Friday, April 30, 2010

The Excitment Of A Fresh Real Chicken

My most recent lesson as a locavore has been about poultry. If you want chicken year round, go to the grocery store. If you want real chicken that has been allowed to live as chickens have for centuries, then find a local farmer that raises them the natural way. We have not had chicken since December. The farmers I asked about chicken all told me it wasn't in season. Who would have thought that chickens, just like asparagus, have a season. Chicken would be available again in April. So it's the end of April but where are they?

Yesterday I found out.

I stopped by Blue Goose Market in Loomis. sometimes they have some locally raised meat. What did I spy in the freezer but two chickens from Sinclair Farms. I get eggs and lamb from them too. The cashier in the store was a bit surprised by my delight in finding two chickens. But that's the beauty of being a locavore, you get excited by the simplest things. It's hard to take chicken for granted when you know it's not always there.

So tonight we are having roasted chicken. I have two choices for recipes. One is your basic herb and butter coated bird. You stuff it with lemons to keep it moist. The other is oven roasted with a pomegranate glaze. The glaze is pomegranate molasses, red wine vinegar and honey plus some pepper. You baste the chicken with this after about 30 minutes in the oven. You can also sprinkle pomegranate seeds on the finished bird. They are not in season right now so I'll settle for the glaze. I have to talk to Kerry about which one he prefers.

Two other courses: mashed potatoes with lots of garlic and butter and a red lettuce salad with fresh strawberries and feta cheese topped with a vinaigrette dressing.

This is an expensive bird. It weighs 4.25 pounds and cost $19. We will probably get four meals out of it and then I'll make chicken stock. Pretty good price for something this good.
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Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Perspective On Earth Day

I've never been a big fan of Earth Day. Probably because the corporations I worked for always made a big deal out of it and then went right back to doing business as usual.

Today I look at Earth Day differently; we have become a locavore household doing what's right for the planet and us. The cookbook pictured here is my gift to myself for Earth Day. Placer County where I live in Northern California, is a wonderful place to have access to farmers markets year round.

One of the authors of this cookbook, Joanne Neft, is the inventor of PlacerGrown ( She started eating locally long before locavorism was popular. This cookbook is one more step on her road to preach the benefits of buying and eating local. She's also from Minnesota (my home state) so that's another reason to like her.

At the end of 2008 she sent out an e-mail to everyone she knew to invite them for dinner at her house each Monday night of the year. She could only seat 4-6 people so you had to get your reservations in early. Places at the table filled up fast.

On the Saturday before the Monday dinner, Joanne and Laura Kenny (the chef) went to the farmers market in Auburn, CA to choose the food for Monday night's dinner. If it wasn't available there, it wasn't served.

The cookbook is organized by month and date so you know what to expect at the farmers market at what time of year. If it's January, there will not be asparagus.

At the end of 52 weeks they had recipes that had been tested on local eaters. Then they began to put it together in a cookbook, which just arrived at local stores.

Here's an example of a dinner; this one is for April 20th, which is about as close as I could come to today.

+ Watercress salad with strawberries and sweet and sour vinaigrette
+ Baked halibut cheeks
+ Black quinoa with mushrooms and snow peas
+ Sauteed kale
+ Fresh strawberries with pistachio biscotti and sabayon Grand Marnier sauce.

A note about the halibut cheeks. We are lucky to have a local fishing company ( that has wonderful fresh, non-farmed fish every week at the Auburn farmers market and several others in the area. We even get wild salmon, which they bring down from Alaska. Farm-raised fish are not healthy for the environment or you.

So that's how I'm celebrating. What about you?
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Some Thoughts On Retirement

It's been three years since I stopped working. Hard to believe it's been that long. Those three years have been some of the best years of my life.

My life is quiet; I love it that way. I don't need much money; I don't have that many material needs. Fabric and good, healthy, organic food are the two things on which I spend the most money. We rarely eat out because the restaurant food is not very healthy. The exceptions are Paul Martin's American Bistro in Roseville and Chipotle. Love their burrito bowl.

I gave away all of my expensive suits, blouses and shoes. Someone else can wear that armor now; not me. Jeans, shirts and fleece plus comfortable shoes are my outer expression. My panty hose are used to collect lint at the end of our dryer line under the house. That's a good place for them.

I'm healthier because I'm not always on airplanes.

I can't think of one negative thing about retirement.

We rarely get up earlier than 8:30; no alarms in our life unless we made the unfortunate decision to be somewhere early.

Our travels are mostly by car to spend time with family and friends. We haven't been to the Bay Area in several years and have no plans to go. That place is filled with noise, pollution and tension. Don't need any of those things. If someone wants to see us, they come here and enjoy the beauty and solitude of our five acres.

I've made new friends; discovered that I really want to express my creativity with fabric; learned that being in a large group is not for me anymore; discovered Michael Pollan and became a locavore; shopped at the farmer's markets and cooked what I found there; and learned a lot about organic farming from the farmers I follow on Twitter.

I also learned that I love to nap each day; luckily Kerry does too.

The days fly by; most of the time I can tell you what day of the week it is but not always the date.

One of the best parts of retirement was Mark finding Julia and getting married at the Grand Canyon.

My quilting went from buying and learning to use all the tools needed to create perfect quilts that would win prizes to tearing strips of fabric for my latest art quilt. This summer Kerry, Harleen and I are going to Sisters, Oregon so I can take a class in fabric painting from a teacher I really like. All of this started from a series of fiction books I read about Elm Creek Quilt Camp. Author is Jennifer Chiaverini.

And Harleen came into our lives as a tiny 11 pound golden lab puppy. Due to bad hips, she washed out of the Canine Companions for Independence program. So in a way she retired too and is now part of our life.

I've learned that you never know where life will lead you; just listen to your soul and follow your heart. It worked for me.
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Friday, April 02, 2010

Deconstructing Quilt Blocks

I've had a lot of fun developing the idea for this quilt which is 36 x 44. The top picture is the entire quilt; the second picture shows a close up of a section where I've done some free motion quilting.

All the fabric, except the black background, was originally in another quilt which I had never finished. I never liked the quilt even though I liked a lot of the fabrics. It was sitting in my pile of UFOs (unfinished objects).

I finally decided to cut the quilt blocks into strips and weave them together. That gave me four boxes and a lot of leftover material. I put the four woven boxes on the black fabric using lightweight fusible. Rose Hughes' technique came into play but not in the usual way; I wasn't joining fabrics, I wanted to create arteries along which fabric could move. The couching is colorful yarn I had in my yarn stash.

Then I cut out lots of circles...and I mean lots of circles both big and small. The ones in the arteries are emerging from fabric circles like colorful coins coming out of a machine. The larger blank circles I quilted with a variety of two- or three-toned thread. You can see that in the second photo.

Finally, I sewed one or two beads on all of the small circles.

The solid block with strips of fabric emerging from it was just done for contrast.

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