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Archive for the ‘Local’ Category

It’s a busy time. There seems to be a lot going on and I don’t seem to be catching up on certain things, yet I am getting other things done. So anytime I can make a quick meal, it really helps.

Celery Leaf

Celery Leaf

Spinach growing season is over here and my spinach has bolted and I am patiently waiting for seeds to I can harvest them and then get the next phase planted out there. I picked on last large batch of spinach and had plans to saute it and freeze it for meals later, but meal plans can change rather quickly around here. I also had some local chicken and carrots in the refrigerator that needed to get used up. Chicken salad came to mind, but I haven’t managed to make any bread in a few weeks.

Chicken salad

Chicken salad

As I gazed into the refrigerator I decided that the spinach would get used to make chicken salad wraps. Brilliant!

Add spinach

Add spinach

I ran out back and pulled up a bunching onion and also snipped several stalks of celery leaf. Chicken salad coming up!

Lunch!

Lunch!

The meal was quick, easy, and healthy. In fact, I am running in several directions right now and I had a repeat of this meal for dinner too! Yum x 2!

What do you do to throw together a quick lunch?

Sincerely, Emily

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Bunching onions, sauerkraut, local lamb roast, and working in the garden….

Chopping up bunching onions to go in my neighbors freezer

Chopping up bunching onions to go in my neighbors freezer

What do all those things have in common? …. Just more “not dabbling in normal” normal.

Over at the neighbors getting things ready to plant.

Over at the neighbors getting things ready to plant.

Cleaning and clearing out the winter garden. the onions are starting to flower. I let a few turnips and some of the kale flower so I can collect seeds. The monster spinach is just starting to bolt, so will leave a few plants in the ground for seed saving also.

I was over at the neighbors yesterday to help clear out winter plants and get some spring things in the ground. He uses a hoe (made in the USA) that belonged to his grandmother. (my neighbor is 81 years old, so that is one old hoe that he is using.) we planted some cucumber and zucchini seeds and got a few bell pepper plants in the ground. My body is still playing catch up from being sick a year ago…. so that was all we got done. We will work out there again on Saturday. I plan to work in my garden today and hopefully get some plants in the ground. I still get out of breath, but it feels good to work out there and I need to keep pushing myself a bit to keep getting better. I have certainly come a long way, especially when i think back to march 2013 when I couldn’t even walk across the room!

chopping cabbage for sauerkraut

chopping cabbage for sauerkraut

I have picked my cabbages and they are in the crock turning into fermented sauerkraut. I picked up some more local cabbage at the local swap that I go to and those are also fermenting in another second crock. A Roasted lamp shoulder

Dinner the other night was a roasted local lamb shoulder (picked it up at the swap/barter.) I had a second pan in the oven roasting sweet potatoes and onions that I also traded for.

Making a cough syrup

Making a cough syrup

I am also taking an herbal medics class. Learning a lot, and So much more to learn. It is a lot of fun. I am harvesting some wild herbs and edibles as they are popping up this spring. The lambsquarter is popping up so I am potting some up to take to plant swaps and also the month swap/barter.

So, like I said…. Life. There is a lot going on. Spring is in the air (It was 87F yesterday – I think we skipped Spring!)

What are you up to this time of year?

Sincerely, Emily

 

 

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I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, but the warmer days have me thinking about the Spring/Summer garden planting.

We have already hit 90F here in South Texas. That is just too hot, WAY too soon for me. Last week we had another cooler down that was right up my alley and it had me opening the bedroom windows at night to cool the me down!

Tabouli

Tabouli

I try hard to purchase veggies in season, but I had an itch (and an event to bring a dish to) to make Tabouli (click on the word “Tabouli” to link to the recipe that I posted back in July of 2013). I picked and used as much as I could from the gardens; parsley, mint, cilantro, onion. But I did have to purchase things like cucumber and tomato (oh I can’t wait to pick that first fresh tomato!)

I am behind in my seed starting, but my tomato seedlings are up and a few of the pepper seeds are starting to sprout. I did pick up some heirloom and non-GMO seedlings at The Natural Gardener a few weeks ago. They are already potted up into gallon containers. The Natural Gardener didn’t have their pepper plants in yet, so I will check back in with them, as well as check a few other local nurseries to find some organic ones.

Reality check: last wee our temps are back in the “Texas Winter” range. We have been 25F at night with a few days that didn’t get about 45F (I know that is a heat wave for some of you out there.) so my seedlings are living in the garage and in the house for while.

What type of seeds will you be starting to prepare for the upcoming gardening season?

Sincerely, Emily

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One sees these things coming. A venerable locally-owned brand is sold to a national chain, which then abandons it. Boom. Local ownership gone. Safeway, the grocery store chain (or more likely the holding company that owns Safeway), just axed Dominick’s in Chicago. They are closing dozens, for all I know hundreds, of neighborhood stores. I’m hoping that another local chain will reap the windfall, but think it’s more likely we’re going to end up with WalMarts filled with processed foods and a few bruised Chilean apples and e. coli-contaminated salad bags to keep Mrs. Obama and her corporate sponsors happy.

I say No. Here are my demands:

1. Only healthy junk food, with pictures of rain forests and bunnies so I know it’s safe
2. Fresh organic lettuce, sold in plastic bags, preferably pre-cut, because who has time.
3. No dirt– otherwise who KNOWS where that turnip has been
4. Healthy options at MacDonald’s. If you eat a salad with the Big Mac, I’m pretty sure it has fewer calories.
5. Have Maria teach me the proper pronunciation of “habanero” next time she comes to clean
6. All vegetables presented in faux wood bins, with real wicker baskets instead of shopping carts so I can pretend I’m at the Farmers Market, which is full of all these farmers, which can’t be sanitary
7. A special display with 14 different heirloom tomatoes (not 14 types–14 tomatoes) so I can say I’ve seen one. Make sure they cost $7 apiece so I can complain about how organic (sic) is too expensive
8. Candy in the checkout aisle. Because those nuts from Occupy Safeway are blocking access to the candy.
9. Support local farmers! Give them jobs as baggers, since their farms are all mortgaged to the hilt.

Originally posted on the Mahlzeit blog, October 21, 2011.

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This week, we’re inspired by the leaders of natural and local, be it gardens or food.

***

This week I (Sincerely, Emily) arranged a field trip for the local garden club that I am in. We went to The Natural Gardener in Austin, TX owned by John Dromgoole (has been doing an organic radio show for 30 years.) The nursery was wonderful and celebrates 30 years this year. Then we headed to lunch at a local restaurant called Jack Allen’s Kitchen. They work with local farmers to use local and seasonal food in some of the dishes.

Pumpkin Seed Pesto Marinated Chicken Breast, Portobello mushroom stuffed with artichoke gratin and goat cheese drizzle

Pumpkin Seed Pesto Marinated Chicken Breast, Portobello mushroom stuffed with artichoke gratin and goat cheese drizzle

It was a great day. Local Nursery. Local Restaurant (serving some local food!) Good Friends.

***

As local as it gets. The last tomato harvest.

Green peppers

October harvest

What have you been up to this week?

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I went to my first swap this past April. I had heard of swaps but didn’t find one in my area until a friend found this one on a MeetUp page and told me about it.

Swap July 2013

Swap July 2013

The organizer set up a few guidelines and the rest is history. She holds it once a month.

There were a few guidelines to follow:

  • No money was allowed – this is all about the trade and bartering with what you have for what you want/need.
  • Items should be sustainably-minded. Something you have grown in your garden, something you conned/cooked/brewed/baked/preserved/dried, etc. Something your animals made (goat milk, hen eggs, lamb wool, etc.) Something you sewed/knitted/re-purposed, etc. Items to do with sustainable interests are also good (Mother Earth News magazines, cookbooks, cooking/camping gear, etc)
  • The items you should leave at home: this is not a garage sale, items should be about sustainability. Leave the knick-knacks at home.

Once we set up, we were allowed 15 minutes to walk around and check out the items other people brought so we could see what we were interested in.

Lemon pickles, Dill pickles, Homemade Teriyaki sauce

Lemon pickles, Dill pickles, Homemade Teriyaki sauce

Each month I have been posting about the swap over on my personal blog. About a month ago I realized that I hadn’t posted about the July swap and I thought it would be a good topic to post here. I have known the swap and barter system is out there and alive, and I realize that there may be others out there that are interested, but don’t know were to look or even how to get started.

Here are the other swap posts I have done”

Here are a few places to look to find swaps in your area: Note: I will add additional information to this post as I find it or as people comment. (updated 19 Sept 2013)

Would you go to a swap if you had one in your area?
Are you participating in a swap in your area?

Please use the comments to let others know about how to find a swap. If you out there participating in a swap, please comment with the general area you are in and add a link to the swap information.

Sincerely, Emily

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This past Sunday our Sunday Photo post focused on “Flour Power.” Well, flour has definitely taken on power, and new meaning for me in the past five years.

On my journey to rid our kitchen of processed and pre-packaged food, I have also taken some detours and now local food plays a very important part of this journey as well.  Granola Bars 1

Flour, also gives me freedom. The freedom and power to make things like bread and pizza dough. Crackers and muffins. Sour dough starter and white sauce. I know where my flour came from and I know what the ingredients are in the things I make. Not only do I know the ingredients, but making these things is also frugal. I know it costs a lot less then buying a loaf of bread at the market.bread dough

In Sunday’s post Alexandra talked about finding local flour in Wisconsin a few hours from where she lives. I finally found a source for wheat in Texas that is about 500 miles away. YIKES. Texas is fifth in the nation in wheat production, and it is hard to find wheat or flour locally. Hmmm. Fran talked about flour and its connection to communities.KPMF on toast with asaragusOn any given day, I usually eat something that I eat that has flour in it. Toast made from homemade bread to go with my morning eggs. Maybe a granola bar in the car on the go. Last week for dinner I made a mushrooms in a white sauce using flour, served if over toast and topped that off with steamed asparagus.

Flour is one of the staples that I would never want to be without in my cupboards because it plays an important part in our meals. I am grateful that I have the time to make these things at home.

What part does flour play in our kitchen and life?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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Day Tripper

Sunday driver, yeah.

I work freelance. No sick days. No vacations. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid, so vacations of the take-the-family-to-Disneyland, rent-a-beach-house type just don’t happen.  The last time we took an actual trip was in 2007, when we went to see my daughter in California when she was on tour with Disney On Ice.

So I’m the master of the day trip. (I refuse to call it a staycation, a dreadful neologism that just makes my teeth hurt.)

Daytripping can happen a mile from your house, or across the state; the key is there and back in 24 hours. It might include a stay at a hotel, or it might just be “Tourist Day” downtown, where you ride the double decker bus, go to the top of the Sears Tower, have lunch at the tourist trap and buy a fake Chicago street sign for a souvenir.

Or it might be a concert in Woodstock Illinois, where they filmed Groundhog Day, about an hour out of town. Or lunch with a friend who has managed to actually retire.

I like to take “mental health days” since “weekend” is also an elusive concept when you’re self employed. You work when there’s work, not because the calendar confers some magical income-freedom on Saturday and Sunday. So you head to the museum, or the prairie bike trail, or the nature preserve.

And if you’re lucky enough to live in Chicago, you can even walk to the beach.

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Summer has just been teasing us this year. A couple of flirty days up near 90, a mild stretch in the 80s, and then back to cool, cool and raining, or cool and overcast.

Today is a cool and overcast day, with a threat of rain.

You can’t really rely on the weather reports anymore. Not because they’re inaccurate, but because local stations now have such powerful signals that they’re reaching from southern Wisconsin to central Indiana to Chicago’s far collar counties to the south. So they’ll report severe weather that might be happening 100 miles away on “my” weather report, or announce a high temperature of 90 (halfway to Iowa), when it never got over 72 here by Lake Michigan.

I can’t even remember winter, now. Was it wintry or warm or frigid? I think a “normal” winter is a little bit of snow in the Thanksgiving to Christmas stretch, and then murderous cold in January giving way to a snowy February and March. Rainy spring with fluctuating temps, mild rainy May, gradual warming in June.

“But here a small boy says, it snowed last year!…and I reply that was not the same snow.

Like Dylan Thomas, I don’t know if my memory of the weather is true or idealized.

The plants are confused. I think they remember ideal weather too– where the sun gradually warms them in May and by June they’re partying in the park. They’re loving the rain and the thunderstorms— for the most part the foliage is a lush, deep green. But the lack of sun is making for huge leaves as they try to soak up every elusive ray, and the peppers and eggplants are just sitting there going nuhUH ain gonna grow in this cold. (I feel their pain.)

Last year we were enjoying, if that’s the word, the hottest summer on record, and it had barely begun. We’d already had nearly twenty days over 90, and it was early enough in the drought that people (well, the non-gardeners/farmers anyway) were still happy with the lack of rain.

So, weathermen, I think it’s awesome that your ad revenues went up because the market is so much bigger due to your powerful transmitters. And Kankakee is a great town, and so is Sheboygan, and so is Joliet, and so is Lockport.

But their weather doesn’t have all that much to do with me— can you tell me what’s happening in Chicago?

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I know that our REAL Local series has come to an end, but I still wanted to share a few more things that I found while traveling in England.

We bought a book at one of the castles we stopped and I loved the bag it was packaged it – love the words. I have no idea if it was made locally, or even made in England, it was just nice to see the words on the bag. They weren’t an after thought, the words were the bag.

I found some cookies that hit the spot one day…. and had to pack some to eat on the plane, right?! They only fit the “L” in S.O.L.E.(Sustainable, Organic, Local,  Ethical), but they are made in England.

Ginger Nuts cookies – England

I knew I must bring home some tea. While I know the tea was not grown in England, I tried to buy from a company with good ethics (and a pretty box too!) After reading about them on their website, I think I made a good choice.

I was really amazed when I was looking at some the packages in the little markets I went into. I was mainly looking to buy a few food items to snack on along the way and a few things to bring home with us. Many things in the cookie and cracker sections (or at least most of the ones I looked at) were made in England. Many others said made in the U.K. also. Now, I know the “U.K.” covers are larger area, my point it that it wasn’t imported from some other far, far away place.  That was refreshing to see.

I also am in the habit of picking up tea towels with I travel. They are a great souvenir, easy to pack and useable. This one (and a few others were made in England!) Yippee!

REAL Local – Made in England!

One more item that I purchased to bring home as a souvenir of our trip. We went into an antique shop in Chipping Campden and just wandered around. I would have loved to have loaded a suitcase with all sorts of wonderful finds and I did warn my husband that if I found a wonderful old candelabra that it was coming home with us some way, some how. Instead I picked out a simple (and inexpensive) silver-plated serving spoon.

I completely forgot to as the women what she knew about the pattern. I am under no false illusion that it is valuable or rare; it was the right price and it packs easily. It has a bunch of markings on the back, symbols really, no words. One day I will find out more about it. Until then, I will just use it and enjoy it and remember our trip.

Sincerely, Emily

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