After weeks of threatening, weeks of randomly timed complaining, weeks of wondering if I'm over reacting, today I took action. And my action was anti-climatic.
I cancelled my membership at our local NPR radio station. I listen to NPR a lot. Their schedule influences my schedule. The voices on the station are as familiar as family members. When I'm sick, the radio voices calm me. When I can't sleep, they lull me. It's odd but I love these people; at least I love their voices.
Some months ago however one of the shows began including Monsanto in its list of sponsors. Immediately I wrote the program. I received a fast response. I'd identified the wrong program, it wasn't them, they wrote, and I let the issue go. I saw a petition and realized other people weren't happy about Monsanto on NPR either. I signed the petition and let my membership ride.
But the Monsanto name didn't go away. A quick mention in the sponsor list turned into a five word sentence. I don't remember what it was. I would turn off the radio and break pencil led until the ad was over.
Now the single five word sentence sounds like three sentences. Maybe more. And in one of the sentences is the word sustainability and everything is verdant green fields and today I was done. My blood didn't boil or my heart rate increase. I simply knew I no longer wanted my dollars to support programming that created a frame in which Monsanto could paint a happy face I believe is false.
I called member services; it was easy finding their number. A young woman picked up the phone and as if I were ordering birthday flowers I requested the monthly auto debits to my account be stopped. She took the information, thanked me for the long time membership. She didn't ask me to stay or attempt to sell me on staying. But I had to tell her why I was quitting being a member, "I don't want my dollars supporting programing that promotes Monsanto."
She was silent. I considered she might not know who Monsanto is. Or she thought I was over reacting or she was making dinner reservations at Open Table while I talked. I'll never know. Maybe I am crazy. My meager monthly pledge is nothing against the sponsorship of Monsanto. It still feels good to stand up for what I believe in though.
And it doesn't. I remember the first time I pledged to NPR. It was a right of passage. I became part of a community of listeners and I was proud to belong. I'm sad to give that up, to not support the voices I'm so fond of.
But I can't support Monsanto.
I grew up thinking the whole world drank Clover milk from surrounding dairies. The first time I saw another label I declared it false and went without rather than drink it. I've always been settled in my ways. And I've always loved milk.
Now that I've learned to make sour cream and its kissing cousin, creme fraiche, I adore it more. I say learned loosely, as if making soured milk requires detailed instruction, talent, as if the making requires study; it doesn't. And yet as simple as these recipes are, these simple foods have been a mystery. I didn't know sour cream was possible without buying it in a plastic tub. And creme fraiche, well, I believed it would never be possible at home. I was mistaken.
Sour cream is better made fresh. At least mine was.
Four Parts Cream
One Part Buttermilk
Stir them together and place covered in a warm spot for 24 hours. I put the bowl in the oven, kept the light on. A comforting thought through the night.
I used most of the sour cream for a holiday rabbit and the remainder, that precious remainder, went to a silkened carrot soup. Then I licked the bowl.
The creme fraiche was as easy with ten thousand ways to make it online. It was art drizzled on the top of soup, an excuse to play with my food. And to have more.
As much as I appreciate milk and the elementary ways it can be transformed, sometimes it still goes sour. But I have a new recipe for that too. I learned it from a farmer. "Dilute the milk," the farmer said, "and pour it on the garden."
I can't believe I haven't done it before. It makes sense. Right? All that calcium. Given the amount of milk I loose it's not going to make a significant difference to the soil but it feels better than pouring even the smallest cup down the drain.
Especially when I love it so.
Galeuse d'Eysines Squash
Little Gem Lettuce
Red Kuri Squash
Yukon Gold Potatoes
Back Deck Harvest
Gleaned and Gifted
(From Someone Else's Yard)
Apple Sauce (Thank you, Olivia)
Lemons (Thanks, Ellie!)
Saturday was one of those perfect fall days to romanticize the life of a farmer. The hills were commercial green, totem like hawks were perched at two mile intervals, black and white cows posed, chewing in fields. The oak trees hardly looked real and the rutted country roads would have cost extra anywhere else. The weather was warm, a Hollywood set. Unreal. We were heading north to visit Tara Firma Farm.
The cute guy's son and I barely had the car doors open when a nine year old popped out of a shed and asked if we wanted to see the baby chicks. As quick as he appeared he left, something about finding the ducks. "Close the door when you're done," he instructed, "so the chicks stay warm." I picked one up to my cheek making the mandatory cooing noises the scene required.
Outside again we walked through a hay scented barn, a hoop house of tomatoes beyond it, tubs of green fruit inside. We passed walls of uncarved pumpkins, scattered green watermelon. And not far away we came to the hogs; hogs trained to run toward us and ask if we brought them more pumpkins. They snorted and stretched in the warm mud at our empty hands. Starlets, every one of them.
Across from the hogs were turkeys; also trained to appear effortlessly happy. They modeled their fat breasts, stood on one leg, pecked at each other caringly. Neither of us breathed a word about Thanksgiving.
We met a father and son on the way back, film extras I was sure, walking back to their car from the pond, fishing poles in hand. "The casting was good," the father said.
I bought a dozen white eggs in the farm store as if I'd never seen white eggs before. "They're white," I exclaimed. "They're white." I was embarrassed even then but what can I say? They were white!
On the way out, and neither of us wanted to leave, I gazed longingly at the sloping blue farm house, the square paned windows, the white washed porch. I wanted to stay forever. Until I realized I'd tracked a bunch of mud into the car. Then I was ready to go home.
The romance hasn't ended though. The white eggs - almost as bright and good as Dad's. What a find.
I love my cotton produce bags and hope I never get amnesia and return to plastic. But the candid fact is I get lazy and deposit produce in the fridge in dry cotton bags and forget about them. It's not pretty. The greens wilt. Carrots wilt. I've even had radishes look anemic.
Two years ago I would have tossed anything less than crisp from the fridge. That changed when I got worms. I fed atrophied produce to them instead. But I'm being more sincere about not throwing food away now. Now I soak.
It's a miracle. Last night I reached for a bunch of kale purchased on Sunday. Sure, I hadn't dampened the bag when I'd put it in the fridge three days ago but jeez. I didn't expect the kale to actually wilt. It did. I cut the bunch of leaves in half, pressed them into a cold bowl of water and sat down to a hot bowl of soup.
Twenty minutes later the kale was as fresh as Sunday. Beautiful. I made salad.
I've had the same straightforward success soaking spinach, salad greens and chard too. Carrots however take more than twenty minutes to revive after an arid bout in the fridge but they crisp up nicely. It feels like a second chance.
And honestly, everything tastes as good as new.
My winter squash obsession has become more refined. That's overstating it a bit though. Let's just say I'm learning the names of the different winter squash. To date I have nine varieties and know the names of eight. One I can't pronounce and one, the one pictured, remains unknown. This is progress.
I grew up on butternut squash baked in boat shaped wedges filled with butter and brown sugar. Later I discovered pumpkin raviolis in a buttery white sauce at a country restaurant with a chef named Pierre. I never ordered anything else. "I'll have the ravioli's," I'd smile returning the menu without a glance.
The last pumpkin ravioli I had was at that restaurant too many years ago. The restaurant, the dirt parking lot, I think they're both gone.
The next time I ate squash it came in a box. Butternut squash soup in a box. I'd add green curry, ginger. Top it with chopped cilantro. It looked good, thick, golden, like the baked squash I grew up with. But it didn't have the dense flavor I remembered. It was butternut light. Butter without the nut. That must be what happens when its put into a soup, I reasoned.
My reasoning was flawed. I made my own butternut squash soup last week. It was as densely flavored as I remember those butter filled baked boats my Grandmother served. It was better than boats. And nearly as easy as opening a box but without the resulting trash.
Even Pierre, I imagine, would sit on a bar stool, his white apron half untied and kiss his fingertips over a bowl of this butternut squash soup. This then is for him.
Wherever he may be.
Butternut Squash Soup
Three Parts Chicken Broth
One Part Butternut Squash
Peanut or Almond Butter
Serrano or Jalapeno Chili
Peel and cut butternut into two to three inch crooked cubes and wedges. Add to chicken broth and cook on medium heat with a small bouquet of thyme. Add one teaspoon of minced ginger and one teaspoon of nut butter for each cup of broth. For a medium spicy soup add half a teaspoon of minced pepper for each cup of broth.
Cook until squash is soft, remove thyme bouquet. Blend with an immersion blender and add salt to taste.
Serve topped with a circle of creme fraiche.
(Please note all measurements are approximate as I've yet to refine that fine art.)
The mushroom lady recharged my kitchen life. Neither of us had any idea at the time. I was eavesdropping, she was sharing a recipe, I asked a question, and, well, my kitchen life has been recharged.
The recipe is an old remedy for a sore throat or cough soother but I've used it for anything but. "Put pomegranate seeds and some skin into honey. Leave it on the counter for a few weeks and put it in the refrigerator," the mushroom lady said. "It will last a year."
We looked at her disbelieving. "Put a spoonful into hot water," she continued. "Drink it. You'll feel better." At this she held her throat. Smiled. "Feel better."
I left with a beet red pomegranate.
At home I separated seeds into a jar, hesitantly added bits of skin and poured honey over it. A few days later the honey was a thick liquid; not exactly honey like. The seeds were red as ever though. I tasted a few. And then a few more. And a few more after that. You get the idea.
My jar of pomegranate seeds and honey was gone in a week and a half.
Out of necessity I added the mixture, minus the skins, to kale salad as it was the only honey in the house. The kale and pomegranate seeds, earthy and sweet tastes, they were meant to be together. The red seeds were sparklers against the dark green kale.
Then I baked apples and needed a thimble of juice in the cored out center of them. Adding dried figs first I spooned the pomegranate and honey into the apples. I topped each with a teaspoon of plain honey. Another success.
I also pour the honey and seeds onto plain yogurt. I love the crunch of the seeds, the thread of juice from the fruit. I love the color, the simplicity. I love that the mushroom lady passed the recipe along.
I'm making more tomorrow. A lot more. My kitchen life would be so dull through the winter without it.
Galeuse d'Eysines Squash
Little Green Onions
Musquee de Provence Squash
Red Kuri Squash
Back Deck Harvest
Gleaned and Gifted
(From Someone Else's Yard)
Apple Sauce (Thank you, Olivia)
Eggs (Thanks, Dad)
Slow Roasted Tomatoes
I've come up with a new party trick. Well, it's not new, actually quite old and probably thought of as a chore in it's day but I like it. We pull butter from a bottle of cream.
What could be easier? I pour a bottle of cream into a bowl, grab the whisk, hand it all to the person nearest the kitchen and ask them to whisk. The bowl gets passed around.
One friend told a story of making mayonnaise in Africa while she whisked. Which led to someone else's stories of collecting mushrooms in Germany and someone else's memories of mushrooms in Vermont. And then there's the person, this could easily be me, but this time it was the Takeout Queen, who had never seen butter being made.
"Don't you have to add something?" she asked.
That person has the most fun. Because the transition of cream to butter is a small miracle. It's the fuzzy caterpillar to a butterfly metamorphosis. Mothy white cream turns in the blink of an eye, once the turning actually happens, to the color of a yellow daisy, the color of breakfast, the color of all that is good in the world; it turns butter yellow at the same time it leaves behind it's milky beginnings. Butter. Meltingly sweet fresh butter from cream.
I've yet to see someone not smile at the turning, at the lump of gold found in a returnable bottle. And then I serve the bread. Even the most delicate among us takes up the butter knife and with a singular purpose, not one at a time, everyone reaches knives and elbows into the butter balancing huge nuggets back to their bread.
It's there in the breaking of bread, of bread and new butter, the reaching and full mouths that no one feels like a guest any more; it simply feels like everyone is at home. That's my favorite part.
The first time I heard anyone talk about industrial pig factories it was Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. What he described was so unfathomable I reasoned it must not be true or he was exaggerating. Or something. The speech was likely made at the same time the author of Righteous Porkchop, Nicolette Hahn Niman, worked for Kennedy at Waterkeeper Alliance as a staff attorney and head of a national campaign to combat pig factories.
Maybe I haven't been paying attention between the time of that speech half a dozen years ago and two weeks ago when I picked up Righteous Porkchop. I thought the pork industry had cleaned up its, please excuse me, cleaned up its shit for all I heard about it.
Righteous Pork may change that. NHN spends the first half of the book describing her work with the pig factories and the people and communities who worked alongside her. Which is why I didn't want to put the book down. It's not all pretty reading but the people and communities affected by the factories are.
In some ways the story is an unfolding drama. I found myself more than once, okay, a lot, routing for the local communities but NHN also shows the corner the factory owners have gotten themselves into and I couldn't help but route for them too; that they can find a way out. No one is having a good time.
There's a little bit of spying; quite a few bad politicians. There's a guy hired by the pork industry to tail NHN to community meetings. Eventually someone does have a good time and there's romance too.
The later part of the book visits industrial chicken and fish, factory dairies and beef. Did you know that it's a widespread practice to feed factory hens red dye to make the yolks of their eggs yellow? I had no idea. I also learned the correct terminology for the animals on a dairy. They are not all cows.
There's a lot to learn from Righteous Porkchop. It's a smart book with history.
My only criticism is Niman Ranch beef comes across too precious in Niman's telling. In one example she praises a retailer for carrying Niman beef, overlooking the foreign imports in their produce department. That would have been fine but she goes on to knock the produce department of another retailer that doesn't carry Niman beef.
And I loved this book. It's an important read revealing the truth that corporate meat producers don't want us to know. It's to their benefit to keep us ignorant. Righteous Porkchop changes that though, one knowledgeable page at a time.
I love the city. I really do. But when I take a few days off I want to hit the country. Which is how the cute guy and I spent a long weekend. We headed north. To apple country.
We drove through Sebastopol to Graton, up to Cloverdale and over to Booneville. And each time we passed apple farms, there were two near our camp, I remembered picking apples with Mom.
I remembered her pulling on to the side of the road, two wheels in the field. It was before there were fences, orchards as far as Christmas. "Come on," she'd say. "Let's get apples." And I'd pick as many from the ground as I could carry. "They're Gravensteins," she'd sing, which meant nothing to me except Gravensteins made her happy.
Yesterday Gravenstein apples were the main headline in the Sunday paper. I recognized the farmer in the front page picture. We've laughed together. I've taken more than one slice of apple from his hand.
The article explained that the apple growers aren't picking the fallen apples traditionally used for juice. There's no where to take them. The US apple juice market is sustained by China. It's cheaper.
I didn't read further but I did come home with cotton bags of apples. Picked from a growers wooden boxes at the farm. A farm with a black dog carrying a yellow ball. A farm with a big rabbit and three red hens.
I read the names of the apples; Northern Spy, Sierra Beauty. There were more varieties than there are holidays. I could see them in the field, on the trees and the ground. I could happily smell them but couldn't help wondering, will the apple fields be there the next time? Or will we need to go to China to buy them off the farm?
The cute guy and I visit the humane society regularly. We flirt with cats and cruise the dogs. And then we go home. To the worms.
Worms are the best pets. They don't leave hair on the couch or need to go on walks. There's no barking, no grooming. And their poop is succinctly contained. It's even good for the garden I've read.
Not that I've put worm poop on the garden. I used the liquid run off last year. In the beginning it was a green revolution. I saturated the lawn with my version of worm tea. And then the roses began to turn yellow, drop leaves. The pepper plants began to perish. Which I thought meant everything needed more of the undiluted, unaerated worm bin runoff I called tea. (Yes, I should have read something first. Anything. But I was excited.) The yard is still recovering and the liquid from the bin now goes down the drain.
But the worms, the worms are flourishing. I've done nothing but feed them our produce skins and trimmings since they arrived a year and a half ago. This summer they ate everything from the kitchen plus the back yard bad apples.
When I need an animal or farm fix I dig in the worm bin. Not long ago I was in a recurring I want a plot of land funk and lazily raking through carrot tops in the bin. With the headlamp turned on high I flipped the shell of half a melon and nearly peed my pants. I was Faye Ray in the hands of King Kong. There were hundreds, it seemed like thousands, of worms knotted together beneath the rind. I had no idea.
Did I say they were big? They were really big.
I snapped the lid back on the bin; checked it twice. And gave getting a cat some more consideration.
The cute guy suggested a second worm bin. I'm liking his idea.
I saw Novella Carpentar do a reading this week from her book, Farm City. She's our current household hero. The cute guy and I loved the book and the urban farm on squatted land but mostly she's our hero for her generous heart that came through in the story. And again tonight at the reading.
Novella's reading and the book I'm currently reading, Righteous Porkchop, have me thinking about farming, past and present. My Grandparents and Great Grandparents on both sides were farmers. Ranch farmers. Between them they had cows, sheep, turkey and chickens. I grew up thinking every one's grandparents came from one ranch or another, had animals and grew food.
One Grandfather could grow anything. Even from his wheel chair he grew prize tomatoes in barrels and baked apple pies. The other collected bags of day old bread from the bakery in town. He fed it to the cows, the dogs. We ate some too.
Dad still gets day old bread from a bakery down the road and feeds it to his doghouse chickens and a pair of crows that recognize his truck. They meet him at the old ranch and start in on the bread in the back of the truck. And then a mile as the crow flies they beat him home where they finish cleaning up the crumbs. "Crazy crows," he says.
The last time I saw him he gave me two loaves of old bread. "It's still good," he said. It felt soft, there was no mold. It was in plastic with a tie and I remembered liking the brand when I ate packaged bread. "Thanks, Dad," I said and put the loaves in the car.
If I had chickens or a dog I suppose I would have fed them some, it's in my blood, but there's just the two of us, the cute guy and I; we had toast. And I have to admit, Dad was right, the bread was good.
Not as good as Farm City or Righteous Porkchop but almost. A little homemade strawberry jam and they'd be equal.
Have you ever had one of those experiences, I'm sure you have, when you think you're doing one thing and then realize there's something else going on? And yet whatever you were doing had to be done before your eyes could adjust to the next thing. I've had a few of those experiences, this week.
The first was with the camera. I carry it every where and act like I know something. Until I realized this week the camera is the one that knows what's going on. It's teaching me how to see, as slowly and repeatedly as if I were relearning the alphabet. I point it, shoot and look to see what's there. It's like finding a ship in a bottle each time. And the camera gets it all; the light and the reflections of the light; the shadows and the threads. It gets the tiny black bugs and dust and patterns and vastness of everything. And I find beauty I'd overlooked and wonder, where have I been?
Which is how I feel about the next two small awakenings - where have I been? First, it's been a couple of years since we produced more than a tortilla chip bag, occasionally a big tortilla chip bag, of trash a week. This week though I realized the meat I buy is vacuumed packed in plastic. It's beautiful grass fed, organic, happy animal meat. That was all I could see. I never saw the plastic. That's the piece that gets me - I couldn't see the plastic.
The second eye opener had me cancel the Sunday paper delivery. To say I love the Sunday paper is an understatement. I make it last all week and can't wait to get on the bus for the hour commute to read it. But it's delivered in plastic. A blue plastic sleeve that I must admit makes me smile in anticipation. So much so that I've kept a blind eye to the plastic part. But you know what, I can walk or ride my bike to the store on Sunday to buy a copy. I can stop at the store on the way home from the farmers' market and buy a copy. A copy that doesn't come in plastic.
Although maybe I'll keep the last blue plastic bag and each Sunday put the store bought copy in it for the anticipation factor. I doubt it. The anticipation will change as will old habits of buying meat in plastic. I hope the camera never stops teaching me how to see though. I don't want to miss anything.
Little Gems Lettuce
Northern Spy Apples
Sierra Beauty Apples
Back Deck Harvest
Black Cherry Tomatoes
Gleaned and Gifted
(From Someone Else's Yard)
Slow Roasted Tomatoes
We've had next to nil kale in the house for the last year but in the last two days we've gone through three bunches. This latest obsession is a result of the visiting cooks at the Pt. Reyes Farmers' Market. Yesterday the cook was Zen chef Edward Espe Brown of the Tassajara bread and cookbooks and How To Cook Your Life movie. He made a killer kale salad.
Ed Brown is irreverent and gets off track a lot, which adds to his charm. And he seems to make up what he's doing as he goes along. I love that. Nothing was measured, he tasted with his fingers, put whatever the audience didn't finish on the tasting plates back into the bowl and never once missed a beat.
And he used his hands to mix everything. "Hands are meant to be handy," he instructed.
After making the salad twice now my hands are, as he promised, "happy."
Ed Brown's Kale Salad
1 Bunch Kale
Aged Smoked Gouda
Leaving the long vein in the leaves slice the kale width wise to thin ribbons of confetti and salt liberally. With both hands squeeze the salt into the kale, mixing and squeezing for several minutes until it's juicy and bright green. Ed calls this, "hand frying."
Pour in honey, approximately two to three tablespoons. Add balsamic vinegar generously. Mix again with your hands. The kale holds up admirably to the handling. Taste and increase amounts as desired.
Mince garlic and ginger and be irreverent with the amount, adding more than you believe necessary. Continue hand mixing and tasting, also adding chili flakes.
The juice of one or two lemons can be the finish. The salad is delicious with not another ingredient. But Ed Brown went on, dicing an apple he'd picked from his yard. He broadcast pumpkin seeds into the salad and the square confetti of a red pepper. He remembered a wedge of aged Gouda hidden in a brown bag and tossed some of it in too. All delicious.
I replaced the chile flakes with a fresh jalapeno and had pan roasted walnuts and a pear for the optional ingredients. I left the cheese and red pepper out. And the salad was just as good as Ed's.
I can't believe my Grandparent's only fed the kale to the chickens.
(Added Note: My Aunt sent word after reading this that chickens actually ate a different kind of kale. It was a field kale she wrote, strong and tough. My Grandparents weren't missing out after all.)
This is a funny little post but it's important given the season. It's about corn.
I have a thing about corn. Mostly about how corn is grown but that's another story. This story is about putting up corn in the freezer for winter meals. For the last two years I've been cutting corn from the cob and it's a mess. The knife blade is straight, the cob is round; the two simply aren't great mates. Kernels fly around the kitchen, some rows are cut off too close, some aren't. But I've persevered.
Until now. I was gifted with a Kuhn Rikon Corn Zipper. It's a marriage of a potato peeler and a cheese slicer made especially for corn. The blade is curved. It glides down the cob. Brilliant.
I've got twice the amount of corn in the freezer than before and we're eating half of it before I have a chance to get it in the freezer.
I'm just getting started.
This is my take on a recipe from the cute guy's Dad who uses canned corn and peppers. (Which has never stopped me from eating too much of it.)
1 Diced Small Onion
3 Coined Zucchini
1 Minced Jalapeno
1 Cup Corn Kernels
Saute onion until soft. Add the zucchini and jalapeno. When zucchini is barely pliable, approximately five minutes, add corn. Cook another three to five minutes being careful not to overcook the zucchini and serve with hot tortillas, eggs and salsa, eat alone or as a side dish. I start eating it before it gets to the table.
I think about volunteering a lot, but I never do it. The days are like untamed dogs that drag me along. But a friend called and asked if I wanted to pick up trash at the beach. I said, yes. It sounds like an easy yes. It wasn't. I really wanted to stay home and make jam.
I had no idea we were to be part of the International Coastal Cleanup Day organized by the Ocean Conservancy. We were given two bags - one for garbage and one for recycling. Then we were instructed to complete a survey by keeping a tally of what we picked up, which threw me into a spin. How in the heck are you supposed to pick up trash if you have to be tallying with a bowling score pencil the whole time. I didn't have enough pockets or the right glasses. My friend nudged me. "We'll estimate at the end," she whispered.
Then we stepped onto the beach and there was no trash. The shore actually looked pristine; sand, rocks, water. There was fog. I wondered where we were going to find trash, if I should stop and buy more canning jars on the way home.
It didn't take long though and my friend found a plastic bottle; the only one of the day. Then I found a lid for a plastic bottle. She found a candy wrapper, I found a piece of styrofoam and we barely stood up straight again until our garbage bags were full. Once our eyes adjusted to see trash it was everywhere. Mostly in bite size pieces.
There were a lot of plastic bottle lids and a lot of tiny styrofoam pieces. I nicknamed them snowflakes because they were impossible to pick up although we did. I'm not sure it mattered there were so many.
And somewhere between picking up an old plastic ball and a potato chip bag I forgot about the jam and realized I was having fun. Fun talking to the other people also picking up trash. Fun talking to the people on the trail not picking up trash. Fun being outside and seeing a result to our labor.
The most unexpected surprise though; I see trash everywhere now. And I name it as if I'm going to have to tally it with a short pencil. Then I have this weird reflex - I go to pick the trash up on the street like it's still my responsibility. Until I remember I don't have my work gloves on.
Next year, if not sooner, my yes will be an easy one.
Do you have a favorite volunteer job or one you resisted and then liked? Did you participate in the coastal clean up on Saturday?
It's been a long time since I've cried at a movie. But that's exactly what I did last night watching the new documentary, No Impact Man. Not crying really but weeping, appreciation and laughing tears. I fell in love with the whole family it's about; Colin, Michelle and Isabella.
While I was aware from news bites that there was a guy in NY that had given up everything (I never considered what he was gaining) I didn't read his blog or follow. Then Beth at Fake Plastic Fish had an interview post with the guy, Colin, which had me take notice. After that the Green Phone Booth posted a review of his book. I was interested.
I went to the movie with a friend who has never carried a canvas bag; not unlike Colin's wife, Michelle. While I learned new low impact tips from him I was his choir in the audience. More importantly, Michelle related to the audience that had yet to hear the siren's green call. Her distaste for worms, choice words for bike riders; her melt down at giving up caffeine. She spoke from the beauticians chair getting her hair colored and from her air conditioned office at Business Week sucking on ice. And then she cooked her first dinner. We were all changed.
On the way out of the theater my friend asked, "Do you think the growers would refill the plastic shells I buy berries in if I return them to the store?"
I tried not to cry again.
The big ahhh factor is their daughter, Isabella. She was a mimicking sprite; as happy in the dark as she was in the garden.
Admittedly I was biased toward the documentary from the beginning as Colin shopped for local food with flour sack towels and cloth produce bags. He spoke all my favorite things about sourcing food from near by. But he didn't overload our plates with food. He moved on to transportation, household cleaning products, cosmetics; the source of our power. He polished himself up for politics, volunteering, for talking to audiences. And while people were watching him, he was listening to the people doing the watching. Which is where he earned my final respect. He didn't flinch at the truth of criticism but neither did he give up in the face of it.
If you see this movie ( here's the schedule) I'd love to know how it impacts you. And take a friend. You'll want to talk about it at the end.
(Also posted at the Blogging Bookworm.)
I won a raffle once. And my mouth fell open. Then I couldn't stop smiling.
I would love to win the upcoming CUESA raffle, a year of dining out. I'd fall over if I did.
It's become tradition, if you can call three years a tradition, that I gift a friend with a ticket for his birthday too. And then wish until I'm blue his is a number that's called.
And while I'm wishing I'd love to win this raffle too. It's a benefit for Soul Food Farm, a chicken farm that recently suffered a fire. The raffle is put together by Bi-Rite in the city. There are great prizes, really great prizes, but I can't get past the year of ice cream. Truthfully I'd be better off not winning this.
But it's such a good cause I'm trying anyway. I had Soul Food Farm chicken for the first time a week before the fire. It was the real deal - chicken raised on the pasture. In spite of the fire the farm is moving forward - with a lot of love and help from their friends.
Chicken does not get better than that. Except, maybe, if you ate it with ice cream.
Here's how to get a ticket .
The cute guy and I had a spontaneous party yesterday. We were real. The guests were imaginary. It was the soup that spurred us on.
First we gave Gretchen a seat at the table because it was her tomatoes that I'd slow roasted and added to the broth. The cute guy gave her the yellow bowl. Jesse got the next seat for the huge red carrots that were impossibly sweet for being so big. We decided to invite the entire Rancho Gordo crew after that for the Yellow Indian Woman beans that gave the soup it's heartiness. They got the party rolling.
I remembered the turnip man. He wore his trademark overalls and sat on the stairs without complaint; drank his soup from a cup. The only thing he said was, "Nice you used the greens too."
We invited the guy with the Bolinas beard that once demonstrated making kohlrabi salad with garlic, olive oil, lemon and salt in Pt. Reyes. He'd sold me the leeks I'd used. Nodded his head in approval at the first spoonful. And David Little, the potato man; it would not have been a party without him. We love those potatoes. He got the big blue bowl.
I nearly forgot the woman from Petaluma I'd bought the walla walla onions from. "They're sweet," she'd said, mimicing taking a bite of one. She was right, the onion didn't make me cry. We included the guy that sells roast chicken from the truck at the table too although only the carcass had made it's way into the broth. In fact I gave him my chair and a soup bowl from Cattlemans.
My friend Ann from Brentwood and her son arrived and we raved over their garlic. "No one else grows it as good," we told everyone. She smiled eating with our only silver spoon.
The last guests were Uncle Don and the cute guys pink wigged cousin. They had loaded him up with backyard jalapenos and I had loaded up the soup. "Have another bowl," the cute guy kept saying. I offered to send them home with some. They declined.
Instead everyone showed up again tonight for the leftovers.
I can't remember the last time I bought flowers or the last time I enjoyed a bunch as much as the sunflowers I brought home Sunday. They're lemon yellow sunflowers, cut before they've had a chance to make seeds. The centers are thick with deep yellow petals and even the buds are beginning to burst with yellowness.
There's something about the way they stand in the vase, their heads held ready, not in prayer but in praise of the day, that makes me happy. As if at any moment they're going to break into a song, a bit of morning gospel or early evening Motown. I swear they have personality. There's one that stands differently, hangs back, refuses to face any direction I suggest. I've decided it's the prettiest back of a sunflower I've ever had.
I've thought about this before, this natural season of flowers. How their seasons mark the passing time; paper whites after Christmas, then tulips and ranuculus for my birthday. How the field flowers, rainbow asters, calliopsis and sweet williams don't bloom until after the last cap and gown has been stored away.
And how sunflowers any other time of the year, except now, when the sun has changed; has put on some blush; how only now do sunflowers seem right. Against all this late summer light.