Eating Local for Urban Families. Gluten-free and Dairy-free, too!

Wednesday, July 9

Extreme Consumerism!

Extreme Consumerism: Eating What Only Grows Around You

I was featured in this article on MSN last month about local eating. It's a great article, the other subjects are interesting people and it was super cool to be included with Alisa Smith, co-author of Plenty.

It's always a little strange for me to be reported on since I'm usually the one asking people the questions. I'm always concerned with being clear and giving useful information. And this interview was a challenge. Allison Linn, the reporter and another work-at-home mama, was so accommodating during the interview. Picture this: kids banging on my office window trying to show me their flower bouquets, my bookkeeper asking me where I'd spent that $12.07 last Thursday, trying to catch up on the mountain of paper files that needed sorting. And I'm pretty sure there was at least one emergency knee scrape (with blood!) in there somewhere. I ended the call not sure what I'd said. But it came out alright. In fact, Alison did a good job of capturing my voice.

(One nit: I certainly don't eat only within 100 miles. With produce I strive for Oregon and Washington, but sometimes have to resort to Cali during the really cold months. And considering our gluten-free needs, there's still plenty of packaged foods, like breads and baking mix, in our diet.)

The comments on Newsvine about this article range from inspiring to thoughtful to confused to crass. And crazy. Good reading.

Tuesday, July 8

Almost too pretty to drink: Mint + Rose Infusion

This gorgeous infusion is inspired by a recipe from Gayla at You Grow Girl in her book by the same name. (Did you know you can also follow her on twitter? Follow @yougrowgirl.)

The recipe is basically this:
1. Put some edible herbs (like mint, lavender, lemon balm) in a clean jar.
2. Cover with tepid water.
3. Set the jar out in the sun for 3 - 6 hours. Viola! Tea.
From this process you get a subtly infused tea. Gayla recommends this method over boiling the herbs as extreme heat can bring out bitter oils in the plants and ruin the infusion.

Also, make sure the plants are clean and take the tea inside after about 6 hours and put it in the fridge, so you don't get bacteria buildup.

A friend gave me a giant container of edibles in the spring and it included spearmint. Guess what I've now got coming out of my ears? Mint is practically a weed, it grows so quickly and is so aggressive. (Good thing I love mohitos.) If you want to grow it, and I absolutely recommend it for its versatility (and mohitos), just make sure you always keep it in a container!

One new thing I learned about mint this year is you have to use the top 6 inches of leaves and leave the rest behind--they older leaves are too bitter. I found this out by unwittingly giving a "mature" leaf to Clara and listening to the resulting whining and gagging for about a half hour.

My infusion is a little tender, meaning the flavor is light. I'm not sure if this is normal or if perhaps I need to use petals from newer rose flowers. Thoughts? The mint is definitely the dominant flavor, and the rose is there if you look for it. It's very refreshing on its own and a bit of a treat with a touch of simple syrup.
Honestly, I think my favorite thing about this little recipe is how pretty it looks while it's "cooking."

Well, hello there.

I honestly didn’t mean to be away for 9 months. Was I hibernating? In a way.

When I stopped blogging last fall I was transitioning from post-baby, part-time working life to full-time working again. Yowza. I thought I was easing into it but, as a good friend told me recently, work is like water: it will seep in everywhere if you let it. My blogging time got eaten up with client work, networking and business development. We went through a few nannies (that was fun). I’d been a full-time working mama before, but with two kids, and running my consultancy all on my own this time was really different. I was discombobulated.

And I was obsessing about food. A lot.

Not the kind of obsessing that women do when they’re trying to lose weight. But I was back in that place where I was feeling like the very existence of human life depended on my food choices. And other people’s food choices. And I was getting judgmental--of myself and everyone around me. And that wasn’t a good place to be. That’s the antithesis of what this blog is about.

So I took a break. Not entirely from local eating (though there has been a lot of Thai take-out now that there’s a new place down the street!), but from writing about it. I wondered if I would ever get back. And then, after I explained my absence, Shuna Fish Lydon (you know, my giant foodie-writer crush) sent me a little note on Facebook saying, “We'll be happy to have you back.” So I just decided to take my time.

In the meantime some of you were still discovering this blog and I’ve been so happy to get your emails (thank you!). And some of you stopped me in the grocery store and asked me when I’d be back. I can’t tell you how much the inspired me to at least keep thinking about writing.

I feel like there’s so much to catch up on. But I’ll pace myself.

For now, I’ll post this picture of my first strawberry freezer jam of the season, the same recipe that got me started on this local eating road (oh, and the recipe is below, too). Yes, it was a tad overcooked (hazard of making jam while updating client budgets), but I didn’t hear any complaints.

Small Batch Freezer Jam
-about 2 pints of berries, washed
-about 1/2 cup sugar
-1 tsp. lemon juice (optional)
1. On medium heat, combine berries, sugar and lemon juice in a wide pan or pot. Stir frequently and do not let the mixture boil (a few bubbles is okay). Depending on water content of the berries cook time can be 30 - 90 minutes.
2. While jam is cooking, place a small dish or bowl in the freezer. You'll use this to test the jam's thickness.
3. When jam seems like it's thickened to *almost* jam consistency, put a dallop on your cold bowl or plate and see if the jam firms up to a finished jam feel. If yes, you're done. If it's runny, cook a little longer.

Edited to add:
Oopsa daisy. Left out the final step! This is what happens when you post to your blog in the middle of the night. Thank you, commenters!
4. Store the jam in the fridge for up to about 2 weeks (I dare you to make it last that long) or for 6+ months in the freezer. Again, likely it won't make it to that mark. ;)