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Archive for the ‘Local Food’ Category

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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Last week I struggled with finding photos for D. I could think of a lot of “D” things, just didn’t have photos of them…

This week was a bit easier. Elder has been on my mind because I started working (with a friend) on a presentation for Herb of the Year on Elder for the local Herb Society back in September of 2012. So that “E” came easy to me and as I go through past photos, so good “E” photos popped out.

Experimentsexperiment 1aThis experiment did not go so well. I will post about it on Friday over at Sincerely, Emily.

Egg and eggplant sandwich (now I am hungry – they were so good!) I many of these from breakfast when the eggplant were growing in the garden.023What kind of “E” things come to mind for you?

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.

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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.

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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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Lammas, hmmm. I didn’t know much about it until Alexandra suggested it for one of our Sunday Photos themes.

As I think about Lammas, I think about growing up in a small town in Wisconsin with all the farms nearby. I think about how important the harvests were and how, not that long ago, neighbors and families would get together to help each other with the harvests.

Look! ZucchiniI think back to how things were done just one hundred years ago, here in the U.S. and even centuries ago in Europe and other areas. Things where very different. People just didn’t drive into town to buy everything they needed; they were growing it. Whether it was wheat or corn, or something else, it was very important for survival. With these harvests came traditions, like Lammas

While many things are really getting crispy in the garden (ahhh dead!) I can still honor the things that I am harvesting right now, and give thanks to the grain in my cupboards that I use to make bread and other things. I can think about the harvest and Lammas, as I mix up a loaf of bread.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am also be thankful for the things I am harvesting and putting into our meals every day. Peppers, Kale, Okra. Cucumber. I can also preserve some things to grace our table another time. I will save seeds for another planting and look forward to another harvest. Traditions continue. Plans are made.

Are there any organized Lammas celebrations happening in your area?

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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Lammas, the first harvest of the year, is the “loaf mass” because it marks the wheat harvest. The festival’s counterpart, Beltane at the beginning of summer, the planting of the crops and the marriage of the god and goddess, is full of promise and joy. Lammas is bounty and joy, but melancholy too, as the god begins to prepare for his yearly sacrifice and death, and the goddess begins to remember her anger over the loss of her daughters.

In modern patriarchal theology we think of lightning as a phallic manifestation, but I like to think of August storms as the fury and despair of the goddess who cannot save the earth her daughters from their imminent death, year after year after year. She brings us daily bounty, more than we can use, as both fruited gift and fruitless bribe. It means the downward slope towards the frozen midwinter is beginning.

Lammas Salad
10 Golden beets, blanched and sliced thin
3 small beets, blanched and sliced thin
1 cucumber, seeded and sliced
1 green pepper, sliced very thin
1-2 ears of corn, nibletted and blanched
3 apricots, diced
1 mildly hot pepper, seeded and diced (this year I used Beaver Dams, but I’ve also used Shishito)

Macerate (i.e. soak) the cucumber in a couple tablespoons of honey and salt for 1-2 hours. Macerate the apricots and shishito peppers in cider vinegar for 1-2 hours. Drain and rinse just before mixing up the salad. To blanch the beets, trim the roots and stems (peeling optional), and drop them into actively boiling water for no more than 5 minutes. Allow to cool, then slice. To blanch the corn, slice the niblets from the cob, and drop them into actively boiling water; leave until the color deepens (a couple/few minutes at most).

Mix everything together with a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise. (Make it yourself.)

I like this as a side with crab cakes.

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At Peterson Garden Project we call it Grow2Give. Other organizations have Plant a Row. Other organizations don’t call it anything, they just encourage making donations from your vegetable garden.

Even though I’ve got only myself to feed this year, I’ve planted a full garden, so I’m probably going to be taking donated produce to one of our local food pantries.

Food pantries like more of less.  Don’t bring them a couple heads of lettuce, a bunch of basil, 4 beets, a half pound of green beans, 2 eggplants, 3 peppers and 6 tomatoes. Bring them 20 pounds of kale and 40 tomatoes. They have a lot of people to feed.

Growing and planting are the obvious parts of these kinds of programs. Defining the “giving” is trickier because the program gives the gardener so much as well. I’ve seen it in the faces of the dozens of volunteers who show up in droves every time we have a Grow2Give workday.

Volunteers aren’t just putting plants into the ground; they work hard.  Since Peterson Garden Project started Grow2Give in 2010, hundreds of volunteers at 7 gardens have collectively laid out and filled more than 70 4×6-foot plots. They’ve hauled and leveled 2,500 square yards of mulch. The volunteers have planted hundreds of heirloom tomato plants,  240 corn stalks, thousands of beans and carrots, a couple dozen pumpkin and squash, plus cucumbers, melons, native pollinating plants, and more.

And they feel like they are the ones who have been given the gift.

There are so many reasons to participate in food pantry programs. One volunteer watched a homeless man pick up the mulberries off the sidewalk to eat and was compelled to find a way to volunteer with a food security program.  Another volunteered as a way to fulfill service hours for a traffic violation; he figured working with Grow2Give was a more meaningful thing to do with his time than watching a video for traffic school.

So many volunteers have told me stories about their dismay with our toxic food culture. Several were inspired by Mayor Emanuel’s vow to eliminate food deserts in Chicago.

Even if you’re not part of a regular program like Grow2Give, you can “grow to give,” as well. Think about sharing your bounty. If you’re like me, you’re growing more than you need.

If you garden at a different garden, or in your own backyard, then Plant a Row to donate. Food pantries like produce that is easy to store, like tomatoes, peppers, beans, carrots, turnips, etc.

Grow to give. It gives right back.

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As we get ready for the new growing season, it’s fun to look back at what you grew last year!

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Probably my (Alexandra) last year in my big garden has me thinking about what I’ll want to grow that I really use. Tomatoes, of course, but what about carrots (cheap to buy) and tomatillos (also have way more than I need).8106641743_5e02871e68_z 8106657772_7bb09e2bf8_z

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I (Chiot’s Run) was just thinking about this yesterday as well, looking through my old photos of delicious vegetables, dreaming of the wonderful bounty my larger gardens will produce this year. Here were some of my favorites from last year:
last year harvests 1
last year harvests 2
last year harvests 3

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I (Sincerely, Emily) loved all the peppers that came from last years garden, but there was one particular vegetable that  I was the most thrilled about growing last year. The allusive zucchini (courgette.) For several years I had tried and tried, and struggled and struggled to grow zucchini. Last year was a HUGE success.

Look! Zucchini***

What did you grow last year?

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