Wednesday, August 31, 2011
It's been almost two weeks since the really, really hailish hail storm.
The farm took a hit. Big time.
The CSA will limp on.
Maybe the boxes won't be so densely packed with food from here on out, but the food we get will feed us, body and soul.
The bread and butter of the farm was wiped out in twenty minutes of rain and hail.
However, I've visited a few times the past week. And each time I see the farm there is clear evidence that life goes on. From the asparagus that survived softball hailstones and needed to have a little TLC weeding done, to the gems (sweet potatoes) hidden safely in their underground nest, these little veggies are hanging in there.
Pat, my pop drives the Super Weapon. (Weapon to weeds, only, unless I'm driving it which was not allowed.)
And the hand in the plastic glove?
It is the only view 24 allowed me to post, stating that the others were horrific and would make people hurl their breakfast. Fine.
There was an injury at the farm today. There could've been more. It rained all morning and the word MUCK is an understatement. 24 and I hightailed it to pick tomatoes in the garden behind the high tunnel. We slip-slid our way up and down the mud road, laughing our fool heads off. Neither of us fell which was a miracle.
But while digging for onions, I pulled a weed. It was a weed that did not want to leave the ground. It bit back, slicing my ring finger joint wide open.
Yes. I left some serious organic material on the farm. And I one-handedly took some impressive pictures. But, again, I was FORBIDDEN to post those. : (. You can thank 24 later.
Quick post-farm dinner deliciousness.
5 good-sized heirloom tomatoes, diced.
5 cloves of freshly-grown-from-your-local-organic-grower garlic. minced.
Splash of Olive Oil (1 tsp or so)
6-8 fresh organic basil leaves (roll leaves into tubes and slice for the cool strip look)
Pasta of choice. Cooked.
Toss olive oil in pan. Add garlic and cook a minute or so, toss in basil strips and tomatoes. Cook just til it is warmed through. Ladle over pasta. Scarf it down and forget to take a picture.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Whew! I thought I might have to blog via my phone and my phone is NOT smart.
But my super internet genius and all around nice guy brother saved the day. It was almost day, too. I think he left at midnight. In a way this makes me feel less like an idiot. I had pictured him walking into the house, making two quick mouse strokes, switching out a cable and shaking his head at me. But he had to work hard to prove his geniusity. (Yes, spell check, another made up word.) And I, being who I am and all, will hijack this and use it to make myself feel better about my own skills. Win. Win. Win. Win.
My brother is not Vegan but he ate a Vegan feast with us and went back for seconds and made appreciative noises. My friend gave me her fabulous tortilla recipe which I have souped up. It will make about 16 small fajita sized tortillas or 8-10 bigger ones.
Super Genius Tortillas
4 Cups flour
1/2 Cup fat (not oil) (I used Coconut Oil but would use half coconut oil and half Earth Balance to cut down on hint of Coconut taste in future batches)
1/3 Cup Veggie Broth (LESS 2 TBSP and add 2 TBSP of Lime for an extra flavorful kick)
1/3 Cup Warm Water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Spices -- I added dried cilantro (2 tsp) and 3 cloves of garlic (I added, actually only 1 tsp cilantro and 2 cloves of garlic and it just wasn't enough kick but if you want slight, slight hints of flavor you could back off a bit.)
Liquids, fat, seasonings dumped in food processor and spin it. Add flour and mix it until dough forms. (Can do by hand. add spices and dry ingredients, (put minced garlic in with liquid) cut in fat until it is a coarse meal - add liquid and mix until dough forms. Then knead about three minutes (you will need extra flour if it's sticky).
Then let dough rest. Either in a blob or in smaller balls. 8-10 for large tortillas, 16 for small little guys. Give it half an hour at least.
Heat a skillet. Roll blobs into flat disks. Cook one side, flip cook the other. Depending on how hot the flame (med) or how thick your tortillas, a minute or less on each side. They will lose their gloss and get "cook" marks. They may puff a bit, and that's totally great. Cook until you are satisfied with the way they look. Slide in between towels in glass baking dish/stoneware and keep in a warm oven (170 degrees) until you are ready for them.
Monday, August 29, 2011
I'm just going to go ahead and say it...even though I have several more recipes that I want to try. If you want GREAT Vegan recipes. If you want family friendly recipes tweaked to fit your family's likes and you want them to be healthier versions--you probably need to go ahead and get a copy of Peas and Thank You. Sarah has a lot of recipes available at her site. But there is something to be said about being able to hold a book in your hands and mark up pages, dot them with ingredient specks and add comments.
I'm hanging onto this book.
I still haven't mentioned the soup. The Lemon Lentil Soup I made last weekend. Delicious.
And I may come back and tell you how tasty it was.
But I have to ramble on and on about the two bars I made last night. I had to taste test them because they are for dessert tonight, and possibly a Vegan-squeam will be joining us. You gotta try the food if you think someone might get all weird about the ingredients. : ) A wonderful excuse dontcha think?
I mentioned that I didn't LOVE the cookies on Friday. Liked em...but was looking forward to trying the Peanut Butter Blondies with Ganache.
Go to the link and make them if you love peanut butter and chocolate combo items. They are GOOD. The ganache is made with Silken Tofu. I'll be honest. Even though we've been playing around with tofu for a few years, and have been really using it since April, I had not even encountered Silken Tofu. I didn't realize it's a different animal (uhhh actually non-animal...pardon the slip). Don't look in the cold case with the other tofus. It's on the shelf in the ethnic section of the store. The difference is that the silken doesn't have the water packing and doesn't have to be drained. Plus, it's shelf stable. Plus, and the biggest plus, it doesn't have much taste at all. Tofu, even though it's supposed to be tasteless has flavor. Kind of a synthetic taste that needs quite a bit of spice or sweet or whateves to conquer it. Silken Tofu is very mild. And WHAM! It makes an amazing Ganache. Going to be using it in all the baked/cold desserts that call for tofu now.
These bars are YUMMY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And you'd never know they weren't full of the worst of the worst. They taste as good as any decadent bar any restaurant, bakery, or box/bag can produce. Try it. If you love it. You need to stalk Peas and Thank You blog, if nothing else, and try some of Sarah's other recipes.
Double Chocolate/Single Chin Brownies. I didn't have high hopes for these. I do NOT like the texture of applesauce-subbed-for-fat-brownies. They are cakey and I'm just not a fan of cakey in my brownies.
The only applesauce I had in the house was cinnamon chunky. But I gave it a shot. I was SHOCKED at how good and texture-rich they were. I'm going to say I loved them. Really.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Back to my obsessive thoughts about Peas and Thank You...the book.
I've baked and tasted a bunch of Vegan cookies. Some are really tasty, others are a FAIL. Now. I happen to love a cookie I've tweaked. But there is a lot of flax in it and it tastes "green" i.e. healthy. To those who don't care for green it just doesn't quite hit the spot.
Sarah's cookie -- Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookie with Sea Salt to be exact -- is delicious for other reasons.
Does it taste remotely healthy?
All three of us liked them very much.
Will it become my favorite cookie? Probably not mine, because I really prefer chewy, gooey. However, I will make them again and think they are a good Omnivore option wherein said Omnivore will just say "Yum! Good cookie." and never suspect something shady.
And I'm going to try her Peanut Butter Blondies with Ganache. I'm pretty sure they will become an obsession. I have never used silken tofu. This will be a maiden voyage for me. Now I'm just going to have to find it, buy it, and get this dessert made. Will it happen this weekend? Good goal.
Note: She has posted the recipe on her blog. Some of her recipes are there, some are only found in her book.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Remember Napoleon Dynamite?
Ha.Ha. I do. Mostly because every once in awhile a hilarious one-liner pops into my head. When my lips are dry I think about Napoleon. When I've been on the internet too much I feel like poor Kip who was chatting with babes on-line all day. When someone falls or gets hit with something I am reminded of Uncle Rico's steak throwing skills.
Yes. I'm a freak.
I'm a technologically-challenged freak.
Here's my dilemma. A techie one. In case I disappear from cyberspace for a few days you should know that I have not overcome my techie ignorance.
Our house phone aka landline has become bait for telemarketers, survey phone calls and political pundits. We all have cellphones and no one even answers the landline anymore. We rely on messages should a real person get through. Most are hang-ups or computer voices offering us better interest rates or suggesting we press some number or other to continue their message. In a word, annoying.
But. Our internet is connected to our landline. So. We've kept it. I finally decided enough was enough and called our local cable company. We can have internet through them without a landline or cable. And it will save us money every month. So I ordered it.
The cable guy came Friday and kind of hooked us up. Except for the wireless router. We should be smart enough to figure it out. We tried tonight.
Sigh. It works, kinda maybe. The instructions are written in Greek with Greeklish translation. Okay. Not. It's fully English but of a dialect I can't understand. It's probably a stupid, tiny little issue. But it's huge in that it's not working!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So. I dedicate Kip Dynamite's "Always and Forever" also known as LaFawnduh's Song which I like to call "I Hate Technology" to non-techies everywhere, and I hope I don't disappear too long. At least I haven't canceled the old stuff yet. We are, for now, double-wired! ! !
Lyrics by: Kip Dynamite.
"Why do you love me
Why do you need me
Always and forever
We met in a chat room
Now our love can fully bloom
Sure, the World Wide Web is great
But you, you make me 'salvivate'
Yes, I love technology
But not as much as you, you see
But I still love technology
Always and forever
Our love is like a flock of doves"
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
What happens when ice balls fall from the sky and meet up with organic produce? How about one hour producing four inches of rain?
The picture of dirt with a tiny bit of green was taken late spring when we spent a Saturday morning planting asparagus.
The bounty of vegetables was snapped last week after just a few minutes of gathering the plentiful harvest and leaving behind much, much more to continue ripening.
The farm resembled picture A more than picture B yesterday. Except the true picture was far worse. More like picture A's desolation but with piles of vegetable carnage, too. Twenty minutes of hail (softball sized followed by golf-ball sized) followed by torrential rain on Thursday did a lot of damage around my home. I've got holes in my siding and dents in my roof and vehicles. But those are all covered by insurance and replaceable. Annoying, will be costly because of deductibles, but it had no impact on my job or income potential.
However, the organic farm was hammered where it hurts. The lush, tall corn stalks that hid the pickers from each other are decimated into three feet tall splintered spikes, if that. Melons and tomatoes lay strewn where their bodies were smashed by hailstones. Little sets on plants were destroyed by being knocked from the plant and their life source. Hailstones hammered the high tunnel leaving holes the size of baseballs. A small river took out rows of produce in a mini-flood.
This is one of the unfortunate realities of farming. Bugs, prices/marketplaces and weather conspire against and discourage growers.
Could there possibly be an upside?
The sun shone. We cut kale back to encourage new growth because there was new growth to encourage.
Struggling plants needed weeding.
A few melons clung to the vine, whomped on but not beaten. They may make it and grow to wear their hail scars proudly. A miracle survivor tomato was found hiding under an untouched vine.
The farmers are focusing on the life that remains and choosing to avoid looking at the garden as a battlefield with the wounded, dead and dying strewn about.
Our box of produce will be more precious. We have seen (and on the tiniest scale have experienced) the blood, sweat and tears that go into the growing and harvesting.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
I blabbled on and on yesterday about this cookbook. Maybe I was just starving. Maybe if you make me laugh you kind of own me. However it goes, I'm going to give you a link to her blog to one of the recipes (recipeas) I recreated in my own kitchen. Here it is.
Now. I didn't just sit down and chow them by the handful though I could've because they are freakishly good. I needed to use up some cucumbers and thought they might be just the delicious top to a tasty salad.
I made the Lemon Rosemary Roasted Chickpeas as directed. (Okay. Confession. I did not follow the exact recipe. I exchanged the rosemary for dill.) So mine were Lemon Dill Roasted Chickpeas. Here's why. She refers to her husband as Pea Daddy (makes sense, trust me.) Well my equivalent to her Pea Daddy, Rob, hates rosemary. He detests rosemary. He has forbidden me to buy this spice which he likens to pine needles but worse. So. I had to improvise.
Otherwise the recipe was exactly like she said.
Then I chopped some tomatoes (the organic farm ones YUM) and chopped a few cucumbers. But. I had a problem. I had a an extra cucumber that needed to be used up in the worst way. And I wanted some sort of dressing. And really, Balsamic just wasn't cutting it.
What if I threw the medium to large peeled cucumber in the Vitamix,
added a TBSP of lemon juice,
a TBSP of Olive Oil,
a teaspoon of dried dill and
a 1/2 teaspoon of salt?
So I did. And out comes this freakishly good, CREAMY LEMON DILL CUCUMBER DRESSING. Next time I'll add 1/2 a clove of garlic or garlic powder.
I poured the dressing over the diced cucumbers and tomatoes and tossed on some Lemon Dill Roasted Chickpeas.
(Okay, some of you might be bothered by this seemingly cucumber cannibalistic sounding recipe. Don't think of it that way. All the cucumbers were eaten by humans.)
There will be some additional posts about this recipe book. I still need to tell you why I owed Rob a big dinner. Today is farm day, though, so you may have to suffer through a few more farm stories. But I'll still be pouring over recipes and seeing what else jumps out at me and grabs me by the stomach.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Blogging about books for five years has finally, deliciously paid off.
My family and I recently embraced the Whole Food Plant Based lifestyle. Which is basically a more complicated and detailed way of saying Vegan. As in not-chain-ourselves-to-destined-for-Thanksgiving-turkey-chopping-blocks or tossing-red-paint animal activists. Also not the Diet-Pepsi-sucking-living-on-Oreo-Vegan either.
The whole Vegan thing was pretty new to us. We knew a Vegetarian who'd been a raw foodist for six months. (Raw food is basically no cooking. They dehydrate or are creative mixers. Nothing is heated over the temperature of...I think 115 degrees (F).) And three family members jumped on the Vegan train three months before we did after reading the Engine 2 Diet and The China Study. However, those three family members are still exploring this whole new way of eating, just like we are.
My husband is now Pescetarian. Which is a vegetarian who will eat fish. However, he is still dairy free at home. I've found dairy product replacements are about the easiest part of going Whole Food Plant Based. Finding recipes and foods that we feel really replace some of the things we crave, and are easy or at least not crazy-hard has been a challenge.
I've really had to rethink most of my learned behaviors. We started doing that when we went organic (mostly) and toward whole foods (meaning not in bags and boxes i.e. less processed...why? The more processing i.e. steps, the less green and the less nutrition...as a rule...there are exceptions.) but losing animal products and replacing them was a much bigger ball game.
I found several websites with recipes and began to haunt them. I learned about crazy sounding things like seitan, t.v.p. and tempeh and found some amazing recipes.
Since April 1st when I crossed over the line that took me to Vegan I've continued to find and stalk other food blogs and websites.
And that's where I found peas and thank you, while stalking. And here's the payoff. This chick is hilarious. And I found she had a new cookbook. And, me, knowing how this publicity drill works being I review books and get lots of offers for ARCs (Advanced Reader Copy which is usually an unfinished manuscript, often in the unwieldy 8.5 by 11 spiral bound format.) But. A recipe ARC is fine by me. So I contacted Sarah's publicist. I got my copy in Friday's mail! And it was the real deal. Friday night I poured over the book. Sarah has quite a few hilarious stories, one before each recipe, so there was plenty of reading.
Saturday afternoon I made four of her recipes. But, after Friday night I owed it to my husband. And look. I've written so much. You are just going to have to finish reading tomorrow.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Every once in a while a movie comes along that completely transcends entertainment. Based on a novel I've not read, The Help adds one more layer to the Civil Rights movement. The hardworking layer of the African American maids who lovingly raised the children of their employers and then suffered many of those same children growing into bigoted adults. Stories are shared, lives explored, attitudes revealed and the fictional account is likely just a tiny shadow of reality.
A white young writer (Emma Stone) who is part of the upper social class struggles with her "friends's" treatment of their maids. And she feels deceived over the disappearance of her own family maid/nanny, a woman she loves maybe even more than her own mother. She approaches one maid about telling her story so she can write a book. For the maid to reveal what goes on behind closed doors could cost her what little she has.
This film is so well written, filmed and acted that it needs multiple award nominations. Powerful, inspirational, sad and important. I highly recommend it, even for children. Language, some mild violence and the themes might be issues for younger children, though.
I love Colin Firth and had this film on my radar. The royal life is always fascinating and of course the time frame, pre-WWII was of interest, so I finally took the plunge and rented a copy. I knew it was about a stuttering monarch and had read just enough to know that he used some inventive tools to overcome his situation when required to speak publicly.
I didn't expect the movie to be so charmingly quirky though. And quirk is a hot button for me so I ended up loving this flick. Firth as Bertie is spot on. His frustrations, his heart, his sensitivity show throughout the span of the movie. The film begins with Firth's Prince Albert Bertie filling in for his father, the king. And the distress at stuttering his way through the simple announcement is all over his face, and throughout the listening audience as the camera pans over them. Humiliated and frustrated he seeks help and finds more frustration and humiliation. Until his wife finds Logue, Geoffrey Rush, a "doctor" with a flair for the dramatic. The two men begin to form a friendship and it's a beautiful thing to behold. Bertie's story was heart-breaking but his heart for the people and his family and his drive to overcome this challenge were inspiring.
Geoffrey Rush is a delight to watch, and is perfectly cast as well. The cinematography and editing are well done. Overall, the only thing that could be offputting for family viewing is two bursts of language. Bertie doesn't stutter when cussing. This becomes an exercise. Preview it if it concerns you, the two (I think) sections could be muted for family viewing.