Friday, May 15, 2009

Farmer's Market Comes to Town

The farmer's market has finally come to my town Friday's 3:30-6:30pm. It's so nice to not have to trek 20 or 30 minutes out of the way burning gas. It is a small market in an upscale office parking lot that hosts a colorful cast of characters, each on stage and in the spotlight their respective tents. First stop was for luscious greens from a laid back South American farmer. I stocked up on a rainbow of swiss chards and rather healthy mountain of kale. I practiced my Spanish and we exchanged currency. My green for his greens.

The corner of the market was bustling with excitement and free sausage samples. I visited the boisterous and heavily German accented giant "Lothar" the butcher and his Asian wife and white haired father-in-law. His excitement about his artisan products was extremely contagious. I got caught up in the frenzy and bought quite a few of his organic brats and sausages (lamb, pork, beef) carefully avoiding the fully cooked ones in which he added preservatives/nitrates. He had quite a nice selection of natural gourmet items that passed my approval.

Nearby in Lothar's shadow, were Jacob and May Horst, a quiet and unassuming conservative Mennonite couple with free-range eggs and grass fed dairy products from Hagerstown, MD. I stopped to sample raw milk cheeses and chat. I got the smooth and creamy Monterrey jack.

My last stop at the far corner was the attractive and well mannered cowboy with his grass fed beef. I'm sure this guy is much more at home on his farm. I could just see him on a horse rounding up his cattle with his dogs. I could sense he was feeling a little like a fish outta water when customers grilled him what percent of fat was in his ground beef, etc. He went into great detail how they are grass fed, but just before "finishing" he feeds them hay to mellow the flavor. I piped in and helped him with marketing as I bought my meat, as I could tell my neighbors didn't know what this meant, I decoded his message and spouted off the benefits of grass fed meat. I got an appreciative thank you ma'am and wink for educating his customers, in his ever so cute southern drawl.

It's a small market that packs a rich little shopping experience. I'm so thankful these farmers took the time to drive out and bring us these wonderful products practically to my doorstep. I wouldn't have had an interesting story to tell had I walked into any of our florescent lit corner grocery stores. Can't wait for dinner!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Don't Mess with My Food!!!
(Oppose HR875 S425)

I'm not into politcs. I'm into good food. When I see a greedy chemical company wanting to mess with MY food and the food supply in the name of "food safety", I take it personally. Last night I was alarmed to hear a misleading and manipulative Monsanto ad on the radio. Knowing what I know, it sent shivers up my spine. It was my wake up call to do something to protect the food I love. This should be of interest to EVERYONE! Don't know who Monsanto is? LEARN!

Seriously take a minute to contact your congressmen and/or sign this petition. Our food is at risk. Protect organic, local, and Heirloom traditions, farmer's markets, CSAs, and home gardens. This sketchy legistation could put them all at risk.

My letter to my congressman:

I am writing about my concern and opposition for the "food safety" bills in Congress - HR 875, SR 425, HR 814, HR 759 and any others being introduced now. We need to protect traditional farming practices and traditional seeds. Please, please do not let the aggressive agri-businesses like Monsanto take the lead and underhandedly gain any further control over our food supply, traditional farming methods, or heirloom seeds. Our small farmers and local traditional food need our full support. We do not know the long term effects of genetically modified food or seeds. I don't think we should be playing God with our food. I'm not a scientist, but I do know seeds do travel and cross pollinate. We cannot allow sketchy laws that will ultimately penalize or fine our small or organic farmers for the practices of these experimental and greedy big businesses. There is too much uncertainly. GMO seeds may possibly have a devastating effect on the health of our nation. We cannot afford to take this gamble. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, and healthy clean traditional food, do NOT let any of these bills go through. Our local Virginia food is one of the best around. It has a rich heritage and tradition worthy of defending. Please stand up and defend it for us.
In Good Health,
Cindy -------

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pure Chocolate Ecstasy

I experimented today and have unlocked the most blissful chocolate experience...and it is sooo very easy. The ingredients are the key, must be high quality raw organic. I didn't measure but here's what I did: gently melt some cocoa butter til no longer a solid, remove from heat & stir in cocoa powder, and add a little honey and dates to sweeten. This is the best chocolate I have ever eaten. Mmm mmm yum! The cocoa butter makes it silky rich. The natural sweetness of the raw organic honey and dates give it that pure perfect sweetness without going overboard like white or cane sugar would.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Coconut Medicine

I recently came down with some kind of flu (aches, pains, and a very high fever). I am trying my best to flow with the wisdom of my body and use natural remedies. At the height of my fever (104°) I had my son crack open a young coconut that I happened to have in my fridge. I sipped on its water in bed. It was very quenching. Within a 20 minutes my fever began to lower. I sent him to the store for more....

Coconut water has a natural balance of sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, copper and magnesium along with vital amino acids - making it a healthy electrolyte drink. In some cultures it has been used intravenously to stabilize electrolytes. Coconuts are also anti-viral, anti-fungal.

The water from three coconuts and a good dose of a rest and I'm back. I don't have any grog or fog or any other side effects that I might have had from taking conventional medicines. I feel great. So my prescription...have 3 coconuts and call me in the morning.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Zen and the Art of Animal Husbandry

Just got back from an interesting presentation by Matt Rales, author of the article The Inconvenient Cow. I was very impressed by his knowledge and passion on sustainable farming/husbandry and how it can be done in a manner that heals our land and our bodies. I am a firm believer in you are what you eat. I think the modern conventional industrialized farming and husbandry practices that we've allowed have separated us too much from the natural cycles of life. Our bodies and our health are reacting to this disconnect. I really love people like Joel Salatin of Polyface farms, they remind us to respect nature, respect the animals, ultimately respect ourselves.

The only real way to change the "disconnect" from our food suppliers is vote with our forks on what we choose to buy/eat. While I am eating mainly vegetables lately, I do get specific cravings for meat every so often. I really believe my body is talking to me and I think to deny those feelings would be an upset of my own personal health and balance. I want to feel good about my choices, so I want to support local farmers like Joel. It makes me feel better knowing my food was lovingly cared for and respected before it came to my plate.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Kombucha Brewery

While doing some shopping for the Thanksgiving holiday last year, I picked up a bottle of GT's Organic Raw Kombucha from Whole Foods. I had heard some buzz about it's health benefits. First sip, I made an "I'm not to sure about this face", but continued drinking it anyway. By the third or forth sip, I stopped making the face and was hooked. This beverage quickly became a habit. With a price tag of $3-4 a bottle it became an expensive habit. The more I researched and read about kombucha's immunity and health claim properties, the more it became a draw to me. In my reading, I also learned it would be significantly less money to brew and ferment this beverage at home, so I started looking around for my very own culture. I didn't want to buy one blindly over the internet, so I started inquiring and searching locally. I waited and waited to find a local source with little luck... until last weekend.

Now, almost overnight it seems, I have a full-fledged kombucha production line running from my pantry. I have 3 gallons in a variety of flavors brewing as I type (black, green, and peach). I got my first culture (aka "scooby") last weekend at a raw foods meet up and immediately started brewing a gallon with black tea and peach herbal tea. Earlier this week a friend of a friend was moving to Hungary and needed to find good homes for her well established cultures. I got the nicest biggest thickest mother scooby from her. Today lo and behold I got another couple of small babies while at a Weston Price meet up. I started brewing a couple more quarts using organic green tea as the base. When it rains it pours. Now my cup runneth over with this Kombucha elixir. Here's a toast to health and living well. Bottoms up...Cheers!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tales from the Pantry: The Exploding Cabbage Episode

I've heard stories, but never had incident with volatile cabbage until tonight. As many of you know from previous posts, my pantry has become a full fledged laboratory (from krauts to kefir grains are on leave from their workout in my pantry...currently in refridgerated exile).

Saturday I was inspired by by Scott Grzybek's passion and knowledge on lacto-fermentation at a workshop he gave for the Northern Virginia Raw Food Meet Up. I returned home to attempt to replicate his amazing daikon radish and cabbage recipes. I've been babysitting these fermenting babies once and twice a day since Saturday night by cracking open the jars to avoid excessive gas build up that I'd only heard rumor of. This is my second attempt at kraut-making. First time I evidently didn't "pound" the cabbage enough to release enough of it's own natural cabbage juice, so I made up the difference by added water to cover. I'm guessing it was watered down enough to slow the process/activity. It was still quite a tasty product but not nearly as active and alive as what is currently brewing.

All I can say is my little probiotic friends were very busy today. When I cracked open the kraut, the lid lifted and it bubbled violently like a soda can that had been vigorously shaken and opened. I had a puddle on the floor in front of the pantry. Molly was all too happy to help me clean up the mess. She was more excited about this than the "cookies" in my previous post. I don't know if this experiment is going to last the entire 1 month to ripen to full maturity....I somehow can't help but nibble on it as I do my quality control checks.