Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dark Days Challenge: Week 6

I think my camera is dying. The broccoli looks pretty unappetizing. I don't know why I have that pink area in the photo. The same thing happened with my popover photo a few days ago.

So use your imagination. We will be away for Week 7 so thought I'd hurry and get Week six in before we leave for urbanhennery territory (aka Washington State).

I brined the pork chops from Coffee Pot Ranch. Bob's pork is incredible but I find that for my taste I still need to have it moister. My brine is hot water, brown sugar, salt, Dijon mustard and cider vinegar. Chops this size usually brine for about two hours. I steamed the broccoli in the microwave and then topped it with the family's secret sauce (not-so-secret mayo and soy sauce [the really dark kind]). The veggies and meat were local and organic.

Hope all of you have a happy and healthy holiday season. I'll be back in the new year.
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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dark Days Challenge # 5

My photo of a pan of popovers was out of focus so all you are going to see is the butternut squash soup with garlic, onions, chard and bacon.

I baked the squash and then scooped it into this pot so it could cook with some half and half and seasonings.

Then I fried the bacon; the onions and garlic were cooked in the bacon grease. Because it's a pig from a local rancher, the fat content is pretty low. At least this time I didn't have to add butter. The last thing I did was tear up chard leaves, place them in the frying pan and cover with a lid so they would wilt.

I poured the bacon pieces, onions, garlic and chard over the squash (shown here). I used my immersion blender to mix it all together. Nice mixture of flavors. Everything, but the cream,
was organic and local.
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Art Quilting

A while back I took a class from Rose Hughes on art quilts. I bought one of her patterns and have been working on it for months. I think I'm finally ready to share with you some pictures of the wall hanging. You really can't tell see the detail without some close ups. This is the first time I've worked with silk; I like vibrant colors so silk really works for me. Take a look at her work: http://www.rosehughes.com

It's draped over the tread mill.

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The Best Candy Bar In The Universe


They are not easy to come by where I live. The company that makes them is in St. Paul, MN; they don't seem to ship very far from home.

I've had a love affair with this candy bar since I was in grade school, which is a long time ago. Yesterday a box of them arrived from my sister, her husband and their son. It was to thank me for my caring through all her health problems during the past two years.

Nut Goodies say love in any language. Let's see if I can describe them. It's milk chocolate poured over a cluster of nuts and a creamy filling that has a subtle taste of maple to it.

I received 24; we are now down to 22. I told Kerry I would share with him even though I did more caring than he did. I think that works out to one Nut Goodie for every two I eat. Sounds fair to me.

I'm leaving them at home for the holidays; we leave for Washington next Tuesday for about a week.
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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dark Days Challenge: Week Four

These are all the ingredients for the meat loaf and potato/leek scalloped potato recipes. I posed them around our John Deere Tractor lamp. I bought Kerry the lamp thinking that then he wouldn't buy a tractor...wrong.

Local Ingredients:

1. Ground Pork from Coffee Pot Ranch
2. Ground Beef from High Sierra Beef
3. Eggs from Sinclair Family Farm
4. Leeks from Newcastle Produce
5. Garlic from Natural Trading Company
6. Unsalted butter from Straus Family Creamery
7. Whipping cream (in the cute little bottle) from Straus Family Creamery
8. Petite Syrah from Lucchesi Vineyards
9. Potatoes from Newscastle Produce

The Tillamook cheese is not local but does come from cows that have not been fed Rbst. The Parmesan cheese is also not local. The ketchup is organic but not local.

All this turned into a delicious dinner which we have eaten for several days. There isn't anything better than a cold meat loaf sandwich.
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Friday, December 11, 2009

Block 11 Baltimore Album Quilt

I tried something new with this block. The cornucopia just looked too flat so I decided to do some trupunto which is really just putting stuffing in something. I used roving which I have lots of right now.

We have one more block to do . I'm glad I made this quilt but doubt I will do another one.

Once the 12th block is done then I'll put it together and decide who will quilt it. The tradition is that you have to hand quilt your own, but I just don't have the patience or the good stitching for that. I'll probably either send it to an Amish community for hand quilting or have someone local machine quilt it.
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Foraging For Butter

I included the picture of Harleen staring out the window looking quite forlorn so that you non-locavores would have something to look at. She usually takes up this position whenever Kerry leaves the house and doesn't take her with him.

Anyway, foraging for butter...what the heck is she thinking. Well, when we first listened to Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" we didn't realize how it would change our lives. Now I find myself searching out local, organic ingredients that aren't always easy to find, like butter.

For the most part, my early foraging days included trips to farmers' markets and buying some canned organic food at the grocery store. I felt really proud when we joined the meat club and started getting regular supplies of meat from local ranches. I learned not to eat asparagus when it wasn't in season here in northern California. The asparagus during the winter that came from South America did not tempt me.

But I was still eating meat in restaurants. I stopped doing that at the end of last year. Every once in a while an In And Out burger makes it to my plate, but it's pretty rare. All I have to do is read more e-coli stories; I can easily stay away from meat whose origins I don't know. I do feel sorry for those animals who are treated so badly during their short lives.

As I look back, I realize that finding meats, fruits and vegetables were the easy ones. I know I will never find locally grown sugar, but I do have access to local honey. It's from a grove of mandarin trees a couple of miles away.

We also listened to Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food." Basic message: if you eat healthy, clean foods you don't need vitamins and supplements. He pretty much does a number on the whole field of nutrition. I threw away my vitamin pills that I took religiously every day. No problems arose. Kerry's diabetes is under control.

But back to my foraging for butter story. I thought that Crystal Dairy in Auburn was going to fill the bill at least from the local stand point but then I found out that Foster Farms bought them. Yuck! So I started my Google search and bingo...Straus Family Creamery. Cows and creamery are in Marshall, CA, which is near Tomales Bay/Point Reyes. Milk, half and half and whipping cream come in bottles. That brought back memories of a birthday game I played as a kid: Drop the Clothes Pin in the Bottle. The bottle was a milk bottle. I want to visit the cows.

Anyway, I digress. I went to two local grocery stores (Raley's and Nugget) and found Straus products. I had just never looked in the right places. I saw half and half, whipping cream, butter (both salted and unsalted), plain yogurt and eggnog.

Recently I found organic flour from a company in S. San Francisco. A fellow blogger in San Francisco had written about it. I know there are some farmers in northern California who grow organic wheat for flour, but they sell to bakeries not individuals.

Along the way we've met many interesting people. It may be a bit more work to eat this way but I think we are healthier for it. Who knows what I will forage for next.
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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Dark Days Challenge 3: Corn Chowder

Kerry and I both have colds so we have been thinking warm, soothing, comfort food. Soup easily falls into that category.

The local ingredients in this corn chowder are:

1. Bacon from Coffee Pot Ranch in Sheridan
2. Corn from the Roseville farmers' markets last summer that I froze
3. Leeks from Newcastle Produce
4. Garlic from the Natural Trading Company in Newcastle
5. Potatoes from Newcastle Produce

Despite my bests efforts, I have been unable to find a local source of butter or cream. I thought I had found something in Crystal Dairy but then discovered that they had been bought by Foster Farms. Not good.

So the cream and butter in the soup are well intentioned but do not meet the guidelines for Dark Days Challenge. I will keep searching.

A Dark Days Challenge blogger recently wrote about making popovers; that reminded me of HomeEc where we made them. That was a very long time ago. I too have trouble sourcing flour that is organic and local. I went to Married with Dinner's blog to find out where she gets her flour. She's the closest blogger geographically. That's when I discovered Giusto's Vita-Grain Flour Mills. I ordered five pounds, which I used to make the popovers. Not local but organic and they seem to have the ethical thing down pat. The flour bag can be composted. Used eggs from pasture-raised chickens that are local. We ate both soup and popovers for two nights.

One interesting thing about using bacon from a local source; there is very little fat. The recipe called for one slice of bacon to get enough fat; I needed four slices and still had to supplement some butter. We got the bacon flavor just not the bacon grease.

Hopefully we will both be healthy by next week.
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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Being Sick Sucks!

Kerry and I are both sick now. I got the cold first; he followed a few days later. I was feeling pretty good on Monday so went to my book group lunch. Then Tuesday morning I went to my quilting bee. I think my body could have taken one or the other but not both.

All I did at the quilting bee was talk about how I had to go home and go back to bed. It took me a good hour to accomplish that. So today Kerry and I decided to just lay low for the entire day. The most energetic thing I did was refill the bird feeders. That really wore me out. He went out to the road with the ATV to retrieve our garbage can.

Kerry and I have been in and out of bed all day. We decided that it just feels good to lie down for a while. Harleen has been joining us; frequently hogging the bed. That usually gets one of us up.

I haven't even felt like quilting or sewing on beads.

But still thoughts of the Dark Day Challenge swirl in my head. I think it's going to be a soup. When you are sick, soup is a great way to eat. Right now it looks like corn chowder with leeks and Yukon gold potatoes with popovers. Trying to have lots of veggies when we are sick.

That's all now from the infirmary in Lincoln, CA
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