Thursday, December 31, 2009

Good Schools Require Saintly Parents

Ages ago, when my daughters were babies, I knew a smart, inspiring woman with two young sons. Her boys were quite impressive, too, both in the way they carried themselves and in their accomplishments. I asked my friend where they went to school.

She told me the name of the Chicago Public School where they were enrolled. She then highly recommended the teacher/administrator who shaped the program there and later became a principal at another CPS elementary school. My friend added that if I wanted to find an excellent school for my daughters, I should find the woman and the school.

Which I did. One of my daughters attends that school, even though the (yes-it's-true) amazing principal has since retired. The new principal has retained much of her educational philosophy and most of her staff. But almost immediately, the new principal ditched the practice of assigning homework over Winter Break. Yay!

Still, my daughter occasionally gets an assignment that pretty much requires doing homework over the holidays. I suppose the quality of teaching developed under the former principal is too deeply ingrained. These teachers teach, after all. And so, this year, my daughter's group assignment - to film a 4-5 minute commercial having to do with the reading of Brave New World - is due Jan. 6th. School resumes Jan. 4th. Are you kidding me?

What do you think about that? I don't know anymore. On one hand I'm annoyed, because scheduling six 8th graders around family plans is tedious and difficult. On the other hand, getting six 8th graders together is socially fun, and I'm sure they all took something positive away from the experience.

The mom who hosted the event? I'm sure she took a gigantic headache away from the experience. After 6+ hours of dealing with technology issues and personality issues and the teenage stomach, this woman deserves public thanks, a hug, a beer. Or, maybe a get-out-of-chaperoning pass for the remainder of the year?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I Dream of Italian Cookies

This morning I woke up distressed by a dream in which I finally discovered my Grandma's recipe for pizelle, but I could not decipher the measurements. Instead of cups and teaspoons, she had jotted down a P or a Q. I didn't know what that meant, and then I woke up thinking "It's pints and quarts!"

So, should I mind my Ps & Qs today? Or get out the pizelle iron?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Now to spend some money in the iTunes store. . .

I'm adding Said the Gramophone to my blogroll. "More music" is usually on my short list of New Year's Resolutions (along with "more vegetables" and "more flowers").

But I'm also linking to it because of this fine post, a reaction to Vic Chestnutt's suicide.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Food for Thought

My dog likes tofu.

I wonder if that's okay.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Stormwater Management

We've been meaning to do this for a couple of years, but we finally got around to installing a rain barrel.

In Chicago, one way to get a rain barrel is to sign up and get your name on a list at the Chicago Center for Green Technology. And then you wait and wait and wait. And then you are notified when you can pick it up. The CCGT provides you with a date, and that's the day you pay your $45 and pick up the reserved rain barrel. We actually tried to get a city rain barrel through the park district before, and that list closed in about 10 minutes. Anyway, yesterday was our pick up day.

And now we have our own hideous bright blue rain barrel. Yay!

I think maybe our daughters should paint it. . . .

Saturday, October 24, 2009

On the Low-Tech Theme

I guess I never considered that a pedicure wouldn't include soaking my feet in a high-powered mini jacuzzi for 15 luxurious minutes or so. . . .

My friend, who booked our reservation, warned us about the spa's different pedicure style - she lowered our expectations, you could say. But when they brought out a huge bowl filled with very hot, scented water poured over smooth stones, I stuck my tired feet in gratefully. I actually found the pedicure to be more peaceful without all that bubbling noise.

And it reminded me of a quiet summer afternoon many years ago, when my young daughters gave me a "pedicure" in our backyard. They gently poured cold water over my feet and then wrapped them in large leaves. Both experiences were very simple, gentle, and kind.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Too Cold to Seal the Deck . . .

. . . but not to mulch.

I haven't been in a gardening mood lately. I've been a little stumped with the whole layout.

Sometimes, when I'm letting the dog out in the morning, I just look at the garden objectively. And there are things I like about it. BUT SO MUCH I DON'T. Then I get a little epiphany - something I could do to make it all work! But as usual, there are other things in life that must come first, and my gardening plans will have to wait 'til next year.

So, today I will mulch. And put the garden out of my mind for a while.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Girls' Getaway

Just booked a spa weekend with my college roomies. . .

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I Resist

I've been thinking about getting a laptop for myself. It's hard to share a computer with two eighth graders and a husband who needs it to make and promote his books.

But I feel like I'd be spending a lot of money so that I could blog more frequently. To tell you the truth, I'd rather buy a plane ticket somewhere.

As for my personal writing, there just isn't much time in my day to do that anyway. Even if I had a laptop.

And then, sometimes I walk by a cafe and see a person sitting inside at a table - alone with their laptop, maybe plugged into earphones, too, - laughing and smiling, and apparently having a great time. It creeps me out.

Computers are insidious.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I Still Love the First Day of School

It doesn't matter how many meetings are added to our calendar, or how many forms to our pile of paperwork, it's all worth it for the stories alone!

Eighth grade . . . I remember it well.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Super Kids

Our daughters have spent a good portion of the summer writing a comic book. Hubby had the pages photocopied and stapled into books, and then sold them at his table at Wizard World.

The girls may or may not post any more pages online, but here's the cover.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Not That Worried about School Supplies

One of the good things about CPS, in my opinion, is that the school year always starts the day after Labor Day. This year, that's September 8th. So there are still three weeks of summer left for us!

Those are the three weeks into which we try cramming all the things we haven't done yet. We still need to hit the Bristol Renaissance Faire, camp, see the Blue Man Group, spend time at the beach.

And I suppose, buy some school supplies.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

This Is Not a Food Blog

A friend of mine noticed I've been writing about food a lot lately - that my blog seems to have morphed into something else. That's true, but I think it's only temporary.

I've been working on a personal project - collecting some family stories and writing them down in some format or another. It's going slowly, because I haven't hit upon the right presentation. Many of the stories revolve around food, and so I've been thinking about how much food has changed over my lifetime. For instance, I grew up watching my grandmother make bread. . . letting it rise and punching it down. My daughters have never seen that process, because the only bread I make is banana bread. They love homemade bread, and we own a bread machine. . . but still. I keep thinking about what has been lost.

This project - a kind of family food genealogy - is always floating around in my head. I only seem to make progress on it if I jot some of these details down somewhere. To make room for more details, I suppose. . .

Anyway, perhaps I'll make some headway on this gray Saturday, since hubby and the girls are at Wizard World.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Veggie Box Dictates the Dinner

Mostly, the vegetables from our farm share end up in easy to prepare side dishes. One of my favorites is sliced zucchini, onion, and halved cherry tomatoes sauted in a little olive oil with seasonings. Another favorite is a simple salad of greens, fresh basil, and cucumber slices. I used to put onion in there, but I find that only detracts from the basil. And hardly anything is easier than corn on the cob.

Sometimes the veggies are more critical to the main dish, as in stuffed green peppers, or tuna salad with swiss chard, or salad nicoise with new potatoes and green beans.

Very rarely, the veggies are front and center. Like in a late-lunch of roasted carrots and fennel; breaded, fried cauliflower; and plenty of naan. I actually prefer this way of eating, and would like to serve more meals like this in our future.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How Preschool Teachers Think

The other night, after many days of phone tag, I had a long conversation with my daughters' former pre-K teacher. Our daughters are entering eighth grade this year, so I've know this woman for a long time. Over the years we've visited her often, but since I've gone back to work full time, it's been awhile.

I was worried about state cuts in preschool funding and her amazing program. She wasn't.

She said, "Tell me about the girls. What do they look like now? Where will they be going to high school?" She asked us to please come and visit the classroom. She gave me her email address and asked for the girls to send her a note.

She asked me if I was pregnant. What?

"What?!" I said. "No."

"Oh, I thought you might be calling to tell me you had another little one coming up that I could teach."

My family and I had a good laugh over that one.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

For All the Years I Spent in Orthodontia

The sweet corn from the farm share is delicious.

In fact, it's so delicious, I'm going to be selfish and not cut it off the cob for our two daughters who wear braces. If it stays on the cob, there's more for me!

Friday, July 31, 2009

One Thought As I Head Off to Work

One of the reasons why I started writing about food lately is because taking time to eat and cook better helps slow down the pace of life a bit. I guess I'm just not a fast food gal.

Living, working, and raising children in the city has pulled hubby and I in many different directions - for many years. It's hard to keep up the pace! But I've come to understand that the process of seeking out ingredients and recipes and tastes helps ground me in the moment. Frankly, it takes my mind off the mind-numbing details of modern life.

'Cuz we have to do that, you know.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Comparing Peaches to Peaches

Events aligned in such a way that yesterday I was eating a Michigan peach, freshly picked and sold from a roadside fruit stand. Then, this morning I ate an Illinois peach, grown on an organic farm I've visited by a farmer I've talked to (and who sends me emails). This is so much more fun than shopping at the grocery store.

Slight taste advantage to the Michigan peach, though.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Didn't Seem Like That Much When We Bought It

These blueberries, Flamin' Fury peaches, Early golden plums, Methley sugar plums, sour cherries, Lodi apples, and berry tomatoes come from a small farm's roadside fruit stand in Watervliet, Michigan. We stopped there on our way back into the city, and got a little carried away....

So I taught our daughters how to make blueberry smoothies (with kefir and honey).

And I'll bring some of those little plums into the office to share.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Preschool Blues

From an advocacy alert I receive: "Early childhood programs are marked for funding cuts of one-third – $123.3 million – in budget decisions approved by the Illinois State Board of Education on Tuesday.  That move would strip preschool help from more than 30,000 young children. . . ."

For those of us living on the northwest side of Chicago, this could mean the elimination of preschool programs in 60 public schools in the area. That's 70 kids from my daughter's school alone. I don't know what this news means for preschool teachers. (I can imagine what it means for families, though.)

I have a call into my daughters' former preschool teacher - one of the best teachers I've observed in our 9 years with Chicago Public Schools. To see her program dismantled would be an outrage.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Meals from the Farm Box

It's hard to cook when friends are in town, but I managed to use up all the veggies except the swiss chard. Tonight I'll cook it, so I can make room in the fridge for today's farm box.

Saturday Cookout
Instead of the standard mustard, ketchup, relish, I topped my burger with 5 purple basil leaves, a little mayo, and a 1/2-inch thick slice of grilled sweet onion. Superb.

No Fancy Salad This Week
Just sliced cucumber and fresh basil with lettuce mix.

Broccoli Side
The steamed broccoli, dressed with balsamic vinegar, made it into our lunches. But mostly I just snacked on it.

Fruit Right Out of the Box
We practically inhaled the cherries within minutes of opening the box.

Zucchini with Chickpea Flour
We had big plans to grill the zucchini, but I ended up making a big batch of the above gluten-free side dish. It's tasty and easy, but I need to try it one more time. I don't think I cooked the flour long enough.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Bad Hostess That I Am

We had some friends over for a cookout on Saturday night, during which one of our guests noticed that we "have a lot of food in our fridge."

As it turns out, there wasn't enough food in our fridge, because I could not produce the jalapeno pepper he was craving.

I don't usually cook with jalapeno. In fact there are only two recipes I use that call for it: 1) homemade salsa, and 2) a very special quesadilla made with fontina cheese. Neither of those items were on the cookout menu, so my friend was out of luck.

But now I know. I'll be ready next time!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I Feel a Food Coma Comin' On

Thursday lunch at Tub Tim Thai.
Thursday night takeout from Kamehachi.

Frozen kefir at Starfruit on Friday afternoon.
Indian dinner at Hema's Kitchen (Lincoln Park) on Friday night.

And we'll top it all off Sunday morning with dim sum in Chinatown!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Veggies are Multiplying in Our Fridge

I did as best I could with the farm share this week:

cucumber slices
I barely have time to work on my personal writing projects, let alone cook for writing group. But one of our members has wheat allergies. I needed a gluten-free appetizer in a hurry, so I grabbed store-bought hummus and sliced up the farm cucumber.

taco salad
I was craving a taco salad, so I used about half the mongo head of leaf lettuce from the farm for this easy, favorite dinner.

basil salad
I used the other half of the lettuce for a salad to go with grilled italian sausage. I left out the onion this time, though, and went heavy on the basil. Yummy!

kale/italian sausage soup
I used all the farm kale in an easy soup with onion and leftover italian sausage. It was an awful lot of kale, though . . . should have doubled the broth. There is still some leftover kale and onion, but all the broth and italian sausage was eaten up. I'll have to think of something to do with it.

Never got to the broccoli or zucchini, and there is still a nice portion of basil left. Yikes! We're falling down on the job.

And the new farm box came last night.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Coffee Therapy

Recently, I donated some things to a community rummage sale. One of the items was a medium-sized Turkish coffee pot. This is the pot I once left unattended on the stove, just long enough for its contents to reach a pressure point and explode all over the kitchen ceiling and window blinds. And though I haven't made Turkish coffee since, I'd like to again.

But lately, I've gotten into the habit of making myself a cappuccino using one of those pod coffee machines. It's quick and easy, but not delicious. There's no technique involved. And so I've been considering other ways to make myself a cup 'o joe.

My grandmother used to boil her coffee in a saucepan on the stove. That always seemed old-fashioned and unappetizing to me, and I've realized I have no idea if her coffee was any good or not, because I never tasted it. My mother made (and my father still makes) instant coffee with water heated in an electric tea kettle. This I have tasted, and I really don't need to ever again. On the other hand, my brother's wife makes great coffee, Lebanese coffee, and that's more like what I'm craving.

Somewhere in our cluttered house, I have another, smaller Turkish coffee pot for making individual drinks. It was given to me years ago by a very cosmopolitan friend of mine. We've since lost touch, but I think of her often. She lived with her family in a beautiful 4-bedroom apartment on the north side, in which we'd sit around drinking Turkish coffee and talking for hours. It is this sensation . . . this rich flavor I'd like to have in my coffee-drinking life again.

I'll have to go buy Turkish coffee, and I'll have to learn how to make it again, and I promise I won't leave the stove while it's boiling. But in this deliberately inconvenient way, I'll be ready to recycle the Senseo when the next rummage sale comes around.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

In Other Fashion News . . .

. . . our daughters finally found acceptable purses (sorry, bags), and their friend finally found a fedora. Ostensibly at Irish Fest for the live music and the Guinness on tap, I enjoy the shopping, too. I have to admit it's nice to check something off the to-purchase list.

As for the family bands performing Saturday night, I'll take Searson (three sisters out of Ottawa, Canada) over The Screaming Orphans (four sisters out of Donegal, Ireland) any day.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I Bought It So You Don't Have To

I succumbed to a supermarket-checkout-line-purchase the other day: Teen Vogue.

Shortly thereafter, my Popular Science-reading daughters asked in an accusatory tone, "Mom. . .why is there a Teen Vogue on the counter!?" I explained that I was curious about how Vogue would target teens (which is the truth), and suggested they look through it themselves. Their pithy review follows:

- Emma Watson is still cool--she's going to college and will live in a dorm like other freshmen.

- But why is she all dressed up and walking down a driveway with two ponies?

- Uh, duh. Of course Converse are the height of fashion.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Feel the Pain

Our daughters' taekwondo instructor has started an exercise class for the mothers of his students.

After many months of sitting in the chairs watching our children work out, I think we probably all feel motivated (obligated?) to get on the mats ourselves.

Musa, musa, musa! Ladies rule!

(But I'm still sore.)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

It's True, Sometimes I'm Late Because I Have to Hear the End of the Story

Listening to the radio on my way to work yesterday, I heard an eye-opening story about where we grow most of our food in this country--California's Central Valley. Think residents are healthy? Wrong. Lots of gang activity, roaming dogs, fast food joints, and cases of obesity and diabetes. Not so many sidewalks, grocery stores, or farmers markets. It's all connected you see. . .

. . . and reported by the Kitchen Sisters.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Dreaming of the Sun and the Sand

This morning a co-worker of mine brought Munchkins into the office to share and asked, "What better way to celebrate Summer Hours than with fried dough?"

Um . . . an afternoon at the beach?

(Don't get me wrong - I love fried dough. And believe me, if she'd brought in some funnel cake, I wouldn't be complaining!)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Reading in the Car Doesn't Make Me Carsick

A good thing about driving back and forth between Chicago and Detroit is reading certain lengthy magazine articles I could only skim during a normal work week. For example, while hubby was driving us back home, I luxuriated over:

An article about Nora Ephron and her new movie.

And this piece about an inspirational urban farmer in Milwaukee. His organization has an outpost here in Chicago, too.

The 4th with My Fam

I think what might be more interesting than listing the contents of a weekly box of produce is listing the meals that came out of it. Here's a few from the last few days:

Asian cole slaw (with red cabbage)
This cole slaw is a recipe my mom used to make all the time, and it's usually made with green cabbage. But I suggested to my sisters that we try it with the red, and we all loved it. Looked pretty, too, at the barbeque.

Feed-a-crowd Fourth of July salad (with red-leaf lettuce and cucumber)
My younger sister made the salad for our cookout. When she makes a salad she chops everything up in very small pieces (unlike my lazy cooking self who doesn't even dice onions anymore.) My father dressed the salad, because no one can do it better in my family. However, he wouldn't eat any because he only likes head lettuce.

Green Curry (with kohlrabi and swiss chard)
When we got home, I used up the rest of the vegetables that didn't make the 4th of July menu. I tried making a green curry dish for the first time in my life. There is plenty of room for improvement, so I will try it again.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Food That's Fun Is Cool, Too

The Vermont beer we are drinking at the moment contains beet juice color. So we poured it into a stein, and sure enough, it's red. (Kind of like the red velvet cake thing.)

Plus there are little sayings printed under the caps. Mine says: "The Planet has Needs for your Deeds."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


For various reasons, many of my friends are going gluten-free these days. I don't know that much about it, so I borrowed a gluten-free cookbook from the warehouse (publishing perk).

Happy to learn some foods I love to eat can be classified as g-f:

potato pancakes
pad thai
flourless chocolate cake

There are plenty of other appealing recipes here, too:

cornmeal pancakes
zucchini w/ toasted chickpea flour
Thai salad rolls
rice noodles with broccoli and tofu
noodles with baby shrimp
turkey piccata
spicy roasted chickpeas

So I'm thinking of instituting a weekly g-f day at our house, alongside the weekly vegetarian day I've been talking about doing forever.

I know the point is to eliminate gluten from the diet, but for now, baby steps. Just trying to educate myself.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Taste of Chicago (Localvore Edition)

So if you live in Chicago on the weekend of the Gay Pride Parade, Taste of Chicago, and the Cross Town Classic what do you decide to do?

If you're me, you drive 55 miles south of the city and tour the CSA farm you're supporting. Farmer Vicki hosted her annual potluck and gave a tour of her farm. About 75 shareholders from all over the Chicago area came to see the fields of onions, zucchini, etc, tour the greenhouses, meet the new kittens, and sample some delicious veggie dishes.

Very inspiring. I came home and weeded my garden.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Farm Girl

I grew up in the suburbs and have been living in a big city for the last 20 years. But I've never lived the rural life. Sometimes I think I might like to do that, as this woman did.

On the other hand, I could just read her blog and try some of her recipes.

Lots 'o Lettuce

The family we're splitting our farm share with doesn't cook with cabbage and is still making their way through the lettuce from last week. So they let us take all the cabbage and lettuce from this week's veggie box.

We now have a tremendous amount of lettuce in our fridge, and a monster head of cabbage.

Fortunately my book club is meeting this weekend, so I'll bring a big salad. I'll make Chinese noodles with the cabbage.

Also this weekend, a group of shareholders are touring the farm with Farmer Vicki. Hubby and I will be there with our daughters.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

If You Like Michael Pollan . . .

Here's a NYT article about David A. Kessler's work and new book "The End of Overeating." I saw Dr. Kessler on the news the other night, and then was talking to my father about it. Kessler's work examines our culture's "conditioned hypereating" and the food industry's role in "designing" or manipulating our food to encourage it.

Makes me want to eat my veggies.

And Then There Was One (Daikon Radish)

Here's what I'm making with all that remains of this week's farm share.

Otherwise, I would have eaten it raw (what they heck)!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I Didn't Make Salsa with the Cilantro (for Once)

It seems like people either love cilantro or hate it. I love the stuff, and one reason I frequent this Mexican restaurant is their lovely cilantro salad dressing.

I was trying to find a similar recipe online last night, so I could use my fresh cilantro. I found this recipe instead, and I decided to make it because I had all the ingredients on hand. It was delicious and worked really well with the chipotle chicken we grilled.

Note: A friend of a friend owns a lavender farm, which is why I actually have a stash of lavender buds.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Teenage Grazing

Hubby and I are always accusing each other of eating all the food. Of course, it's really our daughters eating everything. My precious chocolate milk - gone. Pudding mixes, muffin mixes - all gone. Bowls of cherries, gallons of milk, lunch meat, frozen waffles, et cetera.

They ate 11 cheese sticks in two days??

However, I can pretty much guarantee that they will never, ever touch the veggies from the farm share. And so, because we've been busy, this week's produce is still sitting in the fridge:

bunch kale
bunch spinach
head leaf lettuce
fresh cilantro
daikon radish
strawberries (FRUIT! Gobbled up as soon as we opened the box)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

'Cuz People Asked What I Do with the Turnips

I enjoy reading cookbooks more than I actually enjoy cooking. Likewise watching cooking shows. Here's a recipe I thought I found in a 700+ page cookbook someone gave me, but turns out I googled it.

Nice essay on gratin dauphinois in the cookbook, though, in which I learned this technique: "Pour heavy cream over it and bake."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

And This Kid-Friendly Pasta, Too

Also, my daughters are very enthusiastic about these noodles.

For obvious reasons. Peace out, rock on.

CSA - Week 2

In her weekly email, Farmer Vicki says she had to cram some of her early crops into smaller spaces because of the wet soil. She apologizes for another light delivery. This week's box contained:

head of leaf lettuce
head of bok choi
fresh oregano

I happened to be talking to my excellent friend (and excellent cook) yesterday and asked her if she had any yummy recipes for bok choi. Of course she did, so I made it for dinner.

I love when people are excited to share a recipe. This one fills all my requirements: easy, delicious, few ingredients, easy to make substitutions.

Yummy! And I've discovered my girls love udon noodles.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

For My Girls Who Love Biscuits

We've eaten all the produce except the thyme. Right now I'm making Honey Thyme Butter for breakfast tomorrow:

1 stick butter
3 T honey
1 T fresh thyme leaves, chopped

Serve with biscuits.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Too Booked to Cook

Eating dinner out with family and friends tonight and tomorrow, so no homemade dinners this weekend.

I have decided to wash all the greens and have them ready in a bowl. Today's and tomorrow's lunch will just be garbage salad. (I need to clean out the fridge anyway.)

Also, last night hubby and I ended up at Cafe 28 for drinks/appetizer/
dessert. They placed some fantastic salty/spicy butter on the table with the bread, and I was reminded how much I love herbed butters. I think this is one way I will use Farmer Vicki's herbs this summer. The other way is in dressings, as I have been wanting to break myself of the habit of bottled salad dressings for many years.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Wine & Radish

After work, I sliced the radishes and set them out on a plate, but I have nothing to serve with them. (Wish I had olives and feta and pita bread, oh well.) I guess I"ll just squeeze lime over the radish, and have a glass of wine while I watch the news.

I have chicken in the oven now, and I'll serve it with the purple asparagus for dinner.

FYI, teenage daughters declared Kale Krisps "interesting". And spent much time cleaning the green stuff out of their braces!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pretty Purple Asparagus

In her weekly email, Farmer Vicki says that because of the late spring, the box would be light this week (and that she will make up for it in next week's box). When I opened the box, I thought it did seem light, especially since we are sharing the box with another family. But after dividing everything in two, I think it's safe to say the Broderick family will probably be just fine with the following produce for the next six days:

3 radishes
bunch kale
bunch spinach
mesclun lettuce mix
bunch thyme
bunch purple asparagus
(I gave all the rhubarb to my friend, because I harvest my own rhubarb from our garden.)

We ate the sweet strawberries with breakfast this morning. I will make Kale Krisps tonight, as recommended by Farmer Vicki.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Farm in St. Anne, Illinois

We bought a share in a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm for the summer—Genesis Growers.

“Our pledge: We will do our utmost to provide you with a wide variety of fresh, chemical free produce weekly, but please remember crop failure can occur, and while this rarely affects our boxes, there is a certain risk involved in farming.”

The summer season begins today and goes for 21 weeks until sometime in October. We decided on the summer season, since grilled veggies are yummy and that’s when we’re most likely to grill. We went with the medium share, rather than the large share, and we decided to split the cost of the share with another family of four. Cost per family is $14.29/week. Since we paid for the season back in February when we signed up, it now feels like we will be getting free organic veggies through October.

I’ll pick up the box after work today.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Food Labels

Although I've learned to decipher Big Ag food labels, English labeling is still a crutch I lean on.

I don't think I can handle all the international products at Fresh Farms. I'm impressed by the selection - I just want to know what I'm eating!

More on Fresh Farms later.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I believe I can live the rest of my life without eating another Totino’s Pizza Roll

Ingredients: tomato puree (water, tomato paste), enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, ferrous sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), pepperoni pizza topping (pepperoni made with port, chicken and beef [pork, mechanically separated chicken, beef, salt, spice, dextrose, oleoresin of paprika, sodium ascorbate, garlic power, sodium nitrite, lactic acid starter culture, BHA and BHT and citric acid added to protect flavor] water, soy protein isolate), water, mozzarella cheese substitute (water, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, rennet casein, modified corn start, potato starch, sodium aluminum phosphate, vital wheat gluten, salt potassium chloride, citric acid, potassium sorbate [preservative], sodium phosphate, sodium citrate, titanium dioxide [color], maltodextrin, magnesium oxide, zinc oxide, vitamin A palmitate, riboflavin, vitamin B12) partially hydrogenated soybean oil, modified corn starch, rehydrated pasteurized process nonfat mozzarella cheese (water, nonfat milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes, citric acid, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin B6, sodium aluminum phosphate, sodium citrate, sodium phosphate), salt, sugar, defatted soy flour, dried whey, dried onion, spice, methylcellulose, rehydrated enzyme modified cheese (water, milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), natural flavor.

Notes on ingredients:
1) I love the vagueness of “spice” and “natural flavor” and the irony of including them on the ingredient list.
2) One of these days I really would like to see the machine that mechanically separates chicken.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

More Reasons Why Winter Bums Me Out

Things changed over the last few frozen months. My neighbor's little fluffy puppy is now a gigantic German Shepherd.

And my garden is a cesspool.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ginger Ale

My daughter can't seem to beat this bug she picked up somewhere. The BRAT diet of Broth, Rice, Applesauce, & Tea is getting old, so we offer her flattened ginger ale, too.

We've discovered something about the stuff, besides the fact that it's delicious mixed with cranberry juice. Not all ginger ales are the same. Well, they're mostly all the same, except the ginger ale you get at Whole Foods. Which tastes really weird. In a bad way. Too gingery? I don't know if that's it, but the cranberry juice doesn't mask the odd flavor.

Ginger ale consists of carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, natural flavors, sodium benzoate (preservative), and caramel color. The Whole Foods 365 brand doesn't use high fructose corn syrup, though. This ginger ale is sweetened with regular old cane sugar.

Which makes me freak out some more about high fructose corn syrup. What is it, exactly?

My other daughter was more optimistic about the strange ginger ale. She said it will probably start to taste better then the regular stuff after a while. Kind of like natural peanut butter. "You know, it tastes bad at first, but then you get used to it? Now JIF just tastes nasty."