Saturday, July 21, 2012

Farmer's Markets

There is no easier way to get up close and personal with all of the foods that you eat than to go to a farmer's market.  The past month, I have been visiting various markets in nearby towns and there is such a variation of turnouts.  It seems that the bigger cities in my region have the least attendants and the smallest ones are packed with farmers and vendors who have been working long before the market has even started. 

There is such dedication to bringing healthy, natural food and products to the people, but why is there such a sad turnout?  One big reason is a lack of knowledge about what is offered at the markets.  A lot of people seem to assume that farmer's markets will cost them more and have less quality than the grocery store will (which sometimes may be the case).  Other factors can be poor timing for the market or simply lack of information to the public about it.

Whatever the reason for poor turnout to the markets, I always encourage people to support local foods and businesses as much as possible.  The locals that surround you are not interested in taking advantage of anyone, and they are working as hard as they can to provide you with something of great value at these markets. 

I hope to see more people take advantage of the markets in the upcoming years.  The need to be in touch with the Earth has yet to lose its appeal to many, and a farmers market is just another way to fulfill that need.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


My worms are not happy campers.  They have all massed up the sides and top of my bin and I had to dig through the bin to find out why.  I found some scary stuff!

First off, there was a fuzzy piece of macaroni that I thought was a caterpillar.  That told me that someone had put some no-no food in the worm bin.  After some more digging through be bedding, there was some pizza (no-no) and more macaroni.  No worms anywhere near that stuff, so I used some blunt ends of wooden skewers as chopsticks to get it all out. 

I think it is time for a sign telling everyone what is good to go into the bin and what should be avoided.  Hopefully the cole slaw bits (without the dressing) are a hit with the worms.  I had put them in the food processor for easier eating.  They're already fans of the espresso bits!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Organic Local Tea!

I am a tea and coffee lover, and when I met a local woman who makes specialty tea from her home I was so excited.  Sub Rosa Tea does not have a shop of its own yet, but I really hope that for the sake of promoting local business and organic practices that the wonderful owner can get one.  What a great thing to have in my city, right?  I'd have never known about this business if I did not volunteer yesterday and meet the woman who makes the tea.

I am always on the lookout for organic companies, and it is interesting that most of them have to sell online because there is no available space for them to get in with their own hometown.  If we really want something special and meaningful to the people around us, supporting what is in our community is the first thing that we can do. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Making family mealtime

Doing more activities as a family is a goal that is often on every mother's mind.  Some people prefer to leave the home to find something interesting to do, and some like to be together in the backyard.  Activities for my family are usually at home because we are very budget conscious and would also rather night fight a cranky baby away from home. 

Parents spending time with their children open up a lot of psychological benefits for the children as well as the parents.  Communication and closeness are enhanced as they interact and build trust and love together.

Meal time is promoted as one of the most important family times with many benefits.  According to WebMD, "When families dine together, they tend to eat more vegetables and fruits -- and fewer fried foods, soda, and foods with trans fats, research shows. When younger kids frequently eat dinner with their families, they are less likely to be overweight than other children. That tends to change in the teenage years, when they're less likely to eat at home."  Makes sense to me.

More benefits of eating together, according to eat better eat together are communication, better school performance, better adjustment, and better nutrition.  There can be negative results to eating together, however, when parents cannot get along or are too controlling during mealtime.  This can lead to guilt, stress, and uncertainty about food and meals for the children who, eventually, become adults.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rain is wonderful

I love it when it rains really good over night.  Earlier in the week we had some nasty storms that didn't cool anything off.  Last night we had a long rain and that means this weekend is starting off beautifully. 

On the downside of all of this rain, all of the weeds on earth are trying to grow in my tomato plots.  The poor things are having a hard enough time.  The wind that we had yesterday snapped (yes snapped) my lettuce in half.  I guess I have to harvest without waiting for it to go to seed.  I hope that I can save the seeds this fall when I plant more. 

It's great to do free outdoor activities with my daughter when it is cool like this.  When we're indoors from the heat there is only so much we can do to keep from being bored.  Once we get outside, watch out!  I think we will take a walk to the library today so that I can get more books to mow through this weekend. 

We are also building our worm compost bin for our basement this weekend.  I ordered the worms (which won't be here until next week) from Amazon so that when they come they'll already have a home waiting for them.  I just hope that a thousand worms is enough!  My soil at home is so horrible that I have had to actually buy topsoil (which I am not exactly happy about doing because it was taken from somewhere else) to put in my garden beds for my herbs and such.  I still have 2 bags left and a few pepper plants that will need to be planted in them when they're big enough.  It kills me that my plants grow so slow.

I have seen a ton of articles online about fully mature vegetables (other than lettuce) such as radishes that make me wonder what I'm doing wrong with my own garden.  I probably started a bit late (only lettuce and tomatoes were started inside before the frost time was past) so I'm hoping to be on top of things next year so that I don't have the latest harvests in history. 

Documentaries are my favorite rainy-day activity.  When the baby is napping I will turn one on and soak in what is being presented that day.  I had watched Chemerical, a documentary about a family that was going chemical free in their house because of breathing and health issues that they were conscious of.  I loved the suggestions that were offered to the family about how to get away from chemicals while still being clean and healthy.  I think that over time, I will also try to convince my fiance that we should make our own laundry soap out of non-chemical ingredients, buy regular soap to wash with, and just be more natural overall.  Our skin will thank us.

Making Homemade Laundry Soap is relatively easy to do.  I'm still deciding on which pot to use to make soap with, but without chemicals in the soap I probably should not be worried about contaminating it.  It should clean out rather easily.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Baked Kale Chips

Today was my first day eating kale.  I baked them at 350 spread on a cookie sheet until they were brown on the edges.  First cut the leafy parts off of the stem (and compost the stem, of course) and tear them into bits.  Coat them in a bowl with about a tablespoon of olive oil and another tablespoon of seasoning salt.  When they're coated, lay them on the cookie sheet and bake.

The texture of the baked leaves is like a crispy, extremely thin potato chip.  They taste similar to a chip also, but have a green flavor to them.  I personally liked them and suggest trying it yourself!  If they weren't so thin, I think they'd even be wonderful with a yogurt dip.

Herbs and volunteering

In our garden, we have planted a small variety of herbs to use later in the season when we begin experimenting with canning.  Basil, dill, rosemary, chives, and cilantro are the ones that I decided to start with and to learn from this year.  A few of my plants had been brought to me from my father's garden (parsley which went to seed, cilantro, and some chives) but the rest had been started from seed and are in containers (where they just might stay). 

I really don't know much about actually growing most of these herbs, though.  So I did a little bit of research.  Wouldn't you know that I'm growing a few in a way that I shouldn't?  I shouldn't be starting my dill anywhere but directly in the garden because they don't like to be transplanted.  Hopefully because they are still tiny, I can go ahead and move them as soon as possible (tomorrow morning) so that they won't notice!  I really want a lot of dill for pickles and drying this year.

My chives that I planted from seed still have yet to actually grow.  Even though my father provided a generous amount of plants, the amount of them we use in cooking exceeds the amount that we can harvest from the plants!  I will give them another week before I give up on them.  In the mean time, I may have to divide my father's chives because they're as bunched as they could get.

I am already learning a lot from my garden as it slowly grows.  My biggest issues are with the quality of my soil.  It holds water OK, but settles as if it were made of sand and becomes compacted easily.  I hope that with composting and lots of love, I can get my garden soil to where it should be to produce a medley of wonderful herbs, flowers and vegetables. 

Yesterday I volunteered with a local CSA group who provides local, fresh, organic vegetables and fruits to people who buy shares of the veggies.  I learned a lot about kohlrabi, garlic scapes, and kale.  I had never in my life tried any of them, let alone tried to cook them!  I realized that neither had many of the shareholders who were purchasing these items, and the ladies that I volunteered with were very happy to offer advice on their use, storage, and different ways to cook it.  I plan on going there all summer and fall to learn as much as I can about different produce that I've never been around.  Maybe I'll even try to grow some, someday!

Until then, I need to make sure my own garden can grow.