Food, Community And All Things Sustainable

September 30, 2008

Canning, canning

Ran out of freezer space long ago - probably mid July. So it's drying and canning for me. What's in those jars?

Sun dried tomatoes - Cherokee purple cherry tomatoes, yellow pears, and red cherry tomatoes
Tomato marmalades of all descriptions. Here's a great recipe to start off your tomato marmalade collection.
Pear chutney
Apple pear chutney
Citrus mango marmalade

Waiting on a load of grapes and tomatoes from Dr. Soozi's garden. Grape juice to start with - until we can figure out what to do with it. And stewed tomatoes.

I can't wait to dive into all these goodies when it's cold and freezy outside. Ohhhhhhh the taste of summer.

And then there's been the kefir, yogurt and mozzarella making episodes. More on them later.

September 4, 2008

Busy Putting Food By

I love this time of year - putting food by is a much loved activity for me. As a child, I loved helping put up pickles, and tomatoes, and corn, and relishes, and pickled beets, and bread and butter pickles, and lots, lots more. We'd work hard all day and sometimes late into the night. There'd always be a bit left over - not enough to fill a jar, so we would "have to" eat it.

Put up sauerkraut and pickles today. Open crock sauerkraut. Got the recipe from the Wild Fermentation book by Sandor Ellix Katz.

These pickles started out as the huge Hmong cucumber in the photo below. Egads! half a cuke filed a quart jar. These cukes are h-u-g-e!! For size comparison, the tomatoes are medium sized.

September 1, 2008

Summer food

What's your favorite summer food? Mine? Well, mine is whatever is available. I pretty much love it all - fresh corn on the cob, carrots, garlic, zucchini, patty pans, lemon grass, heirloom tomatoes, potatoes, beets, cukes, beans of all sorts, fennel, leeks, flowers, dill, parsley, cilantro, basil, farmstead cheeses, summer savory, rosemary, eggplant

And I love all the great dishes one can enjoy - fresh corn and tomato salsa with cilantro, grilled eggplant with summer savory, vinegars flavored with summer herbs, heirloom tomatoes topped with a slice of fresh homestead mozzarella and basil, lemon grass tea. And how about a vase of freshly picked flowers for the kitchen table?

July 22, 2008


Can't hardly keep up with the garden stuff. Way too much going on right now. The weather's great - for visiting the beach and flying the kite and swimming in the big lake, and dealing with the garden which is producing.

Yes, the gardens are producing! Check out my friend's croft - croft is a fancy word, well actually a scottish word - for a certain type of garden.

July 10, 2008


Ooooooooooh the garden's kickin' into high gear. The asparagus is put to rest until next season and look what's taken over!

Strawberries, I've consumed pounds and pounds of strawberries this past week - in every form imaginable. Strawberries and fresh whipped cream for a fourth of July treat, strawberries with home-made granola and fresh cream for breakfast, strawberry - rhubarb jam, strawberry jam, strawberries drizzled with local honey and some more of that fresh cream, strawberries dipped in golden granules of raw sugar, and strawberries right out of the box. I am in love with strawberry season. As a child, I relished the indescribable flavor of an ever-bearing variety of strawberries raised by my grandmother. Everbearing means the strawberry plant continues to produce throughout the summer, not just for the two to three weeks of the newer varieties. So we had strawberries all summer long and into fall. I'm hoping someone around here has such a variety. I hate to think that in another week or so strawberry season will be finished for this year.

And garden greens - Whoaaaaaa! I've been dining on the most fabulous of garden greens, all mixed together as fresh salads and maybe drizzled with a dab of olive oil, but not always. Close your eyes and imagine tasting heirloom leaf lettuces, baby spinach, wild spinach, amaranth leaves, chive blossoms, baby mustard greens, young kale, swiss chard and young cabbage and broccoli greens, chives, dandelion greens, fresh baby dill and oregano - all gently tossed together in a perfect array of summer colors and flavors, and served with freshly picked French breakfast radishes, and maybe a spring onion or two. Food fit for gods, truly it is.

June 28, 2008

It's a......cultural event

Wow! What an incredible day at the local farmers and artisans market - just imagine one of the largest farmers markets in the area coupled with a car show! Two dynamite events.

My friend J, a Hmong man who came to this area as a teenaged refugee over 20 years ago, sells egg rolls in the booth next to ours. He was surprised to see the turn out at the car show and asked me if I knew the anticipated attendance. I was surprised to hear him use the word "anticipated". I was unaware he knew the word - obviously his english skills have improved greatly in the past few years. So, we chatted about the anticipated attendance, and then he asked what is the purpose of this "car show" gathering?

I stumbled around just a bit trying to explain just what is a car show. J wanted to know if there was a money prize for the best car. At Hmong festivals there is frequently a cash prize for the best soccer team, or badminton team or dance team. He seemed puzzled when I told him no cash prize at this event.

Well, I thought I'd try to explain why the car show was such a big deal that hundreds of classic cars would show up along with thousands of admirers. So I pointed out a 60-something year-old lady who was dressed as a bobby soxer - hair in a pony tail held in place by the folded scarf, white shirt - untucked, of course, blue jeans rolled up into big cuffs, white socks and tennies. I said - that's how she would have dressed as a teenager in 1957 - and that car she's standing next to would have been a popular car in 1957. Ah, J said, nodding that now I get it head-nod. He said, "This is a cultural event - you are showing your children how you used to live."

Ah, yes. Although I've never quite heard of a car show referred to in that manner, J did indeed get it right - it's a .....cultural event.

June 22, 2008

Summer's here

What a joy to be enjoying the summer weather here on the peninsula jutting out into Lake Michigan - cooler near the lake. Warm enough for shorts, t-shirts and flip flops; but not hot enough to make one perspire. Breezy enough for flying kites at the beach and maybe enjoying a picnic lunch at the water's edge.

June 15, 2008


The bike is out of the shop and back home! What joy - now I can bike downtown to my favorite coffee shop and just ride for the pleasure of it. I don't know if it's just me, but there seems to be a lot more bikes on the roads these days.

Each Saturday I marvel at the number of bikes at the farmers' market and how the ingenious bikers stow their purchases. When the baskets or panniers are full, they turn to a back pack or a quickly purchased cloth market bag to sling over the handle bars. There's been plenty of rhubarb and tomato plants peeking out of baskets in the past couple weeks. I see that and I try to imagine what the rhubarb coffee cake or pie or cake with taste like. And how delicious those tomatoes will be.

June 4, 2008


Been noticing more bikes out and about lately. Not bikes on the bike trail along the lake– out for a spin so to speak. But bikes outfitted for hauling stuff, big basket on the front, rack on the back, and maybe even baskets or panniers on the back. Last week I was enjoying a spot of organic tea at a local coffee shop, just daydreaming, looking out the front window at nothing in particular. A bike goes by, outfitted for hauling. And, within minutes, another. And then, another. All in all 14 bikes went by while I watched from my window perch.

This all made me smile, yes, it did. Also made me anxious to get my bike back from the shop. The 1964 Raleigh Sport needed the spokes tightened, and the shop has lots of business from folks like me who are returning to biking. So I’m on the list, waiting my turn. I miss my bike.

Although I don’t currently own a cruiser, I love the feel of pedaling down the street on one. I had a cruiser as a county raised child. A bike I learned to ride on a cider driveway and tarred roads. Have had lots on cinders picked out of my knees. That bike was incredible, its big balloon tires carried me over field paths, through woods, and down to the local fishing and swimming holes. I could often be found pedaling down the country road with a stringer of blue gills and perch tied to the handle bars, gripping the fishing pole while the tackle box occupied the back rack. I was headed for home, knowing we’d be having fish for supper!

June 1, 2008

Farmers Market and Indie Musicians

I love our local farmers' market - well it's actually a farmers' and artisan's market. We had a great time in our section of the market - despite the windy conditions. If we weren't running to catch signs, we were running to catch other items that were blowing out of our stands. But all in all, it was a good day. We had good customer traffic, good sales (went home a lot lighter than we were upon arrival), and lots of folks stopped by to talk about raspberries, asparagus and looked at our rain barrels. And, of course, we got to smell all those good aromas coming from D Green's Outdoor Cafe.

Today was Becky's CD Release Party at Stumpjack. That gal sings like an angel. Nice crowd, good drinks and awesome music. Becky's Six Degree's partner, Bill, entertained us during Becky's break. He's an incredible musician. And then another guy played (sorry, didn't catch his name) - and Wow! another incredible musician. I love the Stump and all the indie musicians who share their talents with us. Can't wait for these indies to play at the farmers market!

May 27, 2008

Urban gardens, farmers markets and other fun stuff

Gardening season has started in earnest. I've heard from lots of folks that they planned to finish planting their gardens this past weekend - a Memorial Day tradition is this area. We had the perfect weather for gardening.

Had a lovely Memorial Day weekend: Saturday was spent at the farmers market. Sunday was breakfast at Stumpjack, conversation with two new friends, followed by a visit to the Hamilton Wood Type Museum. J & S came along to the museum, where we got a tour and watched our new Stumpjack friends printing with wood type on the hand operated printing presses. We also learned that HWTM will celebrate their 10th anniversary on Memorial Day weekend in 2009. Monday was the Memorial Day Parade followed by brunch at a dear friend's house in celebration of her birthday. Happy birthday K -- all the best to you!

The local farmers market is taking off. We had a good group of vendors and nice customer traffic. Lots of folks stopped at our vendor booth, chatted with us about gardening, and purchased items. I'm really liking the idea of collaborating with other (mostly) urban gardeners
and artisans so that we can offer some really unique wares at the farmers market. Works well for all concerned.

Wondering what you might find at our booth and at our farmers market? The list expands each week, but here's a sampling:

On Saturday we had in our vendor booth: maple syrup, asparagus, rhubarb, chives, bedding plants (asparagus roots, garlic, chives, raspberries), house plants, rain barrels, and other sustainably produced, repurposed wares.

You will also find the following items in other vendor booths: bedding plants, house plants, spring produce, eggs, doggie biscuits, handcrafted artisan wares (rag rugs, monkey sock dolls, yard art, candles, dish cloths & towels, art work, jewelry) and D Green's Outdoor Cafe - where one can get something good to eat and drink, whilst sitting down and visiting or playing a game! Our farmers market rocks!

May 23, 2008

The Great ATC Exchange

The Great ATC Exchange, 7:00 p.m. tonight at Stumpjack Coffee Company.

What a great idea Kim Persimmons Gal and David had when they came up with the Great ATC Exchange. They are geniuses. I've had such fun creating cards with all the bits of stuff hanging out in my studio.

We'll have fun tonight -- good friends, new friends, music by Kerry Michaels & Tom Reynolds, lots of ATCs to exchange, and good stuff to drink and eat. Who could ask for anything more?

Here's an ATC by quilting diva Colleen Ansbaugh - she's incredible!


And the music poster for our music tonight.............

May 20, 2008

Friends and urban gardens

Yesterday my friend S and I went over to our friend K's house to pick up some sweet grass, sprouted garlic and asparagus roots from her. Off course, we couldn't just do the pick up thing, we had to stay and chat. And that turned into tea and K showing us her latest issue of her favorite farm paper, which lead to more conversation and planning and lunch and more conversation. And three hours later, we had to leave. It was beginning to look like rain and S and I needed to plant that garlic in S's urban garden.

So over to S's house we go. I hit the garden and planted most of the garlic (we had each removed a few pieces to chop up and have for dinner), she made newspaper pots and transplanted some garlic into them. We'll be selling that at the farmers' market on Saturday. We got a lot done in an hour and then decided we'd reward ourselves with some ice cream from the local shoppe in the Washington House Museum. They have the best ice cream!

And then it was time to be off to the City Council meeting, where the urban gardening project was mentioned! I love how the city leaders are so supportive of urban gardening.

I just love the community in which I live, and am continually inspired by all the wonderful artists, business owners and just plain great people who work so hard to make this the incredible community it is.

May 18, 2008

Busy, busy

More vendors at the farmers' market -- fresh asparagus, eggs, honey, green onions, rhubarb and lots of bedding plants and perennials. I just love the vibrancy of a farmers' market in the spring!

And the Art & About Spring Gallery Tour was a total success! We had a great time at the Burtard Studio greeting customers and talking about our art - and selling some of it! And all the artist friends who stopped and spent some time with us. What great friends they are - I'm smiling right now thinking of how they appreciated our various works and encouraged us to continue on.

I'm all pumped for the next tour and have a couple 20 or so new sketches of items to start working on - the ideas never stop.

May 16, 2008

Outdoor Cafe

My friend D just let me know she's opening her Outdoor Cafe at our local farmers' market. I am so excited for her - and for us. Ready to eat food is so good at a farmers' market. What can be better than munching on some fresh bakery, chatting with friends while perusing market stalls, and buying fresh local produce and artisan goods?

I love our little market - well it's not so little. This year 50 vendors signed up, so it's a nice sized market, in a tree shaded park right down town. There's even a market stall with information about urban gardening - and supplies for urban gardening and more!

Visit your local farmers' market this weekend!

May 15, 2008

A dangerous ride to St. Vinny's

Just got back from a bike ride to St. Vinny's where I found a couple yards of incredible 1970's bright green fabric. It's getting washed right now and by tonight will be a new tote. I just love turning old cast off fabrics and notions into cute totes, laptop sleeves, ipod carriers, purses and such.

Wondering about the dangerous part - well, there's an intersection between my place and St. Vinny's that is known for inattentive, in-a-rush drivers who don't yield to bikes or pedestrians.

Well there's one dude driving a big white truck who I don't think will want to turn right on red again, and expect a biker/pedestrian with the walk light to yield to him. He got instructions on who has the right of way at that intersection - all delivered full volume while I was scrawling down his licence plate number, his description and his vehicle description - he even told me what year the vehicle was when I barked the question at him. I hope he's scared enough to never try that stupid human trick again. And me - I'll be walking the bike through that intersection. God am I glad for good brakes!

Finding that fabric sure made my day. Just putting the finishing touches on my "stuff" for a gallery tour this weekend and for our urban gardening stand at the local farmers & artisans market.

May 6, 2008

Spring on the Lake

Ahhhhhh! Spring has arrived - the temps are climbing and there's just a bit of a breeze off the lake, just enough to fly a kite. And the asparagus is up. It's so delicious that I've eaten every bit I purchased at the farmers' market on Saturday. Good thing I have a chance for some more at the Wednesday farmers' market, provided I get there early enough.

Busy, busy today upcycling fabrics into totes, purses and credit card/business card pouches. I've taken the plung with my good friend Soozee, we're selling our "stuff" at the local farmers' market. We are both aficianados of all things recycled and upcycled and urban gardening. So we're takin' our gig to the market. I love farmers' markets and all they have to offer.

May 3, 2008

Farmers' Market Open Today

I really should stay home and clean or wash clothes or something, but it's opening day at the local farmers' market - and I wouldn't miss that for anything!

It feels so good to shake off the winter doldrums, and see what wonders our local growers have coaxed from the cool spring earth. I'm hoping for asparagus and maybe some eggs, too.

Then I'll have to stop at Stumpjack and show them what I bought. And of course, have a coffee drink and a splendid cookie made by Jin. And possibly I'll phone my pal S and coax her to come down and join me.

I'm off............

May 1, 2008

Urban Garden Gathering

Urban gardening is a passion of mine. Some of my BFFs are putting on an Urban Gardening gathering & seminar next week.

Gathering day today with some of my best ever girlfriends for coffee and fun, and I'll bet some planning for future gatherings.

We're foodies, urban gardeners or artisans. I love all these gals - they are such incredible women. They don't know each other, although I know each of them. Let the talkin' begin..................

Local Earth Day activities have propelled some folks in our community into action. My good pal Soozee and I are putting on an Urban Gardening seminar/gathering at our favorite hangout - Stumpjack Coffee Company. So exciting!

Watch for a poster, I'll get one up as soon as it's finalized.

Now for some chai and an incredible treat from Jin - I'm so glad David & Kim sell her goddess food at the Stump.

April 22, 2008

Blooming Radishes

I just love the moniker Blooming Radishes. I guess that comes from my love of great foods. I used raise produce to sell at a local farmers' market, and would start off the season with at least ten varieties of radishes. Some were heirlooms, around since the 1840's; others were local favorites - French breakfast, Easter egg, sparklers. Some Saturdays over 200 bunches would be sold in a couple hours. Nothing like fresh local produce - and radish sandwiches (good quality bread, fresh creamery butter, sliced radishes and a sprinkle of sea salt) - yummy!

Happy Earth Day. I remember the first one, has it been 38 years already, Gaylord?