Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Back in Action

Well, I haven't posted in a couple of months. The reason was that shortly after I last posted I found out that (surprise, surprise) we are expecting a 4th child. Well, the long and short of it is that I have had a few complications and have felt really crummy until very recently. Finally the energy is coming back a bit and the nausea is abating.

I have started cooking a bit finally. Jay took over cooking duties for the last stretch and at least we ate good, but there was no planning, as I was not really wanting to think about food much.

However, Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I am in full planning mode. I am excited about my favorite holiday (food wise) and am trying to do as much local as possible. I will post my menu when finalized and in the meantime post a few favorite recipes (both new and old)!!

Good eating and happy holidays!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Menu Planning Fiasco

So, I fell off the Bandwagon this week. I am still cooking, but boy I didn't have a minute to sit down and plan.

Here is the low down the best I can create.

Saturday we went to the in-laws and ate there at their club pool (garbage food). We regretted it later when we all felt lousy.

Sunday we had taco meat with tortilla chips and sauteed vegetables, refried beans and toppings as well as Corn on the cob.

Monday we cooked a turkey in our electric roaster (a free-range, organic chicken that apparently we stored in my parents freezer and forgot about, it was delicious). Mashed potatoes that we dug up the potatoes at our CSA and gravy. Steamed green beans along side it.

Tuesday we had leftovers.

Tonight I have meetings so it will be sweet corn, green beans and hot dogs (all natural from a local smokehouse).

Tomorrow- Undecided, but probably stuffed cabbage.

Friday--Kids eating at Grandmas, so we will probably take an easy packed dinner to the set up of the conference.

Saturday -We will be at the local HTN conference all day/evening, so leftovers or a packed dinner will be the deal.

Sunday School starts Sunday, so not sure what we will plan, probably Chicken as we need to make freezer space by the 15th when our new delivery of chickens arrives.

Hubby stayed up late last night (as he left this morning for a business trip) making applesauce from a case of juicer apples we got from our favorite local organic orchard. It is so good.

That is it for now, but I do plan to get back on the ball with planning soon.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Nourishing Portable Food Challenge

One of my favorite Nourishing Blogs http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/ is having a Nourishing Portable Food Challenge. In light of the fact that I pack lunch for 2 children each day and they both have different requirements and likes/dislikes (my son cannot have dairy) and I often pack my own lunch for a meeting or whatever, I figure I can share some ideas and maybe figure out a recipe to post too.
You can check out all the ideas for healthy, nourishing portable foods at http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2008/08/nourishing-portable-food-challenge_26.html
Usually when I pack lunches I use the Laptop Lunches Lunchbox System http://www.laptoplunches.com/ I love these lunchboxes as they help with portion control and it is waste free which is good for the environment. They are plastic, but are made of the safer type plastics that aren't supposed to leach, for kids I really find plastic to be a necessity. The food presentation is wonderful because they are based on the Bento box style of Japan. When the child (or adult) opens the case, the food is ready and looks appetizing, things also keep from getting squished as they would in a plastic baggie.
I frequently make sandwiches for the children with all-natural lunchmeats or a healthy nut butter and raw honey with slices of organic banana, or sometimes an organic jam.
I also frequently pack homemade trail mix. This is my favorite portable snack as it is made with a variety of crispy nuts (nuts soaked in salt water overnight, then dehydrated to help break down the enzyme inhibitors, phytic acid and other anti-nutrients and make them more digestible), organic dried fruit, and a few organic chocolate chips. It is easy to pack and gives them a good balance of protein and carbs to keep them going. Also, if they don't finish their lunch, this is usually something that they an snack on after school too.
I often put either apple sauce (for my son) and yogurt for my daughter with some fruit on top (in the picture it is some organic tart cherries with organic vanilla yogurt. I also put either vegetable or salad. In the picture it is kale for my son and a salad for my daughter. I also frequently put some pieces of cheese or salami or other meat with a few organic crackers (or sometimes without the crackers).
I also frequently send stew, chili or soup in a thermos. The kids always love that. I only send water most days, once a week they can have juice, chocolate milk or kombucha.
I often do a "lunchable" type lunch instead of a sandwich. I just roll up or cut with a decorative cutter pieces of meat and cheese and put those in with some veggie sticks, cut up fruit, maybe some olives, pickles or sauerkraut/kim chi and crackers. The kids love these finger foods.
I also frequently use leftover dinners that may be good cold. Cold pieces (off the bone) of roasted chicken with some hard-boiled egg and maybe cheese pieces along with veggies and fruit. Frittatas are great too, as they are good warm, room temp or cold. They can be cut in a wedge and eaten on the go easily too. They can be any meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner) and can include a variety of ingredients. Meatloaf is also good cold too.
Many friends and family have told me my meatloaf is great. Here is my recipe (the amounts are not real exact as I usually just throw it together), I put frozen organic corn in the middle of the loaf as my dad always did that and the kids get a kick out of it, but if you are planning to use it for a lunch (sandwich or sliced) that does not work so well, so just leave it without the "surprise in the middle"
Lisa's Meatloaf
Note: These amounts are approximate as I just eyeball it (however, it is 2lbs meat)
2 pounds grass-fed ground beef (if very lean, add some type of oil/fat to the mixture)
1 small or half a medium onion, pureed
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon Penzey's beef roast seasoning (or use you favorite beef spice blend or other spices)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
1/2 teaspoon organic worcestershire sauce
1 large egg
sprinkle of garlic powder or 1 small glove grated (or finely minced)
1 tablespoon organic tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons salsa
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thouroughly with hands (I find that works best to get it very well homogenized). Cover rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper or a silpat and mound meat mixture into a free form loaf shape. (If doing a corn surprise in the middle, mound the bottom of the loaf, build up some sides, place frozen corn in middle and cover with remaining meat mixture).
Topping mixture: Mix 1/8 cup of ketchup with 1/8 cup salsa and pour over top of meatloaf to cover completely.
Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Note: You can also shape the meat mixture into muffin tins and divide topping over them, reduce baking time to compensate (they will end up with grease puddled into the bottom of the tin, so remove immediately from tin to avoid them soaking it in or getting too soft at the bottom).

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Menu Planning Week 5

Ok, so it is Tuesday and I am way behind (in just about every aspect of my life these days which just makes me procrastinate more!).

Well we have been cooking, but just not to organized about it.

Recap: Well we did have eggs, oatmeal and pot roast. Didn't get to much else.

Here is what we have had between last weekend and now: Saturday we had grilled steaks and grilled vegetables with baked potatoes, Sunday we had stirfry with the leftover steak, brown rice, salad and pickles with the last of the corn on the cob (in-laws came for dinner). Dessert was cantaloupe, blueberries and watermelon. Monday we had leftovers (well they did, I wasn't home).

Ok, here we go with this week.

Tuesday (August 26)
Breakfast-Soaked Oatmeal Porridge
Lunch-Bologna, fruit
Dinner: Meatloaf, Fried Summer Squash, Sauteed Red Cabbage

Wednesday (Aug 27)
Dinner-Pot Roast (need something that can cook while I am gone to the school meeting)

Thursday (Aug 28)
Breakfast -Muffins
Lunch Lunchmeat, fresh veggies, pickles
Dinner -Leftovers (we have to go to orientation for religious school)

Friday (Aug 29)

I also once again hope to get to making some desserts and zucchini bread as well as regular bread (since I am out of bread flour and plan to shop on Thursday evening). I got some wonderful local blueberries at the Royal Oak Farmers Market from Blueridge Blueberry Farm and I really want to make a blueberry dessert. I was hoping to make a blueberry peach crostada, but Rachel ate all the peaches lickity-split (and most of a bag of apples I got). I have enough Gingergold apples to make something, so I'll have to figure out what.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Menu Planning Week Four

Well, I sort of had a small tumble off the band wagon this week. I just have been so busy that every time I sat down to do a menu plan, I got side-tracked.

Well here is an attempt to rein in the week (which is a crazy busy week!!).

I can't even remember what we ate on Saturday and Sunday, so I'll start with Monday.

Monday (August 18)
Breakfast--Leftover Fritatta
Lunch-Smoked Turkey (lunchmeat from Markowycz), cucumber slices, cantaloupe, homemade pickles and whole grain gluten free crackers, leftover roasted cauliflower and roasted beets.
Dinner-Hamburger Patties (East River Organics hamburger, mixed with local eggs, basil and a few spices), breaded and baked summer squash, , corn on the cob.

Tuesday (August 19)
Breakfast-Smoked Turkey, summer sausage, cucumbers and chips
Lunch- Variety of leftover and some smoked turkey lunchmeat
Dinner-Baked Chicken, Corn on the cob, gnocci (from a local pasta company Tracina's) Leftover Summer squash from last night

Wednesday (August 20)
Dinner-Pot Roast (as I can prep it and let it cook while we are gone in the afternoon and eat real quick before my meeting tomorrow night)

Thursday (August 20)
Lunch-Salad and lunchmeat (or leftovers)

Lunch-Salad and leftovers
Dinner-leftovers and we are going to a Boy Scout event with hotodogs and smores too.

I also still need to make the zucchini bread, maybe Thursday as I clean my house to get ready for a GS meeting at my house in the evening

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Eating Local is so much fun this time of year.

During summer and into fall, I don't have much trouble eating local, and I LOVE the journey!!

Every Saturday I go to the farmers market (Royal Oak every other week usually followed by a trip to the Clarkston Market and just Clarkston on the other weeks). I sometimes go by myself, which is pleasurable to stroll along and talk to all my farmer/vendor friends, including Julie (La Vida Local) at Clarkston. Many weeks I meet or go with my dad. It is a throwback to my growing up years where it was a tradition to go to the market together. Sometimes we take the whole family, my kids love the market!!The smells, the sounds, the abundance of beaconing fruits and vegetables in all their glory, the multitude of colors. It is such a sensory and soul soothing experience!!

We belong to a CSA, so we have an abundance of fresh, local, organically-grown vegetables each week, but I can't resist the market experience. I still manage to spend a good amount on things we don't get enough of (or any of) from our CSA or other fun, yummy items that aren't produce but are local.

This past week I bought 2 dozen sweet corn, a watermelon, 2 canteloupe and a quart of organic, local peaches.

For dinner recently we had Nachos with local beef (from East River Organics) made into homemade taco meat (I don't use a spice/packet for the meat, but a recipe from Cook's Illustrated), Simmon's corn chips, global warming salsa, locally bought sour cream and Rosewood cheese (which is produced in Ann Arbor area) and Eden refried beans. It was so good and very filling.

Breakfast this morning was Fritattas with local eggs (we get them from our CSA and they are locally produced by several area families for our CSA), veggies from our CSA (onions, garlic, summer squash, green bell pepper and carrots from east river organics, they are so good). Hubby made breakfast. We had the watermelon from the farmers market with the frittata.

So it isn't hard for me to do local meals this time of year, in fact basically all our meals are local as we try to use up our abundance of veggies. We had grilled pizzas tonight. The crust was homemade with flour from Westwind Mill (I did use a bit of other flour because Westwind is out of the heartier wheat varieties and I needed a bit more protein content in the dough). The dough only has salt, yeast, water, olive oil and flour in it. The sauce was made from homemade roasted tomato sauce (the peach and melon farmer at the Clarkston Farmers market gave us a bag of their imperfect tomatoes when they heard we wanted to make sauce--thats what I love about building relationships with your growers) with onion and garlic from our CSA added and some spices. The toppings were onions (CSA), pepperoni (Markowycz Meats in Detroit) and cheese. We had sweet corn with the pizzas!!

Yum, I will be sad when winter rolls around and the fresh green vegetables and the lucious fruits are gone. We do put up things like tomato sauce, corn (blanced and cut off the cob), berries, and pickles, kim chi and sauerkraut, and jam. We try to do more, but depends on what we can source.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sanford Family Dill Pickles

This pickle recipe has been in my family for Generations!! They are Kosher Dill Pickles made with a salt brine and not vinegar. Garlicky and yummy, they are a family tradition. My dad used to make them with his parents and his grandparents made them too, I don't know how many more generations back they go, but they are the typical recipe for Kosher Garlic Brined Dills, so I am sure our family didn't invent them, but we sure love them!! I grew up making pickles with my dad and when I had kids I taught them the recipe and how to make them (and hubby, who loves them and is a fantastic pickle maker now!!).
This is a great activity for the kids as they can help with all the steps and the daily shake and check is always fun. It is like magic how green cucumbers turn cloudy and dark and turn into sour dill pickles. Pure Magic!!

Sanford Family Dill Pickle Recipe

Per Quart of Pickles
2 stalks Dill -- divided
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt -- heaping
1 teaspoon pickling spice
1 quart pickling cucumbers -- as many as will fit in a wide mouth quart jar
2 cloves garlic (the individual cloves, not heads)-- peeled, to taste (2-3 cloves, more or less depending on how garlicky you like your pickles.-- I sometimes slice up the bigger cloves and cut in half smaller cloves and put the pieces in, that helps give it more garlic flavor.)
1 red chile pepper -- dried (optional, to taste, if you like a little heat add one, for hotter pickles add more dried peppers-- I use dried arbol peppers)
**cold water

For each quart of pickles use a clean (preferably sterile) wide mouth quart jar with a lid and screw cap. Fold up one stalk of dill and push into bottom of quart jar, covering the bottom of the jar (use more dill if needed to cover bottom of jar).
Fill jar with cucumbers, tightly pack as many as will fit up to the lip (below where the threads for the lid start) of jar.
Add one heaping Tablespoon of kosher salt and one teaspoon of pickling spice to jar.

Push cloves of garlic into areas around cucumbers (try to evenly disburse them around jar) and add the hot pepper(s) to jar. Fold up remaining stalk of dill and push into jar on top of cucumbers to cover.

Fill jar to lip (below the area where the threads start for screw top) with cold water, covering cucumbers and dill. Make sure cucumbers are covered, sometimes you have to really fill the jars with water to get the cukes and dill covered, that is ok (just make sure you use a pan under the jars as explained below).
Place lid and screw top on and tighten screw top by hand till tight (you don't need to overtighten). Shake jars to distribute salt and spices and help the salt dissolve.
Place filled jars on counter or table with a pan or several layers of paper towels underneath to catch any possible leaks.
Shake jars once a day and check to make sure lid has not come loose due to the fermentation process. The brine will start to turn cloudy after a while, and the cucumbers will go from bright green to a darker green, this means they are working and turning to pickles. Pickles will be ready to eat in one week (we go 10 days to start), but are even better if you wait two weeks. Refrigerate after opening.
They will last several weeks in the fridge once opened (however, we can never keep them around that long). They will last for several weeks or even longer before opening jars, but they are not actually preseved via a canning method for long term storage. After too long the cucumbers tend to get very mushy. They are best if you eat them 2-4 weeks after making them. Enjoy.

I have attached three pictures of the jars we made. The brightest green is one made today (the picture on the far left), the middle picture is slightly green but darker and cloudy and was made 2 days ago, the last jar (the far right picture) is one that is 9 days old (almost ready to eat).


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Menu Planning Week 3

Well, I made it another week and still trying to keep sane and menu plan.

Here is what I have:

Saturday (August 9)-
Breakfast-Whatever husband made for the kids as I left early for the Farmers Markets (Both Royal Oak and Clarkston, I love the market!!--My dad went with me to Royal Oak and I stopped and picked up my middle child, Jeremy, to go to Clarkston, it was a blast!!)
Lunch-Leftovers--chicken, hot dogs and some other misc. stuff from the fridge plus some Kim Chi.
Dinner-I made Egg Drop Soup for the kids and my mom. Jay and I were off to supper club (this is our 7th year with this group and we always have a nice time and the chance to go out sans kids and have fun with friends is great). We took Quinoa Bake and Braised White Beans with Greens.

Sunday (August 10)-
Breakfast- We wanted to make blueberry pancakes but can't find the cord to our electric griddle so we went with Waffles instead. I will post my waffle recipe on a separate post later. We had them with Homemade Strawberry Grand Marnier Sauce and whipped cream. YUM!!
Lunch- Noshed, not a real lunch as breakfast was kind of a "brunch" time.
Dinner-Leftovers-roast chicken, braised beans and greens, quinoa bake and we had fresh sweet corn from the market which was fantastic

Monday (August 11)
Breakfast- Leftover waffles
Lunch-Bologna sandwiches on homemade rye bread with MI honeyrock melon (from the Clarkston Farmers Market) and chips (a treat we bought at the store last night, made with potatoes, sunflower oil and salt).
Dinner- Baked Zucchini, Meatloaf, rest of the corn on the cob

Breakfast- Muffins (soak overnight and bake in the morning, I will prep tonight if I remember).
Lunch-Leftovers or sandwiches whichever the kids want
Dinner- Grilled Pizza.

Breakfast-Frittata--Use up any scraps of veggies and leftover cheese from the pizza
Lunch-Leftover Pizza
Dinner-Tacos/Nachos (now have sour cream and will make salsa)

Breakfast-Pancakes (if I can find the cord, if not we will have eggs or leftovers)
Lunch-Plow Share (lunchmeat, cheese, crackers, pickles, veggies, etc. all on a platter and help yourself)
Roast Chicken

Hubby will be home late Thursday night, so he will be happy to eat at home again.
Breakfast- Eggs or Leftovers, depending on what the kids want as we have to eat and leave for our CSA distribution (Farm day which we love).
Lunch-Packed lunch-Sandwiches, fruit, cucumbers and some water. We have to eat either at the farm or in the car as we have a 2pm Dr. appt.
Stir fry veggies over brown rice and chicken egg drop soup.

Other things to make-
Pickles (we made 13 jars yesterday and ran out of dill and jars, got more from my dad, so we have to make the rest of the cucumbers we got at the farmers market)
Kim Chi-We got a nice conical cabbage from our CSA and I found a diakon radish at the market from a local farmer I know, beautiful, large radish for $1 and she grows everything organically.
Zucchini Bread-I have to get to this soon as we need to use the big squash before Friday when our new disbursement comes.
Water Kefir-- A friend gave me some with grains and I need to experiment with it.

I think that is all and probably a bit too ambitious for the week considering Jay is gone and I have a ton of other things to get accomplished this week.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Menu Plan recap for Week 2

I am trying to keep this up and I think it does help. A few unavoidable changes occurred this week as we always seem to be busier and more tired than planned.

I managed to make many things from last week:
We had in no particular order-Scrambled eggs (several mornings, some with toast, some with fruit, etc.), sandwiches (bologna, turkey, PB & Honey with Banana, PB&J), Roast chicken with Onions, Potatoes and Carrots roasted under the chicken, Teriyaki beets, Hot dogs (like I said there are all natural with no fillers, nitrates, etc. from a local smokehouse), pickles (opened our first jar of homemade this season), roast cauliflower, steamed broccoli, Marinated Flank Steak.

I ended up changing out the tacos for Flank steak as I bought salsa this week and it was no good when I opened it (not outdated, but went off for some reason) plus I forgot to pick up sour cream, so this will get bumped to this week.

Not bad all in all. With hubby working late several nights and oldest at day camp (which meant driving back and forth every day to take and pick her up and let the boys play at the playground at the park).

The one real thing that didn't happen was making chinese dinner last night. Our CSA disbursement was huge and it took a lot longer at the farm than usual. Then I forgot that Rachel had an appointment at 2pm, so a quick lunch in the car (I quickly packed up some plates and napkins, sliced turkey breast, cheese, cucumber slices, blueberries and some corn chips and a juice box). By the time I got home at 4pm and unpacked all the produce from the car, I was tired and had a headache. Hubby had a 2 hour commute home instead of 45 minutes due to terrible traffic, so by 6 pm we were too tired to start a long dinner prep and the opening ceremonies start at 7:30 pm. We opted for the easy way out and ordered Chinese from a local restaurant that has been in business for many years. I used to go there as a child with my parents and the owners know my family. They make fresh food (obviously not organic) and will make it without any MSG, so not a great thing, but a very infrequent treat. The kids loved getting carry-out and eating in front of the TV and opening ceremony show was AMAZING. Kids didn't stay up for the whole thing, but it was a nice family time and we did discuss a lot of things surrounding olympics and countries of the world coming together!! Sometimes those family moments are more important than being 100% on our diet (or so to speak). Of course, I am tired today a combination of the non-NT food and lack of sleep since I stayed up late watching the show.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Menu Planning Week 2

Well better late than never. I finally wrote down a plan for this week before bed last night. I did pretty good on last weeks plan. Not perfect but it is just a plan and a tool, if it isn't flexible, it wont' work for me!!

Last week we ended up making the Sweet Cherry Caflouti, eggs, soaked oatmeal, hotdogs, sweet corn, lots of different veggies, Pot roast, Roast Chicken, Bread, Cherry/Almond Gallette and Pickles.

This week I will start the menu plan with Saturday and tell you what we ate. Saturday we went to the Clarkston Farmer's Market and made quite the haul (and left with my wallet $85 lighter) in addition to the huge amount we got from the CSA and the few things from our own garden (see previous posts).

Saturday August 2:
Breakfast--Soaked Oatmeal (leftover)
Lunch-Hotdogs (from Markowycz in Detroit), Corn on the cob fresh from the market (Farmer Bob's--it was delicious, see my last post), Leftover braised white beans with greens and leftover quinoa bake (quinoa, tomato sauce, greens and cheese).
Dinner-Went to my in-laws to swim and ate carry out (it is summer after all).

Sunday, August 3:
Breakfast- Egg with a hole in the middle. My kids (and myself) love this. We used homemade rye bread and farm fresh eggs, Very Yum!!
Lunch-Sandwiches, some had PBJ with banana (Naturally Nutty PB) and some of us had Bologna (from Markowycz in Detroit) on homemade bread. Cucumber slices from our bounty from our CSA.
Dinner- Lasagna. The VitaSpelt lasagna noodles, homemade tomato sauce and ground beef from East River Organics in Snover, MI, veggies I added from CSA. Cheese isn't local but can't do lasagna without ricotta and fresh mozzerella (got those at Whole Foods). Corn on the cob!!

Monday, August 4:
Breakfast-Scrambled Eggs and Honeyrock Melon from the Farmer's Market
Lunch- Bologna Sandwiches, Honeyrock Melon, Cucumber Slices and leftover Quinoa Bake
Dinner- Leftover Lasagna, Salad and the last of the corn from the market

Tuesday, August 5
Breakfast- Soaked Oatmeal
Lunch- Leftovers
Dinner-Roast Chicken, Roasted Cauliflower, Teryaki Beets, Salad

Wed, August 6
Lunch (I have to pack for daughter going to camp and myself for a meeting) probably sausage, cheese, salad, fruit and nuts with dried cherries and choc chips. Boys can have whatever my mom gets them as she is babysitting
Dinner-Hot dogs and broccoli and wild rice (have to eat early to go to see Rachel's camp play)

Thursday, Aug 7
Breakfast- Carrot Spice Muffins (soak overnight and bake in morning)

Friday, August 8
The Start of the Summer Olympics. I love the olympics (even if I am not thrilled about it being in China). So in honor of that a chinese inspired meal while we watch TV (a treat in itself to eat in front of the TV, we rarely do that).

Lunch- Leftovers
Dinner-Egg drop soup, fried rice, beef and vegetable stir fry

Miscellaneous stuff over the week:
More pickles (our cukes are starting to really produce)
Dill Dip and veggies to snack on
Zucchini Bread (we have a large one from the CSA to use up)

Well check and see how it went next week!!


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Michigan Sweet Corn Nirvana!!

It doesn't seem like summer is complete until we get to eat our fill of Fresh Michigan Sweet Corn!! Now is the time. We have been to the farmers market last Saturday and yesterday to get some of the sweet stuff. Everyone in my family loves sweet corn, especially my kids!!

My kids LOVE Corn on the cob. In fact, my mother-in-law always buys corn on the cob when the kids are coming to eat over, because it is their favorite (their favorite meal is grilled lambchops, corn on the cob and broccoli). However, she buys it all times of the year and to me it just isn't even close to being the same vegetable.

I only buy corn on the cob this time of year. The season is short, but oh so sweet. It is like biting into a juicy piece of healthy candy!! Boiled for just a short time and while steamy hot, covered in a bit of butter than runs down your fingers as you eat. An ever so gentle sprinkling of celtic sea salt and a light griding of fresh black pepper and I am in corn heaven!!

We picked up two dozen yesterday and each had an ear for lunch. This morning after breakfast the kids wanted corn, so we cooked up an ear each and had an after breakfast dessert/snack!! The kids came running from their playmates outside to enjoy the corn. As Ben, my three year-old said, " this corn is so good!!" Jeremy was sure to point out that it is best when it is fresh and from a good farmer!!

We blanched a few of the ears to cut off the cob and freeze. That way I can taste a bit of summer when the snow is piled up outside in February!!

Enjoy the season and support your local farmer!!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Our CSA Box

Well summer is in full swing and the veges are coming in full tilt!! The tomatoes are a bit slow this year (usually we get lots and so far we only got one large one and all the rest are small varieties and this was the first week we picked cherry tomatoes and the Juliet).

However we got a nice head of broccoli and several small shoots too, a head of cauliflower, a nice large conical cabbage, 6 heads of garlic, a bag of cucumbers, a large onion and a smaller onion, a few beets, a large Rapicante summer squash, several other summer squash, a large zucchini (to bake with), a bag of salad greens, kale, Italian chard, a couple handfuls of Romano green beans, a bag of tomatoes (mixed varieties) and some dill and basil. A big haul for sure.

We will have good eats this week!!

Edible Landscaping

I sent out this email today and I decided I would make it a post on my blog too.

Many of you know Julie Laporte from La Vida Local. She showed me and explained to me that she was going to do edible landscaping in her new lakefront home in Clarkston. I was very impressed and it got me thinking. Much of our landscaping that was here when we bought the house was very overgrown (6 years ago) and a few years back a friend helped me rip it up, weed, mulch and replant. We used the plants that were already there by dividing them and moving them, etc. I also added some beautiful plants that I received at Rocky Gardens.

I also started an herb bed the first year we moved in and have been adding to it each year. Well this year things were very overgrown in both my front and back garden, so we have started once again to redo our landscaping a little at a time.

In our front I tore out a ground cover that was overgrown and not looking so good right near my porch and planted lavender instead. I plan to harvest the lavender next year and use it in my cooking and dry it for its wonderful scent!! I also planted my large flower pot on my porch with herbs instead of flowers. It is really looking wonderful (my dad even commented on it) and I use the herbs frequently as well as my kids loving to munch on them!! I grew regular basil, thai basil (which is so pretty and smells amazing) and a globe basil which is bush like and little tiny leaves, I also planted rosemary and some parsley (from seed) as well as a Mexican herb related to coriander but I can’t remember the name of it.

I plan to tear out the rest for next year (keeping a few things that are beautiful like my rhododendron) and replant with garlic and other edibles. I also plant to plant some edible flowers next year like marigolds, nasturtiums, etc.

Along my side yard I plan to plant sunflowers next year.

In the back this year we cut down some spindly trees that were not in a spot that was good for them and they were producing too much shade and too close to the fence, etc. I also removed several overgrown daylilies and hostas (which we have A LOT of anyway) and gave them to some other people to enjoy. A couple years ago I had planted 2 rhubarb plants in this area and they produced this year and are lovely, I hope to find room to add more rhubarb as I love it. I also planted a few pepper plants (2 bell peppers and one jalepeno) and a roma tomato plant and 2 grape tomato plants. They have lots of green tomatoes on them and the kids check them every day!! I did an experiment by planting cucumbers this year, they are doing great and we picked enough the other day to make a quart of pickles, the neighbor kids came over and we had a great time picking and pickling the cukes!!

We tore out a bush and many weeds and have a lot more to go!! Next year we plan to have a much larger garden and try some new things. We are also composting this year (after a failed attempt before), so I hope that helps out the garden for the future.

Julie was my inspiration and I thought I would share this story as it seems to be a hot topic as we come to a time of more food insecurity. It has been mentioned in many magazines and websites that we need to revitalize the WWII victory garden concept and grow “eco-gardens” to save our planet and cut down on fuel consumption and global warming.

This video is a story about a landscaper in Oregon who has taken the backyard garden philosophy to heart. I was very inspired by his outlook and views as well as what he accomplished. It is about 26 minutes long, but very nice.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Menu Planning

Well, as I have been reading various food blogs devoted to cooking and especially to traditional foods, I have realized I need to get back into menu planning. I used to menu plan regularly and it was very helpful in making sure meals weren't so stressful and it helped when planning our shopping too.

I have fallen off the wagon, so to speak, with menu planning. I think mainly because our life is so hectic and crazy it was just one more thing to do. However, I recently have realized that it is something that will actually take some of the stress out of life. It will also help me be frugal in using up what we have on hand (which is a lot, we always have a plethora of food here!!).

So here is what I have come up with. It is a general layout as opposed to a die-hard plan. I find that to be easier as it is more flexible for me. I am also involving my 9 year-old daughter as she is really into helping in the kitchen so we have given her more responsiblility.

So today is Tuesday and here was the plan:
Breakfast-- we had fried eggs (local, free-range, organic) with homemade rye bread toast with butter. It was delicious!!
Lunch-- I made egg salad (farm eggs (see above) with safflower oil mayo and seasonings) with tortilla chips. The boys had sausage (from Markowycz European Home Style Sausage Co. in Detroit, MI--the best lunch meats and sausages I have ever had) as they don' t like egg salad.
Dinner-- We are having hamburger patties made with local, organic, pastured beef (we get 1/2 a cow a year from a local farmer and it is really great meat!!) and salad and fried zucchini. We have an abundance of vegetables from the CSA we belong to and we need to use them up as we get more on Friday. I am also going to make steamed broccoli (from our CSA).

The rest of the week menu (not sure which day will be what)

Sweet Cherry Claflouti--this is like a cross between a pancake and a souffle. The kids love it and it will use up some Traverse City Cherries we got at the farmer's market on Saturday. It isn't overly sweet and has lots of eggs in it, some milk and butter and I use organic whole wheat flour (from a local mill), so it is still relatively healthy.
Soaked Oatmeal Porridge--We soak our oatmeal (organic rolled oats) in water, whey and lemon juice overnight (helps reduce the phytic acid and other enzyme inhibitors to make it more digestible) and then cook it with water, butter and a bit of celtic sea salt and some cinnamon. After it is cooked we add a drizzle of pure Michigan maple syrup (from a local family) and some fruit and nuts or a few chocolate chips.
Eggs-- We love eggs and they are a good source of protein. Sometime we have scrambled, sometimes fried, and sometimes other way.

Egg Drop Soup-- The kids love this and it is made with homemade chicken stock and yummy veggies (whatever is on hand) as well as some left over roast chicken.
Nachos-I plan to make up some taco meat with our hamburger and serve it will refried beans and various toppings on some organic corn chips.
Hot Dogs-- We get our hotdogs from the same meat place in Detroit where we get our sausage, lunch meats and bacon. Sometimes we get them from a local farmer, both are great. No fillers, no nitrates or additives and all beef. We will have these with leftover veggies

Pot Roast- This is Ben's favorite meal, so even though it is summer, I make it for him at his request. I will have lots of vegetables that cook with it. For side dishes I will make sauteed cabbage and cornbread.
Roast Chicken-- I will probably just roast it whole with some onions, potatoes and carrots under it. I will serve it with a Quinoa Bake that has lots of greens, tomato sauce and some cheese in it.
Leftovers--one night will be leftovers I am sure and with it I will probably make a new recipe I want to try to go with whatever is leftover. I want to make a braised white bean and greens dish. I have some escarole and other greens to use up from our CSA so this along with the quinoa bake should do the trick!!

Other stuff:
Kim Chi--We love Kim Chi. I may make some if we still have cabbage left from the head we got last week in the CSA box. I am sure we will get more this week, so I want to make sure to use it up. We just put our last batch of sauerkraut in jars from the crock, so we have a good supply of it. We eat Kim Chi and/or sauerkraut with most every meal as a good digestive since they are so full of probiotics.
Bread--We make all our own bread. I plan to make a loaf this week (not sure what yet) and also to feed my sourdough starter and get it going again!!
Desserts-We don't do dessert every night, but Rachel wanted to try some recipes out of Disney cookbook, so I told her we would make Chocolate and Cherry Mousse this week. I also plan to make a Sour cherry/almond Gallette since I have half a recipe of dough left that I made one with on our anniversary last Friday!! It was yummy, but I want to try a few more revisions to the recipe I created (by piecing together parts of several recipes). I used rapadura to sweeten it and organic butter and flour as well as sea salt. I also used local organic cherries. It was good, but I think I can improve on it!! I also plan to make some Baked Brown Rice Pudding- This is a recipe out of Nourishing Traditions and is very good. I have some cream a bit past its date, so that will be a good use for it (if it isn't too far off, I haven't opened it). If I get more bananas at the co-op this week, Rachel wants to make a recipe from her cookbook that is bananas sauteed in melted honey and served with whipped cream.

So I have to remember to soak the oatmeal (probably Wed. night for Thursday breakfast) and the beans (probably Wed night too) for the braised dish!!

This should get me till the weekend when I get my new CSA disbursement (Friday) and hit the farmer's market on Saturday. Then I will do a full week menu from Saturday till Friday for next week.

Oh, wow, when you write it down it is a lot to do, but we love to cook, so it should be ok. Off to get dinner started!!


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Movie Review--King Corn

I saw a segment on Good Morning America with the two guys who made this film. I thought it sounded very intriquing, so I bought the DVD on Amazon. I forgot about it, until Diane Franklin mentioned that she and John had rented it and really liked it.

Jay and I watched it a few weeks ago and I really liked it. It was informative and interesting for sure, but it was also done in such a way that it was also funny and engaging too. I know a lot about food issues both locally and globally, and so much of the information on corn and how it is grown was not new to me, but to see it and see how big the machines are and to see the response of the beef industry representatives is still eye-opening and sobering.

I do think they could have done even more with this movie. You get the feeling they were discouraged by what they saw, but you don't really get if it changed the way they lived, ate, etc. It has in my family. Once were were wise to the way our food system works in this country (which was about 6 years ago or so now) we could not go back. We have changed the way we live, eat and relate to food. It is all for the better. I also was dissapointed that they didn't get into the real issues surrounding Genetically Modified Organisms either. They briefly touch on it, but by no means tell the audience all the dangers and cover-up and corporate greed that has spawned this generation of franken foods.

I do recommend that everyone see this movie, but I also highly caution you to look at it as a beginning look at issues and to do your own research and ask questions of those involved in your local food system to learn more. There are a lot of important issues that are touched upon in this movie, but you need to know the rest to really and truly understand what a crisis we are in with our current food and health system!!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Smart Boy!!

I have many reasons to be proud of my children, but sometime they do something that just really makes you happy and you realize they are getting it!!

My 6 1/2 year old son is a foodie. He really always has been. He even as a small toddler loved to be in the kitchen and had to smell everything he ate or we were cooking. His little brother is quite similar in that regard and loves to just sit in front of my spice cupboard smelling each canister and asking what it is.

Wednesday I went to the wave pool with my older two children as they had a field trip from Farm Camp. I left the youngest home with dad (easier to manage swimming at a public place with just two to watch). It started pouring rain at one point and so we went under the pavillion (where the snack bar is) to get a bit out of the rain. I relented to my daughter's request to go get some junk food (we RARELY ever eat this kind of treat). We had brough our own packed lunch and they had eaten their good food already, so I figured a small treat of junk on a special field trip was ok. We went in and my daughter could not decide what she wanted, she was in awe of the pizza, nachos, ice cream, chips, etc. It was a junk food bonanza and of course was about the worst quality type of junk. We eat a bit of junk in our house, but it is what I consider the healthier side of junk (pita chips, tortilla chips (organic), homemade sweets --usually made with unrefined sweeteners). This was the BAD of the BAD. I felt guilty just walking in there. After several minutes (and letting several groups go in front of us) I finally convinced my daughter that she would not be happy with any of the "food" items as they taste terrible and are not what she is expecting. So we settled on an ice cream cone (soft serve on a wafer cone). My son can't have dairy, so I asked if he wanted anything else (bag of chips, etc.). He said he didn't want anything. I wanted to make sure as I didn't want any melt downs once we were out of that awful place. He said, "Mom, I don't want anything here, it all has high-fructose corn syrup and it is all food made in a factory" I was so proud. I gave him a hug and told him I had a special present for him a home.

He tasted the ice cream and said "I can't even believe you like that it doesn't even taste like real ice cream--Yuck". Funny as it isn't real ice cream.

We have taught him well. He always has been the most into the healthy food movement (as compared to my other two) and I really think that it is due to the fact he was about 18 months old when we started changing our family food culture and diet. He was brought up with it and is now old enough to appreciate it. My daughter had too much exposure to the SAD life and still is willing to eat whatever junk comes her way. I also think to a large extent it is their personalities. My daughter is very creative and less able to focus on one thing. That brings it's own set of issues but she is so bright and creative it is fun to watch her when she is in her "groove" of creativity. Jeremy is very much the type A personality. Very into getting the facts, working it out, and it has to be perfect. He soaks it all in and is much more introverted. He can be a big ham and silly guy and is good at making friends, but he is very "studious" I would say.

However, I love that he wants to learn why we eat the way we do. He tells others why too and he is not shy about expressing his views on "good" food vs. "yucky" food.

Gotta love it.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Food Porn

I hadn't heard the term "food porn" until recently. I was checking out a cooking bulletin board I frequent and someone mentioned it when they were discussing a site devoted to food and blogs that had been shut down.

Apparently, this site (www.tastespotters.com) was shut down due to some legal issues and is hoping to reopen. I had never heard of it, but was too late to check it out. Well, in the backlash of so many devotees complaining, someone created a similar site. I had to check it out. Now I see what they were talking about, it is addictive, fun and can suck you into spending lots of time reading blogs and thinking about food. Of course, for me, I need no extra reason to think, write, read, make, etc. about food. I love food and cooking. In fact, tonight for my birthday, I signed my husband and I up to take a cooking class instead of going out to a traditional restaurant. We are going to Simply Good in Birmingham. www.simplygoodkitchen.com

The new site for "food porn" is www.foodgawker.com The concept is neat, people submit pictures of food and some are chosen to be posted which then links the picture to the blog it comes from. The pictures are incredible and it really makes me drool and want to up my game in the food photography department (mine are pretty poor currently). I have found many interesting recipes and blogs just in the few days I have checked the site.

Anyway enjoy!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Nourishing Soup

I am a soup person!! I love soup. I make soup quite often. Since the weather here has turned a bit cooler (unusual for this time of year) and a bit dreary, I decided to make soup for dinner last night.
Everyone else in the family loves soup too, except my youngest child. For some reason he just won't eat soup (except he does eat my husband's matzo ball soup).

I have been trying very hard to get over a little sinus congestion, so I was craving some good brothy soup. I decided that something with homemade chicken stock, garlic and ginger would be a good thing to help knock this out of me. I did a quick search online and didn't really find what I was looking for, I was thinking of an Asian flavor soup, so I just created as I went, using an egg drop soup technique but adding my own combination of flavors.

It turned out great and my son who loves soup (Jeremy) begged for it for breakfast. Rachel, Jeremy and I had a bowl (or two) for breakfast, and I must say it was a great way to start the day!!

Here is what I did:

I heated up a pot of homemade chicken stock and added 2 large cloves of pressed garlic, about a tablespoon or so of grated ginger, a couple of tablespoons (estimates, I just poured) of organic tamari soy sauce, some redmond sea salt, and half a bag of mixed organic frozen veggies (carrots, corn, peas and green beans). I then chunked up some leftover roasted chicken (it was about a breast and a half of chicken) and put it in. I heated it up and tasted it, good but missing something. I added some more salt and a bunch of ground black pepper. DH tasted it and we decided it needed a few drops of fish sauce. I then turned off the heat and I streamed in two beaten eggs (local, organic, pastured eggs) slowly over the tines of a fork and stirred in a clockwise direction as the egg hit the broth. It was so good and very filling and nourishing. The egg ribbons were nice and silky and the soup was very tasty.

The kids loved it (except for Ben, who won't try anything called soup and ate plain chicken and some bologna for dinner). After dinner my husband said he felt so good that the soup really just made his whole body feel good and healthy!!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp

For Father's Day I had my in-laws and my husband's grandmother over for dinner. We were supposed to go to Jay's parent's house, but they decided to come here due to the weather forecast. We grilled a local chicken with homemade BBQ sauce and had salad made from local greens and other local toppings. We also had some local asparagus. My in-laws brought over some racks of lamb chops and some veggies to grill. It was an awesome meal rounded out with some homemade Sauerkraut and Kim Chi.

My mother-in-law was concerned about dessert, so I thought up something easy I could make quickly. I remembered that just a few weeks ago I put away in the freezer a bunch of Rhubarb from my father's yard (and a few stalks from my plants I started a couple years ago) and that we still had some strawberries from Ware Farm in Bear Lake in the freezer. I did a quick online search to find a basic Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp recipe and then made some healthy changes to it.

It turned out fabulous. In fact, everyone raved about it!! My mother-in-law asked me to make it for her 4th of July party too.

Here is my version of the recipe (which I doubled and used a 9x13 pan and baked for approx 45 minutes). I used whole wheat pastry flour and oats from Westwind mill and Caulder's butter. The rest of the ingredients (besides the rhubarb, strawberries, flour, oats and butter) weren't local but were healthy!! We served it with a bit of vanilla ice cream on the side!!


Lisa's Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp
Serving Size : 4

2 1/2 cups rhubarb cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups strawberries -- if small can use whole, or if big, slice or cut in pieces
1/2 cup rapadura
1 tablespoon organic cornstarch
2 tablespoons organic orange juice

Ingredients for Topping:
2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup rapadura
5 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons pecans (or walnuts) -- chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Butter an 8 x 8 inch baking pan
In a mixing bowl combine and toss the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch and orange juice
Transfer mixture to the buttered baking dish
Mix the oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt in a bowl
Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or use your fingers until the mixture becomes coarse crumbs
Mix in chopped nuts and spread over the fruit mixture
Bake until the topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling (30-35 minutes)

Note: Because ovens vary, check the cooking progress of the dessert after 25 minutes.

Yummy Local Meals

As part of the One Great Michigan Summer challenge (see previous post), I have been more conscious about meal planning. Today I had two fried eggs with toast. I cooked local, organic, free-range eggs in Calder's butter and cracked some black pepper over them. I had a slice of homemade honey whole wheat bread slathered with Caulder's butter to dip in the beautiful, yellow yolks. I make the bread with flour from Westwind Mill in Argentine, local honey, local milk and local eggs. It also has some salt, yeast, water and a bit of wheat gluten added. It is very good and I make it in the bread machine (which is so easy). I love to make bread by hand and frequently do, but sometimes just for ease and time savings, we use the bread machine.

For lunch I packed a lunch in one of our Laptop Lunchboxes to take to my Healthy Traditions Network Leadership Team meeting. I had a salad with local greens, sausage from Oliver's Dairy Farm, Spiced Gouda Cheese from Grassfield's and dried cherries from Northstar Organics. I had homemade ranch dressing on the salad (in the small container next to the salad). I also had a Peanut Butter and Honey sandwich made on my homemade Honey Whole Wheat Bread with Naturally Nutty Natural Peanut Butter (a local company that adds flax seed and hemp seed and it is all organic) on top of the PB I put a bit of local raw honey. I also had some chunked up salami and spiced gouda on the side and some homemade Kim Chi (Korean Sauerkraut). I had some local strawberries from Maple Creek Farm as dessert. I took a bottle of water and some homemade Kombucha to drink and boy was it a filling and wonderful lunch on the go!!
The pictures don't do the food justice. I need to learn to take better food pictures!! I'll work on it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

One Local Michigan Summer

My friend Julie who owns La Vida Local has a great blog!! Another member of her group and blog, Mandi, posted about a challenge on another site called One Local Summer. The challenge requires you to cook one meal a week (at a minimum) from all local food. If I understand it right, you can exempt oil, spices and salt. That challenge closed to new members a while back, but Mandi teamed up with Julie to do a One Local Michigan Summer!!

This is right up my alley and will force me to be creative and more local. I already do A LOT of local foods, but never really thought about every little ingredient. I have done pretty well the first two weeks of the challenge, but it was harder than I thought to be totally local. It will get easier as summer goes on, when more goodies are available.

I love reading (and seeing) what other make too, it gives me really good ideas and also new items to find and try!!

You can read about the MI challenge rules here and sign up too. http://lavidalocalonline.blogspot.com/2008/05/want-challenge.html

You can see my meals (and other mouthwatering entries) on this site too. I made a salad earlier in the week that was terrific and Father's day we had a breakfast/brunch with my family and I posted on La Vida Local Online Blog about it.

You can also find a link to the original challenge and check out what others around the country are eating in their local area.

Good Luck and Have Great Local Eats!!

Dried Michigan Cherries

I discovered last September at the Wise Traditions Michigan Conference in Livonia a cherry purveyor from a farm in MI. Northstar Organics. I bugged the owner of my CSA (and anyone else who might be interested in a source for cherries) to order so we could get some without buying a full case. Well finally we were able to get them (we also got fresh tart MI cherries frozen from the same farm and they are wonderful). I love them and so do 2 of my children and my husband. My favorite use for them is to make soaked oatmeal for breakfast (I soak the oats in water, whey and lemon juice overnight and then dump that in a pot and add a bit more water, some celtic sea salt, butter and cinnamon), I put a bit of Michigan Maple syrup, some dried cherries and some crushed crispy pecans on top!! It is the best breakfast!!

My 3 year old loves the dried cherries for snacking (so do I). I also love them on a salad. They are expensive, but they are so much better than any other cherries I have had. I pay $10 a pound for them and treat them like gold.

Well today we had a cherry tragedy. My 3 year old snuck the jar of cherries outside. I keep them in a mason jar in the cupboard, older siblings must have left the cupboard unlocked (a no-no around here) and Ben took them out for a treat. Of course, he accidently dropped the jar on the patio and crash, it broke and the cherries ended up in a mess on the patio entwined with bits of cottonwood and glass shards. I cried more for the cherries than the son (who was not hurt, but who I had to grab and dig the cherries out of his mouth to be sure he didn't get some bits of glass ingested with them).

It is only cherries, but oh it just broke my heart. Maybe it just seemed so sad because we just had to take our car in for repairs for the third time recently and of course it was one item covered under warranty and one expensive one that wasn't. Money in, money out!!

At least I still have some cherries I froze (dried) to enjoy, I'll have to see if I can get more soon!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Royal Oak Farmer's Market and other farm news

I just have to say that I love the Royal Oak Farmers Market. It is a bit of a drive for me, but it has such a fantastic vibe!! I have always loved farmers markets, as a kid and as an adult I would go with my dad to the farmers market every Saturday morning. We would either eat breakfast and go, or go really early and then go out to breakfast. As an adult, we would meet there for our weekly treasure hunt!! The market that we frequented was the Oakland County Farmers Market.

As I learned more about Nourishing Traditions, The Weston A. Price Foundation , eating organic, and issues with our food supplies and what is healthy, I would not buy as much at the market. It is a great market, but they don't really have any organic growers that sell there. It got to be harder and harder to buy the conventional items and we joined a CSA in 2003 so we were getting a lot each week that way.

However, I think buying local is important. I will buy local over anything else, but if I can find local and organic, I am in food heaven!! My dairy farmer is at the Royal Oak Farmers Market every other Saturday. Picking up my milk there is something I choose to do because I get the chance to go there and load up! The market is open all year, but in the prime season (now--through summer and fall) it is crowded!! I made the mistake of not getting there until 10 am yesterday and my favorite vendor was out of carrots and beets as well as other things.

Another reason I love the market is that there are several organic farmers there as well as my dairy farmer and Hampshire Farms is there too selling great bread, baked goods, flour and grains. It is an all around great market!!

Yesterday, I got some swiss chard and garlic from Cinzori's Organic Farm. I love Mr. Don Cinzori and his entire family and staff. I often meet my friend Heidi at the market and we love to just chat with Mr. Cinzori for a while. He knows just about everything about growing things organically as he has been doing it for near 30 years (if I remember correctly) and he knows so many MI farmers that he is a great resource. My husband went to school with one of his sons, so we seem to have a built in affinity and connection with their family!! I know many of the farmers at the market and it is just nice to walk in and say hi and have them say hi back and chat a while!!

I missed out on the carrots, but the lovely person at Cinzori's booth dug through the box of left over carrot tops (which they take back to their farm and compost) and found a handful of small carrots that were mixed in. She tucked them in my bag and when I asked how much I owed her for them, she said they were a gift. They certainly were a gift, and one we have been eating with vigor and much joy!! YUMMM!! I missed out on the beets , so next time I go, I will be sure to get there early, Jay and the kids are still bummed we missed the beets as Jay wanted to make Beet Kvass and Rachel was whining cause she wanted Teryaki Beets! Maybe I will go next Saturday (although it isn't my week to get milk!!).

I also went and visited Michelle Lutz at Maple Creek Farm at the market. They had luscious fresh picked Michigan strawberries. Oh what a treat, the first picking!! All organic too. I bought a quart and could kick myself for not getting more. However, they were $5 a quart. I also got some garlic scapes and radishes from Maple Creek!!

Fruit prices in Michigan this year will most likely be higher than ever. Not only is fuel prices affecting the price, but so are other costs. Those that run a farm have been paying a lot more for everything and the price of grain is out the roof!! Organic grains are very hard to even come by if you can afford to pay the sky-high prices. I wanted some wheatberries recently and they just aren't available. The bakers are having trouble sourcing enough to make their bread so of course buying local, organic bread flour is going to be tough. Hopefully in the fall the new crops will come in and the supply will pick up!! We also had a late devastating frost this year and many farmers lost most if not all of their fruit crops.

The farm where we purchase our cherries lost their entire sweet cherry crop due to frost and their apples were severely impacted. Hopefully their tart cherries will be ok, but for sure the prices will be higher!! The orchard where we get our fabulous apples and cider also had frost losses. Apparently, he lost his honeycrisp crop (my favorite apples) and isn't sure how much of the rest of his crop will make it. We had short supplies last year too due to frost and we had a hard time getting apples and cider. We didn't get to make as much applesauce this year either and are already out. Our blueberry farmer said she did ok saving the bushes from the frost (with a lot of hard work, it is a lot to go water, cover and make sure the plants survive the frost!!) but that deer are eating the bushes, so we don't know what kind of blueberries we will get this year or how many. Not sure on the strawberries this year, but I hope we get our supply. We get them from Ware Farm in Bear Lake, MI and they are amazing. We make jam, freeze them for smoothies and other things and eat them fresh!!

My dad wants to go to the Royal Oak Farmers Market with me sometime, so that will be fun, a new twist on an old tradition!!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Being Green

Not only am I passionate about food, but also about being better to the environment, being "green" (as the saying goes).

For the past several years, my husband and I have worked on changing our habits to use more environmentally-friendly items as well continuing our journey in sourcing our food locally.

For the past 5 years we have changed our eating habits dramatically. We eat more nutrient-dense foods and are now almost totally organic. It was a slow transition in some respects and it is always an ongoing journey.

Several years ago we switched all our cleaners to Eco-friendly types/brands. We have always used vinegar mixed with water to wash our floors, we also use baking soda as a mild abrasive for cleaning. We switched to Eco-friendly, unscented laundry detergent. We have tried many kinds and currently are happy using Melaluca brand. We always washed our clothes in cold water (mainly to save money!!) which is also Eco-friendly. We have switched to using Compact Fluorescent bulbs too. We have always recycled to the extent our garbage service would accept it, but in the past year we have really stepped up our role in the area of Reduce, reuse and recylcle.

Our local elementary school has a dumpster that accepts all types of paper for recycling. We now have boxes and garbage cans we use specifically to save paper. We also recycle save things that shouldn't be thrown in the regular trash and either recycle them by donating them to charities or listing them on freecycle. We also save broken electronics, etc. that are considered hazerdous to throw away and either take them to our towns special Hazerdous waste day (they will recycle or properly dispose of the items) or we use other programs that will recycle them.


The above link takes you to the new Costco program where you can recycle your old computer/electronic equipment. This is a great program and if your item has a value you will receive a Costco cash card in that amount. They send you postage paid sticker to send it in, so there is no cost. The program includes PCs, LCD Monitors, Digital Cameras, Camcorders, Game Systems & MP3 Players.

Another thing that my family does, and has done for years, is to use our own grocery bags when shopping. I have A LOT of tote bags I keep in my car. When I go shopping I grab a bunch and use them. If they get dirty, I just throw them in the wash (which really isn't too often that they need to be washed). I also use them when I go to the farmer's market.

A couple of years ago I discovered Laptop Lunch Boxes http://www.laptoplunches.com/ . I love this company and now own 6 of their lunchboxes. Once I started using their laptop lunchbox to pack my daughter's lunch, she has not once asked for hot lunch (which I won't allow anymore anyway, as it is the worst type of food!!). My son is now in school all day and he also loves to take his lunchbox. I let them help decide what to pack in each container and it makes it fun for them to see their lunch all nicely packed. It also saves on a lot of plastic baggies and pre-packaged stuff. The lunch box system is all washable and they love filling their drink bottle with water each morning!! We also use them for car trips so we can take healthy food and eat it on the go. Works great!!

We have also tried to get out of the habit of just buying so many things new. We try to re-purpose things or fix them. Our big metal (with a foot pedal) garbage can broke recently. The rod that attached the foot pedal to the lid (to avoid touching the lid) broke. We contacted the company about a replacement part, but it was out of warranty and they don't provide or sell replacement parts. They said they would give us a discount on a new one, but then we couldn't see throwing away a perfectly useable large metal and plastic garbage can. So we took out the metal rod and had a friend weld it for us where it broke. Hubby managed to re-install the rod (adding a bracket, since it was no longer bent to the exact same angle) and voila, it works like new!! It may not be a permanent solution, but hopefully will keep us having to throw it out for a least a while longer. Maybe when it does give up the ghost, someone else will be able to use it as is!!

As, I think of more ideas, I will post them!!