Posts tagged: real food

Late-August Vegetable Garden Tour

By , August 26, 2019

Hello!

It’s a busy time of year in my garden; in late August the produce is really starting to flood in, meaning a LOT of kitchen time between now and October!

All the time and effort spent thus far in my garden is really starting to pay off though. We have our own private organic farmer’s market just outside the back gate! Here, I’ll show you…

Let’s start in the fruit “orchard” where we have one apple tree, two peach trees, and three or four grape vines. Believe it or not, these are two of the peach trees I started from seed, documented in this post from 9 years ago! I make the grape jam that I love from the grapes, and have been starting to use our cut-up Winesap apples as the fruit in my morning green shake. Later on, I’ll make big batches of applesauce with them.

Standing at the North end of the garden:

Standing at the South end of the garden:

Celery:

Honeydew melons:

Watermelons:

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Photo Tour of The Good Life Center: Helen and Scott Nearing’s Forest Farm in Harborside, Maine

By , July 19, 2019

Care and artistry are worth the trouble. They can be a satisfaction to the practitioner and a joy to all beholders.

-Helen Nearing

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In early August of last year I visited Forest Farm with my family on a special trip to Maine, and it was one of the top highlights of the entire trip. What a special place; I didn’t want to leave. Forest Farm was the entirely hand-built homestead of Helen and Scott Nearing, authors of many books including the classics Living the Good Life: How to Live Sanely and Simply in a Troubled World and its sequel Continuing the Good Life: Half a Century of Homesteading. (Still relevant! The value of old books… see previous post.) My copy of Living the Good Life came down to me via my dad, from his mother many years ago. Growing up, his family would take beloved summer vacations to isolated Harborside, Maine and they would hear about the “commie” Nearings who lived nearby. Helen and Scott’s door was always open to those interested in observing, helping, and learning, and Forest Farm still welcomes visitors as The Good Life Center, carrying on the Nearings’ tradition of sharing and showing.

I took many photos! Are you ready for a visit?

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Driving to The Good Life Center through tiny Harborside:

Arriving at the Nearings’ driveway. It was a peaceful, hot, still, muggy afternoon here.

It was very quiet; bees buzzing, small waves lapping the shore in the cove across the street. A few other visitors sifted through while we were there. You just park and amble in. Very laid back, you’re welcome to wander and stay as long as you like, soaking it all in.

This is the caretakers’ cottage over the summer:

Helen and Scott’s beautiful hand-built stone house:

 

Here is a photo of Helen doing the stonework:

Let’s go in. Here’s their kitchen — an airy, light-filled, feel-good space:

Those were the beautiful bowls and spoons they used.

Here are their mugs:

Here’s their kitchen as it was:

Helen and Scott on the right:

Now we walk into the living room, with a cozy wood-burning stove, book shelves lining the walls, and a wonderful view of the surrounding forest and out to their cove:

Here’s more of the house; this area is used as the little bookshop now. Visitors aren’t allowed upstairs to the bedroom but you can peek up the stairwell:

Here’s their original sign:

Let’s go out to the garden and greenhouse now. There’s a little apple orchard in the protected area between the house and the walled garden:

Here’s that lovely walled vegetable garden:

Behind the greenhouse:

Overlooking the walled garden toward the house and greenhouse:

Compost piles on the left, outside the garden:

The rest of the land is forested. There are some walking trails you can take through tall trees, ferns, tall grasses, and dappled shade.

Here’s their cove across the street:

And here’s the mission statement of The Good Life Center:

That concludes our visit to Forest Farm. I hope you enjoyed it!

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Just up the road is Four Season Farm, owned by Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch — names you might recognize if you’re a gardener. The land was once part of the Nearings’.

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Dawn Chorus Herbal Tea Recipe for Spring

By , April 7, 2019

It is Spring. Brown and barren, with the greenery of hyacinth bulbs barely beginning to nose up through the dry soil. Now and then, a wet snowstorm, slush, and mud. This is Early Spring in Colorado, giving way to a period of ephemeral, rarefied beauty that makes it difficult to keep eyes on the road as one drives around a city. Millions of fragrant light pink, dark pink, and white crabapple blossoms filling tree after tree, petals fluttering in every direction on the breeze. Fuchsia redbud trees in protected corners with an iridescent glow on gray days. Cheerful tulips and hyacinth and green grass in front yards. Bushes bowing heavily with lilacs. Fresh spring rain showers. Robins, finches, sparrows, blue jays, flickers — nearly constant birdsong from dawn until dusk. What a feast for our senses.

It is around this time that this winter-lover’s eyes begin to really crave green. It is so nice to see the green!!

I have also rediscovered an old favorite herbal tea blend called Dawn Chorus — it’s a nice one for Spring. Mountain Rose Herbs gets the credit for this one, but it’s such a simple blend that I reverse-engineered a recipe for it quite a while ago. Mountain Rose is so often out of stock on stuff and their shipping is so expensive, that I stopped using them — but I still love this tea blend. My own recipe might have more rose petals in it, which is even nicer than the original.

Dawn Chorus tea blend:

1 part green rooibos (or red rooibos, for a taste that’s different but every bit as good in this blend)

1 part stinging nettles leaf, dried

1 part rose petals, dried

Mix together.

Put a heaping teaspoon into an infuser* in your mug. Add boiling water, steep for 5-10 minutes, squeeze out, add milk!

Then sit down and enjoy it. I am a big tea drinker. A chain tea drinker. I used to have a rule where I had to sit down while I drank my cup of tea. Over time, the rule faded and I’d be up chopping vegetables between sips of tea, starting a load of laundry with a cup of tea in my hand, going out to get the mail with my cup of tea, cleaning up and taking things from room to room with my cup of tea, writing emails with my cup of tea. I’ve recently decided to follow this rule again, most of the time. Taking that quiet moment feels good.

*Infusers! There are so many crappy ones. My favorite is the People’s Brew Basket in stainless steel (made by Republic of Tea — I get this locally at the health food store for about $3.50) and this one which is good for wide mugs. Fill-able tea bags are also sold, but you can make your own with coffee filters like this:

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Green Smoothie: Pineapple-Banana-Spinach-Chia

By , February 7, 2016

Green smoothie, (c) The Herbangardener

I made up this green smoothie recipe a couple weeks ago and it’s becoming a favorite. Not too elaborate, tastes good, just right. The proportions are easy so I’m pretty much guaranteed a tasty result.

Pineapple-Banana-Spinach-Chia Green Smoothie

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Half a pineapple – Cut off the rind, and cut into chunks.*

1 banana

1 Tbsp chia seeds soaked in 2/3 cup water**

1 handful (5 medium) ice cubes

~1/2 cup cold water (in addition to what chia soaked in)

3 oz of fresh spinach (One big handful)

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Put everything except the spinach into your blender. Begin blending. About half way thru, add the spinach. Finish blending and serve.

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* If you’ve got a good blender, like a Vitamix, include the core of the pineapple since there’s nutrition in it.

** The way I do chia is add the chia seeds and water to a small jar, shake the jar, leave on the counter all day or overnight, shaking a couple times, then pop into the fridge to wait for the next time I make a smoothie. If you’re doing the chia then and there, soak for 10 or 15 minutes before adding to the blender.

Green smoothie ingredients, (c) The Herbangardener

Soaked chia seeds, (c) The Herbangardener

Green smoothie (c) The Herbangardener

Green smoothie ingredients, (c) The Herbangardener

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Kitchen Tip: Freeze your extra eggs

By , January 9, 2015

(c) The Herbangardener, Freeze eggs

Did you know? You can most certainly freeze eggs! I’ve never read about this handy tip but I’m sure others have done it. For the past year I’ve been freezing my extra eggs and they turn out great. I use them mostly in baking, but also for scrambled eggs or an omelet.

And let’s not think about Easter yet, but this is a great thing to do with the contents of the eggs you blow out for your Easter Egg Tree.

Here’s how I freeze them:

1. Crack egg into a small plastic container. Snap the top on and shake it until the egg is scrambled.

(c) The Herbangardener, Freeze eggs

2. With the top still on, place in the freezer till frozen solid.

3. Remove from the freezer, and let the container stand on the counter till it’s melted just enough to pop the egg-disc out.

(c) The Herbangardener, Freeze extra eggs

4. Place into a freezer bag. Thaw at room temperature whenever you need an egg!

(c) The Herbangardener, Freeze extra eggs

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(c) The Herbangardener, Cat sniffs eggs

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Yay garden!

By , August 30, 2013

And of course, no post is complete without…

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Japanese Squash and Soba Soup

By , January 27, 2013

This soup is incredible; I could hardly stop eating it. It’s light and different and so flavorful, and it’s quick to make.

It’s based upon this recipe from Martha Stewart Living magazine, except I leave out the tofu — and even the soba noodles could easily be optional, as they add more in the way of texture and filler, rather than flavor. The real flavor is from the broth, squash, mushrooms, and scallions. Just like that it is absolutely delicious, and would be a good Paleo dish to add to your repertoire.

Japanese Squash & Mushroom Soup

5 cups water (for out of this world soup, use bone broth — either beef or chicken bones simmered for many hours in water)

3/4 oz dried kombu seaweed (kelp)

1/3 cup dried bonito flakes, lightly packed

2 Tbsp soy sauce, plus more for seasoning (I highly recommend Ohsawa Organic Nama Shoyu!)

1 lb kabocha, buttercup, or butternut winter squash, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice

3 1/2 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced if large

8 oz soba noodles, preferably 100% buckwheat (feel free to cut down to 4 oz, or even leave these out altogether)

Scallions, thinly sliced for garnish

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Boil water and kombu together in a large saucepan. Remove from heat, stir in bonito flakes, and let sit 5 minutes.

Pour through a fine sieve into a bowl, and return liquid (it’s now called “dashi”) to pan. Discard solids, or save only the kombu to reuse.

Add the soy sauce, squash, and mushrooms to the dashi. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the squash is tender. Stir it now and then if you think of it.

While the soup is cooking, cook the soba noodles separately. This is important since 100% buckwheat soba, especially, will turn its cooking water murky and starchy-slimy. So, bring water to a boil (salted or not, your choice) and cook the soba according to the package, about 7 or 8 minutes. Don’t overcook it. When it’s done, drain and rinse in cold water — to stop the cooking and rinse away the starch.

Ladle the soup into bowls, add the soba noodles, and top with scallions. Serve with soy sauce at the table in case anyone would like to add more.

Eat!! Yum!!

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Free Shipping at Tropical Traditions! (thru Monday Jan 28th)

By , January 26, 2013

It’s Free Shipping at one of my very favorite companies, Tropical Traditions, so it’s a good time to stock up, or try them out if you haven’t before. I really love this company’s products, and use them daily. Now through Midnight EST on Monday January 28th, they’re offering free ground-only shipping when you order a minimum of $16, and enter coupon code 28113 at checkout.

I’m going to restock my supply of powdered laundry detergent this time around…

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(See below for my favorite items.)

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And if you’re a new customer and have never bought from them before, you can also get this Virgin Coconut Oil book, with information  & recipes, for free (any time, not just today) by entering my User ID, which is 6032410. When you’re going through the checkout process and you’ve added your shipping address and phone number, you will see the question “How did you hear of us?” Just choose “Referred by a friend” and then a new “User ID” field will appear below that where you can enter my User ID. (See screen shot below.)

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Here are my favorite items:

Moisturizing lotion – I use this every day on my face and hands. It’s the most luxurious stuff, and very gentle since it has only a few wholesome ingredients. Definitely my all-time favorite lotion.

Moisturizing cream – Much thicker than the lotion, this is another favorite. Also great for use on face and hands.

Virgin organic coconut oil – Great for cooking, eating, and also for skin! Has a much better taste than other unrefined coconut oils I’ve tried. I just love this stuff.

Organic raw honey – This is the best-tasting honey I’ve ever had. I like to buy and taste lots of different honeys, and this one always wins, hands down. When I first tried it, my eyes got big and my mouth dropped open; it just has the most amazing taste! Quintessential, flowery honey taste. This honey is a staple in our house!

Coconut cream concentrate – I love this stuff. LOVE it. The “format” is a little strange, because when you receive it,  it will have settled out into a hardened layer of coconut oil and a layer of dried/finely ground coconut meat. You’ll wonder what to do with it at first; what I do is put the jar into a pan of simmering water and let it sit there until the contents have softened and liquefied, and then I can easily stir it up. Then, I put it in the fridge until it’s hardened again. Once hardened, you can then store it in the fridge or at room temperature (it won’t separate again unless it gets really hot in your house). I usually just eat this stuff plain, it’s so good; I break it into chunks with a knife, and eat it as a snack. Sometimes I’ll eat it dipped in the raw honey, which is a very decadent and extremely delicious snack!!!

Organic Maple Syrup — Delicious, and it’s the Grade B type, which I prefer since it has deeper flavor and more nutrients than Grade A.

Laundry Detergent – This detergent is all we use, now that I’ve discovered it. It works very well, gets the stains out, and lasts a long time, making this a very economical purchase.

Oxygen Bleach – Like OxyClean. If you need a tough stain-fighter/deodorizer for laundry and everywhere else around the house.

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Now, I’ve also tried their organic bar soap, and though it was really nice soap, Hubby and I have never seen a bar of soap get used up so fast! It was weird. It just seemed like it was gone in record time. So I wouldn’t get it again. (Though my mom has the liquid soap and really loves it.) I haven’t tried every single product that they sell…but the ones I listed above, I make sure to never run out of!

Also, I bought the Atchara once out of curiosity, and it was extremely strong (even for this vinegar lover!), and a little weird. Not quite a favorite.

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Stewed Figs

By , December 7, 2012

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If you find yourself with some fresh figs on hand, try stewing them. They’re a nice little treat.

Cut them into pieces, and cook in a saucepan with a bit of water. Add a good squeeze of fresh orange juice if you like, and maybe a quick dash of salt.

Simmer, covered, until the figs are tender and the water is nearly gone — about 15-20 minutes.

I tossed a sprig of fresh rosemary into this batch. It added a nice flavor but don't use too much or let it cook for too long or it will impart a bitterness.

Serve plain… or topped with pepitas… alongside yogurt… or on a salad.

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