Thursday, March 19, 2009

Our weekly vegetables...

Last year, we signed up for a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture. Basically, it's a great way to get local, fresh, organic produce at a very low cost (if you're willing & able to pay everything up front). You buy a "share" of the farm prior to the growing season, and in return get approx. 24 weeks of fresh produce. Our particular farm also sells half-shares, which is perfect since the average weekly share feeds a family of four plus a little more to freeze or preserve. Anywho - if you have the urge to look at last year's bounty, click here. Both dlb and myself loved the constant flow of good veggies, and I in particular enjoyed trying to cook things I was previously not familiar with (like this and this and this!). So of course we signed up again this year. But wait... want to hear the COOLEST part? Our CSA is so awesome it made the March edition of Martha Stewart Living! For real.

This is our farm. We ate those greens!

The only sad thing about our CSA is that it's only June-November. Our winter was barren... at least until we found the Winter Buyers Co-op at the market where we used to pick up our CSA! The Winter Buyers Co-op is similar to the CSA but different. Check out the link for details, but basically we've been getting weekly produce again. Huzzah for fresh produce!

You go girl!

Check this out:

One of my friends posted this link on facebook (most likely joking, knowing the person), but it's a serious product with a serious website. I think it's pretty awesome. Although I have been more than capable at squatting when necessary, why squat when you can stand up with confidence?!?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Nikki's Healthy Cookie Recipe

So Wednesday night I tested out Nikki's Healthy Cookie Recipe which I stumbled upon recently on 101 Cookbooks. It was the perfect answer to three questions I had been pondering: 1. What am I going to do with the over-ripe banana on my kitchen table? 2. How can I use the almond meal sitting in the back of my fridge? 3. Is it possible to enjoy eating a dessert made without refined sugar? Now normally I would make banana bread with over-ripe bananas, but I wanted to try something new - and this recipe also gave me the excuse I needed to actually go out and buy a jar of coconut oil. It has been on my "to-buy" list for stocking a healthier, more natural pantry for awhile, but somehow it still seems rather scary. I've been told for so long that saturated fats are bad... and coconut oil is indeed a bit saturated. I'm sure I'll explore this whole-food thing more later, so I won't elaborate at the moment. You may also be thinking, "why would one have almond meal sitting in the back of one's fridge?" Well... the answer to that is going to make you think I'm even more nutty (ha ha). It's from making my own almond milk. Surprisingly easy once you get a nut milk bag. :) Right about now you realize I've been dappling a little in "crazy hippy dippy food practices" as my husband might say. He thinks I drink the Kool-Aid and that any day now I will be divorcing him for eating Velveeta Shells & Cheese (which is hilarious, because I much prefer the electric orange powdered version by Kraft). Anywho - you basically puree 1 cup almonds with 4 cups water in a blender and strain it through a very fine mesh bag to get almond milk (cheaper and less sugar-filled than store-bought). You are left with almond solids in your "nut-milk bag", which I was told many people use in baking as a flour substitute. So here I am with the perfect recipe!

Here's my feedback:
My cookies came out slightly dry (although after one day in a sealed container they have become moister). The recipe says that the batter might be slightly looser than normal cookie dough, and mine was rather thick & pasty. I think part of this was due to the fact that I only had ONE brown and over-ripe banana, to which I added 3 almost-ripe bananas to get the 1 1/2 cups. This factor also contributed to my second critique: they were less sweet than I would have liked. Feel free to state the obvious - that when you don't add any sugar (or even sweetener besides fruit), you are going to get something less sweet than normal cookies. But I think they would have been sweeter if all my bananas were over-ripe. And maybe also next time I would sauté them with a touch of maple syrup or agave nectar in intensify the flavor. If I were going the extra mile there I might also have toasted the almond meal before mixing it in. Indeed.

The awesome part: these cookies were high in chocolate content, and therefore very yummy. Due to the consistency & coconut content, they remind me a bit of Passover macaroons, but better. Tasty enough to make me freeze the rest of them so that I don't eat them all in one day. Overall - a great alternative for someone who is willing to make butter-less, egg-less, flour-less cookies. :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

born from frustration

Lately I have been spending a lot of my free time perusing the blogosphere. My google reader serves as the jump-off point, but with the hand-selected list of food, design, craft & environmental posts that pop up each day, there are plenty of links to click me off into oblivion.

I often make a mental connection between the posts & what I am doing (or more often, what I would like to be doing)... I star recipes to try or etsy shops to keep an eye on, but have not given myself the outlet of my own blog to follow my own goings-on.

The blog I kept during the bulk of graduate school and the first year of "real-life work" had a very sad death when the friend whose server hosted my site (somehow I thought myself too private for blogger) died a horrible death itself. I had not backed up any of my posts and basically lost 10 months of my daily(or sometimes weekly, occasionally only monthly) musings on life. My blog then was to keep loved ones in other states informed of "what was up with me," but had also served as a journal of sorts that I myself liked to flip back through every once in awhile. I was just a bit more than crushed to lose what I lost even though the close to 2 initial years of blogging prior to the missing 10 months had been preserved.

After all this - I wanted to start back up with a clean slate and potentially start more of a blogger's blog. You know - like where people who don't know you read about your life, or something particular that you do. At first it was obvious: a food blog. I have to start a food blog because I'm obsessed with food: the making, eating, buying and even growing of food. It should be easy to do. I've been photographing my vegetables (we're part of a CSA) for over a year now, and have been known to take pics of fun meals out or a recipe in progress for many more years still (my camera is on me at all times).

But then I think about the fact that I still want to tell people about the fun thing that I did last weekend; or list my spring cleaning goals for all to see (so come summer I would be more likely to have finished said goals!)... and although I see it all the time I feel like for some reason it's not allowed if you have a food blog. All things must relate to food!

Another part of me is wary about opening myself up to "the outside." My old blog had it's own site since I didn't want it randomly popping up when someone clicked "next blog" on blogger (does anyone really do that? I tried it once and the results were rather strange, to be polite). I shared it widely with existing friends and family, but wasn't looking for a larger audience. Will I be limited myself if I assume everyone in the world is reading my blog? (don't worry - my head is not that big... I just like to make sure anything I write is suitable for both my boss and my husband's grandmother as not to find myself without a job or happy in-laws!)

On the other hand, if all I talk about is food, I might loose some of the friends (as readers)who just want to hear what I'm up to and might get bored by weekly CSA vegetable updates.

In the end I think I'm just going to proceed with a "life" blog, which will be heavy on food content but also include notes on apartment organization updates or recent accomplishments in running (etc, etc). Among other things, I was rather inspired by the blog of an old friend of mine which I happily stumbled upon its creation this past year following her amazing wedding. While we appeared to be quite the pair of opposites in high school, we seem to share so much more in common now that we've found husbands and started our respective "grown-up" lives on opposite coasts. So a shout-out of thanks to Amy, whose recent increased frequency in posts has motivated me to get this thing up & running!

Whomever stumbles upon this and decides to stay awhile is welcome (I love comments!); I will try my best not to ramble & I also have an absolute minimum goal of weekly postings. After almost a year hiatus, I am back to blogging... and I'm thrilled to be here!