with poppy seeds? But I felt so grown up buying them. Like a woman with a Viking Range I dropped them in my borrowed Puffins cereal bag and shoulders held high handed the man a twenty.
Maybe I could add them to the kabocha squash cake with brown sugar cream recipe that Deborah from Canvas Ranch sent in our CSA bag this week. It sounds good and what's a few seeds going to hurt? They will make the cake my own.
All joking aside eating local this week has been a breeze. We are back in the swing of putting a face to our food. I shopped at my first market in the rain on Tuesday. Hardly a real rain but a gentle introduction. If it were really raining I'm afraid I'd stay in the office. And starve.
The cute guy and I had butternut squash burritos with Rancho Gordo pebble beans one night. "Does food get any better?" I asked.
"Mhgmghmhgmghbmh," he answered. I took that as a no.
And we had a hearty not quite winter salad that was heavy on the chicken, cheese and pumpkin seeds pan roasted with minced jalapenos and sea salt. Not a shred of which was wasted.
But I'm in a quandary about how much squash we can eat this winter. It's not like stocking up the freezer where once it was full I was done. I have a hundred places to store squash. And that scares me.
Today I had to laugh. It was that or light my hair on fire.
I work in a downtown San Francisco office and have been greening us up a bit. We buy paper that is partially recycled that we primarily use only to recycle again. Instead of plastic utensils we have knives, forks and spoons made of corn products that are biodegradable. Our paper towels are also made of recyclable material and instead of buying brand name snack almonds in the cans or honey bears from Safeway we buy them from the farmers' market.
We recycle cans, plastic, bottles, toner cartridges, batteries and cardboard boxes. We have a dedicated person to call catalog companies and have our name removed from their lists. Another person does it for unsolicited faxes.
I bought everyone in the office organic cotton canvas bags in two convenient sizes to use instead of carrying pink or white plastic bags back to the office. Only the one unmarried young man politely declined.
But we have a ten year tradition of keeping the great orange plastic pumpkin infinitely full of individually wrapped candy.
Today our candy person asked for the credit card to fill up the great orange plastic pumpkin. I wrestled for the hundredth time looking for an alternative to miniature Butterfingers, Snickers, Nestles Crunch. To Reese's. And knew I was beat.
"Have fun," I said handing her the card and watching her leave.
She had her large size natural organic cotton bag with her.
I laughed, "This is progress," I said to myself. "Right?"
I wish I would have thought of this but I didn't. I found the idea at The Herbwife's Kitchen and it's too easy to be so delicious.
The Herbwife puts aromatic herbs into jars of honey - she has pictures - and then eats it and uses it for remedies. My words, not hers. Since I didn't remember exactly what herbs she used I improvised.
I bought a big jar of local honey, went to the yard, cut sage and mint and layered them into a smaller jar with spoonfuls of honey. This morning I mixed it with yogurt and felt like a beautiful flower licking my spoon.
Thank you Herbwife!
Okay. I've signed on for the Dark Days Eat Local Challenge started by Laura at Urban Hennery. Sure it will be winter but I bought 50 pounds of winter squash alone today which should last for a meal a week until the acacia bloom. It wasn't that long ago I had to buy every pepper that had a hint of red and now it's every squash with a dimple or gourd with a curl. I buy two or three at a time. And then I hide them in the trunk. And buy more from someone else.
Here's the rules for the Dark Days Eat Local Challenge copied from its website -
Each participant can set their own rules, but generally they are:
We have to cook one meal a week with at least 90% local ingredients
We have to write about it - the triumphs and the challenges
Local means a 200 mile radius for raw ingredients. For processed foods the company must be within 200 miles and committed to local sources.
Keep it up through the end of the year, and then re-evaluate on New Year’s Day
Here's the rules for me -
-I'll cook three meals a week with at least 90% local ingredients.
-I'll write about a couple of them.
-The 200 miles for the winter sounds good. Still a decrease in my carbon bite compared to how I used to buy food.
-Through New Years is good.
-To include friends and/or family in at least a couple of the local meals a month for fun and to share the local tastes and conversation.
None of which means I'm going to start eating like I do with the cute guy on the sail boat for the remaining meals but I want to leave some leeway as I don't know the winter local season well enough. Next year I'll have a better idea, maybe a bigger freezer and the comfort of fresh canned jars on the pantry shelves.
And likely I'll be well versed in cooking winter squash too.
I've committed my salsa recipe to paper, at least the essence of the salsa recipe as the amounts vary and it's rarely the same twice. It's best when I let the natural fiesta of bright colors have their way with me and then add more spicy pepper, ginger, salt or lime at the end to perfect it. This time of the year, while tomatoes are still local, the salsa is a sure thing as the freshness will wrap its lovin arms around you and you won't want it to let go.
Makes about 5 cups
1 medium purple onion finely chopped
6-8 diced tomatoes - tomatoes you would like to french kiss
1 inch nub of ginger root peeled and finely minced
1 fragrant Gravenstein or Sierra Gold apple chopped
1-2 serrano or jalapeno peppers minced
1-2 limes juiced
1 basket halved yellow sunburst or cherry tomatoes
1 bunch chopped fragrant cilantro
5-6 leaves minced mint
Place the finely chopped onions in a generous mixing bowl. Dice the tomatoes with a serrated knife, transferring them to the mixing bowl with a pan spatula to maintain the integrity of the fruit.
Add one half of the minced ginger, all the chopped apple and one half of the minced peppers (keeping your hands away from your eyes after handling the peppers). Include lime juice and sea salt.
Top with one or all of the optional ingredients as available or desired.
With a slotted spoon, turn over the contents of the bowl lightly until all ingredients are well distributed.
Taste for desired heat, adding more peppers if you dare, the remaining ginger, lime and additional salt to taste.
Turn over the ingredients lightly after each addition and taste liberally to confirm you have a lush balance of sweet, salt and spice.
Pour salsa gently to a serving bowl and garnish with lime, cilantro or mint as available.
Serve at room temperature, pucker up and enjoy.
I read the following excerpt about commercial tomato growers on St. Helena Island, South Carolina in The Earth Knows My Name by Patricia Klindienst and as the cute guy isn't home for me to read it to, I'm posting it.
To prepare their fields, they cut down all the trees, then scrape off the topsoil and sell it off-island. What's left serves as a mere substrate for the production of a chemically dependent crop watered with millions of gallons drawn from the local aquifer, for which the commercial growers pay nothing.
The Mexican migrant farm workers who harvest the tomatoes are paid between forty and forty-five cents per thirty-two-pound bucket. They have to pick two tons of tomatoes to make fifty dollars in a day. Out of that, they have to pay rent and buy food. They receive no benefits of any kind.
After reading the above two paragraphs I thought, this must be an old book. The book was published in 2006.
I've had people recently ask in response to learning I ate within 100 miles as part of the September Eat Local Challenge, "So, what did you eat? It cost more, right?" And then say, "It must have taken a lot of time. That would be really hard." Or, "Oh, you get everything at the farmer's market." End of subject.
I stumble around for a way to be succinct because eating local is not a subject to dive into. I say things like, "Well, you know, rice, maybe, not really, I'm outside a lot," and "Yeah." And then I change the subject. Or at least think I should change the subject and dive in anyway.
I start with what I didn't eat, which was anything made with yeast, baking soda, baking powder, flour or sugar. I missed tortillas the most.
I ate a lot of brown rice. The cute guy and I always eat a lot of brown rice. We are not gourmet people. We are generally stressed out, stand at the counter with an egg and a salt grinder kind of people.
We ate a lot of salads. We had sausages from Marin Sun Farms. Spicy as shit and we loved them. There was some soup. We ate yogurt, some cheese, mostly on salads. Neither of us left the house without fruit. Almonds, almond butter and walnuts were a saving grace as were rice cakes.
For the first time in fifteen years I ate Rocky Range and Rosie chickens, which I'm mixed about. They are local but the free range labeling is misleading. The price of truly free range organic chickens exceeds my comfort zone however and the cute guy needs protien. And, if it's in the house I'll eat it.
We ate beans but missed chips to have with salsa. We had a little fish, which is another mine field in terms of knowing which are fished sustainably and not farmed, etc.
We ate honey and applesauce, figs and cheese, strawberries and cream. Mashed potatoes with fresh churned butter, brussel sprouts with home made mayonnaise. I don't remember feeling denied at all and my pants are a stitch looser if anything.
I'm still weighing the cost factor.
Time and effort are easier to talk about. Eating local, whole, seasonal foods took time for me but it's also an act of art and entertaining as a result. Some nights it was a pain to make sure there was food for work the next day but it mostly got easier.
Shopping for locally grown foods was the best part. My office is in the heart of the financial district with two farmer's markets within walking distance on different days. With our CSA farm bag in between and a weekend farmer's market thrown in for fun, the only problem with getting food was not getting too much of it.
Now that the challenge month is over nothing much has changed except I savored a home made cinnamon roll (thank you, Emily!) and we have tortillas in the fridge we bought with the card at the grocery store. It was weird.
They're in the fridge but we haven't touched them.
There are days when words become a mess of mumbo jumbo and all I want to do is listen to a good story and look at the pictures. Today is one of those days.
Here's a link to some pictures and the NPR audio program with the authors of Hungry Planet: What the World Eats.
I wonder what a week's worth of groceries would look like on my kitchen table!
He was so brilliant I didn't want to kill him, nor was I going to unleash him in the backyard so I dunked him in the garbage with a first grade, farewell little worm song. Then I chopped off the top of the ear, sliced off the sweet corn, bagged and froze it. Worm 2, Human 8.
The two cookie trays of tomatoes I slow roasted next didn't come with hidden friends but were purchased from an elderly man at the Petaluma farmers market who picked them the night before. He bagged each tomato one at a time as if sorry to see them depart. My heart bent imagining eating them but they smelled of sunshine, each one prettier than the next.
Instead of bagging the tomatoes whole as before, I pureed them skin and all and laid the liquidy bags efficiently flat in the freezer, which spurred the idea to make waterbeds for the girls Barbie dolls.
The last item headed for the freezer was veggie stock, also pureed and laid flat. It started with beet greens, a nosegay of sage, rosemary and thyme from the yard and nettles from my trip last week to Berkeley (thinking only good thoughts as I handled it). Garlic roasted with the tomatoes went in whole with previously abandoned but forgiving ginger and fine pencils of green onions. Carrots, cabbage and summer squash finished the pot.
The cute guy tasted it. "You can add beets if you puree it." He was licking his lips.
"Really, it would be okay."
And then I couldn't resist. "Sweetie?" He innocently turned towards me. "Did you like it?"
"Yeah. It was good." He nodded his head.
"It has beets in it."
"Ack! Ugh. Ahhhh." He spit on his sleeve, wiped his mouth wildly with his arm. "How could you do that to me? I hate beets! You know I hate beets. Agh."
I continued stirring the pot until he was done.
On the last day of the eat local adventure there was wild salmon for dinner, yogurt with honey for lunch, Tomales strawberries in between and Sebastapol figs I bought this morning for $1.50 a basket. For breakfast we had left over mashed potatoes with peppers and eggs, Blue Bottle coffee and Strauss bottled milk. I keep pinching myself and the CG at all the local good food available.
But the holiday is over. Tomorrow I face the world with no limitation to my food choices. At every turn the world will literally be at my reach.
That's when the eat local challenge will begin.
I crossed a new line line and it's not pretty. Last night babysitting for a friend I went through her refrigerator. And I took notes.
Before I tell what I found let me say nearly everything was labeled organic; my friend is a good mom and organic says, I love my family, I care about the planet. Organic looks good in the check out line as every retailer is discovering. But it's only part of the story. Where food originates is equally important in terms of the amount of resources used in its packaging and delivery.
Not a part of the story that's as sexy as the cherries I found on the top shelf. They were lookers; each one of them. Canned in spiked up sugar water from Germany. Next to them was an orgy of peaches stacked one on top of the other, slick in a syrup of grape juice from Spain.
"The milk, butter and eggs are local," I yelled to the living room scribbling on a sticky stuck to the counter. It was a rerun of Gladys Kravitz from Bewitched. "Ummm, ummmm," the cute guy replied. "Why don't you come sit down." He never lifted his head from his sailing book.
I moved to the bags of fruit; lemons and oranges from Australia, apples from New Zealand. This was the shelf of fake lashes and blue eyeshadow. The sexiness was wearing off. And then there were plastic bags from the USA of albino lettuce heads and stubby facsimiles of carrots. "The plums have stickers."
"Shut the door," came the reply from the living room. I put the canola oil from New York back on the door and closed it.
"There's stickers on the potatoes too!" I picked one up from the bowl on the counter. The cute guy called my name. He snapped me out of it.
"Sit down and have a drink," he said handing me the water bottle. I opened my mouth. "I know," he said. "It's okay."
"All those planes and ships. New Zealand, Germany." I handed him my notes. He stuck them to the front of his book, Small Boat to Freedom.
"Can I read you something," he asked. "This guy was sailing from ....."
I laid down and covered my eyes.
Eight months ago the only blog I read was Noodlepie written by an English guy living in Saigon. He ate street food and photographed it. Then he moved and I went back to reading books.
Now I've discovered local food blogs and the books are stacking up on the floor next to the couch. I no longer balance our bank statements or read the two magazine subscriptions I've been married to longer than the cute guy. The back yard has turned brown from neglect and my mother wonders why I don't call.
Here's some of my favorite blogs --
dirt to dish She's nearly out of salt for the month too.
Urban Hennery Pictures of Barbara Kingsolver's and Michael Pollan's recent books are right on top which make her blog feel like my cushy couch and she's a smart friend visiting.
Knitting Dahlias So many of these blogs I found at the Eat Local Challenge website list of local blogs and Knitting Dahlias is listed below mine. The visual of the name makes me smile as does the blog itself.
Life Begins at 30 This is the first blog I found about eating local and I keep going back. The author is a founder of the Lacavores and I say a silent thank you each time I visit.
Food on the Food I read this blog for the first time today after it was featured at the Eat Local Challenge website and laughed out loud. She's good.
Kona Yoga I like to think about doing yoga and this blog let's me dream and reminds me to keep an open mind. They eat local too.
Mom's Pizza Dough What can I say, I love pizza.
Fast Grow the Weeds This woman is amazing - gardening and putting up food and still finding time to encourage others. She was my mayonnaise guru.
Livin' La Vida Local This blog was also featured at the Eat Local Challenge website (what would I do without them?). She's young and on fire with eating local. It's awesome.
Green-Lemonade Another ELC featured blog with my favorite list of links to green websites.
The Herbwife's Kitchen I want a kitchen window like the photo on this blog and each time I go there I take a minute to look out the window as if it were my own.
I'm Mad and I Eat This blog came from the ELC website too and what I love is that last year she quit the challenge and let everyone know. That one blog strengthened my resolve to stick with it this month more than anything.
One of my favorite parts of our CSA farm bag from Canvas Ranch is the newsletter that Deborah adds each week. It makes me feel as if I've had a conversation with her like I do with the farmers at the markets. This week I wish that conversation weren't one dimensional because I would like to give her a big hug and say, "Thank you!"
Deborah's headline today was, 'Getting Bored with Summer Yet?'. She wrote about the beauty of eating seasonally and noticing that our bodies actually begin to crave the food of the season with the example that we may be sick of salad and wanting more comfort food such as soup. "Yes!" I said out loud. "Yes!"For the first time this summer I tossed left over salad. It was weird. I couldn't stomach the salad even enough to replate it for someone else. But I didn't understand why until now. The season is done.
Last weekend we ate potatoes three times and only stopped because, well, I don't know why we stopped. It felt like we should, like it was wrong. But now I realize it's just the internal tides making their shift and our hunger for roots is normal. There is no need to fight this, only to enjoy it.
Today I have a few pieces of eat local good news.
First is during dinner with my friend, the Muse, she told me she hasn't had any gas guzzling bananas since the last time she saw me. "Okay!" I said, not wanting to make a huge deal but feeling my insides doing cartwheels anyway.
Second, while looking for something else I came across this news piece that Duke University was participating in the Eat Local Challenge today to show their commitment to the environment and the local economy. It was good to be reminded that the eat local movement isn't happening only in individual homes but in big venues too and even better it's happening with the young adults. Okay, I really call them kids.
Lastly I was cruising Michael Pollan's website to see what he's up too with new articles or speaking events about the farm bill and when his new book is scheduled to be released. The latter of which I couldn't find. What I did find is that he'll be part of a panel on October 30 for a sneak preview of the documentary, King Corn. And if anyone can address the ramifications of the craziness of corn in our world today it's MP. After reading the Omnivore's Dilemma I'm such a corn geek I can't wait to see this movie. I'll probably have to buy the DVD.
Eat well and be safe.
Here I am three weeks into the eat local adventure and for the first time made a pot of soup.
Sometime ago I'd gotten a wild hair to make and freeze vegetable broth with the beet greens that were heading south and the first of the zucchini deliveries. I have no idea what else got tangled in there but tonight I hauled out a bag from the brew and proceeded to empty the veggie drawers to the kitchen floor.
I felt a guilty pleasure succumbing to vegetable soup so early in the year. After all, we are still eating Frog Hollow Farm peaches! But even the cute guy liked it, after he ran it through the blender; although he was more than ready for veggies after his foray with a Safeway birthday cake yesterday.
We finally used the shell beans that came in a Canvas Ranch farm bag and threw in typical soup fare, cabbage, carrots, potatoes. I used a couple of cubes of long hot red and yellow peppers I'd slow roasted, pureed and froze. The soup was festive as a result and in spite of the pieces of skin that weren't as soft as when I'd sauteed instead of slow roasted the peppers.
I pinched purple leaves of left over basil, diced a tiny yellow scalloped squash and added a slow roasted tomato that refused to be bullied onto the cookie sheet in the freezer with the others. Lastly, there was the eye of a newt, a palm sized cauliflower head I'd bought because it was cute.
Half an hour later we had soup. Unsalted because I'm nearly out of my mermaid salt that I've been tossing around like fairy dust for weeks now and I don't want to share a crystal of it. But we topped our bowls with Springhill Cheese Co. butter made at the ranch and it was magic.
Last night I showed off the contents of my freezer to exuberant exclaims. I'd picked my audience well. "Frozen blueberries," my blue eyed friend shouted. "Strawberries!" she repeated after me. "OMG, peaches, applesauce, blackberries." I was having fun. "Pesto," was spoken in a savory hushed tone as was, "tomatillas." And then she told me her childhood fruit in the freezer story.
"We didn't know what we had. There were raspberry bushes gone wild down each side of the yard." She waved her arms wide. "We couldn't eat them fast enough. The freezer would be full and they would go bad in the fridge. And then my Mom would make us - Make Us," she repeated. My Mom would make us pick tiny wild blueberries alongside the road. We hated it but then we would have blueberry pies at Christmas."
She stopped there and smiled. We were quiet. I was sure she was remembering the taste of those holiday pies. I was remembering buying the now frozen blueberries at the Fairfax market on a Wednesday night with another blue eyed friend and how heavy they had been; how we'd eaten hand fulls of them winding through quiet side streets, an easy friendship.
I don't know what it was that brought us back to the open door of the freezer but she said, "I'd can with you." I hadn't said a word about canning. We both looked startled; her as she realized what she was saying and me as she wasn't the first person that day to offer.
"I'm not sure I'm ready though," I repeated at the same time thinking of MFK Fisher and how pretty those canned tomatoes would be on my pantry shelf.
"Let me know," she said. "I'd love to."
Today I started thinking about making room on those pantry shelves. After all, the freezer is nearly full.