Sunday, August 31, 2014

Quote for the Day

"Bite the worms.  They won't hurt nearly as much as the insecticide does."
~David Brower

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Habits Are Hard to Break

I started typing (as it was called back in the day) when I was in elementary school and took typing classes throughout middle school and high school. We were always taught to put two spaces after a period that ends a sentence. Imagine my surprise when I entered grad school and learned that we would be using the APA citation style and that one of the rules was one space at the end of a sentence. I thought it was either something specific to that form of citation (I had always used MLA or Chicago) or something new with the advent of personal computers.  

But that's not true. Actually, it was always proper to just have one space at the end of a sentence. I recently ran across this article in Slate  which cleared up the confusion for meIt was with the introduction of typewriters that two spaces were required. The reason was that with type setting, the letters are proportional (that is, an "m" takes up more space than an "l." However, with early and most typewriters, the letters are all the same size and the extra space was to make it easier to read. Not so with computers and word processors as the finished product is proportional like type setting.. 

After all these years of typing/keyboarding, it's hard to teach an old dog this "new" trick. But I'm working on it. In fact, after I typed this very post, I had to go back and eliminate the extra spaces. 

Maybe one day I'll do a post on the Oxford comma which also confused me due to grammar lessons in grade school conflicting with term paper requirements in college.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wellness Wednesday

As a regular (should I say obsessive?) tea drinker, I love this infographic on the health benefits of daily tea consumption:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Trusting Corporations to Feed the World

American Goldfinch
It's really sad that we have become so dependent upon Big Ag - and all the associated "safe" chemicals - to feed us. Trusting large corporations to do the right thing for customers is really a bit silly when you think about it. Because corporations are profit driven and by law must always make decisions based on how they will affect shareholders - not the customer.

Since I've tended to shun the news over the last year or so, I'm not up to date on many goings on in the world. However, I stumbled upon a 2012 article in The Guardian that reinforces my belief that corporations are not to be trusted with our food, especially when they use the latest-greatest-technology. To paraphrase the great Humphrey Bogart, "I'm shocked, shocked, to learn that there was poisoning going on."

Scott's Micracle-Gro plead guilty to knowingly selling bird seed treated with pesticides to prevent insect damage during long-term storage.  This bird seed killed wild birds. Did you get that? Knowingly poisoned the birds. Apparently, employees alerted the company to the problem as early as 2007 and yet nothing was done.  

Management chose to ignore warnings from its scientists.  It would affect profits, after all. 73 million packages of poison bird seed was sold - and only 2 million were recalled. That's a lot of money riding on doing the right thing - destroying the poisoned food - or turning a blind eye and making profits for the shareholders. How many wild birds (and probably other creatures) were needlessly killed for corporate profit? Dare we trust this company (or any other) to make products that we put in gardens where we grow our food and on lawns where our children play? (And here's another earlier "oops" by Scotts Miracle-Gro just to show they're not very good about following rules.)

If corporations will poison birds for profit (and lie about it when caught), it really should make us pause to consider what they will do (and are doing) to food for human consumption. Let's start a revolution; let's start feeding ourselves organically, depending on home gardens, community gardens, and local farmers to put food on our table. Not corporations that knowingly poison the planet.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday Morning Amazement

Usually I save Monday Morning Amusement/Amazement for something humorous or incredibly over the top. Today I'm sharing this meme (seen on Ecogrrl's site and pinned on Pinterest) because our throw away society truly amazes me sometimes. Something to think about:

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Quote for the Day

"We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be."
~May Sarton

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Farm Saturday

Despite unseasonably cool and wet weather, it has been a great week on the farm. We had a good number of orders for deliveries, met some new customers, and today was a busy day at the market where we sold almost all that we brought.

I'm now feeling like a mushroom forager extraordinaire. Two weeks ago I discovered what turned out to be an edible mushroom called a cauliflower mushroom. Earlier this week I spied an interesting variety of mushroom and decided to harvest it to take to our friends at the market. I did some research and thought I knew what it was but of course I wanted to make sure. It turned out to be a chicken of the woods (aka sulfur shelf or sulfur mushroom:
I also found yet another variety growing and I was pretty sure they were chanterelles. A couple of years ago I thought I discovered some, but after some research determined that they were the poisonous lookalike called Jack O'Lantern. Now that I've found the real thing, I don't know how I could have mistaken the poisonous ones for the edible ones as they really don't look alike. Here's some more of the lovelies coming in:
Now there are three varieties of wild mushrooms that are easy for me to identify and that I know I can eat - plus the shiitakes we grow! We also did some bartering with our market friends who helped identify the mushrooms and ended up with two oyster mushroom logs and some black tea/hibiscus kombucha in exchange for a piece of the chicken of the woods.  The joys of homesteading!

Have a great weekend!*

*Postscript:  We went mushroom foraging this evening.  We found some blue milk cap mushrooms (edible but not necessarily tasty).  However, the best news is that we discovered several large patches of tiny chanterelles!  We'll keep an eye on those spots - plus I've read that they will come back in the same spot if the ground containing the mycelium is undisturbed.  Every cloud has a silver lining and now we know what to do when it's too wet to farm.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wellness Wednesday

For the past few months, I've tried to avoid the typical reaction to headaches and other minor aches and pains - grabbing an over-the-counter pain killer. Instead, I've been using white willow bark, which is the substance that aspirin was originally derived from. It seems to work. And whether it works medically or is a placebo effect doesn't really matter - because it works for me. Here's an infographic from Dr. Mercola, showing us the dangers of commonly used pain killers, also known as NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs):
It's interesting to see how many people are hospitalized - and die - each year from using NSAIDS. If a natural supplement was linked to similar statistics - white willow bark, for instance, it would immediately be removed from store shelves and outlawed. Instead of reaching for that bottle of chemical pills for minor aches and pains, try a natural solution instead.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Quote for the Day

"The first wealth is health."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, August 15, 2014

Farm Friday

We're entering a transition season on the farm. As some of our gardens die down, we're starting seedlings for our fall crops. Our squash, zucchini, and cucumber garden is done for the year. Our tomato and green bean garden is done, but we have another one that is almost ready to produce. Watermelons are in (and delicious) and our customers have raved about the taste. The eggplant is amazing and the best we've ever had. This summer we have truly been eating seasonally - almost everything we eat is directly from the garden.  

Last week we discovered an interesting mushroom:
We took it to a fellow vendor at the market - who also happens to be a chef - thinking it was a maitake. He immediately shot that idea down but said he was pretty sure it was edible.  After some research and consulting with another vendor who has wild mushroom knowledge, we were told its a cauliflower mushroom, which is in the same family as the maitakes (and has no poisonous lookalikes - very important). So I cleaned it, sliced it up, and sauteed it in butter. Yum! Now we will keep an eye out for these delicious fungi.  In the meantime, our shiitakes are really starting to come in!

We had another first on the farm - we harvested some of our grapes. This year the black rot and the birds weren't able to get to the all, so Bill picked a few clusters and made some grape jam!

We've added another delivery stop on Wednesdays - a medical clinic. We have two physicians who have been ordering from us and this week I briefly met their office manager and gave her our farm information to share. Looking back to the very beginning, when I tried to sell our excess produce alongside my crafts at the farmers' market and was regarded as a freak, it's amazing to see how far this community has come. As more and more individuals become aware of the serious problem with our food system and/or are diagnosed with serious, chronic illnesses, the local and chemical-free food that we sell is becoming more popular.  We're excited to see how things are going for us and for other local, chemical-free farms.

I've been a bit worried about the butterflies lately.  We have two butterfly bushes plus some wild butterfly weed that are completely covered with butterflies at some point during the summer. This year - nada. During our walk last night, I was saddened when I realized the butterfly weed was no longer blooming and so wouldn't feed any butterflies this year. All I could think about was how our toxic brew that we've created here on earth had eliminated butterflies in our area. However, yesterday morning, while I was waiting for a customer to meet me at the farm house to pick up an order, I saw some tiger swallowtails.  Yay - they're back!  And better late than never.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wellness Wednesday

Robin Williams 2011a (2).jpg
Normally I focus on physical health in my Wednesday post. However, this week we lost a light in the world when the comic genius Robin Williams committed suicide, so I thought I'd share a little information on depression and suicide.  

First of all, depression is extremely difficult to recover from. Those who suffer from depression think it will last forever and don't see any hope. Go here to read about how difficult it is to climb out of depression. It may help you understand yourself or someone you care about. Secondly, suicide not selfish. I've heard that comment before because the survivors are left to pick up the pieces.  However, a person who commits suicide is anything but selfish.  Someone who has fallen into the black hole of depression does think of others, hangs in there for a while, then believes that suicide is the best option for everyone. Here's an article about it. Lastly, help is available for those suffering from depression and considering suicide.  Most of the time there are warning signs when someone is contemplating suicide.  The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has compiled a list of risk factors and warning signs to look for, as well as ways to help.  Most importantly, if you're experiencing depression, seek professional help, and if you have a loved-one who seems depressed, take the signs seriously and be there for them.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Taste of Tuesday

The weather here has been strange lately - chilly, rainy, overcast - which is not conducive to growing tomatoes, watermelons, and other summer crops.  However, our eggplant continues to flourish despite a triple whammy during the seedling stage:  flea beetles, Colorado potato beetle larvae, and Japanese beetles.  So I'm sharing another eggplant recipe that I discovered and made last week.  It will go into our "favorites" stack:
Onion-Eggplant Soup Provenรงale

2 large onions, thinly sliced and separated into rings
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
4 cups water
1 small eggplant, peeled and chopped (about 4 cups)
1 small summer squash or zucchini, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
½ cup brown rice
1/3 cup tomato paste
¼ cup dry red wine
3 vegetable bouillon cubs
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil, crushed or 1 ½ tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ cup orzo or other small pasta, cooked and drained
4 thin slices French or other crusty bread, lightly toasted
Olive oil
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, cook the onion in the butter or olive oil until tender but not brown. Add the water, eggplant, squash, brown rice, tomato paste, red wine, bouillon cubes, garlic, basil, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables are very tender and rice is done. Stir in the cooked pasta and heat through. Lightly brush each slice of bread with olive oil. To serve, ladle soup into individual bowls, place one bread slice on top of each serving, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bon appetit!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Quote for the Day

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."
~Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, August 8, 2014

Farm Friday

This week proved to be another good week.

One of the highlights was learning that we are finalists in Bon Appetit Management Company's Grant program! Out of the 171 applicants, 25 were chosen - 5 in each region - and we are one of them. On September 23, customers at their cafes will be voting to select 2 winners in each region.  If you are in our region (Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida), you can vote at Averett University in Danville, Virginia; Duke University in Durham, North Carolina; or Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida (my alma mater!).  They may have other cafes but these are the ones I know about right now. For details about our grant application and the voting procedure, go here.

We also got 4 new goats:  Valerie, Rose, Abraham, and Maxwell. All except Maxwell are extremely friendly. In fact, Valerie and Abraham behave like dogs, standing next to us just for some petting and attention. Here are the new additions (photo credits to my hubby):

Rose and Maxwell in the foreground
Rose (l) and Maxwell (r)
This past Tuesday was "corn day." We harvested and processed all of the corn. We didn't grow enough to sell this year so it was all ours. Fortunately, our interns/friends were here to help.  

The summer crops are slowly winding down, although you can't tell from all the eggplant and tomatoes we're getting! Bill has started some of the fall plants in trays and will transplant them to the gardens soon. He'll also broadcast seed for those that don't need to be transplanted. We're really looking forward to a bountiful fall!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wellness Wednesday

Potato Texture
Potatoes have long been demonized as an unhealthy vegetable.  However, potatoes are actually very good for you.  Medical News Today details the nutrients contained in these tubers and how each one is beneficial to good health.  Potatoes help with:

  • Bone Health
  • Blood Pressure
  • Heart Health
  • Inflammation
  • Cancer
  • Digestion and Regularity
  • Weight Management and Satiety
  • Metabolism
  • Skin

For details, read the article here.  Remember to buy organic or chemical-free potatoes as potatoes are one of the worst vegetables for chemical contamination.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Taste of Tuesday

This year we've had the most beautiful, abundant eggplant ever!  This is an easy, seasonal appetizer I've discovered:

Market Fresh
Eggplant Caviar

1  large eggplant (about 1 1⁄2 pounds)
1/2  small onion, finely chopped (1⁄4 cup)
1  clove garlic, finely chopped
2  tablespoons  chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for serving (you can substitute 2 teaspoons dried parsley)
1  tablespoon  olive oil
1  teaspoon  red wine vinegar
1  tablespoon  mayonnaise (optional)
kosher or sea salt and black pepper
Crackers or cut-up vegetables

1. Heat oven to 400° F. Using a fork, prick the eggplant all over. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast until very tender, 50 to 60 minutes.

2. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, halve it lengthwise and scrape out the flesh, discarding the skin. Finely chop the flesh and transfer it to a large bowl.

3. Add the onion, garlic, parsley, oil, vinegar, mayonnaise (if using), ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and mix to combine. Sprinkle with additional parsley and serve with the crackers or vegetables.

Bon appetit!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monday Morning Amusement

I love this clip of Jeff Bridges channeling "The Dude" from The Big Lebowski as he "tossed" out the first pitch at a Dodgers game.  (Growing up, I was a big-time Dodgers girl.)  The Dude abides:

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Quote for the Day

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."
~Annie Dillard

Friday, August 1, 2014

Farm Friday

View from the back deck after a rainstorm (notice the white deer/critter fence to protect our garden)
These past two weeks have been great for the farm - but bad for my blog.  Our orders are up and, despite the constant battle against nature, we've been able to fill our orders and bring a lot to the farmers' market.  

We've added another delivery date so I'm now on the road three days a week plus we sell at the farmers' market.  Here's a pretty country church I drive past on one of my routes:

Yesterday we had the opportunity to speak at one of our local Rotary clubs - Danville Riverview Rotary.  We gave a version of the presentation we've given in the past and then opened the floor for questions.  We were told that our talk generated more questions that is typical.  We also made some good connections and helped further educate our community about food issues.  We've come a long way from when I first started selling our extras at the farmers' market and people would ask "what does organic mean?"  Of course, we cannot legally use the "O" word anymore - even with describing our farming methods and comparing them to conventional farming - but now people don't ask us what chemical-free means.  In fact, they actively seek out us and other like-minded farmers.

As I've said in the past, part of running the farm is homesteading - the more we're able to do and provide for ourselves, the better for the planet and the better for our pocketbook as we don't need to make as much money.  Last week I learned to make a quick and easy tomato sauce to freeze and I've been putting some up for the winter.  My dehydrator has been running quite a bit lately.  I've discovered eggplant caviar (will share the recipe next week) and found that it is delicious on golden scallop squash chips that I've dehydrated.  I also dehydrated some of our shiitake mushrooms to sell. We've been harvesting herbs and hot peppers and drying them, as well.  I also made some refrigerator pickles from our zephyr squash.

I've been working on aprons again - and sold two last weekend.  I'm trying to get ready for the holiday craft shows.  Here's a sneak peak at some of the fabrics I'll be using:

I'm off to do some deliveries.  Have a good weekend!