Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Holidays, however you celebrate them!

This was a week full of holidays for me- Chanukkah started on Tuesday, Winter Solstice was on Thursday, and of course, Christmas was this weekend! I am very lucky and blessed to have traditions to share with family for each of these holidays, and while I am not a practicing Jew and have never been a practicing Christian or Pagan, I am still able to derive a great deal of meaning from the traditions we have created, followed, and observed as a family. There are several themes that unite all the winter Holidays I celebrate: Family time, Fun, and Thankfulness. I made it my goal to intentially think about these things during my "vacation" time. I do things for a reason and I want to continue to make sure that I remember the message behind the holidays I am celebrating!

Yule Log- Whiteford Nursery, Sylvania, OH
 In what has become a great new tradition, two of our closest friends came over on Thursday evening to celebrate our 2nd annual Winter Solstice, and the beginning of lighter and longer days! We do this by exchanging small gifts, sharing a meal, enjoying a delicious sun cake from Dom Bakery. Then we make a fire in our fireplace, turn off all the lights in the house, and light the yule log.

We take turns sharing what we are thankful for in the past year and what we are looking forward to next year. Each of us lights a candle as we said our thanks, and the room grows lighter with each giving of Thanks and as the yule log burns down. It's a really nice way to celebrate the season, and add some careful thought back into a time otherwise overwhelemed with commercialism and rituals that can easily become stripped of their meaning.

Potato Latkes- always delish!
This year, my little family and I celebrated Chanukkah together by lighting the menorah, saying the prayers together, eating Potato and Leek Latkes, and exchanging presents. I also drove down to Toledo on Thursday, and went spent some quality time with my grandma, to celebrate. Several days later, Mike and I headed down to visit my parents, brother, and cousins, who continued the Chanukkah celebrations with more delicious food (traditional and not-so-traditional), as well as playing games and exhanging gag gifts.

Our holiday tree!
Since half of my family is Christian, every year we spend part of the holiday season celebrating Christmas with my Dad's side of the family in southern Ohio. While I don't see this side of the family as much, holidays are spent eating way too much, doting on the awesome little cousins, and spending quality time together. Mike and I also make sure we spend time with his side of the family, and on both sides gifts are exchanged; games are played, and many, many laughs are had. I don't have trouble deriving my own meaning from the holiday- I am really thankful for the kind, warm family that we have, and for the fun times we always have when we're together.

Happy Holidays! to you and yours this season.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dark Days Challenge Week 4- Potato and Leek Latkes (pancakes)

I'm not trying to make all of my Dark Days Challenge posts Potato themed, I promise! It's just that tonight is the first night of Chanukkah, and Potato Latkes are a MUST for celebrating Chanukkah. I'm a pretty non-practicing Jew, but I can still respect and appreciate my Jewish heritage, especially when it includes fried potatoes ;)

Historical perspective- 
Jews eat potato latkes on Chanukkah to remind us of the miracle of Chanukkah. The miracle entails the story of how the second temple was destroyed by the Assyrians in a fight for independence with the Maccabees (the Jewish "rebel" forces). The Jews searched the remains of the temple, and found only enough oil to light the menorah (candelabra that is never supposed to go out) for one day, but the oil lasted for 8 days, long enough to find more oil!  So Latkes are eaten (fried in oil) to commemorate the miracle that happened. Haha- now we will use so much oil!

Anyway, you can take that story to heart, or just make these little pancakes anyway: they're damn good.

Potato and Leek Latkes

6 medium potatoes
source: homegrown/Downtown Ypsilanti Farmers' Market- 50 mile radius
3 medium-large leeks
source: Valley Family Farms- 50 mile radius
6 tablespoons flour
source: Westwind Milling Co- 45 mile radius
1 large egg 
source: Carpenter Family Farms- 50 mile radius
2 cups oil
source: far away, but bought it from the local Co-op 
2 tbsp salt
source: also far
1.5 tbsp pepper
source: far!


  • Heat the 2 cups of Oil to medium-high in a large frying pan/ skillet
  • Wash and Peel the potatoes. Then grate them onto a clean towel
  • Press the moisture/liquid out of the Potatoes with the towel, then put the potatoes in a large bowl
  • Wash and slice the Leeks into small pieces, and add them to the bowl
  • Crack the Egg in a separate bowl and beat it, then add to large bowl 
  • Add Salt and Pepper to the bowl as well, and mix everything
  • Add Flour as needed, until the mixture thickens up
  • Scoop 2-3 spoonfuls of potato mixture onto hot skillet, and let them sizzle and brown on each side, then transfer to a plate covered in a towel. 
  • Let some of the oil drain off, then plate them with some sour cream and enjoy!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dark Days Challenge: Week 1- Potato Soup

Potato Soup!
Here it is- my first Dark Days Challenge post! As a re-cap, as a participant in the Dark Days challenge, I am aiming to cook at least one meal each week featuring SOLE (sustainable, organic, local, ethical) ingredients. For this week, all of my ingredients are local and ethically sound. Can't completely vouch for sustainable but most of these ingredients can be grown at home or found on local farms, & I personally go for local/natural before I go for certified organic.

This recipe for potato soup is one of my go-to favorites in the winter. It's fairly quick, easy to prepare, and can be made using almost entirely season veggies. The only one that's not terribly seasonal is celery, and you could leave that out if you choose to!

Potato Soup

6 large potatoes, (or 12 medium/18 small)
source: homegrown/Downtown Ypsilanti Farmers' Market- 50 mile radius
3 large carrots
source: homegrown- my backyard
2 medium onions
source: Westside Farmers' Market- 50 mile radius
3 cloves garlic
source: Dyer Family Farms- 20 miles 
1 cup milk
source: Calder Dairy- 50 mile radius
2 tbsp butter
source: Calder Dairy- 50 mile radius
2 tbsp flour
source: Westwind Milling Company- 45 mile radius

  • Cut the potatoes into small, 1-2 inch pieces. Then slice carrots, onions and mince garlic.
  • Boil 6 cups water in a large stock pot. Once water is boiling, add potatoes, carrots
  • Place the butter in a small frying pan, once it starts to melt and bubble, add onions and garlic. Let onions brown a bit, then add the flour, and the milk to the pan. Stir all ingredients, then set aside.
  • Once potatoes and carrots are tender, drain all water out of pot, but save 1 cup and set aside.
  • Run the potatoes and carrots through a food processor, adding the water in with the veggies. Once veggies are nicely pureed, add them back to the large stock pot, and pour in milk/onion/garlic/butter/flour mixture.
  • Stir soup until all ingredients are mixed, and let the soup cook down for 10 more minutes. 
  • Add salt, pepper, rosemary to taste.
Serve soup and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sweet, local Honey goodness

this pic does not do honey justice
While there are many things that we look to get a bargain on when we shop, one of the I have learned not to compromise on is honey. It might sound silly- honey is pretty delicious to start with- why be picky? I asked myself the same thing, until I had truly local, raw honey, straight from the hives of two of my favorite Farmers, Dick and Diana Dyer. Diana is a Registered Dietician (and blogs here), and she and Dick got into farming as a full time gig several years ago. Their original specialty is garlic, another "common-place" thing I have learned to become picky about; once you realize there is more out there than just elephant garlic out there, it's hard to go back to the plain old grocery store variety!

Getting back on topic, I tried some of the Dyer's Washtenaw Wildflower honey earlier in the summer and I was hooked! The taste of home "grown" honey is far more deep, rich, and complex than the standard store bought kind. It's just amazing. As soon as I found out there was a second honey harvest this fall- a flavor entitled Fall Farm Goldenrod, I made sure I picked up 2 quarts of the stuff before it disappeared! It's a bit darker and not as light on the tongue as the summer honey, but just as delish!

If you can find local, raw honey, and support a family of incredibly nice farmers in the mean time, I suggest that you run out and purchase yourself some ASAP!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Homemade Bagels

Our roommate Paul is sort of a renaissance man- at least in my opinion! He bakes, he cooks, he has a record player, he plays an instrument.. you have to admit that he sounds pretty cool, right? Anyway, the reason I'm bragging about him is that he makes lots of homemade goodness that I get to try. Last week, he made BAGELS!

Let me just say- This family loves us some bagels. We almost always have bagels on the countertop, and they can get expensive! My favorite local ones, Barry's Bagels, which taste like smooshy semi-cooked chunks of dough (in the best way possible) are $3 for 4 bagels at our local co-op. When Paul made these homemade bagels, they were amazing; they even looked bagely! He was nice enough to make a batch with me, so I could learn.

Today, I made a batch all by myself; I'm going to share the recipe with you, because they are easy to make, and I want to bestow the skills of bagel-making upon everyone who reads this blog. Best of luck- tell me how your bagel-making experiences go!

Paul's Homemade Bagels

These are onion bagels- mm!
3 cups flour (I use 1 cup bread flour and 2 cups white wheat flour)
1 1/4 cup warm-hot water
1 tbs olive oil
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar (to activate) & 1 tbs sugar to sweeten
2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
1 egg white
3/4 cup wheat germ

  • Add the yeast and 1 tsp sugar to the warm water, and stir briefly.
  • Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes- a 1-3 inch foamy layer should develop if yeast is properly activated.
  • Once the yeast mixture is ready, pour it into a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the cups of flour, mixing in between each. Add the salt & sugar.
  • Next, flour your countertop and place the dough onto the surface, kneading it for 5-10 minutes. Once it gets to the right consistency, it should just barely stick to the surface when you pick it up and drop it.
  • Spread the olive oil on the inside of the mixing bowl, and then place the dough in the bowl to rise.
  • Cover the bowl with a towel, and place in a warm, dry spot for 25 minutes.

  • While you're waiting for the dough to rise, You should get the remaining steps ready:
    • Fill a large pot with water, and set it to boil
    • Crack an egg into a small bowl, and leave only the white
      • Stir the egg white for several minutes until it is foamy-looking
    • Fill another small bowl with the wheat germ, and set aside
    • Place your baking pan on the counter so it's ready
    • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degree
    •  Roll each piece into a 4 to 6-inch log. Join the ends and place fingers through the hole and roll the ends together. Repeat with the remaining dough. Now you should have 8 un-cooked bagel shapes!
    • Take the bagels (4 at a time) and place them into the boiling water, for 1 min 30 seconds on each side. 
    • When all the bagels are done, pat them dry. 
    • Dip them on one side in the egg whites, and on the other side into the wheat germ (this side becomes the bottom of the bagel)
    • Place the bagels evenly spaced on the tray, slide the tray into the oven, and set the timer for 20 minutes! Bagels are usually done in 22-23 minutes, but check them at 20 minutes just to see how they're doing. When they're browned a bit on the top you know they're ready!

    Sunday, November 27, 2011

    Settling into the Winter Routine again

    My love! Great day for the park yesterday!
    Winter is rolling its way here in Michigan, although you wouldn't have known it by the temperature yesterday- incredible weather! I've been getting back into what has been my Winter Routine for the past several years;
    Turning to use the food I've canned, frozen, or have stored;
    Heading over to the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market on Saturday mornings in search of root vegetables, winter-hardy greens, local herbs, honey, and other winter goods;
    Making and eating a lot of chillis, soups, and stews.

    It feels good to have been at this whole "homesteading" thing long enough to even have a routine to return to. Each year, I get a little closer to being more self-sufficient, although on the whole I'm still very far away from that goal.

    Storage root veggies and squas
    This year it seems I'll be all set through most of the winter squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots and onions, meaning I'll be able to eat those things locally throughout the entire winter, based on what I've grown and/or bought locally and stored. I also have some canned corn and green beans that will probably get me through at least until January or February. I've got 5 pints and 7 half pints of jam, which will last me until next year's jam-making begins.

    I'm going to try to focus on utilizing the root vegetables I have and getting what I can locally as far as winter greens goes, and will again this winter try to avoid purchasing produce that is way past its' season: Peppers, fresh corn, etc. The same goes for fruits- I'm going to stock up on apples that will last for a while in my chilly "mudroom" space.

    I usually cave and purchase frozen fruit in the winter because I start to crave it; we're lucky around here to have a great Winter CSA called Locavorious- they purchase locally-grown fruits and vegetables while they're in season and then they flash-freeze them, so folks can have this great produce available all-year round! While I didn't purchase a share from Locavorious, they are usually at the Ypsilanti & Ann Arbor Farmers' Markets and I love that I can still buy local in the winter!

    What's your technique for eating local in the Winter?

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Giving Market Gardening a Try?

    The organization I work for is helping small-scale growers in the area to sell their produce at the Farmers' Market we run by supporting a pilot year of an Ypsilanti-based Market Garden Co-operative.

    If you're not familiar, a Market Garden Co-op is a group of smaller growers that would like to sell in a market setting but most likely don't have enough produce to justify having their own stand or stall at the market. Growers can become Members or Sellers, and they basically buy in to the group in order to share a stall space with other small growers. Proceeds from the stall are shared in different ways, and Market Gardeners can pool resources like tables, a tent, chairs, and other infrastructure pieces. The Co-op also shares costs in things like advertising and promotions, so I wouldn't have to have my own business, business name, flyers, etc.

    Right now, I am doing one of my favorite things; focusing another Crazed Project! I've mentioned this tendency in recent posts- my love of taking on a potentially out-of-reach project and being obsessed with it until I can make it a reality :) The new project on my mind recently has been growing some produce for the market garden co-op!

    I've been thinking about growing carrots for Market, specifically. It seems that we almost never have carrots available at our Farmers' Market, and they're kind of a staple crop- I mean, people eat a lot of carrots, right? I've heard that carrots are hard to grow, or maybe they're just hard to grow in our soil here in S.E. Michigan. I've had a lot of success with growing carrots at home, and I think I'd have to put some work in to grow market-quality carrots, but it could be very possible!

    There are several steps I would need to take in order to prepare for selling at Market:
    Dragon Carrots- High Mowing Seed Co.
    • Select varieties that people would actually like to buy. At first, I was considering all those pretty, colorful types like Dragon Carrots, but maybe those would weird people out? 
      • I need to think about who the customers are at the market and what type of quality and product they'd be expecting
      • I'm beginning to think that the more "regular" and "grocery store" that the carrots look, the more likely they would be to sell
    • Soil improvements would need to be made. Carrots supposedly like sandy soil, which I have. I think I'd need to work the soil some, because carrots are pretty sensitive to rocks and things and will take a turn and end up all crooked if they "hit" something as they're growing.
    • While its' not necessary, if I invested in some row cover and quick hoops, which I'd like to have anyway, then I could potentially starting selling earlier in the season and sell them later into the fall as well.
    Carrots would also be a good option for me to sell at market because I love them, and they store well. So if I don't sell a lot of them, I will be able to eat them up and store them for my own use without feeling like I "lost" money.

    Thoughts? Opinions? Advice?

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Dark Days Challenge- will you join me?

    This year, I've decided to join with other garden/foodie bloggers in participating in the Dark Days Challenge! As part of this challenge, I'll be making at least one meal each week that featuring sustainable, organic, local, and ethical ingredients, and blogging about it to share with others! I think this will be a great way for me to strategically use some of the veggies I've been storing; potatoes, carrots, squashes, onions, and find new recipes and meals to feature them in! Please tune in here to check out the dishes I make- if you're interested in learning more, see below!

    The challenge runs from Sunday, November 27th, 2011 to Saturday, March 31st, 2012.
    What’s the Challenge? 
    I will cook one meal each week featuring SOLE (sustainable, organic, local, ethical) ingredients, write about it on this blog and email a recap to the larger group on the Not Dabbling in Normal blog.
    What does local mean?
    Traditionally, local food challenges call for a 100 mile radius. Winter time is more difficult in many climates, especially if you’re new to eating locally, so my default winter definition is 150 miles. If you'd like to participate, you can choose to make your radius smaller or slightly larger as you need. Typical exceptions to the local requirement are oils, coffee, chocolate and spices. If you’re making fewer or more exceptions, please note that on your first post.
    How do I sign up?
    Head on over to (not so) Urban Hennery to find out more info and to sign yourself up if you'd like to participate as well!

    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    Putting the Garden to Bed for the Winter

    Today, I was overcome with Garden Fever again! Occasionally I will be suddenly compelled to do a crazed home or garden project. Last month, it was making a Root Cellar out of 5-gallon buckets. The month before, it was creating a "built-in" storage area for the jars I've put up. Last winter, it was building an entire seed starting set-up in my basement. Today, it was finally placing the remaining 40-odd cinder blocks that have been sitting in my driveway for 2 years! I muscled-up, and  lifted about 50 cinder blocks to form a reaaally long raised bed- 4 ft x 36 ft! This will add about 144 square ft to my total edible veggie-growing space, bringing the total square footage up to 341 sq ft of raised bed gardening space

    New garden bed on side-yard
    <----------- Check out the new addition:
    I've started planning what I want my garden layout to look like next spring. It's way too early to be thinking about this, I know. But laying out a garden plan is my version of geeking out. Others may play video games, scrabble, or DnD; my "cup of tea' is planning, strange as it may seem.
    Canned good "built-in"

    This year, there have been several major homestead successes, and several things I'd like to improve upon for next year:

    2011 Successes:
    + Two 5-gallon Root Cellars
    + 36 sq ft extra garden space
    Winter veggie storage
    + Tried seed starting indoors
       - started zuccs. & tomatoes
     + Made additional storage for canned products
     + Winter veggie and bulk good storage rack added

    Improvements for 2011:
    + Add 144 sq ft of garden space
    + Grow enough carrots, onions, & potatoes to eat in summer and last until January
    + Grow and dry more beans- goal= 2 pints of dried beans
    + Try to start everything from seed indoors this year (except for carrots, onions)

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    A small biking victory

    I've been trying to bike to work more frequently since I got my Giant Escape W 2010 in May. 
    (Every time I type Giant Escape, I think of a giant escaping from something. It sounds rather silly, typed or out-loud..) My bike is pretty lightweight so I can push it up the stairs to our second floor office, even with panniers on!

    I live very close to where I work- my commute is only about 1-2 miles, depending which route I take. Although it's not a far distance, it's also a silly distance to drive. I've been averaging a bike commute of 1-3 times per week in the last several months, and I'm trying to increase that even more. I like the exercise, even if it is only for a few minutes, I like the reduced fossil fuel expenditure, and I like not driving my car to places I could easily get to otherwise.


    Today, I passed what I consider to be a (beginner's) cycling milestone: 
    I learned to change my tube/tire!

    Rode to work today. It was about 45-50 degrees out, and pretty windy. Rainy too! I keep telling myself,
    "Part of developing into a true cycling badass is riding in weather of all types".
    I got about 3/4's of the way to work today and suddenly noticed I had a lumpy back tire (or at least that was my professional cycling diagnosis of it). I had just filled up the tube with air this morning, so I knew it wasn't just running low. Luckily I was close to work, so I hopped off, and walked my bike to the local bike shop, ready to have my friendly neighborhood bikeguys fix it for me- so dependent and lazy! The bike store opened at 11 and there I was at 10am, so I hauled the bike up the stairs to my office and laid that baby out in the hallway! I was going to fix it myself with my mad skillz.

    Back-story: I recently took a Bicycle Maintenance class at my local REI, and happened to be nervous that my first "practice" with changing my tire would be when I was alone, in the dark, on some creepy street!

    So it ended up being fortuitous that my bike chose today to weird-out. Luckily I had my newly-assembled bike tool kit (Thanks, Dad!), and so I went to it. In the middle of my office building's hallway, I propped up the bike, removed the back bike rack, removed the wheel, removed the chain, removed the tire and tube. Yeah! I inspected the tire and tube for leaks, to no avail. I busted out my air capsule things and tried to inflate the tube, which I didn't do so well at. At this point, the bike shop had opened, so I grabbed the tire, tube, wheel, and headed over to see if they had any ideas about this mysterious flat.

    Nice bikeguys inspected the tire and tube, inflated the tube, and couldn't find a leak anywhere! They did tell me that my emergency air tool thing was for a presta valve, not a schraeder: whoops. So although tube inflation didn't work for me, it's not because I sucked at it, it's because I bought the wrong thing- always a silver lining! They assembled the wheel for me and inflated it, and I took it back to the office. I re-installed it on my bike, and upon putting the air valve cap back on, notice a hissing, leak-type noise. I took off the cap and looked inside, and silly me: the aircap had a rock in it. Out went the rock, on went the air cap, away went the hissing, and off I went on my bike!

    Now I can confidently say that I can change my tube or tire! I may have wasted some time with overzealous tire removal, but happily I don't have a leak, and now I've practice a new skill. I also got to reflect on the situation- if I had to actually rely on bike transportation, I would really need to know how to fix a bike so I could continue getting where I need to go, even in a pinch. Since I've been romanticizing (in a way only an environmentalist could do) life on a bike, without a car to call my own, this was a good first step in crisis management.

    Did the resolving the problem take a long time?
    Did I want to call all my bike friends for help instead of be inconvenienced for more than two minutes?
    Kind of! 
    Was it ultimately a good lesson and character builder?
    Yes it sure was!

    Good day!

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Economical Local Eating

    If you've read my blog for any length of time you know I like to buy local- surprise! I was recently surprised by my bank statement, which basically said that we like to go out to eat a lot more than I thought. If you haven't yet noticed, it's a lot most cost-effective to make meals at home than it is to go out to eat. Hence the doubling-back to the eternal question of a budget-conscious locavore: "How do I eat in a local-as-possible, healthful, sustainable way without going broke?" This is not only a help for you (hopefully) but a reminder for me as well :) We're all in tough economical situations right now- thinking more thoughtfully about what we eat and where we spend our money can only be helpful!

    Luckily, there are a variety of local food resources very close to me, and most likely to you as well. I'd like to share some of my ideas and techniques, in hopes that others out there may be able to use them as well. And hey!- if you have ideas, please comment and share them with me!

    This is part of a larger, three-day, three-part series on my blog, so check back in tomorrow & Friday!

    Economical Local Eating- Part 1: Knowing Your Food Sources

    If you've started to eat locally already, you've probably gotten to the point where you're starting to know where to spend the big bucks, where to scrimp and save, and what grocery locations you need to frequent to get the best deals. In a world where actual food production and nutrition information is practically hidden from the consumer, it takes some effort to seek out locally-grown foods that are healthy and don't cost you and arm and a leg!

    Part of becoming an informed, aware consumer in this crazy land of ours is doing your homework. Since I've done a lot of proverbial homework in regards to shopping local, let me help you!

    There are several larger points that help to make up my Shopping Manifesto-
    Guiding Rules to Shopping Locally while on a Budget:
    • Shop often
    • Have Meals in Mind
    • Have Ingredients on-hand
    "Shop Often" means-
    When you begin purchasing fresh veggies, you'll notice that they don't always have a shelf-life of 14 days like those good old ones from your Big Box Store do. There's a reason for that- they're FRESH! If it's time visiting a Farmers' Market, it's easy get carried away by the bountiful, beautiful produce, and spend $40 on fruits and veggies, only to take them home where many of them will rot before you get to eat them (if you don't have a plan, that is)! If you're shopping for 3 people, don't buy enough for 3 people for the next 15 days! The nice thing about local shopping options is just that- they're local! Many times they are close, convenient, and fresh: you don't have to buy all the months' veggies in one trip and you probably shouldn't.

    "Have Meals in Mind" means-
    One of the best way I find to save money on a long-term basis when I shop is to know what I plan to cook! I don't, by any means, have each day planned out, but I do keep in mind some of the core dishes I'd like to make that week- maybe it's a soup or a veggie stir-fry. Maybe it's some kind of vegetable bake. Whatever it is, I aim to get ingredients for meals, not just random products that look good. This also prevents me from buying a lot of processed crap- if you have dinners in mind, you don't need to buy frozen food or pre-made meals. Then you can have more control of what goes into your food and therefore into your body!

    "Have Ingredients on Hand" means-
    This comes right from my mother, the main grocery-purchaser of our household growing up. Teenage me would always look into the pantry and then cry, "Mom, we don't have any food!"Usually her reply was, "Yes, but we have ingredients!" I always thought that was an annoying response, and didn't really understand what difference it made. Now that I'm older, and living with a teenager who has the potential to be crying the same thing, I know what my mom means: Always keep "staple items" in stock in your home. These could be different for each family: Beans and Rice, Soup Stock, Chicken, greens for salad.. depends on what your go-to meals are. But when you reach into that pantry to try to make your budget stretch, you want to have those key things on hand! My staples are probably soup stock, vegetables, bread, and lunch meat. I can always make some kind of weird concoction if I have soup stock and some veggies to throw in. Bread is important for quick breakfasts on the go, as well as a key ingredient in sandwiches, which are a frequently-consumed item by two of the three people in our home. Lunch meat is pretty self-explanatory, I hope?

    Where to Shop:

    Farmers' Markets- Shopping at one of the many local markets here is always my top choice- I get to speak with the farmers that grow my food, and I just don't think there's any substitute for that, except growing your own food! Most of the produce I don't grow myself is purchased from local farmers. You can find quite a variety of produce at your local Farmers' Market, from sweet potatoes to eggplant- one of our urban gardeners at the market even had paw-paw fruit for sale! Also a good way to get items for the home- I get my bar soap from the market, as well as homemade laundry detergent and cloth-made snack packs and sandwich wraps! Find your local Farmers' Market.

    CSAs- CSA stands for "Community Support Agriculture", and is kind of akin to investing in a farmer. You pay for a share or a half share ahead of time (usually in the winter or early spring), which allows the farmers some capital to do the things they need to do on the farm. The share is a certain amount of weeks long (could be 16, could be 22), and you commit to pick up your share from your farm, or from a local pick-up point. Only downside to this in my opinion, which is also a positive, is that you don't pick what is in your "share" each week- you can get an idea of what might be there but you can't pick and choose. Gotta learn to love new veggies! There are vegetables CSAs, meat CSAs, and more, so find one for yourself today!

    Food Co-ops- Great way to shop locally and still get the essentials you need. Our local Ypsilanti Food Co-op is my Go-To location for bulk goods like flour, sugar, beans, rice, oats. I am always thrilled to find that many of those bulk items are made in my state of Michigan, which is just awesome! Buying in bulk can save you money, and is a nice way to save the environment as well- by bringing the empty containers I plan to fill with flour, sugar, etc. I am not using up any extra paper, plastic, etc. I also get most of my "home goods" at our Co-op: eco-friendly dish detergent, soap, recycled paper towels & toilet paper, shampoo and body wash, and they have body/eco-friendly tampons too (although I am a moon cup user myself)! Some Co-ops require membership and some do not- our particular one does not require you be a member to shop there, although if you do join as a member ($25/year) you get 2% off your purchases and get to have a vote at a variety of meetings and decision-making sessions. Find a Co-op near you!

    Farm Stands- Similar concept to Farmers' Market and CSAs- some farms operate their own Farm Stand as a way of selling the produce they grow. There are usually set hours these farms stands are open, and you drive on by and purchase what you need- like a CSA with the convenience of a Farmers' Market experience! Nice way to see the farm you're supporting, and to really connect with one family/farmer.

    Action Step: 

    Now that we've covered some basics, check out these great resources to do your own research:
    Find a Co-op, Farm Stand, Farmers' Market or CSA near you and try it out! 

    Tomorrow we'll be exploring Prioritizing your Purchases, and Friday will be focused on Recipes and Food Prep to Stretch your Budget

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Edible fruit tree lust

    As a resident in a urban suburb with a pretty small yard (about 1/6th of an acre including the space taken up by my house and garage) There's only so much space I can utilize for gardening. I've started to look at getting more dwarf edible trees, as ways to capitalize on landscape and edible space potential.

    Some of the types of fruits I've been looking at lately are mulberry trees, grapes, nectarines, hardy kiwis, or paw-paws. Downsides of mulberries, paw-paws and grapes are that they need a lot of space. I've found some dwarf nectarines, and hardy kiwis can be relatively small. Paw-paws are shade lovers, which could be good for my front yard which doesn't get a lot of sun. Trying to consider what I would actually eat and use the most..

    Paw-paws would be cool because they're native to North America, and they're unique as far as what's available in a conventional grocery store or even at the Farmers' Market. Hardy Kiwis would be pretty awesome for similar reasons- a way to grow kiwi fruit without having to buy it from across the globe would be great! On the site I was looking at, it said you could start the kiwi tree in a 5-gallon pot and then transfer it to its' permanent home the next year.

    Mulberries can get to be really tall and I don't really need anymore tall trees in my yard. I still to want to do grapes, but I need to have the trellising structure before I invest in grape growing.

    When you have a small yard and you want to grow your own food, you have to think creatively in order to make the best use of your space! In what ways do you creatively use your space to grow more food?

    Sunday, October 9, 2011

    Homemade Root Cellaring 101

    As I posted earlier in the year, one of the projects I really wanted to get to this year was making a homemade root cellar. I looked up ideas, advice, and plans, without a lot of success. It doesn't seem that there are too many people root-cellaring on a small scale- or maybe they're just not posting about it?  Since my basement is heated and I don't have a traditional "cellar", I decided to try out this root cellar idea and share it with you! Inspiration article from Mother Earth News can be found here.

    Building Your Own Root Cellar 101

    Home Depot buckets
     Supplies list:
     * Drill  *  Shovel  5-gallon bucket(s) & lid
    Drill and a large bit
    You can choose to use buckets you already have at home,  or of course get them from places like Home Depot, Lowes or your local hardware store. If the buckets have been used, rinse them out and dry them before you start your project.

    Step 1) Flip the bucket(s) over to drill holes in the bottom. Some of the instructions I saw said to cut off the bottom of the bucket, but since I only have a drill, I just drilled many wholes in the bottom.This helps to veggies inside the bucket to maintain an even temperature, and also for moisture to have a place to leave the bucket.

    Bucket with holes drilled in it
    Step 2) Drill holes; start with one right in the middle, then work your way out and drill 4 or 5 holes evenly spaced out in the middle, and then 5-6 hole staggered towards the outside of the bucket. (<--- See picture)
    Choose bucket location wisely!

    Step 3) Choose your Root Cellar location. Choosing somewhere close to your house is a good idea, because the veggies won't be as affected by temperature changes. The space I chose was also under an bumped-out section of our house, so there's shelter from the elements and strong weather too!

    Finished install!
    Step 4) Dig a hole in your in the special spot you've chosen. Make sure there are no power lines running through the space you're digging! The whole needs to be about 2 feet deep, and a bit wider than your bucket. When you're done digging, you want the top 2-3 inches to but above ground still (see picture). Back-fill the hole so the bucket in snug in the ground- pat down the soil around the bucket.
    Carrots are in :)

    Step 5) Fill the bucket with root veggies of your choice-carrots, potatoes, or onions should all store well in this type of environment. In the case of carrots, you pull off the green tops, leaving only a little stub of green at the top. If you want, you can brush dirt off of your carrots/potatoes/onions, but do not wash!

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    She Blinded Me With Science

    This past Friday was my first foray into the world of PRESSURE CANNING canning canning canning (those are echos, by the way). Let's start off by saying that pressure canning is pretty epic. Luckily I had a brave lab partner, Ashley, who gracious lent her new ALL AMERICAN pressure cooker/canner to its first trial run.

    For those of you have canned before and haven't yet ventured into the uncharted waters of pressure canning, I'm going to walk through some basics. When you do start pressure canning, maybe you will think about this post and not have as many panicked questions as we did- that's my hope for you, at least!

    So here's what a standard pressure canner looks like:

    Q) What is the difference between a pressure canner and a water bath/boiling water canner?

    A) Several main differences:

    Pressure canners reach a higher temperature, which low-acid foods (like meat and most veggies) need in order to be safely canned.

    A boiling water canner only gets up to 212 degrees, which is the temperature at which water boils. This is only safe for canning most fruits, and some tomato products, which are higher in acid and have a lower risk of developing botulism if canned correctly.

    Pressure canners are hella expensive compared to boiling water canners. Just sayin'

    Things to know about pressure canning:
    • First of all, get the Ball Blue Book of Canning or some other reliable book that includes recipes for pressure canners. 
    • Choose the recipe you'd like to make, and make sure the recipe is suitable for a pressure canner (should say so at the bottom). For the purposes of explaining, we'll be talking about canning corn.
    • Prepare jars before filling- make sure they have been cleaned and sterilized
    • Prepare food for canning- make sure you follow directions as far as amount of headspace required; headspace is amount of space between top of jar and fruit/veggie contents
    • Once the jars are full, screw on the lids and rings- tight and secure but doesn't have to be a death grip!

    Pressure/Temperature Gauge

    Saturday, October 1, 2011

    Applesauce recipe

    This is practically Week of Applesauce! I'm teaching two preserving classes; one was on Thursday (at Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living), and then a class at our local grange with a group called Preserving Traditions on Sunday! I also canned applesauce for my personal stash today- whew! Here's easy instructions for making applesauce, which is one of the easiest things to can!

    Homemade Applesauce
    Supplies needed:
    1 large pot
    2 large bowls of apples (about 35-40 apples)
    Sugar (optional)
    Nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon (optional)
    A peeler or combo peeler/corer


    1) Peel the apples, if you choose too. I usually peel 3/4 of my apples and leave some peel on for color and texture.
    2) Core the apples. either with a knife or a combo machine (very useful!)
    3) Cut the apples into small pieces- the smaller they are the quicker they cook.
    4) Take cut apples and put them in a large stock pot.
    5) Turn pot onto 5-6 or medium
    6) Add a half cup of water into the pot
    7) Spice to taste, adding nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, etc.
    8) Add sugar, if you desire. I usually find that 1/2 - 1 cup is enough for me
    9) Occasionally stir the apples
    10) Once apples reach a more mush-like consistency, mash them up with a potato masher or a spatula or some kind of kitchen tool

    :) Easy, huh?

    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    Autumn is here!

    Anyone else feel surprised by the weather shift this year? I thought I would be ready for it, but I was left shaking my head and wearing birkenstocks- another summer gone by.

    This summer has been very busy work-wise, although very enjoyable! I haven't got to do all of the canning I'd like to though- when I get a few free hours, going out and picking raspberries is no longer sounding as relaxing as it once did.

    My garden did fairly well this year- I had a good harvest of potatoes, and the small experimental things I planted very fairly productive- a jalepeno plant, a green pepper, and an eggplant. Growing bush beans for the first time went well, and I have a fall crop that should hopefully carry through. Carrots did surprisingly well this year, and again, I should have a lot to pick in another couple of days and then a fall/winter crop too. It was a weird year for tomatoes overall. Onions too- all the onions I started indoors did NOT do well. I'm thinking I'll go with onion sets this year, and not start onions from seed.

    I have gotten to freeze some of the goodies from my garden: bell peppers, jalepenos, corn (can't take credit for growing that!), raspberries, green beans. I'd like to put up some more corn and some more bell peppers- I see a lot of vegetable stir-frys in our future!

    I would still like to can sliced peaches, freeze some more raspberries, pick apples and can some applesauce. Maybe next year will be the year for a pressure canner?

    I'm trying to enjoy the weather while its still warm(ish). 13 mile bike ride yesterday, Band Alumni event this weekend, Country Living Fair, hopefully some biking and outside maintenance next week. Soon it will be time to put away the sandals for the year.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011

    Summer Payoff!

    Almost ready!
    In our garden, we're just entering the season where my hard work and the plants' hard work is paying off. I've been harvesting 1-2 zucchinis per week for the past couple of weeks, as well as 1-2 cucumbers, 3-5 jalepenos, and 5-7 small potatoes.

    Yesterday, I had my first big harvest! 7 potatoes of decent size, 4-5 small carrots, 6 sweet peppers, 3 jalepenos, corriander seeds, as well as a zucchini and a cucumber!! After what seems like a long wait, tomatoes are finally starting to blush on the vine, and I have several that are getting close to ripening. Somehow I didn't plant any cherry tomatoes this year so I have a lot of big, green romas and brandywines just waiting.
    Harvest time! 

    I'm quickly realizing that I'm not able to grow as much of my own food as I'd like to in the current space I've cultivated. I'd like to re-evaluate again for next year how to expand in a managable way. For example: right now I have 5 bush kidney bean plants. Since I'm letting the beans dry on the plant, I'll only about about 40 kidney beans, which is kind of a silly amount. I planted the seeds for 10 new plants yesterday- hopefully I can get a fall harvest too!

    Thursday, July 28, 2011

    Vacation re-cap

    Our trip up north was just simply awesome. Camping was great, the beach was beautiful, weather was just right. We spent our days on the beach, went to the Leelanau county farmers market in empire to buy our 'groceries' for meals, and then spent Sunday on Old Mission Penninsula, wine-tasting at Black Star Farms and taking in the gorgeous views of vineyards and orchards!

    I got a little tipsy and might have spent the hour-long drive shouting out sayings very (however unintentionally) similar to Double Rainbow exclaimations. Some of these could have been, "oh my gosh there's just so much!" And " oh my GOSH look at THAT it's so BEAUTIFUL!" as we passed by plot after plot of grape vines. Whoops!

    Our last day was spent at Country Hermitage B&B which was scenic and home-like enough to inspire a lot of sadness when we had to leave. Located on a 400 acre working tart cherry orchard, its a historic home that was rehabbed in the late 90's and restored to its former glory. If you're up north, go there. Stay there.

    More pics to come :)

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    Late Summer Project #1

    I have lately been falling in love with the idea of a trash can root cellar. It's a funny thing to fall in love with, huh? Since I've started to grow my own carrots, potatoes, and onions, I've been thinking about how to store them through the winter. My basement isn't cool enough in the winter to keep the veggies at the temp they need to be, and I don't have one of those awesome, old-fashioned root cellars. I've looked and done some research about building your own outdoor root cellar, which seems awesome but like a lot of work that I don't have time or money to do right now. I did find a easy, do-able, cheap, and cute (of course a major factor haha) method from Mother Earth News, here.

    Basically, it details the process of making a miniature root cellar:
    1. Purchase a 5- gallon bucket
    2. Cut the bottom from the bucket
    3. Dig a hole in the ground just big enough to hold the bucket with the top of it flush with the ground
    4. Fill the bucket with carrots (or onions, potatoes, turnips, etc)
    5. Place the lid on the bucket and place a bale of straw on top for insulation
    5-gallon buckets seem like a great size too, because a whole standard-sized trash can seems like a lot! Also, what if I want a carrot and two potatoes and I've put all my storage crop into one trash can? Would I just reach my hand down through the levels o' veggies? Seems like having separate 5-gallons for each type is more practical for usage throughout the winter. Stay tuned for 'implementation phase' :)

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Trip to the Dunes

    Empire Bluff scenic overlook
    We are heading to Sleeping Bear Dunes in a few days, and I can't wait!! Ever since I was little, my family has considered the Dunes and Leelanau County to be a definite vacation destination and one of our favorite spot for relaxation. I've probably been there about 18-20 times, and a summer just seems less complete if we don't make it up there. We always laugh because since I'm from Ohio, my family would always call our trip, "Going to Michigan", as if the entire state was Glen Arbor, city of 4,000. Now that I live in Michigan, I know that there a few other places to live and to visit besides the north-western edge of the lower peninsula, but I still find myself referring to our trip this year as, "the michigan trip".

    My goofy dad leaping down the Dunes Climb while my aunts flee 
    This will be our first year going by ourselves as a couple, minus my parents, my brother, and lots of aunts, uncles, cousins, and family friends over the years. It's a fun tradition we have- we camp at the same campground every time- I don't even want to mention it here because then you will go there and it'll be more busy! But since most of you are nice, nature-respecting people who would treat it with the same appreciation, love and affection that I would :), I'll reveal- its DH Day campground. It's state-run as far as I can tell, and they don't take reservations. It's right on Lake Michigan, it's clean and well-kept, and it's a 2 minute walk to the beach! Great semi-rustic sites, no showers, pit toilets- it'll be several days of nature and I'm so anxious to get there!

    It's so beautiful!
    Since DH Day doesn't allow us to book ahead of time, we always leave at midnight the night before our trip is to start, and drive up overnight, hopped up on caffine. We get to the campground, and we get in the already-forming line of cars as dawn begins, just to assure we'll get a spot! It's worth it. Mike usually sleeps in the car while we wait for the ranger station to open and buy our pass for the weekend. I can't fully relax and sleep after our midnight drive yet! While he snoozes, I walk the path past the sleeping campers in their sites to the beach. Looking out at the lake is my first official vacation action; I run down the boardwalk, take my shoes off, and dig my toes in to the cool sand, maybe walk out to the water. I need to reassure myself that I'm really there before I sleep.

    Looking forward to a few slow, relaxing days; biking, playing on the beach, cooking over the campfire. Maybe some kayaking if we get ambitious. I'd really like to go to some of the local farmers' markets (surprise!), tour a winery, and pick some sweet cherries. Traverse City is supposed to be a great "foodie" place to eat, and the region produces a lot of great wine!

    Tuesday, July 5, 2011

    Harvesting garlic + quick & easy Zucchini recipe

    Ah!!! How did it get to be July? I know, I know; the months passed in sequential order like they always do. But June just flew by and July snuck up on me! While I was caught off-guard, I did manage to tend my garden much more consistently than last year. Last year at this time, you looked out into the backyard and saw Wild Weed Land, and not in a fun, cannabis-inspired type of way. This year- vague order! Semi-management of weeds!

    See?! Plz ignore crazy weeds in back :)
    Go me. I have been successfully enjoying foods as they come into season (um how are strawberries gone already?), which is fun! This past week, it was garlic-harvesting time! "How do I tell when my garlic is ready to harvest?", you might be asking? There's an easy indicator- when the leaves of the plant are 1/2-2/3 brown, it's time to pull those babies out! Or when you get so excited and you start rationalizing; the leaves are really almost quite close to 1/3 brown and that's pretty much like 1/2 isn't it? That's when I knew. Pull those guys outta there, brush off some of the dirtiest dirt parts, but do not wash! You need to identify a warm, dry spot for your garlic to cure for the next 3-4 weeks!

    My spot is here, in the un-air conditioned mudroom: 


    Made a delicious meal tonight, very easy and light: Broiled Zucchini. Broiled is such an ugly word. Maybe we could call it something else like, "Zippy Zucchini". New official name. The recipe is too simple for me to even tell you in an organized fashion. Just turn your oven onto broil, mix some olive oil,   onions, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and lemon juice (I used limes!). Slice a zucchini up, and cut up a moderately-sized tomato (or several smaller ones), and mix it all together! Put on foil, and broil for 8-10 minutes. DONE! Deliciousness! Coolest thing about this dish? I know who grew each ingredient (ok minus the salt, pepper, olive oil, and lime). 


    Wednesday, June 29, 2011

    A testimony to Black raspberries

    Ok so at the young age of 26 (I am being sarcastic because this is silly), I finally had my first black raspberry; from my backyard! We've been waiting for the raspberries to ripen and this is their third year so it's our first kind of sizeable haul.

    Mike likes to eat berries like a bear (get on his tiptoes and eat them straight off the vine). It's a sight I'll have to capture sometime. I picked for about 30 minutes, carefully avoiding prickers and bird netting, and got about 35-45 berries- just enough for us to chomp up for dessert.

    If you haven't had fresh black raspberries: Plant some. Pick some. Eat some!

    Saturday, June 25, 2011

    Homeward bound

    In Columbus, Ohio for the weekend visiting my parents and I brought along my grandma as well! Enjoying my stay- looking forward to checking out the Worthington Farmers Market and wondering if the "City Center" market is up and running yet? :)

    Looking forward to making some homemade goodies for my mom & dad, who have a boot and a huge inflated arm, respectively, because of a biking crash. Also going to help my mom out in the garden- its about time the tables were turned! Usually they're such helpers to me and I'm looking to re-pay a small fraction of that :)

    Need to update with pictures but I've canned 2 batches of strawberry jam already- its that time already! I hope to get it one more batch before strawberry season is over.

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    Asparagus, Onion, and Garlic scape Frittata

    It may come as a surprise, but I'm kind of a picky eater. Most of it I attribute to trying something once when I was 8 years old, disliking it, and then refusing to try it ever again, on principle. I'm also stubborn, by the way :) So when Asparagus Season rolls around, I get creative. I am not a big fan of steamed asaparagus, asparagus in butter, etc. etc. but I DO eat asparagus if it's hidden semi-well, or chopped up into smaller pieces. Since our Farmers' Market opened in May, I have been coming up with Asparagus Hider recipes, including Asapargus Risotto and chopping up asparagus and putting it into my favorite potato salad recipe. It was time for a change tonight, so I decided to invent.

    Have you ever made a frittata before? Maybe I'm weird, but I never have, and I really haven't eaten quiche or frittatas all that much. A co-worker brought in a wedge of homemade frittata today with what looked like asparagus and other deliciousness, and I decided to copy her. Maybe it wasn't so inventive but oh well.

    This is also an All-Local dish, which always put a feather in my theoretic cap. Storage onions, fresh garlic scapes and asparagus, oregano from my garden. The ginger isn't local, but you can't be perfect all the time!

    Asparagus, Onion, and Garlic Scape Frittata


    6 eggs
    6 stalks of asparagus
    1 garlic scape (or 1 clove of garlic)
    1/2 onion
    oregano to taste
    rosemary to taste
    ginger to taste
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp pepper

    Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. While the oven heats up, chop up the asparagus into small pieces, halve the onion, take one half, and slice it length wise into small strips, and finely slice garlic scapes, or chop up garlic. Take a small frying pan, put it on the stove, and heat up a tablespoon of olive oil. Once it's going, add the veggies mixture, and cook for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a larger bowl, add oregano, rosemary, ginger, salt and pepper, and whisk until well mixed. Add the veggie mix into the egg mix, and stir them all together.

    Get out a 8x8 baking dish or a 9" pie dish, and oil lightly. Pour the fritatta mixture into the pan, and pop into the oven for 30-35 minutes, until top of frittata is golden brown. Enjoy!

    Saturday, May 28, 2011

    Rain and a Rhubarb recipe (and alliteration)

    There's a lot of rain happening here. Across the country, in fact. It feels semi-apocalyptic: way more apocalyptic than the recent rapture-that-wasn't. In the past week and a half, I have been caught in three separate downpours, where I am completely drenched in a matter of minutes. Quite weird.

    At any rate, I am continuing along, apocalypse or not. The garden is almost all planted- potato plants are doing nicely, tomato plants as well. My onions are being totally strange and aren't seeming to grow at all, which is worrisome. I keep planting carrots, and they don't seem to be seeding to well, but I have some beginning to think about growing.

    I have several fun learning experiences to share with you from the past week and a half-

    I attended an awesome Cheese Making class -
    Our local co-op hosted a Cheese Making class recently, and I couldn't pass it up! It only cost $5 and for $5 more, I was able to purchase all the necessary bacteria/ingredients to make several future cheese endeavors! We made Queso Fresco and it was delish. I haven't yet tried to make a batch at home but I think I might soon- of course those endeavors will be documented for ya'll to see. Check me out on the right! I didn't mean to look highly-skeptical, and in fact, that is actually my "This is so cool" look.

    If you're local, check out Preserving Traditions for their class schedule. Great group, very affordable to attend, and fun!

    Trip to Greenfield Village!
    Today Mike and I, along with some friends, visited Greenfield Village, local historical attraction and part of The Henry Ford family of things like Henry Ford Museum and Henry Ford Imax Theatre etc. etc. It was pretty cool to see- Greenfield Village is basically modeled after a village of sorts, and it contains all sorts of old, awesome buildings, including the homes of Noah Webster (of dictionary fame), Robert Frost, a Circuit Court building where Lincoln presided as judge, the Wright Brothers' house, etc. I am a big fan of old homes and just being able to tour them and look around was entertaining to me. It was also Civil War Memorial weekend, and there were a bunch of tents sent up and folks in re-enactment outfits, marching around and staging fake battles. Cool old houses and marching- doing well on my list of exciting things so far!

    One thing I thought was kind of strange is the fact that all of the houses in Greenfield Village have been uprooted and brought to this Utopian society of Greenfield Village. All were clearly labeled on signs in front of the houses, as far as where they came from originally.
    But doesn't Dayton, Ohio want the Wright Brothers house?
    Because I kind of want Dayton to have the Wright Brothers house.
    Robert Frost's house was from Ann Arbor, not too far of a move. The Lincoln county court-house thing was from Illinois or something. While I do realize that moving all of these awesome attractions means that maybe more people can experience them, I bet there are some upset cities out there. There were several cases where the city supposedly couldn't afford to maintain the house, and so Ford swooped in and bought it (this was back in the 20's and 30's.) I can handle that, I suppose. But I like the idea of place- when I can walk from the Wright Brothers Dayton home to a newly-freed black family's Savannah, Georgia home, doesn't that lose some of the character, some of the story of the house? Maybe it's the annoying, local person in me. But I like to appreciate things where they are meant to be appreciated.

    They had a cool farm though, so props for that. The re-enactors were chopping up rhubarb to make a pie inside the farm house and one of them mentioned that they had to take advantage of it now because it's only in season for a short time. Of course, this was met by several, "Oh, really" and " When does it grow, exactly?" comments. I felt kind of good to know I have farmers' market fresh rhubarb at my house ready to be appreciateted.

    Peach-Rhubarb crumble recipe!
    Enough with the politics. Onto a delicious recipe for you canners out there! I have been trying to finish off the harvest that I put up this year, in order to make room for new things this year. I seem to have a lot of peaches left over that I keep forgetting to break out and enjoy. I also got inspired by the folks while at Greenfield, and wanted to make use of the rhubarb I've been paralyzed by for the past several days. I whipped up this Peach-Rhubarb Crumble, and it was a hit! Serve it warm for delicious oozyness, or cooler for a more congealed treat. If that doesn't inspire you to make it now, I don't know what will.

    Peach-Rhubarb Crumble
    3 pints of canned peaches in simple syrup (or another un-fussy version of canned peaches)
    4 stalks of rhubarb
    1 stick of butter
    1 cup of whole wheat flour
    1/2 cup of brown sugar

    Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

    Empty the pints of peaches (including syrup from 1 of the jars) into an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish. Chop up rhubarb into pieces sized to your choosing, and add rhubarb into the dish as well.

    In a separate bowl, melt butter, then add sugar and flour and mix gently. Once mixed (doesn't not need to be mixed super-thoroughly), sprinkle mixture on top of the fruit in the baking dish.

    Pop dish in oven for 40-45 minutes or until crumble topping is crispy & delicious. Enjoy!!