Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cold market day... hot root vegetables.

There was a day, back in late September, that while I was working, it started pouring down rain. It doesn't take long, while moving lots of leafy vegetables around to get soaking wet, and of course, it was September... who wears a waterproof warm coat in September?

I got very wet. I got very cold. I soon after got pretty sick. It was a long and sucky day, and I felt like I hadn't even done my job well because I was miserable enough to have it effect everything I did... even count money. lol...

Yesterday was so much worse it knocked that day right off the radar.

Yesterday, as it started to get light outside I realised that it was going to be a cold and windy day. The bank on the corner said "27*". But it was still dark... surely it would warm up... I had packed warm clothes, tons of layers, and thought I was prepared. Little did I know that it would never get above freezing and I would be standing in the wind.

My right glove got wet about an hour into the market day (11am), and froze to my hand, giving me frost burns. The table cloths froze to the tables. The little droplets that were water back at the farm were ice crystals that never melted as we were putting out the kale, chard and mizuna. And it just got colder.

My brother picked me up at 4:30 and it was 26* outside. I was frozen to the bone. I spent the better part of the day finding excuses to go into stores and defrost... which of course just made the cold worse when I went back out. I can't even imagine how my market partner was standing it, but she disappeared half the amount of times I did. It was crazy.

But beauty out of that crazy ice:

The last of the years veggies have arrived. This miserable cold spell has taken all the life that was left in the ground and frozen it solid. Ok, that is a bit dramatic, but that is what it has done. The ground is frozen, so that means so are most of the things that don't mind the more mild colds of our climate. This was the last week for local cilantro, lettuce, chard, mizuna, broccoli, cabbage, most herbs, and onions. It may be the last time we have leeks, kale, beets, and potatoes... depending on how long this cold spell lasts. The season is finally over. *sigh*

And another will start again in a few months.

As much as I hate to say it. Thank you California. Thank you for making it so we don't have to stop and think about this season being over today and we can just go on living our lifestyles as we choose. I am not thinking about whether we have enough food to last the winter. Or whether my root cellar is deep enough so my potatoes, apples, beets, onions, garlic, etc doesn't freeze. California makes most of this possible to be something you pick up from the store on a weekly basis. You don't have to think about where or who it came from... because in the land of green pastures, far far away, there will always be garlic and potatoes growing on abundant grassy fields.

Oh wait...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pasta E Fagioli

I got the idea from the pasta soup at Olive Garden. But very honestly, mine is better. :p We love it and I make it pretty consistently throughout the year here in WA. It is quick, VERY good, and not terrible for you. I do use some canned items, but I think the ease of this soup outweighs the need to soak your own cup of kidney beans and butter beans. If you want to, then by all means, you can... I just usually don't. Last time I used fresh herbs from my garden and from the farm. Rosemary, oregano, thyme, and tarragon were the ones that I chopped and put in this beautiful soup.


Pasta E Fagioli Ala Val

1 lb mild Italian sausage
1 28oz can of stewed tomato with basil (Mur Glen has the perfect ones)
1 can of white butter beans
1 can of dark kidney beans
1 HEAD of garlic, skins off and chopped fine
1/2 lg onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
28oz water (just fill the tomato can)
1 Tbs oregano
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp tarragon
2 Tbs basil

Brown Italian sausage. Add diced onion, green pepper, and garlic and saute until onion starts to clear. Add can of tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil. Add beans, and all spices. Stir for 1 minute. Put a lid on the pan and let boil on Med for about 10 minutes or when the spices are not all sitting on top of the soup.

As you are making the soup, boil 1 cup of small shells (or any small pasta) until al dente making sure to salt your pasta water. Add them into the soup at the last moment, and mix well.

Serve with good bread and salad. It is the best soup I have ever tasted.


Our pumpkin patch field trip was Friday. Now my kids are FULLY in the spirit of the season. We don't do the freaky Halloween stuff. No decapitated heads hanging from our doorway, or dead people coming up from a patch of soil in the front yard. No sir. I hate that part of Halloween, and frankly, don't understand it. There is enough terror and nasty war going on in this world to create a time to romanticize it. But I do love Halloween. Black cats, spider webs covered with dew, turning leaves, jack-o-lanterns, candle light, dark evenings, being something that you are not normally for a day. I just love the season.

In that spirit, the kids and I made today: "Fall Foods From Scratch Day". lol! Cyan made a pumpkin pie, and Alex made cheesy zucchini bread (I will post recipe and picture later).

It is surprisingly easy to make a pie from a real pumpkin. And also surprising how often I don't get around to doing it.

Before pie:

1 pie or cheese pumpkin

Cut pumpkin in half and take out the seeds. Bake for one hour in a 400* oven or until a fork can go through skin easily. Let cool for a couple hours and peel. Then chop up the inside and scoop it into a blender. Blend until very smooth.

From Pumpkin to Pie Recipe

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 tea salt
1/4 tea ground ginger
1 tea ground cinnamon
1 tea flour
1/4 tea nutmeg
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup evaporated milk
2 Tbs water
1/2 tea vanilla extract
1 9-inch pie crust (homemade or otherwise)

Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, spices, and flour in a medium mixing bowl. Add eggs; mix well. Add evaporated milk, water, and vanilla; mix well. Pour into pastry crust (in pie pan). Bake at 400* for 15 minutes, and then turn the oven down to 350* and bake for 35 - 55 minutes or until pie is set in the center. Allow to cool at least 1 hour before cutting. (recipe adapted from For the Love of Pumpkins)

Serve with good dose of whipping cream and enjoy!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Leek and Sausage Pasta

Sometimes I go out. I know... shocking. But it is true. Sometimes I get to leave my house and go be with people that are not my family. lol... But even when that happens, I am the cook in the house. I have taken that roll so completely, that I end up cooking for my family even when I am going out to dinner with friends. Don is branching out and starting to cook... but habit is habit. Which means that last Tuesday, when I was going out to Thai with my friend Sarah, I cooked this meal for my family before I left. It turned out so well that I had to add it in here. :)

Chicken Sausage and Pasta

1 pkg rotini pasta
2 leeks
1 lb chicken sausage (we used sundried tomato and provalone)
3 ripe tomatoes
2 red bell peppers
Provalone cheese
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

First, I made the pasta, and Don cooked the sauages until they were hot and plump. Then I cut the sausage into slices and put it aside. I put some olive oil in my large saute' pan and saute'd the leeks, cut into little rounds. When they were nice and tender, I added in the tomatoes and peppers, diced, until the leeks were seperated and almost clear and the peppers were cooked through.

I tossed the sasuages back into this mix and tossed until everything was good and hot. Then tossed with pasta and added in the provalone cheese, cut into small chunks.

It was really really good. I served it with small carrots, pealed, and green beans, both saute'd in butter and tossed with a little bit of summer savory and salt.

I made these with Cyan Saturday morning. They are this recipe, with WW flour instead of Spelt this time and put into muffin tins. Notice they are on sweet little red flower plates that I found for $.40 a peice at Goodwill. They don't totally match my bowls, but I really liked the compliment... so they are here to stay. And even if they were not, the whole set cost me less than a Pumpkin Spice Latte. Gotta love buying used.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Vegan Lunchbox

What a great book. Whether you are vegan, or going in that direction, or a total carnivore, this book is a great one to have on hand. Great recipes, good ideas, all sorts of good.
I personally recommend the Quick Peanut Sauce and the Black Rice Pudding.

One thing that I didn't like about the book. There was a lot of fake foods. For me, healthy eating isn't cutting out meat and dairy to add in soy meat, soy milk, and soy dairy. Those foods are just as processed as Kraft Dinner... and often just as bad for you. She doesn't put them in every meal. There were many recipes that I couldn't wait to try. And of course, these foods were included to make the child's meal more 'normal'. I totally understand the motivation. I, of course, don't send my children to school at all... so it is easy for me to say that it shouldn't matter while the children in my 'lunch room' all eat the exact same stuff and don't have to worry about fitting in at school. But the fact remains, I would rather find a humane way of eating chicken nuggets than getting nugget type foods made from soy products.

My favorite section was in the front where they had she put down several menus for all different types of lunch packers. That was brilliant. There is a bit for those of us who pack lunches the night before, a section for those of us who are early risers, and a section of quick and easy for those of us who like to have things on hand and don't think about it till morning. Great idea! I think more cookbooks should learn from her organizational ways.

I can't wait to try her Savory Autumn Leaf Pies. They sounds so good...

Friday, October 3, 2008


For the next 54 days, I am going to follow Michael Pollans philosophy of food.
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
I am doing this because I am inspired. Inspired by this woman's blog:
She has a wonderful idea... but a limited palette. Hopefully we can banter back and forth good ideas and recipes that both of our great grandmothers would recognise. ;)
Today so far, I have had a Delicata Squash, cooked in it's skin with the seeds in, in some salt and topped with brown sugar. Baked at 400* last night for 45minutes. The skin is eaten, the seeds are not.
Oh and I scored a tomtato out of my garden basket of saucing tomatoes.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Market Work

Working the market has been interesting. People in Seattle are dedicated enough to eating organic that they just don’t think about the price… but wow. Our stuff is SPENDY. $2.50/lb for potatoes (damned good potatoes which are COMPLETELY worth it, but until you spend the money to try them, who would know?) $1.50/lb for the biggest cauliflower you have ever seen (and they are pretty and delicious too) but that means spending $6 for a cauliflower that is three times bigger than you really wanted, and then of course, $4/lb for the best green beans and peas you have ever tasted. What it means to be beyond organic is pretty amazing. The industrial organics can sell the ¼ of their stock (which are probably the ones that don’t quite fit into the mainstream idea of what the veggie is supposed to look like….) And they sell them to soup companies that want to claim ‘organic’ and still have plenty for every single whole sale order they have. We don’t have that luxury. We have to sell the 5lbers, right along with the 2lbers that we know everyone will buy.

Anyway… it has been interesting.

Yesterday I came home with a big box of food from the farm. I had one huge cauliflower, a 2lb bag of green sugar snap peas, 5 cukes, two bunches leeks, 5 onions, 4lbs potatoes, a bunch of carrots, a bunch of red chard, two tiny romenesca, two bunches cilantro, one bunch dill, one bunch mint, and a half lb wild Chantalle mushrooms. At the end of the day, the guy next door to us at the market traded for two half pints of fresh local ice cream, (one of which will be gracing my kids bellies after lunch), another neighbor traded for some bone broth for me and some fresh cows cream cheese which Hannah took home. And yet another neighbor traded for pastries for a snack. And on top of all of that, I got sent home with an entire case of sunflowers that we had left over, and wouldn't last until the Tuesday Market, which Cyan graced all of our neighbors with bouquets before we ate dinner.

This is an abnormal weekend. I normally get about half this much... but even so... I got paid on top of that (considering the time I spend and how long it takes to get there, my wages work out to under $7 an hour), but when you count all of the trades/veggies from the farm on top of it, well, it is a really good deal. I feel strange when people complain about jobs like this. I feel as though I have a special advantage as I can get as much as I want for my family for a week… and I guess when you are a single gal, the appeal of a weeks worth of veggies isn’t that high because you don’t need near as many of them. The veggies and trades I got were worth quite a bit more than I got paid in cash. I work my menu for the week around what we have at the market. This means that we have had potato-leek soup twice in the last two weeks and I am going to make it again this week. It means that I have peas the entire season, and by now, my kids are sick of them and I am forced to freeze whatever we are bringing home. But it also means that nothing has ever sat anywhere (no truck, fridge, box or shelf) for more than a day. I don't know... maybe I am weird... but that just has to be good for you.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Local Living can be easy

It isn't always. But in September, local living is easy. Farmers markets are packed to the brim with ways to get everything you need, from fish, veggies and fruits for dinner, to toys for Christmas, and flowers for your dining room table, along with other necessities like soap and fresh baked bread. The amount of local bounty I see go past my stand every Sunday just amazes me! I got a lot of my things local before. But I had no idea how much was out there, processed or grown within 200 miles of my house is everything I need from home baked pies to fresh peanuts from just over the mountains.

The omelet above? Eggs from my chickens (of course) with Pico De Gallo made from tomatoes from my garden, onions, garlic, and cilantro from the farm, and a token jalapeno pepper from the neighbors farm stand at the market.

The above is not 100% local. The organic, single ingredient pasta that I have come to depend on for my husbands dietary 'needs' comes from Italy... and the balsamic vinaigrette came from California, but the rest? The goat cheese, the tomatoes (my gardens only real produce this year), and the beautiful golden beets from the farm are all amazingly from within 40 miles of my house.

Sweet and Tangy Pasta Salad

1/4 lb golden beets (red beets will do, but I don't like the way they stain everything pink)

1 lb tomatoes (plum or cherry work best)

2/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing (I use Paul Newman's)

4 oz soft goat cheese

1 lb rotini pasta (WW would work well here)


Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and douse with cold water reduce sticking.

Steam beets until fork tender. Slice tomatoes into bite sizes.

Add in the cheese and dressing, saving veggies for last. Toss with veggies (feel free to add others too! Baby spinach would be good tossed in, as would a host of other greens).

Eat cold.

Serves 4


A surprise in the garden! You remember that volunteer pumpkin that I was ranting about a few months ago? Well, it looks like we may actually get two jack-o-lantern pumpkins out of it!

Gardening is always a journey.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In Defence of Food by Micheal Pollan

I am becoming a die hard Michael Pollan fan. He is a wonderful writer (as most journalists are), but the information he gives answers SO many questions!

In the book "In Defense of Food" he attaches on to something he only touched on in "The Omnivore's Dilemma"... What to actually eat.

Oh yes, you can look at a food pyramid or an FDA guideline, based on sketchy facts, and supported by the industrial food industry. But when you know enough not to trust that 100%... where do you look to know what to eat?

This is the question he tackles. The rules he gives are not based on scientific evidence, but by the thousands of years that people have survived without the current eating disorders of the 'Western Diet' and the diseases that go along with it.

The 'rules' are fairly simple, once you understand what is meant by them:

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

By "eat food", he means 'eat food that your great-great-grandmother would recognise'. There are not many industrial food products that would pass that test. Oatmeal? Corn meal? Yes. High fructose corn syrup? Go-gurt? Not so much.

"Not too much" is pretty self explanatory.

"Mostly plants" is the rule that is backed up by literally hundreds of years of meat being a side dish, or condiment instead of the main course and how our health has deteriorated from meat pushing the veggies right off our plates. This part also talks about the way our food chain has moved from 'leaves to seeds' and how this has effected every bit of that food chain, from the health of our meat cattle, to the health of our hearts.

Notice how he didn't go into vitamins, or 'nutrients' in his rules? In fact, in the book, he goes into those scientific specifics in great detail.... but not to the expense of the rules. You don't need to know how much more vitamin C is in your gardens romaine lettuce than the lettuce shipped from a thousand miles away to benefit from eating it. Taking food rules out of mom's kitchen and into the laboratory did more harm than good.

All in all, it is a light, if a bit scientific, read that has answered all sorts of questions I had about our culture and what the years of scientific nutrition study have done to our food habits. And, as with most of his books, In Defense of Food brings to the forefront a need to think about food differently. Bringing it from a place for overindulgence and nutrient specifics, to a cultural artery, so to speak.... to a place where eating is a relationship that will last a healthy lifetime.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Chili Rellenos

One of the guys from the farmers market gave me a bunch of Anaheim Peppers on Sunday. My plan was to make taco salad tonight out of the lettuce, cilantro, and organic beef from the farm and then tomatoes from my own garden. I thought the Rellenos would make a wonderful addition to my local, but completely delicious meal with my chickens egg and cheeses from Oregon.

My process:


Charred pepper ready to peel.

While I was peeling the peppers, I whipped the egg whites.

Peeled peppers.

Egg yolks, whipped.

Sliced and deseeded peppers.

Stuffing with cheese.

And a token bad pic of me, but I look happy. So I will leave it in the line.

I used a toothpick to keep the peppers together after stuffing.

Floured and ready to be battered.

Mixed fluffy egg whites and beaten egg yolks.

Dipped in the batter and placed in a 1/4 inch of olive oil (I know that olive oil isn't really authentic, but it was in lieu of lard or canola oil).


Oh, and it was really really good.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The big food budget debate

Once again, our budget was overrun by the food budget. We spend WAY too much on food. It is insane considering that we get half our food for free and I make enough that we really honestly shouldn't EVER be eating on Don's paycheck at all. But yet, we did. YIKES!

So in comes the budgeting, and the recipe filing, and the planning with ways to save in that area.

I have gotten some really wonderful ideas from these two ladies.

This is a whole foods website that does about 4 recipes a week. Each and every one is whole foods. Many are dairy free and vegan as well. She does a great job posting the shopping list for the following week at the start so you don't have to wonder whether or not you have enough Agave Nectar to make all four recipes this week. Many recipes are "out there", but I find myself very compelled to try them out. It is a wonderful format and I can't wait to search through her recipes and find new favorites, which I am sure to with beauties like Walnut Banana Muffins.

This lady is very special in my life. Not only is she constant inspiration for me in many ways, but she also happens to be my best friend. :) She and our other dear friend Heather came up with this amazing binder idea for food recipes. I think it is brilliant! I haven't yet tried to figure out how to do this on a local diet, but it is worth a try as it would make meal planning SO much easier!

I also just got the book "In Defense of Food" by Micheal Pollan (the author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma") from the library and I can't wait to dig in and get back into food on the intellectual level as well. The first line makes a great start for a good conversation:

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pasta with bell peppers, bacon, and kale

1 pkg bacon
1 cup heavy cream
4 tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
1 bunch kale
1 red bell pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 red onions
2 pkg linguine

In a very large saute pan cook the bacon (chopped before into small peices) until crispy.
Reserve 3 Tbs of the bacon fat to saute the kale and onion in and put the bacon aside.
Slice the onion in very thin slivers, and add the garlic cloves sliced thin. Place in the same saute pan as the bacon was cooked in. Saute in a bit of the bacon fat (it is best if uncured ham is used) until clear. Toss kale in and if things start to stick to the bottom of the pan, add a bit of the pasta water. Toss the bacon back into the saute pan and add the pepper (also sliced thin).
Once everything is crisp-soft, add the heavy cream, tomatoes (chopped small), and parmesean and mix well. Toss with the linguine and add salt and pepper to taste.
This would be a great dish to substitute the fresh tomatoes with sundried tomatoes.
It was so very good... It would easily serve 8 as a main dish with these proportions, but for us, we ate it tonight and I will keep it for lunches later this week for Don at work. Lucky bugger. ;)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lemon Tahini Dressing

My favorite local eatery, which also has a fair trade market attached to it, has this amazing salad. They serve it heaped with brown rice, on top of a bed of romaine lettuce and then tomato slices and cucumber to top it all off, and usually next to this amazing panini sandwich made with roast tomatoes and tons of provalone cheese! Yum!! The dressing they use, they gave me the recipe for years ago... but to make a gallon. lol... so I rarely bother figure it out. And because I make so much at one time, I never have written it down in smaller quantities.

I have been reading about food again. Seriously, it is beginning to be a real, full-on, life long, obsession. I have also been following my diet very closely, and documenting what is working for me and what is not with the nips and twitches that my picky body puts out. The book I am currently in is Sally Falon's Nourishing Traditions. Amazing book. Brings to life everything I have ever believed about food. Partially I love it because it backs up much of my instinct and knowledge, and partly I love it because the recipes are GOOD! And all real food, made with real fat, real ingredients, and really 'from scratch'. Many are even easy. She doesn't shun things like food processors, or crock pots, she just uses them as our ancestors would have... to make 'real' food. I found a recipe in it for a half quart of Tahini Salad Dressing, that reminds me so of the dressing from that eatery I love so much I am nearly sure that is where they got the idea. Theirs has more salt, and a bit more lemon juice and celery than she calls for... but adjusting for taste, it is the same thing. So here it is... This yummy dressing is great over cucumbers right out of the garden for those of you a few months ahead of us (my cuke plants are 2 inches tall) or even as a dip for cuke slices. It is also great as a dressing inside a wrap loaded with yummy veggies and perhaps some light cheese as well. Use your imagination... it could go with anything crisp and satisfying these dog days of summer.

Lemon Tahini Dressing

1 small onion
1 stalk celery
2 T soy sauce
fresh juice of 2 lemons
1/2 c Tahini
4 T olive oil
1/8 cup water

Chop onion and celery coarsely, and put in a food processor or blender until finely chopped. Add remaining ingredients and process until well blended. Thin with a little water to achieve desired consistency.

Oh, and I still adore my bowls. I love getting them out of the cupboard and using them, I love planning things to put in the serving bowl. All of it. I know, I am a dork, but I really really love them. :)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Books to look into

I have a few book recommendations:

Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook by Peggy Dianne Layton

Encyclopedia for Country Living by the late Carla Emery

The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dycyzen. (Her last name sounds like 'decision')

These are three books that will really spell it out for you in very easy terms how to live as frugally as possible. Which is usually the best for the planet as well. :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Farewell, My Subaru

This book was much needed in my life right now. A mix of wonderful writing, humor, and information that I found completely delightful. I read it in three days (and you all know I am a busy woman) and enjoyed 95% of it. The rest, I didn't understand... lol. His quips and comparisons (like naming his local coyote "Dick Cheney") were a highlight for sure. But the trials he went through were also very informative. I learned things I had never understood before. Including information about converting a huge diesel truck (he calls the ROAT or Ridiculously Oversized American Truck) to biofuel, the oily dog situations that ensue on one's property, and the complications that can arise from your ROAT always smelling like KFC, to the intricate measures one has to take to feed livestock newly bought during a devastating flood, his life on Funky Butte Ranch was enlightening, and highly entertaining.

Chapter Eleven "Modern Snake Charming" was particularly entertaining. If I say much more, I could ruin it... but if you know any New Mexican metaphysical types... you will laugh until you pee your pants.

It was a nice break to the doomsday thinking that sometimes engulfs people who have been studying sustainable living and climate change a bit too much. Like the author, Doug Fine, I believe that we are going to make it as a race. And I sure as hell would rather try than give up. So bring on the information about 'goat pimping', garden fence reinforcement that rivals most jails, rattle snake farming, and oily dogs. I am ready for this type of informative optimism.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Low carb becoming mandatory?

For the last two months, people who make bread and pizza have been constantly concerned with the price of wheat going up. For some of them, it is making their prices sky rocket to the point they are loosing business.

Aside from people complaining about price, there is a real issue going on with a virus effecting the production of wheat.

Some say the 'shortage' is a myth, talking about the fact that it is really the falling American dollar that is causing the high price. This may be partially true. But with the wheat disease effecting millions in Asia and the Middle East, I think they are wrong. It isn't long before many people with be on mandatory low carbohydrate diets. And some may very well die from the lack.

Even my own local bakery, which we visited yesterday, had a sign up saying "Due to the rising wheat costs, some of our prices may have gone up. We are sorry for the inconveniences this may cause." Before long, bread could be the most expensive item we pick up at the grocery.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Find it hard to find coupons for organics?

Yes... me too. But this organic couponing guide article tells you how to get coupons to your favorites or be able to try new ones with out the bust to your pocket book. I have a friend (and fellow blogger) who has been very successful by writing to these companies and they have been sending her coupons for weeks now. :) What a fun, new way to see new organics, and be able to try new things!
I just sent off for a couple coupon books. I'll let you know how it goes.

To answer another question...

I need some more information on these 'Grassy Green Health Food Drinks'.

Is it this? Or this?

Reviewing the nutrition facts on the label, it seems that it is just ground up things that everyone should be eating anyway. lol... Minus some for some people, and minus others for other people. But honestly, every one should have at least one large serving of green leafy veggies... Organic wheat grass, organic barley grass, organic alfalfa, organic spirulina, organic spinach, organic broccoli, organic chlorella are the ones ground up and added into this "super" powder. Then they added ground up dried veggies that contain large amounts of antioxidants... Organic acai, organic maca, organic carrot, organic beet, raspberry, organic rose hips, pineapple, green tea, acerola cherry. Many of these also double as huge Vit C boosters. There are a few things I don't recognise in this blend. 'Maca' for example. Don't know what it is... so I will look it up. But from the over view of ingredients... it seems like just taking veggies, in powder form. Making them more concentrated. Which may not be the best way to get them, but it can't be the worst. ;)

I myself use a protein powder and some tablets of vit D in the winter time dosed into my smoothies in the morning (which have frozen organic bananas, strawberries or blueberries I picked last summer, maple syrup (you saw my undying love of that stuff), apple juice (the real stuff), and brewers yeast. It helps me keep through the long, cold, wet winters of the Pacific NW without modifying my low meat diet much... so I am not one to jump on the haters bandwagon. But at the same time, I am guessing that drinking these drinks does not substitute eating broccoli, or spinach in it's real and raw (and right out of your neighbors farm Field or your home garden) form. But then again... it is better than not eating them at all.

The main trouble with these super foods is usually in the pocket book, not the body.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Did you know?

... tha maple syrup has more calcium than milk by volume and more potassium than bananas by weight? About 21 mg per tbsp of calcium! It is also terribly high in potassium (35 mg/tbsp).

This is where money outweighs facts when it comes to food marketing. They say that milk does your body good, but in truth, over consumption of milk causes all sorts of problems, and many shouldn't drink the stuff after the age of 4 years old at all! (Between 30 and 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant.)

Amazing what the media can put into our heads that make us put things into our bodies.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Country Capitan Chicken

This is a recipe that we loved from Kitchen Muse. It is a southern flare dish, with a bit of curry in it that brings out the flavor of everything. It is very nice over brown rice, or couscous. I always side it with a green salad, but you can honestly side it with any veggie dish, or make it a one pot meal by adding in 1 1/2 cups of couscous right into the pot! (We have done this too... it was a hit, but Don likes to pour his sauce over his starch).

Country Capitan Chicken
(with happy Val modifications)

4 Tbs butter
1/2 diced onion
1 diced carrot
1 diced bell pepper (color doesn't matter, but green works best)
6 cloves garlic (minced)

3 lbs chicken peices (I like theighs)
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 c flour
salt and pepper to taste

2 cups diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
3 tea curry powder
1/4 c slivered almonds
1/4 cup golden raisins

Melt butter in a large skillet. The skillet should be large ebough to cook the chicken in one layer. Add the onion, carrot, pepper, and garlic and cook until tender. Transfer to a bowl.

Mix flour and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Roll chicken peices in the flour mixture. Put oil into the skillet you just pulled the veggies from, and add the chicken, in one layer, turning until well brown on both sides.

Add veggies back in, along with tomatoes, stock and curry, mixing well. Stir in raisins and almonds. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until all chicken is cook through well.

Serve over couscous or brown rice.

It is very good!

Notice the new bowl plates. :) I love them. I am trying to get a eclectic set, but this set will be my salad plate/bowls, and my cereal bowls. The plates will come from somewhere else, and I don't need mugs (just ask my husband). I have been waiting for new dishes for about two years, and have been sitting on the money to get them for two months. I was ready for the perfect set to fall in my lap. And they did... while I was looking for Easter basket stuff for the kids.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Wonderful Interviews

I really have to admit, I love this guy. He speaks everything I have thought for years, and has the studies and backings behind it to explain why...

There are at least 4 interviews here. One is from a farmer from Portland OR with a egg coop that I found yesterday, and it is here as well, and then the interview with Micheal Pollen that is just fasinating. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Big Farms vs Small Farms

Big Farming VS Little Farming

There are a LOT of ideas in these areas coming to light lately. In Omnivore's Dilemma, Micheal Pollen talks about this a bunch. His stance is that big farms are pretty necessary. We wouldn't have populated places where there isn't farm land without them. Think; people who live in Phoenix, AZ. The plant and animal bio-diversity there is severely limited by the lack of water and the lack of soil. People there are constantly shipping in foods just to survive. Without the large farms, people couldn't live in parts of our country that are heavily populated... but what about the impact?

The biggest impact of huge farms is Mono Cropping. Mono Cropping, in a nutshell, is planting the same thing, on the same land, over and over and over again. Thus having to put in nutrients that the soil lacks each year by artificial means to keep the crop that has depleted the soil of those same nutrients, growing there. 90% of the time, they do this with chemicals. Many of these chemicals are leached into the water table beneath these huge farms because the soil is barren and dry for the part of the year that the crops are NOT producing there. There is no reason to plant cover crops (which would replace some of these nutrients) with the chemicals so readily available, and there is no reason to crop rotate if you know that whatever your soil is lacking, you can just add chemical #1 from this box, and chemical #2 from this box and call it good. It is cheaper, faster, and takes MUCH less work.

The largest mono crops in this country are soybeans and corn. Usually not even grown for human consumption, but for cattle and livestock feed. But that is another post all together.

Every single gardening book I have (not just the ones that are for 'organic' or 'beyond organic' gardening) recommends crop rotation and cover crops if you have a large part of unused land. These things are vital to keeping the soil healthy. They bring back nutrients, and if you are careful, can even yield you another full crop! Yet, many (I dare say 'most') large farms have stopped doing this. Trucking in manure and planting legumes to overwinter seems out of the question on a large scale... but for the back yard gardener it is essential.

Big Organics VS Big "Conventional"

Using the word "conventional" here annoys me. The conventional way of growing has only been 'conventional' for less than 75 years. When talking about the history of farming, that doesn't seem to be long enough to set it as the "conventional" methods. But I digress....

Big organics are forced (and most willingly) to be more sustainable than their conventional counterparts. They use animal manure (usually organic as well) to supply the nutrients that their crops have used up. Some even still use cover crops for their needs as well, making them as efficient as many smaller organic farms (where it is the norm to do both of these things). So when asked if big organic is better than big conventional, the answer is a resounding YES! The more big organic companies are supported, the few chemicals are put into our soil and the more soil is used sustainably. But I say that with a bit of hesitation because big organic still is monocropping. Many large organic companies have one or two crops. This inhibits the biodiversity of an area, and that, as much as we can see now, is not the best for the environment.

Here is something I picked up from Wikipedia on the topic:

Proponents of organic farming say that "conventional" farming is unsustainable, because it relies on artificial inputs (synthetic fertilizers and other chemicals, machinery, etc.) that ultimately requires energy in the form of fossil fuels, and because the land is degraded through soil erosion, salinization, and other processes that eventually render the soil infertile. Many claim that without cheap fossil fuels and government subsidies, conventional agriculture would not be possible, and that despite technological advancements, there will eventually be an agricultural crisis as a result of depleted soil. The cultivation of monocultures, many acres planted with the same crop year after year, increases susceptibility to pests and diseases and depletes the soil, while eliminating most native flora and fauna.

In contrast, organic farming often utilizes
intercropping, crop rotation, fallow periods, and integrated pest management to promote biodiversity and preserve the health of the soil while minimizing the risk of diseases. The main goal of organic farming is sustainability, so organic farms seek to minimize dependence on outside resources and be self-sufficient.

Small Farms

You would not make it on a small farm with only one crop. Not unless you had a full time job to go with it. Being small, you are forced to find a niche in the food market so you don't get bumped out by the companies that can do things twice as cheap as you (and are usually 20 times as big). This is why most small farms you see now are certified (or becoming certified) organic. That is their niche. They can charge what they need, the supply line is shorter so the shipping doesn't cost quite as much (some customers will even come to you!), and they can raise a huge variety of crops, ensuring that when you stop by a farm stand, there will be something that catches you eye, and you will spend some money. Plus, if they loose one crop, it isn't their whole years livelihood. The small farms I have been to and worked with, all have been organic, so I couldn't tell you much about the small conventional farms. I have never seen one that was successful.

A few things have been true in all of the smaller farms I have seen. First off, they are organic. Like stated above. Secondly, they are family based. They have a few seasonal hands that come in here and there for planting and for larger harvests, but mostly, it is a couple, or a couple with extended family that is doing most of the work. Thirdly, their crops are very diverse. Peas to harvest in May, corn and new potatoes to harvest in July, and pumpkins to harvest in October. And lastly, they are working mainly for the local market. I have heard of being part of a cooperative of farms, such as Organic Valley farms is for dairy products, which get their products shipped all over the country, but for the most part, if you are a small farm, you do most of your work (planting, to harvest, to marketing, shipping, and sales) by yourself. So you don't tend to travel as far.

For me these factors mean two things. I like the idea of supporting families. Individuals. Not the guys at the very top of a big business organic food chain, but the actual people growing my food. I like that idea. Also, I appreciate that the food was picked maybe days before. Not weeks, but days. It stands to reason that they are picked much closer to peak ripeness as their conventional, big business counterparts because they don't have to be shipped from 2000 miles away to get to me. This could (I am not sure on the subject and there are many arguments for and against) mean that my food has been able to extract more nutrients from the soil in which it stayed for the entire period of time Mother Nature intended... making it far more nutritious than the ones that were picked weeks ahead of that natural schedule meant to be shipped from farther away than I go on my average vacation.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Good article about nutrition, taste, local, and organics

This article brings up and helps clarify some really wonderful questions about local foods, farmers markets, and organics 'at all cost'.

Eating Better Than Organic

I bet you, that man from the "liberal Washington group that supports strong organic standards" is currently living less than an hour from me. I should look him up.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I loved reading this book. Basically a fundamental story of one families story of local living. Kingsolver's plucky humor and realism was wonderful. She and her family had a go-getter attitude that I believe fueled many of their well planned dreams come reality. Again, it took years worth of planning to create this dream of local living. But she says many times, it is the small things that count. The asking questions that no one else asks, doing tasks like making your own cheese, and selling your extra eggs to neighbors... the caring about things that others dare not care about. And in the end, she writes about a very satisfying life, with no level of deprivation, on a mostly local diet. And in the process, she becomes part of a tight knit community as well.
It was a wonderfully inspiring read, and, aside from the intimate interludes into turkey sex, it had wonderfully digestible and easily do-able information.

Reviews, recipes, and many more joyous pictures can be found at their website:

Books on families or individuals going local are popping up for all over the globe and I hope they continue. It is wonderful to be able to read all of these books and glean what I can pull into my own personal life. Setting goals for a more local existence and getting off 'the oil' is a huge part of the environmentalist movement now-a-days and being able to take a bit from Pollan, a bit from Kingsolver, a bit from Cockburn, and a bit from Fine... well, I have a working plan in my head that evolves each time I crack a page in one of these library borrowed legacies into local living.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Chocolate chip pumpkin bread

My whole family is in love with pumpkin bread. This is a great recipe, being a bit more dense, and a bit less sweet than most, so the mini simi sweet chips really stand out and give it an amazing flavor. The recipe came about when I had less of some ingredients than I needed for a pumpkin cupcake recipe and went ahead anyway. I am so very glad I did.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

1 cup pumpkin puree (or cooked pumpkin mashed with a fork)
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/4 c water
1 c sugar (raw works fine)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp all spice

1 c all-purpose flour
1 c spelt flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Mix 'wet' list together in a large mixing bowl. Beat together until well blended and smooth.

Mix dry together by sifting into another bowl, stir and then add to wet mixture. When well blended, mix in 1/2 c of mini simisweet chocolate chips.

Add batter to a well oiled baking dish (or 24 muffin tins with paper cups), and place in a 375* oven for 45 - 60 minutes.

As with all quick breads, these are done when tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool at least half way before you dig in.... I have gotten a couple burns that way.

I wish I had a picture of Logan tonight... covered in pumpkin bread and chocolate smudges here and there, standing next to the counter with his little hand reaching for the bread oh-so-cutely.

Sigh... the pictures that are only in my mind.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Sustainable Living For Dummies

Lots of good information, too much for me to finish actually, but I got some wonderful ideas about how to build cloches and a few other great gardening tips, and over and over again it had off articles and tables and stats about how the world is changing and what we can do to help.

It is based in Australia (at least the one I got was) and I would love to see an American version of this, as it would be a much bigger help to me with all the resources lists and graphic tables. But it was easy to see that this type of book is going to help a lot of people get on a more sustainable path. It would have been great to have when I started this journey. I am no where near the where I want to be on a sustainable living path, but I had found most of the information in this book somewhere else first.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


High fructose corn syrup is no longer a food. It has been reduced and refined to drug form. Quite literally. This is becoming common knowledge, and I am thrilled with that! But it still is very much a part of our every day diets as Americans.

From Wikipedia:

High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is any of a group of corn syrups which have undergone enzymatic processing in order to increase their fructose content and are then mixed with pure corn syrup (100% glucose) to reach their final form. The typical types of HFCS are: HFCS 90 (used almost exclusively in the production of HFCS 55) which is approximately 90% fructose and 10% glucose; HFCS 55 (most commonly used in soft drinks) which is approximately 55% fructose and 45% glucose; and HFCS 42 (used in other a variety of other foods, including baked goods) which is approximately 42% fructose and 58% glucose.[1]

The process by which HFCS is produced was first developed by Richard O. Marshall and Earl R. Kooi in 1957[2] and refined by Japanese researchers in the 1970s. HFCS was rapidly introduced in many processed foods and soft drinks in the US over the period of about 1975–1985.

Does this sound like a food? It isn't something that has been reduced to a concentrate... it is something that has been reduced beyond that. Well beyond that, and added with other highly processed corn sugar products to make something as potent as sugar, but at a 200th of the cost.
It wouldn't exsist in nature.

First post

I have thought and thought about this. I have researched nutrition for years. I minored in it when I was in college. Throughout the years I have used my knowledge for various people to help them gather new ideas and information. Now that I am rekindling my interest, I am finding that my research is becoming pigeonholed to the local movement. Which is fine for me and my family, but it makes my research bias, and not as easily shared.

So I am creating this blog for people to ask questions so I have more to research. Of course, there will be things I already know... but there will also be things that stump me, and spawn a new off shoot of interest in other nutrition venues so that I can broaden my knowledge base again.

You are all welcome to pose questions to me regarding nutritional ideas, fads, personal nutrition issues, cravings and anything else that fits in or around those categories. The more the merrier, as it will keep my research refreshed and new, and I will appreciate that. I look forward to chatting with you all. :)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Living The Good Life

Yet another book about the ethics of food, (and this one also goes into the ethics of energy, water, and even waste disposal).

In this book, well it is really a diary of a families choice (mama, papa, and one spunky 6 year old boy) to go "money free" for 6 months.

They live in Australia, and so much of the culture, and even some of the language was different than something I would normally run into. Esp being from the wettest part of North America myself, drought often has no reach here. But there, it is becoming an every year problem. In the book you follow this family through their 6 self sustainable months through everything, from eating pumpkin (which they call all squash, from what I gathered... I would hate to think they were eating actual pumpkin all that time) every day for a while to what to feed Possum, their noisy and demanding milk goat.

The book was well written, although some of the language was clearly Aussie, and terribly interesting.

One of my complaints about the book is that I wish that she had gone in more depth about how they did their daily self sustainable things. She talks often about the 5000 kilo tanks she has outside, but does not ever show a picture of them, or where they are on her property. She talks at length about the composting toilet, but again, no picture, or how they put it in, etc. Some of those things would be helpful if they ever were to print a second addition to the book... to help others get used to the idea of that path.

It was nice to read that it took her three years to get ready to do the 6 month project (and in some cases much much longer prep was employed. Trev, her husband, built his own log cabin in the bush and it took 15 years.) So they had some tools. And it was nice to know that not just "everybody" could do it, but that this goal, of getting off the world oil tit, was a long term one... one that even the most prepared had to work at for a while before they could really employ.

The Omnivore's Dilemma

I have just finished the Omnivore's Dilemma. It is an intense book. It is one of those that you really want to read with a highlighter and a pen to write in the margins. lol... I am interested in reading whatever else Micheal Pollan puts out.

Man, the book is SO interesting. Really good information, put out in a way that is matter of fact, and not alarming in the slightest (unless of course, the content is alarming... I think I meant not "alarmist" in the sense that he doesn't go "This is TERRIBLE, look what THEY do....." KWIM?) He goes through four different meals, from as industrial as you can get to as 'natural' as you can get. McDonald's of course, came first. Then Whole Foods industrial organics. Then PolyFace Farms (a sustainable grass/meat farm). Then a meal he hunts, kills, grows or gathers himself.

He follows each one back to the very start of the food chain on which they were formed.

For McDonald's it was industrial grown corn to feed the chickens and the beef (cows are not made to eat corn). It is pretty amazing how much of the fast food is made from corn. You'd never know from eating it, but really, it is all corn fed meat, fried in corn oil, battered in corn starch, corn fats, and salts from corn, with a side of High Fructose Corn Syrup soda. I had some idea, but I just didn't realize how true his most famous quote is: "So that's us; processed corn, walking."

He follows that up with a nice stint on an industrial organic farm. Then moves on to PolyFace, then on to his own hunting/mushroom hunting/gardening experiences.

Fascinating. Just really really interesting stuff.

He makes a point of staying very objective through out the entire book, and sharing his opinions in a language that it is clear he is owning each and every one of them. He doesn't expect you to think the way he does... he just says what HE thinks. It is a nice refresher for those of us who have read "fad" diet books where there is only ONE way to do things (and here is why - and here is the science behind it is on page 452 - and here is why everything else is wrong on page 597... lol.).

The other two books I have right now promise to be lighter, and I am ready. Don said to me the other day that I really need to find something that I can read for pleasure. Something that doesn't give me more to work on and worry about at the end of the day. I said that is what NetFlix is for. lol... he wasn't convinced.