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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

because I like lecturing folks

Peach season is still on for a while, so don't be fooled. In fact, the peaches are cheaper now. I just bought a half bushel of Angelus peaches for $15, and the Hales are only $12 a half. I was paying $18 and $20 dollars just a few weeks ago. And I'm not sorry for it. I'm telling you, Sumida's has incredible produce. I just heard this morning that he had to sell his apple and pear orchards to be turned into houses, because things are so tight. WHY WILL PEOPLE INSIST ON BUILDING THEIR HOUSES ON FARMLAND? WHY WILL THEY NOT SUPPORT THEIR LOCAL FOOD SUPPLIERS?

Please, if any of you live near a place where you can get some local produce, please go buy something. Hey! Let's make it a challenge!

Baba Capra Challenge:
Procure some produce grown within 25 miles of your home. The closer the better. Those of you who grow everything you eat, I salute you. You are exempt from the challenge. For the rest of us, let's find something local and yummy and eat it. And it's not just about fossil fuels or herbicides or pesticides or industrial agribusiness. It's about supporting the people who feed us. It's about saying thank you for doing all the crappy jobs like thinning peaches, picking beans and digging potatoes. It's about eating food that's real, that's been grown not because it ships well, but because the taste of it makes you have to sit down and catch your breath.

Local Harvest is a good resource, but it is missing a bunch of places. For example, it doesn't have any of the fruit stands along Highway 89 listed, or Mitchell's in American Fork (which may have gone out of business by now, for all I know), where they sell the most wonderful apples. It will at least have farmers' and gardeners' markets listed for your area, though.

Please leave a comment telling me what you bought, where you bought it, and what you did with it. I do love talking about food.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

you should eat this

Here is the recipe for the Moroccan Chicken. I promise it's not hard. It just takes a month if you preserve your own lemons and take a vacation to California.

Here is the recipe for preserved lemons. You don't have to make your own, but I didn't want to buy them.

you have to vote for one of us, it's a two party system

Whether or not it was calculated to curry favor with the voting public (totally was), John McCain's suspension of his campaign to go back to Washington and work on the bailout (GRRR) was the right thing to do. Will the plan that is eventually implemented be wrongheaded and allow unprecedented governmental invasion of the private sector? Absolutely. Will it reward greedy, immoral lenders, investors, and people who knowingly bought more house than they could afford? Absolutely. But even so, Senators McCain and Obama have an obligation to their constituency that predates their presidential campaigns.

Obama's reason for not suspending his campaign or delaying Friday's debate was that now, more than ever, the American people need to hear from the men campaigning to become president and be in charge of this whole mess in 40 days. (He also said a really stupid thing about both himself and McCain having big planes painted with their names, that can get them to Mississippi in a hurry. Umm, so?)

Something we say to our children is, "I can't hear what you say, because your actions are so loud." What do we care what they say in the debate, if it's already been proven that their desire to rule supersedes their desire to actually do the job?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

sometimes I feel like a good mom

Like this past Saturday, for instance. Check out this menu:

  • whole wheat pancakes made from fresh ground flour and sweetened with honey instead of sugar
  • butter we made ourselves from shaking the cream that rose to the top of the . . .
  • raw milk
  • eggs from our happy chickens who still have their beaks and can walk around and flap their wings
  • real maple syrup
  • peaches from Sumida's fruit stand (the quality of their produce is superb)
  • Crenshaw melon from Sumida's
  • grapes from my parents' vines
The presentation in this picture is not what it could be, because I forgot to take a picture while it looked nice.

It's just breakfast, and it's just pancakes, which: not going to win me an award (although they should--they're Emily's recipe and are irresistible), but meals like that make me feel like I have a handle on at least one aspect of my life. There is an unrelenting barrage of noise and traffic that life brings, and sometimes I feel like I'm in real danger of losing my entire mind, don't you know? But cooking is a salve for and respite from that. I get to show my family I love them, teach them that real food tastes better, and calm down enough that I don't have to velcro them to the wall. And I think we can agree that is a good thing.

It looks a little bit like a cheese store threw up on our table.

On Tuesday we pretty much ate cheese for dinner. We ate a tomato salad with the mozzarella that Emily learned how to make on Saturday (she did a great job), sourdough toast from my nasty first batch of sourdough bread, peaches from Sumida's, and a crap-ton of cheese. I found two new kinds that I heart; Cana de Cabra and Midnight Moon.

Cana de Cabra is a soft goat's cheese that is a little like Humboldt Fog, smooth and creamy and mild.

Midnight Moon is my new boyfriend, although John may be vying for its attentions. It's very much like an aged gouda, sweet and tangy with flavor crystals.

mama loves her stories

You. Guys. I love that crazy Terminator show. Because we rarely watch conventional TV anymore we had no idea that the new season started three weeks ago, so imagine my dismay and glee last night when I realized that we had missed the first three episodes, but could watch them all online on FOX's website. Woot!

So of course we watched all three episodes back-to-back, because see prior evidence re: no willpower. And I love it so, so much. Anyone who knows me at all well and my opinion that humans are their own worst enemy, because of their arrogance and love of playing God, will understand why this show might resonate particularly well with me. Plus I love crap getting blown up.

Monday, September 22, 2008

tree season

This weekend we bought some trees, and got two of them planted. Here's what we got:

Cottonless Cottonwood
Stella sweet cherry
Skyline Honeylocust
Autumn Blaze maple

The cottonwood is not a fancy tree, but they do grow wicked fast and get HUGE, so we'll be able to have shade before our grandchildren are dead. I'm excited to finally have a cherry tree. I love Honeylocusts, and the nasty wind snapped our last one, so we had to replace it. I bet the Honeylocust we planted at our old house is huge now. And the Autumn Blaze maple is supposed to be a good cultivar of the Red Maple--it's a cross of the Red Maple and the Silver Maple, so it tolerates alkaline soil without getting chlorotic, and is drought tolerant. I hope it will be a good tree--the fall color is supposed to be excellent. Dirr says mostly good things about it.

Also this weekend we finally ate the Moroccan chicken that I've been preparing for a month--that's how long it took to preserve the lemons, take a ten-day trip to California and back, buy the saffron, wait for the weekend so I could make it for more people than just John and me and our ungrateful children, and make the dish. Good times. It was yummy in my tummy.

Friday, September 19, 2008

let's try being a citizen of america first

I'm going to complain about politics for a minute, because it's my blog and so far the Patriot Act doesn't forbid it.

I feel that America, and specifically its president, should be primarily concerned with being, good, kind, just, and decent because it is the right thing to do, not because we're concerned that we've lost standing in the eyes of the world. If the rest of the world happens to think better of us because we are good people, that's fine. But this argument I keep hearing that Obama's policies would help redeem us to everyone else, and using that as a reason to vote for him? That's garbage. Will Obama's policies help US? Will WE be a stronger, better nation because of them? That's the question that should be asked, not whether the cool kids will like us better if we . . . just . . . act . . . DIFFERENT, somehow.

Also, I am annoyed by the belief that politicians seem to have that, even in this age in which practically nothing goes unreported, they can say completely contradictory things, lie about their past, and it won't cause a problem for us. Perhaps it's because there is just so much noise from all points about pregnant daughters and the role of women in government and stolen identities and drug addiction and racist preachers that we really aren't able to catch them in their lies. But when you hired a private lobbying firm to get more federal funds in your town's coffers, don't turn around and say that when the government tried to give you money you refused and said "No, thank you."

I am disgusted by these people. Deceitful, arrogant despots-in-training, all of them.

And! And! Government-mandated charity is not good, it is redistribution of wealth. It is socialism. If you want to help the poor and needy, be generous with your own money and lead by example.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

you stay classy, china

This is really something. I don't know where to begin to decry the moral failings of a company that removes milk protein from baby formula and replaces it with melamine, which, for anyone who was in a cave on Mars last year, is the same stuff they put in the pet food that was killing people's dogs and cats, and the same stuff they were feeding to the pigs that our own, super-classy FDA ensured us were safe to eat. You know those hard plastic dishes you can find in any -Mart kind of store? That's melamine. Delicious, right?

So now they have 3 babies dead and over 6,000 with kidney problems, including renal failure (read: fatal unless somehow they can come up with transplant kidneys), because we, as a civilization, have come to value cheap goods and labor above all other concerns, including the lives of the people and animals who depend on us to keep them safe. So, stay classy, all of us!

*I don't want to imply that I think something like this would never happen in the U.S., because: totally would. My argument is that when we, as consumers, demand LOWER COST, LOWER COST, LOWER COST, willfully ignore the production, and put our fingers in our ears while humming Sousa marches when anyone tries to talk to us about hidden costs, we can't really be surprised when it blows up in our faces.

well, I don't really like any of those things, but I like you

Last night we had lentil soup. It was way good. I've been wanting to make this recipe for about . . . let's see . . . four years now? The recipe calls for lentils du Puy, or French green lentils, and I wanted to see if they were really as good as people say. Well, good luck finding lentils du Puy. Supposedly they are available at hippie food stores, but no one told The Good Earth. It wasn't until we were in California last week that I finally found them at Whole Foods. Maybe the Whole Foods in Salt Lake has them, I've haven't been there yet, despite my fascination with grocery stores. So when I found them in the bulk foods in the Seal Beach Whole Foods, I loaded up.

The soup looks a lot like poop, but it tastes divine, and it's going in the rotation at our house. The French green lentils really are good. They're firm with soft, creamy insides and they burst in your mouth like tobiko--you know that part in Overboard where Goldie Hawn is explaining to her manservant how good caviar should be? They're like that.

I should say that Superman and The Hulk hate the lentil soup, but that surprises no one.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

some little questions

Why do people seem to think that Christianity precludes a belief in dinosaurs?
How can people afford to live in California and not go into crushing amounts of debt?

planning for next year's failure

I'm trying something we heard about on Radio West a while ago. They were doing a piece called "The New Victory Garden," about the rebirth of the home garden. Hee. Rebirth. That's funny for those of us who didn't realize that it had died in the first place (read: Mormons). Anyhoo, one of the guests they spoke to recommended getting sheets of cardboard and putting them down where you want your garden, then putting lawn waste and such on top of it, soaking it well, then letting it sit over the winter. In the spring you can just plant directly in the now-composted plant matter. I suppose you just keep adding to it over the years, tilling it in as necessary. I didn't actually hear that part of the program, but my mom did, and it sounds much better to me than trying to till up the wretched patch of rocks and clay we have behind our lilac bush.

So I got all the big cardboard boxes I could find at our house (which is a surprising lot), then went dumpster diving at my dad's work today.

I feel good knowing that my plants will be growing in boxes for Genuine CASE Parts.

I took some of the hay waste from the garage floor and the goat pen, spread it all over the cardboard and watered it down. I'll keep looking for more cardboard, and luckily our goats are greedy, spoiled brats, so there will be ample hay waste to put on top.

The beginnings of next year's pathetic excuse for a garden.

My ambitions were greater than my abilities last year, but I cannot face another year of garden mutiny. I will be immolated by self-loathing if I can't get my act together and at least grow some tomatoes next year. Mind you, I have tomatoes this year. You just can't find them in the weeds.

Two years ago I had much better success getting stuff planted because I followed the moon tables in the Farmer's Almanac. I'm going to try that again next year, because I need someone to be the garden boss of me.

Last night we all went downstairs into the fruit room and catalogued our food storage. We set each of the boys to counting packages, buckets and cans, and now we have a much better idea of what we have down there, which is: not enough.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

cheeses

Cheeses bought, eaten and wasted whilst in California:

Manouri
A Greek sheep's milk cheese, very white, semi-soft, and almost spreadable at room temperature. Salty, but less so than feta or myzithra, and with a bit of sweetness to it.

Edelweiss
A triple-cream blue that was soft and smooth. Very mild for a blue. Not as good as Roaring Forties blue, but still great.

some other cheese whose name I have sadly forgotten
It didn't taste that great. It also smelled too much like feet for some of the other members of the family.

Doux de Montagne
A semi-soft cheese very similar to Havarti, great with fruit. Like if Taleggio didn't taste boring and fake.

Wensleydale
A little chalky, bright and lemony. The last time I ate this was at the Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes, England. I haven't seen it here, so I snatched it up when I saw it. It's just as good as I remembered it.

Mt. Tam
If softened butter were cheese. Very mild, runny, with a pleasant rind that isn't too peppery or aspiriny.

Unfortunately, the Edelweiss, cheese-that-cannot-be-named and the Manouri were victims of my cotton-headedness, and were left out on the counter in the hotel room for two days. Boy, did that container stink when I opened it.